India won’t scale down petroleum imports from Iran: FM

“We (India) imports 110 million tonnes of crude per year. We will not decrease imports from Iran. Iran is an important country for India despite US and European sanctions on Iran,” finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said at the end of a two-day visit aimed at wooing US investment

Chicago: India, which imports 12% of its oil from Iran, will not scale down its petroleum imports from Tehran despite US and European sanctions against the Islamic republic, reports PTI quoting finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

“It is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically, because among the countries which can provide the requirement of the emerging economies, Iran is an important country amongst them,” Mr Mukherjee told reporters here.

Speaking at the end of a two-day visit aimed at wooing US investment, Mr Mukherjee said on Sunday, “Some other countries, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, the other Gulf countries they also contribute but Iran contributes substantially.”

“We (India) imports 110 million tonnes of crude per year.

We will not decrease imports from Iran. Iran is an important country for India despite US and European sanctions on Iran,” the finance minister said.

India, the world’s fourth-largest oil consumer, is Iran’s second-biggest oil client after China.

The US and other Western sanctions have been imposed on Iran's economy over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.

US president Barack Obama added to those measures on 31st December last year when he signed into law additional sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and financial sector.

Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao last week said that India’s purchase of oil from Iran has dropped slightly in last two years and is expected to drop further given the difficulties New Delhi might have in making payments through banks due to tough sanctions imposed against Iranian banks.

Ms Rao had said India was in touch with the US government and closely monitoring the developing situation concerning Iran, when asked about the pressure from the US that India needs to reduce its dependency on Iranian oil.


Army Chief has date with honour

There is a category of people who feel that by suing the government in the Supreme Court Gen VK Singh has ‘lowered’ the dignity of the high office of the Army Chief. It is not merely a question of seeking redress and relief for himself but also his moral duty to vindicate the honour and dignity of the high office he holds

The debate in the media about the Army Chief’s date of birth has developed in a manner that points and counter points have been brought before the public in ample measure.  However, for some inexplicable reason a few periodicals (e.g. India Today, 16th January) have not hesitated in twisting facts and projecting a one-sided view to the public. In a series of articles more recently published in ‘The Tribune’, events and documents, including classified, have been quoted to establish only one thing: that Gen VK Singh’s UPSC form bears 10 May 1950 as his date of birth and that he later had ‘accepted’ the same as correct even though his actual date of birth as per his birth certificate and school leaving certificate bear 10 May 1951.

Interestingly, the MS Branch relied more on the ‘UPSC Form’ (10 May 1950) whereas the AG’s Branch has relied on documents that are legally required and accepted in all government departments—school leaving certificate and birth certificate (10 May 1951).  What it implies is that the Army HQ had two sets of Gen Singh’s date of birth and that the officer is said to have ‘accepted’ the one ‘preferred’ by the MS Branch. The unfair inference being sold is that the general has reneged on his ‘acceptance.’  These misgivings need to be clarified.

Who’s seeking the ‘Change’?

Gen VK Singh has never sought any ‘change’ in his date of birth. Actually, he has been all along resisting the ‘change’ that the authorities have sought to make in his service records in an arbitrary manner. He is actually questioning why his authentic date of birth (10 May 1951) is repeatedly being sought to be amended to read as ‘10 May 1950’—the latter being an error rectified long ago.  Yet, how strange that the authorities have relied more upon what he as a boy of 14-15 entered in his UPSC form for the NDA entrance examination in early sixties and not upon documents that are universally accepted as legal proof of facts like date of birth like his school leaving certificate and birth certificate issued by a military hospital where he was born.  

Interestingly, the Master Data Sheets (MDS)—a crucial document prepared by the MS Branch (Army HQ) in respect of officers under consideration for promotion by the Selection Board—have all through shown the correct date of birth (10 May 1951). Strangely, the same MS Branch started raising questions on this date from 2006 onwards.  When the MS wrote to him informing that ‘19 May 1950’ would be treated as his correct date (year) of birth and not ‘1951’ and that the AG’s branch was being advised to amend their records accordingly, Gen VK Singh wrote back questioning why his date of birth (1951) was sought to be changed/amended.  

