Saturday, September 12, 2009


A report of the committee on defence coverage, Press Council of India published in Oct 1994, focused among several other recommendations, the importance of people's support for the national cause; acknowledged the role of media in creating an interface between the armed forces and the society and established the need for strengthening the public information mechanism of union government, state governments and in the armed forces. It also demanded a complete revamp of information and publicity in terrorism affected areas.

To be more specific in the context of Indian Armed Forces, the media believes that our Services lack the accessibility and responsiveness towards information dissemination. It is not technology savvy and does not understand the timings of information and also the implications for delay in the same. It feels that the service's claim of confidentiality is highly exaggerated and is more focused on avoiding embarrassments due to public scrutiny of its acts. It also feels that the armed forces are too, engrossed in their own shell and are not ready for any kind of debate which is the soul of any democratic machinery.

The forces must understand the seriousness of these concerns rather than avoiding it, as a, not so important issue. It is in fact, a very serious one. A military organisation which lack the basic connect with society can not claim to be the representative of her aspirations. This is an era of information warfare, where modern military organisations run their own publications, websites, TV channels and even the FM Stations. Indian case is a matter of great concern even after 15 years of this report.

Clearly, our Services needs to work on war footing, if at all they expect people to value their sacrifices. They really need to revamp their entire PR machinery which hardly arouse any public attention; and create a common inter-services PR Agency employing only professionals from the field. A concept of Indian Citizens' Army should be put into action for this purpose and professionals should be granted Territorial Army commission on part - time basis. This PR body should be capable of writing and dissemination of all kinds of information through various modes.

(Photo: Major Pratul Thaplial, Indian Territorial Army)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


A Team comprising only lady officers of the Indian Army scaled Indira Col, the highest point on Siachen glacier on 15 August 2009, making it the first ladies team to have reached the highest battlefield in the world.

Historical Perspective Siachen meaning the land of roses is the highest and coldest battlefield glacier at a height of 21,000 feet (6400 m).It is located on eastern karakoram range in the himalaya south and central Asia. Siachen falls from an altitude of 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level at its source at indira col (pass) on the china border down to 3,620 m (11,875 ft) at its snout. This col was recorded to have been reached by col. N Kumar’s team in 1981 and again by the Americans in 1986. The temperature of the region varies from the hot to the second coldest inhabited place in the world. Mean temperatures are:Summer 25 ºc to 3 ºc & Winter - 3ºc to -20ºc. It is a high altitude cold desert with a low level of atmospheric oxygen. People arriving by air are required to acclimatize before engaging in physical activity. Snowfall is experienced generally during the months of October to May which can be from the light to heavy but has been reducing due to the global warming. Ladakh is cut off from the rest of India for approximately 7 months (October to April) till the opening of passes of Zojila and Rohtang (Himachal Pradesh). The only entry and exit is by air.

Siachen glacier is characterized by extremely treacherous high altitude terrain due to deep crevasses and ice walls, completely snow-bound with extreme low temperatures and scarce oxygen. soldiers serving in the terrain are exposed to high risks of health hazards due to the climatic conditions. Since September 2007, India has opened up mountaineering and trekking expeditions to the forbidding glacial heights. The first group included cadets from Chail Military School, NCC, IMA, RIMC and members of armed forces. The expeditions are also meant to show to the international audience that indian troops hold "almost all dominating heights" on the important saltoro ridge and to show that pakistani troops are not within 15 miles (24 km) of the 43.5-mile (70 km) Siachen glacier. Ignoring protests from pakistan, India asserts that it does not need anyone's approval to send trekkers to siachen, in what it say, is essentially its own territory.

Genesis of the Expedition The Army has blazed a trail of achievements in a wide range of adventure activities and has single-handedly been responsible for creating awareness as well as inculcating a spirit of adventure in the Indian society. It is for the first time that such an idea was perceived which would give an opportunity to the lady army officers to familiarize with the challenging extreme conditions in which the army operates and may lead to their deployment in these regions in the future.

Selection of the Team Mountaineering is an activity with big risks and the members need good mountaineering skills, physical fitness, self-discipline, initiative and above all team spirit. Lady army officers from the corps of Engineers volunteered and 17 of them were selected for the expedition. Major AR Ramakrishna, a battle casualty of Op Vijay in 1999 was given the task of leading the team of motivated lady officers. Few of them had previous training in basic and advanced mountaineering and one of them had previous experience of mountaineering, whereas, most of them were novices. The team was supported by representatives from the medical and signal corps and instructors from the army mountaineering institute, Siachen base camp.

The Team

Maj AR Ramakrishnan (Team Leader and Manager)
Maj N Linyu
Maj Rita Deb
Maj Megha Astagikar
Maj Neha Bhatnagar
Maj Pradnya Kulkarni
Maj Meghna R
Capt Saily Jagtap
Capt Pushpa Kumari
Capt Shikha Yadav
Capt Saloni Mittal
Capt Aarti Parashar
Capt Priyanka Tak
Lt Girija Mohalkar
Lt Namrata Rathore
Lt Vijay Laxmi Chand Thakur
Lt Neelam Rathore
Lt Garima Pal
Hav Pasare
Spr Kalu Ram
Sigmn Meena
Sigmn Deeraj Jasrotia

Flagging Off The team was flagged off by the Vice Chief of Army Staff on the 03 Aug at Siachen base camp which is at a height of 11500 feet and was the starting point of expedition.

