Saturday, June 14, 2008

India China Conflict 1962: Recollections of Chief Signal Officer

Dear Lakshman

I am grateful to you for letting me go through the Signals Story. It is an excellent personal account by a Brigade Signals Officer, who performed his duties unfailingly, under extreme difficulties of inhospitable terrain and weather conditions, shortages of equipment or high altitude clothing.

You have penned so tellingly the entire gamut of emotions as the leader of your men and, one separated from one's family often without news or contact for long intervals. Your intrinsic qualities of leadership and the personal example you set throughout those difficult days, was a major factor for survival of your men, considering that the paralysed higher headquarters could give no succour of any kind, and in fact failed you, and 7 Bde completely.

When placed in similar circumstances we (in the Services) all feel the things you have felt and penned so aptly, but seldom written down. At least I have not come across any. For me reading your story has been a unique and a rewarding experience.

It also fulfils the crying need for educating our country's babudom (politico-bureaucratic) mindset, which believes (mistakenly of course) that those who don the uniform have chosen voluntarily, to suffer (uncalled for) hardship and to die. I once came across such an attitude, and had to remind the 'babu' in no uncertain terms that we are there to see that the enemy suffers and dies and thus ensure continued safety of the likes of him– we accept only the attendant risks. The risks that can be reduced by loosening of purse strings at the appropriate time.

It is also my (1962) experience that often good signal communications, for some, was an unmitigated nuisance since the user commander could be asked for a decision or such like. So he was 'always gone forward' without the rover set. I once even asked one such commander as to where was his Rover WAS. He replied he did not need one.

Those days I personally (from Tezpur) closed down the VHF (ANT/ARC) link at Sela, as everyone of any consequence had vanished. The same happened at Darrang (4 Div HQ) and Bomdilla (48 Bde HQ). Sodhi (who had taken KK's place) contacted me to know what he should do now that Anant Pathania and his GSO1 Manohar were nowhere to be seen. I authorised him to make his own way as best as practical. Lakhanpal, the 48 Bde Signals Officer, contacted me and presented a similar situation and I had to authorise the 'pull-out' and a move back by certain 'bounds'. He was intercepted by the Chinese at the second bound and was obliged to hide till nightfall in a nearby stream. A week later he turned up looking famished and under-weight, but in good heart.

At the Henderson Brook's Committee later on, of course Signals were the favourite whipping boy. I however had taken good care, to provide convincing proof to the contrary in every case. Even our DD Sigs (Chakerburty) had turned up at Tezpur 'to know what went wrong'. I directed him to the BGS, who directed him back to me, saying 'nothing went wrong, and, to remember PS gave us signal comns while we were retreating'. A mere officer in Signals like him, as against a Signals Officer, cannot be expected to comprehend such subtleties.

My wife, Harbans, also has liked your book. We expect to be in Delhi for two weeks from about 20 Feb and would love to meet you. Shall let you know actual dates and contact you on arrival.

Brigadier PS GILL (Retd)
January 30th, 2002

Signal Communications India- China conflict 1962: CSO IV Corps

HQ Eastern Command Lucknow
After my meeting with Lt Gen EG Pettengell at Dehradun I reckon that Kaul having taken charge of the affairs and with direct access to the Defence Minister had absolved the Eastern Command of all responsibility. Things were normal at Lucknow in so far as Signals were concerned, General Pettengell would have definitely recalled had there been any anxiety or incident regarding message traffic between 7 Brigade and New Delhi.

Army HQ New Delhi
Lt Col CUK Nair was the Commanding Officer of the Signal Regiment at Army HQ, the last link in the Signals chain that started from Dhola, at the Tri Junction in NEFA, a chain formed by Runners from Dhola to Ziminthung, carrying the Top Secret, Exclusive For, hand written messages from Kaul to the Nehru or Menon as the case may be, to be enciphered for transmission to Tezpur by Morse code on the wireless link. I did have the privilege of having a look at one of these messages, but it was of no interest to me at that time nor do I recollect any thing of it now, I only had a cursory look at it and it hardly registered, I had my own problems to sort out rather than worry about higher conduct of war and national policies and priorities to bother about. At Tezpur the messages were re-enciphered in machine cipher for transmission to Army HQ on the direct link established from 4 Corps. As soon the operator at the Cipher Office at Army HQ Signal Centre at New Delhi decoded to the words 'Exclusive For' he would stop and handover further deciphering to the Duty Cipher officer. On deciphering the Signal Officer on duty would personally carry and deliver the message to the addressee, the PM or the DM as the case maybe. Day or night, the messages were marked FLASH, the highest priority for clearance, even then it took three days for the first message to reach Delhi. On delivery the CO would be informed who possibly may have also informed the Director Signals Maj Gen Batra the next day of the receipt and successful delivery of the message. Col Nair, unfortunately developed bleeding ulcers and had to be rushed to the Military Hospital due to an allergic reaction to Aspirin the "on" medicine in maximum demand by officers those days.

Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

We Thank Brig Lakshman Singh for giving us all the episodes on India China Conflict which are really extracts from his book and also sharing his personal and gripping experiences with us. Our Politicians Dilemma as of today:
Left faction of India’s Communists (Karat supporting UPA) had been repeating what Mao Zedhong said to Ajoy Ghosh: “That Tibet, Sikkim, Bhutan, and NEFA are provinces peopled by the same race, that China had a historic right to these territories, that the McMahon line was not valid, and that the Indian government’s raising of 'the bogey of Chinese aggression' had resulted from its realisation that Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and India would be deeply affected by the social and economic revolution in Tibet”.

Friday, June 13, 2008

India China Conflict 1962. The Big Picture Perceived by Signal Officer

IV Corps Signals at TEZPUR
As Sparrow of 7 Brigade I had no idea as to what was happening at the twice- removed Corps HQ in so far as Signals were concerned. Even later I could find nothing that could help me complete the big picture of Signals during Op Leghorn. However, I was lucky in that, during one of my visits to USI (United Services Institute) at New Delhi, Col VK Singh provided me with the address and Telephone No of Brig PS Gill the then CSO 4 Corps at Pune from his records. Brig Gill has been more than kind to provide material from his personal papers, which could not have been found anywhere else.

Biji Kaul's DHOLA- NAMKA CHU adventure of 1962 as told by Brig PS Gill the then CSO IV Corps.

Forward Policy
The genesis lay in Biji Kaul's forward policy (AR posts, assisted by regular army officers such as Mahabir, were to be Tactically sited right up to the MacMohan Line to remain there throughout the year), and the notion that 'possession is nine- tenth of the law.' Of course Nehru was taken in by his 'novel' approach. Additionally Biji had convinced himself that his destiny was heading for really great things. (Retirement of Chaudhary, next in line to be the Chief, had been announced). Of course he had not bothered himself about the severe restrictions imposed by terrain, extremes of weather condition nor distances from rail/ road head, nor even the inaccuracies in the available maps.

IB assessment parallels recent CIA assessment of Iraq
In September/ October 1962, barring Thapar, Sen and Kaul, everyone was certain that an ill- equipped unready 7 Brigade (seven days from the road head) was being assigned an untenable role. Assurances by Mullick of the IB were taken as the Gospel truth- Chinese will never attack.

Misadventure not heeded
Umrao's reasoned pleadings against any such venture were not heeded– to this effect he had put his signatures to two really telling appreciations of the situation for Eastern command and the AHQ. Also a clash of personalities (Sen/ Umrao) surfaced. Sen went about assuring anyone willing to listen that Umrao was the sole obstacle i.e. but for him Dhola could be secured/ cleared easily. Sitting in Lucknow, how he came to this conclusion remains a mystery.

Birth of IV Corps
Result: Biji's Kaul's IV Corps was born at midnight of 3rd Oct 62. I was awakened and summoned to Kaul's residence around 1 AM that night to be told by him personally, I had been selected to be his CSO. Lack of seniority, the basis of moving me from Shillong in May to Sigs Dte as DD Tels (the very job I had held as GSO1 Tels from 1953 to 1957) was given the go-by. Some 10 hours later (4th October) I accompanied him to Tezpur, in a Viscount of the Presidential flight. En-route, quite naturally, I quizzed him regarding the role, area of responsibility of IV Corps and the troops allocation. He had no satisfactory answer but kept on repeating ap nahin samjhen –ge. I was left with the impression that he was going to Tezpur more to instil some urgency into the Dhola affair/ action.

Hastily formed team
I had never worked with Kaul. I was picked because I had known the NEFA region as CSO XXXIII Corps, since handed over to MBK Nair. Kaul left for LUMPU on 05 Oct. I was to organize and set up the new Corps HQ. Kaul had asked me to send the BGS and the CE to join him 'at the front' on arrival. My good friend "Bhaiya" Rajwade who had been CE XXXIII Corps along with me and was shunted to the CME, also for lack of seniority, was brought in on 6th October as the CE. KK Singh of the Armoured Corps another good friend joined on the seventh as BGS. Both were sent on to join Kaul.

Kaul's Political clout paid dividends
I soon realised what a clout Kaul wielded. DG P&T Nanjappa of the ICS, would call me twice a day to ascertain what he could do for IV Corps and so also other worthies at Army HQ. In no time there were direct telephone and tele-printer lines connecting Tezpur to Delhi. Nanjappa also gave me (on attachment) a P&T Dept LO – IK Gupta, a very capable and efficient officer. As for SDS Indian Airlines instituted a daily Viscount flight Delhi-Tezpur-Delhi – a sort of daily Air Courier. Delhi planners in their keenness to fulfil Kaul's bidding failed to instruct the Courier aircraft to make a stop at Lucknow – ie Eastcom HQ which nominally was controlling IV Corps. I put this right in time.

