Military 4.5 is the lead to the industry to pull beyond industry 4.0, by half a notch. Since it is a new concept that was first coined by Lt Gen P.J.S. Pannu (Retd.) in a panel discussion on NewsX news channel, The Daily Guardian spoke to him to understand more about the ‘Military 4.5’. Lt Gen Pannu (Retd) is a former Deputy Chief of Indian Integrated Staff. He was instrumental in raising the Defence Cyber and Space Agencies as also the Special Forces Division. He is also former ADGMO (Special Ops), DG Infantry and 14 Corps Commander. He is perusing his PhD in the subject of indigenisation of defence industry. Excerpts:
Q: How do you see the current status of dependency and co-operation between military and industry? Especially in terms of extent of coordination and potential for future simultaneous growth for future warfares?
A: Future wars would increasingly be based on ‘technology’ rather than on ‘physical Skill’. While skills would certainly be needed to employ ‘man-machine combine’, in future ‘a machine shall largely fight a machine’ albeit with human effort and to meet human ends. From deterrence to battlefield dominance, a side having smarter machines would have an edge. Human skills would shift towards the ability or specialisation in managing these machines. Military would have to train on M3 (Man, Machine, Management). Humanmachine combine shall be all pervasive through HM2M-H (Human-Machine to Machine-Human) connect. Most important factor would be the ownership of machines — only possible through indigenisation.
India has been the largest importer of military hardware. Defence industry in India produces hardware that has low self-reliance content since it is largely dependent on foreign technology, design, materials and components. In the era of technology regulation (read denial), whatever technology is imported is generally second grade, yet cost prohibitive. More often, armed forces are constraint to buy indigenous hardware. It needs an understanding that military needs weapons and equipment to win future battles and not to give assured business to the defence Industry. Fighting battles with inferior weapons would mean spending money on buying defeat. There is no escape for Indian defence industry but to transform into producing indigenised military hardware that is superior to that of an adversary. Military must demand next generation war-fighting equipment from the industry. For this purpose, armed forces should have clear correlation between war-fighting doctrines and roadmap for the industry.
Traditionally, it is the industry which has been leading the military to adapt to what it can offer. Budgets dictate how much can be spent on hardware. Senior Generals and leaders are on record saying, ‘We shall fight with what we have’. In other words, it gives an escape to the administrator that whatever Military is provided with, they shall still fight. Having taken an oath to lay down lives to save the nation, armed forces rely heavily on the motivation, grit, determination and physical skill of a soldier, and willing ‘self-accountability’ of commanders. How does the industry step in to say — “We shall provide (Make) you with what you want to Defend the Nation”. For this to be achieved, military has to lead the industry.
Q: How are the military and industry dependent on each other and who is guiding whom currently?
A: Armed forces and defence industry ideally should operate hand in hand. This relationship has not been formally established or recognised in the developing world. In India, even though there are well laid-out provisions for equipping armed forces, but processes and structures are complex, long and tardy. Procedures for procurement and production are generally ‘worksin-progress’ and amended frequently, as a result, both industry and military can neither synergise nor are confident in achieving their targets. Military puts out lists of hardware requirement periodically with priorities aligned to budgets. Acceptance of Necessity (AON) kick-starts the process for scouting around the market, locally and globally. The first hurdle is in taking a decision to Buy Globally/ Locally/Produce/undertake research (R&D).
As technology is time relevant and defence needs are time critical, procurement overshadows production. The local R&D and prototypes built, clearly fall behind by a generation due time lag in completing the development cycle. The trials are time consuming and usually a barrier to procurement of locally developed product. In the absence of expertise and lack of authority, neither the industry nor the military can take a lead — the process of decision is left to an administrator who is the least expert. In a failed procurement case, an administrator finds solace in having saved budget and registers that as achievement. In the developing and underdeveloped countries, the armed forces are seen to be struggling in absorbing the Industry 3.0-3.5.
