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Oil companies cut petrol prices by Rs 2.46 per litre from midnight

, by indianmilitaryveterans


PTI | Jun 28, 2012, 07.40PM IST
NEW DELHI: In a relief to inflation-battered common man, petrol price was today cut by Rs 2.46 per litre, the second reduction this month. Petrol price in Delhi will cost Rs 67.78 per litre with effect from midnight as compared to Rs 70.24 a litre rate now, state-owned oil companies announced today.
The reduction in rates follows a Rs 2.02 a litre cut in prices from June 3. The two price cuts have wiped out more than half of the massive Rs 7.54 per litre increase in rates, the biggest in the history, effected last month. Even after today's reduction, there exists a scope for cutting rates by a further Re 1 per litre as current revision was done at average international oil rate in the first fortnight of June.
Global oil prices have fallen by 8 per cent since then. In Mumbai, petrol price has been cut by Rs 3.10 to Rs 73.35 per litre, while it will cost Rs 72.74 a litre in Kolkata from tomorrow compared to Rs 75.81 per litre currently. Chennai saw a Rs 3.07 per litre cut in price to Rs 72.74 a litre.
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Army shoots itself in the foot

, by indianmilitaryveterans


Gentleman cadets during their passing-out parade at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. The obstructive, inward-looking conservative approach has to go, times are such. Camaraderie has been the hallmark of defence services but the same is not just meant for the battlefield but for normal day-to-day life too which actually and practically affects personnel and their families
Personnel policies: Army shoots itself in the foot
Military officers are quick to blame bureaucrats, but it is their own arbitrary and parochial attitude and policies, without any understanding or training for administration, that are to be blamed. In the bargain, the military becomes its own greatest enemy
Maj Navdeep Singh
HUMANS are alike. Wearing a uniform may suppress, but not fully insulate them from corruption, greed, power-play et al, vices inherent to human race. But besides grit and courage, what sets military personnel apart from the others is the sharp ability to self-destruct and to invent self-defeatist masterstrokes as far as welfare, manpower and personnel policies are concerned.
Whichever side one may be, what the Army Chief's age row has brought fore is that there is a belief doing the rounds, factual or fictional, that meticulous, surgically incisive processes are constantly at play where careers of those who may pose a future threat are played with crudely and ruthlessly and all this happens behind closed doors under a cloak of secrecy marked 'national security', which is not actually in consonance with the age of transparency we live in. The lucky few in key appointments have their way and others can only pull their hair in despair. The number of cases pending before Benches of the Armed Forces Tribunal and other Courts, and the kind of strictures passed on such matters bear testimony to the chaos at work. It is yet another matter that even in well-rounded verdicts, the system, out of egotism, tries its best to wear out its own personnel by litigating till the highest court.
Arbitrary attitude and policies
While military officers are quick to point fingers at the bureaucrat, it is their own arbitrary and parochial attitude and policies, without any basic understanding or training for administration, that are to be blamed. In the bargain, the military becomes the military's own greatest enemy.
The examples are many. Recently the Supreme Court reportedly reprimanded the Army for creating artificial hurdles for its own officers when an appeal was filed against a lady officer of the Judge Advocate General's Department whose case had been allowed by the AFT granting her promotions and permanent commission. Till date, the Army, based on an internal artificial interpretation by the Military Secretary's Branch, is promoting Short Service Officers commissioned prior to 2006 as Captains in nine years of service while those commissioned after 2006 are being promoted to the same rank in two years. The impediment was not created by with the Ministry of Defence, but by the Army. When the Military's medical establishment was directed by Courts to grant medical facilities to its elderly retired Emergency Commissioned Officers based on an already existing Government Order, the Army itself was quick to challenge it before the Supreme Court. Imagine, the Army approaching the Supreme Court with a prayer that the same Army may be directed to withdraw medical facilities from its own officers, some of them in their 80s.
When the Navy and Air Force vouched for implementation of the Non-Functional Upgradation for the defence services, as already applicable to civil services, which guarantees the pay of a Lieutenant General in a time-bound manner to superseded officers, the Army was the first to oppose putting across the banal argument that if implemented there would be 'no charm for higher ranks'. When all Doctors of the Central Government were granted a 'Dynamic Assured Progression Scheme', the Army itself tooth and nail opposed its implementation for its own doctors on the pretext that doctors would then start getting higher salaries than other officers.
 Faulty interpretation of rules
While the civilian establishment is constantly blamed for degradation of status of military officers, the Army, in the Military Engineering Services (MES) itself places senior promotee military officers of the rank of Major and lady officers of similar rank as Assistant Garrison Engineers, an appointment tenable by Subedar-equivalent civilian officers, while directly commissioned officers of the rank of Major with much lesser length of service are posted on higher appointments such as Garrison Engineers, all again based on an artificial, faulty and forced interpretation of existing rules.