On being asked by the Army HQ, Gen VK Singh only expressed his confidence in those who were his superiors then and expected them to resolve the anomaly by maintaining what is correct and authentic in all respects. Normally, a ‘change’ is requested by those in whose cases the records have a date different from what they have to offer.  In Gen VK Singh’s case the Army HQ had a conflict within—the AG’s Branch records showing it as 19 May 1951 while the MS Branch (having insidiously re-invented an obsolete date rather late) started showing it as 10 May 1950 from 2006 or so onwards. The general’s simple and single contention has been ‘let the true and actual dates of birth remain. If the authorities had any doubts about his certificates, they could have got them verified/re-verified rather than deciding in a highly questionable manner.  Rather than seeking a ‘change’, he is merely trying to prevent a ‘change’ that is being unfairly imposed upon him.

Has the general reneged on his undertakings?

The claim that Gen VK Singh has ‘reneged on his undertakings’ is also grossly false and nothing more than a maligning campaign against the general. Photocopies of operative portions of communication between Gen VK Singh’s and the Army HQ published in the Outlook (30th January) and ‘The Tribune’ have exposed the dirty games and treacheries at work in the highest corridors of power at South Block. Far from ‘accepting’ 1950 as his year of birth, the general has said enough against the move to alter his date of birth in very candid yet respectful way. “I have been greatly hurt and pained by the aspersions cast on my integrity and military reputation… Thus I have no qualm in giving in writing whatever I was asked for, despite my reservation,” (his letter dated 1 July 2008 to Gen Deepak Kapoor, the then Army Chief, as quoted in the Outlook, 30th January). In another letter dated 12 November 2009, he reaffirms his stand on the issue thus: “I have taken your directions in letter and spirit… after the MS wrote that this function is of the AG branch, I have treated this issue as closed.  I am sure you are well aware of these facts.”  Succinctly, Gen Singh’s much publicised ‘acceptance’ ran thus, “…whatever decision taken in organisational interest is acceptable to me.” Far from giving his ‘acceptance’, these respectful submissions carry enough pain and resentment against the MS Branch machinations and yet he reposed great faith and trust in his ‘Chief’ (Gen Deepak Kapoor) because he believed that organisational interests would be best served by upholding the truth which in this case was his date of birth (10 May 1951) and which, so he thought, Gen Deepak Kapoor would honour. Alas! His faith was betrayed.  

Further, is it not weird that departing from official norms and laid down rules, the authorities proceeded to obtain ‘undertakings’ and ‘acceptance’ for deciding upon a date of birth from the affected officer himself? How can government officers be called upon to choose and ‘accept’ or ‘deny’ their own date of birth? How can a factual date of birth be changed on any account whatsoever, ‘undertakings’ and ‘acceptance’ notwithstanding? Out of the three documents—UPSC form, matriculation certificate and birth certificate—prudence dictates acceptance of the latter two, the UPSC form being no more than an application form submitted by the individual concerned while the other two are from authorities legally authorised to certify facts of truth. The question of Gen VK Singh reneging on his ‘acceptance’ is therefore fundamentally fallacious and grossly misleading.  

Dignity of the office of India’s Army Chief

There is a category of people who feel that by suing the government in the Supreme Court Gen VK Singh has ‘lowered’ the dignity of the high office of the Army Chief. This again is a propaganda being inspired by those who have an axe to grind. There are innumerable cases of government officers pending in courts against the government. Also, it is neither illegal, nor unbecoming of a chief’s position in any manner to seek redress of grievances in accordance with the law of the land and in full adherence to the procedures prescribed by the government itself. Therefore, it is not merely a question of seeking redress and relief for himself but also his moral duty to vindicate the honour and dignity of the high office he holds by showing to the army and the nation that he does his best to vindicate the honour and dignity of the office he holds.

Gen VK Singh knew that both the dates were OK for him and could have lumped what was being thrust on him.  But he refused to accept what he believed was factually wrong even at a time when stakes were crucially high for him. As an army commander he proceeded against some very senior officers for their misdemeanour without fear or favour, much to Gen Deepak Kapoor’s discomfiture.  His courage has contributed to restoring and fortifying the honour and dignity of the office he holds and the trust reposed in him.       