Base Camp to Camp I The team moved as ropes consisting of five to six members each totaling to four ropes. The team started its trek on the 5th of Aug at 0600hrs reached the Camp I, which is at a distance of 12kms approx after a trek of five hours. On the first day of the expedition, the team was full of anxiety, since, it was their first experience on the glacier, though the team had gone till the half link between Base Camp and Camp I. The route was full of moraines, crevasses scree and was very slippery.

Camp I to Camp II On the second day, the team had started very early at around 0400Hr. On this extent the team encountered the glacier for the first time after leaving the Base Camp and had to fit cramp-on on their snow-boots for negotiating the terrain.This extent was the toughest of the whole trek involving crossing of number of crevasses, climbing ice-walls. The team had to use the ladders many times for negotiating huge crevasses. The team walked for about nine hours before reaching Camp II

Camp II to Camp III The next day the team travelled for seven hours, a distance of approx 14 kms.It moved out of Camp II for Camp III with a drizzle overhead. The weather turned worse as the team moved ahead, with high winds, cloudy weather and extreme cold.

Camp III to Kumar Post The team reached Kumar post on 08 Aug 09 after a total trek of kms after starting from the base camp. Then, they had third-stage acclimatization at an altitude of 15000feet. The team experienced first snow-fall since the start of the expedition

Kumar post to Camp IV The team marched from Kumar Post to Camp IV A, traversing a complete glacial patch of 11 Kms. It halted for a tea break at Camp IV and proceeded further to Camp IV A. The test of endurance and stamina seemed to get tougher as the team was getting closer to the objective. The team reached Camp IV A after about 5 hr of trek, between the mighty snows bound ranges- the Karakoram and Saltoro Range.

Camp IVA To Camp VA On 13 Aug 09, the team moved further from Camp IV A in the early hours of morning, biting cold besides gaining height up to 17450 feet. The extreme cold weather kept the team moving continuously to keep ourselves warm and hence comfortable!!! After about 6 hr trek, the team arrived at Camp VA and there realized that it had come very close to the destination… Indira Col seemed to be in close vicinity. At the camp, the next day’s summit plan also was finalized.

Camp VA to Camp VI Camp VI was at a distance of about 4 Km from Camp VA. The team reached the Camp at about 0600 hr on 14 Aug 09. The visit of army officers along with their delicious ‘Good Luck Soan Papadis’ boosted the morale of the team a few hours before the summit. The team halted at this Camp till late evening, gearing up mentally and physically for the final summit, offered prayers to the local deity, in the evening and had motivational messages for one another by all members in the team.

Camp VI to Assault Camp
The team marched at 2300 hr on 14 Aug 09 after an early dinner and reached the Assault Camp, an altitude of 18521 feet by 0045 hr on 15 Aug 09. Half of the route to the camp was frozen water body, which required deliberate walking. The move plan of the team was given a final shape. After a short halt of 1 hr at the Assault Camp, the team headed for the final Summit at 0230 hr.

The Final Summit The day of 15 Aug 09 dawned with the team moving towards the final objective – Indira Col with high level of motivation and zeal to summit the tip on the Independence Day. The move from Assault Camp began at 0230 hr and the team slowly and steadily progressed to every stage of the walk.

Deinduction The team started its trek back from Indira col on the 15th of Aug and reached the base camp on the 20th of Aug after halting at camps V A , IV A and lastly camp II, before reaching base camp. The team moved for Partapur transit camp on 22Aug and reached Delhi on 27 Aug 09 via Leh and Chandigarh.

Chronolgy of Events:

Arr at chandigarh on 12 Jul 09
Arr at partapur on 17 Jul 09
Arr at base camp on 23 Jul 09
Flag of on 03 Aug 09
Base camp to camp I on 05 Aug 09
Camp I to Camp II on 06 Aug 09
Camp II to Camp III on 07 Aug 09
Camp III to Kumar Post on 08 Aug 09
Kumar Post to Camp IV A on 12 Aug 09
Camp IV A to Camp VA via Camp V on 13 Aug 09
Camp VA to VI on 14 Aug 09
Camp VI to summit via aslt camp on 14 Aug 09

Highlights of the Expedition

The team sumitted Indira col on 15th Aug.

The first women officers’ team, ever to reach Indira Col as well as the first to reach Siachen Glacier.

The team finished the expedition before the planned schedule.

All the members who started the trek faced no health related problems enroute and completed the mission successfully.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Army major dies foiling infiltration bid on 9 Sept 2009 at the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir

"An Army major has been killed in a gunbattle between security forces and militants making an infiltration bid across the Line of Control at Mendhar sub-sector in Poonch district, Jammu region.
Two terrorists were also killed in the encounter, which occurred at the Sonagali post on the Line of Control before dawn. An Army major belonging to the 5-Maratha Light Infantry Regiment was killed in retaliatory firing by the terrorists.

