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Iconic Passing Out Parades in the time of coronavirus

This year almost all the POPs and other course completion ceremonies of these academies have been affected due to Covid-19 and the resultant restrictions with it. Each such ceremony conducted at various academies in last couple of weeks had to be reduced in the scale and celebration, at the same time making it historical in nature.

Ashish Singh

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The Passing Out Parade of various Indian military academies spread across the country belonging to Indian Army, Navy and Air Force is considered one of the most iconic events.

After the Republic Day parade, if there is something in Indian military that is considered the most iconic event, it is the Passing Out Parade (POP) of various Indian military academies spread across the country belonging to Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. There are many military academies in India. The biggest is the National Defence Academy (NDA) for all three services, then there are other military academies with respect to each service like the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun, the Indian Naval Academy (INA) in Ezhimala and many more which cater to respective trainees and courses with service specifications including foreign military officers. But this year almost all the POPs and other course completion ceremonies of these academies have been affected due to Covid-19 and the resultant restrictions with it. Each such ceremony conducted at various academies in last couple of weeks had to be reduced in the scale and celebration, at the same time making it historical in nature. Let’s look at each of these iconic and historical POPs and ceremonies conducted in last couple of weeks one by one.

ARMY Chief REVIEWS POP AT IMA, DEHRADUN

The date, 13 June 2020 will go down in the history of IMA as another landmark milestone, where a total of 423 Gentlemen Cadets of 146 Regular Course and 129 Technical Graduate Course, including 90 Gentlemen Cadets from nine friendly foreign countries successfully passed out from the portals of Indian Military Academy, overcoming all challenges of Covid-19. The Gentlemen Cadets displayed inspiring enthusiasm and zeal, and put up an excellent show, marching with perfection to Military tunes of ‘Col Bogey’, ‘Sare Jahan Se Achha’ and ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja’ with pride and élan reflecting in each step. They knew that their parents and loved ones were witnessing each step with great pride and affection through the live coverage on all media platforms across the globe.

To motivate and inspire the Passing out course, Chief of Army Staff Gen M.M. Naravane was himself present as the Reviewing Officer (RO) of the Parade. He congratulated the Gentlemen cadets on successful completion of their training at IMA. Gen Naravane, complimented the instructions and cadets for the excellent parade, immaculate turnout as well as the crisp, synergised drill movements indicating high standards of training and discipline imbibed by the young leaders. The entire ceremony was conducted with due COVID precautions, including wearing of masks, gloves and drill formations adapted to maintain requisite distance between files/columns while executing the drill movements over the reverberating Drill Square. In many ways, this Passing Out Parade has been one of its kind amongst peer institutions across the world as each adapted itself to prevailing Covid environment.

Gen Naravane, the reviewing officer, also complimented the 90 cadets from friendly foreign countries who trained at IMA. He said, “I am sure, you as ambassadors of your country carry back a treasure of fond memories of IMA and training which you shall cherish for a lifetime. The Indian Military Academy has imparted training to which will form the bedrock for your growth, both professional and personal, and will definitely strengthen the ties between our countries”. Another first during this time was the introduction of ‘Pehla Kadam’ signifying the first step that the Gentlemen Cadets take as they join the fraternity of the brave Commissioned Officers of their respective Army. The ‘Pipping Ceremony’, which is traditionally done by the parents of the Gentlemen Cadets, was this time carried out by the staff and instructors while observing all social distancing and personal protection protocols. General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army Training Command, Lt Gen Raj Shukla was also present for the IMA POP and attended various events and ceremonies to motivate the course. He earlier delivered an extremely inspiring talk on “Invigorating Future Military Leadership of the Indian Army” to the future leaders of the Passing Out Course outlining essentials of what they must imbibe and practice to stand tall as a Military Leader.

