Saturday, August 23, 2008

Territorial Army recruits ESM as officers

Known as Citizens’ Army, the Territorial Army (TA) is composed of 31 Infantry Battalions and 19 Departmental TA Units such as Railway Engineer Regiments, Oil Sector and Ecological, Signals and General Hospitals Units. The TA which carries out operational tasks, internal security duties and aid to civil authorities in support of the regular Army, has been playing a commendable role. The TA units have also been embodied for the Operation Parakram and deployed with various defence units including protection of essential service and oil and natural gas installations in Gujarat.

The Territorial Army is part of Regular Army and its present role is to relieve the Regular Army from static duties and assist civil administration in dealing with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services in situations where life of the communities is affected or the Security of the Country is threatened and to provide units for Regulars Army as and when required.

By the late 1990s the Territorial Army had a strength of approx. 40000 persons comprising of Departmental TA units such as Railway, IOC, ONGC, Telecommunication and General Hospital and the non Departmental TA units of Infantry Bn (TA) and Ecological Bn (TA) affiliated to various Infantry Regiments.

The report of the KP Singh Deo Committee on TA and the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) to have been considered and implemented. This would make the TA a visible platform for disciplined and trained citizens from all walks of life to support the regular Army. The strength of the TA recommended to be 80,000- 100,000 by the year 2007 from its strength of 40,085 as in 2006. What is the present status? Can it be conjectured that the strength is 1,00,000 on paper only.

The Government had also accepted the provision of 20 per cent reserve of TA officers to remove the deficiency of Company Commanders in Infantry Battalions (TA). Women to be inducted in non- departmental as well as departmental units of TA, initially in the officers rank and, later, in the lower ranks. At present, women are serving only in the General Hospital and Signal Regiments of the TA. Compulsory inclusion of government employees in the TA were to be explored with the inclusion of private sector partnership, keeping in view the terrorist activities and danger to strategic enterprises. TA and ESM were to play a major role in the proposed 'Trans-Himalayan Development Authority'.

Territorial Army
Evolution of territorial Army
Territorial Army recruits male Graduate citizens of India and EX service men as officers

Comment: Territorial Army is supposed to be the reserve army. Who are running the organisation? Whether Indian Army or Ministry of Defence? It is shame that the organisation does not have a website or any information about recruitment. What is the fun of giving information in wikipedia? The organisation needs to wake up from its slumber and hibernation and give good and wide publicity so as to attract young talent to join the TA.

Soldier Braves Challenges of Life

Remembering Jeet with her precious baby

It was in Jun 55 that I was married to my second wife, my first marriage; it was with all the pomp and ceremony with the Parade the marching columns and the Brass band in attendance. There were VIP’s presiding and relations, friends, colleagues, and a multitude of others present. I was on top of the world, having just braved the long and arduous ceremony, still decked in finery.

Little did I know that my new wife, my new love, had other plans for me. Demanding total submission, whimsical and unpredictable by nature, expecting and getting 24-hour attention, her control over me was total- deep, pervasive and complete, courtesy the ubiquitous Tele J (that was what we had those days to communicate).

My life style was totally controlled by her norms; I was reminded time and again that I had to follow the customs inherited from her forefathers. I did not even have choice of what I ate and when I ate, the timings were fixed; the menu was decided a week in advance.

Periodically, I would be taken out in wilderness, to asses how well I had been conditioned, physically and mentally even when deprived of basic comforts. I would , at times, even be put under test to determine if I was brave enough to face a bullet to keep her honor. However, I was still infatuated by her and the style, glamour and prestige accruing for having tied the knot with her

Then one day she had competition, her own doing, as she permitted me to marry a second time, to my first wife. I was in euphoria once again; the two of us living in our own world, alas the paradise lasted, only, till the leave of absence, a wedding gift, having run its course, came to an end. I was in a dilemma. Short of words and bereft of any logic to convince her, as to why she, a citizen, free to travel anywhere in the country, could not accompany me to where I was going. I did not have any option but to report back to the Second, abandoning the bride of few days, leaving her perplexed and heartbroken. It was some thing that happened time and time again.

Alas, one day, exactly after 30 years of devoted servitude, the Second, perpetually young, decided that I had become too old for her and pensioned me off.

I was now free to spend more time with Jeet and try to compensate for having neglected her all this time. The damage however had already been done, the pain suffered, hurt felt and tensions borne during the earlier life, had their cumulative effect and one day she also left me for her heavenly abode.

Abandoned by one and discarded by the other, I, now left alone, divide my lonely hours, longingly looking at the Photo hanging on the wall and with nostalgia at the uniform in the cupboard.

