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‘No Indian boots on the ground in Afghanistan’: Nirmala Sitharaman tells US counterpart James Mattis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her US counterpart James Mattis held comprehensive talks covering the entire gamut of the bilateral defence partnership.”The situation in our neighbourhood and the growing menace of cross-border terrorism were discussed in depth.There is growing convergence in the approaches of both our countries on this issue,” Sitharaman said at a joint press conference.She said both sides recognise the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism.”We have made it clear that there shall not be boots from India on the ground (Afghan),” Sitharaman said while responding to a query on whether India will contribute troops in Afghanistan.Sitharaman also said that Mattis has assured her that he will raise with Pakistan the issue of terrorism emanating from there.US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held talks with Indian leaders on Tuesday, vowing to jointly stamp out militant sanctuaries and seeking India’s greater involvement in helping to stabilise Afghanistan.The comments come as President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up pressure on Pakistan for more action against militant groups operating from its soil that are blamed for attacks in India and neighbouring Afghanistan.Islamabad denies giving material support to the militants and instead accuses its arch-rival of trying to use Afghanistan as a base for anti-Pakistan activities.But Mattis, the Trump administration’s first cabinet official to visit India, said the two countries would work together to fight terrorism.”There can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens,” he said in a statement. “As global leaders, India and the United States resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge.”Washington welcomed Indian efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan, he added. New Delhi has committed $3 billion in development projects in Afghanistan and trains Afghan officers in India.But it has not sent soldiers in the international effort to restore peace. “Our engagement in Afghanistan will continue, we shall expand our engagement,” Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, following talks with Mattis.Defence ties between India and the United States have expanded rapidly, with New Delhi buying U.S. weapons worth $15 billion over the last decade, moving away from traditional supplier Russia.Military experts say U.S. weapons transfers aim at bolstering Indian capabilities to develop a counterweight against China’s growing assertiveness in recent years.Indian and U.S. negotiators are now trying to move forward with a deal to supply the Indian navy with 22 Sea Guardian drone aircraft, whose June approval by the U.S. government was the first such clearance to a non-NATO ally.India wants the unarmed drones to help its navy lengthen the duration of its surveillance in the Indian Ocean, where Chinese naval ships and submarines make regular forays.Expanding naval cooperation with India was a top priority, Mattis said, adding that three-way exercises involving the United States, India and Japan boosted operational cooperation.With inputs from PTI and Reuters

Indo-US defense relationship not at exclusion of others: US Defence Secretary Mattis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday said the strengthening of strategic relationship with India is not at the expense of others as he praised New Delhi for supporting the fight against terrorists in Afghanistan.”The relationship that we are building with India is not to the exclusion of other countries,” Mattis told reporters. “It is specifically designed for inclusion using a rules- based order that any nation that is living by the traditional rules of non-interference in other states in today’s age of anti-terrorism, they will not find this relationship in any way adversarial,” Mattis said in response to question. India, he said, has been a constant supporter of the fight against terrorists in Afghanistan.He lauded India for contributing tens of thousands of dollars for building infrastructure in Afghanistan and training Afghan officers. “They’ve been a great asset, and we would see them continuing along the lines they have already chosen, and looking for any other areas that they may believe appropriate to the relationship with Afghanistan,” he added. In the security sphere, India has been providing training to the Afghan security forces.”It’s building the underpinnings of the government that actually builds the affection and respect of the people of Afghanistan to a government that delivers. It’s absolutely critical to security that the people of Afghanistan feel hope for the future. No nation has probably contributed more bilaterally than India in building that hope,” he said.During his India visit from September 26-27, the defence secretary will hold talks with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Responding to a question on Pakistan, Mattis said it has come out recently again saying that they are fighting the terrorists. “I think Pakistan will find nothing out of line with India and the US alignment in the same fight,” he said.Mattis said the new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy started from a regional point of view. “We did not start it with Afghanistan and work out. We actually started with South Asia, as a region, and worked to refine how we would deal with the terrorists problem in Afghanistan,” he explained.”So, the message would be that we continue to work the regional aspect as we come up with a mutual, wide-ranging counter-terrorism campaign, because terrorism is a bane to any country out here, and a lot of countries have paid a stiff price to the terrorists,” he said. “So, that is the message, one of inclusion, not one of exclusion, of rules-based order, of a broad mutual cooperation against terrorists, and certainly of strategic convergence right now with India, between India and the United States,” the top American defense official said.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis visit to India aimed at strenghtening Indo-US defence ties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US Defence Secretary James Mattis will seek to take the India-US defence ties to the next level during his visit to India this week, with discussion on F-16s and the security situation in the region likely to dominate the agenda.Firmly of the view that a stronger India both in terms of military and economy is in America’s national interest, Mattis would meet his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman, National Security Advisor Ajit K Doval and also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.This is the first Cabinet-level visit to India under the Trump administration.Informed sources familiar with the preparations of the visit told PTI that the trip would be used to develop new institutional mechanisms to elevate the status of India-US defense relationship, showcase enhanced strategic co-operation in Afghanistan and strengthen maritime security and rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region.While no specific defence trade deal is likely to be announced during Mattis India visit on September 26-27, sources said there would be discussions on two specific proposals of F-16 and F-18A under Modi’s Make in India campaign, along with efforts to identify new projects under the ambitious Defence Technology and Trade Initiatives (DTTI).The Trump administration wants to sell F-18 and F-16 fighter planes to India, built by American companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin respectively. Both companies have offered to assemble these planes in India.Ahead of his visit, Mattis met Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna at the Pentagon.And in a rarest of the rare gesture, Mattis came down to the River side entrance of the Pentagon to receive Sarna.The Indian envoy said meeting was “very positive and cordial.”And after the meeting, the Defense Secretary came down to see him off.This is also the first follow up visit by a US cabinet official after Modi’s June trip to the US. During the visit, the two countries are expected to review the defence and strategic decisions taken by Modi and US President Donald Trump in June.During his India visit, Mattis is likely to talk with Sitharaman and other Indian leaders on the new Afghan strategy and the Indo-Pacific region.Trump while announcing his new Afghan policy had asked India to do more to help Afghanistan with its developmental needs.According to officials, Mattis is interested in accelerating the pace of India-US defense co-operation and making it an effective tool in achieving the goal of peace and stability in the entire region ranging from South Asia to Indo-Pacific region.Mattis, it is learnt, is taking along with him some of his own ideas in this regard, which he would like to discuss with the Indian leadership and get their feedback.And to take the relationship to the next level, including more exercise and sale of high-tech defence equipment, the Pentagon instead of the foundational agreements is now looking for some India specific documentation that would provide institutional mechanisms, address India’s concerns and meet the Congressional-mandated legislative requirements in this regard.This could be seen as a major climbdown, as India had been resisting from signing any foundational agreements for the past several years because of sovereignty concerns.In his interaction with the Indian leaders, Mattis is also expected to discuss how to advance and Major Defense Partnership, a designation given to India by the previous Obama Administration which has been continued by the Trump Administration.Mattis’ India visit comes in less than a week after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had her first bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

Sitharaman visits forward bases in Raj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday visited the field firing range in Khetolai area in Pokhran and met senior Army officers stationed there.This was her second visit to Rajasthan after she took charge of the defence ministry earlier this month, becoming the first full-time woman defence minister of the country.At display were the capabilities of ingeniously developed battle tank Arjun MK-2 during a field exercise by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at the firing range.Earlier, Sitharaman visited the forward airbase at Uttarlai Barmer, which was her first field visit after being appointed defence minister. In less than a month of her appointment, Sitharaman has visited a number of armed force bases across the country and held discussions with senior officials, something that is also seen as a confidence building exercise among the ground troops.Even as her official schedule of Saturday remained restricted to visiting the DRDO exercise, she is also reported to have visited a defence lab and held discussions with officers stationed at the local bases. Her presence and meeting with the Army officials is expected to further boost morals of troops deployed in the bordering areas.However, unlike her last visit, the Defence minister on Saturday evening returned to Delhi without making a public or press appearance. She arrived at Jaisalmer in morning from a special flight and was received by senior officers of the Army and the Air Force, and flew to Jodhpur from Pakhran to take a flight back to the national capital.

Nirmala Sitharaman visits field firing range in Pokhran

Updated: Sep 23, 2017, 08:05 PM IST, PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday visited the field firing range in Khetolai area in Pokhran and met senior Army officers stationed there.This was her second visit to Rajasthan after she took charge of the defence ministry earlier this month, becoming the first full-time woman defence minister of the country.She reached Jaisalmer this morning in a special aircraft and then headed to the firing range, official sources said.She has been visiting various military installations after taking charge

Watch: Rohit Bal begs and apologises after brawl with neighbour

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fashion designer Rohit Bal was detained, along with three other men, for allegedly threatening his neighbour under the influence of alcohol in south Delhi’s Defence Colony in the early hours today, police said.The four men were subsequently granted bail.The police received a complaint from one Iqbal Singh, who alleged that Bal, along with Lalit Kumar, Ramesh and Pramod, forcibly entered his house, said Ishwar Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South).The complainant also claimed that the four men, under the influence of alcohol, threatened him and created a ruckus, he added.Subsequently, a case was registered against the four men, who were arrested and released on bail. Bal’s spokesperson claimed that the issue was “over” now. “It was a fight over car parking. It is over now and he (Bal) is taking rest,” he said. A video also went viral showing Rohit Bal begging and apologising. In the video, he can be seen begging a neighbour’s relative asking him to forgive him for his misdemeanours.Check it out below:

Siachen: Indian Army takes Swachch Bharat mission to world’s highest battlefield

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda of Swachh Bharat, the Indian army carried out the cleanliness drive at Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world.Siachen is a place where everything is ferried from the hinterland. It is a logistics challenge to move all types of waste out of the glacier so that these do not become environmental hazard.Army continues to take steps to ensure hygiene at the highest battle field, the Defence Ministry said.”The prime motive of the drive is to maintain ecological balance of Siachen glacier. Since the launch of the campaign in October 2014, Siachen troops have removed and sent back more than 63 tonnes of garbage to the base,” the Ministry added. A huge amount of garbage has been brought back through man-pack loads, porters, ponies and sometimes returning helicopters. These loads of garbage include packing material, barrels and perishables.The garbage are buried in deep trenches dug mechanically in areas on arrival of the trash to disposal areas, which are not on run of the rivers and where landmass is not fragile.

In mid-level bureaucratic reshuffle, 17 new joint secretaries appointed by Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 17 new joint secretaries have been appointed in various central government departments as part of a major mid-level bureaucratic reshuffle effected today.Of these, 11 officers are from Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and six from other civil services.IAS officers Anil Malik and Vivek Bharadwaj will be joint secretaries in Home Ministry.Anurag Agarwal, also from the same service, has been appointed joint secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.IAS officer N Saravana Kumar will be joint secretary, Department of Higher Education.Ruchika Chaudhry Govil, an officer of Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax cadre), has been named JS, Ministry of Steel.Manohar Agnani and Vijoy Kumar Singh will be joint secretaries in Department of Health and Family Welfare, and DoPT respectively.Amit Sahai, an Indian Forest Service officer, will be joint secretary, Department of Defence Production.Ravinesh Kumar, an officer of Indian Defence Accounts Service, has been named Financial Advisor, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).Sanjay Goel and Gopalakrishnan S have been appointed joint secretaries in Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.IAS officer Anuradha Thakur will be joint secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management.Kalpana Rajsinghot and Manju Pandey have been appointed joint secretaries in Ministry of Labour and Employment, and Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry.Niranjan Kumar Sudhansu will be joint secretary, Ministry of Coal. S Suresh Kumar has been appointed Additional Chief Executive Officer, Government e-marketplace Special Purpose Vehicle– a portal to procure goods and services by all government departments and public sector undertakings.IAS officer Rajiv Arora, joint secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment has been sent back to his cadre state Haryana before completion of his central deputation tenure.

Def min rejects shortage report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has rejected reports about shortage of ammunition and its quality at Uttarlai air base.She was reacting to reports published a few days ago that indigenous cannonballs exploded in the barrel of US-made Howitzer during an exercise at the Pokhran firing range. However, this is not the first time when such incident had happened.There have been two such incidents in the last one and a half years at the firing range of BSF located at Kishangarh in Jaisalmer, when cannonballs exploded at the time of loading them onto a cannon. Two BSF men were killed and about 10 were injured.

Who is responsible for M777 howitzer’s barrel explosion? Not us, say Indian ammunition maker

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the barrel of recently-acquired ultra-light M777 howitzer exploded at a trial in Pokharan, questions are being raised against the Indian ammunition maker — Ordnance Factory Board.The Indian Army feels that the shell manufactured by the OFB were responsible for the misfire in Pokharan, an NDTV report said on Wednesday.According to the report, the state-owned manufacturer which supplies at least 90 per cent of artillery shells in use with the Indian Army, seemed to suggest that the failure was not unusual.It is not the first time that there has been a damage reported during trials. The Tuesday’s incident is third in four months when the barrel of the prototype howitzer has been damaged.Meanwhile, BAE Systems, the US manufacturer of the artillery gun issued a statement and said that it would cooperate with the Indian Army to ‘explore events leading up to the incident.’The howitzers are extremely important for India’s defence as the Indian Army badly needs them considering the evolving regional security scenario.India had last procured howitzers in the mid-1980s from Swedish defence major Bofors. The alleged pay-offs in the deal and its subsequent political ramifications had severely crippled the Indian Army’s procurement of artillery guns.The Army had received the howitzers in May as part of an order for 145 guns.India had struck a government-to-government deal with the US last November for supply of the 145 howitzers at a cost of nearly Rs 5,000 crore.While 25 guns will come in a fly-away condition, the rest will be assembled in India by the BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence.

