Indian media: Worry over navy's safety record

Most of India's navy submarines were built in Russia Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Most of India's navy submarines were built in Russia

Media in India feel that the recent accidents involving the navy's submarines and ships highlight an urgent need to modernise its ageing fleet.

The navy chief, Admiral DK Joshi, resigned from his post on Wednesday after an accident involving submarine INS Sindhuratna off the coast of Mumbai.

The accident killed two sailors and injured seven others.

The latest incident is believed to be the 10th involving a navy warship and the third submarine accident in the last seven months.

The media praised Admiral Joshi for taking "moral responsibility" of the accidents, but felt some fundamental questions about the navy's preparedness remained unanswered.

The Indian Express says the navy's poor safety record can "jeopardise the protection of India's 7,000km [4,350 mile]-plus coastline".

These "frightful accidents point to a troubling question: how well is the navy, which seeks to play a dominant role in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, equipped to maintain its assets during peacetime?" asks The Times of India.

Papers are also critical of the federal government's handling of defence-related issues.

"There is no glossing over the fact that too little has been done on defence reform and capacity-building. India can only hope it is not too late," says The Hindu.

'NDA boost'

Moving on to political news, Narendra Modi, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) candidate for PM, on Thursday told retail traders to get ready for competition from foreign firms.

Mr Modi's remarks signal a change in his party's stand of opposing the entry of foreign firms in the country's retail sector, The Economic Times reports.

Staying with politics, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) campaign for the upcoming general elections received "a huge boost" on Thursday with the entry of the regional Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).

The LJP leader, Ramvilas Paswan, was a federal minister during the NDA's rule from 1996 to 1998 and once again between 1999 and 2002.

But he joined the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2004, only to return to the NDA in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Delhi police have launched an app to help people report their missing belongings like mobile phones and wallets without going to a police station, a report on the Zee News website says.

"People could avail this service by simply downloading a software on their mobile phones... They would get a feedback on their mobile phones or email within a few minutes," Delhi police commissioner BS Bassi says.

Migrants 'buried alive'

Elsewhere, veteran law expert Fali Nariman has rejected the government's offer to join a government panel tasked with appointing the first chief of India's anti-corruption watchdog.

In December, the parliament passed a new law that would empower an independent ombudsman to prosecute politicians and civil servants.

But Mr Nariman fears that the selection committee, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, may "overlook" people who are "the most competent, the most independent, and the most courageous", reports the NDTV website.

And finally, The India Express reports the disturbing story of five immigrants who were buried alive in Saudi Arabia.

"Three men have confessed in a Saudi Arabian court that they buried alive five Asian men - suspected to be Indians - on a farm in an eastern province of the kingdom four years ago," the daily reports, citing a story in an Arab News newspaper.

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