Tuesday October 17, 2017
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Integrate the nation’s defenders, don’t alienate them

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An Indian Army Parachute Regiment contingent marches past during Army Day parade in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

  Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi flies from one public-relations triumph to the next in foreign capitals, discerning people back home have an uneasy feeling that they are in a schizophrenic trap. For a nation so resistant to change, India seems to be prematurely donning a mantle that, in reality, remains a distant vision.

Our cities, including the capital, are still choked with slums, garbage, debris and pollution. As industry lags, skilling of youth and job creation remain a chimera. The ‘unorganized sector’ reigns supreme: with hawkers, casual labourers, beggars and the unemployed thronging our streets, seeking a living. Venality and corruption are still rampant – albeit in newer formats – and the powerful cling to their privileges, protected by Teflon-coated skins.

Many pundits say that the NDA government is in its early days and still has 43 months to fulfill its grand promises. Given India’s huge potential as a market and Modi’s assiduous international efforts to garner FDI, one should, perhaps, withhold judgment on the NDA, for now.

However, such indulgence may not be appropriate in the critical realm of the nation’s defence, which brooks no impediments or prevarication. It is here that the NDA government has scored several ‘self-goals’ that are bound to have a deleterious impact on India’s national security.

The first instance relates to the clumsy handling of the military veterans’ demand for restoration of One Rank One Pension or OROP – arbitrarily taken away in 1973. Adopting an ostrich-like attitude, the NDA misjudged the motivation, endurance and campaigning skills of the nation’s military veterans. The prolonged stand-off has embarrassed the nation and hurt the pride of the soldier. Having allowed this sensitive issue to fester, the NDA government has itself to blame if the canker of politicization has irretrievably entered our military.

On September 5, everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief when the Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar, flanked by the three service chiefs, ceremoniously read out a prepared statement meant to provide closure to the OROP imbroglio. However, as soon as he had finished reading, the veterans realized that the government had unilaterally reneged on several issues – diluting the OROP concept.

Moreover, in his statement, Parikkar made a mention of VRS or Voluntary Retirement Scheme, a concept that has never existed in the Indian military. Obviously, a ‘red-herring’ inserted by a mischievous bureaucrat, this rang alarm bells throughout the armed forces; not only because it would affect many serving officers, but because it suggested that the service chiefs had concurred.

Since no government letter or clarification has followed this fiasco, the veterans are convinced that a ‘confidence trick’ was played upon them and the Jantar Mantar agitation continues into its fourth month. The veterans have alleged that a ‘gag-order’ has been placed on media reportage from Jantar Mantar. If true, it adds yet another unsavoury dimension to this confrontation.

The second issue of concern is the fallout of this unending ‘tamasha’ on serving military personnel, as is clearly evident in social media discussions. Mention of VRS is being interpreted as a warning that servicemen seeking ‘premature retirement’ or PR, an entirely different concept, will be denied the benefits of OROP. This retrograde step will affect many in uniform today and demolish all efforts to keep the armed forces youthful and motivated.

Justified or not, a sense of frustration is palpable amongst the younger generation of Internet-savvy servicemen. They are bewildered why the senior military leadership is so helpless in countering the bureaucracy’s malevolent ploys. A frequently cited example is that of ‘non-functional upgradation’ (NFU). This bounty, bestowed by the bureaucracy upon itself, but denied to the military, has led to awkward situations, wherein personnel of support organizations like Border Roads, Military Engineering and Naval Armament Services have overtaken their military superiors in terms of pay-grades.

Which brings us to the third issue of concern: the long-standing, civil-military dissonance that is undermining our national security. The root of this problem lies in the deliberate creation of an asymmetry to ensure that ‘civilian supremacy’, meant to be exercised by the political leadership, is replaced by bureaucratic control of the armed forces. Successive pay commissions, all of which excluded military representation, have been used to reinforce this asymmetry with the politician’s blessings.

Nations worldwide have de-fused civil-military tensions and retained firm ‘civilian control’ over their armed forces, by subsuming them within the edifice of the government. Given the reputation of the BJP as a ‘nationalist’ party, there were fond hopes that it would bring about a dramatic shift from the Nehruvian tradition of disparaging the military and neglecting national security. This government’s inertia, however, conveys an impression that it is either hostage to the bureaucracy or colluding with it, to ‘keep the soldier in his place’.

Whether it is Swachh Bharat, Make in India or Digital India, such dreams can prosper only within the paradigm of a ‘Secure India’ guaranteed by our patriotic and motivated armed forces. A sagacious leadership can kill many birds by grasping this opportunity to launch a bold initiative of undertaking national security reforms, as promised in the BJP’S election manifesto.

