With Covid-19 tally having crossed the 50 – lakh mark in the country, the government on Wednesday disclosed the latest figures of coronavirus infections in the armed forces. Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply that there have been 19,839 cases of coronavirus in the armed forces while a total of 35 fatalities have been recorded so far.
He informed Parliament that the Indian Army has recorded the maximum 16,758 coronavirus cases and 32 deaths among the armed forces. The Indian Air Force, on the other hand, has confirmed 1,716 Covid-19 cases among its personnel along with three deaths. The Navy, meanwhile, has reported 1,365 confirmed cases of infection. There has been no death of any personnel in the Navy due to coronavirus.
“All deaths while in service have been awarded terminal benefits,” the minister said. Shripad Naik gave these details in a written reply to Anumula Revanth Reddy in the Lok Sabha.
DEFENCE CAPITAL PROCUREMENT
In reply to another question by Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore in Lok Sabha, MoS for Defence Shripad Naik shared detailed information on defence capital procurement. The minister said that during last financial year (2019-20), 38 contracts have been signed with Indian vendors and 32 contracts have been signed with Foreign vendors. During the current Financial Year 2020-21 (upto July, 2020), 10 contracts have been signed with Indian vendors and 6 contracts have been signed with Foreign vendors for capital procurement of defence equipment for the Armed Forces. Out of the total of 48 capital acquisition contracts signed with Indian vendors from April 2019 to July 2020, 18 contracts have been signed with DPSUs/PSUs/OFB/DRDO/ ISRO and 30 contracts have been signed with Indian Private vendors. All efforts are made to optimally use budgeted funds for meeting committed liabilities relating to already concluded capital acquisition contracts and for new schemes contracted during the year. The details of expenditure incurred under Capital Acquisition (Modernisation) of Armed Forces, under Defence Service Estimates (DSE), for the last five years is as under:
|Year||Expenditure (Rs in crore)|
While evaluating competitive bids for Defence contracts between DPSUs and Private Sector entities, no advantage is given to DPSUs. The competitive bids are evaluated based on the RFP terms and conditions.
NEW INITIATIVE IN DEFENCE SECTOR
In a written reply to various questions of Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo and Dr. Jayanta Kumar Roy in Lok Sabha, Shripad Naik gave details of a new initiative in the defence sector including the induction of Rafale aircraft. He said that the first batch of five Rafale aircraft has been inducted and operationalised at Air Force Station Ambala. Induction ceremony was conducted on 10th September, 2020. Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers are being considered for, and granted Permanent Commission (PC) in all branches of the IAF based on cadre vacancies, willingness, suitability, medical fitness and merit as per policies in vogue. As on 1st September, 2020, 372 women SSC officers (excluding Medical/ Dental branches) have been granted Permanent Commission. Since 03.12.2008, Indian Navy has been considering and granting Permanent Commission to women officers (at par with male officers) in certain Branches/Cadres/ specialisation viz. Education, Law, Naval Constructor and Naval Armament Inspectorate based on inter-se merit, suitability and vacancies. Short Service Commission officers (both men and women) are also being considered for Permanent Commission in certain more Cadres/ Branches/Specialisation as per Hon’ble Supreme Court judgement dated 17.03.2020. The Government sanction letters for grant of Permanent Commission to women officers in the Army have been issued on 25.02.2019 and 19.07.2020. Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa, Airavat, Shardul and Magar were deployed as part of Operation Samudra Setu to evacuate the stranded Indian Nationals from Iran, Maldives and Sri Lanka during COVID-19 crisis. A Total of 3992 Indian Nationals were evacuated safely to India as part of Operation Samudra Setu.
The following steps have been taken by the Government to tackle the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the defence sector: Hospital Infrastructure development to tackle COVID: Beginning in the month of March, 2020 procurement of essential equipment to tackle COVID-19 cases in AFMS hospitals was undertaken. Supply orders for ventilators, oxygen concentrators, hand thermal guns, multipara monitors, PPE, Face masks, sanitizers, disinfectants etc, were placed for all AFMS hospitals. Emergency procurement powers of the DGAFMS were sanctioned by the Raksha Mantri for procurement of additional equipment like RT-PCR machines and test kits. As on day, there are 27 functional laboratories in the AFMS carrying out molecular testing for COVID using RT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT and GenExpert techniques. Rapid Antigen Tests are available in the periphery for early diagnosis, isolation and contact tracing of cases. In line with latest treatment trends at a national and global level, drugs like Favipiravir and Remdesivir have been made available in AFMS Hospitals. Plasma Therapy is also available in two hospitals of AFMS.