Brig Lakhsman Singh, VSM (Retd)

State War Memorial in Bhopal and Narsingpur stadium to be named after Col Ajay Mushran

I attended a function organised by the Madhya Pradesh Foundation at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi on 10 July 2008. In the presence of Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia MoS for Communications & IT , the Chief Minister Madhya Pradesh Shri Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan (BJP) announced that Madhya Pradesh would take steps forthwith to establish a War Memorial in the state. He also requested Mr Scindia and the former CM of MP, Shri Digvijay Singh to help get the message across to the politicians at the centre regarding the crying need to set up a national war memorial at Delhi.

To my mind it was not an empty promise. It was made in the presence of Army Chief, Vice Chiefs of Army & Navy, DGOS, DGMS(Army) & Brig Tom Pande, Mahavir Chakra - all are sons of Madhya Pradesh except Army Chief whose father in law Brig Tom Pande is from MP. The occasion was the second annual lecture in memory of late Col Ajay Mushran (Roddy's cabin mate at the academy) who served with distinction 26 yrs in the Army & 24 yrs in politics. Col Mushran was the respected Finance Minister in Digvijay Singh's cabinet.

The CM also announced that the stadium at Narsingpur, MP would be named after Col Ajay Mushran. The CM deserves kudos & the gratitude of Veteran soldiers from all over India for speedy implementation of his promise. Last week I came across the Tender notice issued by MP, inviting Expressions of Interest for setting up the War Memorial in the hills around Bhopal.

Incidentally, at the Function, the quote of the day & - one which was echoed by others came from Brig Pande. He said that today's soldier should be given a better quality of life and that the gaurv & samman of earlier days should be returned to him. He elaborated that everyone should realise that soldiers will often risk/ lay down their lives for that one inch of ribbon and not just for money!

Cdr Arun Saigal

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Revenge of the Wasp

Recently, one day I noticed a yellow wasp, in the sitting room, that was making a beeline to the window opening towards the Park. Realising that the strayed insect wanted to go out I opened it to let it fly to the outside world. A day later the flight of the single wasp, of the other day, had had turned into a continuous flight like that the Berlin Air Bridge of the Cold War era.

The wasps showing the same single minded attitude to fly towards the window; single minded to the extent of totally ignoring my presence, possibly they realised that I was helping them to continue with their mission by repeatedly opening the window. However, I with the memory of an extremely painful sting from the past was not fooled by the Transport Aircraft like docile attitude of the insects. Uncomfortable and uneasy with the rapidly increasing, by the day, numbers in the flight, I commenced an extensive search of the house; the rooms, the kitchen, under and behind the furniture, albeit with little success in locating the home airfield, their own Air Port. In desperation I tried to be a bit adventurist and climbed on the unstable cushions of the sofa, still wobbling and trying to maintain balance, I pulled aside the curtain frill covering the pelmet. Lo and behold, what do I see, the home base, a medium size nest was cunningly hidden under the exit pipe of the Split AC. To my horror, the nest was swarming with wasps all over the combs of the nest.

The mystery of the unending flight to the world outside was now solved; it were the worker wasps out to collect food for the larva and material for extending the nest, leaving the queen in the nest to focus on reproduction. More than a bit shaken with the sight, a bit apprehensive and also not too sure of the reaction from the multitude crawling on the nest, I quickly picked up the Baygon Spray can for ‘flying insects’ and directed a long shot at the nest downing the Wasps on the nest, albeit not without a bit of remorse: after all they were doing what we all do, and that too peacefully; building a house and looking after the infants.

Following a quick Google search, and the memory of my earlier Sting, there was a warning on the net ‘no jerky movements’ ‘no bright colour clothes, I took preventive action, fearing the possibility of a mass attack from the workers to save their queen and the nest and the transport aircraft turning into Kamikaze fighters, with these precautions in hand and with the help of the maid the nest with the larva, the queen and any remaining wasps was soon disposed off.

Now at peace, I suddenly noticed a solitary Wasp buzzing near the window, though still chary and with the spray-can, as a precaution, in my hand I cautiously approached the window to let the wasp go free. However, it had a different plan. As I neared the window the wasp turned into the feared Kamikaze and dived with the my nose as its target letting go all the venom stored in his body and dropping dead in the process.

The suddenness of the attack and the excruciating pain from the sting resulted in my bifocals flying off and the can falling from my hand on the floor with a clatter. Possibly my red Tee Shirt combined with the jerky and cautious movements of my approach , more possibly the memory of mine with the Can in my hand identified me as a hostile target resulting in the attack on me , the perpetrator of the destruction of his nest and death of the siblings. In his death the wasp had had his revenge, though a victim, I cannot fail but admire it’s single mindedness.