Nirmala Sitharaman rubbishes claims about India having ammunition to last two days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday reached Uttarlai airbase in Barmer for a ground visit. The newly-appointed Defence Minister in her three-hour visit met jawans and officers at the airbase. Nirmala was given a guard of honour by Sukhoi Fighter crafts on her arrival.Speaking to media, she said she would not comment about (a possibility of) war and added that all efforts towards enhancing the preparedness of the Armed Forces would be dealt with on priority. “Procuring arms and ammunition is a continuous process,” she said.Rubbishing the claims about India having just enough ammunition to last two days, the Defence Minister said that there was no shortage of ammunition in the country.Speaking further on the issue she said, “Discussions are one thing and statements from persons who have the facts is totally another. People who have facts are not making these statements,” she said. The Defence Minister said every asset required to enhance the preparedness of the forces would be procured, and that she would hold immediate meetings with the Prime Minister and the NSA to address all pressing issues related to procurement.Addressing a query related to the country having a part-time defence minister before she took up, Nirmala said, “For two years, Manohar Parrikar was a full-time minister and even though Arun Jaitley had an additional charge, nothing was delayed. Records show that decisions were taken without delay. But there are many matters that have been pending for years.”Pull Quote: I will be available round the clock and take speedy, timely decisions. This is new for me. I have told the three chiefs to meet me for 15 minutes in the morning at 10 am whenever I am in Delhi. The meeting can be extended if pressing issues are at hand. In case a chief is not in town, his deputy should attend the meeting. I will hold a meeting with the Defence Secretary twice a week.”

Nitin Gadkari to focus on river-linking, Ganga clean up and constructing highways-cum-airstrips

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Making e-autorickshaws a common sight in rural India, creating a water grid that is on par with power grid and constructing 17 highways-cum-airstrips are the government’s priorities and it will start work on them this year, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said.After getting the additional charge of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, Gadkari told PTI in an interview that another “mammoth task” that lay on his shoulders was to make Ganga ‘aviral and nirmal’ (continuous and clean flow). “Public transport on electric mode is the dire need now. We are bringing a policy for it. Thrust will also be on rural transport on electric autorickshaws and other vehicles, powered by lithium ion battery. Its cost has already been reduced by 40 per cent and prices will further come down on mass production,” Gadkari said.He said that last week DMRC facilitated the launch of a fleet of E-autorickshaws at Gurgaon to provide last-mile connectivity in the millennium city for metro commuters and likewise initiatives in all states where metros trains are coming up could be taken. “India has become coal and power surplus. Electric mode is getting cheaper. Transport charges will come down. People will get sustainable transport. Whether West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, North East, Uttar Pradesh or Bihar – metro and electric transport will expand eliminating hand rickshaws, which is inhuman (practice),” he said. He said massive work was lined up in this direction and would be launched before 2018.Another thrust area is creating a River Grid on par with Power Grid that undertakes transmission of electricity through Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS), he said.”Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan battle with water crisis. Even drinking water is not available in many villages,” he said. “On the other hand, states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh witness massive floods. Why not create a Water Grid on par with Power Grid and divert excess water to scarce areas,” he said.Gadkari said he was serious on the issue and would start work soon in this direction besides would begin work on three of the five river inter-linking projects worth Rs 50,000 crore in the next three months. “Will start work soon on five projects of river connectivity as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision. Interlinking of rivers was also the dream of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee. Why can’t we divert the excess water from Ganga and Brhmaputra to Cauvery and other rivers,” he said.He asserted that he had a “mammoth task” on his shoulders to make Ganga ‘aviral and nirmal’, besides increasing irrigation capacity for farmers in the country. On highway projects, he said the Defence has agreed to transfer land near Dhaulakuan to widen the stretch and work will begin soon on the project which will ease traffic condition on that road. Besides, its nod has been obtained for building 17 highway stretches in areas near borders that will also double up as airstrips and permission will soon be sought from the Aviation Ministry, he said.”There are 17 projects and we aim to start work on all before 2018,” the Minister said. The projects are designed in such a fashion that the roads will double up as airstrips and traffic will be stopped when an airplane lands or takes off. The road and air connectivity will also provide better access to remote areas. Such projects are planned in Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and some other border districts. Waterways also are top on the agenda of the government and work has already been underway on two projects Ganga and Brahamaputra, he said, adding that work on another 10 projects will start by the end of the year.

Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flags off first ever all-women Navy crew attempting to circumnavigate globe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move that signals a new era of women’s empowerment for the armed forces, newly-appointment Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday flagged off an all-women Navy team in Panaji attempting to circumnavigate the globe.For the first time ever, an all-women crew ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’ of the Indian Navy will embark on a global journey on an Indian sailing vessel INSV Tarini.The crew would sail over many oceans to complete the mission. The entire distance will be covered in five legs and the team will stop at four ports for replenishment of ration and repairs, as necessary, a naval spokesperson said. The crew will have stop overs at various ports like: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands) and Cape Town (South Africa), the spokesperson said.The circumnavigation is likely to be completed around March 2018.Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wished luck to the ladies for the historic journey.Nirmala Sitharaman took charge of the defence ministry on September 7, becoming the first full-time woman Defence Minister of the country.She took charge in the presence of her predecessor Arun Jaitley who was given the additional charge of the key ministry in March after Manohar Parrikar quit the union cabinet to become the chief minister of Goa.Sitharaman was elevated to the cabinet rank on Sunday and given the defence portfolio.A priest held prayers in the defence minister’s chamber before she assumed charge.Senior officials of the ministry were present and she briefly interacted with them after taking over as the minister.She became the first full-time woman defence minister and the second woman to take charge of the key portfolio. Indira Gandhi, as then Prime Minister, had also held the portfolio in the seventies.As the Defence Minister, Sitharaman will be a member of the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security whose members include the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the External Affairs Minister and the Finance Minister.With inputs from PTI

Women to be enlisted in military police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a big step towards addressing gender biases in the armed forces, the Army has decided to induct women into military police. Currently, women are recruited for selected roles in medical, education, legal, signals and engineering wings, and only as officers.The decision could be the first step before including women for combat duties.The increasing need for investigating gender specific allegations and crimes has prompted the need for women to be included in the military police, the Army said on Friday.During operations in Kashmir, the Army has often confronted women protesters and women soldiers as part of military police could with this situation.Army chief Bipin Rawat had also hinted at women being deployed in such situation when he announced that as a first step, women will be inducted into the military police before being sent for combat.Initially, a batch of 800 women will be inducted, targeting 52 recruitments a year.The decision was taken a day after Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first women full-time Defence Minister, assumed office.The subject of women donning the battle fatigues has been a sticky one, with a section of the Army opposed to it in the past.Last year, the Air Force commissioned three women as fighter pilots for the first time. It’s gonna be bye-bye gender biasThe increasing need for investigating gender specific allegations and crimes has prompted the need for women to be included in the military police. The Army decision to induct women into military police is a big step towards addressing gender bias.

Nirmala Sitharaman takes charge as Defence Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Giving a push to ‘Make in India’, addressing issues of welfare of armed forces and military preparedness will be the top priorities of Nirmala Sitharaman who took over as the country’s first full-time Defence Minister on Thursday.Sitharaman took charge of her office a little late, as her predecessor Arun Jaitley was travelling to Japan.Before she assumed charge, a priest conducted prayers in her office.”My priority will definitely be armed forces’ preparedness. It is important that Indian armed forces receive all attention in terms of giving them every necessary endowment and equipment,” Sitharaman, said.Soon after taking over, senior officers of the Ministry of Defence briefed her on various aspects.Sitharaman was the surprise pick as Defence Minister in the Cabinet reshuffle that took place last week.She has added to the list of 13 women holding the critical portfolio in their respective countries.She said resolving long-pending issues in consultation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Cabinet and ensuring effective implementation of the ‘Make in India’ initiative would also be a focus area.Reaching out to armed forces personnel, Sitharaman said soldiers perform their duties at the “toughest borders” and it would be her endeavour to ensure their welfare as well as that of their families.She takes over at a time when the defence forces need a major boost in the wake of hostilities on borders with Pakistan and China.With incidents of incursions by the Chinese Army expected to increase after the Dokalam face-off, Sitharaman will face challenges in handling such complex issues.

Need to cut delays in weapons supply to CRPF, says Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday lamented the “delay” in supply of weapons and critical equipment to the CRPF by the defence ministry and said there was a need to develop a framework involving defence PSUs to address the issue.Singh also called upon all defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) to focus on 100 per cent indigenisation of military equipment and platforms and effectively implement the Make in India initiative in defence production to bring down import dependence.Welcoming the appointment of Nirmala Sitharaman as defence minister, Singh exuded confidence that the key ministry will get “new energy and strength” under her as women symbolise “shakti” (strength).Speaking at an event in DRDO, where equipment built by several DPSUs were handed over to the paramilitary CRPF, the home minister said procurement of weapons and other systems for paramilitary forces is largely handled by the defence ministry and delays in their supplies often affect them.Sitharaman was also present on the occasion, the first event she attended as the defence minister.”For the CRPF, I have seen that the procurement of equipment is done by the defence ministry. The CRPF does not get the priority it should.”There has been a delay in supply of equipment and weapons to them. There is a need to think over it as due to the delay, they suffer. I think a framework for it has to be developed,” Singh said.The CRPF was handed over various weapons and platforms developed by DPSUs which included armoured buses, bullet-proof jackets, assault rifles, all terrain vehicles, carbines and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).Sitharaman congratulated the Defence Research Development Organisation and other DPSUs involved in developing the critical platforms.The home minister asked the DPSUs to focus on 100 per cent indigenisation of military equipment and platforms and not limit the indigenous components to 60, 70 or 80 per cent.He expressed happiness over the appoinment of Sitharaman and noted that the media has hailed the move to make her the first full time woman defence minister.”I was with you at your last event as commerce minister and I am present here at your first event as defence minister,” said Singh.The home minister said the armed forces will have to equip themselves with latest technologies to deal with those involved in crimes.He said when he visited naxal-dominated areas in Jharkhand, jawans requested fort lighter helmets. “We have given lighter helmets, but there is a need to make them more lighter.”He said, “Those involved in crime are using latest technologies. While sitting in any part of the world, anybody can make anyone a terrorist, they can hack…. We will have to equip ourselves with latest technologies to combat them.”

BMC’s B ward to now boast of bio-digester toilets

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The B ward of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which has under its fold Masjid, Sandhurst Road, Dongri, Mohammad Ali Road and Yusuf Mehar Ali Road neighbourhoos, has decided to promote bio-digester toilets in its ward that will benefit residents and housing societies which do not have permission to construct toilets above the ground floor.As per the BMC, residents cannot construct toilets above ground floor if there is no toilet on the ground floor in the same alignment. Udaykumar Shiroorkar, assistant commissioner of ward said, “The ward office has received several applications for permission to construct toilets above ground floor. But we cannot give permission as there is a constraint in the law.” He added that bio-digester toilets can be a good alternative for families looking to construct toilets.According to Shiroorkar, the bio-digester toilets developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are simple and low-cost technology for treating human waste. “The DRDO has developed for bio-digester toilets for defence personnel who move from one place to another. These toilets can be set up easily,” said Shiroorkar.The tank is available from 300 litre to 1000 litre capacity depending upon the number of families. “A physically handicapped brother and sister from my ward had approached me to construct a toilet on the second floor as they cannot use the ground floor toilet. But, they cannot be given permission due to the civic body’s laws,” said Shiroorkar.The bio-digester toilets are easy to transport and install, maintenance-free, facilitate a continuous biological process and odorless effluent discharge. “The zero-waste bio-digester technology breaks down human excreta into usable water and gas through anaerobic process,” added Shiroorkar.BIO-DIGESTER TOILETSBio-digester toilets are easy to transport and install, maintenance free, continuous biological process and odorless effluent discharge
The tank is availble in 300 litres to 1,000 litres capacity depending upon the number of families

India, Japan to step up naval co-op amid China’s rising presence in Indian Ocean

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Japan have decided to enhance their naval cooperation that will include training for anti-submarine warfare amid the increased control of China in the Indian Ocean Region.Frequent forays by Chinese vessels have been a matter of great concern for India as the Chinese Navy controls ports in Djibouti, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and now Myanmar.The increased frequency of Chinese vessels docked in Karachi and “unusual” activities of their naval units in the Indian Ocean has raised an alarm, sources said.The enhanced naval cooperation was decided on Tuesday during Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to Japan.”The Ministers expressed satisfaction at the success of Japan-India-US Trilateral Maritime Exercise Malabar 2017 in July this year and confirmed their intention to deepen and advance the objectives of this exercise. Japan’s Minister of Defense, Itsunori Onodera expressed his intention to have state-of-the-art Japanese assets to participate in the Malabar 2018,” the India-Japan joint statement said.Bilateral training and regular interactions between Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) have also been decided. Japan has decided to invite Indian Navy personnel to mine countermeasures training held by JMSDF.Navy intelligence reports indicate that on the pretext of anti-piracy operations, the Chinese Navy has enhanced its power in the Indian Ocean Region.The decision to step up military ties is also significant as it comes in wake of China’s increasing efforts to dominate the South China Sea.”The ministers exchanged views and ideas with the aim to further strengthen defence and security cooperation under the framework of the Japan-lndia Special Strategic and Global Partnership,” the joint statement added.