Quarantine facilities: Station quarantine facilities have been set up in all military stations where troops are quarantined after returning from leave for 14 days. Any person developing symptoms during quarantine is immediately tested and isolated, if found positive.
Teams for Contact Tracing: Teams comprising medical and paramedical staff have been trained in tracing high risk contacts of confirmed cases for instituting quarantine measures. Asymptomatic high risk contacts are tested between day 7-10 of exposure.
COVID CARE CENTRES (CCC): These have been set up to augment hospitals where a large number of COVID patients are being admitted. Asymptomatic and mild cases are admitted in these CCCs to decongest the hospitals.
Interaction with Armed Forces Medical Services of Friendly Countries: Knowledge exchange and best practices for COVID control being followed by USA, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have been adopted by the AFMS to optimise patient care.
Liaison with MoHFW and ICMR. The DGAFMS has maintained continuous liaison to ensure that guidelines and policies issued by the apex bodies are implemented to optimise patient care. Multiple guidelines pertaining to control and management of COVID have been issued by the DGAFMS to ensure conformity of care across the three services.
ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF LAND IN the CANTONMENT REGION
During the year 2018, 2019 and in 2020 (upto 31.08.2020), 7.586 acres of defence land inside cantonment under the management of Defence Estate Organization have been detected as encroached by the residents. Out of above, defence land measuring 4.11 acres have got freed from encroachment during the same period. The illegal occupation of defence land may cause difficulties in Municipal administration viz. Providing water supply, sanitation and other municipal facilities.
The following steps have been taken to address the problem of encroachment: Respective user Services who manage defence land are responsible for its protection, removal of encroachments and planning for its land use. Strengthening of defence land management by way of computerisation and digitisation of land records, Survey, demarcation and verification of defence lands and land Audit. Regular inspection of sites under respective jurisdiction is conducted by the CEO/DEO/Station Commander as the case may be. Issue of detailed instructions by the Government emphasising the need for ensuring vigilance, detection and prevention of new encroachments. Court cases are being pursued to evict encroachers. Close liaison is being maintained with revenue and civil police authorities to detect attempts to encroach upon the defence land by encroachers. Regular patrolling is being carried out to safeguard the lands from encroachers and unauthorised construction. Removal of encroachments on defence land under the provisions of Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 as well as under the Cantonment Act, 2006. This information was given by MoS Shripad Naik in a written reply to Rajendra Agrawal in Lok Sabha.
MODERNISATION OF ARMED FORCES
The details of Budget Estimates (BE), Revised Estimates (RE) and Actual Expenditure (Actuals) on the modernization(Capital Acquisition) of Armed Forces, under Defence Services Estimates (DSE), for the last five years and the current year are as under: (Rs in crore)
In May 2001, the Defence Industry sector, which was hitherto reserved for the public sector, was opened up to 100% for Indian private sector participation, with Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) up to 26% both subject to licensing. Further, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry has notified revised FDI policy under which FDI is allowed under automatic route upto 49% and beyond 49% through Government route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded. During the last three financial years (2017- 18 to 2019-20) and current year (upto July, 2020), 183 capital contracts have been signed with Indian vendors and foreign vendors for procurement of defence equipment for the Armed Forces. Under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign of Governmen of India, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has prepared a list of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them. This would offer a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture these items using their own design and development capabilities to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces in the coming years. This list includes some high technology weapon systems like artillery guns, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircrafts, light combat helicopters (LCHs), radars and many other items to fulfil the needs of our Defence Services. Since the launch of ‘Make in India’ in September 2014, several measures have been taken by the Government to promote indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence & aerospace equipment in the country under ‘Make in India’ by harnessing the capabilities of the public and private sector. Government has notified the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model which envisages establishment of long term Strategic Partnership with Indian entities through a transparent and comparative process, wherein they would tie up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chain. Government is taking measures for modernization of the Armed Forces, through procurement of new equipment and upgrading of existing equipment so as to ensure that the Armed Forces are equipped to meet the entire spectrum of security challenges. The modernization projects are progressed as per the approved Capital Acquisition Plans and in terms of the extant Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). This information was given by MoS Shripad Naik in a written reply to Dhairyasheel Sambhajirao Mane and others in Lok Sabha.