Brig Lakshman Singh, VSM (Retd)

Kamikaze literally meaning "God-wind", "spirit-wind" or "divinity-wind"; common translation: "divine wind". Kamikaze is a word of Japanese origin, which in English usually refers to the suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan, against Allied shipping, in the closing stages of the Pacific Campaigns of World War II, to destroy as many warships as possible.

On June 26, 1948, when the Berlin Airlift began, chances of success seemed slim and its significance was unclear. But it is now regarded as the first battle of the Cold War — one that marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union's European ambitions and to this day shapes the German view of the U.S. and Britain. The operation began after the Soviets blockaded West Berlin — an enclave inside Soviet-occupied eastern Germany — in an attempt to squeeze out the U.S., Britain and France. American, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and South African pilots flew some 278,000 flights to Berlin over a 15-month period, carrying about 2.3 million tons of food, coal, medicine and other supplies. Every 62 seconds a plane touched down, bringing coal, food, clothes, even materiel to build a new power plant in Berlin. The Air Bridge ended on September 30th, 1949, after Stalin accepted the fact that his plan had failed miserably.

Ex- Servicemen's problems will be solved soon

Necessary steps will be taken to solve the land and site problems of the ex-servicemen in Madikeri district (Karnataka) by examining the same as per the government orders, said Deputy Commissioner K R Niranjan.

Addressing an ex-service men adalat at his office, he said the problems pending over the past several years regarding the registration of lands, account transfer, sanctioning sites would be solved at the earliest.

The DC made this assurance in the backdrop of the complaint made by the ex- servicemen that though land has been sanctioned to them, it has not been registered in their name. Land and site have not been even sanctioned to many more ex- service men. Such members should be given land.

The scholarship amount to the children of the ex-servicemen should be hiked, the participants urged. A proposal will be sent to the government in this regard, Mr Niranjan said, adding that such adalats would be conducted once in three months.

Single window system has been introduced across the State to solve the problems of the ex-servicemen at the district-level. DC is the chairman for the system, while the officer of the Backward Classes and Minority Department will be the nodal officer. Ex-servicemen Welfare and Rehabilitation Department Joint Director will be the member secretary. The tahsildars of the three taluks will be the members, he explained.

The Deputy Commissioner asked the officials and other staff to dispose the complaints of ex-servicemen in a swift manner.

HQA Chikka Thimmaiah, in-charge Superintendent of Police Shashikumar, Ex- servicemen Organisation representatives Major Genral (Retd) Kariappa, Lt Colonel (Retd) Ganapathy, Ex-servicemen Welfare and Rehabilitation Department Joint Director Dr Prakash, Backward Classes and Minority department officer H G Prabhakar, Madikeri tahsildar R Yashodha were present.
Ex-servicemen's problems will be solved soon

Comments: The lands alloted to ESM has not been transferred for several years. DC's proposal to dispose cases earliest implies another several years before the land patta's are issued to ESM! This is highlights of Bureaucracy in action.

Ex- Servicemen Army's Ambassadors

Maj Gen AJS Sandhu (4th from left), Brig RS Mathur, President RWA (5th from left) and the author, amongst others

Tremendous good work is done by the Indian Army in different fields, such as border guarding, counter-Insurgency operations, providing aid to the civil authority and succor to flood relief and earthquake-hit people have won considerable goodwill and accolades from all sections of society throughout the country.

Another area where ex-servicemen have carved out a niche for themselves is in the field of improving the standard of living in various segments of society. Where civilian office bearers have failed to make any headway, particularly those dealing with local government agencies responsible for basic infrastructure and security, ex-servicemen have proved to be far more effective. This positive trend seems to be spreading to various rural and urban centres throughout India as well.

Today, ex- servicemen have also made inroads into various village panchayats, decision-making bodies, civic agencies and numerous resident welfare associations (RWAs). While their inroads into the last category are a recent development, it is proving to be very effective.

Take the case of Gurgaon, where basic infrastructure and security related problems are persistent. With the induction of ex servicemen in the RWAs, there is an overall improvement in these core areas. The reason is that ex-servicemen are highly experienced visionaries, dynamic and positive in attitude. Whenever they encounter any obstruction at the lower level, they by-pass minor opposition and contact the higher office bearers in the state to resolve issues. Such spontaneous reaction to various situations has been well appreciated by the corporate world, and today the demand for ex- servicemen is on the rise.
Col Anil Shorey (Retd)
Ex- Servicemen Army's Ambassadors

Services Selection Board: Diluting Standards

The candidates are called through “Call Letters” to appear in 5 days tests at SSB (Allahabad/Bhopal/Bangalore/Mysore/Varanasi/Dehradun)

Four categories of tests: A) Screening Test B) Psychological Test C) Group Testing Officers (GTO) Test D) Interview Screening Test (First Day). After the individual has filled in certain Forms and also the Bio Data forms known as “Personal Information Questionnaire” (PIQ), the candidates will undergo two types of tests as under.

a) Verbal and Non-Verbal tests
b) Picture story writing followed by discussion of the stories

Once the Screening Test is over, the results are declared within 1 hour of the completion of the test. Those who clear the test are required to stay back for the next 4 days and the remaining persons are dropped back at the Railway Station for their return journey.