While addressing the Passing out Course, the Reviewing Officer, exhorted all to dedicate themselves to the service of the nation. He said “you are just a step away from the historic and magnificent moment of your commissioning into the most elite forces. Let me adjure you to value the great traditions of the Indian Army, the basic tenets of which are the love for your country, love and compassion for the men you command and unflinching loyalty towards them. The fundamentals of soldiering have been instilled in you here; the onus is now on your young and firm shoulders to define the various facets of the art of soldiering and to be men of formidable bearing, courage and stature”. He also complemented and thanked the parents of the passing out course who had motivated their wards for having chosen such a noble profession to serve the nation and face all threat that our country might be required to counter at present and in the future. While being conducted in scaled down backdrop on account Covid, the Passing Out Parade retained ceremonial grandeur and regalia symbolic of this “once in a lifetime” moment for the proud Gentlemen Cadets. The Parade was earlier preceded by a solemn wreath laying ceremony at the Academy War Memorial in which the Academy remembered its 883 martyrs who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the nation through the years and all committed themselves to follow the same path of bravery and selfless courage.

138TH COURSE POP OF the NDA

The 138th course of the NDA, Khadakwasla, Pune successfully passed out on 30 May 20 after a ‘Solemn Ceremony’ conducted at ‘Habibullah Hall’ of the Academy. The Commandant NDA, Lt Gen Asit Mistry presided over the function, which was attended only by the cadets of the passing out course and limited members of the faculty at NDA. In view of the restrictions due to ongoing pandemic across the country, the passing out ceremony, which otherwise is a landmark event of the academy, had to be modified and conducted in a scaled down manner. While keeping the sentiment and symbolism of the lifetime occasion for the cadets fully intact, the military procedures were improvised and adapted to ensure ‘Do Gaj ki Doori’, the mandated social distancing.A total of 335 cadets graduated from the academy which includes 226 Army cadets, 44 Naval cadets and 65 Air Force cadets. It is a matter of pride for NDA that 20 cadets from friendly foreign countries (Bhutan, Tajikistan, Maldives, Vietnam, Tanzania, Mauritius, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Fiji, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Mongolia and Bangladesh) also form part of the passing out cadets.

Notwithstanding the limitations imposed by Covid-19 related restrictions, true to unmatched military traditions of NDA, the spirit of the passing out events was absolutely intact. The hall mark of the ceremony was award of medals to the meritorious cadets. While the military drill was at its best, the medals were awarded without any physical contact. Battalion Cadet Captain Shivam Kumar won the President’s Gold Medal for standing first in overall order of merit. Battalion Cadet Captain Mukesh Kumar won the President’s Silver Medal for standing second in overall order of merit and Battalion Cadet Captain Parth Gupta won the President’s Bronze Medal for standing third in overall order of merit. ‘Kilo’ squadron bagged the prestigious ‘Chiefs of Staff Banner’ for being the Champion Squadron which was also presented during the ceremony.

The most significant restriction was the lack of presence of the parents of the passing out cadets, who could not be invited due to travel limitations across the country. Traditionally, the parents of passing out cadets are invited and accommodated in the Academy for about three days, during which, they witness various facets of training that a cadet undergoes in the academy, which not only gives them a sense of pride but also reassures them that their wards are in best hands in the country. The Commandant NDA while addressing the passing out cadets brought out the importance of a military leader to quickly adapt to any situation and face the challenge head on. He explained that even this adversity has immense training value for a military leader. He highlighted impeccable integrity, sense of responsibility, self discipline, moral courage and empathy as essential ingredients of a good military officer to successfully lead his men during war as well as peace. He expressed his confidence that all cadets would continue to further develop and earnestly practice all these attributes instilled in them during three years training at NDA and bring glory to their Alma Mater as they move onto their respective service academies and sere the nation.

Normally after passing out, the cadets go home for a term break and then proceed to their respective service academies. However in view of the vulnerabilities and travel restrictions, it has been decided that all the passing out cadets would move from NDA directly to the respective service academy. Necessary arrangements for the same are being coordinated with the concerned agencies.

