Saturday, August 16, 2008

Defence Forces Rank Status Downgradation: A self inflicted injury

Child Abusers
Pragmatic Euphony: 6th Pay Commission Implemented

@Veeru/ Menon/ Navdeep:

The dilution of rank of Lt Colonel and equivalents is not the handiwork of SCPC. AVS-1 (based fully on Lt General Bagga’s report) was a pet project of the then army chief, not meant for the other two services. The other services were forced to accept the report as their officers were feeling let down in comparison. BTW, that army chief is currently holding a post equivalent to a Cabinet minister, managing disasters now (after causing a few in the army :-0 ).

That report changed the first select-grade rank from Lt Colonel to Colonel. The services had used this logic in the fourth and the fifth pay commission of first select grade rank for equivalence in pay. When the same logic was used by the SCPC, post-AVSC, it has come to hurt the services. The blame, if any, lies on the top brass, that has at least for the last three decades, caused maximum damage to the services by their own inchoate actions.

One thing that the top brass have ostensibly succeeded so far is in directing the ire of the service officers towards the politicians and bureaucrats. It is time the service officers and veterans realised who really lies behind the sad realities confronting them. Why not a dharna by the veterans at the Army/ Air force/ Navy house against the HR/ promotion/ exit policies in the services? Maybe, the palatial houses of a few retired service chiefs would also be a suitable alternative for these protests and demonstrations.
Pragmatic Euphony: 6th Pay Commission Implemented

Comments: The dilution of Ranks is the sole responsibility of Army Brass. An example, the Lt Col rank reduced to a non entity. Can a Red Tab Colonel gain the respect of his troops? One needs to the see the cause and effect of Red Tabs commanding a Battalion as Peacekeepers in Congo! The full Colonels have produced smugglers and Child Abusers! A real war alone will prove the disaster of diluting the rank structure, "Victory or Defeat".

Army Expedition to Jongsang Glacier

Kripan Division organised an expedition to the Muguthang sector in North Sikkim from June 24 to July 9.

The area is a typical glacial zone with steep cliffs, ice pinnacles and walls, hanging glaciers and frozen lakes which may burst any time. The expedition by the Trishakti Corps was in consonance with the army’s practice of developing love for nature, mountains, flora and fauna among the men in uniform.

The trek was also aimed at developing key leadership traits such as mental and physical robustness, camaraderie, decision making and problem solving ability among the junior leaders of the army. The expedition team, led by Captain Shanu Krishna, comprised three officers, one junior commissioned officer and 24 personnel of Kripan Division.

While most of the team members were the personnel of the Punjab Regiment, others were from Corps of Signals and Army Medical Corps for technical support. The expedition traversed through Jongsang Glacier to complete its mission by scaling Point 5630 near Jongsang Peak.
Army Expedition to Jongsang Glacier

India 61, the icons that make India

Left to Right: Major Jawed Ali Khan, Major Ashish Hooda, Major Jamini Dutta with Captain Sanket Baweja, officiating public relations officer

'Every soldier is doing a gallant job'
August 15, 2008
Meet Major Jamini Dutta, Major Ashish Hooda, Major Jawed Ali Khan: Gallantry award winners, The Indian Army.

Major Ashish Hooda is 33 and part of the Indian Army's Special Forces unit. He won a gallantry award for his act of bravery against insurgents in Jammu & Kashmir. Despite his achievement Major Hooda considers himself a humble soldier of this country. "It's not only that Major Hooda is a gallantry award winner," he says. "There are a number of officers in the Indian Army who are doing a gallant job every day. You must remember that each and every soldier of the Indian Armed Forces is doing a gallant job every day."

Major Jawed Ali Khan, who was awarded a Sena Medal for his bravery in Manipur, says: "The sense of belonging that it gives me, makes me feel proud of this great institution called the Indian armed forces."

All three officers show an identical trait that has now come to define the Indian Army - Team effort is more important than individual acts of bravery.