Psychological Test (Second day). These tests are in four parts as under:-

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)- Commonly known as Picture Story writing.
Word Association Test(WAT)
Situation Reaction Test(SRT)
Self Description Test(SD)
Group Testing Officers (GTO) Test (Third and Fourth day)
The following tests are conducted in this caregory :-

Group discussion
Group Planning Exercise (sometimes known as Military Planning Exercise)
Progressive Group Tasks
Half Group Tasks
Individual Obstacles
Group Obstacles Race
Command Task
Final Group Task

Interview: (Held during afternoon/evening hours on 2nd/3rd/4th day)

Board Meeting (Fifth day)
The candidates are required to appear before the complete Board of Examiners comprising of President,Dy President, all the psychologists, all the GTO’s and Technical Officer. After the Board Meeting is over,the final result is declared within ½ an hour. Selected candidates are required to stay back for their medical examination (takes about 3 to 5 days) in the Military Hospital near by or at a different place and the remaining candidates are dropped at the Railway Station for their return journey.

NOTE: Candidates appearing for the first time for a particular type of entry are paid 2nd class return journey fare from the place of their residence to the place where they have come for the interview. Accommodation and messing are free for the entire duration of their stay while under going SSB Tests. The Air Force candidates are required to go to a different place for medical examination on the specified date. Air Force candidates who had applied for ‘Pilot Entry’ have to first appear in ‘Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT)’. Those who are rejected in P.A.B.T cannot re-appear in this test subsequently.

Diluting the Selection Process
The Asian Age, 19 August 2008
General faces probe over Army selections
New Delhi: The Indian Army has ordered a court of inquiry against a senior officer of the rank of Major-General who had earlier headed one of the Service Selection Boards (SSBs) at Allahabad, Army sources have confirmed. The court of inquiry was set up after allegations that the officer had favoured a candidate for selection, sources said. "The findings of the court of enquiry are awaited," sources said. The Service Selection Board is the board which conducts personality and intelligence interviews to analyse the potential and capability of aspirants wanting to become officers in the Indian Army...
Diluting the selection process: OLQ debased!
SSB Guide

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Armed Forces Tribunal misses 15 August deadline

Services fight over allocation of posts for principal Bench
The much awaited Armed Forces Tribunal will miss its deadline of August 15 set by Defence Minister A K Antony even as the three services are fighting over the allocation of posts for the principal Bench.

The tribunal is the Armed Forces version of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that is designed to give a quick reprieve on grievances ranging from promotion matters, pensions, court martial decisions and appointments.

Antony, who has championed the cause of the independent forum to redress service related grievances of Armed Forces personnel, had made it clear in a Gazette notification on June 13 that the principal Bench of the tribunal be set up in the Capital by August 15.

While the Cabinet approved the creation of posts for the tribunal last month, a bitter quarrel has now broken amongst the services over the number of members that would represent each Armed Force at the tribunal.

The tribunal will consist of a chairperson, 14 judicial members and 15 administrative members. The tussle is over the administrative members (rank of Major General and above) that are to be selected from within the Armed Forces.

Sources in the ministry say the Army is insisting on a quota system for appointments to the Bench based on the number of personnel in each service to ensure that it gets a majority of the 15 seats.

However, the Navy and Air Force have joined hands once again after the A V Singh Committee controversy — in which they had taken on the Army’s demand for a greater share of General rank posts — and have demanded a merit-based selection procedure.

Meanwhile, litigants whose cases have to be transferred to the tribunal from various high courts in the country are getting jittery over the delay as most courts are giving long adjournments in anticipation of the tribunal. Over 9,800 cases filed by service personnel are pending before various high courts.
Armed Forces Tribunal likely to miss deadline

Tackle Wrongdoing by UN Peacekeepers

Human Rights Watch: Extracts of Letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from Kenneth Roth, Executive Director and Steve Crawshaw, UN Advocacy Director

Allegations against Pakistani Peacekeepers

Human Rights Watch first brought detailed information of gold-smuggling by Pakistani peacekeepers to the attention of UN officials in Ituri, eastern Congo, in December 2005. This information led to the launch of an Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) investigation with which Human Rights Watch cooperated closely. More than a year after the investigation began the report was still not completed. Only after a May 2007 BBC report publicly highlighted the allegations, said that the report was blocked, and quoted a UN official as saying there was “a plan to bury [the report],” did OIOS conclude its delayed investigation. In July 2007 the OIOS report (since made publicly available by the US government) found only that a single Pakistani officer failed to prevent peacekeepers under his authority from providing support and security to persons involved in illegal gold trafficking.