ILLEGAL TRANSFER OF DEFENCE LAND
In cases of attempts of illegal transfer based on the nature and circumstances of the case, FIRs/criminal cases have been filed against the sellers/purchasers, Courts have been approached to set aside such transactions. Competent Revenue authorities have also been approached for not effecting mutation of such transactions. Such transactions are not recognised and no mutation in defence land records is affected.
To prevent such incidents in future, the following steps are taken: The defence land across the country has been surveyed by Defence Estates Officers and Chief Executive Officers so as to clearly demarcate defence land to enable Services/users to physically protect it. Matter has been taken up with the State Government vigorously at all levels to mutate remaining defence land in the revenue records. Suggestions have been made by the Ministry to the Department of Land Resources for amending the Registration Act so as to make it mandatory for the Sub-Registrar to obtain ‘NOC’ from defence authorities prior to effecting registration of land located in Cantonments/Military Stations. Wherever such incidence is reported, immediate legal action is taken to protect the interest of the Government. Computerisation of defence Land records contained in General Land Registers (GLRs) and Military Land Registers (MLRs) with the use of Raksha Bhoomi Software. Strengthening of defence land management by way of digitisation of land records, survey, demarcation and verification of defence lands and land Audit.
The computerization of defence land records under the project ‘Raksha Bhoomi’ was undertaken by the Directorate General of Defence Estates in association with National Informatics Centre. Defence Land Records contained in General Land Registers (GLRs) and Military land Registers (MLRs) were entered in the Raksha Bhoomi Software and made operational after verification and authentication of database in July, 2011. Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE) has informed that 05 cases have come to notice, in the last three years (i.e. from 01.09.2017 to 31.08.2020). Total area involved is 36.30 acres. In two cases pertaining to Haryana (Narnaund Hisar, Distt. Hisar, area 29.99 acres) and one pertaining to Punjab (Muktsar, area 6.05 acres) the respective state governments are claiming the defence land. In all these cases the matter has been challenged by the DEO concerned and is presently subjudice in the court of the respective Divisional Commissioners. In the two cases of Union Territory of J&K (Badamibagh Cantt., area 0.26 acres) the illegal transfer of defence land by private persons through sale deeds have been challenged by way of filing suit in the District Court by DEO concerned. Another instance has been noticed where an attempt was made to illegally transfer defence land (11.10 acres) in Bengaluru to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation. Based on the FIR lodged in the case, the said transfer has been stayed. This information was given by MoS Shripad Naik in a written reply to Ravi Kishan and others in Lok Sabha.
|Year Budget||Estimates||Revised Estimates||Expenditure (Actuals)|
*Figure is provisional pending finalisation of Appropriation Accounts.
# Figure is up to 31 July 2020.
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Resetting India -Nepal relations needed to offset Chinese threats
Mukesh Ambani has added a feather to India’s cap by figuring among the richest in the world.
No bilateral relations between nations can be built on sentiment—whether it is based on faith, ideology or inheritance. Only those rooted in shared interests will endure. Relations will not remain everlasting if the interests of the people and nations are not renegotiated. The relations with Nepal were driven for long on shared culture, religion and geographical realities. The problem thus far has been a sense of “everlasting friendship” between India and Nepal without incorporating suitable changes to the historical treaties to accommodate new political, social and economic realities. The border dispute is a manifestation of multiple factors including new found competitive nationalism among the political parties of Nepal, structural changes unfolding in the external and internal context of the bilateral relationship and Nepal asserting strategic autonomy to renegotiate the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship. New political elites of Nepal feel that relations with India cannot be frozen in time due to a treaty that has lived its utility.
When the founder of the modern Nepali state, Prithvi Narayan Shah, described Nepal as a “yam between two rocks”, he in fact hinted at the geo-strategic significance of Nepal and need for maintaining strategic autonomy and neutrality with India and China. In order to look ahead and repair, revise and revive the bilateral relationship, India must first understand why and how the territorial dispute has flared up. It may be tempting to start on a clean slate, but future visions will remain void if both sides don’t learn from past mistakes.
