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Pakistan at the dawn of 2021

A glance at some opinion pieces from the first three days of January 2021 of ‘Dawn’ shows there is little anti-India rant and in fact a sense a grudging admiration for the eastern neighbour. Sadly, Pakistani frustrations at not being India might fuel the anti-India sentiment even further.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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I have picked some opinion pieces from the first three days of January 2021 of Dawn. Barring one article on “Kashmir’s Future” by A.G. Noorani there is no anti-India rant at the beginning of 2021. In fact, in all the articles I have read, I sense a grudging admiration for India! When Pervez Hoodbhoy says ‘the West, China, and India developed modern scientific cultures’, he has bracketed us in an elite league already. When a Pakistani educationist starts talking of Kendriya there is something which we might have done well. 

A New Year is full of resolutions and soul searching. That seems to be the case in Pakistan too. An elemental truth of the country emerges in the first few articles of 2021. For what it’s worth, the sense I got was that India is turning out not exactly as Pakistan imagined or wanted it to be, but as what Pakistan itself wanted to be! Of course, the Pakistani Army will contend with my views. They want to be what they are. Sellers of their nation to the highest bidder (presently China) and make a fat buck and more! The danger in all this soul-searching is that ‘neighbours’ envy owner’s pride’ factor might kick in. Pakistani frustrations at not being India might fuel the anti-India sentiment even further. That applies to the rest of Pakistan also. We will have to watch this carefully. 

TILL THEN PIA REMAINS GROUNDED!

Hope Pakistan continues to internalise. The indications appear so. Whenever we wanted to settle Kashmir, we had to dance to Pakistan’s tunes. Read this with my earlier articles of similar genre on Pakistan. This is the window we are looking for when Pakistan cannot interfere in our internal affairs beyond a point! You will get the drift that the window is good enough for us to make some meaningful moves. Settle Kashmir! 

PLOTS AND PLANS FOR 2021 BY FAHID HUSAIN 

The view of a Pakistani Chamcha! This guy thinks that Imran Khan is finally reaching the edge of a wonderful world he has created! The problem for ‘Im the Dim’ is that he  might fall of the cliff or the edge of a tank!

…. It is a pretty good start of the year for Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

Perched on his high chair he surveys the land he rules and sees his enemies struggling to break free from the shackles of their purported clarity. He watches them scurry back to their drawing boards in a desperate bid to figure the next course of action in the wake of the PPP’s decision to contest the Senate elections, and he allows himself a satisfied smile. In the third year of his five-year term, he can now sit back, look beyond the PDM threat, and focus on getting some governance done—finally. So, he thinks to himself, what a wonderful world.

MUSLIMS AND TECHNOLOGY BY PERVEZ HOODBHOY

I like reading his views. He pinpoints the Pakistani mindset like a lance. Recommended to read the full article. Except for some defiant holdouts, most Muslims have come to accept the printing press, loudspeaker, weather forecasts, cameras and television, blood transfusions, organ transplants, and in-vitro fertilisation. Earlier fears that technology will destroy their faith are disappearing. Although religious extremists have killed polio vaccine workers by the dozens, Pakistanis are likely to accept the Covid vaccine more easily than Americans. This is progress. Pakistan functions as a nation of shopkeepers, property dealers, managers, hoteliers, accountants, bankers, soldiers, politicians and generals. There are even a few good poets and writers. But there is no Pakistani Covid vaccine. With so few genuine scientists and researchers it produces little new knowledge or products. That 81 Pakistanis were recently ranked in the world’s top two per cent of scientists by Stanford University turned out to be fake news. Stanford University was not involved in this highly dubious ranking. This was confirmed to me over email last week by Prof John Ioannidis of Stanford University. He, together with three co-authors, had been cited as the source. Separation is the key! When Galileo famously said “the Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go”, he was arguing the domains of science and belief do not overlap. This is how the West, China, and India developed modern scientific cultures. 

