Archive for October, 2015

Major Navdeep indicts the Army for its penchant for Self Destruct …

Posted on October 31, 2015. Filed under: From a Services Career |

They say Otto von Bismark opined that there are four types that join the Army viz the lazy and stupid, the lazy and intelligent, the hard working and intelligent and the hard working and stupid.

He is supposed to have lald down that the intelligent and lazy should be earmarked for High Command, the intelligent and hard working for Staff Work, the stupid and lazy for soldiering but the stupid and hard working should  be avoided like the plague and not allowed within ten miles of the Army.

Unfortunately as this piece by Major Navdeep shows, far too many of the last category have been allowed into the Army and they occupy top posts. Here is his views about the Army’s decision makers as he indicts The Army For Its Penchant For Self Destruct.

Major Navdeep Singh is a strong voice for welfare and betterment of the Army. He writes —

What sets the Army HQ apart is its fascination for self-destruct. They always adopt measures which are inimical for the welfare and betterment of the Army and its personnel. This is proven by the number of cases pending before Benches of the Armed Forces Tribunals and other Courts and the kind of strictures passed against the Army.

This is testimony to its chaotic ethos at work. Matters are worsened when well-rounded verdicts are challenged as routine and appeals set in motion based on ego with litigation pursued to the gates of the Supreme Court – militating against morale, money and IZZAT.

While the Army is quick to point fingers at the bureaucracy, it is usually their own arbitrary, parochial attitude and insane policies, which are at fault. Often without reflection, study and knowledge, wrong and harmful decisions are taken and then these are  backed to the hilt.

Thus the Army becomes its own enemy and a laughing stock for the bureaucracy.

Examples. Recently the Supreme Court reportedly reprimanded the Army for creating artificial hurdles for its own officers when an appeal was filed against a lady officer of the JAG branch wherein the case had been allowed by the AFT which had granted her promotions and permanent commission.

Till date, the Army, based on internal artificial interpretation by the MS Branch, is promoting Short Service Officers commissioned prior to 2006 as Captains with 9 years of service while those commissioned after 2006 are being promoted to the same rank in 2 years. This was not created by the Ministry of Defense but by the Army HQ.

In another case when the Army medical establishment was directed by the Courts to grant medical facilities to retired Emergency Commissioned Officers based on an existing Government Order, the Army was quick to challenge it before the Supreme Court.

Imagine, the Army approaching the Supreme Court with a Prayer that the same Army may be directed to withdraw medical facilities to its own ex officers – some in their 80s.

When the Navy and Air Force vouched for implementation of Non-Functional Up Gradation for the defense services – as already applicable to civil services – which guarantees the pay of a Lt Gen in a time-bound manner to superseded officers – the Army was the first to oppose it by putting across the banal argument that if implemented there would be ‘no charm for higher ranks’.

When all Doctors of the Central Government were granted a ‘Dynamic Assured Progression Scheme’, the Army opposed its implementation tooth and nail for its own doctors on the pretext that doctors would then start getting higher salaries than other officers.

While the civilian establishment is constantly blamed for degradation of status of Army officers, the Army, in the Military Engineering Services (MES) itself places senior promotee military officers of the rank of Major and lady officers of similar rank as Assistant Garrison Engineers, an appointment tenable by Subedar equivalent civilian officers. All this while directly commissioned officers of the rank of Major with lesser length of service are posted in higher appointments such as Garrison Engineers – all again based on an artificial, faulty and forced interpretation of existing rules.

Recently, based on a decision taken by the PM, young army officers, both Permanent and Short Service Commissioned, upto 35 years of age with 5 years of service and in fit medical category, were sought for lateral induction into the Indian Police Service through a statutory gazette notification.

Rather than moving with the times, the Army HQ, based on an outdated policy promulgated in 1987, issued a circular pointing out that only those Permanent Commissioned Officers would be permitted to apply for the IPS who had only two years of service left (that is, who were 50 years old), or who were in low medical category, or who had completed 18 years of service but had not passed their promotion exams.

