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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ex-servicemen are agitating to be heard : An Appeal to the Indian Prime Ministert on behalf of the Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Movement.


Dear Veterans

Let us understand this important issue very clearly. OROP is our main demand and is 30yrs old. We have been demanding OROP but our demands fell on deaf ears. Some veterans got together and IESM was born in 2008. IESM changed the tactics and decided to start agitations for getting OROP because in India and Indian politics one cannot achieve anything unless one agitates. In India agitation is not considered bad but this is the only authentic method of conveying your demands. 

I will not be wrong, if I say, that politicians till not long ago, did not even know the meaning of OROP and bureaucrats, who had been in the proximity of politicians, always fed them incorrect picture of OROP. They even scared them that expenditure on OROP will run into thousands of crores and even central Govt employees will start demanding it. 

Let us also not forget that bureaucrats are against granting any concessions to Indian armed forces and will go to any extent to deny it. The famous remark of ex defence secretary is still ringing in my ears "OROP OVER MY DEAD BODY"

Reason for delay in issuance of OROP notification is not that GOI is short of money. Do we need any bigger certificate than Finance Minister who has committed to IESM that funds are no problem for OROP. We still remember the statement of Honorable PM Shri Narendra Modi in Leh and Siachin "OROP is my Government's commitment and sufficient funds have been allotted for it in this financial year”. In the same breadth Mr Arun Jaitley told the IESM delegation that your expectations are very high, so please lower your expectations. IESM delegation out-rightly rejected this preposterous suggestion. Please remember subsequent statements of Mr Arun Jaitley that he is referring the OROP issue to a tribunal. 

Now the question arises what definition of OROP was known and explained to all stalwarts of BJP. I was personally present in a meeting with Shri Rajnath Singh, who after listening about OROP said that this is the most reasonable demand of ESM and if NDA Govt is formed at center he would personally ensure that OROP will be given to ESM. Mr Jaitley asked Chairman Gen Satbir Singh to explain the true meaning of OROP. Gen Satbir went to his house and gave him a presentation on OROP just before he left for Amritsar for his elections. To top it all Mr Modi who started his campaign from an ESM rally at Rewari and roared like a lion that had BJP  Govt been in the center OROP would have been reality by now. 

General Body of IESM has discussed all pros and cons of the issue and then decided to start agitation only to remind the GOI of their promises. It is not a do or die agitation. That is the reason why the plan, program and duration of the agitation has been fixed. Agitation will start on 3 Dec (The day war with Pakistan started and all ESM had participated in the war) and will finish on 16 Dec (Victory diwas the proudest day for any army when 90000 soldiers of enemy were taken as POW). I will briefly pen down the reasons for starting and ending the agitation. 

1.    This is a myth that GOI does not have funds. Funds have never been a shortage for GOI. Your PM and FM have committed this. 

2.  The truth is that CGDA and MOD are proposing a different definition of OROP which is contrary to the definition approved by both Govt (UPA and NDA). The reason for creating this confusion at this stage is very clear and leaves no doubt about the delay in issuing notification. Please remember the famous qoute of ex defence secretary "OROP OVER MY DEAD BODY".

3.   Ex RM has decided to refer it to a tribunal to clear his mind. Now the moot question is if the tribunal, which will be manned by bureaucrats, gives a decision that OROP is not possible in this definition then who in this country will over-rule that recommendation. That will be end of OROP and our struggle of 30 years. We can keep shouting at the top of our voices. Even hunger strike till death will not deter these insensitive politicians and bureaucrats. 

4.   OROP is commitment of PM, approved by two parliaments, has approval of all parties including two big parties but it is still a mirage for us. Who can tell IESM, what is holding the release of notification? Why is Govt having cold feet at this stage? IESM has analysed this in detail and come to a conclusion that this inordinate delay is because this decision was taken to get votes of ESM and now that the political parties have got the votes they are under the pressure of bureaucracy not to release the notification.

5.   Having approved OROP in principle why has there been no positive statement from any responsible Politicians giving us the reason for the delay? Why there has been a stunned silence by the Govt?

6.   If the Govt was short of funds they could have issued DGL prepared by the Armed Forces Headquarters and announced deferred payment. How could IESM/ESM ever refuse this plan?

7.   This agitation is to remind the Govt that ESM are vigilant and will not tolerate any dilution and deviation from the set definition of OROP. This will also indicate to Govt that it is fine you conned us and have taken our vote but ESM are vigilant and do not approve of this back-stabbing. 

