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Old 01-16-2012, 12:35 AM   #1

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Default Indian Army News and Discussion
Army to strengthen its air wing with helicopter fleet (Link)

The Army is planning to strengthen its air wing by expanding its helicopter fleet considerably. Army chief General V.K. Singh reiterated that the plan was to have an aviation brigade in every corps. The move is part of the army's longterm plan but the Indian Air Force is opposed to the idea, particularly that of having a separate fleet of attack helicopters.

At the moment, the IAF operates two squadrons of attack helicopters and the Indian Army has also listed its own requirements. General Singh said the defence ministry has asked the two services to resolve the differences.

General Singh claimed that armies all over the world were looking at close rotary wing support for the combat troops in battlefield. He emphasised that in a tactical battle area, the army commander should not look behind. The army chief implied that the commander should have all the resources under him.

The IAF's argument is that the two squadrons of attack helicopters were already operating under the army's command during operations.

But the army feels more rotary wing support for ground troops will improve mobility. The army has already cut down response time to launch an attack on the western border. The new plans were tested during the recently held exercise in the Rajasthan desert.

Mobilisation of strike corps is one of the biggest challenges and General Singh gave hints about how things have changed. He said what was earlier being done in a week is now being accomplished in three days. The army chief also claimed that this time would reduce further in the coming years.

He said the aviation brigade with each corps will play a key role in generating quicker response apart from helping in gathering more information about the battlefield and offering very close support to the ground troops.

The general also claimed that the Dhruv helicopters supplied by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) were good but their serviceability was an area of concern. He said the IAF has also been using these helicopters but that HAL needs to improve its service support.
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:38 AM   #2

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Indian Army organises weapons exhibition in Jalandhar

"The motive behind this exhibition is that the children of our country become aware of the armed forces and the way it functions. We also give them an insight into the respectable life we have been living while serving for the Indian army," said Major General Sushil Kumar Agarwal.

With a mammoth strength of 1,129,900 active personnel and 960,000 reserve personnel, the Indian army is the world's largest standing volunteer army.
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:45 AM   #3

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Thimayya home gets due honours

It will be turned into a museum; transport dept, current occupant of the Madikeri mansion, has been told to vacate

The state government has finally realised it needs to give a fitting tribute to its war hero, former General of Indian Army, Kodandera Subbayya Thimayya. It has decided to convert his mansion in Madikeri, now housing the transport department, into a museum.

The Kannada and culture department, which has decided to take possession of the house, called ‚??Sunny Side‚??, has given the transport department three months‚?? time to vacate the premises.

A decision to the effect was taken at a high level meeting of the Kannada and culture department a week ago.

Grant sanctioned
According to sources in the department, the government had decided to declare the mansion as a memorial in 2005 following a letter written by former chief minister Veerappa Moily. The next year, the then finance minister had sanctioned a grant of Rs 1 crore for the purpose.

B Basavaraju, secretary, Kannada and culture department, told Bangalore Mirror, ‚??It‚??s time we took over the building. Recently, a team of officials from our department visited the house and submitted a report.‚?Ě

The regional transport office (RTO) will be shifted to a new premises. ‚??Once the RTO shifts out, we will take up restoration work of the house,‚?Ě he said. The department plans to have a museum displaying articles used by Gen Thimayya and a library comprising war literature aimed at motivating youngsters.

The mansion in Madikeri, spread across 2.6 acres, is the birthplace of the general, who was affectionately called ‚??Timmy‚?? by his Army colleagues.
Sources said the transport department had bought the mansion way back in 1972 for Rs 2 lakh. Though the government housed the Gen Thimayya Memorial Bhavan in the same building a few years ago, it was in poor shape.

Repeated pleas by the people of Kodagu to convert the house into a memorial had gone in vain. ‚??Except for a statue and a road named after him, there‚??s nothing in Kodagu to remember the great soldier,‚?Ě said Sachin Bopanna, a resident of Madikeri.

Meanwhile, after a decade, the Army‚??s Southern Command has chosen Bangalore as the venue for its investiture ceremony, while the armed forces is all geared up for its 64th Army Day celebrations on Sunday.

Driving force
When K S Thimayya was the commander of the 19th infantry division in Jammu & Kashmir, he drew the Pakistani army out of Kashmir valley by personally leading the attack in the forward-most tank.

Thimayya, who was the fourth general of independent India, was born on March 30, 1906 in Madikeri. He studied at Coonoor and Bangalore‚??s Bishop Cotton Boys School before joining the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College in Dehradun. He served the Indian Army between 1957 and 1961.

After his retirement, he was appointed the Commander of UN forces in Cyprus, where he breathed his last.
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:27 PM   #4

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‚??Reports of LeT training women not confirmed‚?? Sunday, 15 January 2012 23:46

The Army Commander of the Udhampur-based Northern Command on Sunday refused to confirm latest intelligence reports, claiming that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) was imparting training to its women cadre to hit India.

Unnamed Army officials in the first week of January had claimed that Lashar-e-Tayyba was imparting training to 21 women terrorists to hit different cities across India.

Responding to a specific question ‚??how real is the threat of LeT women cadre, receiving training in Muzaffarabad based terrorist training camps, Lt Gen KT Parnaik, GOC-In-C Northern Command told media persons on the sidelines of an investiture ceremony here at Akhnoor, ‚??We keep getting these reports from our intelligence sources.

What you have heard is a report concerning the LeT trying to revive the women cadre. There is a report that they are being trained near Muzaffarabad to be infiltrated in to the State. However, this is not yet corroborated and we have not shared this report officially with the State or with anyone else. It will require some time to further corroborate it, he added.

During the investiture ceremony the Army commander awarded gallantry medals to 71 officers and complimented the soldiers for their selfless service and dedication in the most difficult terrain and weather. Commenting on the overall security situation in J&K the Army commander said, ‚??The overall security situation in J&K is good‚?Ě.

‚??The violence parameters have been down. 2011 has been a very fruitful year. However, infiltration from across the line of control is still going on.He said, we have had numerous occasion to stall the infiltration but some terrorists have managed to

infiltrate. I would say that there would be an attempt to revive their relevance in the state. He said we all need is to remain very alert and take preemptive actions.