Porter based supply chain
In the fortnight prior to the Chinese attack of Twentieth October there was very little that IV Corps could do for 7 Bde. I visited Zimithang (TAC HQ 4 Div) and met Ram Singh who despite the various odds had the situation under control. I was certainly appalled by the difficult terrain conditions and the extremely precarious porter- based supply line forward to Namka Chu. Recovery of air dropped supplies was as low as 30 per cent- most of it falling into deep ravines. Two seater Bell Helicopter, which could carry very little, was the only efficient means of getting around.

We lost Ram Singh a very fine officer. He had been our Adjutant in 1950 in 26(2AB) DIV SIGS at Jammu while I was the 2IC and KK was OC 1 Coy.

Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

The "Traditional China" includes all of South East Asia! Thus, the lessons and implications of the 1962 China- India Border War could be relevant to us for decades or for centuries to come.....

For serious study visit: The China- India Border War (1962) in depth

The March of Rural India, NCC Camp Grooms Officers

The Director General NCC, Lt Gen Prakash S Chaudhary alongwith other officers, psychologist and the NCC cadets at the special camp on personality development and intervention programme, in New Delhi on June 12, 2008.

Ever wondered how a young lad, all of 21, from a remote village in the far-flung northeast stormed his way into the front pages having bagged the coveted best cadet’s trophy at the premier National Defence Academy (NDA) passing out parade held at Khadakwasla recently. Yes, Romen Yumnam hails from a quaint little village, Lanmeidong, on the Myanmar border yet the proud peasant’s son walked away with the President’s Gold Medal for merit in academics and sports. Yumnam is not alone; six other cadets from the insurgency-hit state gave company to the champion boxer as another 280 marched through the portals of the NDA on May 31 for the last time.

The March of Rural India– NCC Camp Grooms Officers

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sino Indian Conflict 1962: Commanders Dilemma

Brigade HQ 19th October 1962
The atmosphere in Bde HQ was charged, the tension being palpable. It hit me the moment I entered the HQ location, on returning from 1/9 GR after taking the leave of Lt Col Tewari. A cheerless lot, tense and worried, we were all there Kharbanda the BM, Pereira the DQ, Gupta the IO. Major Nijjar OC of Hy Mortars was also there; he had borrowed a RS 62 set from me the same evening and established contact with his boys at Tsangdhar. There were also a few other officers of the Bde staff. We were huddled together, that fateful night of 19 October 1962 in the small, cold, bleak and depressing mess bunker, awaiting dinner.

Sumptuous Meal
The simple fare of tinned soup and dal roti, tasted like a sumptuous meal to our guest of the afternoon Capt Harjeet Singh Talwar of 17 Para Field Regiment. He, along with his Op Party had earlier got lost in snow and fog on his way to Tsangle. He still vividly remembered that evening, so called, sumptuous meal, when I called on him in December 1999 at Panchkula. His adventure from the day he, along with his troop, was air lifted from Agra was yet another example of an exercise in futility.

Out of Range
On 16th October 17 Para Fd Regt was ordered to move with OP Party as FOO to Tsangle on the Thagla ridge, from Tsangdhar where his two guns were deployed, as FOO. The Chinese positions on the Thagla ridge in any case were out of the range of his guns. He was given no maps of the area, except the infamous sketch prepared by an Assam Rifles NCO which served the purpose misguiding rather well than of guiding. Capt Talwar's party was supposed to follow Mompa porters carrying stores for Tsangle troops. It had started snowing heavily and the footpath he was supposed to follow had soon got covered with a blanket of snow. The Mompa porters who were also supposed to guide his party to Tsangle soon jettisoned their loads and vanished never to be seen again. Talwar and his party were in an area which was completely unknown to them, now on there own, bogged down in the snow, soon lost even the sense of direction due to dense fog and poor visibility. Moving aimlessly, hungry, tired, cold and with one of his boys dragging himself with frost bitten feet for the next 48 hours, Talwar, ultimately decided, as a last resort, to descend downhill towards the Namkachu River, hoping to hit the river line. By nightfall on the 18th due to sheer luck they came across a flank patrol of the Rajput's C Company deployed on the temporary bridge.

Capt Talwar taken POW
By now, the Brigade HQ had been making anxious enquiries about the fate of the FOO party dispatched from Tsangdhar to Tsangle in such a slip shod manner. Soaked in snow, hungry and badly fatigued Capt Talwar received a warm welcome from the Rajputs. In fact, he discarded his soaked turban for a balcalava cap loaned by Maj Sharan Sethi, the Company Commander, little did he know that this borrowed headgear would have to be used by him for the ensuing seven to eight months. After a comfortable night in a sleeping bag provided by the C Company, he was ordered to the Brigade HQ the next day. By the evening of 19th October he joined us in the Bde HQ, as directed. Unfortunately that was not to be the end of his troubles. His account of the aimless wanderings and sad plight he and his OP Party underwent over the three to four previous days added to the dismal mood already prevalent in the HQ Talwar was later taken a POW while moving with Dalvi's party.