Due to above complications, lesser developed part of the world generally remains dependent on the developed that has matured Defence-Industrial complex — aligned to Industry 4.0. Advanced countries continue to leap forward in innovations due to matured R&D — convert prototypes into product in a much shorter timeframe, as such less developed countries cannot catch up. More so, industry in the developing world has neither the capacity nor awareness of the military’s needs. A good military interface is a pre-requisite to align with innovators and industry, for the latter to understand the war fighting doctrine and needs. Israel is a shining example where the military and industry work hand in hand. One of the reasons for this synergy is that most scientists and industrialists in Israel have served IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) and experienced combat. This is true for certain other countries too leading in defence technology. India unfortunately has least connect between military and industry and therefore remains a procurement based nation, importing most of its military hardware.
Q: What’s the concept of Military 4.5? Why is it needed now?
A: Defence industry needs guidance and hand-holding from the military which should coach the innovators, guide R&D and get the military hardware to finality. Military 4.5 is the lead to the industry to pull beyond industry 4.0, by half a notch. With the guidance from the armed forces the product would be aligned to the war fighting doctrines. On the part of industry, it brings in the best technological and industrial practices. A synergy between defence industry and armed forces would make industry and military revolution to go hand in hand. Industry shall produce weapon systems to fight future battles rather than battles of yesteryears. Military, in the bargain would be equipped with the best and that too indigenously produced hardware. For years there has been a cultural divergence and separation between these institutions, especially in India.
Military has continued to depend on imports and even those products that are produced in India have very low Indigenous Content. The Defence Procurement Plans have been modified every few years to accommodate participation by the Indian defence industry under Make in India programmes. However, the local products usually have not passed trials or found favour with the Military. TCPRs (Technology Perspective Roadmaps) prepared by the military for the industry are guidelines to the industry, but have met limited success because these are not wholesome concepts relating to Industry 4.0. The world is moving fast into new technology regime. Unless Defence Forces, Para Military Forces and Law enforcement agencies draw technology objectives together that not only aligns with the industry 4.0 but move half a notch ahead, country shall neither be able to break the cycle of R&D and development lag nor be prepared for future Wars.
Q: What are areas and domains under Military 4.5?
A: Today we are deep into Industrial Revolution 4.0, marked by data and machine learning. For the military, that means moving our industrial platforms and war-machines to be run by Artificial Intelligence (AI) engines. Moving the military to 4.5 would mean hurdling of legacy obstacles. Light, small, and fast, nanotechnology and miniaturised components offer the military some obvious benefits in terms of portability, protection and connection. But it needs to go further. We need the Military version — neo-nanotech — that’s even smaller, refined for reliable performance, and rugged and hardened enough to withstand the battle field rigorous.
As systems become more networked and the machines get smarter, the sheer speed and connectivity will challenge the human beings they are meant to serve, who will need to keep up. These systems will easily outstrip their operators unless some augmentation technology pairs with the operator to prevent fatigue, upgrade relatively slower thinking, and fuel a better decisionmaking cycle. This intelligent augmentation is crucial to controllable autonomous applications. Humans are now the weakest link in the chain: Vulnerable to lapses in attention, fatigue, even informational, psychological, biological and chemical warfare. Autonomous systems are much more impervious to such influences.
Network-centricity is at the core of future battles. When target acquisition and robotics are brought together, we will have C5I2-STAR2 (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence and Information — Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Reconnaissance and Robotics) cluster, nearly achieving the Industrial Revolution for Military 4.5. A networked battlefield where decentralised, robotic-initiated decision making would be the norm. This would largely be linked through Secure Space Connectivity.
Network-centric operations won’t happen without the fusion of scalable satellite connectivity for narrowband applications; fibre and microwave links to support broadband applications. These would ultimately connect millions of sensors operating ubiquitously and support data transfer. AI would play a critical role, enabling the IoMT (Internet of Military Things) to transition from mostly telemetry and sensing to complete autonomous action guided by rules defined by individuals, organisations and even nations. High assurances and strong protection tools will need to be delivered by the industry. Call it military-grade secrecy; security protocols would need to be well defined. Secure Chips, Quantum Technology and IP concealment would be essential.