Sharing latest assessment reports the Army commander said, ‚??the total number of trained militants looking for an opportunity to infiltrate inside the Indian borders keeps fluctuating‚?Ě. He said at present it would be anywhere between 200- 300 as snow has covered major routes of infiltration.

He said, there are a large number of trained militants in the launch pads. ‚??The training camps have more than 2000-2500 terrorists‚?Ě. He said the Army continues to be as vigilante as before and our aim will be to prevent any infiltration.

On the contentious issue of partial revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from certain peaceful districts of the State, the Army commander said, ‚??Let me clarify that AFSPA is a matter of national security. We have had our own stands taken--the Government, the Army.

We have had discussions at all levels. The decision is now being taken that further discussions will take place in the centre with the involvement of Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Defence. Once we have had our discussions I am sure useful solutions will emerge.‚?Ě
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:38 PM   #5

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Link FM assures army funds to create new strike corps
Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has assured army chief General VK Singh that fiscal go-ahead for creation of a new strike corps based at Pannagarh and bolstering up of defence along the 4,057 kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China will soon be accorded so that the vital matter is
taken up for approval by the Cabinet Committee for Security (CCS).

Mukherjee gave this verbal commitment when General Singh called on the finance minister after his return from Myanmar on January 9, and requested him for speedy expedition of the force and weapon accretion process so that orders could be issued for recruitment and raising two more divisions for proposed Pannagarh Corps.

Singh has met Mukherjee thrice on this issue and has written at least once to the Finance Ministry after the latter raised sundry questions on the Indian Army's threat assessment on China owing to significant financial implications involved.

Defence minister AK Antony on his part is confident that the matter would be taken up by the CCS in 2011-2012 financial year and the fiscal impact would be spread over next five years.

While China has resurrected a lean and mean PLA machine with world class infrastructure along the LAC, India is still struggling to improve its road infrastructure and force capability.

However, the Indian Army is struggling for the UPA government support to raise Pannagarh Corps, two armoured brigades in Sikkim (near Nathu La) and Ladakh (Chusul), and an additional infantry brigade in Barahoti plains in the middle sector.

The latest objections have been raised by deputy national security advisor Lt Gen (Retd) Prakash Menon, who has suggested that force accretion and resources should be equally distributed among the three services rather than only focus on the Army.

Gen Menon is learnt to be partial to India enhancing its naval capabilities to tackle China as the latter has in fact reduced number of troops in Tibet by using rapid deployment formations and has beefed up PLA Navy.

The Indian Army, on its part, has made it amply clear that it need force accretion as threat potential of a border flare-up with PLA is omnipresent till the boundary is finally demarcated by the two nations.
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:55 PM   #6

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No clue of any early resolution of age row: Army Chief

Army Chief General V K Singh on Sunday said he has ‚??no clue‚?Ě of any early resolution of his ongoing age issue, but insisted that the matter be allowed to rest and not become a public debate.

Interacting with reporters on sidelines of Army Day parade in New Delhi, he said there is no requirement for him to comment on the matter as it will get misinterpreted.

Replying to a question whether he is expecting an early resolution of the issue, Gen Singh said, ‚??I have got no clue. I am working as I am.‚?Ě

On confidence expressed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony in him, regardless of the issue, he said, ‚??I don‚??t want to say anything. He has expressed his confidence and I am following that. Earlier also I have said that I am working for the organisation. I appreciate his confidence and will try to stand up to that.‚?Ě

On asked to clarify whether he thinks the issue has been settled down by the Defence Ministry, he said, ‚??Why do you want a clarity? I have said this is an issue that should be allowed to rest, and not become public debate. So there is no requirement to give it any spin, or to give it any more wings than what it actually is.‚?Ě

In reply to a question whether he would accept the government decision, if the age issue is delinked from his tenure in office, the Army Chief said there is no requirement for him to comment on the matter.

‚??I think I have already said a lot of things on this subject. Actually there is no requirement for me to say anything on this subject. The reason is that, whatever I say will either be misinterpreted or interpreted in a manner in which somebody will write it.‚?Ě

Gen Singh had two sets of date of birth in the official records -May 10, 1950 and May 10, 1951, leading to the controversy.

He has been contending that May 10, 1951 should be treated as his actual date of birth as it was mentioned in his matriculation certificate but the Defence Ministry has rejected it as May 10, 1950 is the date entered in his UPSC entrance form for National Defence Academy (NDA).

By the government decision, he will retire on May 31 this year.

Earlier, addressing a press conference here on January 12, Gen Singh had said that the issue has always been that of integrity and honour, and he had tackled it in the organizational interest.
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Old 01-16-2012, 05:18 PM   #7

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Link Army losing more men to landmines than war
Published: Monday, Jan 16, 2012, 9:00 IST By Iftikhar Gilani | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

The Indian Army is losing more personnel during peace times, and more so, while clearing landmines than in any war.

Since October 2002, when the Army began large scale mine clearing operations along the Pakistan border, it has reported 793 causalities of which 411 were killed. An international landmine expert believes that these mind boggling casualties were more due to the defence ministry‚??s stubbornness from taking any expert help while excavating mines.

Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, Asia regional research coordinator for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, told a select audience here that despite their persistence, the Indian Army was not following standard operating procedures (SOPs) and international practices while forcing soldiers to clear mines.

He said casualties in the Indian Army were comparably more than in any war-torn country like Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia or Croatia. He said over the past few years, more cases of soldiers falling in the trap of landmines were reported from India.

‚??We have gathered cases of 365 soldiers falling victims to landmine,mostly while clearing mines. This amply means that they were not following SOPs or best international practices,‚?Ě said Puangsuwan, who has supervised mine clearing operations in Cambodia and other countries.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:02 AM   #8

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Link Army Chief age row: Govt files caveat in Supreme Court

A day after Army Chief General V K Singh took his battle with the government over his age to the Supreme Court, the Government has filed a caveat in the Supreme Court.