Photographs: Reuben NV.
Indian Soldier Nation's Pride

SCPC: Calculation of salary as per 14 Aug Revised Pay Panel Report

Many of you want to know the formula for calculating new pay. The exact amount of gross pay as on 1st october 2008 will be as follows:

A=basic on 1-1-2006.
B=1.86*A adding 86% DA in A. NOW B will be the pay in the appropriate band.
C=B + G where G is the GRADE pay against pay-band of your Rank.
D=1.03*C after 3% increment, basic on 1-7-2006
E=D*1.0p if p% DA is added
F=E*1.0p again p% DA released on 1-1-2007
H=F*1.03 increment on 1-7-2007 inflation neutralised!!
J=H*1.0p DA on 1-7-2007
K=J*1.0p DA on 1-1-2008
L=1.03*K increment added on 1-7-2008
M=L*1.0p latest DA on 1-7-2008
Now add HRA, Edu, MSP etc allowances applicable to you in M = that will give your GROSS PAY.
Pensioners: The formula earlier given by Brig CS Kamboj (Retd) and published in this blog is still valid. Pension as on 01 Jan 2006 X 1.385= Pension as on 01 Jan 2008.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Indian Peacekeepers become smugglers and abusers

New Delhi, August 12: After a series of charges ranging from gold smuggling to illegal detention of local citizens to making statements in support of rebel groups, Indian peacekeepers in Congo have been accused of child abuse by an internal UN investigation.

While Indian Blue Helmets have been charged for a series of aberrations in Congo over the past year, this is by far the most serious allegation against Indian peacekeepers anywhere in the world.

In July, a Colonel posted at the mission was brought under investigation for making statements in support of a rebel group. The UN had initiated an internal inquiry against Colonel Chand Saroha for expressing sympathy for the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) at a public function in April.

As reported by The Indian Express, a UN investigation had also found that Indian peacekeepers in Congo illegally detained, physically assaulted and “sexually propositioned” a local gold trader who had allegedly sold them counterfeit gold dust.

The three Army personnel identified as “JCO Deepak Singh Nayal , Sergeant Suresh Pandurang Bodhak and Lt Col Talum Duby” were also found guilty by an Army court of inquiry earlier this year.

The Indian contingent has been charged with a series of allegations, like gun running and having connections with local militia, that have all been dismissed as a “malicious media campaign” by the Army.
India probes UN sex charges in Congo
Indian Army to join UN probe on Congo gold smuggling
After smuggling, child abuse is Indian shame in Congo

Indiscipline: The formation commanders and Commanding Officers are squarely responsible for such debased activity of the Indian Army. The Jawans are the finest warriors in the world. The Career Opportunists (COs) are not commanding troops but are concerned about their next promotion based on pleasing the bosses sitting in AHQ. This requires thorough investigation to mitigate the name and honour of our Jawans. The Commanding Officers so responsible need to be punished in an exemplary manner.

SCPC: Bigger pay packet makes armed forces happy

The armed forces, which had initially expressed discontentment over quantum of salary hike proposed by the Sixth Pay Commission, on Thursday reacted positively to the Centre's announcement adopting the panel's recommendations.

"All the concerns of the defence forces appear to have been suitably addressed by the government's announcement regarding Sixth Pay Commission," Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said reacting to the government's announcement on the pay panel's recommendations.

The government on Thursday announced an average increase of 21 per cent in salaries of over 50 lakh government employees with effect from January 1, 2006, adopting the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

In the defence sector, the government approved at least three assured promotions for all defence forces personnel and civilian employees under the modified Assured Career Progression scheme.

The government for the first time approved Military Service Pay for armed forces personnel, under which officers would get Rs 6,000 over and above their pay per month.

The lowest limit of disability pension for defence personnel would be doubled to Rs 3100 a month.

Arguing that the Armed Forces deserve a better deal, the Army, Navy and Air Force Chiefs had sought modifications in the Pay Commission proposals including that the military service pay (MSP) be levelled at 25 per cent of the basic pay for soldiers, personnel below officer rank and middle rung officers.
Bigger pay packet makes armed forces happy

Prime Minister's Address from Ramparts of Red Fort

Brothers and Sisters,

Four years ago I said to you that an important challenge we face is the challenge of providing good governance. We have taken several steps to make Government transparent, efficient and responsive. The Right to Information Act was one major step. We have initiated reform and modernization of Government. The National e-Governance Plan will make it easier for all our citizens to deal with the various agencies of Government.

We have completed the examination of the report of the Sixth Pay Commission. We have gone beyond the recommendations of the Commission in increasing emoluments of government employees. While doing this we have taken special care of the interests and welfare of our armed forces and para-military forces, and government employees working at lower levels in our civil services. This is one more step in making Government more efficient.

We need more reforms at all levels of Government. We want to improve our schools, our hospitals and other public services. The Panchayati Raj Institutions have an important role to play in decentralization and reform of Government. We must enhance their administrative and financial powers. I appeal to State Governments to take all possible steps for improving governance and to help in the Central Government’s initiatives.

If we resolve to work together as a nation, and work hard and with commitment to the welfare of all our people, there is nothing that we cannot do.