BIG IDEAS BOLD MOVES BY SAKIB SHERANI

Another article by another chamcha of Imran Khan. However, the importance of this article lies in the fact that the Pakis have started to understand that near-existential challenges of Pakistan are internal to them and do not lie to their west! It also highlights the challenges faced by Pakistan. Pkistan has been beset with severe challenges on a wide number of fronts for the past several decades, ranging inter alia from poverty to pollution, climate change and water stress. These near-existential challenges require ‘big’ responses—in scale as well as scope. To be successful, the responses need to be underpinned by resources and the means to deliver. These include both fiscal resources as well as a minimum threshold level of state capacity. They also need to be sustained over a protracted period of time.

A FLUCTUATING GRAPH BY KHURRAM HUSAIN 

Interesting article. The short point is that Pakistan is starting 2021 the same way as 2020… at the bottom of its economic down fall. What does it tell me? It tells me that Pakistan will continue to internalise. The year 2020 began and ended with the government talking about economic recovery, but along the way it faced challenges of an unprecedented nature. Past crises have almost always involved a sudden drain of the country’s foreign exchange reserves, prompting an emergency appeal to the IMF, followed by a gruelling period of macroeconomic adjustment that forces the government to sharply curb expenditures, raise taxes, hike interest rates and devalue the currency. The resultant economic pain almost always drains the political goodwill of the government which is forced to administer this medicine, and very soon the economic crisis gives way to increasing political challenges for the government. In 2021, the government will have to face the question it was supposed to have faced in 2020: how does it plan to walk the line set by the IMF programme and continue with its pro-growth policies at the same time?

CRISIS OF PAKISTANI DEMOCRACY BY ZAHID HUSAIN 

For a change the writer is speaking some hard truths about Pakistan. The problem is within! Pakistan remains a nation where democracy has been a corpse for a long time. The ongoing battle between the opposition and the PTI government has brought to the surface the worst of the prevailing political culture. It illustrates patterns of behaviour that should have little to do with the norms and values relevant to a democratic polity. While the country is ruled by a self-righteous and novice leadership perceived as being propped up by the security establishment, the motley opposition alliance seems hardly capable of bringing any change to the existing dynastic power structure that contradicts the very ethos of democracy. For over 70 years, the country has alternated between authoritarian military regimes and ineffective elected civilian rule. But there have been no fundamental changes to Pakistan’s political power structure. A small power elite has dominated the country’s political scene under civilian as well as military rule. The extractive nature of the state institutions has stunted the growth of an inclusive democratic process. Democracy is not about power but about fundamental structural political reform.

AT A LOSS FOR WORDS BY ANJUM ALTAF

Another interesting read. Pakistanis are discovering that there is something far more than terrorism as a subject of state education. Also nation building starts with getting back to cultural and linguistic  roots even if they are derived partly from Sanskrit! I had one incongruous visual impression pertaining to the names of the schools that might seem peripheral to many. In villages with every student a native speaker of Punjabi and Urdu the medium of instruction, the names of schools, written in both Urdu and English, were comprised entirely of English words — ‘government’, ‘girls’, ‘high’, and ‘school’. I wonder if this strikes anyone as odd? It would be fine to refer to a school thus in a report written in English but shouldn’t it have an indigenous name as well? In India, one comes across ‘kendriya vidyalaya’ and in Iran I am sure there is some equivalent of ‘madressah-i markazi’. Thinking along these lines, it occurred to me that we have no word for ‘college’ and although ‘jamia’ is a perfect equivalent for university (there is the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi. When I looked up websites of institutions in Iran and India, I saw their indigenous names along with their English translations with both displayed on their respective logos. Thus, Daneshgah-i-Tehran (Tehran University), Jawaharlal Nehru Vishvavidyalaya (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Bharatiya Praudyogikee Sansthaan (Indian Institute of Technology), Bharatiya Prabandh Sansthaan (Indian Institute of Management), etc. All have websites in the local language as well. Contrast that with Lahore University of Management Sciences that was conceived and born in English and has not felt the need to invent a local name or offer a website in Urdu. (‘Lums,’ on the other hand, has entered the vocabulary as a local term which led to a mercifully aborted move by the university to rename itself ‘LumsU’).

