Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is Home Minister walking diplomatic tight rope?

The portions in colour hit the nail on the head. The bureaucrats have no urgency and no accountability with the result our police and security agencies are severely handicapped.
Same is the case with the Defence Services!
Till funtioning of IAS and Finance is reformed, our governance and security will NOT repeat NOT come to required standards.
Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd)

Israel attack: Is Home Min walking diplomatic tight rope?
February 14, 2012 21:56 IST

While Home Minister P Chidambaram has declared the Israel embassy car bombing as a terror strike, he has opted not to name the perpetrators of the attack. Anil Chowdhry wonders why...
One watched with concern the explosion in an Israeli embassy car near the prime minister's 7 Race Course house in New Delhi [ Images ] on television news channels on Monday. On Tuesday, a similar incident took place in Bangkok -- the Thailand capital was rocked by three explosions.
While the Israeli establishment was prompt and forthright in holding Hezbollah and the Iranian government responsible for the attacks, Home Minister P Chidambaram has opted to not name any outfit. Whether he is clueless or trying to walk the diplomatic tight rope is anybody's guess.
The vent sets me thinking as an ex-security person whether such incidents, apparently caused by highly trained and motivated terrorists can be prevented?
Well, in my view, it is difficult for the police to prevent them, keeping in mind the volume of persons at any public place in the city and the chaotic condition of our roads. Detection of such cases, of course, depends a lot on public cooperation and technical and forensic expertise available to the police of the metropolis that is attacked.
Well-planned deep penetration intelligence operations backed by technical intelligence inputs are very complex and need dexterous handling by experienced sleuths. Moreover, they need full support from the government to succeed in preventing terrorist attacks in public places.
In both these areas our police and intelligence agencies are seriously handicapped by tight bureaucratic controls in the matter of recruitments, procurements, and purchases. I don't know about the other metropolitan police forces in the country but in Delhi, the police commissioner is rather tied up with several proposals from the home ministry aimed at making the police and intelligence agencies effective to counter terrorist organisations.
Files keep making their endless journeys up and down the corridors of North Block between the Union Territory -- police divisions of the MHA to the expenditure division of the Ministry of Finance, all located on the same floors. And the blame game between the state police and central intelligence agencies invariably starts after such incidents. In Delhi it is less pronounced since both report to MHA.

It is unimaginable that a capital city with a high level of threat from religious terrorist groups does not have in position a CCTV network even in its high security zone. It is yet not known if the Delhi police has been able to get hold of the number plate and photographs of the motorbike and its rider who is believed to have stuck the magnetic explosive device on the embassy car.
I know that the IB's counter-terrorism wings and the operations unit of the Delhi police are manned by some of the best intelligence officers, but the lack of adequate technical intelligence support is a handicap for both.
Let's hope that the HM, who has shown that he is a man of action and not words, is able to quickly fill this critical gap.
(The writer is a retired member of the Indian Police Service.)
Is Home Min walking diplomatic tight rope

Indian Black Money and Swiss Terror

Black money: Swiss Embassy contradicts CBI chief, calls his statement 'uncorroborated'
Press Trust of India, Updated: February 16, 2012 17:53 IST

New Delhi: Three days after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that Indians are the largest depositors in Swiss banks, Switzerland today contradicted that stand, calling it "uncorroborated".
CBI Director Ambar Pratap Singh had, on Monday, said that Indians had stashed away an estimated 500 billion dollars in black money in foreign banks. The maximum outflow of illegal funds was to tax havens such as Mauritius, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and British Virgin Islands, he had said.
But the Swiss Embassy today, in an unusual step, issued a statement saying, "It wishes to make a clarification in view of unsubstantiated media reports that have been recently published about Switzerland and Swiss Banks."
But, the release, which did not mention the CBI chief's statement, said that Switzerland is not a tax haven.
"There have been several speculations about the amount of wealth held by Indians in Swiss Banks... Such estimates and statistics lack of evidence and are uncorroborated," the statement said.
While there have been various estimates of Indian black money stashed abroad, the statement by the CBI Director was significant in that, for the first time someone in authority in the country had come out with an estimate.
original NDTV News

