“Last year the Nobel Prize recognized the significance of this field with John Hall and Theodor Hänsch,” says Chris Oates of studying optical atomic clocks. “There are a lot of new ideas coming out, and we hope that our idea is one of those that will help the clocks.” Chris Oates is one of six physicists who published a Letter, “Magnetic Field-Induced Spectroscopy of Forbidden Optical Transitions with Applications to Lattice-Based Optical Atomic Clocks,” in Physical Review Letters demonstrating a unique technique for creating more stable optical atomic clocks. Building on ideas suggested by two Russian colleagues, Oates and his co-workers at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a process to improve one of the most promising types of optical atomic clocks, which divide the second into extremely small pieces in order to enable better timing precision.Perhaps one of the more intriguing questions to come out of this is: Does it really matter whether we have a more precise atomic clock?Oates thinks so. “Atomic clocks provide exquisite timing,” he explains to PhysOrg.com. “One of the most practical applications for atomic clocks is GPS. The timing must be very good in order to properly pinpoint a position. Every GPS satellite carries multiple atomic clocks.” He also cites the communications industry, where faster data rates require more precise timing, as other applications that are affected by atomic clocks. But he admits that the new optical clocks will likely not be used for such applications.“These optical atomic clocks won’t be used in GPS, but rather for more far-out applications,” Oates says. “Space navigation or imaging would be good applications, and communications between satellites is quite likely.” But the real benefits of using optical atomic clocks comes in when one looks at the implications of increased precision in scientific measurements.“Timing for electronics in high-energy accelerators, where particle physics is investigated, will be improved. Synchronization is very important in these experiments, and what we are developing in the way of optical atomic clocks can only help,” Oates says. A note of excitement creeps into his voice as he continues: “Tests of fundamental physics is the place where these clocks will have the most immediate impact.”Oates explains that astrophysicists look back into time by observing quasars and other objects in space. He says that these studies reveal that some natural fundamental constants of nature may change over time. While these theories have yet to be tested, the ability to more minutely track seconds can lead to the ability to detect natural constants that change over time. According to Oates, building optical atomic clocks built on different atoms and ions, and then comparing the differences, can provide verifiable laboratory measurements that could possibly answer questions as to whether some natural constants might experience change. Redefining the limits of measurement accuracy This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Oates says that already obstacles are being overcome in the area of optical atomic clocks. One of the biggest problems is the magnetic sensitivity that the isotopes of neutral atoms have. In order to get around this, many experiments were done using ion traps. The major drawback to this method, however, is that only one ion can be trapped at a time. So, while the ion environment is very favorable and free of any sort of perturbations, it requires some time to take the number of measurements required.The team from the NIST and the Institute of Laser Physics SB RAS in Russia instead use about 10,000 neutral atoms, and hence achieve an average measurement almost instantaneously. The problem is that they move around, distorting results. The team put together an array of about 1,000-lattice “wells,” which Oates refers to as “pancakes” (see the PhysOrg.com story) that each hold about 10 atoms. The lattice pancakes hold the atoms very still, eliminating one problem. But the problem of magnetic sensitivity still remained.“The answer was quite simple,” Oates explains. “We realized that we could apply a magnetic field to enable the use of a different isotope of ytterbium and get rid of magnetic sensitivity. We could make what wasn’t allowed into something that was allowed.” He pauses with a small laugh. “Weakly allowed, but enough. We found that this works, and it really removes what looked like a major roadblock to the use of neutral atoms for optical atomic clocks.” Indeed, the successful experimental demonstration of this technique by the NIST team led by Zeb Barber and Chad Hoyt is described in another article in the same issue of Physical Review Letters.So, while optical atomic clocks appear to be making inroads in the world of physics, practical applications for the rest of the world are still down the road. But Oates doesn’t mind. “Sharing this with the world is a tantalizing challenge.”by Miranda Marquit, Copyright 2006 PhysOrg.com Image source: GraphicsByDezign.com Citation: Tick Tock: Who Needs an Atomic Clock? (2006, March 8) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2006-03-tock-atomic-clock.html Explore further