However, events of the recent past dictate the immediate implementation of two vital measures: (a) like other democracies, the adoption of an Armed Forces Covenant that recognizes the nation’s moral obligation to the armed forces, and establishes how they should be treated by the government; and (b) integration of civilian bureaucracy and military professionals so that the MoD functions harmoniously to promote national security, rather than working at cross-purposes with the armed forces.

(By Admiral Arun Prakash, IANS)

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Rs 10,000 cr will be given to top 10 Universities to make them World-Class, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Patna, October 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said it was a “blot” that Indian universities do not figure among the top 500 of the world and noted that the government has decided to give autonomy and Rs 10,000 crore to top 10 public and private universities over the next five years to make them world-class

.Addressing the centenary Celebrations of Patna University here in presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Modi said Indian universities such as Nalanda and Takshashila attracted students from all over the world.

“We are not among the top 500. We should remove this blot or not. The situation should change through our determination and hard work,” Modi said.

He said the government has come with a scheme to make 10 private and 10 public universities world-class by providing them autonomy from the constraints of government rules and freedom to grow.

“They will be given Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years,” Modi said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the selection will not be on any recommendation. “The universities will be a selected on the basis of a challenge in which they will be required to prove their mettle. The selection will be based on factors such as history, performance and its roadmap reach global benchmarks. A third party professional agency will be involved in the selection process,” Modi said.

Referring to demands for making Patna University a central university, Modi said it should strive to be among the globally-ranked varsity based on the competition and “this was many times ahead of being a central university”.

“Patna University should not stay behind (in the challenge),” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said reforms in the country’s education sector have progressed at a slow speed and there have been differences among educationists which had hampered innovation with the governments too not measuring up to the task.

The Prime Minister said that for two years he heard arguments for and against granting more autonomy to Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and then a big decision was taken.

“It is for the first time that the IIMs are out of government control and have been professionally opened up. This is a big opportunity for them and they would make the best use,” he said.

Modi said that Patna University was known to produce IAS and IPS officers and in the same manner IIMs are known to produce Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of global companies.

He also urged universities to move from conventional teaching to innovative learning and involve alumni associations more actively.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 65 per cent of the population of the country was below 35 years in age and the dreams of development can be fulfilled.

“We need to understand the changing trends across the world and the increased spirit of competitiveness. In that context India has to make its place in the world,” Modi said.

He appreciated the efforts Nitish Kumar towards development of the state and said the progress of eastern India is the Centre’s topmost priority.

“The commitment of Nitish Kumar towards the progress of Bihar is commendable. The Centre attaches topmost importance to the development of eastern India,” Modi said.

He said when the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence day in 2022, he wants to see Bihar standing among the list of prosperous states.

Modi also said that many top level officials of civil services are students of Patna University.

“In every state, the top levels of the civil services has people who have studied in Patna University. In Delhi, I interact with so many officials, many of whom belong to Bihar… I consider it my honor to visit Patna University and be among the students. I bow to this land of Bihar. This university has nurtured students who have contributed greatly to the nation.”

He said that Bihar is blessed with both ‘Gyaan’ and ‘Ganga.’ “This land has a legacy that is unique,” he said.(IANS)

One response to “Rs 10,000 cr will be given to top 10 Universities to make them World-Class, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi”

  1. Grant of money alone does not make great institutions of learning, just as making large grand buildings, and setting up large sophisticated laboratories. It is the high ideals, learning & character in honest pursuit of knowledge and service that facilitates to create an atmosphere of pursuing higher & higher knowledge for the sake of welfare of humanity. An the open atmosphere of freely sharing the expertise & experience of seniors with development of young brains is equally important . This aspect has been pointed out by our Prime minister by the involvement of Alumni for the development of great institutions of learning.
    Another aspect that has not received due attention in the field of education in India so far is that we have not addressed properly the question of training and developing teachers of right caliber & character right from nursery and primary school levels of education to postgraduate levels in university in all fields of education i.e. humanities, engineering and medical schools by taking in to consideration present needs of society.
    Another point to note is that the famous All India Institution of Medical Sciences in Delhi was not set up to provide super speciality hospital services to the country, but to develop excellent faculty of teachers in collaboration with Harvard. This objective got lost on the way.

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India Looks at Strategic Partnership with Oil Producers

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his three-hour long meeting here with chief executives of top global and Indian companies. ians

New Delhi, Oct 9: India is looking to upgrade its relationship with producing countries to a strategic one, instead of mere buyer-seller, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday.

This was the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his three-hour long meeting here with chief executives of top global and Indian companies, including British major BP, Russia’s Rosneft, Saudi Aramco and Reliance Industries, on ways to revive investment in oil and gas exploration and production.

