Saturday, May 10, 2008

Battle of the Namkachu 1962

Karpola Pass
Looking Down from the Summit at 16000 feet photograph taken on 6th October 1962

One was Breathless, Sleepless, Hungry and Tired beyond words. No Oxygen and no Snow clothing. The Karpola pass was the Battle Zone. One can imagine what would have been the condition when we were withdrawing from the Chinese onslaught.

Brig lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

Summary: 7th Infantry Brigade paid the price with its blood.
  • 7th Infantry Brigade Brigadier John Dalvi – POW, tactical commander for the battle
  • 1/9th Gorkhas Lt Col BS Alhuwalia
  • 2nd Rajputs Lt Col Maha Singh Rikh, 90 POW in a single day. 60 escaped.
  • 4th Grenadiers Lt Col KS Harihar Singh
  • 9th Punjab Lt Col RN Mishra
  • One company, 6th Mahar Machine Gun Regiment
  • One troop, 17 Parachute Field Regiment (4 guns, only 2 operational, 260 rounds, no sights or FOO)
  • 34 Heavy Mortar Troop (Minus one platoon, No ammunition)
  • 100 Field Company (Engineers)
  • One platoon, Assam Rifles
  • 450 civilian road construction crew, Border Roads Organization, used as porters

    Chinese forces directly attacking 7th Brigade included 11th Division, Tsona Dzong. A second division and a separate or independent regiment joined 11th Division in the subsequent fight against 4th Division.

    That the Indian infantry stood and fought and died in the conditions and circumstances of the Battle of Namkachu had nothing to do with its senior officers, and everything to do with its company and battalion officers and its traditions of honour– honour to your brother soldier, to your unit, to your officers, and to your flag.

    Tailpiece: The higher military leadership had been so beaten down and cowed by the Government, that the senior officers who should have set the terms and the timetable for this offensive remained silent. 7 Infantry Brigade paid the price in blood. Our hearts go out to them. Is there a memorial to honour them or to place a wreath or candle for their eternal supreme sacrifice?

    We acknowledge with thanks “Famous Battles” from
  • Former Naval chief criticises Sixth Pay Commission Report

    Former Naval Chief Admiral O S Dawson on Wednesday criticised the Sixth Pay Commission report, saying those looking into it were unaware of the difficulties faced by the armed forces personnel.

    Dawson, who was in the Navy chief during February 1982 and November 1984, claimed that the committee, looking into the report, led by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, could not understand the problems faced by soldiers deployed in difficult terrains and provide relief to them.

    "What do they know about the condition of soldiers deployed in difficult terrains. They are not capable of settling the genuine demands of soldiers and ex- servicemen," he told reporters here.

    No politician or IAS officers, who were taking the final call on the report, had served in the armed forces, Dawson, who also served as the Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand after retiring from service, alleged.

    "Soldiers are not just a bunch of unqualified people. They are skilled people handling sophisticated weapons and equipment. People sitting in the cool confines of their air conditioned offices will not understand the sufferings of soldiers," he added.

    His comments came on the sidelines of a demonstration organised by Indian Ex- Servicemen League here to protest against the Pay Commission report which they claimed was "damaging the interest of defence services".

    The protesters, including former soldiers, their families and widows, were demanding "one rank, one pension", inclusion of ex-servicemen welfare in the concurrent list and separate pay commission for the armed forces besides other commitments.

    Former Naval chief criticises Sixth Pay Commission report: The Hindu

    Comments: This article has been reproduced in Toto for benefit of the readers. The IESL demands has been clearly spelt out and highlighted by the media. The ESM who have been neglected by all the Pay Commissions since independence (one rank one pension) needs immediate attention especially when 20 lakh Jawans (ESM) who are exposed to the harsh bureaucracy, compounded with total unconcern for their welfare. The travails of Lt Gen TS Pattabhiraman (Retd) for securing a Family Ration Card is a sample of our harsh and corrupt bureaucracy see post titled "General Battles for Ration Card in Tamilnadu" posted on 07 May 2008 in this blog.

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Remembering 1962 debacle

    The Karpola (16,000 feet) and Hatungla (18000) Pass, the three rivers Towang Chu, Nayamjang Chu and Namka Chu are intimately connected with the trials, tribulations and travails of Seven Brigade Troops during Op Leghorn.

    Pushed and prodded relentlessly, threatened ruthlessly with a long stick, Seven Brigade staggered into the valley of River Namkachu, struggling up the formidable Karpola pass, only to face the massive Chinese build up across the River Namkachu on the Thagla ridge. The men bereft of equipment, heavy weapons, mines, barbed wire, digging implements, rations, ammunition, snow clothing. Ill equipped either to take an offensive action against the Chinese or take effective defensive positions and more importantly without a cause and motivation to fight.

    Valley of death
    The valley deceptively serene all this time suddenly bared its fangs on 20th October 1962 and turned into the valley of death.A valley of death for those who perished on that fateful day strung along the river line. For those herded across, to languish in the prisoner of war camps. It was worse still for those mortally wounded, lying unattended in the valley, on the riverbank, up the slopes, life slowly draining out, without food, water or medical aid, in abject misery, unbearable pain. With no one to provide succour and no hope, they could only wish for a quick and early merciful end.

    Haunting question
    Those who did manage to escape from the valley of River Namka Chu on 20th /21st some, had to once again negotiate the Karpola pass, others the Hatungla pass, cross the river Nayamjang Chu near Shakti over a half demolished rope bridge and finally the River Towang Chu on the night of 23rd into the uncertain safety of Bhutan. Survivors who managed to crawl out also did not return intact, losing their pride and self respect in the process. All that they brought out was vision of comrades dead and dying, a nightmare which refuses to go even after more than 40 years. The eternal unanswered question still haunting why were we sent in and why the manner in which we were sent in?

    Valley of no return
    The Valley of River Namka Chu was indeed the 'Valley of No Return' for all those who had ventured into it. Equally for those who perished and also those who survived. The Seven Brigade Signals was deployed with the brigade at Towang the HQ of Keming Frontier Division of Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA). It also moved forward, consequent to the Sino- Indian conflict starting 8th September 1962, along with the brigade.