Let us resolve today to stand together, to strengthen the unity and integrity of our country and to stand firm in our determination to build a new India of our dreams.

Jai Hind.
Full Text of Address visit: PM’s address on 62nd Independence Day

Thursday, August 14, 2008

SCPC: Approved by Cabinet on 14 Aug 2008

Sixty- First Independence day bonanza
Thursday, August 14, 2008
See it here first, 6th Pay Commission modified report as approved by the Cabinet is out. The revised report as recommended by the Anomalies committee and as approved by the Cabinet.

What it means for the military?

1. As reported months earlier on this blog, Colonels and Brigadiers are now to be shifted to Pay Band-4. But status wise this does not mean much for the forces since the equivalent (and lower) civil posts have also been shifted to Pay Band-4. To take an example, the post of Superintending Engineer (SE) in the Central Engineering Services, which is equivalent to a Lt Col, has also been granted Pay Band-4 as has been granted to a Full Colonel. Interestingly, the modified report with much fanfare announces that Colonels and Brigs have been shifted to PB-4 of Rs 39200-67000. But if we go on and read the fine print, we find that civilians of equivalent and lower grades have also been placed in the same grade. As described above, an SE of the Central Engineering Services or a Director Govt of India who were in the 5th CPC pay grade of Rs 14,300-18,300 have been put in PB-4 (Rs 39,200-67,000) while a Lt Col who was receiving more pay and was in a higher 5th CPC pay grade of Rs 15,100-18,700 has been placed behind them to languish in PB-3 (Rs 15,600-39,100). Same is the case with Addl Commissioners of Income Tax, Addl Commissioners of Central Excise and Scientists 'E', all of whom were drawing a lesser pay than a Lt Col - and all of whom have now been placed in PB-4 thereby not only bypassing our Lt Colonels in pay but also in status.

2. MSP for PBOR doubled to Rs 2000/-.

3. Lt Generals overlooked for appointment as Army Commanders (GOsC-in-C) due to lack of residual service would now be granted the Army Commander’s Grade of Rs 80,000/- (fixed) that is also granted to Secretary to Govt of India. MSP of Rs 6000 to be taken into account notionally w.e.f 1-1-2006 while fixing the new pay of Maj Generals and Lt Generals. What is not highlighted is the fact that Directors General of Central Police Organizations who feature on Article 25 of Warrant of Precedence (WoP) have been also granted a scale of Rs 80000 which is more than the one granted to our Lt Generals who feature on Article 24 which is higher than Ds G CPOs. Directors General of State Police and Principal Chief Conservators of Forests also granted a higher scale of Rs 80000. Needless to say, both of these posts, i.e., DGP and PCCF do not feature at all in the WoP.

4. Lower limit of Disability Pension raised to Rs 3100. War-Injury pension to be 60% of emoluments.

5. SF Allowance for Army/IAF to be equivalent to Marine Commando Allowance of Navy.

6. Assured Career Progression Scales in 8, 16 and 24 years for PBOR as opposed to 10,20 and 30 years on the civil side.

7. No change in retirement age.

8. Revised scales effective from 1-1-2006 while allowances effective from 1-9-2008.

9. Arrears to be paid in two installments, the first (40% of arrears) this year and the second (60%) in the next financial year.

10. Annual increment to be 3%

11. Increase in Transport Allowance for all.

No information is yet available on Grade Pays. Grade Pay recommendations would be very vital since it is now the only determinant of status vis-à-vis civil services.

Maj Navdeep Singh
For regular updates visit: Indian Military Benefits Blog by Maj Navdeep Singh

The government has granted something ‘extra’ to defence personnel who were displeased with the sixth pay commission’s recommendation as they (defence forces) quoted it ‘lollypop’ due to meagre increment in their salary structure.
Cabinet approves Sixth Pay Commission recommendation

In what surely comes as an Independence Day bonanza for the civil servants, armed forces and paramilitary personnel, the Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. The revised pay structure will ensure that there will be a 40% increase in the net salary of government as well as defence employees. Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Priyaranjan Dasmunshi made the Cabinet's decision public at a press conference here. He however said that the formal announcement about the recommendations will be made by the Prime Minister from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi on Independence Day. The decision was taken after the Cabinet meet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and attended by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony and Finance Minister P Chidambaram unanimously passed the much awaited new pay commission report.
Govt's I-Day bonanza for civil, defence staff

SCPC: Independence Day Bonanza

"The Cabinet is likely to take up the Sixth Pay Panel report for approval on Thursday, and the matter was discussed at a meeting chaired by the PM today," official sources said.

