Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tamilnadu ESM Organisation

Chennai Parking Lots are Mafia Dens
Here are some facets of TEXCO which is Tamilnadu Ex- Servicemen Corporation. This is an organisation meant for welfare of ESM but employs ESM/ dependents on paper only and hardly any genuine ESM. The whole organisation is steeped in corruption and fool proof methods/ systems devised for siphoning off revenue accrued from parking lots. It is comparable to any Italian Mafia Organisation of the world but at comparably lower level as there is no violence and shooting involved. Does Army Resettlement Directorate exercise any control or have audit to check on who is benefiting from such a massive organisation with so much revenue? The post of General Manager is either an IAS officer or Retired Armed Forces Officer appointed by Tamilnadu Government.

Relatives are not ESM
I interviewed a dozen of the so called ESM employed in the parking lots of Chennai Corporation, not one of them was an ESM. When questioned how he got employed: answer was "I am ESM relative". How can a relative become a dependent? Another scheme of employing ESM for Aavin milk vending booths has died its natural death because of corruption. The ESM were forced to sell the booths to local thugs on a monthly payment.

Please read the laudable aims and objectives of TEXCO which is given in link below. There is urgent need for accountability and responsibility. The ground realities are not checked. TEXCO uniform and badge is worn by all the thugs. The ESM name is getting unnecessarily sullied/ tarnished/ smeared/ muddled with Mafia activity of thugs who really man the Chennai Parking Lots. The civilians get to feel that ESM are corrupt as they are cheated at the Metro Parking Areas. TEXCO

To Prove you are a Mumbaite

  • You say "town" and expect everyone to know that this means south of Churchgate.
  • You speak in a dialect of Hindi called 'Mumbaiya Hindi', which only Mumbaites can understand.
  • Your door has more than three locks.
  • Rs 500 worth of groceries fit in one paper bag.
  • Train timings (9.27, 10.49) are really important events of life.
  • You spend more time each month traveling than you spend at home.
  • You call an 8' x 10' clustered room a Hall.
  • You're paying Rs 10,000 for a 1 room flat, the size of walk-in closet and you think it's a "steal."
  • You have the following sets of friend: school friends, college friends, neighborhood friends, office friends and yes, train friends, a species unique only in Bombay.
  • Cabbies and bus conductors think you are from Mars if you call the roads by their Indian name, they are more familiar with Warden Road, Peddar  Road, Altamount Road.
  • Stock market quotes are the only other thing besides cricket which you follow passionately.
  • The first thing that you read in the Times of India is the " Bombay Times" supplement.
  • You take fashion seriously. You're suspicious of strangers who are actually nice to you.
  • Hookers, beggars and the homeless are invisible.
  • You compare Bombay to New York 's Manhattan instead of any other cities of India.
  • The most frequently used part of your car is the horn.
  • You insist on calling CST as VT, and Sahar and Santacruz airports instead of Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
  • You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.
  • Your idea of personal space is no one actually standing on your toes.
  • Being truly alone makes you nervous.
  • You love wading through knee deep mucky water in the monsoons, and actually call it ''romantic'.
  • Only in Mumbai, you would get Chinese Dosa and Jain Chicken.
    ......Salaam Bombay......

    Brig VA Subramanyam (Retd)
  • Friday, March 14, 2008

    Ten Commandments for Ex Servicemen

  • Focus on enjoying people, not on indulging in or accumulating material things.

  • Plan to spend whatever you have saved. You deserve to enjoy it and the few healthy years you have left. Travel if you can afford it. Don't leave anything for your children or loved ones to quarrel about. By leaving anything, you may even cause more trouble, when you are gone.

  • Live in the here and now, not in the yesterdays and tomorrows. It is only today that you can handle. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may not even happen.

  • Enjoy your grandchildren (if blessed with any) but don't be their full time baby sitter. You have no moral obligation to take care of them. Don't have any guilt about refusing to baby sit anyone's kids, including your own grand kids. Your parental obligation is to your children. After you have raised them into responsible adults, your duties of child-rearing or babysitting are finished. Let your children raise their own off-springs.