Call from GOC Niranjan Prasad
Suddenly the field Telephone (the ubiquitous Tele J) rang with its characteristic long and shrill ring, signifying a call from some VVIP. I picked up the handset, my onerous duty as the Sparrow. Sure enough the call was from the Div TAC HQ with the GOC Gen Niranjan Prasad calling for the Commander. Tense and in pin -drop silence, we could hear but only the Commander's side of the conversation. After collecting the bits and pieces of the conversation, as recalled by each one of us on reaching Ramgarh, it was possible to reconstruct at least one side of the conversation.

Brig Dalvi's converstion
Heavy concentration had taken place by the Chinese on the Thagla ridge on the 17th, 18th & 19th October and they were likely to commence some major offensive action. The Tsangle Company of 9 Punjab (Ordered to be deployed on orders of higher authorities) on the extreme flank had no Tactical significance, approximately 500 porters were committed to re- supply, which was needed in addition armed escorts.

Additional platoon of 1/9 GR and section of 3" Mortar, MMG and medical detachment were already on move to join the company. The move of an additional platoon of 1/9 GR to Tsangle on 20th October (as directed by the GOC on orders from top) would make administration more difficult and would deplete the Brigade reserve/ depth Battalion 1/9 GR to a battalion less two companies and two platoons. This was a dangerous move.

He recommended pulling out of all troops West of Bridge IV to make the Brigade Sector more compact, unless this was carried out it would not be possible for the Brigade to hold on to the extended sector along the river line.

Dalvi spoke all this in a strained and agitated tone, with all of us sitting tense and apprehensive, He ended the conversation from his side by offering to resign to provide an scapegoat. This left all of us shell- shocked. The uneasy silence in the bunker was broken by the Commander asking the BM to send a signal to Div HQ on the lines of his conversation with the GOC.

Gloom and Despondency
In contrast to the gloom and despondency inside the bunker, outside our small world was still, quiet and peaceful. The scene was ethereal, the light from the nearly full moon filtering through the branches and leaves of the trees and bushes, making a play of light and shade on the ground. Fond of photography, I used to enjoy this scene every day but not this day. Who could predict at that time that the next morning every thing will change and our world would be turned topsy- turvy. Slowly, we trooped out of the bunker. The Staff heading to the office for the follow up action. Talwar, who had no role to play, turned to his borrowed sleeping bag, I took a round of the signal centre and the radio detachments, as was my practice. Finally I also headed to my one man tent and into the sleeping bag, fully dressed, less the boots. I soon fell in a deep but disturbed sleep, little knowing that this was going to be my last warm and comfortable sleep for a long time to come.

Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

Battle of NAMKA CHU, 10 Oct to 16 Nov 1962

India- China Conflict 1962. The Big Picture

The Signboard at Jaswantgarh in memory of Rfn Jaswant Singh, who paralysed Chinese forces almost single handedly

4 Inf Div Sig Regt -Tezpur
My main contact during the operations remained with Maj Ram Singh who was responsible for the Div TAC HQ, initially at Tawang later at Lumpu and finally at Zimnithaung. However, I did remain in touch with the CO and other officers at Regimental HQ at Tezpur by RT on D1.

IV Corps
On 3rd Oct 62, 4 Corps was to take birth later in the night. Lt Col K K Tewari addressed me with copies to Maj Ram Singh (RAMU) and Maj K G Gangadharan, OC I COY, provides an insight as to what was happening and being planned in the rear. As is well known events did take a dramatic turn once Kaul arrived in Tezpur on the afternoon of 4th October as the GOC of new born 4 Corps. Based on the tentative plans, of which I was not aware, till that day nothing had been finalised at least at the Bde level.

General Umrao Visit
The results of General Umrao visit on 28th and his departure from Lumpu on 29th September for discussions with the Army Commander, were still anxiously awaited. However, it appears that as forward planning the CO wanted the existing line from Shakti to be extended by Maj Ram Singh to Lumpu by 9th October, achieved only by 12th October.

Rearward Communication
I was required to extend the line from Lumpu to Tsangdhar by 8th October. Normally Bde Signals are responsible for forward communications but in my case the priority had always been the rear communication. I still wonder as to by whom and how the thin cable laid on the boulder strewn, undulating ground, covering a distance of three days march and crossing over the 16,000 feet Karpola pass could have been maintained.

Forward Planning
Thanks to Kaul, I was out of Lumpu before 8th Oct 1962. The line to Rongla the final Brigade HQ from Div TAC HQ at Ziminthaung was
completed only by 17th October, just two days before the Chinese
attack. In so far as D4 was concerned I do not recall coming on the net. So much for the forward planning which Signals are required to do!

Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)
Photos from
Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh

SCPC: ESM Protest March on 06 July 2008

Dear Friends,

Protest Plan
  • The event will be called “Black Flag Protest Marches”.
  • The event will be held in all District HQ of the country, state capitals and at New Delhi.
  • All Military Veterans of the District led by senior officers with Black flags, banners, wearing miniature medals, protest tabs will assemble at suitable places from the office/ residence of the District Collector/ State Governor. At Delhi all veterans will assemble at Vijay Chowk for proceeding to Rashtrapti Bhawan.
  • All veterans will assemble at 11 AM at the decided locations, form in threes and March towards the DC’s Residence/ Office/ Governors Res/ Office and at Delhi Rashtrapti Bhawan.
  • Suitable banners/ placards and black flags will be carried by the Marchers. The marches will be executed peacefully and in a dignified manner.
  • One reaching the Residence/ office of DCs/ Governor/ President of India, the veterans will halt and a few veterans will present the memorandum to the President to the above functionaries.
  • Maximum participation of officers is requested. We had over 60 Generals at the Hunger Strike location at India Gate. We would like to cross the figure of 100 Generals on 06 Jul 08. Large participation of Jawans and JCOs is essential. Organizers to give maximum publicity in the Districts, State Capital regions and the NCR specially in the villages to ensure large presence of Jawans and JCOs.
  • Maximum media coverage will be coordinated. We are in touch with National Dailies and large number of TV channels specially ND TV.
  • Draft Memorandum to the President is being prepared and will be forwarded soon.
  • Approved write-ups of leaflets are being sent separately. Organizers at each district/ state capital may please get one lakh leaflets printed which can be distributed suitably.

    The above method of protest will ensure action at more than 600 locations in the country. Its success will depend upon the number of veterans at each location.

    We also request all our former chiefs to meet the Prime Minister in a delegation and ask him to suitably address the demands of Defence Forces.

    Demands of ESM
  • Rejection of 6th PCR.
  • Constitution of Separate Pay Commission or Pay Review Board with members from the Defence Services both serving and veterans.
  • All future commissions/ committees for Defence Services must have representation from both serving and veteran personnel.
  • Sanction of one rank one Pension. This demand had been recommended by the Parliamentary committee in 2004 but the same has been rejected by 6th CPC.
  • Assured Resettlement till 60 years of age through the Act of Parliament.
  • Military Service Pay (MSP) sanctioned is inadequate. As recommended by the Chiefs, MSP for Jawans and JCOs be 62.5% of basic pay and 56.5% for officers. (A minimum of (Rs 3000 pm/- for JCOs and Jawans). MSP be for all ranks and effective from 01 Jan 2006.
  • Status of Defence Services as per order of precedence (OOP) at the time of independence be restored. As confirmed from the MHA, there has been no amendment passed to the OOP as existed in 1947.
  • Year wise edge on pay package of Defence Forces personnel over other civil services be ensured.

    With kind regards,
    Jai Hind
    Yours Sincerely,
    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
    All India Military Veterans Movement
  • Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    The 1962 India- China conflict or debacle?

    "I remember many a time when our senior generals came to us, and wrote to the defence ministry saying that they wanted certain things... If we had had foresight, known exactly what would happen, we would have done something else... what India has learnt from the Chinese invasion is that in the world of today there is no place for weak nations... We have been living in an unreal world of our own creation."
    Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajya Sabha, 1963

    Read the full article by Wing Commander (Retd) R V Parasnis
    Remembering a War
    Mute Questions?
    Should the Nation at Large continue to allow the Politicians and Bureaucrats create the same confusion in the Defence Forces even after a spell of 45 years? Will history repeat itself? Do we need a professional army or a disgruntled force to safeguard our Nation?
    The Defence Forces have been padded with more Generals of Kaul calibre. The Bureaucrats have in the last 20 years doubled the number of the Generals though the Strength of the troops of the Defence Forces has remained constant. Now we have more Politician turned Serving Generals rather than those who would ensure the Security of the Nation. The media reports of Corruption in the Armed Forces is true but sad reflection of the state of Affairs. A mid- course correction will certainly steer it on to the true course; better late than never!

    The bugle call for Ex- Servicemen to unite

    My dear General,

    Please accept salutations from a person who smelt mother earth on 18th Sep 1919.

    I was born in the Corps of Signals on 5th Oct 1942 from where I moved to Vanaprastha in Oct 1968. You may probably recall that I got an Indian Oil Petrol pump, on Sardar Patel Marg, allotted in the open category, against stiff local opposition and this was inaugurated by Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw in July 1969.

    I used to be on the governing body of IESL in the days of Field Marshal KM Cariappa. I even represented IESL in a world conference held in Australia in 1979. At that time and even before, I used to insist that the cost of such visits should be borne by the individuals enjoying the respect associated with participation in such international events. Based on this view, I did not let IESL pay for my trip to Australia. The entire expenditure was borne by me. I was probably the first and the last one to do, what was termed by my colleagues in the Governing body of IESL as the most foolish act. Those were days when righteous conduct was the distinguishing feature of an officer.

