Saturday, February 2, 2008

Each moment in a day has its own value

Morning brings Hope...
Afternoon brings Faith...
Evening brings Love....
Night brings Rest...
Wish you find them all today.

VA Subramanyam
Brig (Retd)

Some Facets
Brig VA Subramanyam was born and brought up in Bangalore, where his great grand father had moved in during 1865. After completing schooling from Bangalore, he graduated in Physics from the Madras Christian College,Tambaram. Even before completing his degree, he was selected for a commission through the NCC graduate entry scheme. He was commissioned into the Corps of Signals in December 1960. He had the unique privilege and honour of being asked to compile the History of the Corps of Signals, which was published during the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations (75 years) of the Corps in 1986. He retired in 1990, and served in a few organisations before moving into Chennai, in 1994. He was married to Jaya in 1964. Jaya is a trained singer and teacher. She taught at various schools during service, and used innovative methods in the teaching of physically challenged children. During the later years she studied differing forms of alternative therapies. Subramanyams have three children– a boy between two girls.
Please visit following webpages for more interesting highlights and information.
Family Photographs of Brig VA Subramanyam
Bio- Data of Veterans

The Blog Team thanks Brig VA Subramanyam and looks forward to his contributions. Truly ESM do need Hope, Faith, Love and Rest each Day. The verse is indeed motivating.

Friday, February 1, 2008

One Crore Beneficiaries

The ex-servicemen contributory health scheme (ECHS) was approved by Government of India on 30 December 2002 and launched with effect from 1 April 2003. ECHS is an adjunct to existing infrastructure of Armed Forces Medical Services. It is an entirely public-funded scheme underwritten by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India. ECHS is a comprehensive health care scheme to cater to the needs of pensioners of Armed Forces within easy reach of their place of residence including in far-flung areas. The main purpose is to be able to manage efficiently the needs of 20 lakh ex-servicemen pensioners population and their dependents totaling to one crore beneficiaries. Retired Armed Forces Pensioners so far did not have any Medicare scheme, which would parallel the one available to other Central Government employees. The existing Army Group Insurance (AGI) and Air Force Group Insurance Scheme (AFGIS) had many limitations and covered only small number of diseases.

GOI/MOD has initially sanctioned 227 polyclinics spread all over India, which are to be constructed by 31 March 2008.

Configuration. The configuration depends on the population of ex-servicemen (ESM) in that area. The different types of polyclinics will differ in terms of manpower. Types A and B will have a medical specialist, a gynaecologist and an extra medical officer as compared to types C and D.

Medical equipment and manpower. Polyclinic in military stations are supported by local military hospitals for both equipment and manpower.

Drugs and consumables. In military stations, indents are generated from polyclinics and the collections made through senior executive medical officer. He can use enhanced financial powers for not available (NA) items through Director General Local Purchase (DGLP) fund. In non-military stations, officer-in-charge polyclinics send demand through empanelled druggist. The bills submitted every 15 days are charged through station commander. Ceiling limit for local purchase by OIC polyclinic depends on type of polyclinic and ranges from 30,000 per month for types C and D polyclinics to 50,000 for types A and B. The financial power range from 20,000 to one lakh depends upon the rank of the SEMO/Commander.

Teething problems
One major problem that is being faced is lack of publicity in non-military stations where ESM are living in far-flung regions and remote villages.

The ones already aware have put on the "wait and watch" attitude and are reluctant to change their existing way of life.

The "smart CArd" is still in infancy and the distribution is slow; the electronic system may have its own hang-up initially.

Medical and paramedical personals are not coming forward to take up employment, as it is contractual in nature and the remunerations do not commensurate with qualifications. In addition to this, the QR is not attracting competent professionals.

There is an additional load on already busy military hospitals for indenting, empanelment, processing of bills, technical preparation and purchase of drugs. Additional logistic support is needed for smooth conduct at polyclinics.

