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AK VS AK: A STORM IN A TEACUP

The production team has all rights to plan and execute its product as it feels free, but in this free world a responsible team should and would weigh its actions and its effect on the receptors.

Wing Commander A.R. Giri (Retd.)

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Anil Kapoor wears a so-called IAF uniform and behaves rather obnoxiously, on screen albeit, the IAF takes to heart and tweets out against the wrong portrayal of an IAF officer, AK apologises, IAF doesn’t react, public opinion is divided, media has a field day—sounds rather recent. Age-old debate about incorrect portrayal of character, or the uniform in this case, as versus creative liberty has always left the readers with unanswered questions and queries in spite of the ‘strong arguments’ put forward by both sides. Few questions which might still linger in one’s mind have been attempted in the succeeding paragraphs.

Did IAF jump the gun?

To some, yes, after all AK is claimed to have been playing an actor who happens to be wearing the uniform (closely resembling an Air Commodores’) when he gets the news of his daughter’s kidnapping. It has been argued over social media that AK was never portraying an IAF officer to have hurt sentiments, so why the anguish? Why the attempt to gag Creative Liberty? What was so wrong of an actor, who is one of the most respected in the industry, to have donned the ‘uniform’? The answer to these questions lies in the depth of the armed forces ethos and way of thinking which actually goes beyond the realms of imagination and comprehension of most who are not connected to the armed forces closely.

 Was the uniform accurate?

First and foremost, Bollywood has burnt its fingers many a times, trying to dress up its actors like members of armed forces. A little research by the production team would have at least got them to get the shirt right, or at least have the necktie thrown in, if AK insisted on a full sleeve, if this was too much of a task a simple visit to any tailor at Gopinath Bazar would have solved most gaffes. Yes the uniform was inaccurate, though loosely portraying an IAF wear for the layman, it certainly didn’t win any points for accuracy. It was and will always be a “Costume” and nothing more. To explain further, you could have lengths of green, saffron and white cloth lying around but stitch them in the correct order and put in the Ashoka Chakra and you have an element which every Indian would love to hold upright. Yes, to most service officers that is the analogy.

What does uniform mean to services?

The service uniform has to be earned, it can never be gifted nor ‘bought’. An interesting fact about uniforms and its place in services can be appreciated from this—the National Defence Academy, the cradle of military leadership in India, has rolling and hopping on one haunches as forms of informal punishments for petty mistakes, no cadet worth his salt ever rolls, preferring to hop on his haunches, if he is donning his Squadron colour Tee or vest. Cadets can be seen rolling in all different attire, even Lounge suits, but never in squadron colours. This is the pedestal which members of armed forces put their official attire on, naturally the inappropriate and incorrect donning of one would certainly hurt them. This breed of men and women live by the motto of “Nam, Namak and Nishan” and certainly official attire finds a very high esteem in their lives entwined within the three ‘Ns’. For them it’s not just another piece of clothing.

 Does it curb creative liberties?

Creative liberties is an essential part of every society, imagine life without it, our poetries would be rather drab, our prose lacking brightness and our movies rather dull. However, it needs to be appreciated that with every Liberty comes responsibility, the two are interlinked and cannot be enjoyed in isolation, in fact one would land up in an existential crisis without the other. The attire in question in AK vs AK could have been anything but it was what it was and that fact lends to it the responsibility. The script could have been anything from a subtle change of outfit, to the character shown as changing his clothes before stepping into the difficult journey of searching for his daughter, especially when he is adorning a costume and not a uniform. Creative liberty in this case would have rendered this controversy defunct.

 Were the makers right?