8.   This agitation is not planned to issue threat to Govt but to register our protest that ESM are unhappy with the Govt. Agitation is the most appropriate form of registering protest and demands. 

9.   IESM has written many letters to all functionaries of BJP to grant IESM delegation a meeting to clear our doubts but there has been no response from any one of them. What could be the reason for this stunned silence from the Govt/Party?

        10.     This issue has been discussed in details in the AGM of IESM held on         16 Nov 14. Agitation mode has been approved unanimously by the                 AGM.

IESM has been very careful to select the aims and plans of agitation. ESMs want this Govt to do good work and will support it in all its endeavours. IESM/ESM are well within their rights to question Govt for the delay in issuance of promised notification. 

IESM INVITES ALL ESM TO JOIN HANDS IN THEIR FIGHT FOR OROP. IESM ALSO REQUESTS ALL ESMs, PLEASE DO NOT CREATE ANY DOUBTS IN THE MIND OF ESM BY ISSUING STATEMENTS AND MAILS WHICH CAN CONFUSE THE EX-SERVICEMEN ABOUT PLANS OF AGITATION.  

PLEASE PLAN AND COME IN LARGE NUMBERS TO CONVEY YOUR DEMANDS AND TO TELL GOI THAT ALL ESMs AND ESM ORGANISATIONS ARE UNITED FOR OROP AND WELFARE OF VETERANS. 

IESM WISHES TO SEE YOU ALL EX-SERVICEMEN IN LARGE NUMBERS ON 3 DEC ON START OF RELAY HUNGER STRIKE AND THEN ON 7 DEC FOR A MAMMOTH RALLY AT JANTAR MANTAR.

Regards

Gp Capt VK Gandhi VSM


Gen Sec IESM

A letter to Indian Defence Minister from An Indian Army Veteran residing in America.

This communication is worth a read for one and all and for opening the eyes of our Politicians and bureaucracy. However, I have observed many a times that numerous such appeals by the aggrieved, have failed to move the souls of these hard shelled authorities, who think only about themselves, but never about those brave hearts who are ever ready to sacrifice their everything for this Nation of ungrateful authorities who matter.

Will the heart of our New Defence Minister move in any way by this meaningful communication.

Dear Shri Manohar Parrikar,

I write to you today after attending Veterans Day celebrations in Washington DC on November 11, 2014, as a former Indian Army Veteran. I would rather prefer calling ex-servicemen as ‘Veterans’ without giving them a feeling of gender bias or being left out as the term ‘ex’ conveys.

Having served the Indian Army, given my youth to the nation and being a third-generation Army officer I am proud to say that the qualities of ‘guts and glory’ run in my blood.

With this open letter, I intend highlighting the fact as to how Veterans are respected and revered in the United States of America, which I never witnessed back home in my own country. This, I say with conviction after having a first-hand experience at various events, which reflect the honor meted out to the Veterans of the Armed Forces. The country and its citizens do not give any differential treatment to non-US Veterans like me. Rather the kind of attention and respect I have received here as a Veteran is applaudable.

The Veterans Day Celebrations made me feel how American citizens (including civilians) were proud of their soldiers who defend their borders. Each person who knew that I had served my nation came to appreciate my role and hugged me. I wonder why our Indian civilian population would not pay attention to the soldiers who have sacrificed their youth for India. The root cause for all this is that we do not glorify the important role of our Armed Forces in the World Wars and respective wars in the annals of history in the curriculum taught at school level.

Are our men and women in uniform only to be remembered for a short attention span? They are called only on occasions such as Republic Day and when in dire straits especially during natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquake for relief work. Not to mention the ‘aid to civil authority’ in times of domestic turmoil just because the local police and administrative authorities (the so called babus) could not handle the situation.

I would like to emphasize that USA has special programs and scholarships (yellow ribbon program) to encourage veterans to continue their higher studies. Please note that this scheme is alike for officers and troops. One such example is yours truly.

I am presently pursuing my Masters of Laws in a top ranking US Law School and the University has awarded me at par scholarship as a foreign veteran. There are various networking events and recruiting workshops that are conducted only for the veterans.