Now, just to mark the contrast, sample this communication from a ‘joint secretary’ (major general’s equal) to the Gen Deepak Kapoor about a Lt Gen who is tipped to be army commander soon:

‘Bimal Julka, joint secretary (G/Air), MoD, in his letter of 21 January 2008, warned the Army HQ that MoD would reconsider its proposal to promote him (Gen VK Singh) as Army Commander if he persisted with “an attitude apparently questionable and not reflective of the qualities expected from any Army Commander”.’ (As quoted by Raj Chengappa in ‘The Tribune’).

The contents of this communication fall in the category of ‘warning’ and ‘admonition.’ As per the established practice in government departments, junior officers—civil or military—do not ‘tick off’ seniors and those who in protocol enjoy a higher status. If such a warning/admonition was ever warranted, it would be more appropriate if it was signed by the defence minister or in any case not by any officer lower than the defence secretary. That such a letter came to the chief from a ‘joint secretary’ who had no compunction to restrain himself from using such objectionable language against a potential army commander, and the army chief not only tolerated but seemed to pass on the ‘threat’ to a general who would subsequently replace him as India’s Army Chief has surely smothered the high office. The least the Army Chief (Gen Kapoor) should have done was to write to the defence secretary enclosing the joint secretary’s letter and expressing his disapproval of the impropriety of the JS using the language and matter unbecoming of his position.

(Col Karan Kharb is a military veteran who commanded an infantry battalion with many successes in counter-terrorist operations. He was also actively involved in numerous high-risk operations as second in command of the elite 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guard (NSG) widely known as ‘Black Cat Commandos’. He conducts leadership training and is the author of two bestsellers (“Made to Lead” and “Lead to Success”) on leadership development that have also been translated into foreign languages).



Lt Col Mahesh Sachdev

5 years ago

It would have been worthwhile to have investigated so as to how the change in the birth date come about, by oversight or intent.It is not too late still a court of inquiry could be held,so the blame can be pinpointed


P M Ravindran

In Reply to Lt Col Mahesh Sachdev 5 years ago

There was never any change in the dob. There was an error ONLY in the application form submitted to the UPSC and it had been duly corrected and right from the identity cards issued from IMA to the Master Data Sheets prepared on the eve of promotions, upto and including that of Lt Gen held in 2005, the dob is shown as 10 May 1951. The role of former COAS JJSingh, Deepak Kapoo and the PM, MMS in creating this controversy have to be investigated!

Lt Col MC Sachdev

In Reply to P M Ravindran 5 years ago

How did the error come about, if some dedicated journalist goes into,it is certain that the intent behind such errors could be exposed or the person who made the error.Some specific pinpointing has to be done

P M Ravindran

5 years ago

Thanks once again for another factual report. It looks like that former COAS JJ Singh and P M man Mohan Singh should be held responsible for the controversy involving Gen V K Singh's date of birth. They must have conspired/connived to clear the way for making another sardar- Gen Bikram Singh- COAS!


5 years ago

I am surprised that the army cannot settle a date of birth issue for over 40 years! Col. Kharb and the army have a lot of explaining to do when they excalate the issue to a political level and Supreme Court level. It is sad to see how some army personnel side with the office of the MS and some with office of the AG. Where is your organisational strenght and dicipline? After seeing how senior army people have become corrupt (Adarsh, Sukhna, Canteen Stores Dept. etc.), now it is politisisation. Some right wing political elements have been trying to politicise the army, which is very dangerous as we have seen in Pakistan. The army must have given several decisions in the past to Gen. VK Singh, that it will go by his own original submission on May 1950 as DOB for promotions and retirement, instead of his later request for correction. So why not be a diciplined soldier and accept your superior officers ruling/order? Changing DOB has lots of implications for others' carears.The army should not now start washing it's dirty linen in public and instead put it's own house in order.



In Reply to Mathai 5 years ago

at least one person is telling the truth without fear.congratulations

P M Ravindran

In Reply to Mathai 5 years ago

Just by having a human form one does not become a human being. One needs a sense of justice too. In fact some video clips in public domain show animals having more sense and sensibility than the likes of Mr Mathai here


In Reply to P M Ravindran 5 years ago

Mr. Ravindran, thanks for showing your true colours. You have no argument and you get into crass comments. You and Col. Kharab cannot seem to see the gross failure of the army for over 40 years and the selfishness of Gen. VK Singh in going back on his agreements.