Dr Deswal B S
Department of Community Medicine, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune - 411 040, Maharashtra, India
For more information email:

Manning Shortage another viewpoint

Lately, the media has been awash with reports of just 86 cadets joining the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun against a course strength of 250. And, instead of 300 applicants, just 197 boys turned up at the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, at Pune.
These media reports also highlighted the staggering number of officers who have sought premature release. Worse, this knell has rung at a time when the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force combined are already crippled by a shortage of 14,060 young officers. This should worry not just the ministry of defence but the nation, too, for like nation-building or statecraft, the war machine too depends on mettlesome leadership to deliver results. And young officers are the sword-arm of any force.
This plight has been blamed on the usual welter of reasons: unattractive salaries, tough working environment, limited growth opportunities, dimming respect for the Armed Forces in the society and a green civvy street.
Also, there were reports of the army chief hinting at conscription as a way out if the trend snowballs into a crisis. Given that conscription is an unworkable doctrine in India, I believe the allusion was the army chief's oblique attempt to remind the Sixth Pay Commission of the desperate straits he is in. Earlier, Defence Minister A K Antony had urged the Pay Commission to issue bumper pay-packets so as to help in retaining those itching to leave and to entice bright youngsters into signing up.
In short, both the defence minister and the army chief have apparently exhausted other options and have pinned their hopes on the Sixth Pay Commission to stem the peacetime attrition. What if the Pay Commission misfires? After all, Pay Commissions are a typical governmental exercise in jugglery, so it's foolhardy to be bullish about its sixth avatar being Santa Claus.
Let me be less sceptical and assume that the Sixth Pay Commission will shower manna on the services. Let's also assume that the brightest lads, unable to resist the alluring emoluments, flock to the armed forces' training academies. What if they lack the hardiness to endure the physically exacting regimen of military life? My point is: You need certain attributes to be an officer and a warrior, and many bright sparks need not have it in them to be service officers. The right recruits are those with an innate desire for soldiering and the capacity to endure hardships.
Though the intake to the corps of officers has been on the wane, the UPSC and the SSB (Services Selection Board) have not compromised on their standards; they continue to pick the right material. Had it not been the case, our army would have begun crumbling in the nineties under the onslaught of the inimical elements in J&K and the Northeast.
No doubt, the men and women serving in the forces need to be remunerated handsomely. But to zero in on paltry salaries as the sole reason for the jam is like mistaking the trees for the forest. I believe the solution lies in catching them young and priming them up to become the 'right material'.

Sainik Schools
The make-up of the officer cadre of the Indian armed forces a decade after Independence was disquieting for a Republic still writhing from the throes of its birth. It was a monopoly of the patrician, blue-blooded alumni of public schools and the so-called martial races -- the 'more-than-equal' gentry who had little in common with the men they led.
The officer cadre patently lacked the grassroots character and ethos of the newborn nation and needed to be 'Indianised'. The infrastructure to nurture the essential levels of physical, mental and intellectual calibre for induction into the officer cadre was found wanting in common schools. Since public schools were beyond all but the affluent, in 1960, then defence minister VK Krishna Menon envisioned Sainik schools -- at least one in each state -- to select boys from across the spectrum through an open entrance examination and to rear them for leadership in the armed forces.
The Sainik schools were modelled on public schools minus the elitism and snobbery. The syllabus-examination approach- the bane of our education system- was cast aside. These schools would aim at all-round development to enhance competitive and survival skills, and to foster personality development subliminally. To ensure mainly smart boys from the economically backward bracket joined these schools, the states were mandated to provide merit-cum-means scholarships. The campus life would be free from communal and social bias, and insulated from the rumpus that bedevil student life outside.
Given their background and grooming, they would identify themselves with the men they command. Sainik schools would thus serve as feeders to the National Defence Academy and the three service academies.
Did it work? Of course. The Sainik school cubs had their baptism of fire in the 1971 Indo-Pak war and emerged with flying colours. Remember how the young officers led their troops upfront, uphill, undauntedly through the cannonade to recapture the Kargil massifs? And last year, General Deepak Kapoor, a Sainik school product, took over as the army chief.