Kashmiris help Army men in distress, video goes viral

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For those who stereotype Kashmiris as anti-forces, this should serve as eye-opener.A video showing Kashmiri people helping armed soldiers after their vehicle skidded off the road near Check- e- Pahroo village at Nowgam, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Seeing the soldiers struggling to walk, locals rushed to the spot and rescued them to safety.Locals stopped their cars and came to help the soldiers in distress and people came forward with water bottles for the soldiers involved in the accident.Overwhelmed by the gesture, General Officer Commanding of 15 corps of the army Lieutenant General JS Sandhu thanked the people for helping the soldiers in distress. “This is a true indicator of Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat and will go a long way in strengthening the bond of friendship between the awaam (people) and the jawan, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, Defence Spokesman, quoting Lieutenant General Sandhu, said. It is not the first such instance. On Friday, locals cared little of their own safety as they rushed to rescue cops when terrorists attacked their bus in Zewan near Srinagar. Last year, too, some Kashmiris risked lives to rescue army men at Pantha Chowk-Lasjan.

HAL signs Rs 6,100 cr deal for supply of 41 ALHs to Army, Navy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd said it has signed a Rs 6,100 crore contract for supply of 41 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to the Indian Army and one to the Indian Navy.The contracts will be executed in a period of 60 months, the company said.HAL, in a statement here, said, the contract was signed between the Ministry of Defence and HAL in New Delhi recently.Officials from the MoD, the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and HAL were present during the event.”The latest order reflects the trust on HAL’s capabilities and gives an impetus to the Make-in-India campaign…It reposes faith of Indian Defence forces in indigenous ALH which has been serving them with distinction for a long time,” HAL CMD T Suvarna Raju said.In March this year, HAL had signed a contract for supply of 32 ALH to boost maritime security capabilities of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard.

Madam Raksha Mantri

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nirmala Sitharaman became the first full-time Defence Minster on Sunday, adding to the list of 15 other women holding the critical portfolio in their respective countries.Sitharaman was a surprise pick as Defence Minister; she takes over from Arun Jaitley, who had been handling the portfolio for five months, along with the Finance Ministry, after Manohar Parrikar was sent to Goa to be its chief minister in March.Indira Gandhi held additional charge of the Defence Ministry twice – once when was the Prime Minister in 1975, and then between 1980 and 1982.This will also be the first time when the all important Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will have two women — External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is the other member. The CCS is headed by the Prime Minister and comprises Ministers of Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs.Sitharaman called the move “cosmic grace” and credited the support of party leadership that for her new role. “I am overwhelmed and humbled and I can serve the country with something which is constantly on the top of my mind,” she said.Till now, she was the Minister of State for Commerce. Sitharaman will now have to address the call for a larger role for women in the armed forces.OTHER WOMEN IN COMMANDMaría Dolores de Cospedal: Spain
Andreja Kati: Slovenia
Marise Payne: Australia
Mimi Kodheli: Albania
Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide: Norway
Ursula von der Leyen: Germany
Roberta Pinotti: Italy
Martha Elena Ruiz Sevilla: Nicaragua
Raychelle Omamo: Kenya
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert: Netherlands
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula: South Africa

As Narendra Modi rejigs the cabinet, Congress calls it a ‘senior citizens’ club

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With a focus on delivery as he prepares for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today handed key portfolios to ministers with “proven” track record and sprang a surprise by elevating Nirmala Sitharaman as the first full-time woman Defence Minister.In a major rejig of his council of ministers, he also promoted three other junior ministers — Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi — to cabinet rank and inducted nine new faces, including four former government officers, as Ministers of State.The exercise raised the strength of the Union Council of Ministers from 73 to 76.
ALSO READ Cabinet reshuffle: Some JD(U) leaders got new kurta-pyjama but invitation didn’t come, says Lalu Prasad YadavGoyal, who has been praised for his work in the power sector, was given the Railways Ministry, which has been facing criticism over a spate of accidents, prompting Modi to shift Suresh Prabhu to Commerce and Industry Ministry. Goyal will continue to head the Coal Ministry.In an overhaul of infrastructure ministries, Modi handed important portfolios to two former IAS officers and one former diplomat, giving them independent charge and brought Nitin Gadkari in place of Uma Bharti in the water resources and Ganga rejuvenation ministry.
ALSO READ From rewarding Ministers with message to snubbing allies: 6 big takeaways from PM Modi’s third cabinet reshuffle Gadkari retained the charge of Road Transport and Highways, where his work has earned him praise. Bharti’s performance was under scrutiny due to lack of visible progress in Modi’s pet Clean Ganga programme.Bharti will take care of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
ALSO READ Cabinet reshuffle: PM Modi prefers low profile, result-delivering ministers for his core teamGovernment sources said the Prime Minister carried out the reshuffle considering performance and rewarding those with proven track record.Sitharaman, who was the Minister of State with an independent charge of the Commerce Ministry, emerged the biggest gainer.She became the first full-time woman defence minister and the second woman to take charge of the key portfolio. Indira Gandhi, as then Prime Minister, had also held the portfolio in the seventies.As the Defence Minister, Sitharaman will be a member of the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security whose members include the Prime Minister, Home Minister, External Affairs Minister and the Finance Minister.Pradhan and Naqvi retained their portfolios of Oil and Gas and Minority Affairs respectively. Pradhan was given the additional charge of the Skill Development Ministry, which was earlier held by Rajiv Pratap Rudy who quit the post a few days ago.Former diplomat Hardeep Puri and former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam were made MoS (Independent charge) of Housing and Urban Development and Tourism respectively.R K Singh, former Home Secretary, was given charge of Power and New and Renewable Energy portfolios. Former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh has been made minister of state in HRD, Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvination.Six ministers — Rudy, Kalraj Mishra, Bandaru Dattatreya, Sanjiv Kumar Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahendra Nath Pandey — had resigned ahead of the reshuffle, in which nine ministers were inducted.While Modi has focussed on governance, he has also taken care of the BJP’s political considerations.Pradhan, now a cabinet minister, has emerged as the BJP’s face in Odisha and become one of its prominent leaders as the party has highlighted the “success” of his ministry’s scheme of giving free LPG connections to the poor in its political campaigns.Odisha is among the states high on the priority list of party chief Amit Shah for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Alphons is a Christian from Kerala, a state where the BJP has been trying hard to emerge as a potent force. The saffron party has also been wooing Christians and his induction is likely to help this cause.Cabinet Minister Harsh Vardhan, who was given the additional charge of Environment MInistry following the demise of Anil Dave in May, continues to hold the portfolio.Similarly, Smriti Irani, who was given the additional charge of Information and Broadcasting Ministry in July after M Venkaiah Nadu was made vice presidential nominee of the NDA, too retained the ministry.Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore replaced Vijay Goel in the Sports Ministry, while also remaining the MoS in the I&B Ministry.Goel, who earlier held independent charge, has been shunted as the Minister of State for Parliamentary Afairs and Statistics and Programme Implementation.New inductee Shiv Pratap Shukla has been made MoS in the Finance Ministry, replacing Arjun Ram Meghwal, while Ashwini Kumar Choubey has been appointed MoS in Health and Virendra Kumar MoS in Women and Child Devcelopment. Meghwal now has been shifted to Parliamentary Affairs.Another new face Anant Kumar Hegde has been made MoS in the Skill Development Ministry, while Gajendra Singh Shekhawat was made MoS in the Agriculture Ministry.Two ministers Santosh Gangwar and Giriraj Singh have also seen a promotion as they are now MoS with independent charge of Labour and Employment and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises respectively.Meanwhile, the Congress today took a dig at the induction of four former bureaucrats in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, saying it showed he did not trust his political colleagues.Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also described the nine new ministers as a “senior citizens’ club”, pointing out that while the median age of a person in the country was 27 years, the average age of the new entrants was 60.44 years.Talking to the media, Tewari claimed Modi was “strangely disconnected” from the Cabinet reshuffle exercise.”It seems that (BJP president) Amit Shah is the prime minister,” he said, referring to reports that claimed Shah summoned ministers and asked them to resign before the rejig.He also termed the expansion “maximum government and minimum governance”.The Cabinet reshuffle saw the induction of nine new faces. Among them were four former bureaucrats, two of whom — former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam and former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri — are not Members of Parliament.Ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner Satypal Singh and former Union Home secretary R K Singh have also been sworn in.”This reflects that the prime minister does not trust his political colleagues,” Tewari said.He also accused the BJP of including in the Cabinet a “doctor beater” with a motive to “communalise” Karnataka, ahead of the state assembly elections next year.Earlier this year, a video surfaced in which Anantkumar Hegde, who was made minister of state in Skill Development, was seen allegedly beating up doctors in Karwar.On the removal of Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Kalaraj Mishra as ministers for Skill Development and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises respectively, Tewari said the ouster reflected an acceptance of the Modi government’s “gigantic failure”.Referring to the elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman, who was promoted to the Cabinet rank and put in charge of the crucial Defence ministry, Tewari said, “We hope she does not handle the Defence ministry the way she did the Commerce ministry, which saw a crippling decline of exports-imports during her tenure”.The former Union minister termed the elevation in the rank of Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi “mere tokenism” and said the BJP’s attitude towards Muslims was “well known”.On Uma Bharti being divested of the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation portfolio, he quipped, referring to the title of a Hindi film and song, “Ram teri Ganga maili ho gayi — BJP ke paap dhote dhote (The Ganga has already been contaminated by the sins of the BJP).”

RSS welcomes Nirmala Sitharaman’s elevation as Defence Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The RSS hailed the elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman as the Defence Minister on Sunday, saying it was a “great and remarkable” thing that a woman has been appointed to the top-most post.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya congratulated all those who were inducted or elevated in the Cabinet after the reshuffle today.”We congratulate all those ministers who took oath today and our wishes are with them.”It is a great and remarkable thing that a woman has been appointed as the defence minister and now there will be two female ministers in the cabinet committee on security,” Vaidya said.The other members of the crucial cabinet committee are Home Minister, Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister, under the Prime Minister.Sitharaman is the first woman to become a full-time Defence Minister of the country in a major rejig of the Modi Cabinet.She is among the four junior ministers who were given a Cabinet berth in today’s reshuffle. the elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman as the Defence Minister on Sunday, saying it was a “great and remarkable” thing that a woman has been appointed to the top-most post.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya congratulated all those who were inducted or elevated in the Cabinet after the reshuffle on Sunday.”We congratulate all those ministers who took oath today and our wishes are with them.”It is a great and remarkable thing that a woman has been appointed as the defence minister and now there will be two female ministers in the cabinet committee on security,” Vaidya said.The other members of the crucial cabinet committee are Home Minister, Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister, under the Prime Minister.Sitharaman is the first woman to become a full-time Defence Minister of the country in a major rejig of the Modi Cabinet.She is among the four junior ministers who were given a Cabinet berth in today’s reshuffle.

After Indira Gandhi, Nirmala Sitharaman becomes second woman Defence Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nirmala Sitharaman, the only woman minister in the Sunday’s cabinet reshuffle, has been appointed as Defence Minister.It is for the first time in more than 30 years, that the crucial ministry has been assigned to a woman minister.Before this, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi held the portfolio till 1982.Sitharaman, who was Commerce Minister in the Narendra Modi government, was promoted as a Cabinet Minister on Sunday.

CM’s visit to PMO creates speculation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A normal visit of the lady Chief Minister this afternoon to PMO to convey her “Thank You” for Prime Minister’s recent visit to Rajasthan and also to again invite him for the inauguration Rajasthan Refinery in September-October created a lot of speculation in the national media, which had gone to the extent of saying that she has been offered Defence Ministry and she has refused. Now, she has come to pacify the PM. In fact, the timing of her visit also flared up the rumours as it coincided with the cabinet reshuffle, which is now scheduled for Sunday morning. Moreover, the Prime Minister’s lukewarm attitude to the Chief Minister during his Udaipur visit further fuelled the speculation that the Prime Minister is perhaps not happy with her “performance”. The media had gone to the extent of speculating that she is being inducted as the Defence Minister in this coming up reshuffle. At present an additional charge of Defence is being retained by a Raje friend and a well-wisher Arun Jaitely, who is likely to retain the charge of only Finance. In this scenario, some of the ministers also reportedly got active to further “expand and extend” the prevailing speculation about her likely exit and joining the Union cabinet. The list of such ministers includes a few former “loyalists” also. There is also a gossip in the dissident camp that at least 80 Rajasthan MLAs are in touch with Amit Shah and Narendra Modi in one or the other way for the last couple of months, but this gossip is being heard in Delhi and Jaipur power corridors for the last two years and nothing happened. It is also believed that two Raje government ministers – one lady Minister and another Minister from Ajmer Division – had complained to the Party High Command about the style and functioning of the Chief Minister by saying that they have to wait for hours together to meet the Chief Minister, even after their prior appointments. In this speculating scenario, a highly placed source told DNA that “there is no proposal with Modi-Amit Shah to effect a change of leadership in Rajasthan at this critical juncture and the next Assembly Elections will be fought only under her leadership”. Notably, during his recent Jaipur visit, Amit Shah had also reportedly given a clean chit to the Chief Minister. Knowledgeable sources revealed to DNA that she was at PMO for about 72 minutes to mainly express her gratitude towards PM’s visit to Udaipur and also explore availability of dates when PM can inaugurate Refinery in Barmer.According to sources, apart from extending him refinery invitation, she also availed of this opportunity to apprise the Prime Minister about the Robert Vadra land deal cases, which have been recently referred to CBI by the state government. Similarly, recent child deaths in Bhilwara and Banswara were also reportedly discussed at PMO.