Sources say the Ministry of Defence is consulting the Law Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office. Sources also say say that while all government employees have the right to seek legal help, certain positions merit absolute trust and should not be tarnished with an adversarial relationship. The court has so far not admitted General Singh's petition.

General Singh's unprecedented move has sparked off a debate on whether the Army's image as taken a hit. This is the first time that any service chief has fought the government in court and questions are being raised about the impact this could have on the institution and the armed forces. (Poll: Is the Army Chief right in taking on the govt?)

Some are also pointing out that this seemed like a case of putting self before service. "We don't need the Chief of Army Staff getting into a media debate," said defence analyst Lt Gen Shankar Prasad (retd). He added that the controversy had "hurt"the armed forces.

"Each one of us has been brought up in the Armed Forces, Army, navy and the Air Force to obey orders and it is considered a poor manner of behaviour if we question orders," he said.

But there are others who are hold the government equally responsible for the situation. "It was an unseemly controversy which should not have been allowed to reach this level. "said Major General G D Bakshi (retd), His argument: the government could have resolved the age issue at the time of General Singh's appointment as the Army Chief.

General Singh has questioned the government's decision to treat his date of birth as May 10,1950 instead of May 10,1951, which is listed in his school-leaving certificate and other documents. In his petition, the chief asks why the government has chosen to "change" his date of birth after 36 years in service with many promotions.

In months of back and forth and appeals, the Chief has exhausted all internal options to win his argument. The government's view means that General Singh will have to retire at the end of May; his petition does not clarify whether he seeks an extension in tenure. He took over as the Army Chief on March 31, 2010.

While some documents establish the chief's date of birth as 1950, others, like his entrance form for the National Defence Academy (NDA) state 1951. The government has said that though it has no doubts about General Singh's integrity, the documents that it has to abide by do not support his claim. "Just nobody...nobody should believe that the General has not spoken the truth," said Law Minister Salman Khurshid last week. But "rules are rules," he added.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party is asking why the government could not have handled this row better, the Congress has sought to distance itself from the controversy after General Singh filed the petition. "It is between the person who has gone to court and the court," said Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Sources said that instead of reacting to General Singh's move, the government would prefer to argue its position in the Supreme Court when the petition comes up for hearing.

The General has said that he is concerned about "his honour and integrity" and not his tenure. In the past, General Singh has pointed out that the promotions he received were based on his seniority gauged as if his year of birth was 1951.

Attorney General GE Vahanvati has advised the government that changing the chief's records could create "large-scale disaffection in the Army."

The dispute over General Singh's age began in 2006 when a bureaucrat noticed two different dates in his records when his name came up from promotion and sought clarification from the Military Secretary's branch which handles promotions. The Military Secretary's branch had the year of birth down as 1950 and that's what it shared with the Defence Ministry without cross-checking the date with Adjutant General's branch, which is the official record keeper for the Army Officers.

In 2008, for another promotion, the Army Headquarters asked the General to accept 1950 as his official age, giving him 24 hours to do so or else face disciplinary action. The then Army Chief and the Military Secretary said that other people in the queue were also suffering due to the delay in this case. Faced with an ultimatum, General Singh wrote back the same day to say "Whatever decision is taken in the organisation interest is acceptable to me."

The front-runner to replace him has so far been Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, the Eastern Army Commander. However, a court case accuses him of being involved in a fake encounter in in Anantnag in 2001, and has asked for a detailed investigation. Sources in the Defence Ministry say the timing of the case suggests a dark side to the succession race.
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Old 01-18-2012, 02:43 AM   #9

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As the remote area of Valley remain affected adversely due to heavy snowfall, the Army has instructed its troops to reach out to the people in order to provide all sorts of assistance.

In two separate incidences the Army teams helped pregnant ladies in their advance stage of pregnancy to be shifted to the nearest hospitals. On being approach by the locals the emergency medical team (Doctors & Nursing Assistants) were mobilised, snow clearing activity under taken and with the help of local lady social workers, the pregnant ladies were safely escorted to the hospitals.

In the remote village of Walkul in Lolab, Yasmeen Begum w/o Parvez Ahmed was shifted to Block Hospital Sogam which was located 8 KM from the village and Praveena Begum of Zarahama village, was shifted to Civil Hospital Trehgam. In another humanitarian gesture, a lady from Madar village in Bandipore, who was suffering from post pregnancy complication was also helped by doctors of Army and evacuated in Army ambulance to Govt Hospital Bandipore.

The timely assistance from the local units of the Army helped in saving precious lives of the Mothers and their babies. The affected families appreciated the concern and the assistance provide by Army and said that the timely help of the Army had saved lives of their dear ones.
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:15 AM   #10

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Link Hitting the General below the belt

Before Army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh‚??s doughty daughter landed up at the Supreme Court registry to file a writ petition on behalf of her father on Monday evening, the officer wrote to Defence Minister A K Antony that he was taking legal recourse in the age issue.

General Singh informed Antony that he had been forced to go to the court to prevent a possible adverse legal fallout of another petition filed before by the Rohtak chapter of the so-called Grenadiers Association and with which he had no truck in any way. It is another matter that a court insider leaked the news of General Singh going to court to TV news channels much before his letter reached Antony on Monday.

General Singh was advised by his lawyers that his legal options on the date of birth issue would be closed if the Supreme Court took up the Grenadiers Association‚??s petition as it was rather insidious and factually inaccurate in many places. For instance, the association‚??s petition stated that Lt. General Bikramjeet Singh, presently Eastern Army Commander and in line for the Army Chief‚??s job, was related to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Given such inaccuracies, the Supreme Court in all probability would have taken a rather poor view of the submission and would have foreclosed all options for General Singh. Now that General Singh has sought legal remedy to determine whether he was born in 1950 or 1951, it would be interesting to shed light on the behind the scenes and unsuccessful dialogue between him and the government over what the he terms as an honour and integrity issue. General Singh in his petition has sought interim relief from the court over the rejection of his statutory complaint on the age issue by the Defence Minister on December 30, 2011. After General Singh filed his statutory complaint before Antony on August 25, 2011, he met UPA wise man and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and told him what he had done. Mukherjee looked at General Singh and said that he took this statutory complaint as an opportunity and not a challenge for the government. General Singh told Mukherjee that the complaint was only aimed at rectifying his age and not programmed to increase his tenure as Army Chief ‚?? a matter which is the prerogative of the government. For the next four months, a key government interlocutor and a close friend of Singh played the messenger in the hope that an amicable compromise could be reached. The interlocutor failed. Not because his or General Singh‚??s intentions were not honourable but because the UPA has now acquired the habit of speaking in multiple voices.