Some More History
The call to establish an Indian military college to raise an army officer cadre on the lines of the Royal Military Academy (Woolwich, later Sandhurst) and the United States Military Academy (West Point) was made in a Congress resolution way back in 1887. This demand was renewed subsequently at the Indian National Congress session of 1917. These ultimately led to the institution of the Indian Military Academy in 1932. This is a testimony to the vision and quality of leadership during the freedom struggle. Madan Mohan Malaviya confirmed this when he argued in the legislative assembly in 1928: 'The question whether a military academy shall or shall not be established is a question of life and death to the people of this country. The whole question of future government in this country hangs upon that question.'
This shows our leaders of yesteryear -- including the much-maligned Krishna Menon -- were tall visionaries compared to the present lot. Our unconcerned polity and their vision deficit are responsible for nudging the three services to the precipice, perhaps the consequence of defence ministers being appointed for reasons of narrow politics than their grasp of matters defence.

Solutions and Suggestions
1. In the past two decades, the profile of those joining the officer cadre and the students entering the Sainik schools has changed. Earlier, sons of officers followed their fathers' footsteps into the officer cadre. No more. Now boys from a lower pecking order are the ones joining the service academies, a sign of social mobility up the ladder.
As for Sainik schools, initially boys from indigent and not-so-rich background made it, but gradually they were replaced by those from the better-off stratum. Two reasons: one, in quest for sound education; two, given the steep rise in the fees, only the well-heeled could afford education in Sainik schools. Thus, Sainik schools, once acclaimed as the poor man's public schools, became unaffordable to the poor man!
Since the economic boom in the nineties opened several avenues, since their parents were paying up the fees, their wards were not motivated enough to see the armed forces as their profession. Naturally, the tally from Sainik schools dipped. Setting this right is a solution to the intake-deficit ailing the services.
The need to nurture and maintain the talent pool and its cost are an important dimension of overall defence planning. If the government is canny, it would regard the 22 Sainik schools (plus the five Military schools and the Rashtriya Indian Military College at Dehradun) as the catchment area-cum-nursery of the 'right material' not only to overcome the present shortfall of officers but also as an inexhaustible wellhead for future officers. The annual overhead of the 22 Sainik schools is nearly Rs 80 crores. That is less than 0.1 percent of the defence budget (Rs 96,000 crores for the year 2007-2008). The ministry of defence should pick up this tab as grant-in aid, not as largesse but as sagacious investment.
With aspirations booming proportional to the GDP growth, defence planners need to target the section of society likely to see becoming service officers as upward mobility and select boys from this segment to the Sainik schools. If 20 to 25 percent make it to the academies, the services will never face a shortage of officers. As for the rest, they will serve the country in other capacities. This will also accomplish the upliftment of those languishing on the margins of our society. Hence, the Centre footing the bill will provide a fresh lease of life to the Sainik schools currently fighting a battle for survival, with phenomenal returns on this investment. A win-win scenario. In brief, rediscover the Sainik school to bridge the shortfall.

2. The National Cadet Corps needs to be made universal and mandatory for two or three years at the school level. NCC, besides doing the students a world of good, should inspire a few to join the services.

3. Because of an article penned by this writer that appears in the Standard X English textbook in Maharashtra, I have had the opportunity to interact with thousands of students in the past 12 years. Many boys and girls had expressed their desire to don the uniform but, shockingly, most of them did not know how to go about it. Hardly anyone had heard about the various service academies. At a time when the services have to compete fiercely with the rest to attract talent, not hardselling the defence forces surely earns a C minus. As they say, if the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.

4. As retention of officers is getting difficult by the day, it's time to rewrite the manpower policies so as to swell the cadre of short service officers. Many out there may be willing to serve the forces for five years.

5. Lastly, many officers have sought premature release for reasons other than lucre. Like elsewhere, corruption has been corroding the vitals of the services, and the skeletons tumbling out apace have severely dented its image. Few will be tempted to prefer a career in the forces if the slide downhill is not undone. It's time for the top brass to set the house in order. Besides, the services need to frame a modern appraisal system to ensure that only the deserving ascend the totem pole.