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering 1800 full courses on-line to the public at no charge. In part the work of Professor Walter H.G. Lewin of MIT is the reason for the popularization of higher learning in science. Citation: Tribute to MIT Physics Prof Lewin: Free-On-Line MIT Courses (2007, December 20) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2007-12-tribute-mit-physics-prof-lewin.html Explore further Image of dye introduced into water in motion. Credit: Prof. Marshall MIT The machine that made the Moon missions possible The International Herald Tribune reporter, Sara Rimer has written a great story on Physicist Walter H. G. Lewin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Cambridge. The gist of the story is the availability of open source on-line physics courses offered by prestigious institutions of higher learning and their effect on the general public. Dr. Lewin has become a quartz star with a following that Mic Jagger would appreciate. The effect is spectacular, and has provided a real second-life to golden years professors by introducing them to the general public. Individuals who for one reason or another were unable to attend a prestigious school, but nonetheless possess an exuberance for higher learning. This article surveys various on-line opportunities for learning more about science. MIT Open Course Ware:The MIT Open Course Ware project is funded by donations and is free to the public. In addition to Dr. Lewin´s courses, there are about 1800 on-line complete courses offered by MIT. Courses are available in the undergraduate and graduate division list of courses. Many are survey courses and introductory type classes easily accessible to any one with a quest for knowledge. Examples:Do you have an interest in wireless communications or a job in communication and would like to add depth to your knowledge base? Check out a complete introduction course on the subject. This is not a teaser version. This is the entire course that MIT allows you to take for no university credits, but at no charge. All that is necessary is to download the course on your computer and point and click your way to achieve a solid foundation in wireless communications. 6.452 Principles of Wireless Communications at ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb .Are you interested in the Physics of Atmospheres and Oceans? This course was offered to students of MIT in the Fall of 2007. It is free of charge to the public and offered by MIT´s Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences with the eminent Professor John Marshall. The course lays out the laws of classical mechanics and thermodynamics. This vehicle allows you to explore how the dynamics of fluids combined with the rotating earth effect atmospheric winds, currents and climate of the earth. See: 12.003 Physics of Atmosphers and Oceans at ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Earth .Have you ever pondered the basis of how we hear and see? If you are a programmer, game developer or amateur inventor, knowing the fundamentals of the neural system is essential. MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences offers a free course called, 9.04 Neural Basis of Vision and Audition. The course will give you the science behind the perception. The course may not have been in the average software engineers core curriculum, but it should have been. See: ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Brain .In conclusion, the old adage, Knowledge is Power, subsumes the most important aspect. A solid education prevents you from “knowing a whole lot of junk, that simply isn’t true.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
(PhysOrg.com) — Canonical is releasing Ubuntu 9.10, the Karmic Koala, the latest version of its open-source operating system, and it aims to attract business and enterprise users to join the growing numbers of Linux enthusiasts. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Installing some drivers can be an effort with Linux if they do not automatically install, especially if you are not used to using a command line, and a few peripherals will not work with Linux. A lively Ubuntu community provides help for anyone having difficulties.The release of Ubuntu 9.10 comes after Microsoft’s release last week of its Windows 7 to replace the unpopular Windows Vista. Apple also released a new version of its operating system, Snow Leopard, in August of this year. Ubuntu was recently brought to prominence when several major PC companies, such as HP, Acer, Toshiba and Dell, offered it as an alternative to Windows on their computers, and with the latest release, it may further increase its market share.The final, stable version of Ubuntu 9.10 is being released on October 29.More information: • Official Ubuntu website• Review: Ubuntu 9.10 v Windows 7© 2009 PhysOrg.com If you already have Ubuntu installed, upgrading is easy because it starts automatically and steps you through the process. Not only is the operating system kept up to date, but so is any software you have installed. If you do not have Ubuntu, you can download it from Ubuntu’s website and burn it to CD to create your own installation disk. You can either run Ubuntu from the disk or install it to your hard drive. Installing it alongside Windows is a simple matter with Ubuntu’s Wubi application, so you can use it without losing your Windows system. When you boot up, you will have a choice of which operating system to use. Citation: Ubuntu 9.10 just released (2009, October 29) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-10-ubuntu.html Ubuntu is one of the most popular of the hundreds of Linux distributions, and is renowned for its simplicity of use, and its appeal. Ubuntu was developed by the Linux offshoot Canonical. New supported versions are developed and released every six months, and they are numbered after the year and month of their release. Downloading and upgrading Ubuntu is free.According to Jane Silber, Canonical’s chief operating officer, the latest version of Ubuntu has more user-friendly features and more operating system options. Among the features likely to be of interest to business users is the migration from Add/Remove Software to the Software Center, which will include commercial software for the first time, along with the open source software that has always been available. Another feature is an automatic file/folder synchronization tool similar to DropBox, with a free option offering 2 GB of space, and a paid one with 50 GB for $10 a month.An addition for software developers is an application called Quickly, which aims to accelerate software development (a bit like a Ruby-on-Rails type application for Ubuntu). Also useful are new utilities such as Palimpsest, a new GNOME utility that simplifies working with hard disks and partitions. Ubuntu 9.10’s improved support of Intel graphics will boost performance for most users, as will the short boot time of just over 10 seconds. As with all Linux systems, Ubuntu offers users with older computers an operating system that works. Explore further Ubuntu 7.04 to Arrive April 19
Citation: The great Dodo weight debate (2011, April 18) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-04-great-dodo-weight-debate.html Dodo bird (Raphus Cucullatus) Back in the early 1990s, Andrew Kitchener from the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh constructed a model based on bones and concluded the Dodo bird was far skinner than images had depicted them. His findings put the bird’s weight in the range of 10.5 to 17.5 kilograms.In a new study last month published in Naturwissenschaften, a team of researchers led by Delphine Angst from the Natural History Museum in Paris looked at 75 Dodo leg bones, including 25 femurs, tibiotarsus, and tarsometatarsus which they had collected from 14 different museums. By studying these bones, they came to the conclusion that the real body mass of the Dodo was really that of about 10 kilograms.However, in yet another study published again this month in Naturwissenschaften, another team says that Angst and her team were wrong in their analysis of the leg dimensions and that it is the femur that is more relevant. Their research suggests that the accurate weight would have been in a range of 9.5 to 18 kilograms.Paleo-ornithologist Antoine Louchart believes it is important that they get these figures correct as it will help scientists trying to understand just how birds evolve when living on islands when it comes to an increase or decrease of size. (PhysOrg.com) — The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), a pigeon type bird that went extinct over 300 years ago is raising debate these last few months on just how slender or plump it really was. When the Dodo bird was first discovered by Dutch ships on the island of Mauritius, the drawings of the birds that were brought back showed a slender bird. However, over the years, the drawings showed a gradual plumping of the Dodo and this has been a big debate for years. The way of the digital dodo More information: The end of the fat dodo? A new mass estimate for Raphus cucullatus, NATURWISSENSCHAFTEN, Volume 98, Number 3, 233-236, DOI: 10.1007/s00114-010-0759-7 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further © 2010 PhysOrg.com