The US Veterans face the same myths of ‘irrelevant experience’ and ‘rigidity in thought and action’ while moving to the civilian world however the US government and its policies make the transition simpler. The US Department of Veterans Affairs and other authorities as well as universities make the Veterans’ ride smooth to move from the battlefield to the boardroom. US Companies receive tax benefits on hiring Veterans. It is pertinent to mention that US troops (not just officers) have been making a mark in the corporate arena by displaying their leadership qualities.

My concern at this point in time is that why our Armed Forces personnel are not glorified for their heroic acts. Our soldiers have been fighting in the toughest terrains possible in this world.

Why are the Veterans treated like a ‘burden’ by the serving officers and the Ministry of Defense? Why does a Veteran have to struggle to get his paltry sum of disability pension by resorting to long drawn and expensive litigation doing rounds of Armed Forces Tribunal and higher Courts? Why are the majority of appeals filed by the Ministry of Defense in the Supreme Court against their own disabled soldiers and old pensioners? Why are you- the decision makers, shielded and insulated from the real problems suffered by the veteran stakeholders and made to sign on the dotted line wherever the military or civilian bureaucracy wants resulting in unilateral decisions which are forcibly imposed?

Why do you not directly get to hear the authentic voice of the Veterans and the problems that they are facing? Why is the status of military personnel on a constant decline in the official pecking order? Why are there not enough continuing legal programs for our soldiers except the antiquated vocational courses of Director General of Resettlement? Why is the Kendriya Sainik Board not being pro-active on policies on Veterans? Is showing an agenda on paper enough?

I say this not as a disgruntled Veteran but as a responsible former officer of Judge Advocate General’s Department who has served in the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defense and worked with these institutions closely.

May I also remind you that your party in its manifesto had promised minimizing appeals against soldiers with respect to the rulings rendered in their favor by judicial bodies, an issue which was also strongly raised by Ms Smriti Irani when she was in opposition, however sadly nothing seems to have moved in that direction, there being not even an iota of change in the attitude of the Ministry in the said regard.

I request you, as the new Defense Minister, to implement progressive policies for all Armed Forces personnel (not just officers but also the troops) and Veterans of the three Forces.

As for the Indian citizens to look up in awe towards the Indian soldier and appreciate the role of Armed Forces at all times, this change in attitude and thought has to be instilled in the minds of the younger generation by highlighting the glory of the Forces. This is also the reason for the low rate of selections in the Armed Forces in the past few years at the Commissioned Officer level.

My country has the third largest Army and an equally capable Air Force and Navy, that craves for attention and respect for the valor it has shown over the ages.

It is for you to take a call on this, Raksha Mantri Ji, it is for you to ensure that Indian Military Veterans like me command respect and dignity in my own country too, just as we do, ironically, in other democracies.

Sincerely,
Loveleen Kaur Mann
Former Captain,
Judge Advocate General’s Department
Indian Army

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

One rank, one pension scheme pushes up defence pension bill

Puja Mehra

40 per cent hike poses fresh challenge for Jaitley

The implementation of one rank, one pension has pushed up the Centre’s defence pension payments by a record 40 per cent, posing fresh challenges to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s resolve to keep the Centre’s fiscal deficit within the budgetary target of 4.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
The armed forces pensions bill for the first six months of the current fiscal, from April to September, has turned out to be about Rs. 8,000 crore higher than for the corresponding period last year. Mr. Jaitley had provided only Rs. 1,000 crore for the whole year towards the scheme in the Budget he presented on July 10. The Finance Ministry is revising upwards its Budget estimate for the outgo on account of the scheme that benefits nearly 24 lakh pensioners of the armed forces.
The defence pensions bill for 2014-15 can be roughly expected to go up by about Rs. 6,000 crore over last year’s, the source said. The Budget estimated defence pensions during 2014-15 to be Rs. 50,966.95 crore as against Rs. 44,475.95 crore the previous year.
The austerity measures do not cover pensions and the challenge for Mr. Jaitley will be to find fresh resources for the rapidly rising bill.
“Defence pensions payments normally do not go up so drastically. Though some increase was expected on account of the new scheme, the rise is turning out to be manifold,” the source said.
One rank, one pension means soldiers of the same rank and the same length of service get the same pension, irrespective of their retirement date.
The decision to implement the scheme was first announced by former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the UPA government’s interim Budget he had presented in February this year. Mr. Chidambaram had allocated Rs. 500 crore for it. “This decision will be implemented prospectively from the financial year 2014-15,” he had said while presenting the vote on account ahead of the elections.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/one-rank-one-pension-scheme-pushes-up-defence-pension-bill/article6553249.ece

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Different retirement ages for Time Scale and Selection Grade Ranks in the Air Force are discriminatory: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in a landmark decision today has upheld the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal wherein the discriminatory policy of different retirement ages for the ranks of Group Captain (Time Scale) vis-a-vis Group Captain (Selection Grade) was held illegal and struck down.