    Later things started going wrong. I felt I could not fit into the team which had some personal ambitions also on the agenda. I then quit that organization. Now, the battle for getting back the privileges that rightly belonged to the Defence Services from the days of Chandra Gupta Maurya are hotting up. At this stage I feel that it is my duty to put in my bit. I would therefore be happy if I am taken into one of the bodies involved in this great task. Even when I am at the fag end of 89 years of age, my spirit of the defence camaraderie is strong.

    I have a small personal secretariat. I feel that letters in different languages, along with a copy of the advice by Kautilya to Chandra Gupta Maurya, should be sent by Email, to MPs, Rajya Sabha Members and state Vidhan Sabha Members (Publications showing their names, addresses, Email ID, telephone numbers and party affiliation are available on sale at Govt book shops). The same should be sent to secretaries of Central and State Governments and District Collectors/ DCs/ State and District Police Officials, News papers in English/ vernacular languages and all political parties- National as well as Regional- all over India. This list can be enlarged as we go along. Such a forwarding letter should be a warning to these law makers and their vassals that there is danger lurking around and even our independence is at risk. My writing may be a ball of fire and someone will have to cool it down a bit before moving it to the launching pad.

    Do I have a role to play and if so, what will it be ?.

    With best wishes and regards,
    Your comrade in arms
    Col MS Krishnamoorthy (Retd)
    Corps of Signals Veteran

    Copy of text message addressed to Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd) on 09 Jun 2008 is reproduced above. I have seen a large number of emails most of them expressing very valid and balanced views, be it from a hawk or a dove. I will send out my consolidated reactions in a day or two, realizing full well, that at this stage, they are unsolicited.

    My humble opinion is one demonstration, in a large number of cities, on one day ,at an appointed time, on a bugle call will be a negation of our aim. If we do this, it will mean a one day single item news. This may be read or even pass unnoticed. To be effective, our demonstration approaches should be phased in different states and even in different districts so that it will act as continuous agitation story. As one who understands the modus operandi of the media and the effect of media exposure, my advice is that we must demonstrate to the authorities that it is continuous simmering and not like the effervescing soda water, which lasts only for a few minutes after the bottle is opened.

    My other suggestion is that Kautilya's address to his monarch Chandra Gupta should be in the hands of as many politicians and bureaucrats as possible. Armed Forces Memorandum: Letter from Kautilya to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. This will be an indirect warning to them that if they do not read the writing on the wall now, they may not have a free India to be led by them in their joint operation of making themselves and their off springs for generations, rich with no necessity to exert. The 5th paragraph of my letter above, I submit, is worth reading. The powers that we must clearly understand we do not have one single neighbour who can be called a friend in need. In fact, all of them are jealous of our growing international stature and are inimical either openly or covertly.

    I give below 2 quotes extracted from a speech by our former President, scientist doctor APJ Abdul Kalam. If the contents of these two quotes would be the guiding factors for the Ex-servicemen force that will be fighting for restoration of dignity to the members of the defence services, success will surely be ours.


    Where there is righteousness in the heart
    There is beauty in the character.
    When there is beauty in the character,
    There is harmony in the home.
    When there is harmony in the home.
    There is order in the nation.
    When there is order in the nation,
    There is peace in the world.

    It is a beautiful connectivity between heart, character, nation and the world. In a society we have to build righteousness among all its constituents. For the society as a whole to be righteous we need creation of righteousness in family, righteousness in education, righteousness in service, righteousness in career, righteousness in business & industry, righteousness in civil administration, righteousness in politics, righteousness in government, righteousness in law and order, righteousness in justice.


    Oh Almighty, create thoughts and actions
    In the minds of the people of my nation
    So that they live united.
    Oh Almighty, bless my people
    A path of life with righteousness
    As righteousness gives the strength of character.
    Help all religious leaders of my country to
    Give strength to the people to combat the divisive forces.
    Guide my people to develop an attitude to appreciate different
    Ideologies and transform enmity among individuals,
    Organizations and nations, into friendliness and harmony.
    Oh almighty, terrorism is a curse to the humanity
    And the people who remove innocent lives indeed are insane
    Let the pain of the people transform the cruel minds.
    Oh God, bless my people to work with perseverance to
    Transform the country into a peaceful and prosperous nation.

    Your comrade in arms,
    Col MS Krishnamoorthy (Retd)
    Corps of signals Veteran

    Armed Forces Memorandum: Letter from Kautilya to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    The Aura and Grandeur of Command

    A Battalion is a military unit of around 500- 1500 men usually consisting of between two and six companies and typically commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel. Several battalions are grouped to form a Brigade.

    In modern British forces, and other world armies a Lieutenant Colonel usually commands a regiment (in the artillery and armoured regiments) or a battalion in the Infantry.

    In the upgraded Indian Army the Battalions are commanded by Full Colonels (red tab) and second in command is Lieutenant Colonel. The aura and grandeur of Lieutenant Colonel has been reduced to a Company Commander in the Indian Army.

    Will this lowering of Rank structure augur well for the Indian Army? Maybe further up gradation is the process and in future the Battalions will be commanded by Brigadiers!