  Recently, based on a decision taken by the Prime Minister, young army officers, both Permanent and Short Service Commissioned, up to 35 years of age with 5 years of service and in fit medical category, were sought for lateral induction into the Indian Police Service through a statutory gazette notification. But rather than moving with the times, the Army Headquarters, based on an outdated policy promulgated in 1987, issued a circular pointing out that only those Permanent Commissioned Officers would be permitted to apply for the IPS who had only two years of service left (that is, who were 50 years old), or who were in low medical category, or who had completed 18 years of service but had not passed their promotion exams. Needless to say, it's a no-brainer that all such categories 'allowed' by the Army HQ were actually ineligible to be inducted into the IPS as per the notification.
Whenever there is a welfare oriented proposal or proactive personnel policy under consideration of the Government which elements in the bureaucracy would not like to see implemented, they simply throw it in the court of the defence services for a consultative process for they know that first the Army, Navy and the Air Force would start struggling between themselves, and then the fight would shift inter-se between the fighting Arms, then it would be fighting arms versus support arms and finally arms versus services. The end product would be zilch resulting in sniggers from the ringside.
Shedding obstructive approach
So where does the fault lie? Is it because of the stiff competition and ACR oriented 'smile up - kick down' culture or is it because of plain lack of understanding of finer aspects of personnel management and lack of administrative acumen or downright foolhardiness? The answer is hard to find. It seems that in a nation with the psyche of public servants deriving power by imposing obstacles, red-tape and impediments in the ordinary life of a common citizen, officers holding key appointments in the military feel powerless when they compare themselves with their civilian counterparts. Hence the only way to feel powerful is by posing hindrances in areas of policy where the pen can be used as an authoritative instrument of damage, and that damage unfortunately is restricted to within the uniformed services. As a sequel, creation of restrictive clauses and provisos becomes a tool of ego empowerment through which the policy writer feels potent. Liberal construal is abandoned for sadism and a sub-culture emerges where cribbing is rampant and peer happiness is not tolerated.
The Army has to wake up and smell the coffee. The obstructive, inward-looking conservative approach has to go, times are such. Camaraderie has been the hallmark of defence services but the same is not just meant for the battle field but for normal day to day life too which actually and practically affects personnel and their families. A recent positive example would be the strong efforts of the Army's Personnel Services Directorate in reducing litigation and convincing the Defence Ministry to withdraw appeals filed against its disabled soldiers bringing succour and kudos to the organisation. The positivity must spread and must spread fast to other spheres, otherwise the self-inflicted injury to the heretofore seemingly strong foundation would make the organisation a laughing stock leading to a spectacular derailment of the only institution every Indian has been unconditionally proud of.
Bare facts
Supreme Court recently rapped the Army for creating artificial hurdles for its own officers in a case related to the promotion and grant of permanent commission to a woman officer.
The Navy and the Air Force vouched for non-functional upgradation,as applicable to civil services, that would grant pay of Lt Gen to superseded officers, but the Army opposed it.
When all central government doctors were granted Dynamic Assured Progression Scheme, Army opposed it for its own officers.
In MES, the Army places Majors and Lt Cols in appointments tenable by Subedar-equivalent civilian MES cadre.
On the PM’s directives, military officers below 35 years were sought for lateral induction into the IPS, but the Army, citing an outdated circular of 1987, put a spanner in the works.

The writer practises in the Punjab and Haryana High Court
Army shoots itself in the foot

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Tatkal website can't keep up with demand, admit officials

, by indianmilitaryveterans

NEW DELHI: Try booking a tatkal train ticket online at 8am when booking counters and the web portal open simultaneously, and you will invariably find the website hanging frequently. Do not expect the situation to improve dramatically as IRCTC, the agency that runs the site, has plainly said it cannot meet the surging demand.
A GM-level IRCTC official said there were simply too many users, especially ahead of festivals and summer vacations.
"We have seen a peak of 13,000 hits per minute during the first 10-15 minutes from 8am. Our capacity is 1,500-2,000 successful transactions a minute. There isn't much we can do at the moment to meet the shortfall," the official said.
"We have ensured our system is as tout-free as possible. For faster usage, we have installed iridium servers, increased bandwidth and worked on ways to increase server capacity. But the demand keeps on rising," said an official. He added that CRIS, the company that set up the website, had been told about the problems.