None of the above will be possible if industry cannot pin down the core, baselayer PME (Power, Materials, and Electronics) capabilities. Military superiority will come from innovations that can deliver lighter, more sustainable power, perhaps delivered through nuclear, renewables or rechargeable through motion. It will come from lighter, stronger, selfhealing materials designed to maximize survivability and bear up extreme temperatures. It will also need next-generation electronics that are tiny, light, and programmable. It certainly requires developing the technological mechanisms that make it possible for humans and machines to partner in powerful new ways.
Q: How can the concept of Military 4.5 be adopted and executed?
A: The groundwork has clearly been laid. We have data, advanced computing, new materials and engineering methods that are translating into the fastest evolution of physical systems in human history. We can process data in seconds and run experiment after experiment based on the evolving results. Even small companies can better innovate at scale because it’s cheaper and faster to do so. There are simply no excuses for failure. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Laboratories, Ordinance Factories, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and private sector must quickly align to achieve Military 4.5 standards. The Government of India has taken the right step in improving the performance of Ordinance Factories through Corporatisation before it can step up to absorb Industry 4.0 technologies and then pull up to 4.5.
Military 4.5 is not only a holistic war-fighting solution but a concept to guide the industry to push its envelope beyond 4.0. For all actors, elements of warfighting are coming together in a new technology-enabled paradigm — hybrid war — that will challenge us to be more thoughtful. The Grey Zone is expanding, stitching non-state and state actors as legitimate participants of Hybrid War. The conventional battles are subsuming the sub-conventional. Technology is the common denominator not only for the military but also for National Command Elements, Para Military Forces, Border Guarding and Law Enforcement Agencies. But it needs nuanced guidance of specialists.
Q:How is Military 4.5 Concept relevant for India? How can this be implemented?
A: Military Concept 4.5 is most relevant to India. We have a fast developing economy with a large industrial base. The growth of country is based on the modernisation of Industrial Complex. Unfortunately, Industry in general and defence industry in particular is lagging behind in technology. Despite having many indigenous programmes such as a fourth-generation fighter aircraft (LCA), nuclear submarine and main battle tank. India continues to be one of the largest importers of weapon systems and equipment. Import of Chinook and Apache Attack Helicopters from the US, Rafael Fighter Aircraft from France and S-400 Missiles from Russia are significant defence imports in a single year 2019-20. The target of 70% self-reliance in defence procurement set for 2005 is nowhere in sight. Currently, India’s self-reliance is seen to around 35-40% but not in niche technologies. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India is the world’s largest importer of major weapons, with a 15% global share during 2010- 2016. This does not augur well for a country with such a potent military and having regional aspirations.
To reverse the country’s huge arms import dependency and many reforms like a Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP-2020), Make in India, iDEX (Innovation for Defence Excellence) and a host of policy initiatives have been taken by the Government to revive the static or waning defence industry. However, despite all these efforts, India has a long way to go from reducing its huge imports of foreign military hardware and achieve indigenisation. PM Modi has made a clarion call on aatmanirbharta (aelf-reliance) during 2020 coronavirus crisis. Following which decision has been taken for privatization of Space Sector by creation of IN-SPACe and Corporatisation of the Ordinance Factories. It is encouraging to see gradual policy shift towards unlocking the Private Sector into participating in the space and defence sector, earlier only reserved for slow and safe government agencies. This change is so very vital to achieve 4.5 goals.
Despite the numerous reform measures undertaken under the ambit of the ‘Make in India’ programme, the Indian defence industry still suffers from several legacy issues which need to be addressed in order to establish an efficient and credible defence industrial base. The reform agenda that needs to be pursued is a multipronged one and it needs to be implemented systematically. It should begin with an overarching and integrated institutional structure that would be responsible for the three critical but interrelated functions of procurement, production and R&D. The absence of Military guiding the industry to initially align to Industry 4.0 and then later on pull by half a notch to 4.5 standards, is unacceptable.
The current procedures and structures are incapable of meeting some of the most basic current requirements of the armed forces — not to talk about 4.5 standards for future war-fighting. These structural changes are required urgently to synergise military with industry, scientific community and the administrators. There is very limited formal education on defence matters in our country. An idea was mooted for many decades to create Indian Defence University (IDU), this among many things would have bridged this foundational gap. Unfortunately, IDU has been sanctioned for many years but not created.
