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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

Depth of China’s poison tree farm

It’s time for the world to realise—and accept—that China’s much publicised and acknowledged development story is full of illegal, unethical and unfair practices.

Shreedharan Raman

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The doctrine of fruit of the poisonous tree is meant to remove illegally acquired evidence from negatively impacting a criminal defendant. Similarly, the same can be applied to China’s development story, which it achieved through illegal, unethical and unfair practices. A reality check is warranted here before accepting the growth is achieved fair and square.

Back in the 1950s, China was extremely poor. With WW2 just over and people were going through a revolution. A newborn country has more ‘josh’ as we call it. Just in that josh, the Communist Party of China started to make monumental mistakes within the first two decades of their formation. They could have built a beautiful and sustainable economy. With blessings of such beautiful neighbors. What seemed an empty canvas full of opportunity to paint a beautiful motif, now seemed tarnished. Be it invasion of Tibet, war with India, great leap forward, parting ways with USSR and subsequently Mongolia to name a few.

China then turned moderate in the 1970s, with Deng Xiaoping, who understood that China can’t rise without the help of neighbors. He started to work on the issue. He made peace as much as he could, however temporary it could be. And it did help China to ramp up the number of factories and heavy industries from zero to near monopoly in many fields. China is almost making everything for the World. Even it has monopolized supply of bamboo for incense sticks.

Anyone would admire the focused vision of Chinese leadership that they invested and made sure the ecosystem and Government machinery works towards the single goal of global dominance. Full credits to that. No second thoughts at all. But there are two key parameters they forgot: Ethics and honesty. In many ways, India was in a similar situation then. New country syndrome. Poor, rising aspirations and all the above that China faced. In fact, more than what China faced. As we had democracy, a diverse nation with no common interconnecting language. Different food habits, terrain, culture and weather and so on. We are more diverse within the Nation. Yet, India was fortunate enough to have quickly found a soul. Something united us as a nation. It was organic.

People connected across the country with some soulful connection. That seems missing in China. Some predicted a breakup of India in a few decades after partition. We proved that wrong. With all the complaints we might have, at the end of the day, our system still works. It might be very slow and seem inefficient. But it works. Whereas in China, it is one-way communication on what the party decides. Despite all our difficulties, we still play by established rules. World is now slowly beginning to discuss how China is into a different level of stealing intellectual property from Western countries. So, how does this work?

Perception & reality

Businesses that went to China since Deng Xiaoping, it was working wonders. They had little problem dealing with bureaucracy and so on. One-point to deal in Beijing and work gets done anywhere in China. Say, Shanghai or Chengdu or Guangdong. Over time, word did spread.

These businesspersons became quasi-spokesperson for China. Reality strikes a few years later. When they begin to realise what is happening. Big industries started seeing competitors. Chinese ones. Especially, those the big industries partnered with earlier. Making exact same components and products, at a fraction of the cost. Some went to Courts in China only to realise that the Chinese Courts and Judges are extended arms of the CPC and not independent. They had to let go for legal actions thereafter.

Legal but unethical

The story of China’s highspeed rail miracle is legal, but unethical. Everyone knows for sure how quickly China developed such a vast network of High-Speed Rail (HSR). Not many know how this was done quickly through shortcuts.

A decade ago, China was planning to create an HSR network across the country. One small problem: They didn’t have the technical expertise and know-how. So, they called international experts. Siemens was given an order to make 300 kmph train sets for China Railway Rollingstock Corporation (CRRC). These were cutting edge. Technology wise, up to date. Sweet order. None could avoid it. Just a catch. There’d be tech transfer from Siemens to CRRC.

Siemens did sign the deal, expecting not to lose a big market like China as they would need more trains. But, CRRC tricked Siemens. Leave alone going ahead and capturing bids from within China, CRRC started competing “head-to-head” with Siemens. This is all done by a single signature on tech transfer. Not sure if it would stand in Court of Law, in favor of China, elsewhere. On technology transfer, similar experiences happen for Alstom, Bombardier, Kawasaki. Now this is perfectly legal.

In European theater, to stop being potent competitors for China Rail and Rollingstock corporation (CRRC), it is reported that China even used diplomatic clout on European Commission to stop the politically contentious merger of Siemens — Alstom. This merger means the biggest competitor for CRRC, which still would be roughly half of what CRRC is currently. Proposed Siemens — Alstom merger points out how fractures are created by China. It triggered a political issue between Germany and France and they are talking to each other to calm the situation to find a way out.