P M Ravindran

In Reply to Mathai 5 years ago

There was no failure on the part of the army for 40 years and there is no selfishness on the part of Gen VKS as you and the traitors in the Congress party along with an obliging media are trying to project. Gen V K Singh's date of birth has been, is an will remain 10 May 1951 and it is his right to get this recognised and serve so long as the law permits him. It is the effort of some vested interests to foist another sardar as the next COAS that has created this controversy.


5 years ago

When 1.2 billion indians can not have an Indian as the ruling party leader, what you expect?

India is being sold as parts and any one opposing will be removed by this method of frustrating them.

R Nandy

5 years ago

   (1)As you have pointed out,the anomaly in the army records has been there for the last 40+  years with two different departments having two different dates on record.       

 The Gen had requested redressal multiple times in the past but to no avail. The army failed to redress the problem for 40+ years and speaks volumes about the redressal mechanism within the army. The problem was a simple one in the past to solve but has been made complicated with the delay.     
(2)People talking about honour must understand that there is no honour in accepting injustice and inaction.Inaction in correcting the date of birth at the right time in this case.They should rather be discussing the redtapism within the army.   

 (3)He might have not raised the wrong date of birth issue forcefully in the past due to chances of victimization as there were reports which said that he was told to accept the wrong date of birth or face disciplinary action.


P M Ravindran

In Reply to R Nandy 5 years ago

Sorry Mr Nandi, you have all your facts absolutely wrong. This is not an issue that had not been resolved in the last 40 years. There are enough and more documents that have been quoted-including the master data sheets prepared during the promotion boards- that conclusively proves that the issue had been corrected well in time. The issue has been raked out now to make another sardar-Gen Bikram Singh- the next COAS. He can become the next COAS only if Gen V K Singh retires on 31 May 2012-not a day early or as per his correct dob in 2013!

Cabinet nod may not be required for PSU share buyback: Finance ministry

“We may not need fresh Cabinet approval for selling stake in PSUs through buyback and private placement as the Company Law, under which PSUs are governed, approves buyback” a senior finance ministry official said

New Delhi: Cabinet approval may not be required for the finance ministry to go ahead with its plan of PSU disinvestment through buyback and private placement mode, reports PTI.

As public sector undertakings (PSUs) are guided by the Companies Act, sources said they can buy back their shares after approval of the board.

“We may not need fresh Cabinet approval for selling stake in PSUs through buyback and private placement as the Company Law, under which PSUs are governed, approves buyback” a senior finance ministry official told PTI.

The finance ministry had earlier floated a Cabinet note seeking responses of administrative ministries by allowing buyback and private placement mode for disinvestment.

Since the beginning of the disinvestment programme, the government has divested stake in PSUs either through initial public offers (IPOs) or follow on public offers (FPOs).

“For the companies for which the government already has Cabinet approval for disinvestment, we do not need fresh nod.

We will go ahead with ONGC stake sale once there is clarity on Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) guidelines on the revised buyback and institutional placement norms,” the official said.

Market regulator SEBI has earlier this month relaxed norms for buyback of shares and dilution of equity by companies.

The new norms would help the companies to complete the process of selling shares within days against the normal process which can take months, a move that will facilitate offloading of government shares in central PSUs.

Besides reducing the timeline for completion of buyback of shares by companies to 34-44 days, it has also introduced a new mechanism called Institutional Placement Programme (IPP)—that would allow promoters to sell up to 10% of their capital through an auction.

The DoD is running against time to meet its ambitious disinvestment target of Rs40,000 crore for the current fiscal. Till date it has been able to raise only Rs1,145 crore from PFC.

In order to fast track the disinvestment programme, the DoD had sought opinion of concerned ministries for buyback of shares and prepared a list of cash-rich PSUs in this regard.

Several ministries like oil, power, steel, coal and mines are believed to have opposed the proposal saying it could impact the business expansion plans of the PSUs.


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