The final straw for the Chief was a series of slanderous media articles this month which led him to believe that they were being orchestrated by the Defence Ministry. Before General Singh went on an official visit to Myanmar on January 5 he met National Security Advisor Shiv Shanker Menon. Sharp as he is, Menon suggested that the government would come out with a statement making it amply clear that age was not the issue and that it wanted General Singh for other services preferably in the civilian set-up. As the idea was fair, General Singh agreed to it with a single caveat. He said as long as the government agreed that his date of birth was 1951 he was even willing to resign and pave way for whomsoever the UPA wanted to appoint as Army Chief. General Singh returned from Myanmar on January 9 and met Mukherjee, who assured him that he was on the job and solution soon would be found to the age issue.

In the meantime, senior UPA ministers including Antony, P Chidambaram and Salman Khurshid prepared for stage two by calling General Singh a very competent soldier. A solution was in sight and the interlocutor was toiling hard, but then came the series of slanted media articles, which the Army suspects the Defence Ministry of inspiring and that hit at General Singh‚??s personal integrity. A day before the Army Day on January 15, Antony gave a dressing down to all his officers and made it clear that not a word should be leaked by his ministry. But the damage had been done.

General Singh was awarded the Yudh Seva Medal in 1989-90, the Ati Vasisht Seva Medal in 2006 and the Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 2009 by the President of India with his date of birth May 10, 1951 mentioned on them, but still the inspired media articles took pot shots at him. After hosting At-Home for the President, the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, General Singh decided to take on his detractors. The writ petition was drafted by 3.00 am on Monday morning and submitted before the Court on the same day.
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:49 PM   #11

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Link The Officers mess

The Early Years

The age controversy that has the government in a bind now has its genesis in a UPSC form signed 47 years ago by a 14-year-old boy who aspired to join the National Defence Academy. As was the norm then, application forms for the military were filled by clerks and signed by students.

July 29, 1965: Vijay Kumar Singh, a Class X student of the Birla Public School, Pilani, signs on the UPSC form (5170), applying for the NDA course of December 1965. The form mentions his date of birth as May 10, 1950. While the form was signed by him, the officer has maintained that it was filled by a clerk in the school, as was the norm, and the incorrect year was a clerical error.

May 11, 1966: The medical examination report (FJ/6025/1 of AFMS, F 2) prepared by armed forces doctors before he joined the Academy records the year of birth as 1951.

June 13, 1966: The marksheet for Class X examinations is issued. It records the year of birth as 1951. This is also the document used to prove that he has passed the examination prior to joining the NDA.

June 18, 1966: Sri Krishan, Under Secretary at the UPSC, writes a letter to Singh (NDA/Dec 65/R No 1974/EV), pointing out that while the UPSC form has 1950 as year of birth, the supporting certificates attached to it record it as 1951. The letter asks Singh to clarify the date of birth. He replies 1951 may be considered as the correct year as the other date was a clerical error.

July 13, 1966: Singh joins NDA. The only available document with the Academy is a bio sheet (7103) of the cadet which mentions his year of birth as 1951. The detailed document was filled by Singh. As the school leaving or matriculation certificate was not available till then, this was considered his year of birth. The personal file written by him during SSB also records the year of birth as 1951.

June 1970: An identity card issued by the Indian Military Academy, which he joined after passing NDA, shows his year of birth as 1951. But a dossier filled by the Gentleman Cadet mentions it as 1950 and is also mentioned in the Academy‚??s final assessment and confidential report.

1971: Singh, who was then undergoing a young officers‚?? course, gets his matriculation certificate (22461). Issued by Rajasthan Education Board, it mentions year of birth as 1951. This is the certificate used for all records to determine date of birth. He submits it to the Adjutant General‚??s branch, the official record holder of the Army. The AG branch (MP 5) records 1951 as the year of birth.

The Long Silence

With 1951 recorded as the year of birth by the AG‚??s branch, all promotions, postings and personal records of the officer, including personal dossier, record of service and identity card, are issued with this date. All non-military documents used by him, including passport, PAN card and driver‚??s licence also have 1951 as the year of birth. As far as Singh was concerned, all records in Army files had his correct year of birth. He never received any communication from the Army on discrepancies, even though, as evidence later showed, the Military Secretary Branch did not update its records. Singh even made two attempts to get all records corrected and is assured they are up to date.

1985 and 2002: Singh says he made efforts to ensure his correct year of birth is maintained in Army records but was informed that since the AG‚??s MP 5 branch mentions 1951, nothing needs to be done. But in a letter dated December 20, 2007, then Military Secretary P R Gangadharan says no documents are held with the MS branch ‚?? which is in charge of postings and promotions ‚?? that shows any correspondence from the AG branch on the matter.

The Matter Resurfaces

Almost 35 years after he joined the Army, Singh learns there are two different dates of his birth in the records. While for over three decades, the Army makes no move to resolve the matter, just before he is set to assume the rank of Lt Gen and has a clear shot at becoming the Army Chief, the matter is brought to notice by the MS branch, which maintains 1950 as the year of birth.

May 3, 2006: Singh for the first time receives a letter from then Military Secretary Lt Gen Richard Khare, intimating him there are discrepancies in his records. While the AG branch has 1950 as year of birth, MS branch records show it as 1951.

May 10, 2006: Maj Gen Singh writes back to the MS branch, saying since the records in the AG branch were correct, he had the impression the necessary correction was carried out in the MS branch. He requests MS branch to correct its records.