    Lt Gen Harwant Singh in his article "Defence leadership: Incentives required to attract talent", posted on 09 Jun 2008 in this blog has aptly brought out the consequences of dilution in Ranks.
    Quote: "In the military each rank carries a certain degree of aura and authority and any dilution or serious alteration of this structure tends to upset the hierarchical system and response to command authority." unquote

    The aura and grandeur of a Battalion commander has surely been diluted. The time tested rank of a Lieutenant Colonel who has been a Battalion Commander for the last 200 years of the Indian Army has been relegated to rank of a Major. Does this augur well for the Indian Army? Have we fallen in a trap designed by the Bureaucrats to dilute the command and control structure of the Armed Forces?

    We request readers to share their views.

    Monday, June 9, 2008

    SCPC: Future Course of Action

    Esteemed Veterans,

    Some suggestions for for future course of action as regards the on going agitation against Recommendations made by the 6th Pay Commission are given below.

    OVERALL LEADER. The movement needs an over all leader, who is an icon and has an aura amongst the veterans and if possible amongst the people at large. He has to be a War Veteran of repute and decorated 3 Star General, whose word will be followed. A Steering Committee can work out plan of action but then get it ratified by Advisory Group as suggested by Gen Oberoi but Headed by a LEADER as suggested above. Some names come to mind. Lt Gen Zoru Bakshi, MVC, VRc, PVSM, VSM. He is from 5 GR; formerly FF and lives in Delhi. Very unassuming and likable. Then we have Lt Gen RS Dayal, MVC, former Lt Governor, is respected by civilians too. He lives in Panchkula and has been attending all the protest meetings. There are some more whose names can be suggested by others. The comparatively younger lot in the leadership role should bring in these Icons to head the movement and bring in Unity, which is lacking at present.

    2. JCOs OTHER RANKS REPRESENTATION. I am of the view that we should get them in the forefront. though let us be careful in selecting those who have not many eggs to grind. Our movement must seem to be more for the PBOR and not so much for Officers and that also of higher ranks.

    3. AIM OF THE MOVEMENT. Selection and Maintenance of aim is a key principle of war. Some effort has been made to work out objectives for the movement but the required clarity is still not there. LET US NOT BE INFLUENCED OVERLY BY SOME COLLEAGUES WHO WRITE INFLAMMATORY EMAILS. Sense of balance, propriety must prevail and passions should not be made to rise. One needs to be calm to lead such agitations.

    4. The immediate aim has to be the Pay Commission Report. WE CANNOT FIGHT THE ESTABLISHMENT (POLITICIANS AND BUREAUCRACY). We will always lose. Only way to fight them is to have military rule and we have seen what military rule has done in our neighboring countries. So let us select aim/ objective for the agitation calmly and I would suggest let this be just the Pay Commission Report.

    5. FIGHTING FOR THOSE IN SERVICE. It will be against all norms of discipline and propriety for veterans to fight for rights of those serving. This is just not done, gentlemen. We do not want to destroy the very fabric of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force by doing so. It is the job of the respective Chiefs to take care of those serving under them (and also Veterans). Those who are Chiefs today have been groomed by us and have imbibed legacies good or bad left by us. They are quite capable of fighting their battles with the Bureaucracy to the extent Indian milieu permits. Let us leave alone those who have the privilege to wear the Uniform today.

    6. CULTIVATE THE OPPOSITION. Let us cultivate the Opposition. The Communist Parties, BJP and others. Let us not forget Lalu Parsad!! He can be effective even in his jocular ways.

    7. ASKING QUESTIONS IN THE PARLIAMENT. One of the well known ways to high light any problem at the National level is to ensure that questions are asked in the Parliament on the subject. We should formulate appropriate questions and then ask Members of Parliament to raise these.

    8. USE OF ACT ON RIGHT TO INFORMATION. The biggest insult heaped on the Services is non inclusion of a representative in Uniform in the Pay Commission, for which the Chiefs have requested time and again. We should ask for details how this request was not acceded to, based on Right to Information Act and then nail those who managed to scuttle this.

    9. MEETING Mrs SONIA GANDHI. I have suggested this a number of times already. She is Political Leader of UPA Government Political Parties. and still wields great power and authority. A largish delegation of War Veterans and War Wounded should meet her and explain to her the whole issue. Elections are nearing and she would do any thing to get favorable press.

    Kind regards to each and everyone.
    Harbhajan Singh
    Lt Gen (Retd) PVSM
    Signal Officer-in-Chief 1988-91

    Defence leadership: Incentives required to attract talent

    When the successive central pay commissions have finally created a crisis situation in the military, the RM has tried to find a solution, which is worse than the problem itself. However, it will eminently achieve the objective of taking the focus away from the current turmoil in the services and engage the military’s headquarters in yet another wasteful and time-consuming exercise. In the military each rank carries a certain degree of aura and authority and any dilution or serious alteration of this structure tends to upset the hierarchal system and response to command authority.

