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India’s military mules: No road too treacherous



New Delhi, June 5 : The Indian Army honoured its longest serving mule “Pedongi” by naming an Army mess after it, but there was a time when the Army had decided to mark the end of the road for the sturdy mule, that has walked miles on some of the most treacherous tracks providing logistics support in difficult situations.

Just before the Kargil war, there was a proposal to disband the Animal Transport units that come under Indian Army Service Corps, consisting of sturdy mules.

But during the Kargil war, Pakistani intruders came inside Indian territory in the Drass and Kargil mountainous areas. National Highway 1, that connects Srinagar with Leh and cuts through Kargil, witnessed infiltration and fighting along a 160-km-long stretch of ridges overlooking this only motorable road.

“The situation was such that it appeared the line of communication would be cut. At that time the mules played an important role in ensuring supplies reached,” an Army official, who did not want to be named, told IANS.

Availability of local ponies had also gone down as bombing started, and even helicopters could not operate because of difficult weather.

The Animal Transport unit was used at that time to provide logistics support to Indian posts and troops fighting in the sector.

“Finally the Animal Transport unit was the only available resource that worked in the face of intense shelling. The mules could go through tracks on which no vehicle could reach,” the official said.

“The dauntless and loyal military mules of the Army Service Corps have enabled last-mile logistics supply in the most inhospitable conditions along our frontiers in all past wars and operations in the highest tradition of the Indian Army.”

The Indian Army at present has a 6,000-strong force of mules, which continue to be the reliable last-mile transport in difficult Himalayan terrain along the Indian borders in the western as well as eastern sectors.

At a smaller scale, mules are also used in the central sector.

Pedongi, after whom a new lounge at the Central Army Service Corps (ASC) officers’ mess on Polo Road has been named, has the distinction of being the longest-serving mule with the Indian Army, serving for 37 years, while average mules serve for 18-20 years.

Pedongi had joined the Indian Army in 1962, and served till his death on March 25, 1998. He also found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-serving military mule.

While the Indian Army is considering other options for transport in the difficult mountainous terrain, and considering drones as an option among other things, in the modern world battles the mules have not lost their place.

The mules have remained relevant since the World Wars. American forces that landed in Afghanistan in 2001 to fight the Taliban had to employ mules to transfer loads in the treacherous mountain terrain.

The US Army’s last Cavalry units had given up their horses in the 1940s and the last pack animals were phased out in the 1950s.

However, the animals gained significance again in Afghanistan and a new Army field manual was issued June 16, 2004, with the title, ‘Special Forces Use of Pack Animals’. A formal pack animal training course was also started at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California.

In the Indian Army, the mules are categorised on the basis of the kind of load they carry, being broadly divided into Mule Arti — which carry guns and weapons, and Mules GS — that carry general supply ranging from food to medicine and even water.

The around 6,000 mules are divided into 15 units. Usually a company has three troopers and 96 animals. Each animal also has one to two handlers, depending on the load and terrain.

An Army official, recounting the services rendered by the mules in the difficult areas along the border, said a mule had once strayed and was taken in by the Pakistani troops who then started using it for load-bearing along with their own mules.

“One fine day, the mule remembered its way back home. That day he was leading the other mules that were transporting supplies for the Pakistani troops. The mule, along with other mules that belonged to the Pakistan Army and their supplies, walked straight back to our post,” the officer recounted with a laugh.

By : Anjali Ojha

(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at [email protected])


PM Modi, Shah at unease as Rahul catches the nerve of India’s growth story

Rahul Gandhi is right in cornering the Modi government on the issue of unemployment as Nobel laureate Paul Krugman questioned India’s growth story projected by Narendra Modi by saying that India is facing mass unemployment of 12 million jobs.



Rahul Modi

With masses and workforce of the private sector, small and medium business class grappling with the wrong policies of Narendra Modi government, Prime Minister visualizes an incumbent loss in the coming Assembly elections in 2018 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Modi, therefore, advises party MPs and MLAs to use technology, social media and connect with the masses to blame the Opposition especially the Congress party for NDA’s failure in governance. While again asking the people to vote for BJP in the ensuing elections, the MPs will also cite an argument that in five years of NDA tenure, Modi was unable to deliver due to Opposition and would, therefore, campaign on the government’s initiatives.