A POLITICAL CONFLICT TRAP
Nepal’s claim of approximately 372 sq km of Indian Territory in Kalapani area has caused considerable fissures in bilateral relations between the two countries. Kalapani issue has become a huge rallying point amongst the opposition parties in Nepal and it is now very difficult for the Nepalese Government or even the opposition parties to back off from their claim. It came at a time when India was engaged with China in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control. It gave new lease of life to the current Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and he rode the competitive nationalism to tide over the current political crisis. The claim and subsequent issue of map has given birth to a permanent and long-term territorial dispute that is difficult to resolve and thus creating a conflict trap that will keep rising whenever the relations between two states take a turn to the South. Till now the political leadership of both countries were keeping this conflict under wraps, but now it has been unleashed and will remain on the prowl till a mechanism is worked out to set this conflict to rest.
The question comes up, could India prevent the constitutional amendment of the map if Indian government had kept their ears to the ground? It is difficult to answer in “yes or no” but the fact of the matter is that India needs to have a new road map to engage with Nepal post changed political realities in Nepal. To control the damage, Nepalese leadership should ensure that Nationalism is not distorted to an anti-Indian feeling. Because that will narrow down the options to resolve this dispute in future. Let this dispute not become a pivot for China to exploit Nepalese sentiment.
THE CHINA ANGLE
If the relations are not reset and Nepal continues to drift away, it will become a major peril of corridor especially due to China- Pak nexus and manifestation of Three Warfares (3Ws) and Irregular Warfare against India. The open and porous border facilitates an active non-contact warfare by China and Pakistan to destabilise the heartland India. It gives an opportunity to inimical forces to exploit this porous border for smuggling of arms, drugs and fake Indian currency to give impetus to instability and also support Left Wing Extremists who have ideological and organisational linkages with Maoists of Nepal. Dr PV Ramana posits that the Maoist insurgents and PWG have formed the Indo-Nepal Border Regional Committee (INBRC) “to coordinate their activities” in Bihar. The bottom-line is that ideological and organisational linkages do exist and it can be exploited by China by extending material and weapon support to the LWE through Nepalese Maoists. Bigger threat is political and information warfare that can penetrate deep inside India’s heartland. China Study Centers especially along the India- Nepal borders are a greater threat that can cause instability in Gangetic Plains and disrupt East- West strategic lines of communication. Only way this threat can be managed is by restoring ties with Nepal and building resolute military to military relation between two armies.
INDIA, A NATURAL ALLY
Nepal has been embracing a policy of strategic diversification to reduce its dependence on India and enhance its non-aligned autonomy. In response India’s perceived economic blockade of 2015 was seen by Nepal as a right to deny and insulate Nepal from the outside world. That had caused major upheaval against India among the Nepalese youth and common citizens. India should consider Nepal as co-equal and develop relations not as a “protectorate but as a partner”. Because strategic space if abdicated by India will be encroached upon by China and that will become difficult for India to reclaim. India cannot blame China’s political interference in Nepal as a major factor for deteriorating relations between the two states. India not paying adequate attention to reset the road map for building relations is also a factor. It is very natural that two neighbours sharing a border of more than 1,800 km are bound to have some differences but these differences should not become disputes or else a third party will take advantage of it.
Both nations today have to realise that apart from the strong historical relations guided by a common culture, religion and similar language is also supported by Geography. The Indian ports and transit access, protected by special trade and transit treaties is a commitment which needs to be honoured by India. Even though China has provided…special trade and transit facilities by way of dry ports and roads, the long distance from the eastern coast of China to Nepal via Tibet, approximately 4000 kms is just not a cost-effective option. Initially China may subsidize services and goods passing through this long corridor as it meets the objectives of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative. However, if Nepal has to take a cue from Sri Lanka’s experience let it be clear that a decade later it is the people of Nepal who will pay the price for their political miscalculation. Many countries in the African continent today are suffering because of the free largess initially offered by China in the form of soft loans for development of infrastructure. Is this the future which Nepal is looking at? According to a report by the Survey Department of Agriculture Ministry of Nepal, China has illegally occupied Nepal’s land in several places spreading over seven bordering districts. Unfortunately the Oli Government has kept silent over this land grab. China believes in debt slavery and Nepal could be forced to surrender its strategic autonomy if it allows China to continue to make economic, political and cultural inroads in Nepal. Though there is a vocal anti-India lobby in Nepal, but the people with this new development along the Northern borders are equally resentful of China.