Flt Lt M P Anil Kumar (Retd)
A Former Indian Air Force Pilot

Flt Lt Anil is a quadriplegic staying in the paralegic home at Kirkee, near Pune. He is one of the oldest inmates. This officer became a quadripligic in an accident ( Not plane accident). The only mobilty he has of the neck and hence he operates a computer with the help of a small stick, held in the mouth. He is a genius and writes well. His lessons in English is prescribed for x std students of Maharashtra. This young officer in his thirties is an inspiration to all living beings. All those dejected of life should learn from him, how to cope with adversity in real life.

PT Gangadharan
Brig (Retd)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Conscription need not be the final solution

Deficiency of 11 to 12 thousand officers in the Indian army has persisted for years. In a country plagued by endemic unemployment, such large deficiencies can only be explained in terms of unattractiveness of military service. Since independence, the politico-bureaucratic combine have been working over time to downgrade military service and consequently it has become the very last option for the youth. Both in terms of pay and status, the military has hit rock bottom.

On its part the military has been pleading, both with the government and successive pay commissions, for a fair dispensation for the troops and officers, but to no avail. In a desperate attempt the military tried to avail the services of an advertising agency, at a huge cost, to show case the career, but this too has drawn a blank. The fact is that no advertising agency can whitewash the obvious drawbacks of a career in the Indian military. Because no informed and discerning person can possibly miss the unenviable position in which the military has been placed.

Therefore, as a last option, the army chief has fielded the idea of conscription to meet the perennial shortfall. His concern is on two counts. One endemic shortage in the officer cadre and second, those already in it want to troop out in large numbers. He could not have gone public on the issue without coming to the conclusion, after meeting failure on all fronts (government and successive pay commissions) that there will continue to be lack of volunteers and that only option left is conscription.

However conscription appears anathema in a liberal democracy. Yet national security is not something that can be outsourced! Why so few are willing to join the military and those already in it want to leave in large numbers! There are far too many disadvantages. Poor promotion prospects, inadequate pay and allowances, low pension, early retirement, long periods away from families in uncongenial environments with attendant medical problems, running two establishments, disturbance in children’s education, risk to life in an unending fight against insurgents and all the other travails, attendant to life in the Indian military. All these can be clubbed under what may be called ‘ X’ factor, which has to be duly compensated.

We live in a materialistic world and self serving environments. It is therefore, unrealistic to expect idealism and sacrifices, from only one small section of society, while the rest go about mending their own fences. Disadvantages of a military career vis-à-vis civil services are far too many. Between various organs of the government there must be equity with special dispensation for the military for the ‘X’ factor.

Consider this. Only at the threat of resignation, were the service chiefs able to get, ‘running pay band’ for their officers from the Fourth Pay Commission. The Fifth Pay Commission took away the ‘running pay band,’ introduced 33 years conditionality to earn full pension, a clause that works only against defence personnel; nearly ninety percent of them. It assembled 138 officers and staff (including those from the Postal Service, Indian forest Service etc) to compile the report and did not take even one, yes even one officer from the defence forces for this task. The Sixth Pay Commission is a repeat of the same pattern. Fifth Pay Commission’s report runs into over 2100 pages. Defence forces case is covered in just 50 pages or so, when they are nearly 40 percent of the central government employees; with the largest officer cadre. It gave more pension to a brigadier than, a Maj Gen.

The Committee of secretaries assembled to review the report of this Pay Commission, had an officer from the police but, even on the urgings of the three Service chiefs, had none from the armed forces. MoD’s role was at best obdurate.

This then is how the defence forces of the country have been dealt with. No wonder the shortages persist, lower standards of intake not withstanding. There is, near exodus from the army and the IAF. In the army between 2001 and 2004, in all 2000 officers sought release and this included 2 Lt-Gens, 10 Maj-Gens, 84 brigadiers and remaining colonels and below. How many from the IAS, IPS and other civil services have likewise applied for release from service! How can any government remain oblivious of the discontentment and disenchantment in the defence services! Therefore, the question, who will soldier for the country!