    The less told story 'Letters from the Border' pertains to The Seven Brigade Signal Section, for the simple reason that the author was involved in the trails and travails of the Section from the beginning to end, the other 'Less Told Stories' are equally relevant and pertinent in bringing out the devotion to duty, unquestioning obedience and feelings of those who did not form part of the decision making loop of the higher echelons of military or of those who had political compulsions and priorities to keep and maintain.

    Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

    Reminiscences of unit life in Pathankot

    The annual leave over I left my bride of a few days or so to stay at either my brother’s place or in her parent’s house. I did not give her any indication of my preference leaving it to her to be decided one way or the other.

    Pathankot was a semi- field station with no family accommodation. With permission one could bring the family and stay in some thing known by the generic name of ‘Basha' a structure with mud walls and a thatched roof constructed under own arrangement or if lucky move in by purchasing from some lucky officer leaving on posting.

    I was also in queue looking for some such accommodation falling vacant coinciding with Rosy finishing her final Examinations. Thanks to the initiative taken by Rosy, Pathankot soon had a different meaning for me. Even though she was in final year with the exams less than two months away she decided to throw the towel and give up her studies in midstream and join me. Possibly reverting back once again to be a nobody in her parent’s house a clear setback was not to her liking and she exercised her prerogative, her right to independence. I was more than thrilled to receive her telegram sent without the knowledge of her parents ‘Come at the earliest and take me away’ or words to the effect about her resolve to join me at the earliest.

    The hectic activity following the receipt of the Telegram for a place to locate a house bore fruits. As luck would have it and by sheer chance I was fortunate to locate a two- room house, for the princely sum of Rupees 30 per month as rent, situated at the corner of Sujanpur Sericulture Farm, near the village of the same name and not far from the unit lines.

    It was secluded, insecure, lonely and totally unsafe from every angle, lonely and insecure in day and more so at night, yet it suited us to a ‘T’ nothing less than a heaven in our eyes. It was our first house and for her to run the way she wanted and me to pamper her. It was he missing purpose that back in life once again.

    The Farm for rearing the silk- worms was full of mulberry trees the mulberry leaves being the staple diet of the silk worms. The Upper Bari Doab Canal from the Madhopur headworks on river Sutlej formed one side of the perimeter the other was made by the road from Pathankot city to Sujanpur village.

    A picturesque site, especially on those balmy warm magical full moon nights; it was a heaven on earth for us. I can still recall those unforgettable ‘Bashaki’ nights with the drum beats and Bhangra. As the 13th of April approached the drums become louder and louder the beats increased in tempo and the dancing became a bit more frenzy with the merry making going on till late in the night. It was all for the two of us to enjoy; if and when we had time to look out from the window of our own small world. Rest of the time it was exploring each other and discovering many more reasons, every day, as to why we had fallen in ‘Love at First Sight’.

    Our landlord a retired JCO had tube well on his plot of agriculture land adjoining the house. His young unmarried and pretty daughter with large expressive eyes would accompany him to the site whenever the well was in operation. At times, Jeet and I would also walk up to the well to enjoy the gurgling water from the tube well flowing through the channel to the fields being irrigated; the scene being evocative with both of being from a village background. I can still picture the girl with her unusually large eyes with a wistful expression and penetrating but innocent looks ogling at us; I always wondered if she was looking at me or at us seeing so happy and involved with each other, perhaps wishing for a similar future for herself also.

    Soon after moving to the house at Pathankot I suggested to Rosy that since there were only two of us there and no one to arbitrate if we had an argument, as a rule one or other should only listen when the other argued to which she readily agreed; that was the last of it, after that I never got a chance it was always me to plead cajole and say sorry for the reconciliation; sometimes not even being aware as to why the argument had started and why and for what was I pleading to be sorry, it was a small price to pay to get Rosy out of her shell and become ‘Jeet’ for me. Possibly her tendency to withdraw in a shell was from her deep seated feeling of insecurity a legacy from her past.

    I wanted to teach her Foxtrot and Waltz she equally keen to learn unfortunately we made very little progress after a few tentative steps she would loose interest and fall in my arms after which the question of continuing the lessons just did not arise both the teaching and waiting came to a quick end.

    Jeet did create serious problems for me far more than occasionally. She would lock the courtyard door from inside and drop the key in her blouse or shirt what ever she was dressed in at that time a forbidden though tempting site for me to access a difficult choice full of hazard especially with me all dressed in uniform and getting late to the office.
    The Ammunition Dump near the Airport
    The Regiment had 5.5inch medium guns in addition a few small caliber guns

    It was always worrisome to leave her alone in that wilderness whenever I had to especially when I happened to be the duty officer of the day and had go late in the night to check the guard deployed at the ammunition dump miles away near the Pathankot Airfield.

    Being the lone Signaller among the Gunners I was a bit of the odd man out in the regiment. However, with the arrival of Jeet it soon changed. I now had, as I could see, a new and upgraded status. Jeet who had conquered me so easily with her innocence and earthly simplicity immediately cast a spell all- round. I could see that she was enjoying every moment of it being the centre of all the attention and the focus of so many admiring eyes a unique situation to be in, first time in her life.

    I am grateful to the Army in general its traditions and the 40 Medium Regiment in particular for all that and the favourable first and enduring impression which was created on her of Army life. Landing at the Pathankot railway station with Jeet, I was pleasantly surprised to see Lt Puri there to receive us. (Puri a fine officer and a good friend he lost his life being swept away along with his jeep by the swift current of a flash flood while crossing a causeway when on exercise) She was accorded a royal welcome and both of us were straight away driven to the Officers Mess with our kit being taken to the house by another party in a different vehicle where all the officers including the Commanding Officer, Lt Col KD Vashistha were there to welcome us.

    It was getting late in the afternoon, the sun going down in the west and getting a bit chilly on that late January or may be early February day. Everyone in an expansive mood with me on top of the world feeling so proud of Jeet the cynosure of every eye no one wanted to break the spell cast by her presence in the mess. The crowed of bachelors and other forced bachelors reluctantly at last let us to leave for our first house. As we came out of the Mess tent she was very proudly escorted by Col Vasistha who earlier had written on my application asking permission to get married 'Arrange pre- course training’ and marked it to the Adjutant escorted her for a round of the flower beds and with obvious pride indicated the bed of sweet-peas with the green tendrils climbing up the strings Rosy a lover of and an expert on flowers and shrubs quickly identified them to every ones surprise as common Green peas firmly establishing her credibility as an intelligent mature lady and not just a college girl masquerading as an Army wife. (To be continued...)

    Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

    Life is Beautiful

    Don't Limit yourself.
    Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do.
    You can go as far as your mind lets you.
    What you believe, you can achieve.
    Like birds, let's leave behind what we don't need to carry –
    Grudges. Sadness, Pain, Fear and Regrets ….. Fly light.
    Life is Truly Beautiful.
    Have a Wonderful and Fabulous Day..

    Brig VA Subramanyam (Retd)

    The Bubble will Burst

    1. The War Veterans of the Armed Forces, under the aegis of Indian Ex- Services League, an apex Body to articulate their concerns, held a massive rally at Jantar Mantar. This rally was attended by approx 10000- 12000 veterans from all States and Union Territories, along with widows and some disabled personnel of the Armed Forces. The August gathering included Senior Retired officers including Admiral O S Dawson, PVSM, AVSM, former Chief of the Naval Staff, Gen Shankar Roy Chowdhuri, PVSM retired Chief of the Army Staff and former member of Rajya Sabha Lt Gen N S Malik and Lt Gen R S Kadyan, Lt Gen R M Agarwal, ex DGOS, and to four former MLAs/MPs, Maj Gen Bikram Singh, AVSM**, Maj Gen G S Jamwal, AVSM, Maj Vijay Singh Mankotia and Sh RCS Nisad. During the rally, in keeping with the ethos of the Armed Forces, cross section of speakers spoke on the neglect of the veterans by the 6th Central Pay Commission. Admiral O S Dawson stressed on the significance of the disciplined way of life of the Armed Forces and exhorted all to remain united and disciplined while projecting our demands.

    The following main issues are being projected to Her Excellency Smt Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, President of India and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

  • One Rank One Pension.
  • Ex-Servicemen Welfare to be a part of the Concurrent List. The existing Department of Welfare in the Ministry of Defence is ill equipped to meet the aspirations of the Ex- Servicemen as it has no statutory powers.
  • Guaranteed Second Lateral Employment upto 60 Years.
  • Separate Pay Commission for the Armed Forces.
  • All Concessions including Military Service Pay (MSP)/ Pension to be with retrospective with effect from 01 Jan 2006.

    2. The gathering was highly emotive due to the delay in addressing their concerns. In fact, it was short of bursting point and the only factor that ensured restraint was their military training and ethos. The earlier these issues are resolved, the better it will be, and the Power Corridors should heed it before it becomes too late.

    3. The Rally which was conducted in true military fashion, had commenced with a rendition of patriotic songs, and culminated fittingly with the complete audience paying homage to the motherland by singing the National Anthem. Subsequently, a delegation of veterans presented a memorandum voicing the above concerns to Her Excellency Smt Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, Honourable President of India and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

    For Full Report click: The bubble will burst
  • Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Armed Forces pay scales may be delinked

    Indian Army personnel proudly pose with Indian tricolour hoisted on Gin Hill in the Drass sector of Kargil. Temperatures fall below 40 Celsius. Can the pay scales cheer their spirits?

    The demand for delinking pay scales, raised by armed forces and lawmakers, ''will be looked into,'' Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha.

    After the submission of Sixth Pay Commission report, Defence Minister A K Antony has pressed for re- examining the scales particularly for non- select rank officers (captain, major and lieutenant generals) and soldiers, the minister said.

    MM Raju Minister of State for Defence said the issue of giving women Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSC) a permanent employment was also under consideration.

    Full article: Armed Forces pay scales may be delinked

    Comments: The non- select Officers are Captain, Major and Lieutenant Colonel and not Lieutenant Generals. The error in the article is obvious. Women SSC Officers deserve to be granted permanent commission like their counterparts to enable them get pension benefits. One firmly hopes that delinking of Armed Forces pay scales becomes a reality and not a gimmick to be high jacked by other lobbyists.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    General Battles for Ration Card in Tamilnadu

    Chennai, March 13, 2008
    Lt Gen S Pattabhiraman, a former Vice Chief of Army Staff, who retired from service in 2006 and returned to the city to settle down here, has been struggling for the last 14 months to get his ration card for his family. He has held several key posts in the Army including GOC in C Western Command.

    The General has been denied a ration card as he refused to grease the palms of officials. Despite making several complaints to civil supplies department, the officials there have not taken any steps to provide the ration cards," alleged a senior Army Officer. With the efforts of representatives of the retired Army Officer, who had visited the civil supplies department many times coming to a naught, Gen Pattabhiraman approached Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary LK Tripathy for his intervention.

    "At a recently held Rally at Pallavaram for Ex- Servicemen, the matter was taken with the Chief Secretary and he had assured us that the Lt Gen would receive his Ration Card by Monday," the officials said. They also pointed out that many ESM faced similar problems after retirement as they could never settle down in a place while in service.

    "We have asked the State Government Officials to give a special consideration for all ESM and issue them essential Ration Cards and documents. If this is how an Army General is treated, one can imagine the problems encountered by simple Jawans whose level of approach is the the lowest rung of the ladder. Jawans finally end up paying the bribes." the Army Officials added.

    Pradeep Damodaran
    Reproduced from Deccan Chronicle 14 March 2008
    News Clip forwarded by Maj PM Ravindran (Retd)

    Comments: The General was keen to obtain the Family Ration Card only for purposes of Identity Proof and not for obtaining Rations. The drivers license, Retired Army Officers Identity Card, Credit and ATM cards, ESM Soldiers Identity Card issued by Sainik Zilla Boards are all invalid as Identity Proof. The Citizens Voter Identity Card and PAN card are also not generally (not) accepted as identity proof as it can be tampered with. The other only valid Identity Proof is Indian Passport. Can the ESM expect a National Identity Proof acceptable All India to be issued by the MoD in the near future, like Passports issued by MEA?

    Sahayaks are Soldiers

    Dear Honourable Minister,
    I am shocked by your statement to the Press that the Army needs to have a re look at the institution of sahayaks and the alleged undignified treatment of PBORs.

