Preparing for battle
In a first, the government on Wednesday approved reforms within the Indian Army to enhance combat capability of the forces thereby rebalancing defence expenditure in a phased manner by December 2019 based on the recommendations of the Lt Gen Shekatkar Committee.
The first phase of the reforms involves redeployment and restructuring of approximately 57,000 posts of officers. The measures will be implemented in a gradual manner.
“Restructuring by the Indian Army is aimed at enhancing combat capability in a manner that the officers will be used for improving operational preparedness and civilians will be redeployed in different wings of the armed forces for improving efficiency,” stated a press release issued after the Cabinet meet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Shekatkar Committee had given 99 recommendations to the government in its report on December 2016, out of which the Ministry of Defence decided to implement 65, stated a release by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
“The net effect of this is, as to various, different functions in the Army, as per the changed environment of technology, economy, combat capability of the Army, how it is to be best utilised,” said Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs, while briefing reporters on the decision.
Under this, the government will do away 39 military farms and several Army postal departments in peace locations. There will be 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.
Apart from this, in the first phase, the government will also undertake restructuring of repair echelons in the Army to include base workshops, advance base workshops and station workshops in the field Army.
There will also be redeployment of ordnance echelons to include vehicle depots, ordnance depots and central ordnance depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.
The reforms will also aim for better utilisation of supply and transport echelons and animal transport units. It will also seek to enhance the quality of clerical staff and drivers engaged with the Army and improve the efficiency of National Cadet Corps.
The committee was given the mandate to recommend measures for enhancing Combat Capability and Rebalancing Defence Expenditure of the Armed Forces with an aim to increase “teeth to tail ratio”, stated the press release. The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal of the Election Commission of India to aid in electoral management and administration with the Election Management Bodies of other countries and International Agencies.
In an official statement, the government allowed the Election Commission to enter into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Electoral Council of Ecuador and the Central Election Commission of Albania and the Election Commission of Bhutan.
In addition, the government also allowed the EC to enter in MoUs with the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, the National Independent Electoral Commission of Guinea, the Union Election Commission of Myanmar; and the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
The Cabinet also approved the equivalence of posts in Central Public Sector Undertakings, banks, insurance institutions with posts in government.
This will allow the children of those serving in lower categories in PSUs and other institutions to get the benefit of OBC reservations on par with children of people serving in lower categories in government.
Stamp pact with Canada
The Cabinet was also informed that India and Canada have mutually agreed to jointly issue a set of two Commemorative Postage Stamps on India-Canada: Joint Issue on the theme ‘Diwali’. The joint stamps will be released on September 21.
A MoU between India and Brazil for cooperation in the fields of Zebu Cattle Genomics and Assisted Reproductive Technologies also got the Cabinet’s nod. It has also approved a MoU on the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund. A MoU with Myanmar for the Conservation of EarthquakeDamaged Pagodas at Bagan also got the Cabinet’s assent.
A file picture of paratroopers training. The Shekatkar Committee had made 99 recommendations of which the Defence Ministry will implement 65 V SREENIVASA MURTHY