Views expressed in this interview by Lt Gen P.J.S. Pannu (Retd.) are personal.
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CENTRE MAKES INTENT CLEAR, NO ROLL BACK OF AGNIPATH
The Union Home Ministry bans 35 WhatsApp group for spreading fake news. At least ten people have been arrested for organising protests.
The Central government on Sunday made it clear that Agnipath, the newly unveiled policy of recruitment to all three armed forces “will not be rolled back”. “Coming to the rollback of the scheme, no. Why should it be rolled back? It is the only progressive step to making the country young.” Lt Gen Anil Puri, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Defence announced here in a joint press conference. The announcement came after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a meeting with all three services chiefs for the second consecutive day.
Explaining the rationale behind the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, Lt Gen Puri told the media persons that there were many casualties in high-altitude battle fields owing to health reasons. “Do you know how many casualties are reported just for health purposes from high-altitude areas? Do read about it, then you would come to know why young is important,” Puri said. Officers from Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy were also present in the joint briefing.
With the announcement made in the briefing it is clear that the contractual recruitment policy for armed forces is here to say notwithstanding the widespread protests against it. In view of the mounting protests, which have left Railways property worth Rs. 200 crore damaged and led to the cancellation of 300 trains, the government has, though, reached out the protesting youth to mollify them. In a slew of measures, the Centre first announced 2-year relaxation in age for 2022 and then extended 10 per cent reservation in Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles to Agniveers whose contract would come to an end after a 4-year stint. The government also extended age relaxation of 5 years to Agniveers in government jobs.
Lt Gen Puri further told
the media persons that initially 46,000 Army aspirants would be recruited in order to ‘analyse’ the scheme “and to build up infra capacity”. Unveiling the numbers the government intends to hire, Puri said, “In the next 4–5 years, our intake (of recruits) will be 50,000–60,000 and will increase to 90,000–1 lakh subsequently.” The number of ‘Agniveers’ would go up to 1.25 lakh eventually, he added.
However, the recruitment to armed forces comes with a caveat. Every Agniveer aspirant would have to furnish a certificate, duly verified by the police, declaring that they were not part of the protests or vandalism. Emphasizing that Indian Army’s foundation was discipline and there was no space for arson or vandalism, Lt Gen Puri said, “Every individual will give a certificate that they were not part of the protest or vandalism. Police verification is 100 per cent, no one can join without that.” Individuals against whom FIRs have been lodged would not be allowed to join the forces.
The Centre also banned 35 WhatsApp groups for spreading fake news on Agnipath scheme and Agniveers, the ministry of home affairs said. At least ten people have been arrested on charges of rumour-mongering and organising protests.
Around 17,600 people take premature retirement from the armed forces, he told the reporters. “No one ever tried to ask them what they will do after retirement?” said Lt Gen Puri. Agniveers would get the same allowance in areas like Siachen and other areas which are applicable to the regular soldiers serving at present, he informed the reporters. The Additional Secretary also said that an Agniveer would get a compensation of Rs 1 crore if he sacrifices his life in service of the nation.
The centre had on June 14 announced the new recruitment policy which seeks to casualise jobs in the armed forces causing huge resentment among army aspirants. Barely two days after the ‘Agnipath’ scheme was unveiled, youth hit the streets across several states leading to violence, arson and vandalism.
In the meanwhile, opposition parties continued slam the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, demanding its withdrawal. Giving a call to the youth of the country to topple the BJP-led government at the Centre, “through democratic, peaceful and non-violent means”, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Sunday said, “I urge you to protest peacefully, but don’t stop. These are your rights, this is your country and it is your duty to protect it. Every leader and worker of the Congress is with you.” Priyanka was addressing a ‘Satyagrah’ protest against the schemed held by the Congress Party at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Among the top leaders, who took part in the protest, were Jairam Ramesh, Rajiv Shukla, Sachin Pilot, Salman Khurshid and Alka Lamba.