December 20, 2007: Lt Gen Gangadharan prepares a detailed note, examining all records and past correspondence. The note recommends 1950 should be considered as the year of birth for ‚??the purpose of promotion and retirement‚?Ě. It is approved by then Army Chief Deepak Kapoor, sent to Defence Ministry.

A series of letters are exchanged between Singh and the MS branch. As Singh was set to take over as the Corps Commander, the matter is kept in abeyance. No commitment is given by Singh on the age issue and it is left hanging. In official records forwarded to the Defence Ministry, the year of birth is now 1950.

The Big Game

With Singh now approved to take over as Army Commander, the crucial step towards his appointment as the Army Chief, the Army seeks to put an end to the issue. In letters and phone conversations, Singh is told that unless he accepts 1950 as the year of birth, action would be taken against him. It would prevent him from becoming an Army Commander and would, in turn, make him ineligible to become Army Chief.

January 21, 2008: Singh is officially informed by Gangadharan that the official year of birth will be 1950 and the AG branch is being intimated to amend its records. This is done at a time when Singh is set to be posted as an Army Commander, a pre-requisite to the Army Chief‚??s post.

January 24, 2008: Lt Gen Singh, now the 2 Corps Commander, writes to Gangadharan saying he never asked for a change in his date of birth. Says he submitted proof of birth only once in his career and that was recorded as 1951 by AG branch. Says all official documents with him have that year. Not commenting on the Army decision putting 1950 as the year of birth, he writes that ‚??anything which is required to be done in the larger interests of the organisation‚?Ě may be undertaken by the Army HQ.

Within hours of the letter reaching Army HQ, an ‚??immediate‚?Ě message over the Army‚??s secure system is sent to him. The message, signed by K Purushotama (Deputy MS) on behalf of Gangadharan, says his letter is ‚??not in conformity with response asked‚?Ě. It says he should confirm acceptance of 1950 as the year of birth or ‚??action deemed appropriate‚?Ě would be taken. This is polite, military language that disciplinary action would be initiated, putting his appointment as Army Commander at stake.

January 25, 2008: Singh sends back a message on the same channel, says once again ‚??whatever decision taken in organisational interest is acceptable to me‚?Ě. Same day, Gangadharan writes a confidential note, saying the officer ‚??did not have any malafide intention‚?Ě in indicating his year of birth as 1951 and that he should not be considered ‚??blameworthy‚?Ě. It says he should be considered for Army Commander‚??s post.

January 30, 2008: Singh writes to Gangadharan and referring to the decision by the Army to take 1950 as the year of birth, says he will ‚??mention the date of birth as directed‚?Ě.

The End Game

The issue returned to focus in April 2011 after The Indian Express reported that a Law Ministry opinion in reply to an RTI query determined his year of birth as 1951. Three opinions by the Attorney General followed on the Defence Ministry‚??s request, all against change in date. After his statutory complaint was rejected, he went to court on January 16 this year.

Govt‚??s options

While the option of removing General Singh may not be exercised, keeping several factors, including legal hurdles, on mind, the government is believed to have laid plans.

* The most likely scenario, if Singh resigns or is removed from the post, is to make Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen SK Singh, the acting chief. This is the norm in case the Army Chief is abroad or is on leave.

* The government would then move ahead with the selection process of the next chief as planned and appoint Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh.

* A less-likely scenario would be to appoint the senior most serving officer ‚?? in this case Western Army Commander Shankar Ghosh ‚?? as the Army Chief.
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Old 01-19-2012, 04:07 PM   #12

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Link A general mess

While the colonial-era tradition of Indian Army officers not discussing women or politics ‚?? issues with supposedly disruptive potential ‚?? in the officers‚?? mess may be intact, Army politics has always drawn conversation but rarely prompted bad feelings in the way it is doing now. The officer corps ‚?? disinterested members aside ‚?? is split between those partial to the izzat (honour) argument pushed by the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen. V.K. Singh, and others, not all necessarily backing Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh, GoC-in-C, Eastern Command, who worry that, whatever the merits of Gen. Singh‚??s case, the Army‚??s image has taken a hit.

An amusing side-show saw the Western Army commander, Lt. Gen. S.R. Ghosh who, as the next senior most officer, on discovering he would be in the running for the top post if Gen. Singh was fired or, out of pique or his izzat-logic, resigned before his time was up, quickly reversed a medical disability status fetching higher pension he had secured for himself, and pranced around for reporters to indicate he was in tip-top shape!

Like many other problems that afflict this country, the one relating to the selection of the Chiefs of Staff of the three armed services too was seeded in the early years. In reply to a 1948 note from defence minister Sardar Baldev Singh, asking whether merit or seniority should be the criterion in selecting officers to top posts in the Army, Jawaharlal Nehru insightfully replied that if both merit and seniority were given weightage, seniority would soon elbow out merit. Whatever the reasons ultimately for K.M. Cariappa becoming the commander-in-chief in 1949, the seniority factor unfortunately got the nod. Of the two other officers being considered then ‚?? Lieutenant Generals Nathu Singh Rathore and K.S. Rajendrasinhji, the former was brash and outspoken and no doubt irked Nehru. On Nehru‚??s musing out aloud that owing to insufficient command experience of most Indian officers at the time, the Army might benefit from a few more years of British general-ship, the quicksilver Rathore riposted that on that basis the Indian government too would be better off headed by Britons considering most Indian politicians had no experience whatsoever of running government! Rajendrasinhji was the first Indian officer to win a gallantry award (Distinguished Service Order) in the field in World War II.

There is good reason to believe that after his offer to Field Marshal William Slim, the brilliant commander of the Indian Fourteenth Army, which drove the Imperial Japanese land forces out of Southeast Asia, to succeed Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck as commander-in-chief, was turned down, Nehru wanted a fighting general to lead the Army and, a few years later, first asked Rajendrasinhji to replace Gen. Roy Bucher. To both Rathore (who many claim was also offered the post) and Rajendrasinhji is attributed the high-minded statement that their senior, Cariappa, shouldn‚??t be bypassed.