Needless to say, it’s a no-brainer that all such categories ‘allowed’ by the Army HQ were actually ineligible to be inducted into the IPS as per the gazette notification.

Whenever there is a welfare oriented proposal or proactive personnel policy under consideration of the Government which elements in the bureaucracy would not like to see implemented, they simply throw it in the court of the Defense services for a consultative process for they know that first the Army, Navy and the Air Force would start struggling between themselves, and then the fight would shift inter-se between the Arms vs the Service. The end product would be zilch resulting in sniggers from the ringside.

Where does the fault lie? Is it the stiff competition and ACR oriented ‘smile up – kick down’ culture or is it because of plain lack of understanding of the finer aspects of personnel management and lack of administrative acumen or downright stupidity?

It seems that in a nation with the psyche of public servants deriving power by imposing obstacles, red-tape and other impediments in the ordinary life of a common citizen, officers holding key appointments in the military feel powerless when they compare themselves with their civilian counterparts. Hence the only way to feel powerful is by posing hindrances in areas of policy where the pen can be used as an authoritative instrument of damage, and that damage unfortunately is restricted to within the uniformed services.

As a sequel, creation of restrictive clauses and provisos become a tool of ego empowerment through which the policy writer feels potent. Liberal construal is abandoned for sadism and a sub-culture emerges where cribbing is rampant and peer happiness is not tolerated.

The Army has to take up a wake up call and smell the coffee. A recent positive example could be the strong efforts of the Army’s Personnel Services Directorate in reducing litigation and convincing the Defense Ministry to withdraw appeals filed against its disabled soldiers needing disability pension..

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Hannibal …

Posted on October 23, 2015. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

When both Scipio Africanus and Hannibal were out castes from their own countries, they met cordially and during the course of their converse, Scipio asked as to whom Hannibal considered the greatest of Generals. Hannibal replied that first came Alexander then Pyrrhus and then himself. However if he had beaten Scipio at Zama, then he would have been supreme.

A commander and tactician of classic ability, Hannibal surpassed all in his strategy and tactical battles. His classic victory at Cannae remains unmatched even after over two thousand years.

To crown everything, every little thing we know about Hannibal comes from his enemies. The Romans feared and hated him so much that though Livy speaks of his great qualities yet he mentions as a vice his consummate skill in the large traps he set for different Roman Armies.

More importantly, as his veterans perished, he had to organize fresh levies for his army comprising of different nations and soldiers speaking different languages. His army comprised of North Africans, Iberians and Gauls. Leave alone mutiny there was never ever a threat to his leadership. Moreover he mingled freely with all and never asked anyone to do what he himself would not do.

Hannibal’s military genius enabled him to rule supreme in a hostile land and remain a threat to Rome for near two decades. This despite the fact that powerful armies and able Generals were at all times ranged against him.

It is remarkable proof of his leadership that though he spent some seventeen years in the field and passed through many hostile countries and employed men of different nations and languages in desperate battles and extraordinary enterprises, yet no one ever dreamed of conspiring against him and nor was he ever deserted by those who had once joined or submitted to him.

Amazing as his achievements, we must marvel all the more when we consider the lack of support he received from his own country. He had powerful enemies in Carthage and his life was a continuous struggle against destiny.

And let us not forget that Hannibal, with his Army and Elephants, began it all by crossing into Italy over the Alps and that too in winter!

For steadfastness of purpose, for organizing capacity and mastery of military science Hannibal has no equal. We must remember that Alexander and Pyrrhus were born Kings and the former inherited his father’s trained Generals and the formidable Grecian Phalanx.

Cannae

Battle of Cannae - Initial Deployment (The Department of History, United States Military Academy)Battle of Cannae - Destruction of the Roman Army

The Romans had won the First Punic War but now they had to contend with Hannibal.who after his major successes at Trebia and Ticino held all of Northern Italy and threatened Rome it self but Fabius refused to accept battle and the Romans were safe as long as he was in command. But he was sacked and an army under two Consuls marched to meet Hannibal..