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Manmohan Singh wants to "restart growth story"

, by indianmilitaryveterans

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) talks to reporters during a news conference in Yangon May 29, 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/Files
By Matthias Williams
NEW DELHI | Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:15am IST
(Reuters) - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh summoned officials on Wednesday to formulate an economic revival plan in part addressing problems in tax policy and said he also wanted to revive the "animal spirit" of Indian economic growth.
Seeking to overcome pessimism about Asia's third-largest economy, Singh, in remarks released by his office, stressed that improving investor sentiment was a top priority.
A slowdown in the insurance industry must also be addressed and, in a rallying call to assembled officials, he called on them to "revive the animal spirit in the country's economy".
Singh takes the helm of the finance ministry at a time when economic growth has dipped to its slowest pace in nine years, the rupee has hit all-time lows against the dollar, the government is grappling with bloated fiscal and current account deficits and inflation remains stubbornly high.
"I'm glad he's talking about specifics rather than broad-brush issues," said Abheek Barua, chief economist at HDFC Bank in New Delhi. "It's a move forward from what was happening earlier."
Despite being hailed as the architect of landmark economic reforms in 1991, Singh struggled to put his stamp on the economy after becoming prime minister in 2004.
Business leaders and economists have harshly criticised his government's management of the economy, accusing it of complacency in the face of the economic slowdown.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee stepped down on Tuesday to run for president, allowing Singh to step in.
"The growth rate has taken a dip; the industrial performance is not satisfactory; things are not rosy on the investment front; inflation continues to be a problem," he told officials at the meeting in his office.
"On the external front, I am concerned about the way the exchange rate is going. Investor sentiment is down and capital flows are drying up."
RESTART THE GROWTH STORY
Investors have been pushing the Indian government to cut its fuel subsidy bill and implement a shelved reform to open up its $450 billion retail sector to foreign supermarkets. Singh discussed both issues with the officials but no decisions were taken, a source who attended the meeting said.
"We need to work to get the economy going again and restart the India growth story," Singh told the officials, according to his office.
"There are problems on the tax front which need to be addressed," he added.
"The insurance sector has seen a slowing down which is not normal in a country with large unmet insurance needs. This needs to be looked into." he said, without going into specifics.
Earlier this year India put on hold a controversial plan that would retroactively tax some transactions. Meanwhile, implementation of a plan to streamline taxes through a national Goods and Services Tax has been stalled.
In the crowded insurance industry, a long-pending increase in foreign investor holdings is on hold and many joint ventures with foreign partners are losing money.
Singh called for a resolution of problems in the mutual fund sector, where a regulatory change banning distribution fees has squeezed profits.
"I'm glad he actually referred to a couple of sectors which certainly have problems that need to be addressed urgently," HDFC's Barua said.
India's economic growth slipped to 5.3 percent in the first three months of this year compared to 9.2 percent in the same quarter of 2011.
The government's immediate emphasis is to manage its balance of payments, said Singh, who is expected to handle the finance portfolio until September
"In the short run we need to revive investor sentiment, both domestic and international," he added. "Millions of our countrymen look up to the government to throw open channels for their progress, prosperity and welfare."
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Govt likely to seek report on NDA job scam

, by indianmilitaryveterans

Govt likely to seek report on NDA job scam
New Delhi, June 27
Unhappy over alleged involvement of a Colonel in a recruitment scam at the National Defence Academy (NDA), the Defence Ministry has taken cognisance of the issue and is likely to seek a detailed report from the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS).
On Saturday, the CBI had arrested Col Kulbir Singh along with five others for allegedly receiving bribe from candidates during recruitment drive at the National Defence Academy.
The Pune-based training institution in under the purview of the tri-services IDS manned by officers from the Army, Navy and the Air force.
The Defence Ministry is unhappy over the fact that Staff Officer of the Commandant of the prestigious National Defence Academy was allegedly involved in the recruitment scam and may seek a detailed report from the IDS in this regard, sources said here. The Colonel is posted as staff officer to commandant of National Defence Academy, Lt Gen Jatinder Singh.
They said IDS Chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha had also met Defence Minister AK Antony in his office today. Another key officer of the National Defence Academy, Suhas Shankar Waghmare, was arrested by CBI on Monday night over allegations that he had taken money from over 15 candidates in the alleged recruitment scam.
The CBI has alleged that Col Singh in conspiracy with the other accused had obtained illegal gratification of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh from each candidate to give them appointment for subordinate staff like cooks, gardeners, lab attendants, library attendants and cadet orderly. The accused persons had allegedly taken signatures of those candidates, who had agreed to pay the bribe, on blank sheets and later filled them with correct answers, it said. — PTI
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Govt-IIT standoff ends; new entrance format from 2013