Human Rights Watch was baffled by these findings, which seriously downplayed the extent of the problems. According to our research, a ring of Congolese army officers, Kenyan traders, and Pakistani peacekeepers was involved in smuggling millions of dollars of gold from Ituri. The available evidence suggested that the assistance provided by Pakistani peacekeepers went well beyond one individual, a finding confirmed by the BBC in its own investigation.

Allegations against Indian Peacekeepers

The failure of OIOS thoroughly to investigate and promote accountability of peacekeepers involved in illegal behavior is not unique to the allegations against the Pakistani peacekeepers. Human Rights Watch has received information of allegations that some Indian peacekeepers in Congo have engaged in illegal transactions with armed groups in North Kivu, eastern Congo, including the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), some of whose leaders participated in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

A preliminary OIOS assessment report from February 2008 seen by Human Rights Watch lists 44 allegations of misconduct and alleged illegal behavior by Indian peacekeeping troops in North Kivu from late 2005 to October 2007. The report says it found some evidence on at least 10 of the allegations. The report notes: “Some of the allegations are so serious and the potential consequences of taking no action so grave, that they should not be left unexamined.”

The allegations include weapons trading with the FDLR, informing armed groups of possible UN military operations, the smuggling of natural resources including gold and ivory, the unlawful detention of Congolese citizens, and the illicit use of equipment and resources belonging to MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force in Congo. The report concludes that further investigations are necessary since “it seems inevitable that [the allegations] will become the subject of scrutiny by the international media” and that such “exposure has the real potential to damage the reputation of the Indian military, MONUC and the United Nations.”
Full Text of Letter: UN: Tackle Wrongdoing by Peacekeepers

How is Gold and Ivory Smuggled? Through diplomatic bags and cipher courier? In connivance with unscrupulous MoD bureaucrats and Army Brass? The enquiries will make a scapegoat of a few down the rung "Jawans". The real culprits who smuggled and made illegal money will go Scot free!

Corps of Signals Despatch Riders set Guinness World Record

Indian Army's 'Dare Devil' motorcycle display team has found a place in the prestigious Guinness Book of World Records. Known for its stunning feats, the team from the Army's Corps of Signals made it to the record book on June 11 this year when it successfully displayed its skill to carry 251 men on 11 motorcycles for a record-breaking distance of 240 metres.

Army chief General Deepak Kapoor felicitated the achievers at a function in South Block in New Delhi on Wednesday, 25 July 2008. 'Dare Devil' captain assured Gen Kapoor that the team would soon be attempting an improvement on its own world record. The 'Dare Devils' already have four world records to their credit since 1991 and all have been endorsed by the Guinness Book of World Records authorities.

The first World Record was made at Gwalior in 1991 when 40 team members rode seven motorcycles to cover a distance of 400 metres. Next came its world record in Pune in 1993, when the 81 team members on nine motorcycles rode for 200 metres. On the third occasion, again at Pune in 1996, the team's 140 men were on 11 motorcycles and they covered 100 metres. Their fourth world record was made at Jabalpur in 2001 with 201 men on 10 motorcycles covering a distance of 100 metres.

The first 'Dare Devils' display was organized in Shimla on March 10, 1935, during the Silver Jubilee celebrations of King George V and Queen Mary's accession to the British throne. From 1935 to 1950, most of the major Army Signal units had small display teams of about 10 members. These teams performed during various functions of their units and also during military exhibitions.

The organization and training of these teams, distributed in penny packets, always posed a problem. Hence, during the third Corps of Signals Committee meeting held in March 1935, it was decided to combine all the small teams into a single major team. Since 1950, the 'Dare Devils' have performed over 800 displays all over the country in units and establishments of the Armed Forces, as well as in civil functions such as Republic Day Parades, Asian Games in 1982, SAF Games in 1987, Third National Games in 1994 and Fourth Military World Games last year.
Guinness World Record: Motorcycle Display

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information

RTI activists have proposed the following eminent persons who are willing to serve as information commissioners without taking salary, allowances or even government bungalow. Their credentials to sit in judgment on RTI appeals are formidable.

Jagdeep Chokkar and Trilochan Sastry are IIM professors who fought for the electoral reform that makes candidates declare their assets and criminal antecedents. Shailesh Gandhi, an engineer from IIT Bombay, is the convener of "national campaign for people's right to information" spearheading the RTI movement. H Sudarshan, a doctor who was awarded Padma Shree for his work in rural areas, has been vigilance director with Karnataka's Lokayukta (ombudsman).