Only on my pointing out to the PM, during our meeting with, that in the case of ‘one rank one pension,’ only the other ranks, upto havaldars have been given monetary increase in their pension, whereas JCOs and officers have been left out. Since then JCOs have been given increase in their pension but officers have again been left in the cold. Does, the incidences of shooting of seniors, comrades, suicides and thousands fighting their cases in the courts reflect on the state of morale!

While other armies opted to live with shortages, the Indian Army, because of insurgencies in J and K and North East and deployment against Tibet etc finds it hard to live with the shortages. In Britain , the top brass simply dug its heels and made the government relent on making the military service more attractive than the civil services. The Army has to compete with the civil services in the job market and ‘X’ factor is integral to that competition. Equally nothing is more valuable than one’s life.

Serious problems in the management of officer cadre are due the pyramidal structure; a service imperative and any further tampering with it, by increasing numbers in the higher ranks will be detrimental to the functional aspects of the service. There is a strong case to enlarge the short service cadre ( six months training and five years service ) and on completion of 5 years service there should be assured induction into state and central police, civil services and or professional educational institutions, (with appropriate stipend), depending on qualifications, choice and suitability. There ought to be a statutory provision for this. Such a course would be more in keeping with democratic values etc than conscription and at the same time mitigate the perennial problem of cadre management and shortages.

The rank and file in the military is equally if not more disadvantaged than the officer cadre. There are no shortages because of unemployment in the country. Even here the better material goes to state police, CPO and other government avenues and only the left over seeks entry into military. A soldier retires at the age of 34 to 38 years. There is no alternate job for him. His pension, because of lesser length of service and 33 years conditionality works out to less than half of that of a peon from the government. He is the same soldier to whom the PM gave the award, ‘Indian of the year,’ at the recently held, NDTV award ceremony!

Responding to the army chiefs loud thinking on the issue of conscription, the defence minister stressed the need to create more facilities and better pay packets to make job in the defence services more attractive rather than resort to conscription. Such false promises have been made in the past by the politicians. Perhaps Mr Antony is of a different genre. The country has to address these pressing issues and give fair dispensation to the defence forces.

Lt Gen Harwant Singh, PVSM, AVSM (retd)
Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff

(This article is also posted in "Report My Signal Professional Matters" Blog with other linkages and comments)

Comments from Readers

The orignal sin was to cut down our Salaries while KCIOs & ICS were not touched. In 1947 I was an Instructor at the IMA Dehra Dun- Company Commmander (Major) of Miektila Coy of the Postwar 2nd & 3rd Courses of Cadets, when this happened.

Pandit Nehru visited the IMA. Nehru sitting in our Mess at lunch said within my hearing "we have no need for an Army we are a peaceful Nation". Soon thereafter 1st SIKHs had to be flown to thwart PAK attacks into Kashmir, and the so called PAK raiders were Stopped around Baramulla, and India's dependence on Armed Forces has been on the Increase since then. In between others eg BSF and other such like organisations have chipped in, to add to the overall Defence Budget. Still, Army's Role has been on the increase in spite of raising many other Para Military Organisations. While I agree with HARWANT SINGH there is now also an all round realisation that Army has to be paid much better but, its present size is bound to result in hugely increased Budget. Then there is the requirement of newer Weapon Systems. Conscription will not solve anything- Soldiering requires Soldiers, NOT Conscripts. I have First Hand experience of the British Conscripts in the last War. CHEERS.

Brig RS Gill (Retd)
Firstly, I fail to understand as to why the Service chiefs are worried about the shortage of officers after they have apprised the Govt. Is it the responsibility of the Service chiefs to recruit officers or is it of MOD.I do not agree with the General Harwant Singh's statement, "It is therefore, unrealistic to expect idealism and sacrifices, from only one small section of society, while the rest go about mending their own fences". There are still very many Indians who value the value system and would like to join the defence forces provided they are guided well. Let's put our house in order first. Do the generals and the senior defence officers behave in a fashion commensurate with their rank/ office both in office and outside. Are they free from personal prejudices and idiosyncrasies/ whims/ fancies. The number of court cases is a barometer of the same. Govt will succumb only when the senior officers look after their juniors correctly and do not compromise for their personal benefit.