    It looks like you have been briefed by your IAS advisors to make this statement just to put the officer cadre in poor light and also to create a rift in the Army between the PBORs and the Officer class. This is also to dilute the sting of widespread disenchantment with the Pay Commission and the disgust of having it reviewed by the same class of Govt servants that have created it.

    It seems that you do not realise that by making the statement you are treading on dangerous ground by which you are undermining the very foundation of the Army viz. discipline. This can have disastrous consequences to the Country's stability. If ever you politicians and the IAS lobby succeed in creating instability in the Army the price the country will have to pay will be horrific. You might like to read the history of mutinies that have taken place around the world and the effect they have had on the country's stability .

    Despite the serious blunders made by politicians in the past the Army and other Defence Services have stood firm in combating external and internal threats. By creating dissonance in the Defence Forces you are jeopardising the future of the country and the very jobs that politicians and the IAS have today.

    We are aware that you are a relatively honest man. However if you look around your own establishment you will find that some of your personal administration is being handled by Govt employees which you are not entitled to. The other ministers are even bigger culprits in misusing Govt machinery for their own purposes and to line their pockets.

    As far as the IAS is concerned you will find that the misuse of low level Govt employees by them is rampant. All you need to do is to visit the homes of DCs, district magistrates, even tehsildars: the higher the officer's status the worse is the misuse. You need to clean the Govt's Augean stables before you point a finger at the Army. We are far far cleaner, less corrupt and more dedicated in our work.

    I have personally served in the private sector on infrastructure projects and have witnessed the rampant corruption and misuse of Govt machinery. The list is too huge to put down on paper. When you were the Chief Minister in Kerala you did not succeed in eliminating corruption or removing corrupt officials.

    Please do not play politics with the Defence Forces, which is the last bastion of discipline, integrity and stability. As die hard patriots none of us service and ex servicemen would like India go the Pakistan way.

    If your reputation for honesty and fairness is correct please display the courage to retract your statements. If your IAS advisers have the same courage they should put this and all other mails from ex- servicemen up to you.

    These mails, statements in the press, the first ever protest rallies by ex- servicemen, media assessments should make you understand the dangers of implementing the Pay Commission recommendations that do not meet the aspirations of the over worked, underpaid, disciplined and self- sacrificing Defence Forces.
    Jai Hind!

    Col Vivek Bopiah (Retd)

    Armed Forces Memorandum

    I am reproducing below an excerpt from a letter from Kautilya to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, mentioned in the former's 'Arthashastra'. This had formed a part of the Joint Armed Forces Memorandum to the 5th Central Pay Commission, in 1995, albeit in an abridged form. Written over 2000 years ago, it is extremely pithy, relevant and hardhitting, if only people would get the underpinning right!

    The Mauryan soldier does not the Royal treasuries enrich
    Nor the Royal granaries fill.
    He does not carry out trade and commerce
    Nor produce scholars, littérateurs, artistes, artisans, sculptors, architects, craftsmen, doctors and administrators.
    He does not build roads and ramparts nor dig wells and reservoirs.
    He does not do any of this directly.

  • That the soldier only and merely ensures that the tax, tribute and revenue collectors travel forth and return safely;
  • That the farmer tills, harvests, stores and markets his produce unafraid of pillage;
  • That the trader, merchant and financier function and travel across the length and breadth of the realm unmolested;
  • That the savant, sculptor, maestro and mentor create works of art, literature, philosophy and astrology in quietitude;
  • That the architect designs and builds his Vaastus without tension;
  • That the tutor and the priest teach and preach in peace;
  • That the rishis meditate in wordless silence;
  • That the doctor invents cures and medicines undisturbed;
  • That the mason and bricklayer work unhindered;
  • That the mother and the wife go about their chores and bring up children in harmony and tranquility;
  • That the cattle graze freely without being lifted or stolen.

    Pataliputra reposes each night in peaceful comfort,
    O King, secure in the belief that the distant borders of Magadha are inviolate and the interiors are safe and secure.
    Thanks only to the Mauryan Army standing vigil with naked swords and eyes peeled for action, day and night,
    In weather fair and foul, all eight praharas round the clock,
    Quite unmindful of personal discomfort and hardship,
    All through the year and year after year.

    While the citizenry of the State contributes to see that the State prospers and flourishes, the soldier guarantees it continues to EXIST as a State!

    To this man, O Rajadhiraja, you owe a debt: please, therefore, see to it, suo motu, that the soldier continuously gets his dues in every form and respect, be they his needs or his wants, for he is not likely to ask for them himself.

    The day the soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha for then, on that day, you will have lost all moral sanction to be King!

    AVM RP Mishra (Retd)
  • SCPC Degradation Galore

    The 6th CPC has further downgraded the ranks of the Army and equated a Civil Services officer with 4 years of Service (Senor Time Scale) with a Major with 6 years of service. An officer with 9 years of service (Junior Administrative Grade) has been equated with a Lt Col with 13 years behind him. A Non- Functional Selection Grade Officer with 13 years of service is now equivalent to a Colonel with 20 years while a DIG with 14 years is now at par with a Brigadier with 28 years. A Senior Administrative Grade Civil Officer with 17 years of service is now equivalent in pay to a Maj Gen with 33 years behind him. A Director General of the Para- Military who is on Article 25 of the Warrant of Precedence would now take home more pay than a Lt Gen who is on Article 24.

    In 1992, General SF Rodrigues, the then Chairman, Chief of Staffs Committee had, in a strongly worded letter, written to the Defence Minister expressing concern over the tendency of civil officers in the Defence Ministry to adopt unauthorized and exaggerated designations based on non- existent conventions, but as expected no action was taken. The same remains true till date and the Sixth Pay Commission has merely carried on with a legacy based on incorrect equations articulated by babus to fuel their false perceptions of greatness and grandeur.

    Not many are aware that till the 6th CPC, the Army had an edge over the IAS in terms of pay scales and for the first time this pay commission has granted higher scales in equivalent grades to the IAS while the Army has been relegated and placed along with other Central Group A Services. The reason provided by the Commission for a higher pay package to the IAS, well it is ‘frequent transfers and postings to small places’. Over to the anomalies committee of the Finance Ministry now.