INDIAN NAVAL ACADEMY, EZHIMALA

Implementing all precautionary protocols of Covid-19, 259 trainees of the Indian Naval Academy smartly turned up in whites with mask and gloves for a unique event christened as Course Completion Ceremony, in lieu of the traditional Passing Out Parade on 13 June 2020. The POP for any armed forces academy is an occasion usually conducted with grandeur and sheen witnessed by parents, guests and dignitaries. However in times of the COVID- 19 crisis, the ceremony was aligned to follow the safety protocols, wherein health and of safety all trainees, is of paramount importance. Therefore, to prevent congregation of people, parents and guests were not invited.

 The ceremony witnessed completion of training for the Midshipmen and cadets of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, and friendly foreign navies belonging to the 98th Indian Naval Academy Course (BTech), 98th Indian Naval Academy Course (MSc), 29th Naval Orientation Course (Extended) and 30th Naval Orientation Course (Regular). The successful trainees from friendly foreign countries comprised seven trainees; two trainees each from Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and one each from Maldives, Tanzania and Seychelles. Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Southern Naval Command Chief, the reviewing officer for the occasion, awarded medals to nine meritorious trainees. Vice Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi, Commandant, Indian Naval Academy was the Conducting Officer. The reviewing officer, in his address, congratulated the passing out courses and advised them to imbibe the core values of Indian Navy ‘Duty, Honour and Courage’ in letter and spirit. He encouraged the cadets to keep the fighting spirit intact irrespective of the circumstances around. The ‘President’s Gold Medal’ for the Indian Naval Academy B.Tech course was awarded to Midshipman Sushil Singh. The ‘Chief of the Naval Staff Gold Medal’ for the Naval Orientation Course (Extended) was awarded to Cadet Bhavy Gujral. The ‘Chief of the Naval Staff Gold Medal’ for the Naval Orientation (Regular) Course was awarded to Cadet Vipul Bharadwaj. The ‘Zamorin Trophy’ for the best women cadet was awarded to Cadet Riya Sharma.

Ever since the establishment of present Naval Academy at Ezhimala in 2009, this is the first time that the training of a batch culminated without a ceremonial march past due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic situation. As the nation navigated the lockdown and the exit in phases, training structure at INA too was modified with effect from 24th March 2020 to ensure adherence to all Government of India, Government of Kerala and Naval Headquarters directives. Training was carried out initially by online assignments, and later with dispersed seating with minimum 6 feet interspacing in class rooms and exam halls. Stringent precautionary measures instituted by the academy has helped in accomplishing the challenging goal of training more than 900 cadets and successful culmination of the Spring Term with nil Covid-19 cases at INA.

OFFICERS’ TRAINING ACADEMY, GAYA

 The drill square of Officers’ Training Academy wore a spectacular look with traditional military regalia and splendour. The occasion was the 17th Passing Out Parade of 17 Gentlemen Cadets of Special Commissioned Officers’ Course (SCO)-44.81 Gentlemen Cadets of TES-35 course passed out from their respective Cadet Training Wings. 69 Gentlemen Cadets of TES-41 Course proceeded to various engineering colleges of the Army to pursue a degree in Engineering at Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering, Secunderabad, Military College of Telecommunication Engineering, Mhow and College of Military Engineering Pune. The Gentlemen Cadets enthralled a large gathering of military and civilian dignitaries, with their elegant and synchronised drill movements in a breath-taking parade.

 The parade began with a general salute to the reviewing officer by the cadets followed by a review of the Parade by the reviewing officer and the passing out march past. A fly past by three micro-light aircrafts was also carried out over the heads of the passing out course in true military tradition. The reviewing officer gave away various awards to cadets for excellence in training. The silver medal for standing first in the order of merit amongst the passing out Special Commissioned Officers’ Course was awarded to academy cadet Adjutant Bipul Sinha. Gurez company was awarded the Chief Of Army Staff Banner for Spring Term 2020 for Best Overall Performance as a company.

