No room for complacency on China: Antony

April 28th, 2008 - 10:30 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony, in a clear reference to China, Monday said India would have to constantly upgrade its military and economic capabilities and leave no room for “complacency.” “We continue to abide by the confidence building measures mutually agreed upon between the two nations… we have to constantly upgrade our military and economic capabilities. There is no room for complacency,” Antony said while inaugurating the biannual six-day Army’s Commander Conference here.

China’s frequent claims on the Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh and incursions by its troops in the area have become a irritant in the otherwise warming ties between the two countries. The two countries have also stepped up their military cooperation by staging their first war game in China late last year. Another joint drill is to be conducted in India later this year.

Antony also touched the issue of cross-border terrorism, saying: “Pakistan continues to provide covert support to the perpetrators of cross-border terrorism.”

At the same time, he hoped for a more “meaningful engagement” with the newly-installed civilian government that has assumed office in Pakistan.

The minister also called upon the top army brass to ensure equity, fair play and transparency at all levels.

“Critically introspect and ensure equity, fair play and transparency at all levels so that the faith of officers and personnel below officer ranks (PBORs) in the system is reinforced,” Antony said.

Noting that instances of suicide and fratricide had come down considerably, Antony said efforts to reduce avoidable loss of life should be persisted with.

“I would urge all of you to pay your undivided attention to better and more humane man management. Commanders and officers must respect the dignity of the jawans and redress their grievances on priority. You must also provide opportunities for increased qualitative and quantitative interactions with officers and jawans,” the minister added.

Turning to the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, he said the services had pointed out “various anomalies” that were being addressed at the “appropriate” level.

“I hope a fair solution will be arrived at at the earliest,” Antony maintained.

In an apparent reference to a seniority row that recently hit the Indian Army, the minister said: “You have to be extremely careful and prudent on the issue of inter se gradings, which results in delays in promotion. This process needs to be streamlined.”

“The model for quantification of various parameters for promotion of officers needs to be expedited,” he added.

The seniority row at the Udhampur-based Northern Command that is responsible for guarding Jammu and Kashmir had seen a three-star general taking extended leave as he was averse to serving under an officer of the same rank but who was his junior in service. It ended with the officer being posted as a principal staff officer (PSO) at the Army Headquarters here.

Among the issues to be discussed during the conference are the security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, and factors that impact upon the operational readiness of the army, with emphasis being laid on cyber security and improvement of communication systems.

The steps required for mitigating the shortage of officers and the need for improving the quality of individual combat kit issued to soldiers will also be discussed.

During the conference, the army leadership will also interact with senior defence ministry officials.

Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor is presiding over the conference that is being attended by the heads of the northern, western, eastern, southern, south western, central and training commands and the principal staff officers at Army Headquarters.

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