The production team has all rights to plan and execute their product as they feel free, but in this free world a responsible team should and would weigh their actions and their effect on the receptors. One cannot deny the fact that certain professions leave a stronger impact on the onlookers than others, due to their sheer romanticism. Acting is one of them, piloting, defence, being some more which tend to hold this aura. This is the same reason you would often find commercial pilots walking to and from their aircraft, through the airport, dressed prim and proper, though they may loosen their tie or undo a couple of buttons on their shirt when inside the private confines of their cockpit. This is the responsibility being talked about here. After Top Gun was released, despite its inaccurate depiction of air combat and the cavalier lifestyle of fighter pilots, the leather jacket and aviator sunglasses worn by the protagonist became a phenomenon, AK himself has donned the costume of service uniform earlier for his act in Pukar and was very well received in all circles. This is the effect being indicated here.

Finally, the publicity and limelight factor cannot be ruled out. Did the IAF fall into the classic publicity trap? The IAF social media handles have more than a million followers. Endorsement or otherwise reaction, of any event results in as many views, which for a hungry producer is a heaven sent situation, classically exemplified by the recent KJ production on women pilots. This exploitation of the situation, if any, needs to be redressed by the IAF a little more closely.

Amit Ranjan Giri is a veteran of the IAF who retired as a Wing Commander. An erstwhile fighter pilot who has flown the MiG 27 and MiG 21 aircraft has served the IAF for 24 years. He has also been a Ministry of defence PRO based in Delhi before retirement. Currently, the Wing Commander flies for a commercial airlines and writes on defence-related matters in his spare time.

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Defence

INDIAN‌ ‌ARMY‌ ‌HANDS‌ ‌OVER‌ ‌MEDICAL‌ ‌EQUIPMENT‌ ‌TO‌ ‌NEPALI‌ ‌ARMY‌ ‌

Ashish Singh

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NEW DELHI: As part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, medical equipment and supplies worth Nepali Rupees 28.80 crore provided by the Indian Army were handed over to the Nepali Army on Friday. In a ceremony at Nepali Army Headquarters, Tundikhel today, the medical equipment was handed over by Ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra to General Purna Chandra Thapa, Chief of the Nepali Army. The ambassador reaffirmed India’s support to Nepali Army in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and lauded its contribution in this respect.

The medical equipment, including Ventilators, Ambulances, ICU beds, PPE Kits, PCR test Kits etc was delivered to Kathmandu on 10 June 2021. The Indian Army has been assisting the Nepali

Army to fight Covid-19 through various kinds of assistance since last year, including 1 Lakh doses of Covishield vaccines which were provided in March 2021.

The latest assistance is another testament to the close cooperation between the two armies and the two countries, particularly in times of need.

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Defence Minister inaugurates BRO centres

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh dedicated to the nation two Centres of Excellence established by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at Seema Sadak Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. These Centres have been established to achieve excellence in road safety as well as foster growth in construction of roads, bridges, air fields and tunnels. The Centre of Excellence for Road Safety & Awareness (CoERSA) aims to create awareness about road safety through analysis sharing of road accidents and suggesting methods to save precious lives. The Centre of Excellence for Roads, Bridges, Air Fields and Tunnels (CoERBAT) focuses on institutionalising the knowledge gained over the years in development of almost 60,000 kilometres of roads, 56,000 metres of bridges, 19 airfields and four tunnels in the eastern and north-western part of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajnath Singh appreciated the efforts of BRO in establishing the Centres of Excellence, expressing confidence that they will play a pivotal role in saving precious lives. Terming road accidents as a silent pandemic that claims approx. 1.5 lakh lives every year, the Raksha Mantri stated that the Government has taken a number of initiatives such as National Road Safety Policy, Motor Vehicle Act 2020 and identification of black spots on national highways to tackle the problem and the setting up of these Centres is another step in that direction. The Raksha Mantri lauded the crucial role played by BRO in the progress of the nation since its inception by building roads, tunnels and other infrastructure in remote areas. He praised the efforts of BRO for working tirelessly in tough weather conditions to increase connectivity in border areas, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describing connectivity as an essential component of a nation’s progress, he said BRO is catering to the needs of the Armed Forces as well as working towards the socio-economic development of the border areas. He made special mention of the recent achievements of BRO, including state-of-the-art construction of ‘Atal Tunnel, Rohtang’, Kailash Mansarovar Road and Zojila pass. He also appreciated BRO for raising awareness about road safety through innovative slogans and signboards. Rajnath Singh also listed out various measures taken by the Government for the development of BRO. These include increase in the budget of BRO, approval of special high-altitude clothing for the personnel as well as cadre review to boost the morale of the organisation. He assured BRO of continued support of Ministry of Defence, saying that the Government remains committed to the progress of the far-flung areas of the country. He also remembered the BRO personnel who laid down their lives in the service of the nation.