The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal filed by the Ministry of Defence and the Air Force against similarly placed officers led by Gp Capt Atul Shukla, and has concluded the following in strong words:

Suffice it to say that the basis for classification in question for purposes of age of superannuation which the appellant has projected is much too tenuous to be accepted as a valid basis for giving to the Time Scale Officers a treatment different from the one given to the Select Officers.

We are also of the view that concerns arising from a parity in the retirement age of Time Scale and Select Officers too are more perceptional than real. At any rate, such concerns remain to be substantiated on the basis of any empirical data. The upshot of the above discussion is that the classification made by the Government of India for purposes of different retirement age for Time Scale Officers and Select Officers does not stand scrutiny on the touchstone of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution as rightly held by the Tribunal.

The above closes another yet long tumultuous journey of affected officers. In fact, once the decision was rendered by the AFT, the Air HQ should have taken up a case with the Govt for rationalizing the policy rather than unnecessarily challenging it before the Apex Court.
  
It is high time that litigation against own employees is considered on the touchstone of logic and equity rather than indulging in ego-fuelled appeals. It is time for the political executive to take a call on this and trample on the vicious cycle of luxurious litigation without accountability

How unfortunate that even with the para in RED at the end of the judgement, the MOD has found a dubious way of continuing litigation.

From Maj Navdeep Singh Blog

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Soldiers of misfortune


Will the new regime come to Indian Armed forces rescue?

Text by Sandeep Unnithan. Graphic by Saurabh Singh

At a national security meeting in Delhi on April 16, 2010, then-defence minister A.K. Antony assured top military commanders that budget constraints were a thing of the past. "There will never be a paucity of funds," the minister said confidently, "as far as it concerns the modernisation of the armed forces." It was music to the ears of the officers.
 Click to enlarge
The economy was on an upswing and military purchases were on track. Barely a month before the meeting, India had signed a $760 million deal for 12 VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Other big-ticket acquisitions were being processed. Among them was a $4.1 billion contract for 10 strategic lift aircraft from the US-unheard of for the IAF, which had till then bought entire fleets of Russian fighter aircraft for lower. Military planners of all three services in the room, therefore, had no reason to disbelieve their minister. A few days later, a serving armed forces chief would remark that money was no longer a concern: "It's a blank cheque. Funds are not an issue any longer, what matters is what we need and when we need it." But the heady days the four-star officer was looking forward to-the creation of a modern force with enough firepower to blunt any conventional misadventure in the region-would never come.

Defence scandals surfaced in the following months, starting with the Sukna land case, and combined with a sliding economy, paralysed policy and decision-making. With Antony willing to err on the side of caution and stall rather than risk a scandal, his ministry all but shut down for business. The result: India's defence modernisation plans have crumbled into a mess.

The lost years

The policy paralysis has hit the armed forces the hardest, with little progress made in most of their ambitious projects and plans to modernise. The irony is that the Indian military is the only one of its kind that is swimming against the global trend of being "lean and mean" by raising the number of troops. Key suppliers such as Rheinmetall, Rolls-Royce and Finmeccanica were blocked from dealing with India under the 'put on hold' principle for firms suspected of corruption. The only major defence deals sealed by the UPA government in its last years in power was a contract to equip the IAF with basic trainers and another to upgrade the Mirage 2000 fighter fleet.

As decision-making came to a standstill, thorny issues were kept pending for months before being quietly taken off the agenda, say members of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex body of the ministry on purchases. Though in some cases, the laborious process of floating tenders, and evaluating and shortlisting suppliers is on, the process seems tailored to delay or stall final agreements. The lack of drive in the defence ministry has led international companies to scale down operations in India. Major firms such as BAE Systems are cautious about expanding in India while the likes of Textron (Bell) and Sikorsky have shifted focus to the civilian market. Even European giant EADS, now being renamed Airbus, has downsized. Rheinmetall has shut shop. Months after the new Government came to power, many modernisation plans remain in disarray and funds for emergency purchases are hard to find.