 Addressing the parade, General Srivastava, the RO of the POP urged the future officers to make their Nation and their Alma Mater proud by rendering selfless and honourable service. He highlighted that inspite of Covid-19 pandemic posing a challenge, the Indian Army, true to its traditions, rose to the challenge of maintaining social distancing while simultaneously maintaining standards and minimal disruptions in training of Officer Cadets. He also stressed on imbibing the virtues of military ethos and soldierly qualities. Congratulating the parents, General Srivastava said that they were amongst the lucky few whose sons will get the opportunity to serve in one of the noblest professions i.e. the profession of arms. The General Officer advised the newly commissioned officers to ensure their own and loved ones safety while moving to their units.

127 SOLDIERS JOIN LADAKH SCOUTS

An attestation parade was held at The LADAKH SCOUTS Regimental Centre (LSRC), Leh to mark the entry of 127 well trained recruits into the LADAKH SCOUTS Regiment as Young Soldiers on Saturday. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony was conducted without any military or civil dignitaries or parents of the recruits following all the norms and advisories issued by the Indian Army. The attestation parade with appropriate social distancing in consonance with the highest traditions of the Indian Army was reviewed by Col Rinchen Dorje, Commandant, LSRC. The young soldiers, hailing from all regions of Ladakh, took oath in unison to serve the Nation. The Reviewing Officer congratulated them and urged them to devote their life in service to the Nation as proud soldiers of the Indian Army. He exhorted the Young Soldiers to continue to strive hard in pursuit of excellence in all spheres and take a solemn vow to uphold the sovereignty of the Nation.

COLLEGE OF MILITARY ENGINEERING, PUNE

On 13 June the drill square of the Cadets Training Wing (CTW) wore a spectacular look with traditional military regalia and splendour. The occasion was the Passing Out Parade of 28 cadets of the Technical Entry Scheme (TES-35) including two foreign cadets of Bhutanese Army. After commissioning, 28 Gentlemen Cadets of TES-35 Course will continue their balance one year of engineering degree at CME as commissioned officers. This time the parade was conducted with restricted attendance and parents were not invited because of the prevailing situation due to Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Parade commenced with a general salute to the RO by the cadets. This was followed by the presentation of awards to the medal winners Gentlemen Cadets for excellence in training. The coveted General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Army Training Command Gold Medal was awarded to PCC Rahul Chaube, the Silver Medal was awarded to PCC Vivek Kumar and the Bronze Medal was awarded to PCC Satender Pal as per their order of merit. F Platoon was awarded the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Army Training Command Banner for Spring Term 2020 for Best Overall Performance as a Platoon. Addressing the Parade, the RO congratulated the cadets for their excellent deportment and drill. General Malhotra, the RO of the POP, highlighted that commissioning an officer is a new beginning in their lives and exhorted the future leaders to render selfless and honourable service so as to make the Nation and Alma Mater proud. The General stressed on imbibing the virtues of military ethos, and following the Chetwodian Credo “The safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time”. Commandant CME, Pune ended his address by wishing the newly commissioned officers good luck and Godspeed.

The Pipping Ceremony was carried out at Bhagat Lawns and thereafter the officers crossed the “Pehla Kadam” which was organised for the first time in history of CTW, CME

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Defence

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.

Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt (Retd) & Brig Narender Kumar (Retd)

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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.

WAY FORWARD

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.

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Defence

Maiden Indian navy-MDL cup begins in Mumbai

Ashish Singh

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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.

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Defence

INS Shivaji discusses ‘management of structure borne noise’

Ashish Singh

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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.

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Defence

NCC celebrates its 72nd Raising Day

Ashish Singh

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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.

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Defence

Valedictory function of IOFS Officers at National Academy of Defence Production

Ashish Singh

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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.

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Defence

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.

Aveek Sen

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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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