Have Peace, not Justice

Dear Sir,
Does the manner in which this case has been dispensed with, imply that the Indian population may lose confidence in the ability of the highest courts of India, to deliver true justice, when it has to do so against an unreasonable and biased Government actions and so called 'vitiated' decisions against high profile, honourable and upright personalities.
Whatever anyone may say, it seems highly doubtful that the Army Chief's integrity and honour has been fully restored by this slap, he has got on his face, to say the least. The Government of India has been very cunning in sending the Chief to London, perhaps as a reward for having withdrawn his petition to save their face.
It shows the Government of India has now developed the ability of playing around with the dates of births of Indians to their convenience and on the merit of each case. This unhealthy precedence may cost dearly to the Government in times to come.
Col LK Anand Retd

Have Peace, not Justice
In what came to be called an ‘unprecedented step’, the Army Chief, Gen VK Singh had gone to the Supreme Court seeking justice against a Government order dated December 30, 2011, which had rejected his statutory complaint seeking resolution of a conflict in his service records that showed two dates of birth – 10 May 1951 as per the records held by the Adjutant General’s Branch (AG) and 10 May 1950 as per the records held by the Military Secretary’s branch (MS) at the Army Headquarters. All legally tenable evidence like birth certificate, school leaving certificate and prior legal advice from three or four former Chief Justices of India pointed only to one date – 10 May 1951 as the correct year of Gen VK Singh’s birth.
In the first hearing on February 3, the apex Court reprimanded the Government for its ‘vitiated decision making process’ which had resulted in rejection of Gen VK Singh’s statutory complaint. Throwing back the Government order of December 30, the honourable judges also offered the Government counsel to either withdraw this order or else they would quash it, as reported in the media. In the second hearing on February 10, even as the Government withdrew its impugned order, the Court surprisingly upheld the same Government decision that had rejected the General’s contention and maintained 1950 as his year of birth. It also ticked him off for reneging on his earlier commitments accepting the date he was now challenging. The General withdrew his petition
Have Peace, not Justice: Click here to read more

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Army HQ restructuring gets under way

February 14, 2012 11:41 IST
The two Deputy Chiefs of Army Staff have been given new responsibilities to lessen the burden of the Vice Chief of the Army Staff, the general who runs the 1.3 million-strong Indian Army [ Images ] on a day-to-day basis, reports Nitin Gokhale.

Amid the unfortunate controversy over the current Chief of the Army Staff, General V K Singh's age issue, the restructuring process at army headquarters under the new transformation plan has quietly begun to roll out at South Block.

Under the new plan, the two Deputy Chiefs of Army Staff (DCOAS) have been given new and specific responsibilities to lessen the burden of the Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS), the general who virtually runs the 1.3 million-strong Indian Army on a day-to-day basis.

The implementation of the first phase of this transformation has gathered speed with the appointment of Lieutenant General Ramesh Halgali as the new Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (Information Systems & Training) on Monday.

The other Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Policy and Services), Lieutenant General Narinder Singh had taken over late last year.

Although Army HQ has had two deputy chiefs looking after various functions for some years, a new and clear demarcation of responsibilities entrusted to them is aimed at streamlining the functioning and speed up decision-making processes at the apex level.

So while Lieutenant General Halgali will be responsible for Military Training, Signals (communication), Information Systems (automation), Staff duties (UN Missions etc), Rashtriya Rifles, Territorial Army and Defence Service Corps (the security guards at select military installations and campuses), Lieutenant General Narinder Singh will look after Procurement, Financial Planning, Perspective Planning and various 'line' directorates like Armoured Corps, Artillery, Mech Infantry etc.

This arrangement is designed to somewhat ease the burden on the Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Lieutenant General S K Singh.

The Vice Chief of Army Staff has to not only give crucial decisions relating to day-today operational matters, but has to also liaise with the defence ministry and attend several high-level meetings with other functionaries from different ministries.

The streamlined hierarchy is likely to give little more time and space for the Vice Chief of Army Staff to function more efficiently.

In the Indian system, the Chief of Army Staff has traditionally been giving broad policy direction for others to implement his ideas and concepts.

Lieutenant General Halgali, who came into the limelight after he blew the whistle on the Sukna land issue when he was Chief of Staff at HQ 33 Corps as a major general, was scheduled to take over as Deputy Chief last November, but an adverse administrative remark on his record during the Sukna issue delayed his taking over the post by three months.