Nepal shares a long and open border with India the special privileges which are given to all citizens of Nepal are unique. In fact, a citizen of Nepal can work anywhere in India including the Armed forces as well as reside in any part of India. These privileges are not reciprocal for Indian citizens which is quite understandable because of the size of Nepal. Apart from the Army there is a large population of unskilled workers from Nepal working in the industrial and agriculture sector. Nepal will never have an ally that offers its citizens free access for work, education, health services, tourism, travel, religious pilgrimage and business. Such a facility has been extended by India to the Nepalese citizens without reciprocation from Nepal. Closing down the border and treating Nepalese citizens as per diplomatic protocol followed globally will harm the interests of the people of Nepal. Therefore, Nepal must exercise caution and restrain not to burn the bridges that may become difficult to rebuild in future.
MILITARY DIPLOMACY A BRIDGE TO INITIATE THE DIALOGUE
India has been shy of using military diplomacy with its neighbours, whereas there are special relations and close ties between Indian Army and Nepal Army that has been rarely exploited to reset the ties between two nations. After long hiatus of nearly more than four months, relations between India and Nepal could be set in motion, the visit of Indian Army Chief General M.M. Naravane to Nepal, where he will be conferred with the title of the honorary Chief of the Nepalese Army is a much-needed initiative for stabilisation of relations between the two close neighbours. This special tradition of bestowing the title of honorary Chief on each other’s Army Chief dates back to the period of Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw who was proud enough to change his name to Sam Bahadur as a homage to his brave Gorkha brethren. This military tradition has helped in strengthening military to military relations between the two Armies. Fortunately, this tradition has continued despite some occasional ups and downs in the relation between the two nations. It is a good initiative that the leaders of both the nations have taken a pause and allowed military to military engagement to take place to kick-start the dialogue between two neighbours. It is a positive step that the Indian Government has sent their Army Chief and the Nepalese Government by willingly receiving him and honouring him. The President of Nepal bestowing the honorary General’s rank and the PM of Nepal meeting him in the capacity of Defence minister needs to be understood in a positive manner. It is pertinent to mention that Nepal Army has always acted as a permanent ambassador of India in Nepal due to their long association with the Indian Army. However, off late India has neglected this aspect and it must be given impetus by building bridges with the Nepalese Army and police.
Both the Governments need to take this visit as a trigger for a new beginning, an opportunity to reset our relationship to the current strategic realities, the recommendations of the Eminent People’s Committees report which is available with the Government could be a guideline. A very important part is that the relations between the two strategic neighbours should not be taken hostage by irresponsible media or local domestic political considerations in either of the nations.
Most crucial aspect is building bridges with the people. The strong connect India maintains with the ex-servicemen of Gorkha regiments in Nepal needs to be consolidated. India still remains an economic destination for the people of Nepal. In fact, citizens of Nepal should be granted access to utilise the health care, education institutions along the borders for the common good of the citizens of the border areas of both countries. Villagers living along the Kali River should be allowed to use the road Dharchula-Kalapani for movement ‘to and from’ Dharchula. India needs to send a message that this road is built for collective good of India and border citizens of Nepal.
One visit by the Chief of the Army Staff may not be sufficient and thus there is a need to have a permanent presence of Indian military leader in Kathmandu either by way of posting a Gorkha Regiment General as an Ambassador or Special Envoy to Nepal. This engagement must remain unbroken and resilient. Nepalese Army and even the civil bureaucracy are more comfortable in dealing with a Nepalese speaking Army envoy who understands their language and ethos better than a diplomat who has lesser linkages with the people on the ground. The tenure of late Lt Gen S.K. Sinha as an ambassador is a proof of it.
India should guarantee unobstructed access to the port and dry docks. However, Nepalese government should be made accountable to ensure that the access will be unconditional if Nepal does not work against the strategic interest and national security of India.
India should be open to renegotiate the Treaty of Peace and Friendship 1950. The Eminent Peoples Committee Report could also be examined to give a new direction to the India-Nepal relations.