SEE PIC: Kiran Bedi tweets a picture of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s chappals to highlight his simplicity

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi on Thursday paid tribute to former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam after visiting his memorial near Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.In a series of tweets posted on Friday, Bedi hailed the former president for his simplistic life and even shared a picture of his sandals to highlight the same. “These Chappals of Dr Kalam were in the suitcase of his last journey to Shillong. ( See how worn out they were and had even been repaired),” she tweeted.A career scientist turned statesman, Dr Kalam was born and raised in Rameswaram and studied physics and aerospace engineering.He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India’s civilian space programme and military missile development efforts.He was elected as the 11th President of India in 2002 with the support of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the then-opposition Indian National Congress. Widely referred to as the “People’s President,”6 he returned to his civilian life of education, writing and public service after a single term. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.While delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Kalam collapsed and died from an apparent cardiac arrest on 27 July 2015, aged 83.

Bofors pay- off: SC agrees to hear plea challenging Delhi HC order quashing charges against accused

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear the politically sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case, amidst recent media reports suggesting a financial quid pro quo for the Rs 1,437 crore Howitzer gun deal in 1986.The matter would be heard in the week commencing 30th October.BJP leader and advocate Ajay Kumar Agarwal has challenged the Delhi High Court May 31, 2005 judgement quashing all charges against the Europe-based Hinduja brothers in the case.The apex court had on October 18, 2005 admitted his petition which was filed after the CBI failed to approach the top court with the appeal within the 90-day deadline following the High Court verdict.The plea filed in Supreme court by Agrawal has also alleged apparent collusiveness by CBI with the accused persons in the Bofors scam, saying the agency did not challenge the Delhi High Court’s May 31, 2005 judgement quashing all charges against the Europe-based Hinduja brothers.The Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987 had claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.The first charge sheet in the case was filed on October 22, 1999 against alleged middleman Win Chadda, Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, then Defence Secretary S K Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors company. A supplementary charge sheet against Hinduja brothers was filed on October 9, 2000.A special CBI court in Delhi On March 4, 2011, had discharged Quattrocchi from the case saying the country cannot afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition which has already cost Rs 250 crore.Quattrocchi, who had fled from here on July 29-30, 1993, has never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution. He passed away on July 13, 2013. The other accused persons who have died are Bhatnagar, Chadda and Ardbo.

13 ordnance officers shown the door

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a rare action, the Defence Ministry on Thursday decided to sack 13 senior officers employed with the ordnance factories. The ministry said unsatisfactory performance of the people made them take the decision. In the recent past, serious questions were raised about the functioning of ordnance factories.While the action is a sign of the government fixing accountability for poor performance, the Army is irked with no action being initiated in the in last year’s incident of a blast in Pulgaon ammunition depot in Maharashtra in which 19 army personnel lost their lives.A year after the incident, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has come out with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for disposal of ammunition but no accountability has been fixed for the criminal negligence.Sources said that none of the 13, who has been sacked, that have been “retired” are linked to the Pulgaon incident.In a representation made on June 27, the Army expressed concerns to the Ministry of Defence over the delay in fixing of responsibility. Letters were sent to Secretary Defence Production Ashok Kumar Gupta and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra. Several accidents between 2015 and 2017 took place but no responsibility for the lapses has been fixed, the letter said.A few months ago, the government had ordered rigorous screening of a performance of all officers of the ordnance factories which work under the administrative control of the defence ministry’s department of defence production.”The government, after having assessed the overall performance of officers of Indian Ordnance Factories Service, following the prescribed procedure, has decided to retire its 13 Group ‘A’ officers from government service in public interest due to their overall unsatisfactory performance,” the defence ministry said. Official sources said the officers are being served three months’ notice period and they will get the pension and other benefits.Over 19,325 defective anti-tank mines had exploded primarily due to leakage of explosives from some of the mines stored at the Central Ammunition Depot in Pulgaon.The ordnance factories are managed by the officers of Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS), which is a group ‘A’ central service. The Service is responsible to ensure that the ordnance factories cater to the logistical needs of the armed forces.The IOFS provides leadership to the 39 ordnance factories employing about one lakh people.The ministry said various steps are being taken to improve the performance of ordnance factories by making its officers accountable and ensure delivery of quality products to the armed forces within prescribed timelines.”One of the steps taken in this direction was to initiate rigorous screening of an overall performance of its officers based on their entire service records,” said the ministry.REASONS CITEDThe defence ministry said unsatisfactory performance of the 13 officials made them take the decision
Sources said that none of the 13, who has been sacked, that have been “retired” are linked to the Pulgaon incident.

Rajiv Mehrishi appointed CAG, Sunil Arora to be Election Commissioner

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi was appointed as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), after stepping down as Home Secretary on Thursday.There were other appointments as well with Anita Karwal being appointed Chairman of CBSE, former IAS officer Sunil Arora being elected as the Election Commissioner and Ranjan Kumar Ghose appointed as the Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General.Senior bureaucrat Rajiv Kumar was appointed Secretary in the Department of Financial Services (DFS) while Anita Karwal was named CBSE chairperson as part of a major reshuffle effected today.As many as 17 civil servants were appointed as secretaries and additional secretaries in various central government departments.Kumar, a 1984 batch IAS officer of Jharkhand cadre, is at present Special Secretary and Establishment Officer in the Ministry of Personnel.He was appointed in place of Anjuly Chib Duggal, who superannuated today, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.The DFS looks after the functioning of banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and the national pension system.Kumar has spearheaded several reforms in Indian bureaucracy including an online system for recording of the bureaucrats annual performance appraisal reports and 360 degree system to assess suitability of officers for senior- level jobs.Pradip Kumar Tripathi will be new Establishment Officer and Additional Secretary in the Personnel Ministry.Karwal, a Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, who is Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Human Resources Development, was named chairperson of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in place of Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi.Chaturvedi has been appointed as Director General of the National Skill Development Agency.Asha Ram Sihag has been appointed Secretary, Department of Heavy Industries. He is at present Secretary (Coordination) in Cabinet Secretariat.Inder Jit Singh has been named Secretary (Coordination) in Cabinet Secretariat in place of Sihag. He is at present Additional Secretary in Commerce Ministry.N Baijendra Kumar, a 1985 batch IAS officer of Chhattisgarh cadre, has been appointed as Chairman and Managing Director of National Mineral Development Corporation.He is at present working in his cadre state.Gujarat-cadre IAS officer Rameswhar Prasad Gupta will be Additional Secretary, NITI Aayog. He is at present Managing Director of National Waqf Development Corporation Ltd (NAWADCO).”The officer will continue to hold additional charge of the post of MD, NAWADCO until further orders,” it said.Satyajeet Rajan, presently serving in his cadre state Kerala, has been named Director General, Tourism.Ali Raza Rizvi, Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce has been appointed Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.”The earlier order appointing Rizvi as CMD, NMDC stands cancelled,” the DoPT order said.Rajesh Bhushan, Joint Secretary, Department of Rural Development has been appointed as Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat.Rajni Sekhri Sibal, a 1986 batch IAS officer of Haryana cadre, has been named Director General, Employment and Training under Ministry of Labour and Employment.Surina Rajan, Additional Secretary in Department of Defence Production, will be Director General, Bureau of Indian Standards. Apurva Chandra will be new additional secretary in Department of Defence Production in place of Rajan.Surendra Nath Tripathi has been named Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare. He is at present Additional Secretary and Development Commissioner, Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.Veena Ish, Member (Administration), National Highways Authority of India, will be Additional Secretary, Department of Land Resources.Vinod Kumar Yadav, a 1980 batch officer of Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers, has been appointed as Additional Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Indian Army set for massive reforms, Defence Ministry accepts recommendation of Shekatkar Committee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Cabinet which met in New Delhi on Wednesday was informed that a reform process in the Indian Army has been approved in a planned manner. In a first ever exercise after Independence, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley after an extensive consultation has approved the process of reforms.Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said 65 out of 99 recommendations of the Shekatkar Committee have been accepted by the government.The panel was appointed to recommend measures to enhance combat capability of the armed forces. The reform process will include restructuring of various repair bases of the Army besides ensuring structural improvement of the National Cadet Corps (NCC).The first phase of the reforms involves redeployment and restructuring of approximately 57,000 posts of officers/JCOs/ORs and civilians. Major reforms concerning the following have been approved:-· Optimisation of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.· Restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include Base Workshops, Advance Base Workshops and Static/Station Workshops in the field Army.· Redeployment of Ordnance echelons to include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.· Better utilization of Supply and Transport echelons and Animal Transport units.· Closure of Military Farms and Army postal establishments in peace locations.· Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.· Improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.Implementation has begun with the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security to close 39 military farms in a time bound manner. The Ministry of Defence had constituted a Committee of Experts under the Chairmanship of Lt Gen (Retd) (Dr.) DB Shekatkar with a mandate to recommend measures for enhancing of Combat Capability & Rebalancing Defence Expenditure of the Armed Forces with an aim to increase “teeth to tail ratio”.The Committee of experts had submitted its report to the Ministry in December, 2016, which was considered by the Ministry of Defence and 99 recommendations were sent to the Armed Forces for making an implementation plan. The Defence Minister Shri Arun Jaitley has approved65 of these recommendations pertaining to the Indian Army for implementation.These reforms will be completed in all respects by 31 December 2019. Restructuring by the Indian Army is aimed at enhancing Combat Capability in a manner that the officers/JCOs/ORs will be used for improving operational preparedness and civilians will be redeployed in different wings of the Armed Forces for improving efficiency.

Indian Army to get medium range missile by 2020

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After years of wait, the Indian Army will finally get an advanced medium-range surface to air missile (MRSAM) system by 2020 which will be able to shoot down ballistic missiles, fighter jets and attack helicopters from a range of around 70 km.The missile system will be produced by premier defence research organisation DRDO in collaboration with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a senior army official said. The MRSAM system will be capable of shooting down enemy ballistic missiles, aircraft, helicopters, drones, surveillance aircraft and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) aircraft, the official said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.The current version of MRSAM is operational with the Indian Air Force and the Navy.The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has signed a Rs 17,000 crore deal with the IAI for the ambitious project. The MR-SAM, a land-based version of the long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) for the Navy, will have a strike range of up 70 km, the official said. The deal envisages 40 firing units and around 200 missiles. “The MRSAM for Army’s Air Defence is an advanced all weather, 360 degree mobile land based theatre air defence system capable of providing air defence to critical areas against a wide variety of threats in a combat zone,” the official said.The first set of missile system will be ready in the next three years, he said. The Army has been pressing the government to enhance its aerial attack capability considering the evolving security challenges. In May, the Army successfully test fired an advanced version of the Brahmos land-attack cruise missile in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.The Indian Army, which became the first land force in the world to deploy the Brahmos in 2007, has raised several regiments of this formidable weapon. In May 2015, the Army had inducted the indigenously- developed supersonic surface-to-air missile Akash which is capable of targeting enemy helicopters, aircraft and UAVs from a range of 25 km.The Army thinks procurement of the MRSAM will mark a paradigm shift in its strike capability.

J&K: DGP SP Vaid praises bravehearts who took down terrorists in gunfight in Pulwama encounter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Director General of Police (DGP), Jammu and Kashmir, S.P. Vaid on Sunday said that the brave hearts of the Pulwama encounter played an excellent role in evacuating families affected in Saturday’s encounter.”Our boys did a great job in rescuing 36 families affected in the Pulwama encounter. Although they had performed well in the past too, but this type of incident happened after a long time,” DGP SP Vaid told ANI.He further said this was an attempt by the agencies to send foreign militants like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).”Senior officers of the valley supervised the operation. DIG Anantnag supervised the sector commander of the Army and a para unit of the Army was used to flash out the terrorists,” he added.Eight security personnel, including four CRPF soldiers and four policemen, were killed in the encounter between the security forces and fidyan terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday.In the massive gunfight, three terrorists were also gunned down.The terrorists had carried out a suicide attack on District Police Lines in south Kashmir’s Pulwama.While Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti strongly condemned the killing of jawans, Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley condoled the death of the personnel killed in the encounter.

Don’t let your guard down: Gen Rawat tells forces amidst Doklam stand-off

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming that the on-going stand-off between India and China at Doklam is a consequence of the China attempting to change the ‘status quo’, chief of the army staff General Bipin Rawat asked armed forces to be prepared for further challenges as such ‘incidents’ are likely to be increased.Rawat was in Pune to deliver a lecture on the topic ‘India’s Challenges in the Current Geo- Strategic Construct’ at the General BC Joshi memorial lecture organised by the department of Defence and Strategic Studies of the Savitribai Phule Pune University on Saturday. Speaking about the current Doklam standoff, Rawat said, “Transgressions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) sometimes happens and it leads to some kind of misunderstanding between forwarding troops.”“Contested claims to the territory continues to exist due to the differing perceptions on the alignments of the LAC. However, we have a joint mechanism in place to address any situation,” Rawat added. Claiming that incidents like Doklam standoff are likely to increase in future, Rawat said, “We should not be complacent. Once the current standoff is resolved, our troops should not feel that such situation will not arise again in future. It is always be prepared. My message to the troops is clear that do not let your guard down.”Rawat also said that the Chinese armed forces have also made significant progress in enhancing their capabilities in terms of force mobilisation, application and sustenance of operations particularly in the Tibet autonomous region of China.“Their (China) force reorganisation along with developing capabilities in space and network centric warfare is likely to provide them greater synergy in force application,” he said.UNCERTAINTYTalking about the India and China’s joint military exercise, Rawat said, “One year our team go to China and a year next to that their team comes to India. This year we have sent an invitation to China which is supposed to be held in October but so far we have not got any confirmation from the Chinese counter parts.”