  • Accept physical weakness, sickness and other physical pains. It is a part of the aging process. Enjoy whatever your health can allow.

  • Enjoy what you are and what you have right now. Stop working hard for what you do not have. If you don't have something, it's probably too late.

  • Enjoy your life with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends. People, who truly love you, love you for yourself, not for what you have. Anyone who loves you for what you have will just give you misery.

  • Forgive and accept forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others. Enjoy peace of mind and peace of soul.

  • Befriend death. It's a natural part of the life cycle. Don't be afraid of it. Death is the beginning of a new and better life. So, prepare yourself not for death but for a new life with the Almighty.

  • Be at peace with your "Creator". For He is all you have after you leave this life.

    Brig PT Gangadharan (Retd)
  • Women in the Armed Forces

    Military Nursing Service
    In 1994 there were 200 women in the armed forces. In the army, which employs women as physicians and nurses, the participation of women is small but growing. The Indian Military Nursing Service was formed in 1926 and has eight nursing schools (five army, two navy, and one air force) and one nursing college in Pune. Bachelor of science graduates are commissioned as lieutenants in the Medical Nursing Service and attached to the various components of the armed forces. Ranks as Brig can be attained by career officers. In the mid 1990s, a small but increasing number of women officers were being assigned to non medical services.

    Inter Service Report
    15 years later, Indian Army finds women officers soft since they first entered the Indian armed forces as officers on a limited tenure. The forces have now concluded that they are distinctly uncomfortable with the female presence. An inter services report has concluded that female officers don’t quite fit into the military ethos. Women stand accused of routinely seeking preferential treatment like soft postings and frequent leave.

    Soft Duties
    India's one million strong army has only 1,000 women officers. The government began commissioning women officers just 16 years ago, until then, women were only allowed into the army's medical corps. The first batch of 50 women officers was inducted into the force in 1992. A total of 150 officers are inducted every year and given short service commission, initially for a five-year term which can be extended up to 14 years. Women Officers are assigned to Artillery, Signals, Engineering and Intelligence but they are neither allowed in close combat duties nor to man forward posts.

    Short Service Women Officers Once retired after 14 years are not entitled to a pension. Other benefits remain at par with regular ESM (retirees). Total number of retired woman officers as on date is not known but fair to assume that the numbers are insignificant.

    Woman Officers ideally should command women soldiers. An all- woman Battalion or a Brigade will prove more effective in dealing with Internal Insurgency like in J&K, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. Why is there no recruitment of women soldiers (PBOR)? Why are women discriminated?

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Ancient India 1908

    We thank Brigadier PT Gangadharan (Retd)for the wonderful photographs

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Guess who is who?

    Nasib Singh, Kapoor, Sethi, Rajpal

    Chowdhry, Sethi, Rajpal, Lal Singh

    Tiwari ,Guide, Rajpal at Bumla Pass

    Photographs 4 Div Signals 1959- 62

    Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Abandoned? Life in Tezpur 1959

    Like a good soldier I abandoned my wife of less than two years and the child of nine months or so to join the unit by 29th October 1959 in far away Assam. ‘Abandon’ was the word she used then and again and again later to remind her mental state on being left behind.

    Mrs Lakshman Singh and 9 month Baby

    The train journey to Tezpur across the vast breadth of India from UP through Bihar West Bengal and on to Assam a distance of more than 2000 Kms with three changes of trains and rail gauges was slow time consuming and tedious. One did see the changing landscape the distinct cultural differences of the people that made the nation the changing dresses the spoken language the dialects the accents and the food habits so obvious from the fare sold on the platform even the flavour of the tea sold on the stalls which became sweeter and richer in aroma as one neared Assam, the home of most of the tea gardens. One normally did encounter some old friend on the train which helped in decreasing the tedium of the journey and help in updating about others friends.

    Tezpur town is situated on the north bank of the massive and majestic Brahmaputra so broad at Tezpur that the other bank in not visible to the eye. The Signal Regiment was located far away from the town on the airfield a Second World War legacy left by the British. The IAC daily flight from Calcutta with the characteristic drone of the twin engine Dakota took- off and landed regularly at the Sonebari Airport a friendly sight and sound. The Vampire fighters of the IAF also thundered in and out burning rubber on the runway flying training sorties. I do still wonder as to what they were training for since when we needed them most they were conspicuous by their absence. The difficult times under the tough Commanding officer call it my fate or luck proved to be a boon in the long run.

