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16th August 2018 The Hindu Editorial Analysis under 10 mins series
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Defence reforms for theatre commands and IAF's concerns, Ban on private sector manufacturing of Oxytocin by the central government

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  1. 16th Aug 2018 THE HINDU Editorial Analysis ha ii


  2. The roadmap to military reform . The initial flavour of the debate in the decades following the Group of Ministers' report, the Kargil Review Committee report, and the Naresh Chandra Committee report focussed on a restructuring of higher defence organisation as the first step This was intended to improve synergy among different tools of statecraft (bureaucracy, military, research and development, intelligence, internal security mechanisms, and more). When very little progress was seen in converting this into structural changes within the Ministry of Defence, the debate shifted to the second tier of reform in the operational realm


  3. When the misunderstandings did not result in the proposed space, cyber and special forces commands that were to complement the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff and the Andaman and Nicobar Command as stepping stones to integration, one more idea was proposed that of standalone integrated theatre commands . Without considering any restructuring of higher defence organisation, creation of Chief of the Defence Staff, or debating whether these theatre commands would be accompanied by a dilution in the operational control of the respective service chiefs, the debate now largely targets the Indian Air Force (IAF) in a subtle manner as being the 'spoiler' in what is otherwise a largely consensual approach to integratiorn e If there is any service that is truly 'joint' in terms of participation in statecraft or military operations in tandem with other tools, particularly as


  4. ....first responders, it is the IAF. There has never been any recorded criticism or shortfalls in the contribution of the IAF reported by the Indian Army or Navy to the political executive at apex forums like the Combined Commanders' Conference .If the flying task of the IAF in terms of its distribution between joint and exclusive tasks is scrutinised, conservative figures would reveal more than 60% as being committed to the former. The IAF is cognisant of its pivotal role in determining the trajectory of any limited high-intensity conflict in any kind of terrain Capturing ground beyond a few kilometres or taking physical control of vast maritime spaces for prolonged durations are no longer sustainable operations of war as they arguably result in avoidable depletion of combat potential. This causes unacceptable reduction in strength in ..


  5. ...limited but high-tempo operations. It is in this context that air power would offer a viable alternative by shaping 'battle spaces' adequately before the other services enter combat The creation of large Naval and Army aviation arms demonstrates the IAF's understanding that there is a need to complement its dwindling resources with air arms that could act as tactical responders at best till the IAF brings its cutting-edge skills into the area to act as a decisive force With such a deep understanding of joint operations, it is impossible to imagine that the reservations expressed by the IAF leadership in supporting the creation of integrated theatre commands in isolation is equivalent to stonewalling . Dissection of the recently conducted exercise, Gaganshakti, would provide


  6. ....a quantitative analysis of this assertion. The main apprehensions of the IAF leadership not only revolve around how best to exploit its dwindling offensive resources if they are hived off to multiple theatre commands, but also how the limited availability of enabling equipment and platforms (AWACS, refuelers, electronic warfare platforms and more) could seriously jeopardise operations even in a single-adversary limited conflict To explain the resource crunch, the U.S.s Pacific Command (PACOM) and Central Command (CENTCOM) have their own air assets that are first supplemented by reserve units from the U.S. in emergency situations; they are not pooled in from other theatre commands Therefore it is important to listen to the operational argument offered by the IAF and carry out an independent analysis of how India's combat capability will be distributed if a theatre concept is to be viable


  7. India's armed forces have little experience in training, staffing and exercising Joint Task Forces based on at least a division-sized land component. Creation of three division-sized task forces for operations in varied terrain, including out-of-area contingency operations, could be reconsidered in depth These would be commanded by an Army, Navy and Air Force three-star officer, respectively, reporting to the Chairman of the Chief of Staffs Committee. This could offer real lessons in integration . There has also been an out-of-the-box proposition that a bottom-up approach may be the answer to India's quest for integration. Historical evidence of military reform (in Prussia, the U.S., the U.K., France and now China) shows that successful reform has always been driven by either a multipronged and simultaneous approach at all levels, or a sequential one


  8. ....beginning at the top. Any other approach that leaves the bottom and the top unattended is fraught with risk


  9. Questioning a crackdown The decision of the Ministry of Health to restrict, from September 1, the manufacture of oxytocin only to the public sector unit, Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (KAPL), has sparked fears of shortages and a disruption of supplies of this drug Oxytocin-which is considered to be a critical drug in maternal health care - is made primarily by the private sector. The restriction is because of alleged misuse of the drug by dairy farmers on milch cattle to stimulate milk production. The Ministry now hopes to control distribution channels and prevent misuse The allegations regarding misuse have been made by the Union


  10. ...Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, for over a decade. Minutes of the meetings of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) and the Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC)- (statutory bodies under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940- record several representations by Ms. Gandhi to the government to do something about the misuse The minutes also cite experts from the medical and veterinary sciences who advised the DTAB that oxytocin is required in the treatment of both humans and animals. Further, two studies by the Central government, by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Dairy Research Institute, conclude that the use of oxytocin does not have an adverse effect on either people or animals With cattle, the danger of misuse is that it may cause addiction, in which case cattle do not react to normal milk ejection stimuli


  11. .. feasibility of restricting manufacture to the public sector While the State government appears to have ignored these directions, the Central government, for some reason, decided to adopt the judgment as the basis of its order restricting manufacture to the public sector. The fact is that the High Court sought a study of the feasibility of restricting manufacture to the public sector: it never ordered the restriction to be imposed From a reading of the government's order under Section 26A of the said Act, it appears that the government has gone ahead to restrict manufacture without conducting any kind of feasibility study While courts generally defer to the government when it comes to orders issued under Section 26A of the said Act, they can still set aside such orders