Since it is important to have non-biased and competent people to enforce the RTI Act bureaucrats should never be appointed as information commissioners. And when there are such eminent people such as have been suggested by the activists- to take up the job with NO cost to the exchequer it can be only ulterior motives of the people in government that can prevent them from being appointed.

Maj (Retd) P M Ravindran
CIC set for expansion as RTI cases mount

Six Questions To Ask before joining a ESM Society, Organisation or a League

1. Can your organisation or society clearly communicate who
they are and what they do? Does it struggle in articulating its mission and its program?. If so, it will probably struggle in delivering those programs. Organizations that can explain who they are and what they're trying to accomplish have a singularity of purpose and a commitment to focused institutional change. If it can't explain who it is and what it does, and why it is needed, find one that can. The stakes are too high and not too many good organizations exist who know exactly who they are, what they do, and why they are needed.

2. Can your Society define their short-term and long-term goals?
Organizations without quantifiable goals have no way to measure success. If they have no way to know if they are successful, how can you be sure they are working toward something? Demand that your membership tell you what it is trying to do. Good organizations relish this opportunity. They know what they are working toward today and tomorrow.

3. Can your organisation tell you the progress it has made (or is making) toward its goal? Once again, it's not enough to merely be concerned with a problem. Good intentions are no longer sufficient to warrant you seeking membership support. The marketplace is too crowded. Ask your organization what it has done to make the issue it confronts better. What are its results? You wouldn't buy a brand of toothpaste if the manufacturer couldn't prove to you that it fought cavities successfully. Why should you support a Veteran/ ESM organization if it can't show you that it is providing assistance or fighting for Justice of Veterans who are mostly cheated by ESM Welfare Government and NGO's and the society at large? Is Honour and Dignity of ESM an important element in the Society Charter?

4. Do your ESM Organisation's programs make sense to you?
If you support the mission of an organization, ask yourself if its programs also make sense. You believe in the cause, and you hope for the end result, but is the organization working toward that result in a way that seems rational and productive to you? If an organization's goal is to promote veteran bonds, unity and counselling, does it pursue its goal in a way that makes sense to you, or does it merely inflame the issue? Do you want your organizations doing advocacy? Do you want your outreach organizations making policy, or your policy organizations doing outreach? Maybe you do, maybe you don't. This doesn't mean that every organization should be singular in focus. It also doesn't mean, however, that you have to support every organization that has the same belief system as you. Just because you support the ends, you may not support the means. If you know you want to support the outcome aims to deliver, ask yourself if its method of arriving at that outcome makes sense to you.

5. Can you trust your ESM Organisation?
Research has shown that the overwhelming majority of Organisations in India are not responsible and honest, but ill- managed. This is not to shake your confidence but it is the truth. Don't support a ESM Society or organisation until you feel comfortable with it.

6. Are you willing to make a long- term commitment to your ESM organization? We like to think of giving time and service. Intelligent giving is motivated by altruism, knowledge, and perspective, not a knee-jerk reaction to a newsletter or to verbal assurances and utterances. You are an adult and a Veteran. You have the means to help others. You want to help. Ask yourself if your society is the type of organization to which you're willing to make a long- term commitment. When you do this, you agree to support them through good times and bad, and provide the services it needs to weather downturns. In return, it promises to continue working toward addressing the issue you both think is so vital. Look hard and find an organization you can support for many years to come. When you find that Society, become a active member.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ode to Ishmeet Singh Voice of India

Braving the onslaught of the savage Mumbai monsoon one wet, grey afternoon in 1994, I made my way, pillion riding along the Marine Drive. The military dispatch rider ploughed his way resolutely through the spray of salt water that the agitated waves periodically cascaded across the road, as we wound our way to the smart, happening, Sophia College at Worli. I was tasked to get admission details for the daughter of a colleague posted along with me as an Instructor at the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington, in the Nilgiris.

Just before we made the final turn to Sophia, I realized we were on Vivek Lane. In a flash, everything fell into place. A bystander confirmed my query that the flat overlooking the lane end belonged to Jagjit and Chitra Singh, the gifted ghazal singers. I recalled a poignant interview Jagjit had given a few months after his only child, the handsome, strapping, 18 year old Vivek, had died in a car crash on the Marine Drive, on 8 July 1990. He had mentioned, with atypical angst and resignation, that, instead of doing something about improving the safety of drivers on the busy thoroughfare - his son along with a colleague were crushed when their car collided with a vehicle emerging suddenly from a side road - the Municipality had chosen to name the lane outside his house after his son.

Jagjit rose above his grief and soldiered on, singing his way out of despair, often singing of the sadness of personal loss, of parting with a loved one, of a child who would never ‘knock on his door’ again… Chitra, his wife, stopped singing altogether, retired into seclusion, unable to cope with her loss… Their last album together, completed just before Vivek died, titled “Someone Somewhere,” ranks amongst their best work. It speaks of loss, of departure, almost as if it had presaged the departure of Vivek.