Col Shivraj (Retd)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Defence Minister urges Indian Industry

New Delhi Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Hike defence R&D expenditure, Antony urges Indian industry
India's defence industry in the public and private sectors should drastically ramp up their R&D expenditure if their products are to become globally competitive, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Tuesday.
"You say you are spending 3 to 4 percent (of your outlays) on R&D. I am sorry to say this just not enough. I am not happy with this," he said while inaugurating a national seminar here on 'Defence R&D and Technology Management'.
The Society of Defence Technologists (SODET) has organised the two-day event.
"You should take a leaf from the pharmaceutical sector. If you are not prepared to spend more on R&D, then you should keep your products in a museum," said Antony, who is known to speak from the heart on such issues.
Some pharmaceutical majors like Ranbaxy and Dr. Reddy's Labs spend up to 10 percent of their annual budgets on R&D.
Technology is changing so fast, Antony told the gathering, that "you have to keep pace or your products will become obsolete. Previously it took five years (for a new generation of technology to emerge). Today it takes three years". Unless the Indian industry shapes up, "we would be forced to turn to foreign suppliers. I don't say we can be 100 percent indigenous and I don't believe that is possible, but we should reduce imports to the extent possible".According to Antony, India is emerging as a world power, "but unless we produce more (of our requirements) how can we say that our products are the best? Our armed forces must also acknowledge that our products are superior. "Unless you are ready with products that satisfy the armed forces, the government will be compelled to go for imports. This will create lots of problems," Antony said. The minister also pointed to the government's "serious initiatives" for strengthening India's defence R&D base through the increased involvement of all players, whether private or public, Indian or foreign. "Defence R&D and its integration into product improvement and development is an exceedingly complex and exacting process. This involves collaborative and network techniques so as to ensure that the output of research establishments are effectively translated into viable, state-of-the-art products," Antony said.
"The variables that impact our defence preparedness and threat assessments, including regional and global political dynamics, are in a state of continuous flux, forcing us to constantly reassess threats to our security. All this is compounded by the remarkable technological and scientific revolution which began in the last century and is continuing at a dizzying pace. He said this "exponential" growth of technology and information makes it all the more imperative that suitable instruments are in position to ensure that defence innovations reach their intended end users, namely the armed forces. The ability to move with speed in response to innovations is what will determine whether a country continues to have a winning edge or not," he said. In this context, Antony also served a wake up call to India's defence industry to gear up to benefit from the foreign technology that will become available due to the newly introduced offsets policy in the import of military hardware. "Unless you move fast, both the public and the private sector combined will not be able to absorb the technology that will come our way and the entire effort would go waste."


What Industry can provide to our Armed Forces.

Digital Battlefield: The communications, computers, displays, and sensor systems for the soldier will provide information about location and surroundings, evaluate tactical intelligence, assist in targeting, and permit voice and data communications with squad/ troop members and field operations/ command centers. These systems should be introduced with modest capabilities in the fully developed Land Warrior equipment and should gravitate and evolve to higher performance levels to meet increasing demands. Unfortunately, the Land Warrior systems will require a large amount of electric power. Can the Industry meet the power challenges/ requirements for the communications, computing, display, GPS, and sensor functions of the (Future Infantry Soldier as a System) F-INSAS?

The first thing that comes to mind are solar, bio fuel, fuel cells and hybrid vehicles.

Power Film, Solar Shelters and Generators: If you need solar power in the field, why not have it on your tents? Efficient solar cells especially for short field jobs which provide cheap, efficient solar power could also save on labor, time and money. Soldier Solar which can be worn by Jawans and adapted to recharge a field generator or vehicle.

Fuel cells: A light, phone book sized fuel cell system.