Though the sources refused to share the details of the meeting or the amendment to the pay panel report submitted by its chairperson Justice Sri Krishna earlier this year, the increase over the commission's recommendations is likely to be the tune of 1.83 times of the net pay for the armed forces personnel and a substantial raise for civil servants too.

The Pay Commission had originally recommended that pay for the armed forces be hiked by 1.74 times, calculated on the basis of the inflationary factors.

When the Sixth Pay Commission had submitted its report, armed forces personnel had expressed their resentment, openly that also led to protest rallies by retired personnel, demanding a better deal considering the hardship factor involved in their services.

The tri-services top bosses too had done some hard lobbying with the defence minister, who in turn had batted on behalf of the armed forces with the finance ministry.

The government then set up a high-powered committee headed by Cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar to look into the anomalies pointed out by different sections of the government servants, including those from the defence services.
Sixth pay panel report faces Cabinet test today
Govt approves Sixth Pay Commission report
6th Pay Panel report to be approved on Aug 14
Government to approve pay panel report today

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

SCPC: Lament of a Soldier's Wife

Dear Madame President,

Should I severe the ties that are almost a decade strong?
Should I chew my words and call my decision wrong?
Should I return the trousseau that my mother chose?
Should I turn all the festivities into an affair morose?
Should I go and tell him that I love him no more,
Shattering him again and making his heart sore?

Whose fault is it, dear madame, that I decide thus?
Would you say that it's personal and I should not fuss?
Nothing, my dear lady, is personal about a soldier's life.
For when has he thought of his mom, dad, kid and wife?
He, whose only call is the call of honour, forgets what he was
And becomes what he's forced to be- a number among the Olive Green mass.

He demands nothing and goes about in silence.
Drinking and smoking, when clouds of desolation grow dense.
His mother awaits him and calls up time and again,
He switches off the phone to avoid that voiced pain.
His friends ask him to come (along with two Black Labels)
And see their plush houses and read therein their success' tales.

His wife will wait for months to get some surgery done
As, in that dilapidated SF, caring enough she finds none.
She would remember sadly her starry-eyed days
When what attracted her was his gallant ways.
Never did she realize, that foregoing her Doctorate in the UK
All she would get is this battered house, stale ration and his meager pay.

He was no less- in fact, better than some now white-collared ones.
Only, he thought romantically as one of Mother India's sons,
And chose the call letter from IMA, among several others,
And avowed his commitment to his land and his brothers.
He did push ups, while his colleagues abroad partied
His cousins wore designer labels, while he a 'combat' dirtied.

He is unlikely to accompany his wife to that family function
Where she goes alone and starts crying from the junction.
'Coz how would she face her friends and cousins and siblings,
Who would judge her attire, and other material things?
She never was a hedonist, but now she feels the pain
And curses the day when he ceased to remain 'sane'.

For what else is this, if not utter insanity?
That he sacrifices his dreams at the altar of others' vanity.
He sleeps in trenches along with his boys,
And yet unable to buy his kids' favourite toys.
His kids are born and brought up in his absence
And he kisses their wallet-ed photos in silence.

For the first time, he demanded a share of what he deserves:
An agonized plea to the heads of the land he serves.
The petition goes from table to table, round and round
And he stands still, awaiting good, as if spellbound.
Someone, then, accuses him of hedonism and greed
And lists what he gets, and how it surpasses his need.

He feels cheated and in humiliation decides to take the call
To hang his starred uniform, once and for all.
But will he be able to carry through this decision?
After all, it was he who chose a Permanent commission!
When he decided to join, he overcome all resistance,
But when he decides to quit, he stands a bleak chance.

Why should I, then, be a fool and marry another?
Who, like his band of brothers, will find me a bother!
Why should I let go of my dreams to fuel his self-destructive fire,
When the nation that he serves will find no time to light his pyre?
Why should I, along with him, bear the burden that others discard,
And sacrifice all I have to be called an 'emotional retard'?

Why should I not confront him and say-
'I don't want to marry you because you cant nay
What your seniors orders, even if lay here dying.
I don't want to spend my life waiting for you crying.
I get hurt to see the attitude of the unsympathetic crowd
To ensure whose sleep, your commitment is clear and loud.
They begrudge you, your little pay hike,
This would enable you to buy your coveted bike.
Who weigh your life in an imbalanced scale,
And choose to ignore the path of hardships you trail.'