    The CO’s Team
    Third row
    2 Lt KV Ram Das, Maj Nasib Singh, Capt R S Trehan, Capt SVS Choudhry, Capt K S Man, Maj SMM Jaffery
    Second Row
    Capt Pinto, Maj Brij Lal, Lt Col KK Tewari, Capt AS Bawa, Author
    Front Row
    2 Lt Mohan Lal, Maj Sardul Singh Gupta, 2 Lt V K Kapoor, 2 Lt Lal Singh, Lt G L Rajpal

    I had been with the Regiment holding a difficult and responsible appointment now for more than two years on round the clock duty. Our waking hours were long for more reasons than one. Our living conditions were primitive to say the least. No electricity except for a short duration in the evenings the accommodation consisted of barracks with bamboo matting walls tin roofs and good old mother earth for a floor. The water table was so high that at times the legs of the bed would sink a few inches in the soft earth canting the bed at most unnatural angles. Weather wise except for the short winters.

    2 Lt CL Anand, and Maj Gangadharan, OC1

    Tezpur was hot humid and sultry with all sorts of crawling and flying insects of the latter mosquitoes were in abundance. The sun rose early in Tezpur we were on 'Garden Time' hours ahead of the Indian Standard Time an innovation of the Planters to save daylight hours. We rose early for work and after a long day late in the night soon after the 9 PM news on the Radio eyes drooping with sleep when one wanted to be excused from the Mess he was generally reminded that it was only 9 PM in Delhi and still too early to call it a day.

    If not on duty for entertainment one could go on Saturdays to the Tea Planters club at Thakurbari forty miles or so away where on those days a film show was generally held. One could also drink or get drunk and make a fool of oneself. In any case dressed in our mandatory working uniforms with an unauthorised tie round the neck a concession to the club rules we would be visible like a sore thumb even from a distance. We were a species apart unwelcome unwanted but a necessary evil to be tolerated suffered and endured. With all this there was no chance of any social interaction with the club members more so for us junior officers. However, what is still fresh in my memory is the view of the airfield area.

    The mundane and uninspiring view during the day of the flat expense of ground with the ugly concrete aircraft pens constructed during the Second World War dotting the landscape with clumps of tall ungainly wild grass growing all over would suddenly transform itself into a beautiful night scape. Spread as far as the eye could see suffused with pale white moonlight the tall reed like grass with white plumes swayed in the breeze shining as if made of silver. On a cold winter night with the moon high in the sky it was an ethereal sight so vastly different from that of the day. The sight and sounds and the peace and quiet of those special nights some what compensated for all the hardships of separation from the family a difficult job and general discomforts of the place of work. Though disappointed in not getting annual leave life had to be lived and work done. I was in the service of my wife now for good seven years and her call could not be ignored also any change from Tezpur was welcome. The two years or so spent with the Regiment in Tezpur were a prelude to the more momentous postings and events to follow at Tawang and forward areas bordering China in 1962.

    Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

    Sixth Pay Commission Update

    This a hot topic which is most talked about by all serving personnel and ESM. The Commission is itself a morale booster for the very reason that the economy is booming and everyone aspires a share in the pie. Should the salaries and perks of Government servants rise to levels of advanced nations or for that matter to scales in the Private Sector in India? The commission report is expected to be announced by 31 Mar 2008.

    Economic Contribution
    Government Servants are mostly non productive and contribute little to the National economy. The Armed Forces in peacetime contribute nothing except to train for war (assist in natural calamity/ IS duties). Well Armed Forces are vital and is a necessity to protect the National Borders and no one can estimate its economic value. Here too, in the peace time Defence Forces could have been better utilised for nation building- Infrastructure Development like the China Model or US Army Engineers who designed and built the biggest Colorado Dam in the world. The Defence Forces can take on a mega national infrastructure projects like linking all the rivers of India. The Border Roads Organisation is doing a magnificent job but no way comparable to Chinese Railways now at Roof of the the World.