, by indianmilitaryveterans

Govt-IIT standoff ends; new entrance format from 2013
Only top 20% Class XII students of each board to be eligible for IIT
Aditi Tandon/TNS
New Delhi, June 27
Students aspiring to enter the IITs can no longer afford to ignore their school performance. Ending months of controversy with the Government over the proposed structure of the common engineering entrance test (CET), the IITs today finally agreed to join the one-nation, one-test system from 2013 for admission to undergraduate courses.
Their support, however, came subject to recommendations on how the new exam would look and how a candidate’s eligibility for entering IITs would be determined.
The hallmark of the new compromise formula with the Human Resource Development Ministry, which the IIT Council adopted unanimously today and IIT Senates also seemed to agree to, is increased importance to school-leaving exam marks in admission to IIT. At present, a student who cracks the JEE (IIT admission test) gets admission to IITs subject to 60% in Class XII.
But from 2013, 60% marks won’t do. Only those candidates would be eligible for final admissions to IITs who fall in “the top 20 percentile of the successful candidates in the respective board results that year”. Simply out, it means, all top 20% performers in Class XII in each board would become eligible.
In CBSE, on an average, the percentage of marks scored by the last student in the top 20 percentile in Class XII is around 78%. “Our analysis shows that the last student in this bracket in the Uttar Pradesh Board scored 65% in Class XII and in Tamil Nadu Board he scored 78%. We will soon do a data analysis of Class XII results of all 42 state boards in the country and put them on the CBSE website so students have an idea what percentage they must target to enter IITs,” CBSE chief Vineet Joshi said.
Importantly, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal skipped the IIT Council meeting today to allow institutes to take an independent view on the entrance test. He, however, sent a written message to the Council saying coaching institutes had replaced India’s secondary schools and were creating an army of students who can crack entrance tests but not think critically.
Sibal requested the Council to consider the importance of school marks in admissions and end the multiplicity of exams. Currently, India has 100 engineering entrance tests. But now, as the IITs Council agreed today, there will be only two for entry to all centrally-funded technical institutes. The NITs will meet on July 4 to decide how they would select students.
The new formulation (different from the May 28 Council proposal), which even the All India IIIT Faculty Federation Secretary AK Mittal today endorsed, consists of three parts.
First, the Joint Entrance Examination-Main (JEE-Main) will be held around April 2013. Any student can take this MCQ-type test that the CBSE will conduct. It will look like the current AIEEE.
Second, the top 1.5 lakh scorers of JEE Main will for JEE Advanced that IITs will exclusively design and conduct at a gap of about six weeks from JEE Main. Based on JEE Advanced (whose structure IITs will decide) results, All India Ranks for all 1.5 lakh candidates will be prepared. Any institute (NITs/IIITs) can use these scores for induction.
Third, securing All India Rank in JEE Advanced won’t guarantee entry to IITs. Rank holders must also be among the top 20% performers of their respective school board in Class XII for final admission to IIT.
“Candidates in the top 20 percentile of their respective board results of Class XII alone will be eligible to enter IITs. A rank holder must, therefore, do well at school as well. If he falls below the critical mark but figures in the All India Rank, he does not enter the IIT,” explained Prof MM Sharma, chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT Madras, who chaired the Council meet in Sibal’s absence.
After the IIT Council decision today, Sibal said, “We have achieved two major objectives today — recognition that school performance matters in IIT admissions and end of multiplicity in exams.” Sibal said under the new system, students would have to concentrate at school. “That was the objective,” he said.
The new formula
The Joint Entrance Examination-Main (JEE-Main) will be held around April 2013. Any student can take this MCQ-type test that the CBSE will conduct. It will look like the current AIEEE
The top 1.5-lakh scorers of JEE Main will qualify for JEE Advanced that IITs will exclusively design and conduct about six weeks after JEE Main
Based on JEE Advanced results, All India Ranks for all 1.5 lakh candidates will be prepared. Any institute (NITs/IIITs) can use these scores for induction
Securing All India Rank in JEE Advanced won’t guarantee entry to IITs. Rank holders must also be among the top 20% performers of their respective school board for final admission
This formula replaces the proposed format of giving weightage to Class XII board results, which was vehemently opposed by the IITs
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CSD PRICE LIST

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