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India’s indigenous main battle tank ‘Arjun’ receives praise from top Chinese military academy

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credits: armyrecognition.com
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Beijing: India’s indigenous main battle tank (MBT) Arjun, which was developed after years of delays and cost-overruns, came in for praise from a top Chinese military research academy here that concentrates on the engineering requirements of the armed forces.

credits: commons.wikimedia.org
credits: commons.wikimedia.org

Senior Colonel Liu Degang, deputy commander of the Beijing-based academy, said that the MBT is “very good” for Indian conditions.

Liu, who was receiving a group of Indian journalists at the academy that also doubles as a research institute for its tanks and heavy armour, said that India had done well to develop its own MBT. The Arjun tank took nearly two decades, from the time the first prototype was revealed, to be inducted into the Indian Army and an upgraded version, Arjun MK-II, is reportedly being developed.

A visit to such a military research centre in China is rare and even the locally based Indian journalists have never been invited there. Liu, as senior commander, is ranked equivalent to a brigadier in the Indian Army.

Asked if such a visit would point to a “new found confidence”, Liu said that China was “opening up, more and more, both politically and militarily”. He spoke through a translator.

The journalists were also shown the series of tanks and armoured personnel carriers which had been modernized by the research centre and inducted in to the Chinese army. Liu, however, was somewhat defensive when asked what percentage of the army comprised of armoured divisions. “It is for the white paper of the government to deal with such matters,” he said.

Talking of the modification of the Chinese main battle tank (MBT), Liu said that it had incorporated the latest changes in electronics and firepower technologies. For the kind of topography in which China had to fight, it was an advanced battle machine, he said.

He was asked to compare the Chinese MBT, with a US modern tank to which he said that both had different areas of operations and the Chinese one was superior in the role it would be called upon to play in the areas where it would have to fight.

He said the academy and research centre had exchanges and training programmes with several countries and that Indian military officials had also visited them in Beijing. He said they had received some 300 delegations from about 70 countries and had helped train 2,700 army personnel from about 40 countries.

About India, he said “good neighbours should have a good understanding among themselves”, and that exchanges between the two countries should be increased.

Liu said that almost all the heavy weaponry used by China is developed in-house, though they are willing to learn from others. He said that a country of China’s size could not always depend on other countries, but they are open-minded about collaborating with other countries.

The centre, affiliated to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is spread over 1,100 acres and has 720,000 square metres of buildings which also include residences for the senior staff. It fosters officers of the PLA and takes in 6,000 cadets annually. (IANS)

 

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Return to Jammu- A Novel About a Journey

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother's struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

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He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Sanasar, Jammu and Kasmir- wikimedia commons

This is the engrossing tale of Balan, a kid from South India who grows up in the towns of Punjab, Jammu and Haryana. It captures the eventful journey of Balan’s childhood, his schooling, and the friends he makes and loses due to transfers of his father, serving in the Indian Army.

“Return to Jammu” is a first-person narration and with the timelines, places and real-life personalities and events, the reader gets a feeling that it is an autobiographical novel. The author clarifies that all characters and the story per se are fictional but confesses to borrowing liberally from many episodes of his childhood in telling the story.

“If you happen to be acquainted with me enough to perceive a passing resemblance of me in Balan, you would be right; and yet if you find the resemblance rather tenuous and liberally adulterated, you will be equally right too,” says the author in a preliminary note.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college.
V. Raghunathan-Author of the book Return to Jammu, wikimedia commons

Balan, son of a junior commissioned officer hailing from Kerala and having Tamilian roots, is born in the Ambala cantonment in 1954. He narrates his story even before his birth, relying on family tellings.

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother’s struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father’s transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college. Because of his diminutive size, he is saddled with sobriquets like pocket edition, Lilliputian and Madrasi, and sees his self-esteem falling dangerously.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Jammu and Kashmir Map, wikimedia commons

It’s at Satwari near Jammu that he develops childhood friendship with many, most importantly with Jeevan Asha or Jeesha, who was two years older and also taller than him. Soon, however, Balan’s father is again transferred to Ambala and he is separated from his friends, especially Jeesha. He writes letters to his friends and receives responses from all, except Jeesha.

Overcoming all odds and with hard work, Balan completes his studies and joins the State Bank of India. Now a confident young man, he works hard and finally makes it to the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. (It was at IIM, Ahmedabad, that the author taught finance.)

Also Read: 70 years after Independence power reaches Elephanta Isle near Mumbai 

There he comes across a girl called Jasmine Pundith. He believes she is his good old buddy Jeesha. Bu she shows no sign of recognition and when he tries to remind her about their childhood friendship, Jasmine tells him that she is a citizen of the US and has no link with Jammu.

Convinced that she is none other than Jeesha, Balan travels to Delhi to find out more about her family. He even returns to Jammu, where he meets her brother Niranjan. What Balan comes to know from him forms the climax of the story.

The book is worth a read also for the author’s eye for detail, whether it is canal system of Jammu, the picturesque Kashmir valley, especially Uri, the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi, or a visit by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (IANS)