Her brother Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who turned 52 on Sunday, asked his party workers to refrain from organizing celebrations on his birthday. “We are concerned with the situation in the country. Crores of youths are anguished. We should share the pain of the youth and their families and stand with them,” Rahul said in a statement.
Slamming the Centre, BSP leader Mayawati on Sunday said that the scheme had left the country’s youth “disappointed and frustrated”.
In a related development, the Rajasthan Cabinet passed a resolution on Sunday demanding the Centre to withdraw the scheme keeping in mind the “larger public interest and the sentiments of the youths”.
‘Agnipath’ a trial by fire or an opportunity?
The scheme has possibly been launched with an aim to reduce the ballooning financial burden on the government and also to make the Armed Forces more competitive. However, the plan has its own pitfalls.
The Ministry of Defence finally announced Agnipath (Tour of Duty), the new scheme of recruitment to Armed Forces. Arguably a more suitable name may have been considered, because of the insinuation – is it a trial by fire or an opportunity? As expected, the scheme has been met with widespread criticism, especially from the veterans and armed forces aspirants. It is not surprising because the new scheme which has been in news since 2020 did not generate enough public debate at the time, which left people only with a vague idea about what it entails. Many did not take it seriously given that the armed forces already have a time-tested recruitment method. But now that the scheme details have been made clear, at least a part of it, it seems the criticism was justified.
The new recruitment scheme is not just radical, in that over a period it will change the composition of the Army, but that once in force it will release three-fourth of the recruits back to civilian life, albeit with some uncertainty about their future. In a country where government jobs are considered attractive, not just because of salary but also for hefty pension, a career in armed forces is preferred especially by youths from rural India. It is only likely that the recruits released after four years of service will knock the door of courts for better benefits.
This is not to say that there were no problems with the existing system. This scheme perhaps has envisaged by the government as a way of reducing the ballooning pay and pension bills. The nature of conflict is also changing, so the maintenance of a large standing army itself has been questioned. But despite expectation of stiff opposition to the new scheme, the government had not made adequate preparation for taking the youth – the primary stakeholder – into confidence. The resultant surprise announcement, after virtually no recruitments in two years, has backfired. Will it solve the problem for which it is being touted as the solution? Are the armed forces leadership completely on board? There are no clear answers as yet.
Therefore, before getting into the pros and cons of the scheme, it is important to understand why government has felt the need to bring this radical reform, when it is strongly being argued that the existing system is working fine. Specifically, it is pertinent to explore the issues government is attempting to resolve with this move.
The Problem – what is it trying to solve
It is argued, rhetorically, that no price is too high to be paid for the safety and security of the state. It may be true when the state is at war, but during peacetime it is a whole another issue. A developing country, like India, has limited resources and financial capacity. The government has to look after the needs of the humongous population and carry out the economic development through these limited resources. Excessive spending on any particular sector means diversion of funds from other sectors, even if it’s done for the state’s defence. The USSR eventually ended up getting disintegrated because, among other reasons, the government prioritised competing in arms race with the U.S., over providing basic needs to its population. Pakistan is another good example of this lopsided budgeting. The Army’s share in national budget is much more than what the state can afford. Pakistan’s defence budget accounts for 4 percent of GDP, compared to 2.9 percent of India’s. But since the Army is the ultimate authority in Pakistan, all governments are forced to keep the Army in good humour by approving their budgetary requisition. Result is that Pakistani economy is in doldrums and people are being asked to give up drinking tea.
Specific to India, the problem that the government is facing is meeting its obligations towards pay and pensions of soldiers and at the same time also undertaking the modernisation of the armed forces. Given the size of the armed forces, especially the Army, the pays and pensions take out a significant chunk out of the overall defence budget, leaving inadequate amount for force modernisation. Salaries and pensions account for nearly 60 percent of total defence budget, leaving a meagre 27 percent for capital acquisition. There is no separate budget for meeting payments obligations and acquiring weapons for modernization. The inflationary factors make capital acquisition (weapons & other materiel) more expensive every passing year. Similarly, the size of pays and pensions is also rising with more retirements every year. This is simply unsustainable and has been raised several times. The pensioners outnumber those in service by significant margin. That is why government has felt it necessary to reform the system that will bring down its commitments on pension.