Ground Combat Hybrid: Hybrid electric drive system for ground combat vehicles as part of the Army’s Future Combat Systems program.

Army Engineer Robot: An off road military vehicle for ground exploration and scouting missions with diesel-electric hybrid power version.

Our ESM Entrepreneurs can surely meet the Industry Challenges.

Beating the Retreat Ceremony

The President, Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil and the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh at Beating the Retreat Ceremony, in New Delhi on January 29, 2008.

The Band performing at the Beating the Retreat Ceremony, in New Delhi on January 29, 2008.

The Rashtrapati Bhawan and the South and North Block of the Central Secretariat atop Raisina Hill that formed the centerpiece of the Imperial city that Edwin Lutyens built – comes alive during the Beating the Retreat Ceremony, in New Delhi on January 29, 2008.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pension Benefits

It would be quite appropriate to amend existing military service pension regulations. Soldiers actually engaged in a declared war should be exempt from minimum years for pension for retirement, while longer the service shall increase the benefits. This was practised for World War I and II ex-servicemen. Now ex-servicemen of our own 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars honorably released pension less must be honored for 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars.

L Rajpuri
Brig (Retd)
Saturday, January 19, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ex Servicemen to turn guards of honour for tourists

Taking a serious note of rising incidence of crimes against foreign tourists, particularly women, the Centre on Thursday asked state governments to deploy a force of ex-servicemen in prominent tourist destinations for providing adequate protection to visitors from unscrupulous elements. The recommendation was made by the tourism ministry at a meeting of state tourism secretaries in view of the shortage of police personnel in states to undertake such a specialised task on a regular basis and the reluctance of most state governments to set up a special police force for tourists.

The ministry suggested the creation of a "trained, dedicated and disciplined" watchdog force comprising ex-servicemen to solve the problem of harassment and molestation of women tourists, which had assumed alarming proportions. The tourism ministry offered to help state governments in setting up such special units by coordinating between them and the Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR) under the defence ministry.

The expenditure incurred by this special force will have to be borne by state governments, according to Union Tourism Secretary S. Banerjee, who stated that the modalities ofthe scheme would be finalised by his ministry within the next two days.

"Here is a bank of completely trained and disciplined personnel. We are asking states to make use of their services," Banerjee said after the meeting.

The DGR has proposed a model in which ex-servicemen will function as tourist wardens or "tourist buddies" in each state after proper training for the job. The suggestion got a favourable response from state officials, he said.

The meeting was also attended by officials from ministries of home, defence, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways as well as Delhi Police.

Hindustan Times, Sat, Jan 26 12:25 AM

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Clarification of Highway Toll Tax

Dear Brigadier,

Please refer your e-mail to the chairman NHAI dated 03 Jan 08. The letter enclosed by you does not exist and is being circulated to misguide ex- servicemen as the toll collection work is being assigned only to DGR sponsored agencies of ESM(O) and employing 90% ex- servicemen.
Based on provisions of Indian Toll (Army & Air Force) Act 1901, exemption is available only to serving Defence Personnel and these provisions are being implemented. Recipients of Gallantry Award as per Gazette notification no GSR 84(E) dt 27 Oct 2003 are covered in exempted category.
No exemption is available to ex-servicemen unless they are recipients of listed gallantry awards.
Thanking you
Yours faithfully

Gp Capt Vinay Kaushal VSM
General Manager (CO)

The above letter was received by Brig CS Kamboj, VSM (Retd) which is reproduced for information of all ESM.

Income Tax Refunds

I hope all of you are aware that with immediate effect, you can trace the status of your (PERSONAL only , NOT for Corporate) Income Tax Refund(s) due, by visiting the following site
Click on the last heading to the right column where it says: Status of Tax Refunds New. It will take you to the next page.
Just type in your PAN and the Assessment year that you are interested in. It is supposed to show you how much and when the amount was credited to your Bank.