BAN SALE OF ACID BY EN BANDIAL 

This is heart wrenching. For a Pakistani to appeal for ban of sale of acid on the new year reflects the depravity of Pakistan! CHAND raat 2015, Karachi: in a dimly lit neighbourhood, an agitated man clenched a vial, as moonlight refracted through the translucent liquid inside it. Stillness eventually broke with an intensifying engine growl and tyre screech overlapping a splash and incessant wailing. The man had successfully hurled acid at his target, 19-year-old Raheela, and inadvertently splattered her infant nephew. As the acid trickled down their faces, skin crumbled and dissolved, leaving scars that would haunt them forever. Today, Raheela looks in the mirror to find two passages instead of a nose, a crooked slit instead of lips and contorted skin; she suffers from visual and other sensory impairments and breathing difficulties. Selling this lethal liquid in Pakistan for trivial purposes like unclogging drains threatens the right to life and security. Acknowledging that acid attacks kill or result in permanent disabilities, strip identities, and cause mental and physical agony, the courts condemn them as a crime against the state, a bigger crime than murder, and yet the root cause remains. Over-the-counter sales and unlicensed production, import, transport, storage and use of acid must be strictly prohibited and stringently enforced. Preventative policing and awareness campaigns on women’s rights, gender equity and equality for Pakistani men and women should be launched in a bid to abolish the culture of accepting brutality against women. Creating an egalitarian environment based on impartiality, tolerance and respect is vital. The Quaid may have left Pakistan with the ideology of protecting women, but today, indifference towards these victims of violence taints Pakistan’s image.

DISINFO PERILS BY BEENISH ZIA

Read this article and one realises that women empowerment is the least of Pakistani priorities. Their higher priority seems to be Hafiz Sayeed and LeT and Jaish! It is astonishing but there are some women’s rights that are extensively protected in Pakistan through existing legal mechanisms. More surprisingly, some of them are practically implemented. One such right that enjoys proper legal protection is the right of a woman to dissolve her marriage. But then, one may ask, where does the problem lie? Why are vulnerable women still suffering in silence? The important point here is that women are not dependent on men to end their marriage. It is their choice and theirs only whether to start, continue or to end a marriage. One of the key perpetrators for spreading disinformation is our entertainment industry, in particular the drama industry. A majority of women religiously watch the dramas that air on different channels. The dramas regularly show women being physically abused or being portrayed as home-wreckers but what has caught my attention of late is the regular portrayal of what women have to go through to end an abusive marriage.

Discuss what you might…the true story of Pakistan won’t change.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on www.gunnersshot.com.

Pakistan remains a nation where democracy has been a corpse for a long time. The ongoing battle between the opposition and the PTI government has brought to the surface the worst of the prevailing political culture. It illustrates patterns of behaviour that should have little to do with the norms and values relevant to a democratic polity. While the country is ruled by a self-righteous and novice leadership perceived as being propped up by the security establishment, the motley opposition alliance seems hardly capable of bringing any change to the existing dynastic power structure that contradicts the very ethos of democracy.

Women empowerment is the least of Pakistani priorities. Their higher priority seems to be Hafiz Sayeed and LeT and Jaish! It is astonishing but there are some women’s rights that are extensively protected in Pakistan through existing legal mechanisms. More surprisingly, some of them are practically implemented. One such right that enjoys proper legal protection is the right of a woman to dissolve her marriage. But then, one may ask, where does the problem lie?

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Defence

MOD APPROVES RS 498.8 CRORE BUDGETARY SUPPORT FOR DEFENCE INNOVATION THROUGH IDEX-DIO

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) – Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years. The budgetary support will provide a big boost to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as iDEX–DIO has the primary objective of self-reliance and indigenisation in defence & aerospace sector of the country. The creation of the iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is aimed at creating an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

The scheme, with budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups/MSMEs/individual innovators and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework. It will support increased awareness in the Indian innovation ecosystem about defence needs and, conversely, in the Indian Defence establishment about the potential of the Indian innovation eco-system to deliver innovative solutions to meet their needs. The DIO, with its team, will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian Defence production industry. The long-term effect to be realised by the group is the establishment of a culture, where enlisting the effort of innovators by the Indian military is commonplace and frequent. The scheme aims to facilitate rapid development of new, indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector to meet their needs in shorter timelines; create a culture of engagement with innovative start-ups to encourage co-creation for defence and aerospace; empower a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation within the defence and aerospace sector and boost innovation among the start-ups and encourage them to be a part of the ecosystem.