    Media Reports
    From Media reports the pay scales of soldiers are likely to be enhanced substantially, to at least double the present pay scale. How is it going to satisfy all, that is a big question, and the IAS are capable of putting on the platter a magical solution. The pay scale of Chief Secretary is rumoured to be pegged at Rs 80,000 a month. Defence Minister AK Anthony has already announced and enforced some concessions to the Defence Forces.

    Existing Perks
    Let us examine the existing perks for serving officers and PBOR and attempt to quantify it on monthly basis.

    Dwelling: Fully furnished house: Rs 15,000
    Rations: Free rations home delivered: Rs 10,000
    CSD Canteen: Approx Rs 5000 (savings on monthly purchases including car)
    Driver/ Batman: Rs 5000
    Services and facilities: From unit/ cantonments/ officers mess/ entertainment/ schooling/ library/ transport/: Rs 5000
    LTC for self and family: Rs 1000 conservative estimate
    Medical including family: Rs 1000 (free medicines)
    Field Area allowances: Tax free ( not included )
    (Additional perks for Generals not quantified)
    Perks alone work out per Officer: Rs 45,000 (approx)

    Dwelling: Fully furnished house: Rs 5000
    Rations and clothing: Free rations home delivered & clothing: Rs 10,000
    Services and facilities: Rs 3000
    LTC for self and family: Rs 500
    Medical including family: Rs 500
    Field area allowances: Not included
    Total perks soldiers: Rs 18,000 (approx)

    Service Pensioners
    No substantial relief for pensioners. Periodic relief is already being given as DA depending on the cost of living Index. This will be merged to pension and a marginal increase of 20 to 25 percent is expected. The pensioners are already entitled to facilities of the CSD and ECHS.

    New formulae for Serving Personnel
    Double the present scale of pay and add the perks.
    Double the existing number of Generals (equivalent rank AF and Navy).
    Cadre review: Promotions and up gradation are an ongoing process. We have a new Command Theatre and one more cardinal point can be expected shortly to employ the additional General Officers. Bingo you have the pay scales up- scaled to Industry standard! Also you have doubled the promotional chances in the Army, Navy and Air Force by twofold. Can you expect more? The IAS have succeeded in down playing the status of the Armed Forces.

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    School of Signals Mhow 1955

    Passing out from IMA Dehra Dun on 2nd Jun 1955 I with 21 others like me landed at Mhow for finishing at School of Signals prior to being posted to the Regiments. We were a motley crowdd some ex NDA, others ‘Direct Entry’ some from NCC and a few like me neither fish nor fowl the Technical Graduates. All immature and weighed down by the single pip on our young shoulders yet all masquerading as seasoned soldiers wearing stone washed cloth epaulets some brash some over confident others like me nervous.

    Even before we could settle down we were advised by our group officer, Capt Paisley, to open a bank account and this soon introduced us to the wonders of a post-dated Cheque and the magic of how a scrap of paper got converted in to cash with the help of Ramchandra Bank. At last we had found the solution to the constraints of limited resources (Rupees 300 PM less Rs 50 being deducted each month towards the advance of pay given) and unlimited demands.

    Mhow 50 years back was the same as it is today a few old bungalows may have fallen down a few new flats and buildings may have risen up yet the culture and ambience of Mhow was the same as today the town did come alive only in the evening when the Training Establishments closed for rest of the day it slept with eyes open.

    The Officers Mess introduced me to Morris the barman with his imposing personality and handle- bar moustaches. He made the finest fresh-lime drink. There was also Fernandez the chief cook on dinner nights he would quietly stand in a corner hidden from view and watch the expression of the officers as they tasted and savoured each dish prepared under his guidance with satisfaction. Both institutions by themselves I kept meeting them off and on till my retirement and even later on my visits to Mhow.

    Not to forget the barber Paiara Lal who knew every thing about everyone and enjoyed talking about the same a big name dropper he could be a pain in the neck would go on chattering unmindful of the interest or disinterest of his captive audience wrapped in the white sheet and at his mercy. I also cannot forget my bearer Manikam who looked after me in the room as also waited on the table in the mess. I believe he would entertain all the other bearers when we were in the classes with his vigorous dancing on my 78 rpm records of which I had a good collection.