It is paradoxical that it was overcast and drizzling on 31st July 2008, when the charismatic, hugely talented, lovable Ishmeet Singh, a young, 19 year old singer of great potential was cremated, honoured in death by a State funeral. It was paradoxical too, that Jagjit and Chitra, had only recently honoured him by giving him an award named after their beloved son. Ishmeet had, ironically, survived a serious car accident at Mumbai where he was studying; laughingly remarking that God must have intended to grant him a long life which is why he had saved him.

“Bachpan main pani se darta tha; nahane se darta tha mera beta” (he was afraid of water, of bathing), his Mother had indulgently remarked in an interview after one of his singing triumphs. “Tujhe sab hai pata, meri Maa”… Ishmeet had sheepishly and wryly admitted, with his charming, innocent smile. She did not know then, neither did Ishmeet that the Tarot card reader who had foretold a short singing career for him on television was uncannily right as much as his beloved Mother was when she spoke affectionately about his childhood discomfort with water. One can only introspect with sadness, that destiny had, in its unerring, chilling way, ensured that Ishmeets Mother would, (unknowingly for her) have a premonition of his death at a time when he had become the Nations favourite youth icon. The best in the land; the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, Jagjit, Chitra, Abhijit Savant, Harbhajan Mann, Hans Raj Hans, Mika, young colleagues Shreya Ghoshal, Himani all had applauded his prodigious talent.

Let us nevertheless be proud. In his death, he momentarily united an increasingly fractious, tense country; it’s young and old from all walks of life; just about every one who was touched by the untimely loss of a young genius who was talented, humble and respectful. He may have died young but will live in our hearts for ever…

Maj Gen RS Mehta (Retd), AVSM, VSM
09 August 2008
Democratic dreamers
When hope dies young
Ishmeet Singh

More Pay Less Status Take Your Pick

The government has given us a sugar coated pill. It is not only Cols and Brigs who have been upgraded to Pay Band- 4 but also civilians who were junior to Colonels and Brigadiers, and in certain cases even junior to Lieutant Colonels. Our interests should be guarded by those people in Army HQ who are able to keep a hawk- eye on all these issues. Unfortunately, instead of real intelligence, Staff College seems to be the benchmark of intellect in the forces. And we all know what we did in Wellington.

The official press release by Govt of India very nicely says on Point No 6 that Cols and Brigs have been placed in the highest Pay Band- 4 but please go on and see Point No 10 of the same release and you would find that even officers equivalent to Lt Col have been placed in Pay Band-4, so what special has been done for faujis ? Our status has in fact been brought down, first by the SCPC and now by the Anomalies panel. The official press release is available on 6th Pay panel Implemented

The pre-revised scale of Suptd Engineer of MES and Director to Govt of India: Rs 14,300-18,300. The pre-revised scale of Lt Col: Rs 15,100- 18,700 (More pay than the above). The post revised SCPC scale of Suptd Engineer of MES and DIrector to Govt of India: Rs 39,200-67,000. The post revised SCPC scale of Lt Col: Rs15,900- 39,100

ALSO MUST SEE. Anamolies Highlighted at:
More pay, but anomalies in status remain
Indian Military Benefits blog by Maj Navdeep Singh

Brig C Bhanot (Retd)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Field Marshal Manekshaw Memorial Lecture

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw is our national icon whom we failed to give an appropriate farewell when he passed away recently. I am glad that the Conclave of Defence Services Veterans have started Field Marshal Manekshaw Memorial lecture series. I feel greatly honoured to be invited to deliver the first lecture. I was privileged to serve under the Field Marshal in various capacities for several decades.

I recall that in September 1946 when the Interim Government had come to power in Delhi and India’s Independence was fast approaching, three Indian officers were posted in three different sections of the Military Operations Directorate of the then General Headquarters (India), which later became our Army Headquarters. Till then this Directorate was manned exclusively by British officers and British clerks. These three Indians were Lt Col Manekshaw, Major Yahya Khan and myself in the rank of Captain.

Later I served under him as instructor first at Mhow and then at Wellington, when he was the Commandant of these training institutions. Thereafter I served as a Brigade Commander when he was the Army Commander and as a Deputy PSO when he was the Army Chief. The war clouds had gathered in 1971 and I was due to command a Division. He held me back as Deputy PSO on his staff. I told him that the G-1 was going to war with the G-2 and the G-3 should not be left out of battle. He turned down my request saying that he needed me more on his staff.