HLX-1 has been described as being discovered almost by accident, as the research team at the time was instead focused on its host spiral galaxy. Black holes are generally more likely to sit at the center of galaxies such as the one that is believed to exist at the center of our own Milky Way. But HLX-1 was found, uncharacteristically, out in the spiral. It came to notice only because it was spewing a lot of x-rays and radio flares.Because of those findings, this new research team began to focus exclusively on the black hole, hoping that it would be the first example found of an intermediate sample. To figure out if it was, the team took measurements from around the time HLX-1 was first discovered and applied theoretical formulas that have been derived over the years to predict the behavior of intermediate black holes. Then, last year, they made a second round of observations and found they matched almost perfectly with what the theories had predicted leading the researchers to proclaim HLX-1 as the first discovered intermediate mass black hole. Citation: Evidence found for existence of intermediate size black hole (2012, July 6) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-07-evidence-intermediate-size-black-hole.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further An arrow shows the location of the black hole HLX-1 in the galaxy ESO 243-49. Credit: NASA, ESA and S. Farrell (U. Sydney) Journal information: Science (Phys.org) — Over the years, cosmologists have found ample evidence of just two kinds of black holes: stellar mass black holes and supermassive black holes. The former are considered small by most standards, just several times the weight of our sun; the latter, as their name implies, huge and as heavy as millions of our sun combined. Not so easy to find have been those that lie somewhere in-between, and because of that, their existence has been mostly speculative. Now, it appears that has changed as a group of international researchers has found evidence that suggests one such black hole appears to be on the order of 90,000 of our suns. The team has found as they explain in their paper published in the journal Science, that ESO 243-49 HLX-1, first discovered in 2009, appears to have the characteristics of an intermediate mass black hole. Galaxy ESO 243-49, about 300 million light-years away, is home to the newly found black hole. Credit: NASA, ESA and S. Farrell (U. Sydney) © 2012 Phys.org , Science Express More information: Natalie Webb, David Cseh, Emil Lenc, Olivier Godet, Didier Barret, Stephane Corbel, Sean Farrell, Robert Fender, Neil Gehrels, Ian Heywood. “Radio Detections During Two State Transitions of the Intermediate Mass Black Hole HLX-1.” Science Express, 5 July 2012. DOI: 10.1126/science.1222779ABSTRACTRelativistic jets are streams of plasma moving at appreciable fractions of the speed of light. They have been observed from stellar mass black holes (~3−20 solar masses, M☉) as well as supermassive black holes (~106−109 M☉) found in the centres of most galaxies. Jets should also be produced by intermediate mass black holes (~102−105 M☉), although evidence for this third class of black hole has until recently been weak. We report the detection of transient radio emission at the location of the intermediate mass black hole candidate ESO 243-49 HLX-1, which is consistent with a discrete jet ejection event. These observations also allow us to refine the mass estimate of the black hole to be between ~9 × 103 M☉ and ~9 × 104 M☉.Press release How intermediate mass black holes have come to exist is still not very well understood however. Some suggest they may have sprung into existence as tight clusters of stars collapsed into one single black hole. Others theorize that they may have come about as entities all on their own in the aftermath of the big bang; others yet say that maybe they started out as massive black holes that shrunk over time for unknown reasons. Because of the many possibilities, researchers will undoubtedly be kept busy for many years trying to find the best possible explanation, but at least now they will have a real one to study. Black hole came from a shredded galaxy
Explore further Researchers find fish ‘yells’ to be heard over human made noise PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen More information: First evidence of fish larvae producing sounds, Biol. Lett. October 2014 vol. 10 no. 10 20140643. Published 1 October 2014 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0643AbstractThe acoustic ecology of marine fishes has traditionally focused on adults, while overlooking the early life-history stages. Here, we document the first acoustic recordings of pre-settlement stage grey snapper larvae (Lutjanus griseus). Through a combination of in situ and unprovoked laboratory recordings, we found that L. griseus larvae are acoustically active during the night, producing ‘knock’ and ‘growl’ sounds that are