Wil Durant writes that Cannae was a supreme example of generalship, never bettered in history and which set standards of tactics for all time.

Among the Romans who escaped Cannae was the twenty-year old Scipio who had lost his father and uncle in Spain against Hannibals brother. He would eventually defeat Hannibal  at  Zama in 202 BC and end the  Second Punic Wa

Battle of Lake Trasimene

This was elegant in its simplicity and “the only instance in history of lying in ambush with the whole of a large army.

As Hannibal passed Lake Trasimene, he came to a place very suitable for an ambush, and hearing that Flaminius had broken camp and was pursuing him, made preparations for the impending battle. To the north was a series of heavily forested hills where the Malpasso Road passed along the north side of Lake Trasimene. Along the hill-bordered skirts of the lake, Hannibal camped where he was in full view of anyone entering the northern defile, and spent the night arranging his troops for battle. Below the camp, he placed his heavy infantry (Iberians, Celts and Africans) upon a slight elevation. Here, they had ample ground from which they could charge down upon the head of the Roman column on the left flank, when it should reach the position.

His cavalry and Gallic infantry were concealed in the hills in the depth of the wooded valley from which the Romans would first enter, so that they could quickly sally out and close the entrance, blocking the Roman route of retreat. Then he posted his light troops at intervals along the heights overlooking the plain, with orders to keep well hidden in the woods until signalled to attack. In addition, the night before the battle commenced, Hannibal ordered his men to light campfires on the hills of Tuoro, at a considerable distance, so as to convince the Romans that his forces were further away than they actually were.

The Romans hurried towards where they thought the Carthaginians were, and when the Roman army was at its most drawn out and vulnerable, Hannibal issued the signal to attack, in what is to this day the largest ambush in military history. At Cannae the Roman legions at least had time to get into battle order. At Lake Trasimene, Hannibal caught them completely with their pants down, spread over several miles. While a sufficiently talented commander might have managed to salvage Cannae for the Romans, no general born could have prevented their slaughter once the ambush was triggered.

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Daring Economic Proposal to Reboot Indian Economy …..

Posted on October 18, 2015. Filed under: Business, Indian Thought |

An Economic Advisory body constituted by a group of Chartered Accountants and Engineers.proposes –

Scrap all 56 Taxes including income tax excluding import duty.

Recall high denomination currencies of 1000, 500 and 100 rupees.

All high value transactions to be made only through banking system – cheque, DD, online and electronic.

Fix limit of cash transaction and no taxing on cash transaction.

For Govt. revenue collection introduce single point tax system through banking system – Banking Transaction Tax (2% to 0.7%) on only Credit Amount

Facts -:

As of today total banking transaction is more than 2.7 lakh crores per day say more than 800 lakh crores annually.

Less than 20% transaction is made through banking system as on today and more than 80% transaction made in cash only, which is not traceable.

78% of Indian population spend less than 20/- rupees daily so why do they need 1000/- rupee note.

Result if All FIFTY SIX Taxes incl income tax scrapped

Salaried people will bring home more money which will increase purchasing power of the family.
All commodities including Petrol, Diesel, FMCG will become cheaper by 35% to 52% .
No question of Tax evasion so no black money generation.
Business sector will get boosted. ie self employment.

Result if 1000/ 500/ 100 Rupees currency notes recalled and scrapped
Corruption through cash will stop 100%.
Black money will be either converted to white or will vanish as billions of 1000/500/100 currency notes hidden in bags without use will become simple pieces of paper.
Kidnapping and ransom, “Supari killing” will stop.
Terrorism supported by cash transaction will stop.
Cannot buy high value property in cash showing very less registry prices.
Circulation of “Fake Currency” will stop because fake currency printing for less value notes will not be viable.