I last met him in 2007 when he was terminally ill on life support system in Wellington Military Hospital. A little earlier at the intervention of the then President, he had received over one crore as arrears of pay of a Field Marshal for the past 35 years. At last the bureaucracy had relented and given him his due which had been denied to him. We had taken up the case in 1972 when he was promoted Field Marshal. I congratulated him for this. He smiled and told me,”A Babu came from Delhi to give me the cheque which I have sent to my bank, but I am not sure if the cheque will be honoured.”

Retired Lieutenant General Srinivas Kumar Sinha, who was the governor of Jammu and Kashmir from 2003 to 2008, has had an eventful stint for nearly six years as the governor of Assam earlier.
Full Text of Speech: Gen Sinha's speech on National Security: J&K Perspective

IAF Participation in USAF Joint Air Ex Red Flag

Multi- Nation Air Ex RED FLAG is being held in Navada, USA. from 09-23 Aug 2008 The Indian Air Force is participating in this Exercise, at the invitation of United States Air Force (USAF).

The IAF has sent the Indian Air Force contingent comprising of eight SU-30 MK-I aircraft, two IL-78 air to air refuellers and one IL-76 transport aircraft plus 156 personnel below officer rank and 91 officers (inclusive of 10 members of ‘Garud’ IAF Special Force Team). The contingent is being led by Gp Capt D Chaudhury and Exercise Coordinator is Gp Capt Ajay Rathore.

Exercise Red Flag is a multinational air exercise that is held thrice a year at Nellis Air Force Base, Navada, USA. The IAF would be participating in the Exercise alongside South Korean Air Force with F-15K and the French Air Force with their latest Rafale aircraft, apart from the USAF.

Mickey Sekhon, son of Col Gurdip Singh Sekhon (Retd) of Corps of Signals, settled in Canada is an amateur aviation photographer of repute. He has been accredited for Red Arrow Exercise from Canada. Wg Cdr Upasani the Media Reperesentative of the Indian Air Force Team is a close relation of Late Brig Upasni of Corps of Signals. The Photographers are staioned between two runways, from where they can take close pictures of aircraft taking off and landing.

Mickey Sekhon has sent some very nice pictures of Suhkhois and AN-72s of Indian Air Force participating in the Exercise. Please click link for Slide Show at: Photo Album of IAF Fighter Aircraft

Mickey grew up in the Corps of Signals Family and was one of the naughtiest little lad in Roberts Barracks in MCTE, Mhow, where we were living side by side during our SODE days in 1957! He is now a responsible father and husband of course.

Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd)


War Veterans' Party launched

I have great pleasure in informing you that the web site of our Party has been formally launched by me at Delhi, at 10:25 AM this morning under orders from the High Command of War Veterans Party. This date coincides with our Independence Day.

We have this day drawn up tentative territorial demarcation of six admin zones . (Equivalent to our Commands). This demarcation is notional, in the sense that while the zonal heads have the most important responsibility to go all out to enroll primary members within their own zones, there is no bar on any one bringing into our fold those known to them even from outside their zones. Zones will be further divided into States, Districts, Blocs and Panchayat units in due course. The names, addresses and other details of all zonal chiefs as well as heads of all down stream establishments will be put on the web site as and when these are finalized.

I take this opportunity to request all those who would like to actively participate in building up the strength of the Party rapidly, so that we could plan to field candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, to come forward and let us have the details of the areas in which they can help and the time that they can spare for party work, part-time or whole -time i

Such volunteers are requested to send us their details showing their name, address telephone numbers, email id, responsibility they would like to take on and the level at which they feel they would be most effective. They may also help by suggesting names of others who have done good work in the past and whose support can be sought.

Time is short before the last date for filing nominations for the next Lok Sabha elections are announced, So,speed is the predominant factor that should guide our actions. Bearing this in mind, we will keep on putting out our ideas and requirements from time to time and compile our Standard Operating Procedure Manual (Equivalent of Standing orders) later. To assist our party-men and party-men to be, we will put out on this web site, the format of the application form, as it is now, without waiting for the flashy form which is under design. Forms for enrolment of PRIMARY MEMBERS can be down loaded and copies in the numbers needed may be made locally. By this we can ensure that the membership drive can be launched without any delay.

Simultaneously, we should start building up support for our party, by disseminating information about our aims and objects and our operational plans .We are in the final stages of compiling what the Party promises to do for the people and the country. This will be useful in the beginning, in explaining what the public can expect from us. A proper brochure on this subject will take a little time to bring out. The web site is War Veterans' Party

May the Almighty Architect of the Universe confer on us His blessings and give us the strength to work in unison , with an attitude based on truly selfless and patriotic concerns and complete submission to the dictates of our conscience.

Detailed letter: Letter War Veterans Party
Jai Hind, Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.
Col M S Krishnamoorthy (Retd)
Secretary General


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