19:20 IST, PIB Press Release
The Defence Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee has called upon the Chiefs of Armed Forces to evolve new norms for computer and cyber security so that incidents of leakage of classified information do not take place in future. Observing that there was a gross violation of norms of secrecy and confidentiality in some recent cases, Shri Mukherjee said that instructions regarding permission for commercial employment for retired service personnel should be reviewed. Addressing the Army Commanders’ Conference here today, Shri Mukherjee said that “our endeavour should be to carefully scrutinize the credentials of Ex-servicemen working with foreign and Indian commercial firms and they should be discouraged from attending social functions organized by the Services. The Army Commanders need to sensitize the personnel under their command to plug all possible loopholes in this regard”.
The Defence Minister said that over the years, the Ministry of Defence has been emphasizing on transparency and the need for enhancing probity and integrity in defence acquisition. He said that the Pre-Contract Integrity Pact will be signed in all procurement cases, both capital and revenue where the estimated cost exceeds Rs. 100 crores. He informed that a standard integrity pact has been formulated which will now form a part of the RFP in all such procurement cases.
Shri Mukherjee informed the gathering that the Government has decided to set up an Armed Forces Tribunal for adjudicating disputes and complaints relating to service matters of the members of the three services and appeals arising out of the verdicts of Court Martial. The bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on Defence for examination and he hoped that this Tribunal would be operationalised soon.
The Defence Minister expressed concern at the alarming increase in the number of statutory complaints in the Indian Army and said that the Service Headquarters needs to ascertain the reasons for the sudden spurt in the number of complaints and to suggest remedies for this. He also favoured disposal of non-statutory complaints within stipulated time periods. “The vested power should be exercised diligently and in a just, reasonable and fair manner, so that element of arbitrariness and bias are wholly avoided and it could stand the scrutiny of Government and higher judiciary, if contested”, he said.
The Defence Minister, also expressed his concern at the odd cases of violation of human rights by army personnel that tarnished its image. He urged the army commanders to deliberate on a strategy to ensure that such incidents are prevented and that there is a sense of accountability and responsibility focused at the higher levels to contain such incidents.
Turning to the global security environment, Shri Mukherjee said that the world today is facing a new form of terrorism, one that does not focus on narrow or geographically confined objects. “The phenomenon is dynamic and we have to look at both the short-term and long-term solutions to achieve the desired results. These issues have great impact on security in our region. Against this backdrop we have to deal with myriad of political and economical issues. The security challenges are complex and merit very careful attention”, he said.
Shri Mukherjee said that our relations with Pakistan, through confidence building measures are moving in a positive direction. The two sides have actively coordinated operationalisation of bus links and opening of crossing points on the LoC, a fact well received by people on both sides of the LoC. Despite these developments, infiltration continues unabated though to a lesser degree, as is evident from statistics in this regard, he said.
The Defence Minister said that the situation in Nepal is a matter of great concern. “We are closely monitoring the situation and hope that the on-going agitation would subside with constructive dialogue between the political parties and the King, he said. Turning to Afghanistan, Shri Mukherjee said that the security situation with reference to the Indians working there has deteriorated in the recent past. The issue is being addressed in consultation with the Government of Afghanistan. The government of India will however, continue to fully support reconstruction works, so that Afghanistan re-emerges as a stable country, he said.
Referring to the internal security situation, in the country, Shri Mukherjee said that the responsibility for maintenance of public order and enforcement of law and order is vested with the State Governments under the Constitution. However, it is the constitutional duty of the Union Government to protect each and every state from external aggression and internal disturbance. In this context, he said that Army’s clean surgical operations coupled with involvement of local population through operation Sadbhavna has resulted in an overall improvement of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the situation is conducive to the developmental efforts by the local Government machinery.
Referring to the north-eastern states, Shri Mukherjee said that the security situation there is steadily improving. “We are engaged in a positive and progressive negotiations with a number of groups. It would be our endeavour to encourage other groups as well in order to arrive at a peaceful solution to their demands through a process of dialogue, he said.
Turning to the Naxal violence, he said that the Armed Forces need to render all possible assistance to strengthen the professionalism of the central paramilitary forces through capacity building.
The Defence Minister gave a fulsome praise to the yeomen service provided by the Armed Forces during Tsunami, earthquake in J&K and floods in various parts of the country and said that the Government has been conscious of the requirements of Armed Forces towards adequate budgetary allocations for capital expenditure “ Modernisation of the services, including review of their existing course level is undertaken, keeping in view the threat perceptions, prevailing external security environment, emerging technologies and availability of funds”, he said.
The Defence Minister expressed his happiness at the efficient and smooth implementation of ECHS Scheme across the country. He said that there is a need to consolidate the scheme so that it covers a maximum number of ex-servicemen. Similarly the progress under the married accommodation project which is underway needs to be further accelerated to make up the deficiencies in married accommodation for defence personnel across the country. Shri Mukherjee lauded the achievement of sports persons belonging to the Indian Army, especially at the recently concluded Common Wealth Games at Melbourne. He hoped that the trend will continue as the country prepares itself for the 2006 Doha Asian Games and 2008 Beijing Olympics.