Cariappa as Western Army commander during the 1947-48 Kashmir operations did not impress Nehru with his leadership qualities, who perhaps believed that the battle-hardened Rajendrasinhji would have done a better job of it. In any event, with Cariappa followed by Rajendrasinhji, a wrong precedent was set. The Indian Army has paid a heavy price; not the brightest officers have always headed it. The other two services, being smaller, manage their cadres somewhat better with especially the Navy consistently throwing up competent people as Service Chiefs. The Air Force, whose top posts are monopolised by fighter jocks, falls somewhere in between the Army and the Navy.

With seniority as the sole criterion for promotion, we have a vast majority of officers aspiring to top posts becoming progressively more risk-averse in decision-making as they climb up the steep promotional ladder. The consequence of an over-cautious, almost inert, institutional-qua-leadership mindset has been there for all to see for several decades now. The Army Chiefs, for instance, have stuck to a stunted vision responsible for the skewed order of battle that reveals a singular talent for mistaking the minor foe (Pakistan) for major adversary, even as the real danger posed by the Chinese People‚??s Liberation Army is not addressed, if evidence of the deployment of the main force is anything to go by.

The purely seniority-driven promotion system the military is straitjacketed in means the year of birth is crucial and the documents validating it decisively important. The anomaly with respect to Gen. Singh is that all the records with the Adjutant General (AG) ‚?? the record-keeper of the Army ‚?? support his contention. The Union Public Service Commission form for admission to the National Defence Academy with the Military Secretary‚??s Office responsible for postings and cadre/career management, however, shows an earlier year of birth. If the AG‚??s records have always determined age-related promotion and tenure, then the government‚??s reliance in this one case on a document available with the MS branch, makes the government‚??s case legally weak, which is probably why COAS has confidently gone to the court.

Braving a bit of egg on its face, the government should let Gen. Singh serve out his full, legitimate term in office. This will have far smaller fallout than if, standing on ego, it ousts him, which will set an even worse precedent and complicate the situation. Until now the selection of Service Chiefs, because based on material criterion (birth year document), was safely pre-determined. The upside was that it absolved the politicians, principally the Prime Minister and defence minister, of applying their minds to choosing military Chiefs of Staff. The negatives of replacing this selection system with the more professionally desirable merit-based one will be strongly resisted by the military as well as the politicians because both will perceive it as disruptive. If the government owns up its fault on the condition that Gen. Singh puts in his papers, or the Army Chief resigns anyway before his retirement date, then the government will have no option, on seniority principle, but to appoint Lt. Gen. Ghosh as COAS, leaving Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh in the lurch. But this is a far better option than permitting a succession plan hatched by a couple of less-than-scrupulous Army Chiefs to go through, thereby avoiding the worst possible denouement imaginable ‚?? an enraged Army.

The writer Bharat karnard is a professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi
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Old 01-20-2012, 04:17 AM   #13

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Army organised a Medical cum Veterinary Camp at Shalabugh, Ganderbal, on 19 Jan 12. The camp is yet another step by the Army to reach out to the people and address their concerns. Displaying excellent synergy between Army and Civil Administration, wherein a team of Army Doctors and local Civil Doctors including one Lady Doctor, Medical and Veterinary Specialist and Dental Doctor attended to a large number of patients in the Medical cum Veterinary camp. Local villagers turned up in large numbers to get the treatment. Large number of patients to including male, female, children and animals were treated by Army and civilian doctors where free medicines were also distributed. Tea and refreshments were also provided to the Awam. Alongwith the Camp, a Village Development Meeting (VDM) was also organised for people of Shalabugh. Brig Niraj Seth interacted with the locals and promised to conduct such camps regularly for benefit of Awam in far flung areas. During interaction the Awam praised efforts of the Army in providing succour to the populace.

Participation in large numbers by the Awam for such a noble endeavour by the Army will surely go a long way in bringing succour to the Aman in the Valley.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:39 PM   #14

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Old 01-22-2012, 05:44 PM   #15

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Age matters only in the Indian Army
Josy Joseph, TNN | Jan 22, 2012

Now, however, many within the ranks are beginning to question the obsession with age. "It is absurd. When you are 15 or 16 you apply for NDA. Should the fact of being younger than others decide whether one should be military chief or not? It is laughable," says a serving army general. "Let's say two of us join NDA together, and we get promotions at the same time. All through the service I may have excelled in my work, but if I were a day younger, it is you who gets to become the chief," he says.

In the years following Independence, when Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister, the government did go by merit while selecting service chiefs. An officer recalled that Arjan Singh was appointed Air Force chief at 45. "It was a tenure fixed for five years," he says. So there was no 'fixed' line of succession at that time.

That has changed. The reason date of birth has become the main factor is that top officers are growing timid, refusing to take risks. "Once you become a brigadier or major general, you have a fair idea who would be chief or not. From then on the hopefuls start playing safe ," says an officer.

Both the Navy and Air Force have adopted selection policies which create a small group of 'aristocrats' among the officer cadre early in service, from whom the chiefs generally come. These officers invariably have done select tenures, such as being on the personal staff of senior commanders. In the Navy, an officer points out, many of these 'aristocrats' does not serve enough time at sea or other tough postings. "As a result, our preferred officers do not have enough exposure to the battlefield. They are all fundamentally being groomed, and biding time, to take on senior appointments. And a few of them do become chiefs," says a Navy officer.

The net result of such skewed policies is that the day on which one is born has become the most crucial factor in deciding who commands one of the world's biggest armies.

Not surprisingly, many are closely watching how this court battle over Gen VK Singh 's age ends. Will he retire on May 31, 2012, and let A, B and C become chief over the next six-seven years. Or will he retire on March 31, 2013, and allow X, Y and Z to succeed him? Either way, the military doesn't seem to benefit from this kind of thinking. In this unfolding drama, merit is likely to be the only casualty.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:45 PM   #16

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Biggest fraud on Indian army? January 22, 2012 By Maj. Gen. (retd) R.S.N. Singh (Deccan Chronical)

Gen V.K. Singh never has asked for a change in his DOB. This issue was fabricated and pursued from the year 2006 by two Army Chiefs and their cronies, i.e., three Military Secretaries, when they realised that a three-year tenure as COAS for Gen. V.K. Singh would derail the chances of one particular individual.