Prime Minister, who was addressing the party MPs at the BJP’s new headquarters, asked party MPs to counter the Opposition accusations by using social media and rather apprise the general public on the schemes initiated by the government.

Despite having the full mandate, it is surprising that Modi government has failed drastically in delivering the governance which the people had expected from them.

After announcing in Rajya Sabha that the 39 Indians reported missing in Iraq since June 2014 were dead, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has reportedly refused to meet the grieving families.

Sensing that the confirmation of Indians killed in Mosul will bring resentment among people against the Modi government, BJP chief Amit Shah directed the MPs to hold press meets in their constituencies to “tell people that how Parliament stopped functioning” and obviously not to mention the Mosul incident and other failures of the government.

Three Congress MPs from Punjab submitted a privilege motion to Rajya Sabha secretary general against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for “misleading” Parliament over the death of 39 Indians who killed by terrorist outfit Islamic State after they were kidnapped in Iraq in 2014. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has accused the government of “inventing” his party’s links to British firm Cambridge Analytica, which is in the middle of a data-breach storm, as it was caught “lying” on missing Indians and Modi government is again playing the trick of diverting from the Mosul issue.

BJP has been so arrogant in their style of functioning that they didn’t even bother about their allies or gave credit to the NDA coalition government for winning the elections since 2014 and rather credited Narendra Modi for each and every election victory and the projects launched by the government.

For any defeat or non-functioning of the Parliament, both PM Modi and Amit Shah continue to blame the Congress party, caste arithmetic and its own allies.While the YSRCP and TDP, which broke ties with the BJP earlier this month, have moved a no-confidence motion against the government in Lok Sabha over the demand for special category status for Andhra Pradesh, TRS and AIADMK MPs have been raising slogans with state-centric demands.

During Parliament session, Congress president Rahul Gandhi posed questions to Prime Minister and said Narendra Modi needs to answer the country on the Rafale deal, farmers and jobs instead of making allegations in Parliament.

“Questions are being asked by the country from the prime minister, but he is not answering… here (in Parliament)you have to give answers and not ask questions to the country instead,” Rahul added.

PM Modi said the Opposition was “spreading lies” about the BJP-led government. Defending his government over the criticism for lack of employment, PM Modi put an argument that youths wanted to be entrepreneurs and not job-seekers, therefore Modi actually wants to ruin the middle class of their savings as there is no guarantee that the business of so-called Startups will materalise and secondly Modi government is shunning its responsibility of providing the jobs.

The Congress President Rahul Gandhi is right in cornering the Modi government on the issue of unemployment as Nobel laureate Paul Krugman questioned India’s growth story projected by Narendra Modi by saying that India is facing mass unemployment of 12 million jobs.

Government’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian is also in agreement with Krugman, saying that he was not sure if India’s manufacturing sector will continue to generate employment as it was doing in the past.

Subramanian admitted that India has missed the manufacturing bus 20-30 years ago.Rahul has rightly touched the nerve of India’s growth story by saying that farmers’ loans should be waived off and policy should be adopted to benefit the farmers so that the agricultural sector could flourish and manufacturing units could be revived to provide mass employment.

In this four years of Modi tenure, a lesson should be drawn by BJP allies that they should not join the BJP just to be in power as the bad governance is being done by the Modi government and the regional parties which are a part and parcel of NDA coalition will have to bear the blame and the electoral losses.


Arti Bali

Sr Journalist

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Trump’s China Tariff plan sparks fears of a trade war




United States slapped trade sanctions on China, including restrictions on investment and tariffs on $50billion worth of Chinese imports from entering the Washington thus stoking fears of a trade war.

“It’s going to make us a much stronger, much richer nation,” Trump said, adding that the retaliation could hit about $60 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Trump lamented the US’ multi-hundred billion dollar trade deficit with China and said the action would be “the first of many.”

“That’s really just a fraction of what we’re talking about,” he said, citing the large trade deficit that the U.S. runs with China.