“The Prime Minister laid out to leading companies like BP, Shell, Rosneft, Exxon Mobil as to what should be the energy economy of India,” Pradhan told reporters here on the sidelines of the CERAWEEK India Energy Forum organised by IHS Markit.

“The Prime Minister emphasised the need to move the engagement to a strategic partnership, going beyond the buyer-seller relationship,” he said, adding that “all major producers, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the US, all have recognised the massive scale of India’s energy engagement”.

According to a statement, from the Prime Minister’s Office, Modi said there is a need to develop energy infrastructure and provide access to energy in eastern India as the status of the energy sector in India was highly uneven.

CEOs and top officials from Rosneft, BP, Reliance, Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Vedanta, Wood MacKenzie, IHS Markit, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Xcoal, ONGC, IndianOil, GAIL, Petronet LNG, Oil India, HPCL, Delonex Energy, NIPFP, International Gas Union, World Bank, and International Energy Agency were present at the meeting.

Pradhan, Power Minister R.K. Singh, and senior officials from NITI Aayog and Prime Minister’s Office, as well as the Petroleum and Finance Ministries were also present in the meeting.

Addressing the conference, Pradhan said that with India now being well integrated into the global oil economy, she was naturally impacted by geopolitical developments.

“Recently, when retail fuel prices went up in India, there was a hue and cry in the street,” he said of the time last month when petrol prices in Mumbai went over Rs 79 a litre due to a rise in international rates.

“We therefore need to know and keep abreast of what is happening in the industry worldwide… about OPEC and output cuts, about Russia, shale in the US, trends in LNG market,” he added.

As proof of the upgraded energy relationship with Saudi Arabia, Pradhan noted the opening of Saudi state-run oil giant Aramco’s India office in Gurugram on Sunday that was jointly inaugurated by him and Aramco CEO Amin Nasser.

“Aramco investment in India will increase..they are in talks with possible partners here,” Pradhan said.

Saudi Aramco, which established its business presence in India last year, has formed an Indian subsidiry that will engage in crude oil and LPG marketing, engineering and technical services, and other business development activities.

“Aramco India intends to partner with Indian companies and set up integrated business ventures in the hydrocarbon value chain in India,” the Petroleum Ministry said.

According to the PMO, Modi thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Rosneft, for their commitments and support to the energy sector in India. He also appreciated the 2030 vision document of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.(IANS)

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Achieving Goal of “Swachh Bharat” Will Be True Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi: Ram Nath Kovind

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Swachh Bharat
President Ram Nath Kovind

New Delhi, Oct 1, 2017: Urging cleanliness be made a national movement, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Sunday that achieving the goal of “Swachh Bharat” will be true tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.

Kovind, who is currently in Maharashtra on an official tour, will visit Gujarat, the home state of Gandhi on his birth anniversary to pay tributes to the Father of the Nation.

On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, the President said that Gandhi Jayanti is an occasion to rededicate to the ideals and values of Mahatma Gandhi, who believed that ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’.

“Cleanliness is not only the responsibility of sanitation personnel and government departments. Today, India is fighting a decisive battle for cleanliness and hygiene through the ‘Swachhta Hi Seva’ campaign.

“Let us also commit ourselves to ensuring public hygiene, personal hygiene and environmental hygiene. It is a multi-stakeholder national movement. Achieving the goals of the Swachh Bharat Mission expeditiously will be a true expression of tribute and regard to Gandhiji on his birth anniversary,” he said.

Also Read: Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017 

Describing Gandhi as a man of simple living and a moral preceptor, Kovind said that he gave a new direction to the country through his leadership.

“His philosophy of non-violence and peaceful co-existence is of increasing relevance in the present times. Through the symbols of Charkha, the spinning wheel and khadi, he stressed the message of self-reliance and dignity of labour,” he said.

Kovind will commence his Gujarat engagements with paying his tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his birth place, Kirti Mandir at Porbandar.

Later, he will attend a function organised by the state government to declare Open Defacation Free status for rural Gujarat at Kirti Mandir.

The President will also inaugurate various projects including upgradation of Veraval and Porbandar fishing Harbour, upgradation of Navibandar, Miyani and Salaya Fish Landing Centre, laying the stone for development of Mangrol Phase-III fishing Harbour, announcement for development of Veraval Phase-II.

He will also foundation stone of Porbandar Phase-II, Navabandar, Mandhavad and Sutrapada Fishing Harbours and inauguration of Mangrol Rural Water Supply Augmentation Scheme of 45 villages at Mangrol, an official statement said. (IANS)