    Maj Navdeep Singh (Retd)
    Advocate, Punjab & Haryana High Court
    Visit Blog: Indian Military: Service Benefits and Issues

    Comment: The IAS Officers are pampered with higher scales of pay for "frequent transfers and postings to small places" sounds illogical. A joke too difficult to fathom. The defence forces personnel operate in the Jungles, Deserts, Mountains and and as a matter of fact moved frequently to ensure security of the Nation. Assisting the state Governments, combating insurgency, quelling riots. Who moves and who is shuffled more frequently and unceasingly to more insignificant border posts? Will the MSP contemplated fully compensate for the turbulent life of a Soldier?

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    ESM Press Reports Bangalore

    Click on links for Press Reports:
    ESM stage Protest: The Hindu
    ESM hold memorial service: Deccan Herald
    Memorial service by military veterans: Express News Service
    A tribute to fallen heros: TOI

    Silent Rally Mhow War Memorial 27 Apr 2008

    A disciplined mixed lot of Officers, JCOs and Men. Gen MG Datar briefing the press. Wishing our mission all the very best.

    Brig V Ramanan (Retd)

    Justice for ESM

    As you are aware, IESL as the apex body for voicing the concerns of Ex- Servicemen all over the country, has already launched a campaign against the let down by the 6th Central Pay Commission. A massive rally at Jantar Mantar at 10.30 AM on 07 May 08, preceded by a Press & Media Conference at HQ IESL at 11.00 AM an 06 May 08 has been planned. A Memorandum will be handed over the HE The President of India, as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, after the rally. Three former Chiefs, one each from the Army, Navy and Air Force have already been involved and will be present for the Rally, as also the Press Conference. A large number of all ranks (our members) including Senior Officers will be involved, for both the events.
    May I request maximum publicity for the events, and presence for the Rally, through your network also. Thanks and best wishes.

    Brig R K S Gulia (Retd)
    President, IESL

    ESM Charter of Demands

  • We vehemently REJECT the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission Recommendations (SPCR) as pertaining to the Military .They are most unfair, unjust and demeaning to the military. Status of the Indian military, which is already lowest, amongst all the democracies of the world, is intended to be further lowered by the SPCR. It is like insult to injury. Every Organisation and individual has limit of patience and tolerance. The Military has been pushed to that limit. Their discipline must not be construed as their weakness. Implementation of SPCR is likely to spread unrest and demoralise the Defence Forces.

  • We reject the ‘Review Committee’ as it is dominated by the IAS Babus, who have no exposure to the dangerous difficult, disturbed, harsh and exacting service conditions of the Defence Services. They just can’t comprehend life of Soldiers (term includes Sailors and Airmen) either in peace, insurgency infested areas like J&K, or in war.

  • We demand a ‘Separate Pay Commission’ for the Military, since there is absolutely no commonality between the service conditions of the military and civilian employees.

  • One Rank One Pension which has already been agreed to by the government, even on the floor of the Parliament, must be implemented forthwith. Similarly justice and sustenance be provided to War Wounded and Defence Widows.

    Brig Harwant Singh (Retd)
  • Ex- Servicemen Tsunami of Discontent

    Down gradation of Military in the Sixth Pay Commission Recommendations (SPCR), forced the three Services Chiefs to collectively protest to the Defence Minister. Then, came unprecedented Pan India silent protest by black band wearing, bemedalled military veterans. As damage control measure, Government announced a ‘Review Committee’, composed of the IAS officers only, without any military representation, which further infuriated the veterans as they suspect the IAS of gross parochialism at military’s cost. The SPCR has driven the final nail in the coffin of Soldiers’ aspirations for reasonable emoluments commensurate with their dangerous and harshest possible service conditions. As per the media reports, the servicemen too are seething with suppressed anger. Keeping army young is a ‘National Requirement’ and thus about 94% soldiers are compulsarily retired in their mid 30s and early 40s without any rehabilitation. The recommendation about their ‘Lateral Induction’ in to Para- Military Forces, (PMF), will never materialize since there is lot of money (allegedly) involved in fresh recruitment into the PMF and initial training at their institutes, which have enormous annual turn over. Taking trained soldiers from the army in to the PMF will deprive the ‘Vested Interest’ of these gold mine of mafia activities.

    Some extremely dangerous trends are clearly discernible. Due to sustained neglect “Quality of Life” has become dismal. Few want to join military and there is an enormous deficiency of about 15,0000 officers. Thousands more want to quit. Earlier only Persons Below Officer Rank (PBOR) used to desert, now in last few years dozen of officers have ‘deserted’. Ominously, officers training institutes like the NDA, OTA, and IMA are grossly under subscribed. All attempts to improve “Living Conditions” are met with a standard excuse of “Resources Crunch” while no such “Crunch” affects civilian employees who in fact are a “Pampered Lot”. Due to poor living conditions, lower economic and social status, military personnel, have lost a ‘Sense of Pride” and while interacting with civilians and prefer not to be identified as such . Sense of Self Worth, which is most powerful motivator for a warrior, is almost missing in middle level officers and PBOR, who are the ‘Cutting Edge’. Due to lack of resources, despite their best efforts, officers cannot improve the lot of their command. A despondent attitude of “Chalta Hai” (“Let it carry on as dismally”) may become all pervasive. Well meaning officers are helpless, others are constrained to take the line of least resistance.

    Ill- treatment of the Indian Soldiers by the bureaucracy is a sad fact. Since they cannot bribe their way through the bureaucracy, they are treated like dirt every time they go to civil offices to pursue their most pressing problems. Military officers are rendered totally powerless in looking after their Soldiers’ welfare as their pleas fall on deaf bureaucratic ears eliciting no response. This forces many soldiers to commit suicide out of sheer hopelessness when their most inescapable domestic problems are not resolved by callous bureaucrats. Strangely, rich NRI’s property in many states is protected but not that of poor Soldiers. Enormous lowering of military’s status has resulted in their lack of ‘IZZAT’ (honour), which in fact, is a ‘Soldier’s religion’. Even the services Chiefs are not spared by mindless politicians. Also army is being grossly misused, at proverbial drop of a hat.