This is how every young lady, who is in love with or betrothed to an Army officer, is bound to feel in the wake of the uncertainties surrounding the sixth pay commission. The ladies serve the organization in their own way WITHOUT being on the payrolls. They leave their careers and individuality behind to become a pillar to their men folk. With transfers every three years, forced separations and agonizing civilian apathy, the ladies are forced to limit their horizons. Does it not make sense, then, to shun the Army personnel altogether in the marriage market?

Pardon me for my sarcasm.
My dear madame, I entreat you on the behalf of thousand others to look into the welfare of our men in uniform. They demand nothing but a share of what they truly deserve. The delay in declaring and implementing the revised pay recommendations for the forces is taking its toll. Being the Supreme Commander of our forces, it is in your purview to safeguard the interests of those who serve this nation unconditionally. Above all, being a woman you are likely to understand the sufferings of the families. I would refrain from using jargon and end my plea with folded hands.
Thanking You.
A soldier's betrothed

Ex Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme: Eye opener!

Central Information Commission
Appeal No CIC/WB/A/2007/00308 dated 22-2-2007
Right to Information Act 2008-Section 19

Appellant: Maj PM Ravindran (Retd)
Respondent: Director (Media) Min of Def (MoD)

Maj (Retd) PM Ravindran of Klapathy, Kerala moved and RTI dt 31-3-06 for follow of his request for information regarding details of Polyclinics together with their address and type and 22 other classification in a performa. To this he received a reply on 27-4-06 from Col S Thapar, Director (Media) refusing the information on the following grounds:

"Information sought by you vide your above quoted application cannot be provided as the same is not being complied and hence not readily available."

Aggrieved by this response Maj Ravindran moved his first appeal again before the Director (Media) but requesting that it be forwarded to the Appellate Authority as follows:

(a) "As per para 2, chapter 7 of the information brochure issued by the Central Organisation of ECHS, that it is the Central organisation ECHS, Organisation has been tasked to ensure efficient administration, liaison with MoD, issue policy guidelines, procurement and release of funds/ medicines/ equipment and to ensure smooth treatment and incident free medicare, through 'oversight and vigilance' system".

(b) The data I had sought pertains to the above task, especially 'procurement and release of funds/ medicines/ equipment, and to ensure smooth treatment and incident free medicare, through a proper 'oversight and vigilance' system".

(c) The authorities cannot deny me the information sought on the ground that it is not compiled by them as maintenance of such data is an essential part of discharging their task.

This appeal may please be forwarded to the appellate authority under RTI Act who is requested to kindly direct the Managing Director, ECHS to provide the information sought without further delay.

Tailpiece: It appears there was no response. After Maj PM Ravindran moved his second appeal. There was lukewarm response by Lt Col AR Prabakhar, JSO-1(Appeals). His reply mainly centered on already available data or saying all other data are available with local Station Headquarters. If this the attitude, status and working of Defence Forces organisation, what we can expect from other welfare organisations?

We thank Maj PM Ravindran in enlightening us on functioning of ECHS. ESM should increasing follow the example of Maj PM Ravindran, by resorting to RTI to fight for their rights and reduce corruption in all our Defence related Welfare organisations.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

National Commission for ESM Welfare

TO SOOTHE the frayed nerves of Indian defence personnel, both serving and retired, not happy with the emoluments offered by the Sixth Pay Commission, the government is mooting a national commission for welfare of ex-servicemen. The proposed body will speed up the issue relating to rehabilitation, welfare and grievances of retired soldiers, martyrs and their families.
The director-general, Resettlement, Major General SG Chatterji said his office would serve as a nodal single point interface between the retiring and retired service personnel, widows and their dependents and the outside agencies for all issues related to resettlement and welfare measures.
Govt moots national body for ex-servicemen welfare

Commissions: Will it make a dent? Already 30 Commissions are in vogue, click link for listing: List of Committees and Commissions

Our officialdom: Defenders of the absurd!

Oft I’ve received mails lamenting that the bureaucracy is to blame for all our woes. While there is strength in the argument, but do we have our own house in order? and I’m not being sardonic or sarcastic here.

Being in the legal profession, it deeply pains me to see how govt establishments defend logic that on the face of it seems absurd. The same holds true even for officers in the MoD and the Military who hold positions of confidence in legal channels and are expected to help Courts render justice. It is rarely that we see the Ministry of Defence conceding in a Court of Law that a particular action was arbitrary or illegal or that corrective measures are being taken, and this happens even in cases involving settled law. The problem is more with babus than with uniformed officers but we in the forces have placed too much in their hands, so much so that we don’t even realize our being cleverly short-changed. The military establishment too blindly jumps on the bandwagon to defend cases instituted in various Courts and Fora without an iota of application of mind, it’s merely an egotistical one upmanship in the sense that a case instituted has to be defended with full might without going into the merits, and without realizing that it may be for general betterment and welfare of the uniformed community. We sometimes end up being our own greatest enemies.