India must invest in upgrading its cross-border infrastructure and economic assistance to Nepal: There are now new rail and road links, an electronic cargo system for Nepali goods to transit via Indian ports, inland waterway navigation plans, and a new cross-border pipeline for petroleum products. These projects must be pursued at fast pace because it will bring economic benefits to both nations.
Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt (Retd) is an Infantry Officer from 9th Gorkha Rifles. He is a former DGMO, GOC 15 Corps, and Military Secretary of the Indian Army. Brig Narender Kumar (Retd) is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) and former Distinguished Fellow, USI (New Delhi). The views expressed and suggestions made in the article are solely of the authors in their personal capacity and do not have any official endorsement.
Most crucial aspect is building bridges with the people. The strong connect India maintains with the ex-servicemen of Gorkha regiments in Nepal needs to be consolidated. India still remains an economic destination for the people of Nepal. In fact, citizens of Nepal should be granted access to utilise the healthcare and educational institutions along the borders.
Maiden Indian navy-MDL cup begins in Mumbai
The Indian Naval Watermanship Training Centre (INWTC), Mumbai is organising the commencement of sailing activities in Mumbai harbour with the Maiden IN-MDL Cup, National Yachting Championship. At the behest of the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, as Patron of the Indian Naval Sailing Association, the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) has stepped up to sponsor an annual IN-MDL Cup to promote sailing in the country. The maiden IN-MDL Cup 2020 is being conducted under the aegis of the Yachting Association of India (YAI) for all Senior Olympic classes as the YAI Senior National 2020. The regatta will be a ranking event and will be conducted from 22- 27 Nov 20 near the Sunk Rock lighthouse. After the pandemic, this regatta will once again fill up the skyline of Mumbai harbour with vibrant sails vying for top honours in keenly contested races.
The IN-MDL Cup will see participation from 12 sailing clubs from across India. INWTC(MBI), INWTC(Goa), INWTC (Hamla), Army Yachting Node, EMESC(Bhopal), EMESA, CESC, Tamil Nadu Sailing Association, GYA, National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, NSS Bhopal and NSN Bhopal. The regatta will be held in four basic classes of boats namely the 49er Skiff, 470, Laser and the RS:X class windsurfer. It will be the first time in the history of Senior Nationals where 470 mixed class will participate and compete in the race. Of particular note is the sizeable number of young girls and women participants, which hopefully will be a motivating factor for future aspirants and level out the playing field. The races will be sailed in the following classes of sail boats: Laser Standard(Men), Laser Radial(Women), 470 (Men/women/mixed), 49er(Men), 49er FX(women), RS: X(Men/Women), Finn. The event was declared open by the Flag Officer Maharashtra Area at INWTC, Colaba, Mumbai yesterday.
INS Shivaji discusses ‘management of structure borne noise’
A Webinar on the subject of “Management of Structure Borne Noise” was conducted by INS Shivajil last week under the aegis of Distinguished Chair, Centre of Excellence, Marine Engineering. The Webinar saw participation from over 300 participants comprising Flag Officers, Senior Naval Officers, Veteran Officers and Officers from all branches of Indian Navy. The one-day Webinar commenced with the welcome address by Commodore Ravnish Seth, Commanding Officer, INS Shivaji. The Inaugural Address was delivered by Vice Admiral IC Rao, (r), Distinguished Chair, Centre of Excellence (Marine Engineering). VAdm AK Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command delivered the Keynote Address and emphasised on maintenance of platform to near design conditions to ensure optimal acoustic signatures of ships and submarines. He also urged the industry, academia and shipbuilding industry to seamlessly collaborate with Indian Navy, through strategic programmes by the GoI such as ‘Make-in-India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, to ensure better designs for quieter ships.
Papers on various aspects including measurement, prediction and mitigation of Structure Borne Noise were delivered by subject matter experts from various R&D labs such as NSTL Visakhapatnam, NPOL Kochi, IRS Mumbai, NIOT Chennai, Shipbuilders such as Mazagon Docks and Shipbuilders limited, Design Directorates of IHQ MoD (N) and the Naval Underwater Ranges, Goa. The Webinar witnessed wholehearted and active participation from all attendees towards enhancing the domain awareness in the subject of Structure Borne Noise and its management for all personnel. VAdm SR Sarma, Chief of Materiel, delivered the closing address and emphasized on the life cycle maintenance of machinery onboard ships and submarines. Incorporation of new technologies into design was given a special mention during the Closing Address. The Vote of Thanks was delivered by RAdm CS Baburaj, (D&R). Active participation from all stakeholders during the discussions lead to detailed inputs from the speakers towards enhancement of awareness of Structure Borne Noise and its management.