    Fratricides, suicides, (amounting to loss of over 100 lives annually), etc, are grim indicators. India appears to be sitting on “Volcano of Military Discontent”. First time, in the parliament , words (possible) ‘Revolt by Army’ were used. Government, by now, if it has any intelligence (in both senses of the word), should have known about Collective ‘Sense of Hurt’ (inflicted by the SPCR), which may result in ‘Collective Alienation’ of the military from it. It may unleash a “Silent Tsunami” in their relationship, based as it is on distrust of military. Military ‘Top Brass’ inability to ensure a ‘Fair Deal’ to their subordinates, while they themselves are reasonably ‘rewarded’, will erode their ‘Credibility’ and ‘Standing’, leading to Collective Bickering and Heart Burning at junior levels. If the maladies like loss of pride and willful neglect by the state are not rectified, a ‘latent anger’ may engulf entire military leadership proving our worst fears. Material well being and concrete actions to ensure “IZZAT-O-INSAAF” (Honour and Justice) to the military are inescapable. Cosmetics will not do, a visibly ‘Caring State’ is a must, other wise ‘alienation’ may take any ugly shape. This scenario is too dangerous to contemplate and can be ignored only at Government's own peril.

    However, the situation can still be redeemed. Since all our institutions are based on centuries of tradition and valour, our Military’s “Precedence”, Pay and all other allied aspects should be commensurate with corrupt- free- bureaucracy. Military’s courteous conduct usually gets misconstrued as ‘Servility’. While they must continue to be true gentlemen at heart, yet, they may have to change their out ward stance. They need to be “Assertive” and “Demand” rather than “Submit”. They may have to shed their obsession with ‘Courtesy’ and invoke the “Principle of Reciprocity ” while dealing with bureaucracy. Finally, least the Services Chiefs can do is to declare that they are NOT available for any post retirement assignment, like late General BC Joshi, the then Army Chief, had done.

    Brig Harwant Singh (Retd)
    Vice President
    Indian Ex- Services League (Punjab & Chandigarh)

    Monday, May 5, 2008

    Commanding Heights: Indian Economy

    Unlike Mahatma Gandhi, who supported an agrarian economy, after India's independence in 1947, its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, promoted industrialization. However, he supported government- controlled development, and the bureaucracy that developed stifled innovation. The authors of Commanding Heights sarcastically claim that the British Raj was replaced by a "Permit Raj". Bribery and delays became commonplace in the Indian economy, while at the same time, many prominent economists studied the country and attempted to "fine tune" its central planning.

    By the 1990s, the Indian government, mainly due to the influence of finance minister(now Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh, began to relax these stringent regulations, and the Indian economy bloomed under the effects of exports and outsourcing. Political parties since this period have continued to promote these changes; even after the election of a traditionally Marxist government, the free marketer Singh was appointed prime minister.
    Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy
    Video: Permit Raj

    Comments: Can Dr Manmohan Singh rope in the bureaucracy to fight corruption and eliminate the "Permit Raj" attitude and complete his envisioned task?

    Appeal to Prime Minister

    My Dear Prime Minister,

    This is an appeal from an ex soldier, who is over 75 years and has no personal interest. This pertains to the pay scale of the servicemen. You know During your lifetime, you must have come across the serial "YES MINISTER", which shows quite amusingly the ability of the IAS officer to manipulate statistics to suit his point of view. In the last 60 years or so the IAS, who saw that the only rival to their supremacy was the Military, has managed to bring down the status of the military to what it is today.

    The Military is a necessary evil. Necessary, because the borders have to be guarded, any invasion repulsed. Today it has become all the more important as it is the only leg of the executive that is reliable, be it containing the insurgents (a police job) to helping the civil during calamities, or for that matter, pulling out waifs from the deep bore wells where, they have regularly started falling. The civil executive having conveniently abdicated its function at all crucial stages.

    Yet, we are evil, for we are a potential threat of a military coup ,as has been the practice in Pakistan and other nations. Due to our discipline and training, we have proved to be able to take on any task. This is a threat to the bureaucrats, who have taken pains to subvert all the perks and privileges that the Services enjoyed earlier.

    After partition, when the first cadet was inducted into the Armed Forces Academy, the Military was deemed to be a prize vocation, despite the fact that some foreign companies like Burma Shell Balmer Laurie and ITC had far better pay and perks. At that time, it was glorious to be a soldier. Today it is a vocation only for those who can do no better.

    The deterioration has been gradual, but definite, as all that was the reason for the sheen of the vocation has been withdrawn by the government on the basis of data purposely fed to distort the image. Of course, if we were to compare the prospects of service with Military and IAS, the glaring anomalies surface. While the IAS has a virtually vertical promotion, resulting in the officer becoming a Joint Secretary in 16 years and retiring as a secretary, only to be absorbed as the head of a public sector organization or as a Governor. While in the Armed forces due to a pyramid system of command, only one out of three get promoted, as a result of which an average officer retires at 54 years of age as a colonel, having to look for a sustenance.

    Naturally this has caused a drop in the quality of the material that is coming in and there is a mass exodus. The morale in the services is at its nadir, and if things continue to be in the same vein, we will soon have an Army like the ones in Latin America. Good only on paper. You can be sure that at its present form you can not expect a Bangla Desh operation, but one similar to the 1962 rout, if there is ever an occasion.

    It is up to you, Sir, to decide what is good for the future of the country, a very strong bureaucracy with a failing Military or a balanced mix. Drastic measures are required if you want a Army that our country can be proud of, once again.

    Yours Sincerely,
    H S Bhagat
    (Hemi Bhagat, one of the 1st JSW course officer)

    Received from Brigadier PT Gangadharan (Retd)

    Bureaucracy revamp a challenge for Prime Minister

    It is difficult to agree that the Indian bureaucracy has become a great stumbling block and is quite incompatible with the democratic set- up. Thanks to periodic general elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for more than five decades, the bureaucracy in India has subtly attuned itself to the aspirations, wishes and sentiments of the elected representatives of the people from their pre- independence role of serving the colonial masters.

    A few upright and neutral bureaucrats, true to their oaths, are sidelined as they do not submit meekly to their political bosses. Even senior bureaucrats like chief secretaries and directors- general of police cannot resist the temptation of post- retirement rehabilitation and so oblige their political masters.