Lieutenant General Halgali was Director General, Military Training before taking over as Deputy Chief on Monday.

As Chief of Staff at 33 Corps HQ in North Bengal, he had resisted attempts by then Corps Commander Lieutenant General P K Rath and then Military Secretary Lieutenant General Avadesh Prakash to issue a no-objection certificate for a transferring a piece of land adjacent to the Corps HQ to a business consortium for establishing a branch of the famous Mayo College.

Both Lieutenant General Rath and Lieutenant General Prakash have been indicted in the case by an army court martial. Lieutenant General Halgali had initially received an administrative rap for not reporting the matter expeditiously, but has now been cleared of all charges since it later emerged that he had prevented the attempt by his seniors to allow the group of businessman and the two generals to take advantage of loopholes in the system.

As Deputy Chief, Lieutenant General Halgali will be in office for nearly a year and three months to take forward the process of transformation both at the Army HQ level and down the line.

Conceptualised in 2010 after a two-year study by a group of top generals under the current army chief, General V K Singh when he was the Eastern Army commander, the transformation aims to turn the lumbering Indian Army into 'an agile, lethal, versatile and networked force, which is capability-based to meet future challenges.'

In a couple of interviews with me, General V K Singh has said the transformation must be 360 degrees and 'enhance operational capability through reorganisation, restructuring, force development and relocation.'

The concept is based on 13 transformation studies. These range from ways to consolidate strike capabilities and 'flatten' HQs, to 'synergising' all resources. Some of the Indian Army's new transformative concepts are already being 'test-bedded.'
Nitin Gokhale is the Defence Editor, NDTV.
Army HQ restructuring gets under way

IFS Officers only interested in Plum Postings: Takes MEA for a ride

Hilarious indeed: Tale of Envoy to Male!! How our External Affairs Ministry works. Amazing, how our External Affairs Ministry seems to work. There seems to be no dedication and National spirit.
Sad indeed.
Harbhajan Singh
Lt Gen

Time to crack curse of Maldivian albatross
Monday , February 13 , 2012

Washington, Feb. 12: “Operation Castor” by the Indian Navy brought relief to the tsunami-hit Maldives during Christmas season in 2004 and earned praise worldwide, but India’s political leadership continuously turned a blind eye to a developing political tsunami there that now threatens to undercut New Delhi’s sway over this unique nation of atolls.

It has implications that have the potential to drag down the four southern states into the same cycle of religious fundamentalism and terrorism that has become a familiar story in north and western India.

Unless the UPA government pulls itself up by its bootstraps now and thinks out of the box to help solve a crisis triggered last week by the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives is likely to drift deeper into chaos.

Madhusudan Ganapathi was not the first Indian diplomat to be rushed to Male to put out a fire that is the fallout of that capital’s politico-religious schizophrenia. And he will certainly not be the last.

A few months before the December 2004 tsunami, India defused a political earthquake when Shyam Saran, like Ganapathi now, flew into Male by special aircraft and ensured that normality was not disrupted.

That was a turning point when the political cauldron in the Maldives began boiling: the trigger was Evan Naseem, an ordinary prisoner in dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s notorious Maafushi jail, an alleged drug dealer who was beaten to death a year earlier, merely for disobeying orders by prison guards to come out of his cell.

Naseem became the Maldives’s Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian vegetable vendor in Sidi Bouzid, whose self-immolation in December 2010 was a catalyst for the current turmoil in the Arab world.

Popular revolutions had not yet become the norm, otherwise what followed Naseem’s death, which was pronounced at Male’s Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, would have been called a Maldives Spring. Besides, the Maldives is so tiny that nobody cared, except India.

Sensing the direction in which new political winds had begun blowing in the Maldives, India’s professional diplomats began talking to the opposition. They did not want to be caught unawares by a Maldives Spring.

For India, one of the problems of being the biggest country in South Asia is having to deal with sensitivities of smaller neighbours that often border on the irrational. Gayoom was apoplectic that Indian diplomats were talking to members of Nasheed’s nascent Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) that was still operating primarily in exile from Sri Lanka.