Meanwhile, the Alstom — Bombardier deal worked out well, with a German interference as Alstom made some quick business moves to gain early anti-trust approval from European Commission. It is an entirely different story on why Germany is supporting China so much despite reservations from other European nations. Chinese use their car market to have that leverage over Germany. This is nothing but, economic militarisation through joint ventures, unethical reverseengineering, militarising trade.

 Illegal and unethical

Year 2006. Duke University, San Diego, United States of America. The (in)famous story of Liu Ruopeng who was investigated by the FBI for stealing intellectual property from Dr David Smith’s US Department of Defense funded laboratory. Dr Smith was into research about metamaterials that create an invisible cloak — which could make sure radar signals don’t pick objects that are covered by the cloak. Liu was doing his doctorate under Dr Smith who was researching.

 Liu ultimately got his PhD. But, after his expulsion from the research group. The FBI could do nothing beyond expulsion. Liu today is no ordinary man. He is dubbed to be the next Elon Musk. After he went back to China, he was rewarded. He started his own company. Liu is a billionaire already. Probably he would earn much more. His innovations might sound cool. Even today, the entrance of his office has a cloak monument. Highlight of this episode of stealing is that this research and lab of Dr Smith was being funded by the US Department of Defense. Imagine the amount of money, capability and resources needed to infiltrate such sensitive research projects.

Another incident. US Department of Justice released a statement on its website on July 30, 2020 about an Ohio woman Li Chen pleaded guilty today via video conference in US District Court to conspiring to steal scientific trade secrets and conspiring to commit wire fraud concerning the research, identification and treatment of a range of pediatric medical conditions.

Per NationalPulse.com, Li Chen and Yu Zhou (her husband) were trying to steal secrets relating to Exosomes — which plays a key role in identification and treatment of various medical conditions including Liver Cancer. Zhou and Chen admitted to selling “isolation kits” through their company for “personal gain” in China. Highlight of this whole episode is, they got funds from Chinese Government — State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs and National Natural Science Foundation of China.

As Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C Demers put it, “Once again we see the People’s Republic of China (PRC) facilitating the theft of our nation’s ingenuity and hard work as part of their quest to rob, replicate and replace any product they don’t have the ability to develop themselves.” On the pattern he added, “Far from being an isolated incident, we see the PRC implicated in around 60 percent of all trade secret theft cases. This continued economic belligerence runs contrary to the values and norms that facilitate the success of our industries and countering it remains among our highest priorities.” Sixty percent of all trade theft cases happen in China.  Let that sink in. That’s how deep China has intruded into US companies, institutions and research projects.

In 2014, China passed a law which requires every Chinese citizen to cooperate in acts of Chinese intelligence agencies. In other words, there can’t be a more direct order for its citizens to co-opt in surveillance acts by the Ministry of State Security of PRC. To give the adequate human resource required, China uses those large numbers of tourists and students that it sends every year to many countries. Especially to the US, UK and Australia. To give an indication of the scale of it, China has about 3.7 lakh students in the US, 1.2L in the UK, 1.6L in Australia. All these students have an obligation to abide by the above legislation, if need be. Similarly, for tourists, act as “courier” to transfer back to China. Few weeks ago, some of these students were caught on camera participating in protests that happened in the US.

 To influence those high and mighty in power corridors, China invested heavily in key people. Take the case of Andy Purdy, Huawei’s Chief Security officer. He was a member of the White House team that drafted the US National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (2003). Another example is how China’s propaganda is delivered at the doorsteps of politicians. As Republican Jim Banks said in a recent interview to Epoch Times, “It’s unbelievable to me. The China Daily, which is a state-run propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party, magically appears on the doorstep of every lawmaker on Capitol Hill. Imagine the impact it makes in the psyche of decision makers.

That’s not all. If you think, the US was the worst infected country by Chinese communists, think again. Because, Australia story would beat that. China conquered Australian land mass through silent invasion, without firing a single bullet. The largest among China’s poison tree farm in Indo-Pacific region is, Australia. The silent invasion has happened. Australia is battling it in various ways. (This article is the first part of a two-part series. second will appear tomorrow.)

Shreedharan Raman watches strategic moves by countries around the globe, especially China, and writes his opinions occasionally on shreedharan. com and can be contacted at write@shreedharan.com. 

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Defence

Handwara locals celebrate one year of the abrogation of Article 370 with mela

Ashish Singh

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Soundly rejecting Pakistan’s efforts to create a false narrative around the first anniversary of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiris celebrated the occasion by organising “Bangus Awaam Mela” in Handwara district with great fanfare. The two-day annual festival witnessed the participation of hundreds of Gujjars, Bakarwals and other Kashmiri sightseers from Kupwara, Tangdhar and Handwara. 