spectrally and temporally similar to those of adults. While the exact function and physiological mechanisms of sound production in fish larvae are unknown, we suggest that these sounds may enable snapper larvae to maintain group cohesion at night when visual cues are reduced. Journal information: Biology Letters © 2014 Phys.org Play “Growl” sounds produced by L. griseus larvae in the field. Credit: Biol. Lett. October 2014 vol. 10 no. 10 20140643 PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen Scientists know that adult fish make noise, many fishermen have heard them, also, some have been found to actually “yell” louder to be heard when surrounded by other noise, such as from a boat engine. But, as the research trio point out, few studies have been conducted to learn about the possibly of noise made by young fish or even fish larvae. In their study, they looked at gray snappers (Lutjanus griseus) that live off the coast of Florida.Adult female gray snappers drop their eggs in the open ocean into beds of seagrass—larvae that emerge live off food in the seagrass bed until reaching maturity. To find out if the larvae make noise, the researches put a camera, microphone and lights into a waterproof clear box and dropped it into the sea at night—the lights helped find where the snappers congregated. To make sure the noises they were recording were coming from the larvae, the researchers captured several larvae samples and took them back to their lab where they were recorded in a tank of water. Analysis of the recordings showed the larvae made two kinds of sounds: “knocking” and “growling.” Interestingly, the knocking sound was very similar to the knocking sounds made by adults of the same species. They noted also that the pattern of sounds generated by the larva differed depending on if they were in the open ocean or in the lab tank—in the lab, the larvae produced more sounds per interval and had longer times between them, suggesting perhaps that they were waiting to hear a reply.The researchers can’t say for sure why the larva make noise but suggest it might help the snappers as a whole maintain group cohesion at night when it’s more difficult to see. They suggest the growling sound may be similar to the cries that babies of many species make to get the attention of the adults. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Lutjanus griseus. Credit: Randall, J.E/fishbase.org (Phys.org) —A trio of researchers with the University of Miami has recorded sounds made by fish larvae in both the open ocean and in their lab. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, Erica Staaterman, Claire Paris and Andrew Kough describe how they captured the larvae sounds and offer ideas on why they are made. Citation: Researchers find first instance of fish larvae making sounds (2014, October 1) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-10-instance-fish-larvae.html Play “Knock” sounds produced by L. griseus larvae in the field. Credit: Biol. Lett. October 2014 vol. 10 no. 10 20140643
The display organised on the occassion of 52nd Raising Day celebrations of the Force by Himveer Wives’ Welfare Association (HWWA), welfare arm of the ITBP, continued till 29 October. The exhibition consisted of various products diaplying the skills of ITBP families and welfare activities undertaken by HWWA and ITBP. The pieces exhibited were prepared and manufactured in the welfare centers of the battalions located all over India. The exhibition also showcased rare artifact, handicraft and cultural heritage of the Himalayas. The proceeds gained from the exhibition are to be utilised for the welfare of the Force personnel. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Various field units of ITBP had displayed a wide variety of products in the HWWA exibition. The special attractions of the show were Pasmina shawls, silk cushions, chandan malas, Budha statues from Ladakh; Kullu shawls, Kinnori topis, apple and dry fruits from Himachal Pradesh; buransh juice, rajma pulses, kulth pulse from Uttarakhand; Darjeeling tea, Cap pashmina, litchi juice from Sikkim; Assami gamchha, Naga shawl, Bamboo hut, Assam tea from Arunachal Pradesh; Chanderi saries from Madhya Pradesh, Lucknowi chikan and carved furniture of Saharanpur from Uttar Pradesh. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixHWWA works for the welfare of the families of the Force personnel with a specific focus on women empowerment. It trains families in food processing, tailoring, weaving, stitching, beautician course, home management, computer training, yoga classes, embroidery, pattern making, painting and child care. Training of Spoken English is given to the ITBP wards, free of cost. A special stall showcasing the history, training, operations, welfare activities and adventure sports in ITBP was also set up and became the centre of attraction.