During the event, the Raksha Mantri also launched four software developed to optimise the work efficiency of BRO personnel, their HR management, recruitment management, enrolment and works management. The BRO has created the software to reduce paperwork, with focus on minimising the carbon footprint. Rajnath Singh termed the development of the software as a great example of ‘Self-reliant India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns. He stated that the software will further improve the efficiency of the organisation, modernise it and save time. The first ever Solo Woman Motorcycle Expedition by Ms Kanchan Ugursandi to Umling La Pass, Ladakh and back was also flagged off on the occasion. The Raksha Mantri extended his best wishes to Ms Kanchan Ugursandi and expressed confidence that she will come out with flying colours and complete the task by setting new records.

Earlier, DG Border Roads Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry briefed Rajnath Singh on the initiatives and achievements of BRO in recent years. He informed the Raksha Mantri about the ongoing and future projects, with focus on AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also informed Raksha Mantri on the awareness campaigns being carried out by BRO related to COVID-19 and Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav in far-flung areas. The DG Border Roads said BRO remains committed towards serving the nation and would bring all necessary changes to enhance the efficiency of the organisation. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar were among the dignitaries present on the occasion.

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Defence

A LOOK AT DEFENCE MINISTRY’S 20 REFORMS IN 2020

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released an e-booklet titled ’20 Reforms in 2020’, highlighting the major reforms undertaken by Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2020, in New Delhi earlier this week. The compilation provides a brief overview of defence reforms undertaken in the year 2020 by MoD to bring about greater cohesion and modernisation of the Armed Forces through policy changes, innovation and digital transformation. Reforms also focused on the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; increased collaboration with the industry to boost defence exports; measures to accelerate defence acquisitions with greater transparency; digital transformation; strengthening of border infrastructure; increased participation of women in Armed Forces; transformation in R&D to boost innovation; expansion of NCC to remote locations and aid extended to the civil administration in fight against Covid-19. Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Y Naik, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Ex-Servicemen Welfare) Mr. Ravikant, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr G Satheesh Reddy and Financial Advisor (Defence Services) Mr. Sanjiv Mittal were present on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, Rajnath Singh termed the E-booklet as an important document on the bright future of the defence sector in the country. “The booklet is a reflection of the resolve of the Government, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Modi, to make the defence sector stronger and more efficient,” he said. The Raksha Mantri expressed confidence that the reforms undertaken by MoD will make India a global powerhouse in the defence sector in the times to come.

20 REFORMS IN 2020

Chief of Defence Staff & Department of Military Affairs

The appointment of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and creation of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) were among the major decisions taken by the Government. The post of CDS was created to increase efficiency & coordination among the Armed Forces and reduce duplication, while DMA was established to ensure improved civil-military integration. General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS who also fulfils the responsibilities of Secretary, DMA.

AATMANIRBHARTA IN DEFENCE

To promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector, a list of 101 defence items was notified in August 2020, while Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 was unveiled in September 2020. Rs 52,000 crore budget was earmarked for indigenously made defence equipment in 2020-21. Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was approved in May 2020 for greater efficiency and productivity. There was an unprecedented push towards new technology developments within India. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) developed a ventilator in record time to meet Covid-19 requirements in May 2020.In November 2020, Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile, indigenously designed & developed DRDO, hit bullseye at medium range and medium height, while indigenously built Pinaka rocket system cleared test of 45-60 km range.