The mela commenced on 3 August and the grand finale was held on 4 August. Village games such as horse racing, sheep shepherding challenge, tugs of war and wood chopping competitions were organised on the first day in which the local Gujjar and Bakarwal community, from various Bhaiks who inhabit the beautiful meadows during the summer months, actively participated.

 A veterinary and medical camp was also organised by the local Rashtriya Rifles unit as per the request of senior community members. The doctors advised, treated and gave free medicines to 679 patients including 49 children. The veterinary camp provided medical aid to 135 livestock in addition to surgical assistance to the wounded. 

On the festival’s second day, the audience enjoyed folk songs by the Gujjar community, patriotic songs by local children, dances and a karate display by Handwara Kudo Association in addition to the village games finals. The event culminated with rousing participation in National Anthem recitation and a vote of thanks by the community elders to the Army for its support.

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Defence

Military bands gearing up to perform before 15 August for Covid warriors

Ashish Singh

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The Indian military bands will perform for a fortnight before Independence Day across the country. This will happen for the first time. The performances are intended as gestures of gratitude and appreciation of the nation for the Covid-19 warriors who have been steadfastly fighting to stop the spread of the virus at the risk of their lives. 

The bands of the Army, Navy and Police have performed at Porbandar, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Raipur, Amritsar, Guwahati, Allahabad and Kolkata so far. The Military and Police Bands will perform in the afternoon today at Visakhapatnam, Nagpur and Gwalior. On 7th August, military bands are scheduled to perform in Srinagar and Kolkata. Tri-services band will be putting up three performances in Delhi, one each at Red Fort, Rajpath and India Gate on 8th, 9th and 12th August respectively. 

Military and Police Bands will also perform in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Shimla and Almora on 8th August; in Chennai, Nasirabad, ANC (Andaman& Nicobar Command) Flag Point and Dandi on 9th August, and in Imphal, Bhopal and Jhansi on 12th August. The final performance of the series will be held on 13th August in Lucknow, Faizabad, Shilong, Madurai and Champaran.

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Defence

Geelani’s danse macabre: Rejoicing over a burnt paradise

Despite calling for secession and integration with Pakistan, Syed Ali Shah Geelani has had seven surgeries in Delhi and Mumbai, accepts grants from the Central and Kashmiri governments from time to time, and has all his sons and daughters either studying or working in Indian cities.

Ashish Singh

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Syed Ali Shah Geelani must be a relieved man now. The Pakistan Senate passed a unanimous resolution on 27 June 2020 conferring on him that country’s highest civilian honour, Nishan-ePakistan. Additional proposals to name a university after him and including his life story in Pakistani school curricula, already up to the brim with venom against India, are also on the anvil. After years of shouting from the rooftops that “Kashmir Banega Pakistan” and “Pakistan se Kashmir ka rishta kya, la ilaha illallah”, slogans most Pakistani Army generals and sleuths have cried themselves to sleep to and taken to their graves without any visible progress, Geelani has been able to turn their dreams partly into reality. Kashmir obviously will never become Pakistan in terms of a decrepit economy or being a slave to a foreign country, but in terms of deaths due to terrorist violence, it has come quite close to the failed state. And Geelani, the man who’s now enjoying his time under the sun is the one who is responsible for turning Kashmir into his own people’s graveyard.

Born in Sopore in 1929, Geelani completed his education at Oriental College Lahore and has been besotted with Pakistan ever since. A hardcore pro Pakistani, he has given multiple calls for violence within the Valley and defended the heinous actions of terrorist groups. For him, any violence can be justified as long as it is against “Indian imperialism”. Unfortunately, the same is echoed by a number of pseudo-academics within India such as Arundhati Roy, Varavara Rao and others. It is no secret that Geelani was revered by militant groups, particularly the Hizbul Mujahideen. In March 1992, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) militants, then considered rivals to Hizbul, had to release Geelani just a couple of hours after they kidnapped him and were forced to issue an apology the next day. An ex member of Jamat e Islami Kashmir, he condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden by the Americans, holding a prayer for him in absentia. He also supported the 2001 attack on the Parliament as well as the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. Leader of the Tehreek e Hurriyat, he has vehemently supported the erstwhile state’s absorption into Pakistan and propagated an extremely unsanitary and myopic view of Islam, poisoning the minds of entire generations.

 Geelani never expressed regret for the massive Kashmiri loss of life through acts of terrorist violence, only focusing on the deaths of terrorists by security forces and branding them as innocent. His clarion call for violence in the aftermath of Burhan Wani’s killing engulfed the valley in a spiral of savagery that resulted in a number of civilian fatalities, most by Pakistani sympathisers, camouflaged as Kashmiris. As uncovered by detailed investigations by several media houses, Geelani’s interjection into the Burhan Wani episode helped lift a flagging terrorist campaign, already on death row, by allowing Pakistani operatives to enter Kashmir and brainwash innocent civilians. In some cases, the Pakistanis instigated clashes with security forces from among a crowd of Kashmiri people and then slunk away for the civilian population to bear the aftermath.