The chronic 'Antony delay' in decision-making, as some in the forces call it, together with a falling rupee and rising inflation has meant that India's pending military modernisation projects are today worth more than $35 billion. Many of these projects are stuck in their final stages, and several are not expected to make it due to the severe funds crunch the NDA Government cannot overcome in a hurry. These range from critical artillery for the mountain strike corps coming up on the China border to aerial equipment crucial to maintain a conventional edge and undersea capabilities. At the heart of the problem, officers and analysts say, has been the UPA government's tendency to not only stall modernisation attempts but also shrink the slice of national resources allotted to the forces.

Indian defence spending has come down to an all-time low over the past four years. In terms of the most acknowledged global measure of spending, the amount of money India allots to defence as a percentage of GDP is at its lowest in more than four decades at 1.74 per cent. This has steadily declined from an average 3 per cent in the 1980s. The global average is 2.5 per cent even though there are wide variations. NATO guidelines for its members stipulate 2 per cent of GDP for defence while China has never spent below 2 per cent of its vastly higher GDP on security. "It is clear that current allocation is insufficient to undertake military modernisation which is necessary to meet emerging threats and challenges. Defence spending has been stagnating over the years," says defence analyst Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd).

Arming without aiming

Not only has India's defence spending fallen but another unhealthy trend that is crippling modernisation of the forces has emerged-the steady jump in revenue expenses such as paying salaries, maintaining infrastructure and filling of diesel tanks. This head will account for more than 60 per cent of the defence budget for 2014-15. Although the defence budget has grown by an average 12 per cent annually in the last few years, much of the increase has been gobbled by the increasing salary bill, rising fuel costs and exchange rate spikes. Last year, the government had to transferRs.7,800 crore earmarked for modernisation to meet rising fuel costs. "There is a crunch that no one can deny," laments a three-star IAF officer.

Click to enlarge
"The money we have this year for new contracts is just around Rs.2,500 crore. The rest of the capital budget is committed to tranches of payments for previous long-term acquisitions." Those past deals include the Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters, Boeing C-17 planes and C-130 transporters. A brigadier told INDIA TODAY that the Army's budget for signing new deals is limited to just around Rs.500 crore this year, a pittance for the million-plus force.

In February this year, at a gathering of the world's top defence suppliers who had come to Delhi to showcase their products at the Defence Expo, Antony dropped a bombshell many expected. Commenting on what has been called the biggest ever global tender- the acquisition of 126 fighter aircraft for the air force-Antony said "there is no money left for this now". By confessing that "almost all money has been spent", he dealt a mortal blow to the Defence Expo on its first day, leaving top global defence executives wondering about the point of participating in the event.

How did India, in a short span of four years, slip from "no paucity of funds" to "all the money has been spent" without giving an exponential edge to the combat abilities of its armed forces? Some part of the answer lies in the argument central to the book, Arming Without Aiming: India's Military Modernisation, by defence experts of the Brookings Institution, Stephen P. Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta. The book argues that India lacks a security strategy and hence also a rudder for military modernisation. But beyond that simple formulation, defence modernisation programmes ended up getting muddled under the UPA even when there were clear, present and immediate needs. Indecision within the ministry, open squabbling with the finance ministry and political considerations have resulted in a 'procurement of convenience' where projects deemed to be easy to process have gone through while other, more critical requirements have been ignored. For instance, IAF's $4.1 billion deal to buy 10 transport aircraft from the US was an easy-to-process government-togovernment deal. The US pushed it strongly and India was willing as it was seen as uncontroversial and clean. The only problem was that the IAF's hard-bargained funds were spent on a logistic capability instead of on acquiring firepower and bolstering the fighter squadron strength.

"Airpower is inherently an offensive force. We need to invest in firepower delivery to take the war to the enemy instead of focusing largely on what are logistic elements. The problem is that each of the three forces are deciding acquisitions on their own. There is no national defence policy and hence no coherence as to what is our intent when arming the military," says Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia (retd), former chief of the Western Air Command. "Also, 80,000 new troops on the China border is strange. The revenue budget will hit the ceiling. Do the Chinese intend to capture territory here? I don't think so," Ahluwalia says, referring to the proposed mountain strike corps.