    In an atmosphere charged with rampant corruption, infecting both politicians and bureaucrats, the efforts of the political bosses succeed, as, unfortunately, they have got the measure of the bureaucracy and found it wanting. In such a scenario, despite his best wishes for revamping the bureaucracy, the Prime Minister can hardly do anything.

    Arun Kumar Bhaduri,
    Kolkata, 27 April 2008.

    Excerpts from Bureaucracy revamp a tall order for PM

    Comments: The bureaucratic set up has systematically degraded the Honour and Stature of the Armed Forces for the last 60 years in connivance with the the elected Politicians. Neither of them have any clue as to the tribulations of Armed Forces personnel whose civil liberties have been denied/ curbed in consonance with the Army Act. The ESM suffer more indignities due to the corrupt bureaucracy.

    Sunday, May 4, 2008

    The four core issues of the two million Ex- Servicemen

    1. One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP)
    During the run up to the elections to the current Lok Sabha, the Congress Party had explicitly supported the very reasonable aspiration for OROP made by the veterans during the election rallies. The Pay Commission has summarily rejected the proposal. We wish to reiterate the point that the soldiers retire relatively at a very early age and their case must be de- linked from their civilian counterparts who serve to the age of sixty. This issue merits consideration by the Union cabinet.

    2. Resettlement of Ex- Servicemen
    We are pained to observe that an overwhelming number of our veterans are jobless. Pension is their sole means of livelihood. With the passage of time their nutrition levels fall and that lowers their life expectancy. Without work, their lives lose meaning, and they are considered a burden by their kinsfolk. There is a crying need to introduce a “Transition Assistance Program” (TAP) on the lines of the practice followed in the USA.

    3. Representation of Soldiers on Premier Committees
    We are pained to learn that the government rejected the appeal of the service chiefs to appoint a soldier as a member of the recent pay commission. It gave us an impression that the country does not trust the soldiers. The committee appointed to ‘resolve’ the issues is also composed of officers from a single cadre of civil servants. We wish to state unequivocally that we have lost faith in the bureaucracy to do justice to our cause. The Defense Secretary has never worn uniform. How will he know where the shoe pinches?

    4. Inequities in the Report of the Pay Commission
    The report is heavily biased against the soldier. It shows complete lack of knowledge of the ethos of the military. The military service pay (MSP) recommended for all ranks from Sepoy to the Subedar Major is Rs 1000 as against Rs 6000 granted to a greenhorn Lieutenant. How will the Commanding Officer be able to justify this? A similar aberration has been created in the salaries of the middle level officers, merely to keep them below the civil services. Those aberrations should be removed.

    PAN India Movement By Military Veterans

    Dear Friends,
    The movement is picking up well. The IESL which did not take participate in 27th Rally PAN India, is organizing rally on 07th May at Jantar Mantar New Delhi. Unity for the just cause should bind us together in our resolve to restore honour and dignity to our patriotic Armed Forces personnel.

    Rashtrya Sainik Sansatha lead by Col TP Tyagi, VrC is organizing rallies at the following locations:
  • 12 May 08 at Nanital contact- Col PC Bora
  • 13 May 08 at Pithoragarh contact– Col SP Guleria
  • 15 May 08 at Morabada contact– Capt SC Kaushik
  • 17 May 08 at Yavatmal (Maharastra), contact– Sub Maj BR Jadhav

    The rallies have also been planned at Nagpur, Dehradun, Secundrabad and Jabalpur. May I request all the existing organizations of Military Veterans and volunteer Veterans PAN India to organize rallies to protest against the 6th PCR and to project our demands which have been mentioned in my email dated 02 May 08. Please let us know the details so that Military Veterans across country could be informed and if possible media assistance could be sought.

    Another area which needs to be attended to, is the participation of PBORs in big numbers in the movement. I request the volunteers to organize village/ town Sabhas across country to unite all veteran PBORs and explain to them the injustices of 6th PCR and our demands. We need to generate the Zanoon amongst all Military Veterans. Let us do it. Maximum support from media both print and electronic be sought.

    I will be visiting Punjab on 5th, 6th & 7th. A press conference is being organized at Patiala for our cause. Anyone in and around could attend, Contact Col Phoolka. There is suggestion to hold a big Rally at Delhi on 27 May 08. What are your views? There is another suggestion to create Blog on the Net where everyone could record his/ her/ views, feedback, grievances, suggestions, action plans and so on, Col Khanna who owns a software company at Chandigarh/ Mohali has volunteered to create Blogs for Military Veterans. His website The name of the Blog suggested is “Military Veterans”. Are their any suggestions in this regard? Brig CS Kamboj is already managing “Report My Signal – Blog”. Our sincere thanks to them. We need to give wide publicity for maximum usage of these Blogs. The Police have already created a Blog on the Net which is being widely publicised on the TV Channel. Let us go all out to create awareness PAN India to strengthen our Movement.

    With regards,
    Jai Hind
    Yours Sincerely
    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)

    Dear Friends,
    It is heartening that large numbers of Military Veterans are joining in the efforts sharing very useful suggestions. This is the churning process and will definitely result in a very strong unified voice; resulting into strong effective action plans. 6th PCR seems to have engendered an emotional revolution amongst the veterans who felt ignored, humiliated, degraded and downgraded. The electronic systems have provided on excellent platform for us to communicate with one another our views and anguish caused by decades of neglect by successive Governments; our voice long suppressed has found an utterance.

    Veterans have realized that the bureaucracy will continue to ill advise the politicians resulting into Goverment totally ignoring the Armed Forces till such time the collective whole of the Veterans strongly affect the Electoral process, which was not possible earlier because veterans were dispersed through out the length and breadth of the country. The IT revolution has given rise to the awakening that veterans are now in a position to have an impact on the electoral process. Infact, 27th Apr 08 was made a reality PAN India in 61 cities through the net, print and electronic media. Just consider the strength; there are approx 24 lacs pensioners and another 3 to 4 lacs non- pensioners. Each pensioner with 5 members, veterans have direct population influence of 1.40 crores. It is also known that each veteran has on influence over 40- 50 individuals; which works out to 12- 13 crore population influence. If we add the serving armed forces personnel which are 14 lacs approx and with the above calculations, approx 30 crores population is directly or indirectly has influence of Armed Forces. Imagine, if this very large population is able to create a viable electoral influence, the bureaucracy and the Governments will stop ignoring the Armed Forces.