Geelani has always been feted by the Pakistani establishment and most Pakistani dignitaries, in the heyday of cordial relations between the two South Asian neighbours, made it a point to visit him at least once, transgressing Indian hospitality time and again. However, in the recent years he fell out of favor with the current political dispensation in Pakistan. The visits stopped and so did the praises, the encomiums from across the fence. The watershed moment for him was when he successfully opposed the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s four-point formula (to resolve the Kashmir issue), which he considered as a compromise, given Geelani has always advocated J&K merger with Pakistan. With Geelani opposing Musharraf, all other separatists who were opening up to the idea fell like a pack of cards.

 In fact, there was a fear that the nonagenarian would be expelled from the very party that he had founded specifically with the help of the ISI. However, the shrewd old man pre-empted this move and instead announced his resignation in June 2020. Geelani’s choice to not criticise Pakistan in his resignation letter directly but to attack Pakistan-backed separatist outfits is being seen as a call to “level” the status quo in Kashmiri separatism, ensuring entries of new actors while disciplining those who he perceives as uncommitted to the separatist cause. His preferred successor Abdullah Geelani is no favorite of the Pakistani establishment. In fact, he was the first one to complain about a scandal regarding selling of medical college seats exclusively reserved for Kashmiri students in POK, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad by Ghulam Mohammed Safi, then convenor of the Muzaffarabad chapter of the APHC, in 2018.

Curiously, Geelani also leads a double life. Despite calling for secession and integration with Pakistan, he’s had seven surgeries in Delhi and Mumbai, accepts grants from the Indian and Kashmiri governments from time to time and has all his sons and daughters either studying or working in Indian cities. He also has a comfortable home in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar where he prefers to spend the coldest days of the winters, away from the kangri-infested harsh climate of his homeland. So much for being a revolutionary! India’s Enforcement Directorate raided his Delhi house and recovered millions of dollars worth property paid for by the ISI. The reality of a man, once known as the Omar Mukhtar of Kashmir, is not so inspiring and if told properly won’t even make it to the footnotes of the history chapters in the Pakistani academic curricula.

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Defence

MoD signs tripartite MoU with IIT Kanpur and DARPG

Ashish Singh

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A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Tuesday between Department of Defence (DoD) Ministry of Defence (Department of Defence), Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) and Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IITK) in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of State (MoS) (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, MoS for Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space Personnel Dr Jitendra Singh. Both the Ministers expressed satisfaction over the signing of MoU.

The MoU envisages IIT Kanpur to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Techniques to conduct exploratory and predictive analysis of Public Grievances received on the web based Centralised Public Grievances Redress & Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) pertaining to the MoD. The DARPG, the nodal Department of Government of India in respect of policy initiatives on Public Grievances and custodian of data on web-based CPGRAMS portal will provide the data dump on the Public Grievances pertaining to MoD to IIT Kanpur to facilitate their analysis. The project is expected to help the MoD to identify the cause and nature of grievances and bring about systemic changes and policy interventions wherever required.

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Defence

Raytheon and Rafael form Iron Dome joint venture

Ashish Singh

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Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, an Israeli-based defence technology company, have signed a joint venture to establish an Iron Dome Weapon System production facility in the United States. The new partnership, called Raytheon RAFAEL Area Protection Systems, anticipates finalizing a site location before the end of the year. “This will be the first Iron Dome all-up-round facility outside of Israel, and it will help the US. Department of Defense and allies across the globe obtain the system for defense of their service members and critical infrastructure,” said Raytheon Missiles & Defense Systems’ Sam Deneke, vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense business execution.

The new facility will produce both the Iron Dome Weapon System, which consists of the Tamir interceptor and launcher, and the Sky Hunter missile, a U.S. derivative of Tamir. Both Tamir and Sky Hunter intercept incoming cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems and short-range targets such as rockets, artillery, mortars and other aerial threats.“We are excited about this new stage in our partnership with Raytheon and proud of our U.S. production,” said Brig. Gen. (res.) Pini Yungman, executive vice president for Air and Missile Defense of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. He added “We have long partnered on U.S. production of Iron Dome and are pleased to increase manufacturing and bring Sky Hunter to the US.” Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Rafael have teamed for over a decade on Iron Dome, the world’s mostused system with more than 2,500 operational intercepts and a success rate exceeding 90 percent.

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