Lt Col Shrikant Purohit will report back to unit, but with riders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt Col Shrikant Purohit will report back to an Army unit soon after he walks out of jail, but will be remain under “open arrest” till his suspension is revoked. This means he will be confined to a particular area in his unit, not move around freely and will be under watch, Army sources said.As per the rules, he will be required to wear the uniform but may be permitted to wear plain clothes.”In case his suspension is revoked, these restrictions will not apply,” an Army source said.According to Defence Service Regulations (DSRs), a suspended officer is placed under the same restrictions as an officer under open arrest.The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail to Purohit, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. He has been in jail for more than eight years.The Army will study the bail order and decide the future course of action. “After all the scrutiny and legal advice, a decision will be taken on his suspension — whether or not to revoke it,” a source said.Purohit was arrested in January 2009 for his alleged involvement in the blast that killed seven people. The Muslim-majority town was targeted by Hindu outfit Abhinav Bharat.Purohit was posted with a liaison unit of the Army, carrying out intelligence operations when he was arrested. He had maintained that his seniors were aware of his acts as he infiltrated terror outfits as part of a mission. Purohit had last year written to the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar that he was implicated and robbed of his honour, rank and dignity.Soon after his suspension, his pay and allowance were restricted to 25 per cent but he challenged this in the Armed Forces Tribunal that ordered 75 per cent of his salary to be paid.While granting bail to him, the SC pointed out that the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) differed with the earlier probe findings of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad. The NIA had opposed his bail plea, saying there is still enough evidence to prove his role.

Myanmar’s Air Force commander-in-chief calls on Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar Air Force Gen. Khin Aung Myint today called on Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and deliberated on ways to deepen security ties between the two countries. Myint also held extensive talks with Chief of Air Staff BS Dhanoa on possible areas of cooperation between the air forces of India and Myanmar. A range of issues, including expanding cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries, were discussed at the meeting between Jaitley and Gen. Myint, official sources said. Gen. Myint and Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa are also understood to have discussed the regional security scenario. Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbours and shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern states, including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur. Gen. Myint’s trip comes nearly a month after Commander- in-Chief of the Myanmar’s Defence Services Gen U Min Aung Hlaing visited India. Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw had visited India in August last year when the two countries had agreed to step up bilateral coordination between their border guarding forces to ensure security in the areas along the frontier. India is concerned over some militant groups from the northeast taking shelter in Myanmar. The country has been assuring New Delhi that it would not allow any insurgent group to use its territory against India.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Panaji bypoll: Parrikar confident of good voter turnout

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa Chief Minister and BJP candidate Manohar Parrikar is expecting a “good turnout” for the August 23 bypoll for the Panaji assembly seat, which is taking place just ahead of Ganesh festival. Parrikar is pitted against Congress’ Girish Chodankar and Goa Suraksha Manch’s (GSM’s) Anand Shirodkar. “I want a good victory margin. I am requesting voters to come out. My concern was whether they will come out in large numbers or not because of the Ganesh Festival being closer on August 25,” Parrikar told reporters on the last day of the campaigning. The chief minister said he became confident of a good turnout after he met voters. “After meeting voters, I am now confident that they will come out in a large number on the polling day,” he said. Parrikar, currently not a member of the state Assembly, had represented Panaji constituency during 1994 to 2012. He had resigned as MLA in the year 2014, following his ascension to Centre as Defence Minister. “I have met several people and now I am positive that people will come out in large numbers,” Parrikar said. The BJP stalwart said he had chaired as many as 120 informal meetings in the Panaji constituency in the run-up to the by-election. “After staying away from Panaji for almost three years during my stint as Defence Minister, I got an opportunity to meet people and know their issues. I have understood all their problems which would be solved soon after the elections are over,” he said. Parrikar said he has worked out an Action Plan to address various issues, which was explained to voters. The election was necessitated after the BJP’s sitting MLA Siddharth Kuncolienkar vacated the seat for Parrikar, as he has to get elected to the Assembly within six months of becoming the Chief Minister. Bypoll will also be held for Valpoi assembly seat on Wednesday, where Congress rebel Vishwajit Rane is contesting on the BJP ticket against Roy Naik, the son of former state home minister Ravi Naik, of Congress.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

BRO gets powers to speed up works on border roads

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slow road construction along the India-China border has prompted the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to give more financial and administrative powers to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), allowing the Director General to make procurements up to Rs 100 crore and also draw up a mechanism for fixing accountability.Power has also been given to the Additional DG to give approval for purchases up to Rs 75 crore and chief engineer up to Rs 50 crore to expedite the construction of strategic roads. “With the intent to speed up the tendering process, the Ministry of Defence has now enhanced the powers of the Chief Engineer for acceptance of bids with cost of contract upto Rs 100 crore and that of ADGBR for cost of contract upto Rs 300 crore,” the MoD said in a statement.According to the earlier delegation of powers, a Chief Engineer in the BRO had the power to accept execution of contracts only upto Rs 10 crore, ADGBR had powers upto Rs 20 crore, beyond which all tenders had to be sent to DGBR.“It is expected that with the delegation of powers by the Ministry of Defence to the BRO, the pace of road construction in border areas would improve, the ministry said.ACT EASTThe 61 India-China border roads, covering 3,417 km, to be constructed between 2015 and 2020 have not kept pace with the target.
In the last two years 654 km of roads were constructed in states sharing a border with China.

Defence Ministry approves delegation of powers to BRO

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Ministry of Defence has decided to delegate administrative and financial powers to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to avoid delays on account of references between the Chief Engineer, HQ DGBR and the Ministry. The Defence Ministry intends to bring transformational changes in the organisation in order to improve the pace of execution of works and to achieve desired outcomes according to the requirement of the armed forces. Enhancing the powers at all levels in the BRO, the Ministry of Defence has now approved that for both departmental and contractual mode of execution, a chief engineer of the BRO can accord administrative approval up to Rs. 50 crore, ADGBR up to Rs. 75 crore and DGBR up to Rs. 100 crore. Earlier, a chief engineer in the BRO had the power to accept execution of contracts only up to Rs. 10 crore, ADGBR had powers up to Rs. 20 crore, beyond which all tenders had to be sent to DGBR. But now with the intent to speed up the tendering process, the Ministry of Defence has enhanced the powers of chief engineer for acceptance of bids with cost of contract up to Rs. 100 crore and that of ADGBR for cost of contract up to Rs. 300 crore. The Ministry of Defence has approved policy guidelines based on which the BRO may engage big construction companies for taking up road projects on a turnkey basis. It is expected that with delegation of powers by the Ministry of Defence to the BRO, the pace of road construction in border areas would improve and the BRO would be able to complete ongoing and new projects in compressed timelines. Functioning under the control of the Ministry of Defence since 2015, the BRO is engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Indian Army to get six multi-role combat Apache helicopters with night-fighting features

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Thursday approved the procurement of six US-made Apache-64E helicopters at a cost of Rs. 4,168 crore for the Indian Army.The Defence Ministry stated, “The Indian Army would be provided with 6 Apache choppers, costing Rs 4,186 crores”.The DAC, headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, gave the green light to the procurement of attack helicopters. The move came amid the demands raised from the defence quarters to upgrade the incumbent arsenal of the Indian Air Force.The six ‘AH-64-E’ helicopters will come along with associated equipment, spares and weapons system.The AH-64-E choppers are known as one of the most advanced multi-role combat helicopters which have advanced weapons systems and night-fighting features.The combat choppers were part of Army’s wish list over a period of time, with the initial pitch for procurement made back in 2015. The contract signed three years ago included the order of 22 Apache helicopters, along with 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers in 2015. The deal was inked at 3.1 billion dollars.After the government, finalised the deal for 22 Apache helicopters for the Indian Air Force, the Army had been pushing for follow on orders of 11 choppers for it, arguing that the ground forces need them considering the changing security scenario in the region.However, the IAF as not in favour of the Army’s proposal. Till now, the Army does not have any attack helicopter.The Rs. 4,168 crore deal will also include cost of weapons, ammunition, spares and associated equipment and training.

Army to get six Apache helicopters at cost of Rs 4,168 crore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Thursday approved the procurement of six US-made Apache-64E helicopters at a cost of Rs. 4,168 crore for the Indian Army. The Defence Ministry stated, ?The Indian Army would be provided with 6 Apache choppers, costing Rs 4,186 crores?. Earlier in the day, the DAC, headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, gave the green light to the procurement of attack helicopters. The move came amid the demands raised from the defence quarters to upgrade the incumbent arsenal of the Indian Air Force. The six ‘AH-64-E’ helicopters will come along with associated equipment, spares and weapons system. The AH-64-E choppers are known as one of the most advanced multi-role combat helicopters which have advanced weapons systems and night-fighting features. The combat choppers were part of Army?s wishlist over a period of time, with the initial pitch for procurement made back in 2015. The contract signed three years ago included the order of 22 Apache helicopters, along with 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers in 2015. The deal was inked at 3.1 billion dollars. After the government, finalised the deal for 22 Apache helicopters for the Indian Air Force, the Army had been pushing for follow on orders of 11 choppers for it, arguing that the ground forces need them considering the changing security scenario in the region. However, the IAF as not in favour of the Army’s proposal. Till now, the Army does not have any attack helicopter. The Rs. 4,168 crore deal will also include cost of weapons, ammunition, spares and associate equipment and training.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

China urges India to protect peace after border altercation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged India to protect the peace and stability of the border region after Indian sources said the soldiers of the two Asian giants were involved in an altercation in the western Himalayas. Both countries’ troops have already been embroiled in a seven-week-long standoff on the Doklam plateau in another part of the remote Himalayan region near their disputed frontier. On Tuesday, a source in New Delhi, who had been briefed on the military situation on the border, said soldiers foiled a bid by a group of Chinese troops to enter Indian territory in Ladakh, near the Pangong lake. Some of the Chinese soldiers carried iron rods and stones, and troops on both sides suffered minor injuries in the melee, the source said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not know the details of the most recent incident. “But what I can tell you is that Chinese border forces have consistently and always dedicated themselves to protecting peace and tranquillity on the China-India border region and we have always patrolled on the Chinese side of the line of control,” Hua told a daily news briefing. “We urge the Indian side to scrupulously abide by relevant agreements, protocols and rules between the two countries and earnestly respect the 1959 line of control and earnestly protect the peace and stability of the border region.” China says the line of control was set in 1959 but India has disputed that. China’s Defence Ministry has yet to comment on the matter. The two sides have frequently accused each other of territorial intrusions, but clashes are rare. An Indian official briefed on the matter also said “flag meetings”, or ceremonies involving Chinese and Indian soldiers at five points along the frontier usually held on the Aug. 15 anniversary of India’s independence, were cancelled on Tuesday. The official said the event was marked more informally, with both sides’ troops exchanging sweets at several places, including the Doklam area, where the stand-off has lasted almost two months. The Doklam plateau lies further east from Ladakh, in another part of the two countries’ 3,500-km (2,175-mile) unmarked mountain border. China has repeatedly asked India to unilaterally withdraw from the Doklam area, or face the prospect of an escalation. Chinese state media have warned India of a fate worse than its crushing defeat in a brief border war in 1962.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Nagaland celebrates 71st Independence Day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nagaland today celebrated the 71st Independence Day by showcasing its rich cultural diversity. The main celebration was held at Secretariat Plaza here with Chief Minister T R Zeliang unfurling the tri-colour and taking salute from 27 marching contingents, which included security forces, civil police NCC, scouts and guides and school students. The prime attraction of the celebration was the arms drill by 15th Nagaland Armed Police Mahila Battalion and dance display by Nagaland Adolescent Girls Club, besides cultural performance by different Naga tribes. The chief minister released the Nagaland State Human Development Report and handed over the President s police medal for meritorious services to eight personnel, one President s Home Guards and Civil Defence medal and one President s Fire Service medal. He also handed over the Governor s gold medal to 16 individuals. At the Secretariat Plaza, lone Lok Sabha member from Nagaland Neiphiu Rio, cabinet ministers, chief secretary Pankaj Kumar, director general of police L L Doungel were among the senior bureaucrats, officers and public joining the celebrations. Charitable civil societies and clubs, including Kohima Press Club also reached out to orphanages, old age homes, hospitals and district jail through philanthropic activities.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Prez Nath Kovind, three Service Chiefs pay tribute at Amar Jawan Jyoti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> President of India Ram Nath Kovind and the three Service Chiefs paid tribute at the Amar Jawan Jyoti on Tuesday, on the occasion of India?s 71st Independence Day. Along with Army chief General Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and IAF Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley also accompanied the PM Kovind for the event. On Monday, in his maiden address to the nation, President Ram Nath Kovind, while congratulating the nation on the eve of its 71st Independence Day, urged the people to pledge to achieve important goals to make a ‘New India’. “It is our national pledge to achieve important goals to make a ‘New India’. There is no place for poverty in ‘New India’,” President Kovind said. Praising the freedom fighters of India, President Kovind said the nation is indebted to those who laid down their lives for achieving this independence. “It is time that we must take inspiration from those who gave their lives for the nation and move forward,” he said. He even lauded the Centre’s Swachch Bharat campaign and said that it is not just the Government’s duty to keep the nation clean but every citizen should strive to make India clean and pollution free. “Government can make, implement and strengthen laws but it is everyone’s duty to abide by them,” he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Terrorists in Kashmir now on the run: Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorists in the Kashmir Valley are now on the run and they cannot continue to terrorise the people for decades, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said today, maintaining that the government’s priority was to clean up the Kashmir Valley of armed militants. He said the terrorists in Kashmir were “now under great pressure” and the financial crunch caused by demonetisation and the action taken by National Investigation Agency (NIA) on illegal foreign fundings have checked illegal activities in Jammu and Kashmir in large scale. Jaitley, who was participating in a television programme, however refrained from making any comment on the standoff between India and China in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction, just saying “let us have full faith on our security forces”. “Today no big militant can dream of committing terror acts and continue to terrorise the Valley for decades, but today their life shelf has dwindled to a few months. I will specifically praise the Jammu & Kashmir police for working hard (towards eliminating terrorists),” he said. Jaitley said the country faced two serious threats — one with respect to Jammu and Kashmir with maximum incidents happening from across the border, and second being the problem of Left-Wing Extremism in central parts of the country. “Since independence, Pakistan has never agreed that Kashmir is an integral part of India. That has been their unfinished agenda. They tried conventional war. But India’s capability was way ahead in the conventional war. The wars of 1965, 1971 and Kargil clearly proved this,” he said. Jaitley said in the 1990s, they started changing their strategies and resorted to encouraging terrorism inside the country. “There is domination of our forces on the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border and it is difficult for terrorists to cross them,” he said at the India TV Conclave ‘Vande Mataram’. The defence minister said that there was a move by the security forces to clean up the Valley of armed terrorists. He said the money received by terrorists and other such groups has been squeezed post-demonetisation and there has been the effect of the actions taken by the NIA against foreign funding allegedly used for subversive activities. “Whenever there was an encounter (earlier), hundreds and thousands would come out to throw stones. Many a times, terrorists would escape under the protection of stone throwers. This is now becoming a history. “Those who were coming in hundred and thousands, today their number is limited to 20, 30 and 50. For the first time in the history, we have been they have started looting banks,” he said. Jaitley said the terrorists are under tremendous pressure. “They are on the run. Their number is also declining. Security forces are dominating them ,” he said. He said India has been by and large free from the threat of the ISIS. “There may be some isolated or exceptional incidents but there has been no influence in India.” The defence minister expressed concern over some instances of glorifying the acts of terrorists or Maoists. Referring to shouting of ‘anti-India slogans by some in Jawaharlal Nehru University last year, he expressed concern over the association of mainstream political parties with those raising such slogans. Jaitley said a disturbing trend is coming up where efforts are being made to show the Indian state as helpless. To questions on India’s defence production, Jaitley said his ministry was working out ways to boost domestic production for the defence sector. “We want India to become a global power in defence manufacturing sector, and towards that end, we are encouraging private players to come forward. We will, of course, also continue to strengthen our ordnance factories and defence PSUs,” the minister said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Devendra Fadnavis orders probe against Mehta, Desai