The DDP will release funds to DIO for setting up and managing the iDEX network in the form of Partner Incubators (PIs); communicating with innovators/start-ups/technology centres of MSMEs through the PIs including the PIs of Department of Science and Technology regarding defence and aerospace needs; organising various challenges/hackathons to shortlist potential technologies and entities and evaluating technologies and products developed by innovators/start-ups in terms of their utility and impact on the defence and aerospace setup. The other activities include enabling and funding pilots using innovation funds dedicated to the purpose; interfacing with the Armed Forces top brass about key innovative technologies and encouraging their adoption into the defence establishment with suitable assistance; facilitating scale-up, indigenisation and integration in manufacturing facilities for successfully piloted technologies and organising outreach activities all across the country.

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Defence

PASSING OUT PARADE OF TES-37 COURSE HELD AT COLLEGE OF MILITARY ENGINEERING

Ashish Singh

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The passing out parade of the cadets of the Technical Entry Scheme—37 Course at the Cadets Training Wing, College of Military Engineering (CME) at Pune—was held on Saturday. The parade was reviewed by Lt Gen PP Malhotra, Commandant CME. Thirty-three Gentlemen Cadets of the Course, including three gentlemen cadets from Bhutan and two from Sri Lanka, were commissioned as officers.

Though parents of the passing out course could not attend the ceremony owing to COVID related restrictions, the parade was streamed live on YouTube. Lt Gen PP Malhotra, presented several awards to Gentlemen Cadets for excellence in training. The parade conducted with traditional military regalia, was commanded by Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Chauhan. The coveted General Officer Commanding in Chief Army Training Command Gold Medal for standing first in overall performance in three years at CTW was awarded to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar. The Silver and Bronze Medal was awarded to Gentlemen Cadet Sonam Tshering from the Royal Bhutan Army and Wing Cadet Quarter Master Prince Kumar Singh respectively. Cadets of the Wing also had the distinction of being awarded the Commandant Officers Training Academy Silver medal to Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Singh Chauhan and the Bronze Medal to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar for their meritorious performance in the combined four years of training, including one year at the Officers Training Academy, Gaya. Echo Platoon was awarded the General Officer Commanding in Chief’s Banner for performing exceedingly well in the Inter Platoon Competitions and emerging as the Champion Platoon.

Addressing the parade, the General Officer congratulated the Gentlemen Cadets for their superlative performance in the training period at the wing and their immaculate parade. Lt General PP Malhotra, highlighted that the cadets were at the cusp of a new beginning as young military leaders, and on their broad shoulders lay the future of our gallant Army. He urged the future officers to make their nation and the Alma Mater proud by rendering selfless and honourable service. He also stressed on imbibing strong moral values and ethics. The passing out parade was followed by a Commissioning and an oath taking ceremony for the newly commissioned officers.

College of Military Engineering has emerged as the finest technical institutions in the Indian Army. Recent forays of the College into Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Engineering Materials have been lauded by all. The college has entered into MoU with academic and industrial majors to absorb best engineering practices and infuse a culture of innovation in the Indian Army. Several projects from the College have been displayed and awarded in forums such as the iDEX4Fauji and the Army Day Parade, this year.

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INDIAN COAST GUARD ADDS TEETH TO ITS AVIATION ARM

Ashish Singh

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NEW DELHI: In line with the PM’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Dr Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary, inducted Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Mk-III in Indian Coast Guard (ICG). The state-of-the-art helicopters are indigenously designed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bengaluru. The maiden ceremony was carried out through digital means, keeping Covid protocol at fore and promoting GoI’s vision of ‘Digital India’. Indian Coast Guard Director General K Natarajan, Mr R Madhavan, CMD, HAL and MoD officials were among those who attended the event. Dr Ajay Kumar in his address praised the perseverance of the ICG and M/s HAL by inducting these helicopters in testing times and progressing our Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India’. He also brought out the importance of having these advanced helicopters for ICG to operate them across the spectrum of Coast Guard operations.