Saran, with his long experience of having handled such sensitivities in Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar and Indonesia, ensured that a potential flashpoint was defused. But as foreign secretary, Saran had inherited a baggage on the Maldives that hung around his neck like an albatross.

Under sheer pressure, South Block often lurches from one patchwork to another and has little time for long-term strategic thinking, but Saran managed to get rid of the Maldivian albatross. Yet the curse that came with the albatross as in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner did not go away.

That is what India is paying for in the latest crisis in the atolls to its south-west that are critical for national security.

It is a matter of criminal neglect by successive Indian governments after Rajiv Gandhi’s that none of them paid attention — like a big brother should do — to the political problems in the Maldives the way New Delhi tracks and attends to similar problems in Nepal or Bhutan. There was never enough time for the Maldives.

Or willingness, for that matter. For as long as two years slightly before the Naseem episode, India did not have a high commissioner in Male.

Most Indian Foreign Service officers are unwilling to go to Male unless they are forced to because it is a diplomatic wasteland in the traditional sense and because a posting to the Maldives is often viewed as a stamp of inadequacy in later career.

During the two-year period when Male went without an Indian envoy, an attempt was made to send an otherwise competent IFS officer, who had previously suffered in his career because he dared divorce a member of one of India’s best known political families.

Indian politics was much more feudal and one-party oriented during those years and the officer paid a price for his personal choice. But he was not going to be sent to the Maldives, which he saw as another slight to his already damaged career.

Luckily for this officer, he had two dogs, which were now like his family and the Maldives does not allow any dogs for religious reasons. The only dogs that can be found anywhere in this nation of atolls are at the airport in Male to sniff passenger baggage for drugs. But those dogs are handled only by Sri Lankans under an outsourcing arrangement with Colombo.

So the officer in question put in a request that on compassionate grounds his assignment should be cancelled since he cannot take his dogs to Male. The request was granted. Another officer sought to be excused because his mother was ill and he could not go to Male.

South Block then scraped the bottom of the barrel and came up with the name of a consul general serving in North America. He too refused and there was enough political support to persuade the leadership of the IFS to thwart his posting. His plea was that he had hydrophobia, which made the Maldives unsuitable.

An aside to this story is that this consul general subsequently dug his heels and stayed put in Canada for well over a year. Fortuitously, his host government discovered that he had surreptitiously acquired Canadian permanent residency for his immediate family in violation of diplomatic rules.

Canada’s foreign minister then wrote a personal letter to Jaswant Singh drawing his attention to this violation. Singh, then external affairs minister, ordered his repatriation from Canada in seven days flat.

This reporter vividly recalls a nugget on the Maldives that was doing the rounds in South Block at that time. Kanwal Sibal, who was then foreign secretary, had persuaded then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to go to the Maldives at the end of September 2002: it would have been the first prime ministerial visit to Male in five years.

But there was no high commissioner in place to receive Vajpayee. The story goes that Neelam Deo, who was the joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs handling the Maldives, was narrating her tale of woe to her IFS batchmate, Shashishekhar M. Gavai, then consul general in Edinburgh.

To Deo’s great surprise and relief, Gavai volunteered to go as high commissioner to Male. As soon as she put the phone down, Deo rushed into the foreign secretary’s office to convey Gavai’s readiness to move from the UK.

It is to Sibal’s credit that in the course of just two days he cut through the long bureaucratic process of appointing an envoy. It is a reflection of India’s clout in Male that the Maldivians approved Gavai’s appointment in one week and fixed a date for his presentation of credentials.

Gavai rushed from Edinburgh to take charge as high commissioner just three days before Vajpayee landed in Male on September 22, 2002. It was probably the only instance in Indian diplomacy where an IFS officer held two jobs simultaneously on two continents. Gavai went back to Edinburgh after Vajpayee left Male to relinquish his charge as consul general.
Time to crack curse of Maldivian albatross