Result if Banking Transaction Tax (2% to 0.7%) is implemented :

As on today if BTT is implemented govt can fetch 800 x 2% = 16 lakh crore where as current taxing system is generating less than 14 lakh crore revenue.
When 50% of total transaction will be covered by BTT sizing 2000 to 2500 lakh crores, Govt will need to fix BTT as low as 1% to 0.7% and this will boost again banking transaction many fold.
No separate machinery like income tax department will be needed and tax amount will directly deposited in State/Central/District administration account immediately.
As transaction tax amount will be very less, public will prefer it instead paying huge amount against directly/indirectly FIFTY SIX taxes.
There will be no tax evasion and govt will get huge revenue for development and employment generation.
For any special revenue for special projects, govt can slightly raise BTT say from 1% to 1.2% and this 0.2% increase will generate 4,00,000 crores additional fund.

Effects of if implemented  :

Prices of all things will come down.
Salaried people will get more cash in hand.
Purchasing power of Society will increase.
Demand will boost, so will production and industrialisation and ultimately more employment opportunity for youth.
Surplus revenue to the govt for effective health/ education/ infrastructure/ security/ social works.
Cheaper and easy loans from banks, interest rate will come down.
Spare money for political system for clean politics,
Prices of land/ property will come down,

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For our Health – the lowly BANANA …

Posted on October 14, 2015. Filed under: Guide Posts |

A banana is a natural remedy for many ills. Compared to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase to = ‘A banana a day keeps the doctor away’.

Bananas have three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. Besides a banana gives instant, sustained and substantial boosts of energy.

Two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with world athletes.

People suffering from depression feel better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain a type of protein that makes you relax, improve mood and make you feel happier. Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Bananas are extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat blood pressure. They assist learning by making pupils more alert.

High in iron, bananas stimulate production of hemoglobin and help in cases of anemia. For Heartburn, Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body.

High in fiber helps restore normal bowel action.

Snacking on bananas between meals helps keep blood sugar levels up and avoids morning sickness.

Banana is the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Many cultures see bananas as a “cooling” fruit that lowers physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates the body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

‘The New England Journal of Medicine’, says eating bananas as part of a regular diet reduces risk of death by stroke by as much as 40%!

Bananas can help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium, helps the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

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India – Fate of the Upright

Posted on October 12, 2015. Filed under: Indian Thought |

From a middle class family Mr. Narayanaswamy stood First in State in Secondary School Examination, First in University in Plus Two; First in IIT Entrance Examination. First in All India IIT Computer Science, First in IAS Entrance Examination. First in IAS Training Institute. On passing out from IIT Chennai was offered scholarship by Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA.

After a decade in the IAS, he has resigned.

A real estate agent wanted to fill up a paddy field banned under law. An application came up before Narayanaswamy who was sub collector for exemption from this rule. Upon visiting the site he found that the complaint from 60 poor families that will face water logging due to the waste water from a nearby Government Medical College if this paddy field was filled up was correct and refused permission.

Soon after his marriage his father-in-law closed down a public road to build compound wall for his plot of land but he removed the obstructing wall with police help. His marriage broke up.

As district Collector he raided the house of a liquor baron who had defaulted Rupees 11 crores payment to government and carried out revenue recovery. A Minister telephoned him and ordered to return the forfeited articles to the house of the liquor baron. or he will suffer.

In his district it was a practice to collect crores of rupees for earthen bunds meant for poor farmers, but which were never constructed. A bill for rupees 8 crores came up before Narayanaswamy. He inspected the bund and found it weak and said that he will pass the bill after the rainy season to ensure that the bund served the purpose. As expected it disappeared in the rain.

The net result of all such unholy activities was that he was asked to go on leave and posted as “State Co-Ordinator, Quality Improvement Programme for Schools” – the most powerless position and denied posting to the Center.

He resigned and is in Paris on a UN assignment. But it is Mother India which has suffered. Others like him – G.R.Khairnar and Alphons Kannamthanam. And when Mr Modi came there was unfounded Hope. Alas!