In fabricating this falsehood, these gentlemen used an incorrect entry in a document called Army List. This document has no legal sanctity whatsoever with regard to the details of an officer. There are scores of serving officers whose names or their IC numbers or their DOB is wrongly mentioned. This author is aware of a serving Brigadier, wherein the Army List carries his father‚??s name in place of his. He has never felt the need to correct this glaring mistake because the document has no legal significance.
Firstly, there was no need for Gen. V.K. Singh to apply for a ‚??change‚?? in his DoB.

As the legal custodian of all personnel particulars (including DOB), the Adjutant General‚??s Branch has never had any issue over his DoB (May 10, 1951). Does the Army HQ or the MoD now have the gumption to declare that in matters of personnel detail of an officer, the Army List will prevail over all other documents. In that eventuality, the Military Tribunal and the Supreme Court will be inundated with cases.

Then why has this fraud been perpetrated on Gen. V.K. Singh? Why is an erroneous entry in the UPSC application form being flogged as an argument to intimidate him into accepting 10 May 1950 as his DoB, when it is not? An application form is only an application form. The entries therein have to be verified from other sources and documents, which was done in Gen. Singh‚??s case upon his commissioning.

Then there is the argument that Gen. Singh ‚??accepted‚?? 1950 as his year of birth in 2006 and 2008, and therefore it could not be changed now.
An individual‚??s ‚??acceptance‚?? of a particular DoB, not supported by relevant documents, cannot even get one a driving licence or a passport, let alone make him an Army Chief. Such acceptance was made under duress.

‚?? Maj. Gen. R.S.N. Singh was a military intelligence officer
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:48 PM   #17

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Link Teacher backs army chief's claim Published: Sunday, Jan 22, 2012, 8:00 IST
By Nivriti Butalia & Saikat Datta | Place: New Delhi |

Gen Singh, before joining NDA, was completing his higher secondary (10th standard) from the Birla Public School, Pilani, a boarding school, where Bhatnagar was one of the two English teachers. Singh was at Pilani when he filled his Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) application form, under the guidance of Bhatnagar.

Bhatnagar was, and still is, an admirer of the Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter ace Douglas Bader who lost both legs in the Battle of Britain. ‚??Churchill praised the RAF and pointed out that ‚??never had so many owed so much, to so few,‚??‚?Ě remembers Bhatnagar. This was a story he would tell his students, as he carted UPSC application forms to Pilani. ‚??This was 1965 and we were still hurting from the 1962 debacle at the hands of the Chinese. So I wanted as many of my boys to be in the services as possible.‚?Ě
Naturally, Bhatnagar was partial to the Air Force. And so, during prep (boarding school term for ‚??study hour‚??) he would tell aspiring Douglas Baders about the prestige of becoming fighter pilots.

‚??I was very young then. I had joined Pilani in 1960 and V.K‚??s batch was 1965... I was very keen that our boys join the services.‚?Ě As a result, VK Singh‚??s first option from the three services was the Air Force.

Bhatnagar remembers the confusion that the young Gen Singh faced about his exact year of birth. ‚??He knew his date clearly as May 10 but could not recall the exact year. After all he was born at a time when birth certificates and years were not easily available. In fact, many of my boys were confused so I would help the boys by filling in the details in pencil and they would over-write them in ink. V.K was confused about his year of birth, so we entered 1950,‚?Ě he told DNA.

‚??The confusion was cleared when the casualties record (father‚??s service record) was obtained from the battalion and accordingly, his school leaving certificate stated his date of birth as 1951,‚?Ě says Bhatnagar. The ‚??casualties record‚?Ě is a key document in the Indian Army since it records every major personal and professional detail of an officer‚??s career. Major Jagat Singh, father of the current army chief, was with the 14th battalion of the Rajput Regiment which clearly records the year of birth as 1951. This was more than adequate at that time to clear any confusion and set the record straight.

Incidentally, Bhatnagar quietly smiles as he lets you in on another secret. A few years later, Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh, the man the UPA government is determined to appoint as the next army chief, was also his student. Gen Singh was already in NDA and Bhatnagar had moved on to Punjab Public School, Nabha, where Lt. Gen Bikram Singh was a student preparing for NDA.

As far as ‚??V K‚?Ě is concerned, he was ‚??determined to crack (the) NDA (entrance exam). When it was bed time (‚??lights out‚?Ě, as far as boarding lingo goes), ‚??VK‚?? would continue studying in his cubicle with a dimmed light.‚?Ě Bhatnagar remembers Gen Singh clearly.

They‚??ve been in touch ever since. When Singh took over as the GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, Bhatnagar wrote him a letter of congratulations to which Gen Singh promptly replied. ‚??He was quiet‚?¶ but not reserved.‚?Ě Bhatnagar says he was ‚??good‚?Ě in English, yes. A bright student, which was later confirmed. ‚??He was always upright, honest, truthful and known for his perseverance.‚?Ě
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:28 PM   #18

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Link Arjun, Dhruv Get Thumbs Up From Indian Army Chief

Giving his thumbs up to indigenous Arjun battle tanks and Dhruv advanced light helicopters, Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh described the two military machines as "good" though they had some problems that are being rectified.

"It is a good tank in terms of mobility and such," Singh said here when asked to comment on the performance of Arjun that the Army has been operating in the deserts of Rajasthan for the last one year since a regiment was raised.

"There are certain problems (in Arjun)...everything cannot be perfect," he said, defending the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that designed and developed the tank and the Avadi-based Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) that is manufacturing them.

He also indicated the upgraded Arjuns could go up to Mark III version too.

"We found certain faults and these have been rectified in Arjun Mk II and it will become Arjun Mk III," he said.