PT Gangadharan
Brig (Retd)

Blog Team thanks Brig PT Gangadharan for the useful information. Tax Information Network (TIN), a repository of nationwide Tax related information, has been established by National Securities Depository Limited on behalf of Income Tax Department of India (ITD). TIN is an initiative by ITD for the modernisation of the current system for collection, processing, monitoring and accounting of direct taxes using information technology.

How Holidays Work

National Holidays
There are three National Holidays Republic Day (Jan 26), Independence Day (Aug 15), and Mahatma Gandhi's birthday (Oct 2). These are observed everywhere, and all government offices and businesses are closed.

All- India Public Holidays
In addition to the three National holidays, there are 14 all- India Public holidays, when all offices of the central government and banks remain closed. Of these, 11 are compulsory nationwide, and another 3 are decided on a state basis. In the spirit of India's cultural and religious pluralism, these holidays include the festivals of major religions (Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity and Buddhism). Most being scheduled on a lunar calendar, they come on different dates each year.

State Public Holidays
In each of India's 29 states and 7 Union Territories, there are additional holidays, both religious and secular. India is so regionally varied that no two states observe exactly the same mix of holidays and festivals. Different states have different regionally based festivals. A number of states celebrate 01 May as Labor Day. In Maharashtra, the Parsee New Year is on the list. In Punjab, there are a number of additional holidays relating to Sikhism. The state of Tamilnadu has a total of 24 public holidays. Each state issues a yearly list of its public holidays for the coming year.

Restricted Holidays
Another category of holidays is the so-called restricted holidays. These are holidays from which individuals may choose a limited number, though government offices and businesses don't close. This system allows yet more flexibility for accommodating India's religious and cultural pluralism.

Bank Holidays
According to the list of holidays announced for bank employees for the calendar year 2008, no holiday has been declared for the major festivals such as Makara Sankaranthi (January 15), Mahaveer Jayanti (April 18), Basaveshwara Jayanti ((May 8), Mahalaya Amavasya (September 29) Ayudha Puja (October 8) and Naraka Chaturdasi (October 27). In contrast, most State Governments have declared a holiday for all these festivals. No parity amongst states Karnataka much less (only 19 for the current year) than what has been given to the banks in Kerala (25) and West Bengal (20).

Ad Hoc Holidays
Holidays may also be declared for ad hoc reasons such as the death of a respected national leader or for election days. Industrial strikes, especially the general strikes called "bandh," can result in de facto work holidays as well. Finally, in cricket dizzy populace, there are the unofficial cricket holidays around major test matches, when employees are at work, but thoroughly distracted, or may even report sick and day treated as casual leave!

How many Productive Days are left for the Bureaucracy?
364 days in a year minus all weekend holidays plus all holidays listed above, plus annual and casual leave. Does the bureaucracy have time to check and ensure, that there is appropriate delivery mechanism for the many well- intended Government schemes for the ESM, the poor and marginalised citizens of our Nation?
Contrast this with a serving soldier who is entitled 2 months annual leave and 20 days casual leave (80 days) in a year. He is on duty 24x7 for remaining 284 days of the year. In the Armed Forces as per tradition and camaraderie leave is a privilege and not a right.


The contents posted on these Blogs are personal reflections of the Bloggers and do not reflect the views of the "Report My Signal- Blog" Team.
Neither the "Report my Signal -Blogs" nor the individual authors of any material on these Blogs accept responsibility for any loss or damage caused (including through negligence), which anyone may directly or indirectly suffer arising out of use of or reliance on information contained in or accessed through these Blogs.
This is not an official Blog site. This forum is run by team of ex- Corps of Signals, Indian Army, Veterans for social networking of Indian Defence Veterans. It is not affiliated to or officially recognized by the MoD or the AHQ, Director General of Signals or Government/ State.
The Report My Signal Forum will endeavor to edit/ delete any material which is considered offensive, undesirable and or impinging on national security. The Blog Team is very conscious of potentially questionable content. However, where a content is posted and between posting and removal from the blog in such cases, the act does not reflect either the condoning or endorsing of said material by the Team.
Blog Moderator: Lt Col James Kanagaraj (Retd)