    It matters little that a small state may have a large number of DGPs, even one for special enquiries and yet another for fire-fighting equipment and so on or in the IAS, financial commissioners for freedom fighters etc. Such a system of downgradation may work in the civil, because there is no such thing as rank, which is specific only to the defence services. For the military it will be counter- productive, devalue the rank and adversely affect the working and delivery systems.

    The military has been forced to look for patterns adopted by the civil services and the police merely because some contrived rank equivalence is being established with the civil, forsaking the earlier patterns. A simple solution existed for close to a hundred years before partition, which linked status with pay, which, in turn, relates to length of service, and addition of rank pay and monetary compensation for the X factor and enhanced pension for early retirement etc. But now a new and perverse formulation is being thrust on the military.

    The reason for the sustained absence of military leadership lay in the fact that there never has been a collective national security perspective and the existence of indifferent nature of governments and together they brought about military leadership deficit. Best minds never opted for the military. The same formulation is on display when M.M. Pallam Raju, Minister of State for Defence, informs us that sainik schools are the nurseries to groom future armed forces officers. Earlier, the FM had allocated Rs 44 crore to these schools in his budget with the same mindset.

    Surely the future leadership of the armed forces cannot come from the constricted and cloistered environments of sainik schools. The military’s leadership in the 21st century has to be essentially a product of liberal university education with a strong science background. The RM’s new proposal is to have a cadre of short service commission officers, who serve for 14 years and then are discharged with a gratuity of Rs 2 lakh for every year of service and no pension. The sum of Rs 28 lakh, 14 years from now, will not buy a one- bed room apartment in a tier III city in a lower middle class colony!

    The officer at the time of his release would be a Lt Col in his mid-to-late thirties with all the attendant family commitments. He would be about the same age at which a soldier is now being discharged with inadequate pension. Like the soldier, he will remain unemployed and frustrated. Their frustration will deliver the final fatal blow to the Army’s image because they will carry their rank into retirement. When the existing offer of regular commission fails to draw the right material, how does the RM hope to attract suitable material for this hopelessly poor career on offer?

    These are the officers who will be required to lead infantry companies, armoured squadrons etc into battle and are expected to be the cutting edge of the military. Soldiering, unlike other professions, demands total commitment, involvement and dedication to the cause. One has to be highly motivated to motivate troops and be able to lead them into the very jaws of death. Battles are invariably full of surprises and the unexpected. Military leaders have to be intelligent to quickly regain balance when surprised, master the unexpected, innovate and deliver, all under an environment of intense stress and danger.

    The type that will be drawn by this short service commission of 14 years would fall short on these essential qualities. Those who feel that by opening regular commission to women will meet the shortages in the officer cadre unwittingly project the view that women are available on the cheap! Will a career that has become unattractive for men because of poor prospects, pay etc draw to it women of the right talents in droves?

    There is no gainsaying that there is a need to recast the structure of officer cadre in the military and make it an attractive career, both in terms of promotion avenues and pay etc. One possible solution is to have a regular cadre of 55 per cent and the balance 45 per cent made up by, 25 per cent short service (5 years,) 10 per cent from the ranks and the balance 10 per cent from those recruited direct into the JCO cadre. Those from the ranks/direct JCO cadre should have a minimum service of six to eight years and be able to clear the services selection board before entry into the officer cadre.

    A new cadre of direct recruitment into the JCO rank could be introduced with graduation as the minimum qualification. These JCOs would be able to handle a large range of administrative duties such as boards, unit audits, minor courts of inquiry etc and thus relieve unit officers for training of troops and upgradation of their skills. The overall career prospects of the regular officers, which will form the core of the officer cadre, will remain reasonably bright. Irrespective of the type of commission, there have to be adequate incentives to draw on the right material, both for regular and short service commission. Short service commission officers should have a training period of six months, followed by five years service with the units. Some out of these may seek regular commission.

    On release from the Army a large range of avenues should be open to these short service commissioned officers. Those opting for an alternate career should be absorbed in Central police organisations, central services (after qualifying a written test,) PSUs etc. Their period of service with the military should be counted in their new careers. Depending on qualifications and aptitude, some of them could be given free education in IIMs, IITs and hotel management institutions and law colleges etc against reserved seats with a substantial stipend. Such a system will make short service attractive, draw on the right material and these officers will carry the work ethos, discipline and dedication of the military into other areas of civil life.

    The above mix of regular commission, short service commission and those from JCO/ranks will, by and large, meet the aspirations of regular commissioned officers and as such draw on the right material both for the regular and short service commission. However, it will take years before such a proposal can be implemented and its effect realised and, therefore, is no solution for the present turmoil in the services. To overcome the existing frustration and shortages in the military, the service will have to be made attractive enough to attract the right material and to provide a degree of satisfaction to retain those already in service. The RM by his proposal for 14 years short service commission has simply failed to grapple with the problem proper and instead is setting the military to chase a crooked shadow.

    Lt Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)


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