INCREASED DEFENCE EXPORTS

The increased partnership with the private sector has led to a substantial rise in defence exports. The value of total defence exports rose from Rs 1,941 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 9,116 crore in 2019-20. Also, for the first time, India figured in the list of defence equipment exporting nations, as the exports expanded to more than 84 countries.

MODERNISATION & INCREASED TRANSPARENCY IN DEFENCE ACQUISITION

In highest-ever thrust towards modernisation in last 10 years, there was 10 per cent budget increase in 2020-21 over the previous year. Policy reforms for increased transparency included launch of new Defence Acquisition Procedure in September 2020 and revision of DRDO Procurement Manual in October 2020. To encourage start-ups, a provision was introduced for procurement as Buy Indian-IDDM, while leasing for non-mission critical requirements was introduced for the first time.

DEFENCE ACQUISITIONS

First five Rafale fighter aircraft arrived in India in July 2020 and several more since then, adding firepower to the arsenal of the Indian Air Force. Despite the COVID-19 challenge, the aircraft were delivered timely and inducted into IAF.

REFORMING DEFENCE R&D

To promote innovation by young minds, five Young Scientists Laboratories of DRDO were launched in 2020 in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. DRDO has joined hands with the private sector in design & development and identified 108 Systems & Subsystems for the industry to design, develop and manufacture.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

For the first time, several organisations of Ministry of Defence went digital. Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) started online Pre-Delivery inspection in May 2020 to address security threats, while Armed Forces Tribunal began digital hearing for the first time in August 2020. Defence Estates, Canteen Stores Department, services in Cantonment, MoD Pension and National Cadet Corps (NCC) also went online providing faster and transparent services.

STRENGTHENING BORDER INFRASTRUCTURE

Reforms of processes and workflows within Border Roads Organisation (BRO) enabled it to achieve targets ahead of schedule, in some instances. World’s longest Atal tunnel above 10,000 feet, at Rohtang on the Leh-Manali Highway was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in October 2020. It provides all weather connectivity to the northern borders. Zojila pass, situated on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, was opened almost a month ahead of schedule in April 2020.

STREE SHAKTI IN ARMED FORCES

In 2020, Ministry of Defence took some historic decisions to increase participation of women in the Armed Forces. Ten streams of Indian Army were opened for giving Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission (SSC) Women officers, while women pilots of Indian Navy were operationalised for the first time. All Sainik Schools were thrown open for girl students from academic session 2020-21.

REFORMS IN NCC

Expanding the reach of NCC to remote locations was a major announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day on August 15, 2020. More than 1,075 schools/colleges in border and coastal areas were identified and the enrolment began in November 2020. In another decision, it was decided to give preference to NCC cadets in employment in Central Armed Police Forces from May 2020. Youth Exchange Programme Allowance for NCC cadets was increased from Rs 100 per day to Rs 750 and the number of countries was increased from 10 to 15.

AID TO CIVIL ADMINISTRATION DURING COVID-19

Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces have mobilised resources to aid the civil administration in fight against COVID-19. Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) provided all emergency support to tide over the situation. They have mobilised doctors, health professionals and set up Quarantine facilities at several locations across the country. DRDO has set up several hospitals to treat COVID patients across the states, passed on technology expertise to manufacture ventilators, oxygen plants, medicines, test kits and PPE kits to private sector for mass production.

HELP BEYOND BOUNDARIES

The Armed Forces extended a helping hand to the countries in distress. Indian Navy mounted eight relief missions during 2020-21. Besides evacuating stranded Indians from Iran, Sri Lanka and Maldives under Vande Bharat Mission, Indian Naval ships provided Covid-19 medical relief, including medicines and doctors, to five countries. INS Airavat provided 270 MT food aid to Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea struck by natural calamities. The Indian Coast Guard led the rescue operation to save Sri Lanka coast of its biggest oil spill. Indian Air Force carried out over 800 relief missions during 2020-21.