No quick fix

In one of his few media interactions after taking charge as finance and defence minister in May, a visibly exasperated Arun Jaitley remarked that it remained to be seen "how many bills are pending and how much we can do" before any action could be taken. He, however, ruled out a quick-fix solution in the form of a jump in budgetary support. "As the base of the economy expands, even a lesser percentage (of GDP) may increase the amount. Whatever amounts are necessary, our endeavour in due course is to make them available," Jaitley said.

The new Government is obviously being cautious as it tries to figure out the mess and move forward. Over the last three months, new policy decisions on manufacturing, export and procurement have been notified with a view to give some direction to defence modernisation. The central theme, officials say, is to encourage private sector participation in defence production, promote joint ventures in India with foreign collaboration, give incentives to Indian firms to lead all major procurements and reduce foreign exchange outflow. And this is already beginning to translate into action on the ground.

At a meeting in late August, a threestar air force officer met senior representatives of four top Indian defence manufacturers in his office in Vayu Bhawan. The agenda was to push three cutting edge projects the air force has identified for private sector participation- the LCA MK II project to create a new version of the fighter with more thrust; the planned Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project to develop a new indigenous fighter aircraft; and the futuristic unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). The message was clear: identify foreign technology partners, form collaborations and come back with a viable plan and these projects could be yours, ending the tradition of involving PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in every military aviation programme.

The Army is preparing to go the Navy way-fully indigenous manufacturing with foreign assistance if needed-when it comes to purchasing new guns. About 4,000 artillery guns are expected to be bought in the next decade. The plan now is to ensure that all future procurements will be made only from Indian companies, many of whom have acquired technology from across the world by buying out patents and even entire production plants. Besides policy decisions, the new regime is taking tough calls on projects stuck in the pipeline. Last month, it cancelled the deal for 197 light choppers for the Army. The deal was hanging for almost four years as the UPA had put it on hold following allegations of irregularities. The cancellation has delayed the modernisation of the Army Aviation Corps, but some in the army are relieved that a decision has been taken and a new process to buy the choppers can be initiated. The defence ministry has also approved the contract for 15 Chinook heavy lift choppers and the deal for 22 Apache attack helicopters. As part of its focus on promoting modernisation projects that entail production and development in India, the Government has approved procurement of 118 Indian-built Arjun tanks at a cost of Rs.6,700 crore. The Army is also set to get its first artillery systems in three decades with Jaitley clearing a Rs.900 crore project to purchase 40 Arjun 130-mm Catapult systems, mobile artillery that the Army needs badly.

Besides, the ministry has agreed to upgrade and refit six submarines at a cost of nearly Rs.5,000 crore, a move that will partly address concerns over the health of the underwater fleet. Another major decision has been to eliminate HAL from an air force project to replace its Avro transport aircraft fleet. The contract, likely to cost close to Rs.30,000 crore, will be handled by Indian private companies in collaboration with a foreign partner. Although some defence analysts feel the policy of the new Government is driven largely by a consortium of Indian private sector players, the forces won't complain as long as these moves fulfil their demands. The private sector, for one, is excited and this can create thousands of high technology jobs even though the process of shifting manufacturing to India is expected to be slow.

Fixing the Indian defence mess is not expected to be easy and the new Government will be faced with several tough calls in the months and years to come. And until a full-time defence minister is named, the task will sit heavy on the shoulders of Jaitley, who is already burdened with the enormous responsibility of fixing the Indian economy.

Follow the writer on Twitter @manupubby

Thailand Government released new Postage Stamps on Hindu Deities

Government of Thailand released remarkable new edition of stamps depicting the Hindu Deities, which will definitely delight the hearts of Hindus in Asia and other parts of the world. Thailand has a remarkable affinity to the Hindu Religion and Thai People are obviously proud of their Indian (Hindu) connection with the rich and colourful Thai culture and tradition.

The newly published stamps and the first day covers are embossed and printed with four (4) idol images of Hindu gods, namely Lord Ganesha, Lord Brahma, Lord Narayana (Phra Narai) and Lord Shiva (Phra Issuan) has indeed created a wonderful feelings and has brought great honor to the minds of the Hindu fraternity in Thailand and every parts in this globe. The inclusion of Aum sign and the Trimurthi ( Brhama, Vishnu and Mahesh) in the first day cover enhanced the significance of Hindu Dharma into the mind of every Hindu admirers without any doubt.