Trump directed his administration to take action that will likely result in tariffs on a proposed list of 1,300 products as punishment for Beijing’s intellectual property practices, senior White House officials said ahead of the announcement.

Speaking at the White House, Donald Trump said the imposition of tariffs was part of an effort for fairness, noting that China imposes a 25% tariff on US cars while the US only has a 2.5% duty on Chinese cars. “They charge us, we charge the same thing,” said Trump.

The president blamed China for the loss of 60,000 factories and 6 million jobs and  also ordered Lighthizer to complain to the World Trade Organization about China’s discriminatory licensing practices for foreign companies.

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Sneaker  makes a stop at New Delhi



 PUMA, in collaboration with Peter Fahey hosted the second event of the Sneaker Pimps India chapter in the country’s capital.The exhibit showcased over 500 rare, vintage, and limited edition sneakers along with a collection of sneaker inspired art-work, sneaker fashion and customization booths. In honour of The Suede’s 50th year, PUMA is dropping 50 exclusive kicks in collaboration with legends of the music world, the streets, the fashion industry and pop culture through 2018. Some of these timeless icons are the Suede Classic, Suede Bboy, Suede Classic Exposed Seams, Suede Classic Sock and the Select Suede Classic Perforation.
After a hugely successful Pune edition, the international sneaker exhibition in New Delhi held at a colony of warehouses in the Dhan Mill Compound saw an exciting line up of speakers and artists at the HG Street festival by Homegrown. Present at the exhibition were – Sneaker Pimps founder Peter Fahey, PUMA Select Head Yassine Saidi, international artists like Futura and DJ Neil Armstrong,  and Indian hip hop icons like Divine, Rajakumari and Prabhdeep and along with a multitude of sneaker heads and sneaker aficionados from across the country coming together to celebrate 50 years of the iconic PUMA Suede.
Sneaker Pimps is one of the most popular travelling sneaker exhibits and street-based art show founded by Peter Fahey. Speaking about the Sneaker Pimps India tour, Peter said, “It’s great to be here in Delhi and an India tour is something that has been on my mind for a while now. This edition is very special as it commences celebrations for 50 years of the legendary PUMA Suede. PUMA has a long legacy and rich history of sneakers making them the perfect partner to have enabled our India tour. The sneaker culture in India is on the rise and I am very excited to be displaying this unique collection of kicks on this special occasion.”
Abhishek Ganguly, MD, PUMA India, said, “True to our brand legacy of creating unique experiences through groundbreaking product collaborations and exciting events, we are ushering in the 50th anniversary of PUMA Suede with a special line of stellar kicks which will be exhibited at the Sneaker Pimps event along with a host of other cool sneakers. India’s love for sneakers is fast growing and I am certain that this event will give the rising sneaker sub culture a massive impetus.”
Yassine Saidi, Global Senior Head of Lifestyle Footwear and Select, PUMA, who is the force behind collaborations like McQ,  Rihanna’s FENTY, The Weeknd’s  Run The Streets collection and Big Sean teaming up with PUMA Classics, was present at the event. Speaking at the event, he said, “PUMA is renowned for the sheer number of collaborations in our sportstyle segment and we find that these are key to connecting with our consumers. Sneaker Pimps is known world over for exhibiting the best and most unique sneaker collections and it is the perfect platform to showcase PUMA’s most revered kicks and the legendary PUMA Suede. Collaborations are all about co creating and PUMA’s collaboration with Sneaker Pimps has allowed us to co create something really special for sneaker lovers in India”
A big highlight at the exhibit was a live art display by American graffiti artist and the pioneer of abstract street art, Futura, a.k.a Leonard Hilton McGurr. Legendary footwear customizer from Moscow, Maggi, curated four pairs Suede Classics exclusively for the exhibition.
There were performances by Indian hip hop icons like the Grammy nominated songwriter Rajakumari,   Mumbai-based rapper Divine, and rising star of the underground hip hop scene Prabh Deep along with DJ Mocity, co-founder of Reggae Rajahs, the first Reggae Sound System in India and DJ Neil Armstrong – the first DJ at a presidential inauguration when he performed with Jay Z at President Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration party.
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