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Defence

INDIAN NAVY GETS NEW OPERATIONS CHIEF

Ashish Singh

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Vice Admiral Rajesh Pendharkar has assumed charge as Director General Naval Operations. An alumnus of the National Defense Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune, he was commissioned into the Indian Navy in Jan 1987. He is a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Naval War College, Karanja, and Naval Command College, Newport, Rhode Island, USA. The Flag Officer is a specialist in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and has served on frontline warships of the Navy as ASW Officer and later as the Executive Officer and Principal Warfare Officer of Guided Destroyer INS Mysore. He has commanded the missile corvette INS Kora, the missile frigate INS Shivalik and the aircraft carrier INS Viraat. He has held important staff appointments in IHQ MoD (Navy) in the Directorate of Staff Requirements, Directorate of Personnel, and the Directorate of Net-Centric Operations.

On promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral in Feb 2016, he was appointed as the Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Int – A) at HQ IDS, New Delhi, and subsequently as the Chief Staff Officer (Operations) in Headquarters, Western Naval Command, Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra Naval Area and Flag Officer Sea Training.Vice Admiral Rajesh Pendharkar is a recipient of the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal for distinguished service.

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Defence

ADVANCED LIGHT HELICOPTERS INDUCTED AT INS DEGA

Ashish Singh

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The induction ceremony of ‘322 Dega Flight’ was held in the presence of Vice Adm Ajendra Bahadur Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command (ENC) with three indigenously built Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) MK III helicopters flying into Naval Air Station, INS Dega earlier this week. With the induction of these Maritime Reconnaissance and Coastal Security (MRCS) helicopters, the ENC got a major boost towards enhancing the capabilities of the force, in pursuit of the maritime interests of the nation. These helicopters, built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, are state-of-the-art flying machines and constitute a major step in our quest for “Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.

ALH MK III helicopters feature an array of systems previously seen only on heavier, multi-role helicopters of the Indian Navy. These helicopters are fitted with modern surveillance radar and electro-optical equipment, which enable them to undertake the role of maritime reconnaissance in addition to providing long-range Search and Rescue, both by day and night. In addition to special operations capabilities, ALH MK III is also fitted with a heavy machine gun to undertake constabulary missions. A removable Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) is also fitted on ALH MK III helicopters to airlift critically ill patients. The helicopter also has a host of advanced avionics, making it truly an all-weather aircraft. The flight is being led by Cdr SS Dash as the first flight commander who is an experienced ALH Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) with extensive operational experience.

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Defence

INDIAN AND THAI NAVIES CARRYING OUT 31ST COORDINATED PATROL

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NEW DELHI: The 31st edition of India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Indo-Thai CORPAT) between the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy is being conducted from 9th to 11th June. Indian Naval Ship (INS) Saryu, an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel and His Majesty’s Thailand Ship (HTMS) Krabi, an Offshore Patrol Vessel, along with Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both navies are participating in the CORPAT.

Towards reinforcing maritime links between the two countries and with an aim of keeping this vital part of the Indian Ocean safe and secure for international trade, the two navies have been undertaking CORPAT bi-annually along their International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) since 2005. CORPAT builds up understanding and interoperability between navies and facilitates institution of measures to prevent and suppress unlawful activities like Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery and piracy. It further helps enhance the operational synergy by exchange of information for prevention of smuggling, illegal immigration and for conduct of SAR operations at sea.

As part of Government of India’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region), the Indian Navy has been proactively engaging with the countries in the Indian Ocean Region towards enhancing regional maritime security. This has been through bilateral and multilateral exercises, Coordinated Patrols, Joint EEZ Surveillance, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. The Indian Navy and Royal Thai Navy have especially enjoyed a close and friendly relationship covering a wide spectrum of activities and interactions, which have strengthened over the years. The 31st Indo-Thai CORPAT will contribute towards Indian Navy’s efforts to consolidate inter-operability and forge strong bonds of friendship with Royal Thai Navy.

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