Hindu Existence Group conveys its warm greetings to the Thai Government and every Thai People for this noble cause.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Say Bye to Petrol & Diesel

Sheikh Zaki Yamani the famous Saudi Arabian oil minister of the 1970s once said that the stone age came to an end not for a lack of stones but because the human race moved on. Similarly the oil industry will come to an end not for a lack of oil but because the human race would have moved on.

About 10 days ago a tectonic movement of sorts hit the world automotive industry. This is a game changer. A paradigm shift and a bold (and very expensive) breakthrough by the Toyota Motor Company of Japan. 

They have introduced a production model car that runs on the hydrogen fuel cell. These cars will not need petrol or diesel anymore.

Before we talk more - just a little bit on the hydrogen fuel cell.

"A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen/air to sustain the chemical reaction; however, fuel cells can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied"
Above : Block diagram of a simple hydrogen fuel cell.

Below : A schematic for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle


The hydrogen fuel cell engine does not use fuel oil at all. It uses hydrogen and oxygen both of which can be extracted from the air or through electrolysis of water (H2O). And here is the most interesting part - the hydrogen fuel cell has zero exhaust gases. The byproduct is water (H2O).

Ok I am keeping this really short. Here is Toyota :


·        reduced cost of fuel cell cars significantly
·        several advances in hydrogen fuel cells make themcheaper
    • company to sell a car in 2015 — years before its competitors.
    • $50,000 and $100,000 - a big improvement over million-dollar vehicles
    • Toyota will display concept car this month at the Tokyo Motor Show.
·        Toyota fuel-cell system smaller and uses less platinum
    • fuel cell produces electricity, fed by a tank of hydrogen, platinum catalyst
·        water vapor comes out
·        hydrogen tank can be refilled like a conventional gas tank
    • General Motors plan fuel-cell vehicles around 2020.                                         
    • The key number is the US$50,000 - US$100,000 price tag. This is the game changer. Prior to this, hydrogen fuel cell prototypes cost anything from US$1.0 million and more. The savings that have been achieved by Toyota now has increased the efficiency by a factor of 10 to 20 times. US$50,000 is a very affordable number cost of making a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car has fallen dramatically.                               
    • vehicle that cost $1 million now made for $50,000 goes on sale in U.S. in 2015.
    • Toyota testing 100 fuel cell vehicles based on Highlander platform
    • next generation will be shaped more like the Prius and will be for actual sale.
Now General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan and a host of other car makers have also announced their own hydrogen fuel cell vehicle programs. This is because if they do not innovate they will die.

Here is some history behind Toyota';s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Four years ago in 2009, Toyota came to a cross roads of sorts after they had spent billions of US Dollars trying to develop the fuel cell vehicle. It has been a long process, hard work, billions of dollars and really capable research and development efforts. By 2009 Toyota had made major breakthroughs and they decided to press on with developing the fuel cell vehicle.

Here are some of Toyota';s major technology breakthroughs :
·       significantly decreased amount of platinum needed in fuel cells
·       comparable to what cars have in catalytic converters
·       reduced platinum by making catalyst more effective
·       developing precise equipment for applying catalyst to ensure none wasted
·       requires fewer fuel cells to be stacked together
·       improving design of fuel cell.
·       engineers modified membrane to allow protons to pass more freely
·       increases amount of power that each fuel cell can generate
So in 2009 Toyota shareholders made a decision to continue spending money to develop the hydrogen fuel cell car. Here is some Toyota news from 2009 :
·           Toyota Still Committed to Producing a Hydrogen Vehicle - 24/06/09
·           At shareholders'; meeting in Japan, executives stated commitment to bringing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to market in the near future. 
·           revised their timeline, pushing production back a year to 2015.
·           awfully soon but maybe Toyota knows something we don';t
So it has taken them many years, perseverance, tons of money, great will power and technical capability to achieve this ground breaking technology. This is now history. Toyota is bringing out their hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in 2014/2015. They are quite on track.

A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will be more fuel efficient than a petrol driven car. A "litre" of hydrogen (or natural gas) should be a lot less cheaper than a litre of petrol. Plus it has 100% non exhaust gases (other than water). Since 40% of the world';s oil consumption goes into transportation (cars, ships, trains, planes) this hydrogen fuel cell technology will have a significant effect on oil consumption and automotive technology.

The stone age is coming to an end again - in the rest of the world.

By the way if hydrogen fuel cells take off (and they will) here is what is going to happen in the Middle East :



 Received above information through kind courtesy of Dewan Satish