    Let us work towards this very important democratic strength in a dignified manner. If we are able to create this awareness in the country, we will become the "Force to reckon with" in a very lawful and democratic manner. The time has come. I appeal to all the veterans to work an hour extra everyday and enlarge the strength of veterans on Net. Some veterans can volunteer to organize this awareness in the villages and small towns through the Evening Sabhas where mails on the net can be read and explained. The data can be sent on email to each other. "The Pay Commission drums will then become louder and louder…………". In order to talk the same language, the following are suggested to be our minimum inescapable genuine demands:

  • Rejection of 6th Pay Commission Report in respect of Armed Forces.
  • Review Pay Board be ordered with members from serving & veteran Armed Forces personnel.
  • Year wise edge of Armed Forces Personnel over other civil services be ensured.
  • MSP recommended does not cater for the hardship & hazardous conditions of service. It may be enhanced as recommended by three services ie. 62.5% pay of PBOR 56.5% for the officer. (MSP be extended to all ranks & not restricted up to Brigadiers) MSP to be effective from 1.1.2006 and not prospectively.
  • One Rank one Pension, an overdue demand be met immediately.
  • Resettlement schemes of Military Veterans be executed at the earliest in letter and spirit. Lateral induction through the Act of Parliament be carried out.
  • Status and respect of the Armed Forces Personnel be restored, the down gradation be reversed.

    Jai Hind
    Yours' Sincerely
    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)
  • ESM Rally Patiala

    The Ex- Officers Association, Patiala organized the paying of homage to martyrs at the Patiala War Memorial as per the instructions received.
    A very large number of retired Officers, Jcos and jawans gathered at the Patiala War Memorial to pay homage to the departed martyrs and to lodge their protest on the recommendations of the 6th pay commission. Approx 60 officers, 30 Jcos and 100 jawans attended the function. 10 Ladies also attended the function.They traveled from out stations also for the function, such as Nabha, Sangrur and Rajpura and as well neighboring villages. As a mark of homage the senior most War decorated officer Col Harwant Singh, MC, accompanied by Lt Gen GPS Brar and Maj Gen MS Chehal and Maj Gen Gurjit Singh Sidhu laid a Wreath at the memorial and lighted candles. Thereafter, 4 Jcos and 6 jawans lighted the candles and paid floral tributes. This was followed by the ladies present and thereafter all the Officers, Jcos and Jawans paid their homage to the martyrs in an orderly manner. A two minute silence was observed at the end as a final tribute to the martyrs. A large number of press personnel were also present. At the end of the function Maj Gen MS Chehal, VSM, held a press conference.

    Col Karaminder Singh (Retd)

    Relative rewards of Military and Civil services career

    This is a true story, adapted from Colonel Rajan’s public lament, a tale typical of every officer and jawan.

    SS Rajan, the son of an army officer, joined the army with an engineering degree and was commissioned in the corps of engineers in June 1963, with his pay at Rs 460 per month. He served in NEFA and later fought in the Indo-Pak war of 1971. In that war, his vehicle was blown up, maiming and killing his comrades, but he was lucky to escape with major injuries. He was recommended for the Vishisht Sewa Medal on four occasions.

    After over 19 years of service, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, whereas IAS and IPS officers automatically become joint secretaries and equivalent on completion of 18 years of service or less. Rajan was promoted to colonel in August 1985 and retired after over33 years of meritorious service, when he had a daughter aged 15 and a son aged 8 to take care off. He received a pension of Rs 9125 per month and got a lump sum of about Rs 10 lakh for commutation of pension, gratuity, provident fund, army group insurance and leave encashment— not enough to buy even a small two bedroom flat in Bangalore. To add insult to injury, his pay was fixed at the “starting pay” for a colonel plus one increment; whereas it should have been fixed at the maximum pay eligible for a colonel.

    Rajan’s contemporary, R Swaminathan, joined the Armed Forces Head Quarters (AFHQ) Cadre as a lower division clerk. Being in the AFHQ Cadre, he was posted in Delhi throughout his career. He worked hard and steadily rose up the ladder, with promotions at regular intervals and finally retired as Deputy DG (Personnel) in June 2003. His children studied in one school throughout. Before his retirement, his son graduated as an engineer from IIT, Delhi and his daughter graduated as a doctor from AIIMS, Delhi. Not being subjected to transfers he could afford to save more. On retirement, Swaminathan was granted pension on par with a senior deputy secretary (IAS) and got Rs 45 lakh in cash, by way of gratuity, provident fund, leave encashment and commutation.

    This is not an isolated instance. It happens to all military personnel. The telling effect of this true story on the morale of soldiers and their children is obvious. Rumblings have increased and should be heard by the discerning, before a catastrophe occurs.

    Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd)
    Posted online: Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Dehradun ESM Rally

    The convener of the Rally and President Dehradun Ex- Services League Brig (Retd) K.G.Behl started the Rally with the permission of the senior most officer present, Lt Gen M.S.Gosain PVSM, AVSM, VSM, with National Anthem. Two minutes Silence was observed in the memory of all those who laid their lives for the Country. The Rally was held at Kargil memorial, Gandhi Park on 27 April at 1700hrs.

    Brig Behl said that defence persons had a lot of expectations from the 6th Pay Commission as the benefits given by 4th and 5th Pay Commission have not yet been implemented and it was hoped that the 6th CPC will do full justice to the Defence Forces. Since there was no representation of the Defence Forces in the 6th Pay Commission probably the commission was not fed with full facts and figures and they were not aware of the specials conditions under which defence forces work.

    Brig Behl requested Mrs Rekha Sharma to present a national song. Col KL Dewan then presented the anomalies he found in the 6th CPC. Maj Gen Nandwani, Col Mamgain and others also put across their views. The candles were lit at the Kargil War Memorial to pay tributes and all present filed past one by one offering floral tributes, led by Maj Gen Shamsher Singh, MVC. The Rally ended with the National Song.

    Brig Behl (Retd)
    President Dehradun Ex-Services League

    ESM Rally Gurgaon


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