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a Lokayukta probe into allegations of corruption against Housing Minister Prakash Mehta on Friday. The CM also announced that an independent inquiry will be conducted into allegations against Industries Minister Subhash Desai.Refusing to accept resignations from both ministers, Fadnavis announced on the last day of the Monsoon Session in the state Assembly that despite clarifications made by the minister and himself, he was going ahead with instituting an inquiry. After Opposition parties continued demanding resignation of both ministers, Fadnavis said, “I will not ask them to go home just because of the Opposition’s allegations. You would do the same to me. Should we leave the Cabinet is such a manner?”The CM said an inquiry into allegations against Radheshyam Mopalwar will be conducted by a joint special investigating team (SIT), comprising senior bureaucrats and economic offences wing officers. Turn to P8Speaking in the legislative council, Fadnavis said an inquiry into allegations against RTI activist Sandip Yeole will be conducted by the economic offences wing and anti-corruption bureau.Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, NCP leader Jayant Patil and former CM Prithviraj Chavan were the most vocal against the tainted ministers.Fadnavis said as far as the Prakash Mehta case was concerned, the building was owned by one Deenabai Dinshaw Patel in 1935. It was later handed over for maintenance to the state government by the Defence ministry, which had acquired it in 1946. He said the requisite permissions for its construction on city survey number 725 were given between 1999 and 2014. Fadnavis said the additional FSI of 25 square meters was given despite knowing that construction was complete and it was not possible to use additional FSI in the same building. Fadnavis also answers to why permission was given in 2009 for additional FSI and all related aspects would come to the fore after the inquiry.As far as allegations against Desai are concerned, Fadnavis said, “Of the total 16,909 hectares of land denotified so far, 9,335 hectares was denotified during thhe tenure of previous governments. Under 32(1), only 31.54 hectares was denotified, with 30 hectares denotified according to a Bombay High Court order. An inquiry will still be conducted as we believe in transparency.’

Indian forces strong enough to meet any challenge, Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid the border standoff with China, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today said the Indian armed forces are strong enough to meet any challenge to the country’s security as he underlined that lessons have been learnt from the 1962 war. He also said in the Rajya Sabha that the people of the country have a predominant wish of retrieving the parts of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by Pakistan since 1948. Jaitley, while initiating a special debate to mark the 75th anniversary of Quit India Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942, said India had faced many challenges over these decades but “we can proudly say the country became stronger with each challenge”. He said India had “learnt a lesson” from the 1962 war with China that “the armed forces will have be made fully capable on our own because even today the nation faces challenges from our neighbouring countries.” Compared to 1962, the armed forces were made stronger in 1965 and 1971 wars, Jaitley said. In 1962, India had to face a war imposed by China and suffer severe reverses. However, in the wars of 1965 and 1971 thrust by Pakistan, India had emerged victorious. “I agree that some challenges are still there. Some people are targeting our country’s sovereignty and integrity. But I am fully confident that our brave soldiers have capabilty to keep our country secure, may it be challenges on the eastern border or the western border,” he said. “The armed forces can give any kind of sacrifice for the security of the nation,” the defence minister asserted. Jaitley’s message assumes significance as it comes amid a two-month-long border standoff with China in Doklam even though he did not specifically mention it. He also referred to the occupation of parts of J&K by Pakistan soon after the Independence. “Initially (after Independence), we faced a crisis. Our neighbour had an eye on Kashmir. Even today, we cannot forget that a part of the country has got separated. It is a wish of every Indian today as to how to retrieve that part,” the minister said. Jaitley, who is Leader of the Rajya Sabha, said today was the day to commit to make India a strong, just and economically-progressive country. He underlined the need for freeeing the country from all kinds of violence, be it in the name terrorism, politics or religion. Jaitley said the country is facing a bigger challenge from terrorism and Left-wing extremism. In a clear reference to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, he said a prime minister and a former prime minister had to lose their lives to terrorism. Jaitley said people from across the border and also some people within the country who have taken to arms, are trying to spread terrorism especially in northern region of the country. He said the security forces, including army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police have contributed a lot in fight against terrorist in J&K, though some incidents still take place. Jaitley stressed that the House and the whole nation needed to commit in one voice to fight the menace of terrorism. He also emphasised on probity in public life and reduction of money use in politics. Emphasising that different religions and castes are an integral part of the country, Jaitley said it is important to manitain harmony in the country. The minister said there should be no place in the country for violence in the name of politics, religion and terrorism. “The country should be freed from such violence,” he said and added that on this historic day there is a need to take pledge to make India strong, just and economically progressive. While recalling the events related to Quit India movement launched on this day in 1942, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad took a jibe on the ruling BJP, saying “last night too several incidents happened”, an apparent reference to Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat and subsequent events. As Azad said parties of those who participated in the freedom struggle and those who did not could be easily searched online, CPM member Sitaram Yechury quipped that internet was not working. To this, Azad said the country has defeated the “mightiest powers” and one should not get afraid of such small issues like absence of internet. Samajwadi Party member Ram Gopal Yadav talked about contribution of socialist leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia and Jai Prakasah Narayan. He asked the government to keep an eye on Himalayan region as “the threat is from that side”. Senior JDU leader Sharad Yadav stressed that one should learn from history. “History should not distorted,” he added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Students tie rakhis to trees, pledge to save them

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Imagine tying rakhi to a tree!No guesses here. Students of University of Jammu celebrated Raksha Bandhan in a unique style when they tied rakhis to trees to sent across the message of saving environment and making people aware about the benefits of plants in daily lives.Organised by the Department of Botany, University of Jammu, the event was held in the sprawling Botanical Garden where participants tied sacred threads to plants having heritage, medicinal and aesthetic value. They included tulsi, temple tree (plumeria), camphor, paarijaat, chandan, panchmikhi rudraaksh, timbru, mahua, putranjiva, peepal, sohanjana, chandani and many more.More than 60 students, research scholars and faculty members participated. “They expressed their affection and harmony towards nature, and took pledge to protect and conserve the nature and its resources for cleaner, greener and healthier prospects,” said a spokesman of University of Jammu.Prof Yash Pal Sharma, Head, Department of Botany, University of Jammu, said besides strengthening the family bonds, it is increasingly imperative to develop a strong relationship with the flora and fauna in the present times.”Science has proved that the plants can also sense, feel, understand and communicate and are the saviours of humanity. Therefore, let us protect and care for them,” he said.Prof Sharma said it was not just a symbolic gesture and that they are actually in the process of implementing it in research and other routine activities. “We are sensitising the students so that they in turn sensitise others,” he said.Meanwhile, Army jawans and locals celebrated Raskha Bandhan festival in the border areas of Lower Krishna Ghati, Jhullas and Mendhar in the Poonch district of Jammu on Sunday.”Young girls of various schools and colleges went to the nearby Army units at Lower Krishna Ghati and Jhullas to tie rakhis to jawans. The girls from Nari Niketan at Mendhar also tied rakhis to jawans at Mendhar. The initiative was reciprocated by the Army personnel with enthusiasm,” said a Defence spokesman at Jammu.

Govt must act now! Much more needs to be done to keep Pakistan and China in check