The ALH Mk-III marine version has been designed and developed with in-house customisation of 19 additional equipment by HAL to meet ICG requirements. HAL will supply 16 ALH Mk-III to the ICG by the mid of next year. The helicopter is capable of undertaking embarked operations from ships which will enhance Coast Guard capabilities towards Sea air co-ordinated search, interdiction capabilities, Coastal Security, Search and Rescue operations, medical evacuation,Humanitarian missions, Pollution response missions, etc. While appreciating ICG for the recently conducted successful operations of drugs & arms seizure and saving lives during cyclones Tauktae & YAAS, Defence Secretary said the capacity and capability augmentation of the service needs to be materialised in a time bound manner considering the onerous responsibilities bestowed on ICG by the GoI.

On induction, the 16 ALH Mk-III will be positioned at 4 Coast Guard squadrons at Bhubaneshwar, Porabandar, Kochi and Chennai. The shared maritime boundaries with littoral states are highly susceptible to illegal activities and the regions are prone to frequent cyclones.These squadrons with embarked operations will ensure seamless surveillance and provide assistance to fishermen in distress at sea. Director General K Natarajan while acknowledging the efforts of Tatrakshaks for recent concurrent successful operations said that ICG is as prepared as ever to discharge its duties and induction of ALH Mk-III will usher a new paradigm shift in our capability to undertake ship borne operations and enhance surveillance prowess with extended reach. He also brought out that these helicopters will be deployed in a coordinated matrix along with ships and aircraft to strengthen the service capabilities in Area of Responsibility and beyond. Speaking on the occasion, Mr R Madhavan said with this contract, HAL is embarking on a new journey of Performance Based Logistics (PBL). The PBL will assure desired levels of availability of ALH MKIII fleet of ICG for six and half years, a unique feature of this contract and a first of its kind in HAL. These helicopters are equipped with state of the art equipment like Surveillance Radar, Electro Optic Pod, Medical Intensive Care Unit, High Intensity Search Light, SAR Homer, Loud Hailer, Machine Gun and can perform other key roles. Helicopter MRO Division is the nodal agency for execution of PBL contract along with Engine Division and other Sister Divisions of HAL.

ABOUT PBL

The PBL will provide a One Stop Solution for maintenance of complete Helicopter, Engine and components which encompasses Helicopter/Engine Servicing Task, Rotable Repair Task (RRT), Repair & Maintenance Spares Order (RMSO) etc. As part of PBL, Helicopter MRO Division of HAL will be extending the support from four bases viz. Bhubaneswar, Porbandar, Chennai and Kochi. All necessary infrastructure, repair facility etc are set up at Bhubaneswar and Porbandar, dedicated LRU/ Rotable floats are stocked and On-site support team is identified towards ensuring the availability of Helicopters. Chennai & Kochi are in the final stages. In addition, HAL Aviation Maintenance Software (HAMS), a web based online platform is developed and deployed by Helicopter MRO Division for real time monitoring and operational visibility of fleet through a dedicated leased line network.

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INDIAN‌ ‌ARMY‌ ‌HANDS‌ ‌OVER‌ ‌MEDICAL‌ ‌EQUIPMENT‌ ‌TO‌ ‌NEPALI‌ ‌ARMY‌ ‌

Ashish Singh

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

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

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

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

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Defence Minister inaugurates BRO centres

Ashish Singh

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

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

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

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

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Defence

A LOOK AT DEFENCE MINISTRY’S 20 REFORMS IN 2020

Ashish Singh

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

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

20 REFORMS IN 2020

Chief of Defence Staff & Department of Military Affairs

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

AATMANIRBHARTA IN DEFENCE

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

INCREASED DEFENCE EXPORTS

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

MODERNISATION & INCREASED TRANSPARENCY IN DEFENCE ACQUISITION

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

DEFENCE ACQUISITIONS

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

REFORMING DEFENCE R&D

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

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

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

STRENGTHENING BORDER INFRASTRUCTURE

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

STREE SHAKTI IN ARMED FORCES

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

REFORMS IN NCC

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

AID TO CIVIL ADMINISTRATION DURING COVID-19

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

HELP BEYOND BOUNDARIES

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

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