100 Indian Army personnel move to SC over discrimination

Over 100 Indian Army personnel have moved to the Supreme Court, alleging discrepancies in the promotion of officers of the services corps. The issue has come to light just days after Nirmala Sitharaman took over as the nation’s new Defence Minister.

As per the report in Times of India, the officers stated in the petition, “This act of Army and Union Government has created tremendous injustice to them and others which are detrimental to the morale of the officers and, in turn, to the defence of the country.”

In a joint petition, the group of lieutenant colonels and majors affirmed that despite services corps officers being stationed in operational areas and facing issues similar to combat arms corps officers, they are being deprived of promotions, which are available to officers of combat arms. Expressing their disappointment over this discrimination, the petitioners said that this inequality is affecting the morale of officers who have dedicated their service to Indian army for 10-15 years.

In February 2016, the apex court of India settled an earlier petition, wherein services corps officers complained of in adequate allocation of Colonel posts for promotion. However, the officers have stated that this time they are challenging the partial treatment, without questioning the court’s 2016 judgement.

 

Sources: TOI, Zee News

Dispute over using phone: army officer shot dead by Jawan

Major Shikhar Thapa posted with the 8 Rashtriya Rifles in Uri was shot dead by a jawan around midnight yesterday. According to the police, Major Thapa confronted Naik Kathiresan G for usage of cell-phone in the sensitive areas near Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

CNN News18’s Mufti Islah reports that the Major and the jawan exchanged heated arguments after Thapa berated Naik over the issue. Naik took to extreme measures after Thapa snatched away his phone and shot him multiple times with his service rifle. Thapa met his unfortunate end on the spot.

Major Shikhar Thapa belonged to & Armoured Regiment but was involved with the 8 Rashtriya Rifles which is the army’s elite counter-insurgency unit developed in Uri.

The army has ordered a court of enquiry over the issue and has for obvious reasons considered this as a case of fratricide.

This is the fourth incident of fratricide from the defense services in the past three years according to the data produced by the minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre.

The army and police were investigating the incident and are expected to issue an official statement by tomorrow.

Sources: Hindustan Times and NDTV

Indian army rejects ‘home-made’ rifles, yet again

The Indian Army, on June 21, 2017, rejected indigenously-built assault rifles made by the Ordinance Factory, after the 7.62 x 51 mm prototype was found to be far below standard.

PTI reported that the assault rifles were rejected due to their “poor quality and ineffective fire power”. These new weapons were meant to replace the current and outdated INSAS rifles (India’s New Small Arms System Rifles). The rifles, made in the Ichapore Rifle Factory, located outside Kolkata, miserably failed in the firing tests last week.

According to the officials “a complete redesigning of the magazine” was required before it could even be considered for the Army. The Ministry of Defense’s PMT (Project Management Team) ruling that the assault rifle was “at best only a prototype and requires comprehensive design analysis and improvement.”

This is the second year in a row that the Army has rejected home-made rifles. Earlier, in 2016, the Army rejected 5.56 mm Excalibur guns, another variant of assault rifles for its failure to meet required standards. The old rifles which the Army has been using since 1988, were scheduled to be replaced this year. The Army was in the need of more advanced weaponry for quite some time for counter-insurgency operations, but that has not seen any development yet.

The Army’s multiple rejections of technology come as a major blow to the much coveted ‘Make in India’ campaign that seeks to boost manufacturing in the indigenous sectors. Notably in 2015, when India’s first multirole light fighter Tejas was being considered to be included in the Indian Air Force’s fleet, the Comptroller and the Auditor General of India (CAG) reported that the indigenous made Tejas was riddled with problems.

 

Sources: The Telegraph, DNA

Indian Army begins field trials of Howitzer M777 gun

The Indian Army has begun field trials of the highly-coveted Howitzer M777 guns, near Pokhran. This is the same location where the historical nuclear test of 1998 took place. The Indian Army received its first shipment of two Howitzer guns on May 18, 2017. They were manufactured by the US-based BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division.

The Central Government, under its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, placed an order of 145 Howitzers for $750 million on June 26, 2016, and completed the deal on November 30, 2016. Having received the first batch of two Howitzers, only 25 of the remaining guns will be delivered by BAE Systems, while the rest will be manufactured by Mahindra Defence under the “Make in India” program. This is the first deal of its kind since the infamous Bofors scandal that came out in 1987.

Around 41% lighter than its predecessor, M198, the Howitzer M777 (4200 kg) uses a digital fire-control system that provides navigation, pointing, and self-location, allowing it to be put into action quickly. It is a 155 mm 39 caliber towed gun with an assisted range of up to 30 km.

According to PTI, the guns would be deployed along the India-China border, used by the New Mountain Strike Corps that will be deployed soon near the Panagarh in West Bengal. These guns will come to India in September 2018, after which five guns will be inducted every month from March 2019 to June 2021.