Asked if the number of Arjuns will go beyond the 248 already on order, Singh said the deployment of Arjuns will decide the number of tanks that will be inducted into service.

"And accordingly, the numbers have been fixed as per the number of units that will operate Arjuns," he said, without specifying the numbers.

The Army has already inducted Arjuns and raised a regiment that is now operating in the deserts of Rajasthan from among the 124 tanks ordered in the middle of last decade. About a year and half ago, it placed an additional order for 124 more tanks, but these will be the Mark II version, which is undergoing tests at present.

From the Mark I version of Arjuns, the Indian Army has asked for 90-odd upgrades, including about 20 major modifications in the design and capabilities, and these are being worked out right now in the Mark II version.

On Dhruv, Singh said it had troubles relating to maintenance and serviceability.

He said the Army has been requesting the Defence Ministry for "greater improvement" in the helicopter's designs and "greater indulgence" of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to ensure that the serviceability of the helicopter remains "much higher" that what it is at present.

Referring to the Sarang helicopter aerobatics display team, Singh said the chopper is good and that is why the display team is the only one of its kind in the world, performing and winning accolades.

"But there are serviceability issues," he added.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:35 PM   #19

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Link Exercise Yudh Abhyas: US tanks to roll on Indian soil

For the first time, American tanks will roll on Indian soil in wargames codenamed 'Exercise Yudh Abhyas', which will mark the beginning of the series of military engagements scheduled between the two countries for this year.

For the first time in Indo-US wargames, Americans will
deploy their tanks in the company-level Exercise Yudhabhyas scheduled to be held in the Mahajan field firing ranges in Rajasthan desert in March, army sources said.

Apart from fielding three tanks, the US will also deploy around 200 men accompanied by armoured personnel carriers for the wargames, they said.

In the last edition of the exercise, the American Army had brought its Stryker infantry combat vehicles which were being inducted into war operations in Afghanistan.

However, it is not yet clear which tanks would be deployed by the American side for the exercise.

India will filed its Russian-origin BMPs along with tanks for the wargame.

After the 'Yudh Abhyas in March', Indian Infantry troops from the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles regiment will fly to California to engage their American counterparts in the Exercise Shatrujeet.

130 troops from the 19 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles battalion will fly to California in April and engage in counter insurgency and counter terrorism drills there for the Exercise Shatrujeet, sources said.

The Special Forces of the two countries will also test their skills in a mountain exercise codenamed 'Vajra Prahar'.

60 troops from American Special Forces and an equal number of them from the Indian Army's 3 Para (Special Forces) will take part in a wargame in Chaubatia in Uttarakhand in August this year in mountain terrain.

Indian troops from 1 Para (SF) had visited Seattle last year for the Vajra Prahar exercise last year.

The Navies of the two countries are also scheduled to exercise with eachother in 2012.
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Old 01-23-2012, 06:22 PM   #20

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Link 'Political class has failed us‚??

On June 26, 1987 Honorary Captain Bana Singh created history by capturing the world‚??s highest ‚??Quaid post‚?? on Siachen Glacier along with his men. Bana Singh was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest war time gallantry medal in recognition of his daring act. The invincible ‚??Quaid post‚?? was named Bana Top in his honour. His brave act is credited with giving the Indian Army an advantage in Siachen.

At present, the disciplined soldier in Bana Singh is leading a peaceful life in Kadyal village of RS Pura in Jammu. Looking back in time, he feels that in the last twenty five years both Central and successive State Governments have failed to fulfil his wish list.

Though the ‚??charismatic‚?? and ‚??witty‚?? solider has no regrets from the Indian Army and the nation at large but when he wears a citizen‚??s hat, he effortlessly trains his guns on the elite political leadership and blames them for lacking the ‚??political will‚?? to address strategic security concerns.

While counting himself as one among the aam admi, Bana Singh hold politicians responsible for the rampant corruption and the loot of the public exchequer. This is one reason that despite joining the National Conference in April 2009 as head of the ex-servicemen wing of the party, he stayed away from the politics.

In an exclusive interview with The Pioneer, Honorary Captain Bana Singh said, ‚??it is high time the Union Government should frame a fresh policy and allot petrol pump or gas agency licenses to living PVC recipients‚?Ě.

‚??A nation with more than 1.2 billion population has produced only 21 PVC recipients till date and out of these, only three are alive. Two among them are still serving,‚?Ě he said before adding: ‚??Heavens will not fall if the Central Government revisits the policy and allots one petrol pump each to all PVC awardees‚?Ě.

Sharing his own experience, he said, ‚??about 7-8 years ago I had moved a formal application to explore the possibility of getting a petrol pump /gas agency license but my request was turned down by the director general, Resettlement. I was told that the Government had no policy to allot petrol pumps to living recipients of Param Vir Chakra‚?Ě. ‚??As I am ageing, I want to appeal to the Union Government to revisit the policy and make necessary amendments to accommodate our claims,‚?Ě said Honorary Captain Bana Singh.

Captain Singh was hailed former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for restoring the pride and honour of the Indian solider.

Talking about the response of the State Government, he said that despite calling on Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at least three times, he failed in sorting out the issue of 13.5 % VAT on canteen service department (CSD). ‚??Many ex-servicemen came to me and requested me to take up the case with the Chief Minister. Every time I raised this issue, I was only given an assurance but nothing concrete materialised,‚?Ě he said adding that except J&K, nowhere in India is VAT imposed on purchase of items from the CSD canteens.

He said that the State Government had named a local sports stadium in his name several yeas ago but it was yet to come up.

‚??If successive State Governments were sincere in their approach, then why did they fail in constructing basic facilities at the sports stadium? No one in the State is serious. They only do lip service here,‚?Ě he rued.

Commenting on the latest debate over the row involving the age of the Indian Army chief with the Central Government, Bana Singh said that this was ‚??just another proof how a respected soldier of the rank of Chief of Army staff is treated by the system. We have been trained to fight for naam, namak aur nishan and as long as we are alive we will keep fighting for our identity and honour.‚?Ě ‚??We just cannot compromise with our ideals,‚?Ě he added.
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