NCC celebrates its 72nd Raising Day
National Cadet Corps (NCC), the largest uniformed youth organisation in the world, celebrated its 72nd Raising Day on 22 November. The raising day function was marked by paying homage, at the National War Memorial, to the fallen heroes, who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives. The Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar and DG NCC Lt Gen Rajeev Chopra laid wreaths on behalf of the entire NCC fraternity.
Defence Secretary said, during the current year, the NCC cadets have contributed, by participating selflessly during the Covid-19 pandemic, through Ex ‘NCC Yogdaan’ as Corona warriors to spread awareness about measures to fight against the pandemic. The cadets and Associate NCC Officers, led by example in activities such as ‘Ek Bharat Shresht Bharat’, ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Fit India’. The cadets participated wholeheartedly in ‘Swachhta Abhiyan’, ‘Mega Pollution Pakhwada’ and played a pivotal role in spreading awareness about various government initiatives like ‘Digital Literacy’, ‘International Day of Yoga’, ‘Tree Plantation’ and immunisation programs etc. A scheme for expansion of National Cadet Corps coverage, in Border and Coastal regions of the country was announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2020. A total increase of one lakh additional cadet strength in all three streams of Army, Navy and Air Force is planned, focusing on the border districts, coastal taluks and taluks housing Air Force Stations.
Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar after laying wreath said, expansion of NCC in our border and coastal districts will motivate the youth from these areas to join the armed forces. The nation looks forward to NCC, to inculcate the values of fraternity, discipline, national unity and selfless service amongst our youth. The multifaceted activities and varied curriculum of the NCC, provides unique opportunities to the youth for self-development. Many cadets have done the Nation and the organisation proud by their remarkable achievements in the field of sports and adventure. The NCC continues its relentless efforts, towards moulding the present day youth into responsible citizens of tomorrow. The NCC raising day, was also celebrated all over India, with cadets participating in blood donation camps and social development programmes.
Valedictory function of IOFS Officers at National Academy of Defence Production
The National Academy of Defence Production (NADP) is one of the premier national academies and Central Training Institute (CTI) of DOP&T, mandated to groom officers of Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS) in various techno-managerial domains of defence production. The Academy conducts 52 weeks training programme (Probationers Training Course) wherein comprehensive and intensive induction training is provided to probationary officers selected through prestigious Civil Services as well as Engineering Services Examination. During this induction training, the IOFS officer trainees are groomed to take up the role of leadership in the organisation. The 2019 batch consists of 34 IOFS probationers, out of which 32 are from Indian Engineering Service and two (2) are from Civil Services.
NADP organised the Valedictory Function of IOFS probationers (2019 Batch) on Saturday. C.S. Viswakarma, DG, Ordnance Factory & Chairman, Ordnance Factory Board, was the chief guest on the occasion and the function was attended by Mr. M K Garg, Sr. Principal Director, C.L. Maurya, GM-OFAJ, S. Srivastava, DDG- OFB amongst others. S.K. Pattanayak, Principal Director presided over the function.
The valedictory function at NADP premises started in the evening. During the ceremony, an e-magazine called ‘Samarthya’, that contained thought provoking articles by the probationers, was also released by the Chief Guest. Aman Harlalka was adjudged the Best Probationer and Priayam Singh came second. They received awards and trophies from the Chief Guest. Different awards were also given in various fields to other probationers who excelled in those fields.
In his valedictory address, the Chief Guest, C.S. Viswakarma, DGOF & Chairman brought out the challenges before the organization and emphasised that the young probationers have to gear up to meet those challenges successfully. He lauded the Academy for conducting the training programme successfully despite the Covid-19 pandemic through both online as well as offline platform. He expressed confidence that with the talent that they possess and the comprehensive training that they have received from the Academy, they would rise up to the occasion and take on leadership roles in the organization with confidence.