During patrolling in forward area along LoC today troops observed movement of a group of armed militants along the Line of Control (LoC), and challenged them, the official told a news agency. The militants opened fire on the troops and hurled grenades, the official said, adding, the army personnel retaliated and a gunbattle took place in which the two infiltrators were killed and the army officer in the rank of Major lost his life.

Major Akash Singh was a resident of Jammu and had left home on August 31. He is survived by his wife, 2-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. Major Singh's body was expected to reach Jammu by 11 am this morning.

Meanwhile, bodies of the two militants have been recovered and search operations to look for more militants hiding in the area of the encounter were still going on at the time of filing this report. Two other infiltrators, as per the intercepts, were killed in the operation but it is a normal strategy for militants to split into groups - one group opens cover fire while another tries to sneak into Indian territory from another location.

Mendhar sub-sector in Poonch saw the seizure of a huge cache of arms and explosives made in Pakistan two days ago by security forces."




Captain Vikram Batra PVC (September 9, 1974 – July 7, 1999) was an officer of the Indian Army, posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest award for valour, for his actions during the 1999 Kargil War in Kashmir between India and Pakistan

During ‘Operation Vijay’, on 20 June 1999, Captain Vikram Batra, Commander Delta Company was tasked to attack Point 5140. Captain Batra with his company skirted around the feature from the East and maintaining surprise reached within assaulting distance of the enemy. Captain Batra reorganized his column and motivated his men to physically assault the enemy positions. Leading from the front, he in a daredevil assault, pounced on the enemy and killed four of them in a hand-to hand fight. On 7 July 1999, in another operation in the area Pt 4875, his company was tasked to clear a narrow feature with sharp cuttings on either side and heavily fortified enemy defences that covered the only approach to it. For speedy operation, Captain Batra assaulted the enemy position along a narrow ridge and engaged the enemy in a fierce hand –to-hand fight and killed five enemy soldiers at point blank range. Despite sustaining grave injuries, he crawled towards the enemy and hurled grenades clearing the position with utter disregard to his personal safety, leading from the front, he rallied his men and pressed on the attack and achieved a near impossible military task in the face of heavy enemy fire. The officer, however, succumbed to his injuries. Inspired by his daredevil act, his troops fell upon the enemy with vengeance, annihilated them and captured Point 4875.

Captain Vikram Batra, thus, displayed the most conspicuous personal bravery and leadership of the highest order in the face of the enemy and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.

It was quite surprising to note that a nation which never forgets to celebrate the birthdays of Akshay Kumar, Mahinder Singh Dhoni or a Sachin Tendulkar, simply forgot the birth anniversary of India's real hero, Late Capt Vikram Batra,who became a household name during the famous kargil war.

Monday, September 7, 2009


A wake up call from the chinese seems unheard by our policy makers. Recent incursions in the north east region and the an act of infiltration at Jammu & Kashmir have left the Foreign office speechless. They seems to downplay the situation with so called Indian Diplomacy, but, the larger question still seems unanswered. How are we going to tackle the golden ring of China, Pakistan, Nepal, Mayanmar, Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka?

The chinese map clearly indicates Aksai Chin (an Indian territory) as disputed land and so is the case with Arunachal Pradesh. It does not even recognise the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir as an Indian Territory.

The Chinese version:

"In the last few days, India has dispatched roughly 60,000 troops to its border with China, the scene of enduring territorial disputes between the two countries.

J.J. Singh, the Indian governor of the controversial area, said the move was intended to "meet future security challenges" from China. Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claimed, despite cooperative India-China relations, his government would make no concessions to China on territorial disputes.

The tough posture Singh's new government has taken may win some applause among India's domestic nationalists. But it is dangerous if it is based on a false anticipation that China will cave in.

India has long held contradictory views on China. Another big Asian country, India is frustrated that China's rise has captured much of the world's attention. Proud of its "advanced political system," India feels superior to China. However, it faces a disappointing domestic situation which is unstable compared with China's.

India likes to brag about its sustainable development, but worries that it is being left behind by China. China is seen in India as both a potential threat and a competitor to surpass.

But India can't actually compete with China in a number of areas, like international influence, overall national power and economic scale. India apparently has not yet realized this.

Indian politicians these days seem to think their country would be doing China a huge favor simply by not joining the "ring around China" established by the US and Japan.
India's growing power would have a significant impact on the balance of this equation, which has led India to think that fear and gratitude for its restraint will cause China to defer to it on territorial disputes.

But this is wishful thinking, as China won't make any compromises in its border disputes with India. And while China wishes to coexist peacefully with India, this desire isn't born out of fear.

India's current course can only lead to a rivalry between the two countries. India needs
to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China. It should also be asking itself why it hasn't forged the stable and friendly relationship with China that China enjoys with many of India's neighbors, like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Any aggressive moves will certainly not aid the development of good relations with China. India should examine its attitude and preconceptions; it will need to adjust if it hopes to cooperate with China and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome."

Source: People's Daily Online, June 2009.