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Mark Tully on India and the Gandhi Clan …

Posted on October 10, 2015. Filed under: Indian Thought |

I was surprised when the Congress party gave me a Padma Shri – I am the only foreign journalist to ever get it. For, in my forty years of political reporting in India, I have always been a vocal critic of the Nehru dynasty. Someone even called me recently: “a vitriolic British journalist, who in his old age chose to live back in the land he never approved”.

It started with Operation Blue Star. I was one of the few western correspondents who criticized Indira. As I have said since then numerous times, the attack on the Golden Temple and the atrocities that followed the army operations, produced in all sections of the Sikhs a sense of outrage that is hard today to alleviate. I believed then that the large majority of Hindu India, even if politically hostile to Indira Gandhi, openly identified with – and exulted in – her will to overwhelmingly humble a recalcitrant minority.

As everybody knows, Indira Gandhi helped my fame grow even more, by wanting to imprison me during the Emergency she clamped and finally throwing me out of India for a short while. But the result was that the whole of India tuned in, then and thereafter, to my radio’s broadcasts, ‘The Voice of India’, to hear what they thought was ‘accurate’ coverage of events.

When Rajiv Gandhi came to power, I first believed that he was sincerely trying to change the political system, but he quickly gave-up when the old guard would not budge. I criticized him for his foolish adventure in Sri Lanka, although I felt sorry for him when he was blown to pieces by Dhanu, the Tamil Tiger.

It is in Kashmir, though that I fought most viciously against his Govt and subsequent Congress ones for its human right abuses on the Kashmiri Muslims of the Valley. The Congress Governments tried indeed several times to censor me and the army even took prisoner my Kashmiri stringer, whom I had to rescue by the skin of his teeth. I am also proud that I was the first one to point out then, that the Indian Government had at that time no proof of the Pakistani involvement in the freedom movement in Kashmir.

Thus I always made it a point to start my broadcasts by proclaiming that the Indian Government accuses Pakistan of fostering terrorism», or that “elections are being held in Indian-controlled Kashmir”. As I was so popular, all the other foreign journalists used the same parlance to cover Kashmir and they always spoke of the plight of the Muslims, never of the 400.000 Hindus, who after all were chased out of their ancestral land by sheer terror (I also kept mum about it).

As for Sonia Gandhi, I did not mind her, when she was Rajiv Gandhi’s wife, but after his death, I watched with dismay as she started stamping her authority on the Congress, which made me say in a series of broadcasts on the Nehru Dynasty: “It’s sad that the Indian National Congress should be completely dependent on one family; the total surrender of a national party to one person is deplorable. You have to ask the question: what claims does Sonia Gandhi have to justify her candidature for prime-ministership? Running a country is far more complicated than running a company. Apprenticeship is required in any profession — more so in politics”.

I heard that Sonia Gandhi was unhappy about this broadcast. Then, after President APJ Abdul Kalam called her to the Raj Bhavan and told her what some of us already knew, namely that for a long time, she had kept both her Italian and Indian passports, which disqualified her to become the Prime Minister of India, she nevertheless became the Supreme leader of India behind the scenes. It is then that I exclaimed: “the moribund and leaderless Congress party has latched onto Sonia Gandhi, who is Italian by birth and Roman Catholic by baptism”.

She never forgave me for that. Yet, today I can say without the shadow of a doubt that when history will be written, the period over which she presided, both over the Congress and India, will be seen as an era of darkness, of immense corruption and of a democracy verging towards autocracy, if not disguised dictatorship, in the hands of a single person, a non-Indian and a Christian like me. Truth will also come out about her being the main recipient for kickbacks from Bofors to 2G, which she uses to buy votes, as the Wikileaks have just shown.