I was alone, I was a woman, I was in one set of clothes for seven days and I had no way to inform my family in Delhi that I was alive. I spent an entire week taking refuge in one place after the other till I managed to reach the airport. It was a harrowing experience which will forever remain etched in my memory.I could not save anything, not even my suitcase packed with clothes nor my bag. It all happened within a flash. I was not prepared for it. In fact no one was. My heart skipped several beats as I pushed through the crowds to find my way to the front. Water was gushing down the road where my home is located as if a dam had burst open. I could see the water forcing its way vehemently inside the lane, pushing through people and breaking through gates. It was stronger than the strongest currents I have witnessed in Pahalgam. I had only heard about floods causing devastation, of uprooting homes, families and lives. It was the first time I was a witness to it with my own eyes. Also Read – Gateway of criminal justiceI stood still, watching the boundary wall break and the waters violently fill up every inch of the lawns, slowly climbing upwards. I was helplessly left standing there watching everything being snatched away before my very eyes, not able to do a thing about it. My mind had stopped functioning. All of a sudden, I had been rendered homeless in Srinagar. Even until half an hour back I could never have imagined this. All around people were scrambling for safety-driving towards undecided destinations, running helter-skelter. Pandemonium had broken out. The entire city seemed on its way to getting submerged. My mind was not registering anything. I just could not get over the sight of my home getting washed away in front of my very eyes. I just wanted to shut off that view which kept playing on my mind over and over. I had only read about such calamities in newspapers or watched them on television. That morning I realised the enormity of destruction a calamity of this nature has on humans. Also Read – Turning a blind eyeIt took me six nights and seven days to find my way to the airport. I survived it all in one set of clothes which were on me and had nothing else apart from my purse and a laptop. But I will remain indebted all my life to everyone who lent me a helping hand on this never ending and arduous journey. I had nothing to offer anyone in return. There was helplessness all around. The streets were full of people in distress-homeless, uprooted, angry, stranded and deserted. I have never seen so many people looking so lost together. There were people looking down from buildings, people looking out of windows, people wailing, people sitting on sidewalks, people squatting on roads, people queuing for food, for shelter, for water. Everywhere I looked around I saw anguish and suffering. It made me feel weary and added to my torment and misery. I saw lifeless faces on listless bodies-as if they had given up on hope or had nothing but hope to cling on to. And in the midst of that chaos, I saw a ray of hope in the warmth I received at every corner from people known and unknown, the helping hands which stretched out to lend support in times of despair. I would never be able to forget the man who ferried me across to from Bemina to Qamarwari on a dark night, with the help of torchlight and neither will I forget the young boys who helped me alight the kishti when the boat touch landed and carried my bag, refusing to leave me alone till the time they could manage to get me a lift from a relief van. How could I not be grateful to those in the van- visibly tired and weary with relief work all through the day yet who did not leave me in the middle of nowhere, not once losing patience as I took them from lane to lane trying to locate my friend? I owe gratitude to those countless nameless faces which helped me cross barrier after barrier-someone offering me a lift on his car, another guiding me with directions, a third walking alongside me till I could find my way and yet another refusing to charge me for services rendered. Yes, it felt unfair when I switched on the television set and browsed through the national dailies when I reached Delhi after a week and found it all splashed with the heroic deeds of the Armed Forces and their magnanimity as they airlifted flood victims. ‘Where was the army when I was there on the streets at night?’ I thought to myself. I remembered then. I had seen innumerable choppers in the skies engaged in sorties all day long. The sky was full of them.They were in the air, not in the waters. It felt strange that there was no mention of those young local volunteers out in the streets wading through deep waters, rescuing people all day and night. They had no work timings, they were not being paid for it, it was not expected of them neither were they bound to do so. Yet they were out there, risking their own lives to save others. Did anyone care to mention gratitude towards these unsung heroes without whom the casualty would have skyrocketed into mind boggling figures? One has often seen the symbolic image of a boy from downtown, face covered with a keffiyeh holding a stone in his hand. I wonder when we shall see the image of that very boy from downtown splashed across the same dailies- wading through neck deep water as he recues a baby or carries an ailing old man on his back.The state administration lay paralysed and defunct, the police was largely in their homes with families (barring an odd few) and nobody