    The officiating Commander of TAC Wing, where we were destined to spend the major portion of the next six months of our stay at Mhow, Major G S Sidhu was not only formidable looking he acted the same keeping us terrorised successfully all the time.

    Cable laying exercise way to Bercha Lake, with VP Singh Srivastava.

    We were required to call on the permanent staff as per the army traditions leaving our calling cards one for the lady of the house and one for the unmarried daughter in addition to the one we were supposed to leave in any case. Being unsure of ourselves we were avoiding this onerous duty till we were reminded of the same rather forcefully. On the designated calling day dressed in our best summer suits and with a fist -full of calling cards all 15 of us mounted our cycles and came on the road. Going round and round circling the bungalows of the Comdt and other permanent staff in smaller and larger groups crossing and re-crossing each other while exchanging sheepish grins. Not being able to muster courage enough to enter the Comdt’s House No 2 the Middlesex Road as also not being sure as to from where to start the calling process after some more futile cycling we were back in our room; mission unaccomplished.

    Visit of Indonesian Military Delegation.

    This was not the end of the story next day we were once again in the Wing Commanders office this time with an entreaty to be kind to the staff and not to keep them on tenterhooks.

    Room No 21

    It so happened that my room located at the extreme end of the barrack wherein we the YO’s were lodged faced the Church across the road. Sunday mornings the spectacle of the pretty Mhow girls dressed in their finery streaming in for the Service and later emerging at times even lingering at the entrance gate acted as a magnet to the course mates. With easy chairs pulled up they would take vantage positions with me as the unwilling host Manikam my bearer serving Tea and Pakoras to the excited and chattering young fellows.

    The Church that Came to Life on Sundays.

    Was the lingering of the girls at the gate deliberate intentional and naturally irresistible with so many admirers opposite is a question I still ponder upon?

    Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

    Towards Better India

    Retired Officers can do a lot for the benefit and progress of the Nation. This is where our retired Generals can lead the way. However, sadly, many of them are in the money spinning business even after retirement and forget what they have been taught in the Academy as Military Leaders. I remember a civilian tell me sometime back that a retired general who was appointed chairman of a state Public Service Commission was more corrupt than a civilian. Really I was saddened and could not reply to his observations.

    Inherent Strengths
    One of the strongest positive aspect of our Defence Forces: totally impartial, non-communal, apolitical force. I feel one must capitalise on this unifying concept and spread the message. For the last 60 years none of the Political Parties have been able to make inroads into our secular armed forces or sully its name and traditions.

    Setting Values
    ESM must cherish the values, duties and responsibilities as an concerned citizen.

  • To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
  • To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
  • To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
  • To defend the country and render national service in whatever small feasible way;
  • To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic or regional diversities;
  • To renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
  • To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
  • To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
  • To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
  • To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
  • To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.
  • Sunday, March 9, 2008

    Armed Forces Tribunal

    The Bill seeks to establish an Armed Forces Tribunal to adjudicate on disputes relating to service matters and appeals arising out of verdicts of courts- martial of members of the Army, Navy and Air Force. No civil court shall exercise jurisdiction of service matters falling within the jurisdiction of the tribunal once it is established. All cases pending in civil courts will be shifted to the tribunal for adjudication. The tribunal will have the power to deal with cases filed by ESM and families of deceased personnel.

    Will all the backlog of cases of approximately totalling 10,000 be cleared within 90 days? Or is it that only the fresh cases will be disposed off within the 90 day period? What is the likely time- frame to clear the backlog?
    Does this imply that all cases of Pay Commission anomalies which are pending in civil courts will be transferred to the Tribunal for speedy execution of justice? Many veterans have spent time and money with the fond hope of striking some monetary gains as promised by some leading veteran organisations. Are the veterans chasing an elusive dream?

    Related Topics
    Armed Forces Tribunal Act Notified
    Armed Forces Tribunal by Col P K Vasudeva (Retd)
    SCM a colonial legacy in Armed Forces


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