 

Sources: Financial Express, DNA

General Rawat to be the new Indian Army Chief, opposition raises questions

The Defence Ministry announced the appointment of Lt General Bipin Rawat as the new Indian Army Chief and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa as the new Indian Air Force chief on December 17.

This decision was met with great criticism from the opposition parties and leaders as General Rawat was chosen over three other officers who were far more senior than him, thus, ignoring the rule of seniority and experience generally obeyed in such decisions.

The BJP govt bypassed Lt General Praveen Bakshi(Eastern Army Commander), Lt General PM Hariz (Southern Army Commander) and Lt Gen BS Negi  (Central Army Commander) to select General Rawat for the post.

The government has complete autonomy to select the army chief from the list of candidates to provide to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, but this tradition of seniority has been followed in the army for decades now.

There have been only two incidences when this parameter was overlooked; both under the Indira Gandhi government in 1972 and 1983.

Both the Congress and CPM accused the government of creating unnecessary controversies over such top posts appointments and demanded an explanation for such decisions. The Modi government was quick to respond by citing the appointment as suitable in light of recent security concerns and condemned the opposition for trying to turn this into a political issue.

SOURCESFIRSTPOST, THE INDIAN EXPRESS

IMAGE SOURCE – PTI

 

Woes of the Defences

Photo Courtesy – www.thehindu.com

 

INS Sindhuratna, the ill-fated kilo class submarine which took lives of two naval officers and resulted in the unprecedented resignation of Admiral DK Joshi had been in service for 26 years. Several eyebrows have been raised on Admiral Joshi’s resignation but what comes as an even bigger shock is the swift acceptance of this resignation by the Finance Minister, AK Anthony.

Anthony has managed to deflect attention from the real problem of political indecision even after the navy, time and again, brought this problem of the dilapidated fleet to his attention with monotonous regularity. The submarine, bought second-hand from soviet Russia, lived an extended life of 22 years after several repairs and rebuilding’s. Even after all of this, the active life of this submarine ended in December 2013. The navy today faces a huge shortage arms which hasn’t been addressed by the government. India lags far behind in military proficiency with less than 10 submarines and only 2 aircraft carriers for our defence.

The recent accidents merit notice that India’s military fleet needs a complete remodelling. Be it Sindhurakshak, that suffered an explosion in 2013 due to malfunctioning or the MIG-21,which was retired after 50 long years of service, the Indian ordinance is obsolete and ill fitted for war. An absence of direction and vision for the armed forces in the country is missing. The Admirals resignation, though sudden, upholds the highest sacraments of the Indian defence forces wherein the responsibility is assumed by the person yielding the highest power.  The fact remains that our defence forces today are spearheaded not by seasoned officers of the military but a bureaucracy which is riddled with corruption and indecisiveness. These are people in power who understand little about the intricacies of the armed forces and even lesser about the decisions that go into running the institute.

Excessive red tape and bottle necks within the bureaucracy delay even the deals which do get signed. This has created a tainted image of the military forces in the media. The problem is that the media has conveniently brought attention to the easiest target in the situation. It is lack of deals being executed on time that the Indian army has not acquired a single weapon of artillery since the Bofors scam of 1988 and the Air Force is still waiting on a shipment of 40 fighter aircrafts since 2006. The military budget allocations too barely meet the day to day functioning and maintenance of the forces let alone the acquisition and development of military proficiency. India’s military budget forms only 1.74% of the GDP, a gross underspend by global standards. Not even 20% of the budget is allocated to acquisitions, a fact which while troubles many, is not dealt with by the Indian government.

Admiral Joshi’s resignation, though tragic must be taken as an opportunity  to fill this gap between the civil-military relationship and devise plans and clear cut policies to counter the inadequacies’ within the higher management of the Indian armed forces.

 

Pakistan continues to violate ceasefire

A jawan stands guard at the LoC in Kargil | Image: CNN-IBN

Pakistan continues to violate ceasefire at LoC. This is the second time it has happened in just 24 hours.  The Pakistani troops early on Tuesday morning (20th August), targeted the Indian battalion in Hamirpur, Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir. On Monday the Pakistani army fired at the Indian outward posts with automatic weapons at the LoC, in Mendhar sub-Sector. Another firing in the same place took place again today early morning.

Pakistan has been continuously violating the bilateral ceasefire agreement that had been signed between the two countries in the year 2003. But since the beginning of this year there have been 82 violations, while 18 of them have taken place in a span of just 10 days.  There has been an alarming increase in the number violations as each year passes, it had been 61 in 2011 but it rose to 117 in 2012.

A video accessed by CNN-IBN shows an infiltration bid by Pakistan in Poonch on August 16th.The video shows how under the cover of fire Pakistan was sending in terrorists into the Indian territory.

On August 6th, five Indian soldiers were killed at LoC in an attack and the seriousness of the issue has intensified since then. Defence Minister A.K. Antony has said that now the Indian army will strike back. Pakistan government has denied its involvement in this issue, and put all the blame on India, stating that India provoked this firing by killing one of the Pakistani soldiers in July.

(With inputs from Prangya Pandab)