The probationary officers were extremely happy that the head of the family of Ordnance Factory organisation, the DGOF and Chairman attended the function despite all the Covid restrictions. In the times of pandemic, the function was planned with limited participation with strict compliance of social distancing norms and Covid -19 protocol and other precautionary measures.
Anticipating pressure from Biden, Pakistan accuses India of sponsoring terror
As Islamabad is cornered internationally over sponsoring terrorism in forums like FATF and the incumbent Biden administration is likely to tweak the US-Taliban deal putting in a small contingent of US troops, a visibly worried Pakistan is making such claims.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar, in a joint media conference, on Saturday accused India of sabotaging the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and sponsoring supporting terrorism in Pakistan. “The first objective is to disrupt Pakistan’s path towards peace and for the same, sub-nationalism is being promoted in Gilgit-Baltistan, erstwhile FATA and Balochistan,” Qureshi said. The second objective is to disrupt Pakistan’s economy and the third objective is to create political instability in Pakistan, he said. Qureshi added that India has spent Rs. 22 billion for the purpose of carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan.
“India is sabotaging CPEC as they know the project’s success can be an economic game-changer for Pakistan. There are also reports that India has established a 700-strong militia to target CPEC projects,” he added. “[Indian intelligence agency] RAW transferred Rs55,581 through a bank, whereas, $0.82 million had been transferred to TTP commanders besides raising a militia of 700 terrorists by spending $60 million. $23.5 million funds were used creating anarchy in Balochistan. Altaf Hussain group had been given $3.23 million. India has been found involved in disrupting peace in Pakistan by assistant different organisations. In the terrorist attack on Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi, Indian explosive material and suicide jackets had been used by the attackers. RAW dispatched Rs22 million funds for upscaling terrorism in Pakistan, whereas, its handlers had kept meeting TTP representatives,” they said. “Arms worth $0.26 million had been given to Altaf Hussain group, whereas, India is running 87 terrorist camps. A former Indian diplomat and military general had visited a terrorist camp in Hajigak, whereas, $30 million was dispatched for establishing a camp in [Afghanistan’s] Kandahar. Four terrorist camps had been established for Altaf Hussain group where 40 terrorists received training,” they added.
At a time when the military establishment is facing pro-democracy protests from the PDM and increased protests by Baloch and Pashtuns over human rights violations, this is a diversionary tactic. Also, sections in the US are showing irritation at increased violence in Afghanistan by the Pakistan-backed Taliban. Pakistan aims to drag India’s name into sponsoring terrorism to get a clean chit from FATF and also aim these claims towards the incumbent Biden administration. Hence this attempt at creating equivalence between Pakistan and India over sponsoring terrorism is made at this point. Afghanistan has rejected these claims and proposed a UN commission to investigate. Pakistan’s military establishment is also worried about the recent bonhomie between MQM(L) led by Altaf Hussain, who ruled the roost over vital port-city Karachi and Hyderabad once, and separatist Sindhi groups like Shafi Burfat led JSMM (Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz). Mohajir and Sindhi groups, even non-separarist, have typically been at loggerheads fighting pitched street battles.
The coming together and unity between such diverse forces has spooked Pakistan. Pakistan’s military establishment is bringing back former MQM leaders to form a new minus-Altaf Grand Mohajir Alliance like it did with PSP and the MQM-Haqiqi faction in the past. They have offered them amnesty, permission to reopen sealed businesses and money in return. Haider Abbas Rizvi has already reached Pakistan. Nadeem Nusrat and Wasey Jalil in US are in contact with them and planning to go back soon. Pakistan’s military establishment is trying to gather them all on one platform against Altaf Hussain and playing Mohajir card as Altaf Hussain plays the Sindhudesh card.
As Pakistan is cornered internationally over sponsoring terrorism in forums like FATF and the incumbent Biden administration is likely to tweak the US-Taliban deal putting in a small contingent of US troops, a visibly worried Pakistan is making such claims. When it sees that it may face pressure over increased Taliban attacks, it tries to deflect the blame by trying to create a false equivalence with India over sponsoring terrorism. Claims of India supporting separatist Baloch armed groups and terrorist groups like TTP and ISIS are nothing new. It is the timing again that should be noted though.
Aveek Sen is an independent journalist working on cybersecurity and the geopolitics of India’s neighborhood, focusing on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Bangladesh. His Twitter handle : @aveeksen
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