seemed ready to take responsibility at the helm of affairs. There was no one to take charge of the crisis and each man had to fend for himself. In a nutshell, the state was conspicuous by its absence. The communication system was facing the biggest possible breakdown in recent times in the history of the nation- it was a complete blackout. There was no electricity, no internet, no telephone lines working and the water supply as well came to a halt. Nobody could contact anybody. Kashmir was cut off from the world. The Indian Army’s movements were largely restricted Between Gupkar and Raj Bhawan (VIP zones). Perhaps there may have been an odd intervention here and there but I, for one did not see their presence anywhere. How can I write about something I did not see? I did expect them to be playing a much more active role in the rescue operations. Was it wrong to expect so? I wonder why and when the Indian media turned into PR machinery for the Indian Army. It does not come as a surprise to me to see anger simmering on the streets of Kashmir-like a live bomb ticking away. Yes, I do not deny and neither can anyone else that the army and the air force have played a crucial part in the evacuation of stranded people. Then where does the problem lie? Why are Kashmiris angry? The problem lies with the fact that it is only the Army which is being projected as the saviour of the flood victims? Were they not already supposed to be doing that? Is it not a part of their duty and responsibility? Was it not that the numbers in need of immediate rescue far greater than the ones who received help? Maybe if the state and the Indian army had given out a statement of apology for not being able to attend to as many people as they should have and expressed regret at the same owing to lack of resources or manpower or whatever their challenges were, there are chances that the fury against them would be far less in comparison, and perhaps, not any at all. Perhaps they would even have won over some hearts in the process. Unfortunately, when the numbers risking their lives out there in the waters are far greater in magnitude compared to the ones who claim credit for it, then one has to be prepared for sharp criticism. It is not ethical to rescue people and then boast about it and similarly it is not rational to expect sanity from people who are watching their life long earnings getting washed away, their children starving and their aging parents not being able to run for safety.Had it not been for my friends calling me and sending me messages all night, I would not have been awake. Had it not been for my landlord who kept banging on my door and window and made sure I did not fall asleep, I would not have been alive. Had it not been for those strangers who did not leave my side while I kept losing my track, I would have been stranded. Had it not been for those friends who opened up their homes and hearts to me, I would have been homeless. Had it not been for the friend who stopped his car when he saw me walking wearily under a hot, scorching sun, I would never have been able to connect with my family. Had it not been for the large heartedness of the hotel owner who gave me shelter without charging me a single rupee, I would have been penniless. Had it not been for the young boy who saw my desperation to get to the airport and volunteered to ferry me across muddy waters on a stranded boat in the wee hours of the morning, I would never have made it to Delhi. Yes, lastly had it not been for the armed forces, I would not have managed to get airlifted to the airport but then again, had it not been for the person who drove me till there and insisted that I be evacuated immediately on a priority basis, I would have been standing in queue for what seemed like eternity to me. But it took a lot to get till there and while the Indian army and the air force gets its credit, its fame and kudos, the others do not get as much as a mention even on the last pages. Is it fair? Who, apart from God should I be thankful to? It is for you to think. I already know my answers.
The Indian Army is an excellent fighting force, and has few parallels in the world. But of late, the image of the soldier is diminishing which calls for immediate action. This is happening because the forces have to face divergent pulls and pressures which are different today than from yesteryears. Institutions have a long memory, take time to change. On the other hand, the Army has to operate in a dynamic environment, with an active press and a changing civil society which are able to apply pressure and push for changes. Also Read – Gateway of criminal justiceThus, it is the Army that is perceived at times to be unable to ‘keep up’ with the societal fluctuations, and due to its strict procedures, it is not able to present its side of the story with the dynamism expected of it. It has prolonged deployment in counter-insurgency operations leading to uncanny situations. Armies are trained, equipped, geared and made ready for the primary task which is to protect the nation from external threat. But today judgement is passed on it for how well it does its secondary task. In short, people tend to judge the doctor by how well the nurse performs. Also Read – Turning a blind eyeThe Army simply has no answer to live media carrying out television debates beaming live to soldiers’ bedrooms the twists and turns of various scams. In a democracy, this is the one thing that is acceptable, adds to transparency. But when quite often, officers are on the mat for becoming ketchup colonels, booze brigadiers, generals fighting over various issues and scams, some of which like the Sukna have been set aside by the Armed Forces Tribunal — the stage is set for a soldier to question: ‘What am I serving for, is this my officer class like?’ Does the Army need to change its value system? In fact, when threatened it must reinforce the old values, but its manner of interaction with the media, its manner of conduct when deployed in prolonged counter-insurgency operations, requires a holistic look and not a knee-jerk reaction. After the recent firing at Budgam, in which two young boys were killed, the Army admitted that it was a “mistake” and a violation of rules of engagement. The Army also said that it would complete its inquiry within ten days and take action against the guilty. The legal catch here is that once the Army Commander has agreed it is a mistake, are all procedural inquiries on the subject irrelevant? On the other hand, while the law enforcers are guilty, in the wake of protests and all good work done by the Army during the recent floods in that area and the fact that elections were around the corner, pressure was going up from civil society, reckless teenagers were moving in a vehicle to a restricted area, isn’t there also a need for civil society to look inwards as well? The ground reality is that because armed sentries are there everywhere in view of the live threat posed by terrorists, such incidents are bound to recur. If there is accidental firing, and a whole host of other scenarios, will the Army now admit to its mistake every time before an inquiry? This could well have happened in Delhi, but the issue inevitably takes a different colour in Jammu and Kashmir. Will the soldier be blamed before an inquiry? Some time ago, a paramilitary force in Delhi waited for its inquiry to take place, before having the added burden of having put the blame on any one. Loss of life is regrettable but loss of soldiers’ morale critical and difficult to restore.The greatest strength of the forces lies in its intangibles: such as, morale, training, ethos and value system, bonded by discipline. The Sukna scam and the Budgam incident touch upon all these intangibles, especially discipline and training. The Budgam affair was at best an operational cum training issue. By declaring the soldiers guilty before inquiry, a whole host of issues, which are morale-sensitive, have been opened up. Are these even debatable? The Sukna scam AFT judgment opens up another can of worms, which the Army needs to take to its logical conclusion. If the military justice system is shown in poor light, won’t its soldiers need an answer?Television debates do need some introspection. The debates on geostrategy, arms and equipment do become interesting, but when discipline is debated or discussed yet nuts and bolts of the ground situation are generally not known, the picture becomes confusing. Of course, the media needs to report the various scams, it needs to show all the dead wood, but it should exercise its judgement, on what will be the impact on the morale of the soldier? In the Sukna scam not an inch of Army land was involved, there was no trickery or fraud: then how come the word scam was used for a so-called issue of ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC)? Discipline is the very key to a soldier’s being and to impact on his sense of discipline, needs sense of responsibility from all, including the political class, who have left us equipment deficient. The impact of the movie Haider which shows the soldiers in poor light has also come at this juncture and what is the ‘langar gup’ one wonders. How should the Army react in inadvertent cases? It should go back to the Chetwode credo, of safety, honour and welfare of nation first, soldier next and its commanders last. This implies, supreme national interest first, completion of inquiries before pronouncing soldiers guilty second, and the various twists and turns of scams and age related issues last and not on prime time television because of TRP. The Army has had a long stint in counter-insurgency operations. This tells on training there is a need to cut down exposure in counter-insurgency, but the drawdown from foreign forces in Afghanistan opens up a different scenario and weakening of Army from the border areas improbable. The forces therefore, need to settle these issues in house. The entire issue is of faith and the generals need to have 56-inch chests while interacting with civil society and take on ‘bullets’ flying at the aam sipahi.The author is a retired brigadier
Fiscal deficit rose to Rs 5.68 lakh crore in April-January period, breaching the budget estimate by 107 per cent which may call for harder measures by the government to meet the target of 4.1 per cent of the GDP for full 2014-15 financial year.As per the data released by Controller General of Accounts (CGA) on Monday, fiscal deficit during April-January period was Rs 5.68 lakh crore or 107 per cent of the 2014-15 budget estimate of Rs 5.31 lakh crore by January-end.The overshooting of fiscal deficit is mainly attributed to subdued revenue realisation. The fiscal deficit, the difference between government expenditure and revenue, during April-January period of 2013-14 stood at 98.2 per cent.In the Budget speech on Saturday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said government would achieve the 4.1 per cent fiscal deficit target in 2014-15.