However, it is easier said than done. Pension is an emotive issue in the country. It is seen as the guarantee of a secure retired life. Already several organisations are pressing for reinstatement of the old pension system which was replaced by the contributory National Pension System (NPS). For most, this is their only source of income in post-retirement civilian life. Only a few manage to obtain well-paying jobs.
The other issue is that of trimming the size of the Army. The Army leadership has time and again emphasised about the need to create a lean and mean fighting force which is more suitable for theatre battle groups. In fact, the proposal for reduction in size of the Army came from their leadership and studies. This means that the recruitment to the armed forces was set to be reduced regardless. However, it is the manner in which the new scheme of recruitment has been announced, as a complete surprise, to the aspirants that has created much discontent.
The Solution – how it is trying to solve it
As per the details released by the government, the old system of recruitment has been abolished. The new recruits will be selected solely through all-India merit Tour of Duty scheme. The scheme seems to be modelled closely to the recruitment system of the U.S. The hope is that since the system has worked well for the U.S., it should work fine for Indian security needs too. But the battle requirements of the U.S., primarily an expeditionary force, are much different than India.
Anyway, back to the solution offered. Only about 25 percent would be offered ranks and made permanent by the armed forces. The competition to be among the one-fourth being retained would be very stiff. Those retained would not only get the full salary and benefits but also the pension, the most lucrative part. Talking to people in rural parts of the country would make it clear that assured pension is what makes a government job most sought after. Other factors come later. The in-hand salary offered to the recruits in the new scheme is quite low. Perhaps government feels that school pass outs deserve only a meagre amount as their salary. Most these recruits have a family to support. Would the salary be enough to do that?
The released 75 percent, the numbers could vary depending upon how many are recruited in a year, would have 11 lakh rupees and a degree. That would get them a job is doubtful. Most logical step would be to go for further studies, which means they’ll end up spending their savings. It is not easy to go back into studies after being in a job.
The assurances provided by the Home Ministry and several state governments that these “retirees” would be prioritised in the state police force & central police force is not very exciting. Governments cannot shut the door for those to join police force who do not come out of the Tour of Duty scheme.
From the government’s perspective, the scheme is perhaps a solution to the challenges it is facing. However, it is clear that its announcement and implementation has not been thought through as well as it should have.
First and foremost, it is a decision by the government, so government has to own it completely and take the necessary steps to douse the fire of resentment as the top priority. The government perhaps blundered by announcing the new recruitment scheme as a complete surprise. No thought was spared about the candidates who had been working hard for past few years to qualify. Undoubtedly, the scheme could have been announced well in advance, thus giving future aspirants knowledge of what lays ahead and the time to prepare and adjust.
People may argue that it is not the job of the armed forces to cater to employment generation in the country. However, that is not how people perceive it. A career in armed forces is seen by those coming from rural parts as lifetime employment. Social status is one thing, the pay and perks ensure that their families lead a comfortable life with opportunities for upward mobility. It will not be easy for government to convince this aspirational population about the benefits of the new scheme.
Still, a middle ground must be found. The life for the Agniveers after release from armed forces is not going to be easy. For those unfortunates who get disabled during service, there’s no guarantee that they will be given the benefits government has announced. Ministry of Defence has the infamous track record of fighting almost every soldier’s disability pension claim in court. There’s no reason to believe this attitude will change for Agniveers.
Government needs to deal with the issue with required compassion. For many armed forces aspirants, joining army is their passion. It’s all they dream about. A better deal needs to offered to them. The aspirants must cease the arson and destruction of precious public property. There are ways to protests, arson and rioting is not among them. If anything, it reflects poorly on those seeking to be part of a highly disciplined organisation.