A very recent example that comes to my mind is of ‘Disability Pension on Voluntary Retirement’. The Ministry of Defence and successive Pay Commissions till the Fifth had been rebutting the Army’s demand for the removal of bar on the grant of disability pension on voluntary retirement. This bar did not exist in any other govt service and was unique to the Army. The Delhi High Court in a landmark decision in 2004, rightly by beneficially interpreting rules, held that voluntary discharge could not be a ground for refusal of disability pension, thereby indirectly endorsing and granting a long pending demand of the Army. But no this is not the end of the story, what happened after that holds the key!. Instead of gracefully accepting the decision and implementing it for all personnel, the Union of India filed an SLP in the Hon’ble Supreme Court challenging the orders of the Delhi High Court. Now here is the shocking part – you know on whose recommendations the said SLP was filed ? You guessed it right – the Army HQ, the same Army HQ which was fighting tooth and nail with the Govt to get the bar removed. Thankfully, the decision of the Delhi High Court was upheld by the Supreme Court this year. Now till date, instead of implementing it across the board, the govt wants each and every affected person to file a Writ Petition – and our legal cells are still defending such petitions in Court. Many would not know that Regulation 50 of the Pension Regulations for the Army (1961) contains a stipulation that disability pension would not be granted to voluntary retirees. This Regulation was however declared discriminatory, arbitrary and bad in law by the Delhi High Court in 1997. But in utter disregard to the spirit of the decision of the Court, the Govt is still not releasing disability pension to officers seeking Pre-Mature Retirement.

Another example that comes to mind is that of overruling of Medical Board opinion by CDA Authorities. When Medical Boards of the forces used to opine that a particular disability was ‘attributable to, or aggravated by military service’, the office of the PCDA (Pensions) was known to unilaterally override the opinion of the medical board and dismiss claims for disability pension in Allahabad. Hence the PCDA(P), an accounts branch in consultation with a Lt Col of the AMC known as Medical Advisor (Pensions) had the power to overrule the decisions of Medical Boards held under the Presidency of officers sometimes even of the rank of Brigadier. Various High Courts and even the Supreme Court time and again heavily came down on this system and held that PCDA(P) could not sit over the opinion of Medical Boards but it took more than 20 years for the Ministry of Defence to abolish the role of PCDA(P) in determining attributability and aggravation. Needless to say, such past cases where medical opinion had been overridden by CDA are still being defended in Courts by the MoD, without informing them (the Courts) that they themselves have now withdrawn the said powers from PCDA(P)!. There are countless other examples where the MoD does not inform the correct position and latest policies/ orders on issues before Courts.

My aim in writing this post is not to be cynical but I personally feel that it is not always the bureaucracy or the political leadership which is to blame, we the defence community, especially the serving, have to be steadfastly alert and aware of our rights and privileges and not merely become post-offices or puppets with zero application of mind. Had we been vigilant, our status in the WoP would not have reached this nadir (Today a North-Eastern State equates a Captain with an Office Superintendent, see this post), had we been watchful, rank pay would not have been deducted from basic pay while calculating post 4th CPC scales during issuance of the relevant Army Instructions, we have to see through the game. Whether it is RTI or Writ Petitions or the Media, the general tendency of officialdom is to ostracize the person who tries to bell the cat, the normal response is that of rejection without going deeply into the issue as if a person fighting for his/her rights is an enemy of the system. I remember when I first took up the case for implementation of toll exemption for private vehicles of serving personnel with the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, there was no support from the MoD which opined that my argument was hogwash, but later not only was toll exemption granted on all private and public roads & bridges in the country, but it was also upheld by the Supreme Court. The only person who supported me was Lt Gen SS Mehta, the then Western Army Commander. When we took up the issue of this WWII veteran with the MoD with the help of Lt Gen Pattabhiraman, every single Army officer dealing with the issue thought it was a losing battle but Gen Pattabhiraman ensured that we got the old Arty Vet his dues 60 years after his release. The same would have been the attitude of naysayers when Maj Dhanapalan must have filed his Writ Petition for arrears of the 4th CPC. This is not the correct approach and we should realize that we, including the ones still in uniform, may be standing in those shoes one day. Wherever we are, whatever we are, we must stand for what’s right and logical, even if it rubs the establishment the wrong way or ruffles a few feathers.
Maj Navdeep Singh, Advocate, High Court
Our officialdom: Defenders of the absurd
On How States treat the Military
Upholding of Toll exemption to defence personnel by the Supreme Court
World War II Veteran granted his dues after 60 years

We thank Maj Navdeep for giving us a peek into the working of AHQ and MOD. Sounds like crossfire with no signs of victory. This is primarily because of the over zealous, career ambitious and self seeking Generals posted at AHQ who can thwart the Indian Justice System in connivance with the Bureaucrats.