Finally, I am sometimes flabbergasted at the fact that Indians – Hindus, sorry, as most of this country’s intelligentsia is Hindu – seem to love me so much, considering the fact that in my heydays, I considerably ran down the 850 million Hindus of this country, one billion worldwide. I have repented today: I do profoundly believe that India needs to be able to say with pride, “Yes, our civilization has a Hindu base to it.” The genius of Hinduism, the very reason it has survived so long, is that it does not stand up and fight. It changes and adapts and modernizes and absorbs – that is the scientific and proper way of going about it.

I believe that Hinduism may actually prove to be the religion of this millennium, because it can adapt itself to change. Hindus are still slaves to MUSLIMS and CHRISTIANS On the name of secularism, lots of facilities and cash incentives are given to Muslims and Christians. Haj subsidy is given to Muslims for Haj yatra, wages of Muslim teachers and Imams are given to Muslims are given by looting the Hindu temples. No such subsidy is given to Hindus for going to Hindu religious places or any wages to Hindu religious priests or Hindu teachers. In fact congress secular government creates many obstacles for Hindus for going to Amarnath Yatra.

Even after 65 years of independence reservation is given on religious grounds while it should have been abolished by this time. If at all reservation or subsidy is needed, then it should be purely on economic grounds rather on the grounds of minorities. Such reservations affect the quality of work. Congress party giving various kinds of allurements to minorities to buy their votes with Hindu money. In the government, many people are with Hindu names but in fact many are Muslims and Christians with Hindu names (**) to fool Hindus and to show in the government, majority people are Hindus.

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1965 War – The General Harbaksh Controversy

Posted on October 3, 2015. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

The recent book by Capt Amarinder Singh has revisited the Gen Harbaksh controversy re the then Chief ordering a Withdrawal behind the Beas. The subject was hotly debated several years ago with various heavy weights giving their two cents. Here is the noted historian and authority on Matters Military, Maj Gen KM Bhimaya (Retd) giving his authoritative summation —

I have read and interviewed Gen Harbaksh Singh, at his Vasant Vihar residence, way back in 1987, with other members of the Inter Service Study team on the 1965 War.

At no time, did he mention about the Withdrawal Orders to Beas Bridge episode. I do not remember having read about these orders in his ‘Dispatches’. If any one has read about this incident, I request it be shared.

That brings me to the important question of drawing inferences about momentous historical decisions. Most of the perplexities faced by an analyst arise from the inherent difficulty in divining the mind of a commander who takes such critical decisions.

In the instant case, the question is not about the propriety of a decision but whether or not a decision was taken at all. Therefore, in such cases, the primacy of documentary over circumstantial evidence is absolute. Alas, we do not have a semblance of documentary evidence!

And with this cloud of uncertainty, a rigorous analyst would label Captain Amarinder’s belated claim ‘apocryphal’ – a common euphemism for unverified assertions.

At the expense of brevity let me illustrate one more example from the 1971 War.

The controversy whether the Indian Armed Forces had planned for the liberation of Bangladesh has been discussed several times. Apart from field commanders, two important staff officers who had major roles in implementing orders were interviewed several times by our team.

While Gen Jacob, who had a politico-military role (particularly in obtaining Gen Niazi’s surrender on terms most favorable to India), insisted that he had, right from July 1971, prepared for the total liberation of Bangladesh, the operational orders did not say so.

Gen Inderjit Singh Gill, the then DMO, also stated that he was not aware of such orders, though some contingency plans, such as the tasks for the airborne operations had been formulated.

General Jacob produced a few DOs that talked about possible roles for the Parachute Battalion. Gen Sagat Singh, undoubtedly the most outstanding of all the field commanders and first to reach Dacca, denied any knowledge of any orders for the capture of Dacca.

Under these circumstances, we, in the study team, made an informed judgment that, although there were no written orders, the various DOs Gen Jacob produced, attested to the fact that some kind of informal planning had taken place.

As for the 1965 War, it has been described by an Indian as ‘A war which Pakistan lost but India did not win’ and by a Pakistani as ‘We were saved by Allah, Artillery and the Indian Army’.

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