The author is a Research Scholar with the School of National Security Studies in Central University of Gujarat
SOLDIERS’ SUPREME SACRIFICE WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN: RAJNATH SINGH
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday paid homage to the Indian Army soldiers who lost their lives in the Galwan Valley clash two years ago in 2020.Taking to Twitter, Singh, who is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, posted, “Remembering the heroes of Galwan who fought valiantly for the honour of the country and laid down their lives on June 15-16, 2020. Their courage, bravery and supreme sacrifice will never be forgotten. I pay homage to those bravehearts.” For the first time in nearly 45 years, a violent skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops broke out in the Galwan Valley on June 15, 2020, resulting in losses on both sides and marking a new sour turn in China-India relations. The violent clashes, which mostly took place in and around Ladakh’s Galwan Valley and Pangong Lake, claimed lives on both sides and strained the bilateral relationship.
Even though two years have passed since the deadliest clash in 45 years between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, the two countries are still engaged in talks for the disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). But an early resolution to the standoff is nowhere in sight.
So far, the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have held 14 rounds of talks since the Galwan clashes and one before June 15, 2020, to resolve the standoff but no concrete solution has been arrived at yet.Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today arrived in Srinagar on a two-day visit to the Union Territory. He will be visiting forward areas and interacting with troops during his visit.
VIOLENCE OVER AGNIPATH, DEMANDS GROW OF SCRAPPING THE SCHEME
As thousands of youth are up in arms, the government finds itself in a tight spot.
Barely two days after the Central government unveiled its recruitment policy for all three arms of Indian armed forces, massive protests against contractual employment erupted across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, with thousands of youth hitting the streets and vandalising state property on Thursday. Eponymously called ‘Agnipath’, the new recruitment policy offers employment with armed forces for a period of 4 years on a contractual basis. Only 25 per cent of the recruited will be regularised in military service.
However, the policy has not gone down well with the youth who have erupted in protests demanding a roll back. Bihar has seen the largest number of protests across the state, with irate youth turning violent damaging public and private property. Violent protests have been reported from 17 districts of Bihar leaving half a dozen trains torched and several properties damaged in arson. Indian Railways has cancelled 34 trains, 5 Mail/Express and 29 Passenger in view of the ongoing violent protests. The protesting youth also damaged the BJP office in and attacked houses of 2 MLAs in the state.
Thousands of irate youth were seen protesting in Nawada, Siwan, Chhapra, Kaimur, Gopalganj, Ara and Rohtas in Bikramganj, torching trains, even looting shops in Ara. Protesters torched three passenger trains in Chhapra and Kaimur, vandalized around 12 trains at Chhapra Junction. A passenger train was set on fire in Gopalganj.
Demanding a roll back of the recruitment policy, which seeks to contractualize jobs in the military, the aspirants said they were unhappy over the changes introduced under the new recruitment scheme, particularly the length of service, no pension provisions for those released early, and the 17.5 to 21 age restriction that now makes many of them ineligible. “We demand that the recruitment be done as it used to be done earlier. Tour of Duty (ToD) be rolled back and exams be held as earlier. Nobody will go to Army just for four years,” a protestor in Munger was quoted as saying by ANI.
As the protests turned violent in Haryana, local authorities suspended Internet and SMS services for some time. It was withdrawn later. To keep the situation under control, Section 144 has been imposed in Palwal, where police vehicles were set ablaze and several roadways buses were damaged. National Highway 19 was also blocked was blocked by the protesters, while some policemen were injured due stone pelting.
Taken aback at the widespread violent protests, the Centre issued a statement clarifying that only 3% of the armed forces will be recruited as Agniveers in the first year and the scheme will no effect on the regimental system.
In-service training received by Agniveers to be recognised as credits for graduation
Education Ministry on Wednesday said that a special, three-year skill-based bachelor’s degree programme will be launched for serving defence personnel that will recognize the skill training received by Agniveers under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme during their tenure in the defence establishments.
The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved an attractive recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the Armed Forces called ‘Agnipath’ and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers. AGNIPATH allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years. The ‘Agnipath’ scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces. Education Ministry in a statement said, “In order to enhance the future career prospects of our Agniveers, and equip them for various job roles in the civilian sector, the Ministry of Education is to launch a special, three-year skill-based bachelor degree programme for serving defence personnel that will recognize the skill training received by them during their tenure in the defence establishments.”