RTI call centre: The Bihar Model

Congress run-states may soon follow the model of an RTI call centre run by the NDA government in Bihar to make information more accessible to the poor and illiterate. When asked if the non-subsidized option involving over a 10-fold increase in the cost won't defeat the call centre's object of taking RTI to the poor, minister Prithviraj Chavan said that if the call centre route worked out to be more expensive, the citizen had the option of sending his RTI application by post. "Cost is not a major issue — whether for government or for the applicant," he added.

The difference in perception between Sonia Gandhi and Chavan is obvious. While Chavan sees the call centre essentially as a convenient mode of filing RTI applications, the UPA chief took it as a breakthrough for empowering the masses to enforce accountability.

Whatever choice DoPT finally makes on the question of subsidy, the call centre is likely to be run on the lines of the Bihar model in the first year. This is because UNDP is funding it as an e-governance project developed by the department of information technology. UNDP has agreed to provide Rs 2.5 crore for setting up infrastructure in Gurgaon and meeting operational costs in first year.

Right To Information
RTI Members
RTI Act and Fee Rules Updates
RTI Exposing Corruption
Sonia wants Bihar model for RTI call centre
RTI Statewise Success Stories
Now, an RTI call centre for queries
More defence papers come under RTI ambit

ESM: The RTI is a powerful weapon and a tool to combat anomalies of various pay panels and pay commissions which has denigrated Armed Forces Personnel in respect of salary, allowances, rank pay, warrant of precedence, decadence of rank structure and most important of all the honour of a Jawan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Abhinav Bindra Wins Gold For India: Video

Bindra makes Indian Sports History
********मेरा भारत महान************
क्या बात हे। बोहुत बादिया।

Dear Friends,
A great deal has been written and said about Abhinav's father, Dr AS Bindra, since yesterday. I thought some mention should have also been made of Dr Bindra's father; the late, Col Bir Singh. This is intended to fill that gap.
Col Bir Singh was in the ASC Center (North) at Meerut Cantt during 1962-65. Many of his close relatives were in the army. Col Bir Singh's daughter, Dolly, is married to Brig (Retd) GS Lamba (16th NDA, Engineers).
But, like most other pragmatic 'faujis' of the yesteryear, the family drifted out of military service, and in the current generation not even one of their kinsfolk has looked towards the Service Academies as a career option. However, the link with shooting seems to show out still!
Maj Gen Surjit Singh (Retd)

India Strikes Gold at Beijing

Abhinav Bindra won India's first individual Olympic gold medal on Monday with a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the men's 10m air rifle. Bindra had been fourth after qualifying but had a brilliant final round and the Indian, the epitome of tranquillity, hit a near perfect 10.8 on his last shot to pull in front of Henri Hakkinen of Finland, who fell to bronze with a poor final shot.

That late stumble by the Finn allowed China's Zhu Qinan, the defending Olympic champion and heavy favourite, to salvage a bitter day with silver. Zhu sobbed uncontrollably on the podium and again at a news conference.

"I can't describe how happy I am," the ever-calm Bindra told journalists. "It's the thrill of my life. That's about it. It's hard to describe. I just went for it. I knew I was lying in fourth. Thankfully it went my way and I just went for it."

Bindra, who faced criticism for failing to deliver on the great promise he showed as a child, said he was not thinking about making history in India with a first individual gold medal. In fact, he said, he was "not thinking about anything".

"I was just trying to concentrate on shooting," he said. "I wasn't thinking of making history. I was two points behind the leaders. I was just trying to shoot good shots. I wanted to shoot well and shoot aggressively. And that's what I did."

His 10.8 of a possible 10.9 on his final shot sparked loud celebrations from group of fans from India. Hakkinen, who was even with Bindra before his mere 9.7 on his last shot, said that crucial shot felt like the nine before it. "It just wasn't my turn," he said. "It shows that shooting is a sport from the first to the final shot. Every one counts."