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A pre-dawn ambush by Pakistan-backed terrorists killed 19 Indian soldiers at an Army camp in Kashmir’s Uri in September last year. The worst terror attack in several years sparked nation-wide outrage and raised the pitch for a quick retaliation. There was a strong view in India’s security and political establishments that the Army must strike back. In strategic meetings over the next few days, a hit-back plan was discussed. But some disturbing facts were laid bare, sources say. The Army had the capacity to retaliate. But in case of full-scale retaliation by the enemy, did we have the firepower to fight even a short, intense war? The answer was — no.Low on ammoAs per the Army’s operational doctrine, it is required to maintain firepower for 40 “days of intense war”. After the Kargil conflict in 1999, new “minimum acceptable risk level”’ standards were set to be prepared to fight a 20-day, intense war. But an internal review the Army did and shared with the government post-Uri revealed that the ammunition holdings would not last beyond 10 days. The ammunition for tanks and artillery for sustaining superior firepower was in the most critical state, sources say. All this also crippled training and made troops vulnerable.The assessment said that the Army needed to immediately procure ammunition and spare parts for weapons and military systems worth Rs 40,000 crore to be ready even for a 20-day war. The CAG has also pointed out in its recent report on the Army and the state-run Ordnance Factories that 40 per cent of the ammunition will not last beyond 10 days and only 20 per cent can meet the authorised standards of 40 days.Wake-up callWithin 10 days of the Uri attack, the Army struck back, carrying out “surgical strikes” across the LoC, destroying terror camps backed by Pakistan’s Army. The possibility of retaliation could not be ruled out. “The message was clear. It’s not boot power but firepower that wins wars,” says an Army source.Finally, the political leadership took prompt decisions to fill the critical gaps. In October, the Vice-Chiefs of all three services — Army, Navy and Air Force — were given a three-month, temporary power for emergency procurements. Last month, this was further extended by another three months amid a prolonged military standoff with China on the Sikkim border and Indian troops combating regular shelling and border raids from Pakistan. In the last six months, procurements worth Rs 11,000 crore have been made by the Army. This included 19 contracts, of which 11 were for ammunition whose supplies started this month.Sources say there is still a long road ahead to meet the standard requirement that will cost around Rs 40,000 crore. “This could go up,” said an Army source. Defence Minister Arun Jaitely said on July 28 that the Indian armed forces are fully equipped to face any contingency, asserting that any shortage in terms of arms and ammunition would be expeditiously made up. “If any action has to be taken, it will be taken,” he said in the Lok Sabha.Repeated shortfallsThis is not the first time the Army has raised a red flag. In 2012, then Army Chief General VK Singh, who is now the Minister of State for External Affairs, had written to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for steps to enhance the Army’s preparedness and capacity. He called the situation “alarming”, stating that bureaucratic delays in procurements led to a shortage of ammunition, lack of weaponry and obsolete air defence systems.The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) remains the main source of ammunition for the Army and is expected to meet over 90 per cent of demands, but it has regularly fallen short of targets. The shortfalls have ranged between 64 per cent and 95 per cent since 2013. Between 2009 and 2014, the Army placed ammunition orders worth Rs 25,000 crore, but there was a delivery shortfall of Rs 6,000 crore. In the next phase, between 2014 and 2019, the Army’s requirement was nearly double, but it had to be restricted due to the incapacity of the OFB in manufacturing high amounts of ammunition, sources say.In a scathing indictment, the CAG has observed in its report that despite continued slips in ammunition supplies, no mechanism has been introduced to fix the responsibility. With 41 OFB units, eight Defence Public Sector Units and nearly 50 labs for research and development, including those of the Defence and Research Development Organisation, there is enough infrastructure to cater to the need, but sources say only 30 per cent of it has been achieved.The way forwardThe poor track record has prompted the government to look for options in the private sector. To make up for the deficits and reduce import dependence, a proposal was made in March for the manufacture of eight types of critical ammunition by the Indian industry. Sources say 25 companies have showed willingness to manufacture ammunition. Lt Gen (retired) Ravi Thodge, who was the Army’s Master General Ordnance till June last year, says there has been an improvement after the government’s ‘Make in India’ plan for ammunition was put in place, but certain timelines have again been missed. “The situation is not alarming, but it’s not happy either. Soldiers on the ground should have the confidence that they will never be short of ammunition,” says Thodge.Thodge adds that getting the private sector involved is the only option to be self-reliant. “With OFB, there is no accountability. We never tried to evolve the ability to manufacture ammunition. There should be no compromise on quality. But we are nowhere near it,” he says. Lt Gen (retired) SL Narasimhan echoes a similar view. “OFB has the capability but lack of accountability has led to most of the problems,” he says.
Navy, Air Force have problems of their ownThe Air Force and the Navy, though better off than the Army in terms of modernisation and equipment, have their own problems. The Air Force is short on fighter jets. Officially sanctioned to have 42 squadrons, it has only 33. This could be down to 19 by 2027, as revealed in a Parliamentary panel report last month. This means the number of warplanes has come down from 650 to 380. While India has signed a deal for 36 Rafale jets from France, the original plan was to acquire 136. In a recent letter to his officers, IAF Chief BS Dhanoa talked about the need for the force to remain ready for operations with its “present holdings”, a reference to the force’s reduced strength.He also talked about the need for the Air Force to remain aware of new technological advancements in war-fighting and gauge the strength of India’s adversaries.Meanwhile, the Navy’s ambitious programme approved in 1999 to build six Scorpene-class submarines is going slow. India has 13 submarines but 11 have been around for 25 years completing their service life. With China enhancing its naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region, building ports in Djibouti, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, there is a reason for worry, experts believe.In its recent report, the CAG slammed the Directorate of Naval Design for the delay in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) since the design of the corvettes was amended 24 times.“Against the 18 weapons and sensors to be installed on ASW Corvettes, audit observed that the two ASW Corvettes delivered were not fitted with X weapon and sensor systems. Thus, ASW Corvettes could not perform to its full potential as envisaged,” it said. The MoD sanctioned Rs 331.27 crore for the augmentation of infrastructure facilities for construction of ASW Corvettes since as per the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) note of March 2003, it was felt that the existing infrastructure was considered to be grossly inadequate. The modernisation was completed in 2013-14 as against the scheduled completion of July 2009 and thus the work of modernisation of shipyard as well as construction of corvettes were undertaken simultaneously, the CAG report stated.The CAG also highlighted the lack of safety in the Navy’s ships and submarines that were involved in 38 accidents between 2007-08 and 2015-16, adversely affecting the operational preparedness of the force.The audit report on the Navy and Coast Guard said that the Navy had no institutionalised framework to deal with safety since its inception.Though a dedicated organisation for dealing with safety issues was set up by the Indian Navy in 2014, it still awaited government sanction.The loss of a ship and submarine adversely affects the operational preparedness of the Navy as acquisition of new ships and submarines takes more than eight to 10 years.“It is, therefore, imperative that Navy maintains its assets free from accidents during peacetime evolutions,” the CAG said.
What hampers the Army’s fighting capabilityFuse deficiencyWith 83 per cent deficiency in fuses, the artillery firepower is compromised. A fuse is fitted to the shell before firing to trigger explosion. Without a fuse, the ammunition cannot be used. As the shift was made from mechanical to electronic fuse without identifying alternate manufacturers, it has led to acute shortage. In the next year, the Army expects to get around 7.5 lakh fuses, sources say. The two Defence Public Sector Units have failed to supply the orders for the last 4-5 years, sources say. Poor maintenance On May 31, 2016, fire in an ammunition depot in Maharashtra’s Pulgaon killed 19 people and two officers, but till date nobody has been held accountable. Tonnes of rejected ammunition are dumped at depots risking human life. It was the delay in disposal of this unserviceable ammunition that led to the fire. Inadequate fire-control systems have made people working there vulnerable. Quest for a modern assault rifleIt’s been a while that the Army has been looking for a standard modern assault rifle that can replace INSAS (Indian Small Arms Systems). The review of an indigenously-designed assault rifle done by the Army has found the weapon “unsatisfactory” and “unreliable”. The weapon being developed by OFB was expected to meet the Army’s requirement of nearly 2 lakh assault rifles. Surveillance equipment, night fighting and gaps in weaponry have also been ailing the Army. OFB to focus on ‘core’ military itemsOFB has also been manufacturing “non-core” items that don’t require military expertise. According to an order dated April 27, 2017, the Army can procure these items from other indigenous sources. OFB can participate in the Request for Proposal (RFP) and get orders on competitive basis. Sources say the decision was taken so that OFB can concentrate on core areas like ammunition, weapons and enhancing military capabilities. OFB is now free to wind up all the factories producing non-core items and put them to alternate use.

Armed Forces may soon wear khadi uniforms

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The armed forces may soon wear uniforms made of khadi. The Ministry of Defence has sent samples and specifications of uniforms worn by personnel in the armed forces — Army, Navy and Air Force to the Khadi Villages Industries Commission (KVIC).”Required specifications of uniform, along with samples, have been sent to KVIC,” Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.KVIC is a body under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises promoting the use and development of khadi.It not just the armed forces but also schools, police, government hospitals, Air India and railways where the use of khadi is being promoted by KVIC.Air India crew members have already donned khadi uniforms. The first time Air India crew wore khadi uniforms was during one of Prime Minister’s foreign visits last year.The idea is aimed at achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ vision and will also give a boost to rural economy.The Prime Minister has also spoken about promoting the use of khadi in the past.KVIC is also in touch with state governments for providing khadi uniforms to various government officials at various levels.

2 state villages chosen by DRDO for setting up radar to track enemy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two little known villages in Alwar and Pali districts will soon gain strategic importance as they have been selected by the Defence Ministry’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for setting up radars to track enemy missiles.The forest department has cleared the acquisition of 850 hectares of land in Khoa in Alwar district and 350 hectares in Roopnagar for installing ballistic missile defence grid that will protect the western and northern parts of the country. This was done after the union ministry of environment and forest in 2014 cleared the DRDO proposal on the conditions laid down by the ministry.According to A K Singh, additional principle chief conservator of forest, the state government following the clearance given by the union ministry has allotted then land to to DRDO. The ballistic missile defence grid will help guard New Delhi and Mumbai. The state government has also allotted 80 hectares of land in Pilani for setting up the Bramhos missile assembly line .These two sites in the state have been strategically chosen by DRDO and has a stealth feature. The ballistic missile defence system can be put in place at short notice. To counter air-borne threats, DRDO will put a mixture of counter-attack missiles which will be able to shoot down enemy missiles both within the earth’s atmosphere (endo-atmospheric) and outside it (exo-atmospheric). The shield, developed by DRDO, has already undergone a series of successful tests and can destroy an incoming ballistic missile within the range of 2,000km. The Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system will require minimum human intervention due to the complete automation of tracking devices and counter-measures. During the test stage, DRDO used variants of Prithvi missiles as simulated targets and successfully intercepted them in mid-air.All the necessary elements such as long-range radars and tracking devices, real-time data link and mission control system required for installing the BMD missile system have been also been successfully tested by the DRDO and was upgraded last year.

Army asks Def Min to fix responsibility for Pulgaon ammo depot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army has conveyed its serious concerns to the defence ministry over the Ordnance Factory Board’s “failure” to punish officials responsible for last year’s massive blast at an ammunition depot in Maharashtra in which 19 army personnel perished, an official document says. Over 19,325 defective anti-tank mines had exploded primarily due to leakage of explosives from some of the mines stored at the Central Ammunition Depot in Pulgaon. In a letter to Defence Production Secretary Ashok Kumar Gupta, the Army headquarters has sought fixing of responsibility for the blaze at the depot on May 31, 2016. Separately, the Army has taken up the issue with Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, official sources said. Two army officials, four defence security corps personnel and 13 defence fire safety staff were killed in the fire at the depot, the largest ammunition and weapons store in the country and said to be the second largest in Asia. In the letter, seen by(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Jaitley opposes Kejriwal’s plea to summon DDCA records in HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Arun Jaitley has opposed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea in the Delhi High Court seeking summoning of the minutes of meetings of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) held during 1999-2014. Kejriwal had moved the fresh plea in a pending defamation suit filed by the union minister against him and five other AAP leaders seeking Rs 10 crore as damages from them for allegedly levelling “defamatory” allegations with regard to irregularities in DDCA during Jaitley’s tenure as its President. 64-year-old Jaitley, in his reply filed before Joint Registrar Pankaj Gupta of the High Court, said that Kejriwal’s application deserved to be dismissed as he has been trying to delay the proceedings in the lawsuit by filing “frivolous” pleas, including the current one. He has said the fresh plea was “not only a dilatory tactic but clearly a roving and fishing expedition”. The Delhi chief minister has sought summoning of the minutes of the meetings held by the General Body and the Executive Committee or Board of Directors of the DDCA between 1999 and 2014. Jaitley was the DDCA President from 2000 to 2013. Kejriwal, in his application filed through advocate Anupam Srivastava, has said he wished to cross-examine Jaitley in the suit, whose hearing had witnessed a high drama when his former counsel and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had used some “objectionable and scandalous” words against the senior BJP leader. Jethmalani, who has now stopped representing Kejriwal in the case, recently wrote letters alleging that those words were spoken at the instruction of the chief minister and his former client had hurled worse abuses against Jaitely in their meetings. Jaitley, who holds Finance and Defence portfolios, filed his reply through advocate Manik Dogra and said the Civil Procedure Code provided that if Kejriwal wanted to summon a witness or the records, he must mention them in his list of witnesses. The list of witnesses was required to be filed within 15 days after the court framed issues to be decided in the suit. Jaitley said “it is admitted position that the defendant (Kejriwal) in his list of witnesses has not mentioned any such witness whom he wants to be summoned to produce the record of DDCA.” He said it was “evident that Kejriwal made per se defamatory statements against the plaintiff (and his family members). He (Kejriwal) earlier claimed that his statements were on the basis of documents available with him. “It is abundantly clear that there was no basis for the defendant to have made said defamatory statements and he is now searching for sundry documents to buttress his defence”. Jethmalani’s statement that scandalous words were used at the instance of Kejriwal, led to the filing of a separate Rs 10 crore civil defamation suit against the Chief Minister. After this, Kejriwal had told the court that he had not instructed Jethmalani to use “scandalous” words against the union minister. Following this, Jaitley moved an application to expedite the recording of evidence in an orderly and fair manner of his first defamation suit against Kejriwal and others. During the hearing, Justice Manmohan had warned Kejriwal against asking any “offensive and scandalous” questions to Jaitley. The court had also asked his new counsel to give an undertaking that no objectionable and offensive questions would be put to Jaitley during the cross-examination slated on August 28. Besides Kejriwal, the five other accused in the suit are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai. The AAP leaders had accused the BJP leader of corruption as the DDCA President. Jaitley had denied all the allegations by the AAP leaders in December 2015 and had filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and the others, claiming they had made “false and defamatory” statements in a case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Heavy waterlogging but no solution insight

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi has in the last one month witnessed ample amount of rainfall, bringing relief to residents from the humidity, but this has also exposed the Capital’s inefficiency to deal with the civic mess. Most of the popular roads in the Capital complained of heavy water-logging resulting in hour-long traffic jams.As a part of their regular exercise, the Delhi Traffic Police, had informed the civic agencies about the 370 points in the Capital that have repeatedly reported waterlogging due to rain.”These areas should have been given special attention. Every year, we received complaints from these areas. We issue an advisory every monsoon season just to prevent waterlogging again,” said a senior official from the traffic police.Sources in the department allege that even after flagging the civic agencies, no work was done to improve the condition of roads in the capital.The worst affected areas include the Ring Road, Defence Colony, South Extension, Nehru Place, Sarai Kale Khan, Okhla junction and the Outer Ring Road. “There is a never ending jam on Delhi roads during the monsoon season.The roads are bumpy and the potholes are not even taken care of. I prefer taking a metro rather than going by my office cab,” said Arushi Singh, a resident of Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi.According to the officials, the multiplicity of the agencies in dealing with the issue is one of the major causes for the delay.”No one is ready to take the blame. The MCD says it has completed their work, while the traffic police puts it on the civic agency. When there are so many agencies involved, how can the problem be solved?” said a senior official from the Public Works Department (PWD).According to official statistics, the PWD received 1,352 road-related (potholes, broken footpaths etc) complaints this month — till July 26. In June, the department received 992 complaints. Additionally, the PWD got 827 complaints related to waterlogging this month, till July 26. It got 924 such complaints in June.AnalysisWaterlogging is a problem and the multiplicity of agencies and their inability to work together has ensured that little has been done to free up Delhi’s roads. The stagnant water can also lead to a health crisis as it is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Donald Trump administration urges NSG members to support India’s application

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supporting India’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Trump administration has urged all the members of the elite club to support New Delhi’s long-pending application.India has applied for the membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which controls the nuclear trade.”The United States welcomed India’s application to join the NSG and it continues to re-affirm that India is ready for the membership. The United States has called on NSG members to support India’s application,” the Department of Defence and Department of State said in a joint report.In the report submitted to Congress as required under National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, the Trump administration also re-affirmed its support for India’s membership in the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement as soon as India meets each group’s membership criteria.The US and India share a commitment to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, the report said.”Since 2010, the US has supported India’s membership in the four multilateral export control regimes — Wassenaar Arrangement, NSG, Australia Group, and the Missile Technology Control Regime — as India prepared to take the steps required for membership in each one,” it said.The US, the report said, welcomed India as a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime and its subscription to the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation in June 2016.The report notes that the future leadership of Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) will consist of an individual with experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure the success of the US-India Defence Relationship. This individual will help resolve remaining issues impeding bilateral defence trade and other cooperation, it said.The NDAA for FY 2017 also directs the Department to reorganise the Office of the USD (AT&L) into two new Under Secretary positions — one for Research and Engineering (USD (R&E)) and one for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD (A&S)).”This change will take effect no later than February 2018. The organisational responsibility for DTTI will be determined as part of the reorganisation of AT&L; however, this determination will not affect DTTI’s ongoing work,” the report said.The US defence industry has provided India with proposals for F-16 Block 70 and F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft, the report said.”These proposals will help create and maintain jobs in both countries and demonstrate the depth of our commitment to defence cooperation,” it said.Since 2008, the US and India have concluded more than USD 15 billion in defence trade, including the transfer from the US to India of C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, Harpoon missiles, Apache and Chinook helicopters, and M777 light-weight Howitzers.India operates the second largest C-17 and P-8 fleets in the world, recently using its C-17s to deliver humanitarian assistance to Nepal and evacuate civilians from Yemen, the report added.While India has garnered the support of a majority of the group’s members, China has stuck to its stand that new members should sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), making India’s entry difficult as the group is guided by the consensus principle.India is not a signatory to the NPT.