“Under this programme that has been designed by IGNOU and will also be executed by them, 50 per cent of the credits required for a graduate degree will come from the skill training – both technical and non-technical – received by the Agniveer, and the remaining 50 per cent will come from a basket of courses that cover a wide variety of subjects like languages, Economics, History, Political Science, Public Administration, Sociology, Mathematics, Education, Commerce, Tourism, Vocational Studies, Agriculture and Jyotish, as also Ability Enhancement Courses on Environmental Studies and Communication Skills in English,” the Ministry said.
Education Ministry further said, “This programme is aligned with UGC norms and with the National Credit Framework/National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) as mandated under the National Education Policy 2020.”It also has provision for multiple exit points – Undergraduate Certificate on successful completion of the first-year courses, Undergraduate Diploma on successful completion of the first and second-year courses, and Degree on completion of all the courses in the three-year time frame.
The framework of the programme has been duly recognized by the concerned regulatory bodies – All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET) and UGC.The degree will be awarded by IGNOU as per UGC nomenclature (BA, B.Com, BA (vocational); BA (Tourism Management), and will be recognized both in India and abroad for employment and education. Army, Navy and Air Force will sign Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with IGNOU for implementation of the scheme.
REMINISCING GLORIOUS INNINGS OF INS AKSHAY AND INS NISHANK
The sunset of 3 June 2022 will mark an end to the glorious voyages of two Indian Naval Ships Nishank and Akshay, wherein both the ships will be decommissioned at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai after 32 years of being at the forefront of safeguarding the maritime interests of our nation. Commissioned in the freezing temperature of the Poti Shipyard of erstwhile Soviet Union which is presently in Georgia, the ships will be decommissioned in the tropical temperature of Mumbai wherein the atmosphere will be laden with the emotions and nostalgia of all the ex-crew of both the ships. All the seafarers bear the names of their ships as their own identity. Home to many sea warriors, these ships will always remain a source of honour and pride.
A ship in the Navy is treated as a living entity. Decommissioning is a very formal, yet very emotional ceremony for a ship, her crew and the Navy in general. During decommissioning ceremony, the ship’s decommissioning pennant, which is flown by ship on Sunday before decommissioning date is hauled down. The pennant is a mark of the ship being in commission. The hauling down of the pennant takes place during sunset, signifying the end of the commissioned service of the ship. The decommissioning pennant is equal to the ship’s length and post decommissioning, is preserved as a part of naval history. This is also the last time when bugle is piped on the ship. This signifies the transition of a living soul to a mere steel structure.
Nishank, the fourth of the Veer Class Missile Corvette, has been an integral part of the Killer Squadron renowned for its heroics in the 1971 War. Nishank holds the distinction of having operated on both the eastern as well as western seaboard. The ship, armed with a potent surface-to-surface missile, possessed the capability to strike fear in the heart of the enemy. The journey of Nishank is not yet over. The ship has been earmarked to be displayed as a war relic at a suitable historic location. The ship will continue to motivate our future generations to be part of our glorious past and bright future, showcasing the might of the Indian Navy.
Akshay is part of the 23rd Patrol Vessel Squadron whose primary role is anti-submarine warfare and coastal patrol. The ship has been operating under Naval Officer-in-Charge, Maharashtra. With her formidable armament of long-range torpedoes and anti-submarine rockets, the submarine hunter was perennially on petrol keeping the enemy submarines at bay.
As the Indian Navy/ nation prepares to bid adieu to these fine men of war, the guest of honour for the event would be VAdm R K Pattnaik (Retd) and VAdm SPS Cheema (Retd), the commissioning Commanding Officer of INS Akshay and the commissioning Commanding Officer of INS Nishank respectively, the very first men to take these war machines to sea. Adm R Hari Kumar PVSM AVSM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Naval staff will be the Chief Guest. VAdm AB Singh, PVSM, AVSM, ADC Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command and VAdm Biswajit Dasgupta, AVSM, YSM, VSM Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command will be among the distinguished guests present for the ceremony. The event will also be attended by the veterans, who had the privilege to serve on these ships along with their families.
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