Randhir Singh, Indian Olympic Association secretary-general and former shooter who was present at the range, was stricken by nerves as the competition reached its climax. "I haven't prayed so much in my life. With the second last shot they tied together and then he (Bindra) shot a 10.8. It couldn't have got better," he told Indian television.

Bindra won the 2006 world championships and finished seventh in Athens four years ago.
Bindra shoots India to first gold
The Blog Team, all Veterans and readers extend our hearty congratulations to Abhinav Bindra.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Defence Forces need to harness the power of the Media

Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh, former Signal officer-in-chief, observed that since the media has a profound effect on the thinking of people and authorities, winning the media battle is as important as winning in the battlefield.

Talking of his experiences with the media during counter-insurgency operations, Lt Gen JS Dhillon(Retd) said had the Army’s media interface been good, they wouldn’t have got adverse coverage during Op Bluestar. He urged Army officers never to hide facts or shy away from the media.

Former vice-chief of Army Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi said archaic and cumbersome procurement procedures is the bane of our system. He added that structure of the armed forces should be capability- based. He, too, urged the Army officers to harness the power of the media and advised them against remaining cocooned and isolated. He harped on the need of the Army to allow access to more reporters to help expand the media’s knowledge of the military.
Barring foreign media in Kargil cost India dear

ESM: There is greater need for ESM organisations to expand the media's knowledge of the Military and the Defence Forces at large. The words of wisdom quoted from senior veterans also speaks of the importance of media to champion for our veterans cause.

Signal Corps gets new Officer-in-Chief

New Delhi, July 31 (ANI): Major General P. Mohapatra, who is also the Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Signals, has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and would hence be Signal Officer-in-Chief. He would replace Lieutenant General SP Sree Kumar, who superannuated today.

As Signal Officer-in-Chief, he will be the head of the Corps of Signals and be responsible to oversee the entire Communication & IT requirements of the Indian Army. Prior to assuming the present appointment, he served as Additional Directorate General of Signal Intelligence and Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff. Lieutenant General Mohapatra was commissioned into the Corps on November 14, 1971, and had participated in the Indo – Pak war in the Northern Theatre. An alumnus of National Defence Academy and Defence Services Staff College, he has done the prestigious Higher Command Course and also attended the ”National Security and Strategic Studies Course” at the National Defence College, New Delhi.

Lieutenant General Mohapatra has had an illustrious career spanning over three decades and tenanted some very prestigious Command and Staff appointments. He has commanded an Independent Armoured Brigade Signal Company, an Armored Divisional Signal Regiment and was Chief Signal Officer of a Strike Corps during Operation Parakram. Further, he has considerable operational experience having participated in Operation Hifazat in Nagaland and Operation Rakshak in Jammu and Kashmir during an extremely critical phase of insurgency.

Lieutenant General Mohapatra has also been a Brigade Major of an Infantry Brigade, Colonel General Staff in College of Combat (now Army War College), Colonel Administration of an Infantry Division and Brigadier General Staff at the Army Training Command (ARTRAC). At Integrated Headquarter of Ministry of Defence (Army), he has been General Staff Officer 1st grade of the Army in Military Operations Directorate and Colonel MS in Military Secretary’’s Branch. (ANI)
New SOinC Appointed

The Blog Team and all the veteran readers congratulate Lt Gen P Mohapatra in his new assignment to head the "Information Warriors". He is from the 48 regular (and 32 Tech course) of IMA which passed out on 14 Nov 1971. This course duration was curtailed by a month in view of the Indo Pak conflict of 1971. All cadets were just given 10 days joining time to report to their respective units directly.

Articles by WWII veteran Lt Col Pritam Singh Jauhal

Welcome to Sikhs and their familiesby Parish Priest

Col Jauhal with Priest of the Church

Please click on links below for reading the the full text of the articles:

Attack On Rajouri Surroundings In J & K In 1948
Apology from Surrey city council
Discrimination Against Allied World War Veterans In Canada
Sikhs lent help in birth of nation. Do Canadians know?
Sikhs And Christians Gather To Mark Brotherhood Week
Veteran sheds a tear for his brave colleagues lost in battle
Other articles in the Blog

Lt Col Pritam Singh Jauhal (Retd) World War II Veteran
Founding President Indian Ex-Servicemen Society British Columbia

We thank Lt Col Pritim Singh Jauhal for sharing with us his combat experiences as well his proactive activites which has earned him great honour and prestige as veteran in Canada. Every Ex- Servicemen needs to emulate his zeal and passion for selfess service to the society. He is indeed a role model for our ESM organisations.


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