Armed forces get financial powers to boost security at

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a major move, the government has delegated “substantial” financial powers to the Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force to strengthen perimeter security at sensitive military installations across the country, the defence ministry said today. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has fixed strict timelines to ensure that the works are undertaken on priority and in a time-bound manner to ensure full security at the critical defence assets, it said. The vice-chiefs of the three services have been empowered to place orders, procure equipment and carry out civil works without seeking approvals of the defence ministry. “In an unprecedented move, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to delegate substantial financial powers to the Armed Forces for undertaking works for perimeter security of sensitive military installations,” the ministry said in a statement. Official sources said following the decision, each of the three vice chiefs will be able to spend at least Rs 800 crore annually in strengthening perimeter security at the sensitive bases. A total of 3,000 sensitive bases, including 600 highly sensitive installations of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force were identified by the forces months after the daring attack on Pathankot air base last year. The decision came at a time when Indian army is locked in a face-off with the Chinese army at Dokalam and confronting rising incidents of cross border attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. The defence ministry said the move to give financial powers is aimed at expediting the decision-making process involved in the modernisation of the security apparatus of airbases and defence installations. “The financial delegation represents a significant jump in the powers currently exercised by the services,” the ministry said. A security audit of defence bases was carried out on the recommendation of a committee headed by Lt Gen Philip Campose which was set up after the terror attack on the forward Pathankot air force base last year. The committee was asked to recommend measures to beef up security at the military bases. The armed forces had together sought Rs 2,000 crore to strengthen security infrastructure at all “highly sensitive, sensitive and moderately sensitive bases” during the current and next financial years. The sources said following the security audit, revised standard operating procedures (SOPs) were sent to the commands of all three services to revamp their security management, including putting in place a multi-tier security structure. A parliamentary panel had in March come down hard on the defence ministry for failing to take any concrete measures to beef up security at frontline military bases, and said the scenario is as “vulnerable” as has been “exposed” during the Uri and Pathankot terror attacks. The Campose Committee had submitted its report to the defence ministry last May. The parliamentary panel had said security arrangements at military establishments were dynamic in nature and called for maintaining a robust and strong response mechanism to emerging threats.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Heavy rains hamper rescue operations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Low clouds, poor visibility and incessant rains hampered rescue operations of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the flood-affected areas of north Gujarat on Wednesday, official sources said.Responding to increased requirement for aerial rescue and relief efforts, the IAF had pressed into operation 16 helicopters for winching / airlifting people stranded in the flood waters in Banaskantha and Patan districts, and also for dropping of relief material, including food, water and medicines, to villages inaccessible by road.The IAF aircrafts are operating from bases established at Deesa, Mehsana, Patan and Ahmedabad with an aim to provide timely relief to people in distress. “The helicopters are being flown braving extremely challenging weather conditions prevailing in the area marked by low clouds, poor visibility and rains. More aircrafts are likely to be flown in from IAF bases in Rajasthan whenever the weather permits,” the Defence PRO said in a release.Army rescues 1,925Stepping up rescue and relief efforts with two additional columns, Indian Army personnel have rescued 1,925 people from north Gujarat. The Golden Katar division had despatched two additional columns to bolster the ongoing operations, taking the number of Army columns to five. Over 600 people were rescued on Wednesday.At your serviceEighteen NDRF teams, 11 SDRF teams have been deployed for rescue work in flood-affected north Gujarat. NDRF rescued 346 people, while the Air Force airlifted 357 people in the last 24 hours. Twelve NDRF teams are being airlifted and rushed to flood-hit areas of Gujarat, a senior official said on Wednesday. While four teams will be airlifted tonight, the rest will be sent by road and through choppers on Thursday. Each NDRF team includes 45 personnel.

Guj floods: Modi announces Rs 500 cr interim relief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced an interim assistance of Rs 500 crore for Gujarat where two districts continued to reel under floods. Modi, who undertook an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, said 10 more IAF helicopters would be pressed into service for rescue and relief operations. The central government will provide an immediate assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state, and after a detailed survey has been conducted, it will give whatever is additionally required, he said in a statement after reviewing the situation. “Everything possible will be done to help the farmers who suffer immensely due to floods,” Modi said. He said though the state government has provided immediate relief to those who lost their kin in the deluge, an additional ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh would be extended to them from the PM’s relief fund. Those injured would be given Rs 50,000 by the Centre which would be over and above the assistance extended by the state government. He said teams will be despatched by the Centre to assess the damage caused to property and standing crops in urban and rural areas at the earliest. Heavy rains have caused floods in Banaskantha and Patan districts of Gujarat after which Army, India Air Force (IAF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been called out for rescue and relief operations. After arriving here this evening, Modi chaired an hour-long meeting with state officials at the airport where Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and senior officials of the state government were present. Former chief minister Anandiben Patel also attended the meeting. “A detailed presentation on the situation caused by heavy rains was shared with the prime minister,” official sources said. Later Modi boarded a helicopter with Rupani for an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas. Earlier in the day, Rupani, who was in New Delhi for the swearing-in of Ram Nath Kovind as President, met the prime minister at Parliament House and apprised him of the situation. The prime minister then decided to undertake an aerial survey to personally take stock of the situation in his home state, the PMO said. During the last 24 hours, at least 12 talukas of Banaskantha, Patan and Sabarkantha districts have received over 200 mm of rainfall, a release issued by the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) said. Dantiwada in Banaskantha remained the worst-hit, recording 463 mm rainfall, followed by Palanpur (380 mm), Vadgam (357 mm), Amirgadh (337 mm) and Lakhani (305 mm). More than 1,000 people have been rescued and 46,000 shifted to safer locations from low lying areas, deputy chief minister Patel said. “Four choppers of IAF are involved in rescue operations, while two columns of army are engaged in rescuing people stranded due to heavy rains,” Patel said. Eight teams of NDRF have been deployed in Banaskantha district for rescue operations. Elaborate arrangements are being made to supply food and drinking water to the people stranded in floods, he said. The swollen Banas river passing through Banaskantha and Patan districts has flooded the villages and towns around it, health minister Shanker Chaudhary, who is stationed at Deesa to oversee the rescue operations, said. As the rains took a break this morning, rescue operations in Banaskantha and Patan districts gained momentum, an official said. Hundreds of people are still waiting to be shifted to safer places, as several parts of these districts are flooded, he said. Three Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters have been deployed in Banskantha to evacuate those marooned as also to distribute food packets. Two columns of Indian Army, comprising about 200 personnel, have been pressed into service to rescue people. Since morning, 113 people stranded in Shihori village of the district have been rescued and shifted to safer locations by the Indian Army personnel, who have been conducting the rescue operation using boats, said a release by the Defence PRO. “One MI-17V5 took off from Deesa this morning and proceeded to Totana village and rescued 14 people stuck in the midst of raging flood water to safety,” Defence PRO Abhishek Matiman said. The IAF is also air dropping food packets in the affected areas. “Over 300 kgs of food packets were air dropped at Gugal, Jenal Varan and neighbouring villages to aid the people marooned since yesterday,” he added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

29 armymen martyred, 142 militants killed at LoC since 2014:

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Army lost 29 personnel along the Line of Control (LoC) and killed 142 militants since 2014, the government told the Rajya Sabha today. Minister of state in the ministry of Defence Subhash Bhamre, in a written reply, said 84 infiltration bids were also foiled by the security forces since 2014. The LoC, under the operational control of the army, also saw 216 cases of ceasefire violations until June this year. Of these 73 and 76 violations were recorded in May and June respectively, he said. The LoC under the operational control of the Border Security Force (BSF) witnessed 23 cases of ceasefire violations. Three civilians have also died due to cross-border firing by Pakistan.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Defence Minister hands over ex-gratia to next of kin of battle casualties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday handed over additional ex-gratia amount from the Army Battle Casualties Welfare Fund (ABCWF) to ten next of kin of battle casualties. Speaking on the occasion Jaitley said, ?Till now, it has been the Government, the Armed Forces and the insurance agencies that have been taking care of the families of these martyrs. It is a symbolic concern shown by the citizens that they care for them.? He further said that it is a kind of reciprocity from the people indicating that they now stand with these martyrs and next of their kin. The fund is being pooled by the concerned citizens for such martyrs, Jaitley said. The Defence Minister also released an amount of Rs. 3.04 crore to 142 next of kin of brave soldiers of the Indian Army, who made the supreme sacrifice for the country. The ABCWF has been set up under the department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (ESW), Ministry of Defence following a large number of requests to the Defence Minister from citizens, who expressed willingness to assist families of battle casualties, especially in the context of Siachen incident in February 2016 in which ten soldiers were buried in an avalanche. The fund has been created under the Charitable Endowments Act, 1890 and a bank account bearing No. 90552010165915 has been opened in the South Block Branch of Syndicate Bank, New Delhi for public to deposit money. There is a provision of financial assistance of Rs. 2 lakh to the army battle casualties which are fatal, 60 percent and above disability and battle casualties invalided out due to disability and Rs. 1 lakh to disability less than 60 per cent. This will be in addition to liberalised family pension, financial assistance from Army Group Insurance, Army Welfare Fund and ex-gratia amount. A draft scheme/standard operating procedure has been formulated for administration of the Fund and disbursal of financial assistance to next of kin of battle casualties. The scheme broadly lays down the objectives of the Fund, eligibility for financial assistance, management of the Fund, procedure for receipt of donations and disbursal of financial assistance. The scheme is being implemented through the Army Headquarters, Adjutant General Branch and made effective from January 1, 2016. Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre, Secretary (ESW) Prabhu Dayal Meena, Adjutant General Lt. General Ashwani Kumar and senior officers of MoD and the Armed Forces were also present on the occasion.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Guj rain havoc: PM to conduct aerial survey of flood-hit areas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today conduct an aerial survey of flood-affected Banaskantha and Patan districts in north Gujarat where thousands of people are marooned due to incessant rains. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani called on the prime minister at Parliament House this morning and apprised him of the situation arising out of the heavy rains and flood in parts of the state. The prime minister then decided to undertake an aerial survey of the flood affected areas of north Gujarat, the PMO said. The Army, IAF, NDRF and local teams have intensified rescue and relief operations as several parts of the two districts were inundated with flood water. During the last 24 hours, at least 12 talukas of Banaskantha, Patan and Sabarkantha districts received over 200 mm of rainfall, a release issued by the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC). Dantiwada in Banaskantha remained the worst-hit with a whopping 463 mm rainfall, followed by Palanpur (380 mm), Vadgam(357 mm), Amirgadh(337 mm) and Lakhani (305 mm). “The prime minister would land at the Ahmedabad Airport at around 4 pm and then leave for Banaskantha to conduct an aerial survey of the region, to understand the problems being faced by people,” Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said. At least 400 people were rescued in Banaskantha district this morning. A large number of locals were stranded in the floods after torrential rains wrecked havoc in northern Gujarat for last three days. As the rains took a break this morning, rescue operations in Banaskantha and Patan districts gained momentum, an official said. Hundreds of people are still waiting to be shifted to safer places, as several parts of these districts are flooded, he said. Three Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters have been deployed in Banskantha to airlift the stranded locals as well as to distribute food packets. One column of Indian Army was also pressed in to rescue people using boats. “The rescue operations are going on in full swing as we are taking the help of Army, IAF, BSF, NDRF and local police. Today, we have rescued around 400 people in Banaskantha with the help of three helicopters of the Air Force,” said state health minister Shanker Chaudhary, who is stationed at Deesa to oversee the rescue operations. Since morning, 113 people stranded in Shihori village of the district have been rescued and shifted to safer locations by the Indian Army personnel, who have been conducting the rescue operation using boats, said a release by the Defence PRO. “One MI-17V5 took off from Deesa this morning and proceeded to Totana village and winched up 14 people stuck in the mist of raging flood water to safety,” Defence PRO Abhishek Matiman said. The IAF is also air dropping food packets in the affected areas. “Over 300 kgs of food packets were air dropped at Gugal, Jenal Varan and neighbouring villages to aid the people marooned since yesterday,” he added. The other places which received very heavy rainfall during the last 24 hours include Patan taluka in Patan district (295 mm), Deodar in Banaskantha (284 mm), Idar in Sabarkantha (282 mm), Dhanera in Banaskantha (275 mm), Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha(230), Saraswati in Patan (217 mm) and Deesa in Banaskantha (210 mm).(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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