Monday, February 13, 2012

ESM News: Welfare Measures

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 01:43:07 GMT
India vows to step up welfare schemes for Indian ex-servicemen
From Shirish B Pradhan
Kathmandu, Jan 22 (PTI) India today underlined its commitment to welfare of its ex-servicemen living in Nepal as the two countries reviewed various projects for them in the country.
Indian Ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad said India is spending large amounts of money for carrying out various welfare activities for the benefit of its ex-servicemen in Nepal.
It is the concern of the government of India to make the life of the pensioners better and comfortable, he said in an address at the 22nd Annual General Meeting of Indian Ex-servicemen Welfare Organization in Nepal (IEWON).
Working under the aegis of the Embassy of India, IEWON is responsible for the welfare of nearly 90,000 Nepal Domiciled Indian pensioners from the armed forces.
The meeting was attended by senior Nepalese officials led by Defence Secretary Navin Kumar Ghimire, and a delegation from India led by secretary of the Ex-Servicemen Welfare (ESW) Samirendra Chatterjee.
The meeting aims to review welfare projects being executed for the benefit of former Indian servicemen and holding consultation on wide range of welfare issues with senior officials of Nepal.
The Indian government has been looking after the welfare activities of these veterans since 1952.
India is implementing 1,033 drinking water projects, medical welfare, educational and infrastuctural programmes for the welfare of ex-servicemen and their families residing in various parts of the country.
This year alone 16 such projects are being implemented with a total expenditure of NPR 3.64 crore.
People living in 17 villages across the country have benefitted from the various solar-electrification projects being implemented by India under the ex-servicemen welfare scheme initiated in 2002, the Indian envoy said.
More than Rs 4.62 crore have been spent by India in these projects, he added.
The Indian delegation is scheduled to address ex-servicemen rallies at Pokhara and will interact with the veterans, disabled soldiers and war widows, according to an Indian Embassy press release
click here: India vows to step up welfare schemes

Schemes for benefit of ex-servicemen: Vijayawada
January 12, 2012 admin Employment / Jobs, Government Initiatives / Support, News
The State government is providing several schemes for the benefit of ex servicemen and their widows, said District Sainik Welfare Officer G. Satyanandam.
Under the Prime Minister Self Employment Scheme, the government will provide loans ranging between Rs.5 lakh and Rs.25 lakh from banks.
The government will give 25 to 35 per cent subsidy on the loan and the beneficiaries should bear five per cent of the investment cost.
The government was giving ‘paavala vaddi’ (25 paise interest) loans to ex-servicemen for the last two years. Beneficiaries intending to do agriculture, launch Small Scale Industries can get Rs.5 lakh loan at 25 paise interest.
Interested retired Army, Navy and Airforce staff are requested to avail the opportunities, said Mr.Satyanandam.
Loans for ESM

KATHMANDU, JAN 22, 2012: demand for Pension Paying Office
Thousands of ex-Indian army men living in the western and far western regions of Nepal have demanded that a Pension Paying Office (PPO) be set up in Butwal.
“We have been forced to travel to Kathmandu only to receive pension as we have no such office here. It is really a painful affair for some of the pensioners who are above 85 years old,” said a pensioner requesting anonymity. “We have been waiting for almost eight years for a PPO in Butwal, but no progress has been made so far,” he added.
The Indian team mostly visits the city at the interval of six months to distribute pension. Of the around 124,000 ex-Indian army, paramilitary and civilian pensioners in Nepal, around 40,000 are living in Butwal and adjoining areas. Currently, two PPOs—based in Pokhara and Dharan—and 22 soldier boards are distributing pensions to the Indian army pensioners across the country.
Nepal government had agreed to provide land for the PPO in Butwal in 2004. However, two government entities—Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence—have been blaming each other for not cooperating to set up the office.
“The nature of the proposed PPO in Butwal is like a permanent office and the government had allocated more than 8 bighas of land in Butwal municipality. But it has become a political issue now,” said a senior government official. He said that they also need an approval from the Forest Ministry as some part of the land allocated to the PPO is covered by forest.
The issue was also raised as a prime agenda during the 22nd annual welfare meeting of the Indian Army Ex-servicemen Welfare Organisation in Nepal held in Kathmandu on Sunday. The meeting was attended by Defence Secretary Navin Kumar Ghimire and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Jyanta Prasad, among others.
Addressing the demand forwarded by the ex-servicemen in the program, Defence Secretary Ghimire said the issue will be addressed after discussion with concerned government authorities.
Ex-Indian army men demand pension office in Butwal


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