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Forces ‘ever ready’ to tackle threat
Published on 22 Oct. 2009 11:46 PM IST
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The Indian armed forces are “ever ready” to tackle any imminent threat the nation faces in the wake of the worsening security situation in its neighbourhood, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said here Thursday. “Armed forces every now and then review their preparedness. Whenever needed, they’ll be ready to face any situation,” Antony told reporters at the Naval Senior Officer’s Conference 2009 here. “Our armed forces are ever ready to tackle any (security) threat,” he stressed. Antony was asked about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cautioning the armed forces “to be equipped to deal with all threat scenarios”, particularly in view of the escalating tensions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The prime minister, he said, gets reports from various sources about the security threats. “He has alerted the armed forces in his own way,” Antony added without specifically referring to the rising terror attacks in Pakistan and the growing Taliban threat in Afghanistan. The defence minister had earlier expressed concern over the spread of terrorism and noted that the situation in Pakistan was “very serious”. Govt not ignoring graft complaint The government is taking “seriously” the allegations that some officials, including from the Indian Navy, have received received illegal payments worth millions of dollars from some US companies and their Indian counterparts to secure contracts, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Thursday. “The government will take it seriously. The navy has already begun its investigation,” Antony told reporters at the Naval Senior Officers Conference 2009 here. The allegations were brought to the notice of the Prime Minister’s Office by Indian ambassador to the US Meera Shankar. In her letter of May 12 to T.K.A. Nair, the principal secretary to the prime minister, Shankar mentioned bribe amounts paid by US companies to officials of the Indian Navy, Maharashtra State Electricity Board, Indian Railways, Indian Central Insecticides Board and other unnamed senior officials to secure government contracts. In one instance, ambassador Shankar cited a bribe of $132,500 given to Indian Navy officials by an agent of York International Corporation, a global provider of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration products. According to the letter, the money was transferred over a period of six years (2000- 2006) for placing 215 orders. Antony said he had “not seen the reported letter”. “But we will not ignore it,” he added. The PMO has already asked five government departments to submit their reports on action taken against corrupt officials. Some of the US companies listed by the envoy that paid the bribes had already been fined for “inappropriate payments”. The companies mentioned are Mario Covino of Control Companies, Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation and Dow Chemicals.

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