Saturday, October 11, 2008

SCPC: Mission for Justice

The following letters have been placed in SCRIBD. Kindly click on respective links.

Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement (IESM)

Veteran Colonel SS Rajan
Convenor, Military Veterans Movement for Justice
Convenor, All India Military Veterans Association

Army Guns for Babus: The Literal Lowdown

Extracts from: Army Guns for Babus: The Literal Lowdown

The bureaucracy misled the Cabinet into believing that their recommendations were based on fair consideration of the views and logic of the Armed Forces (if it was not so, the RM, FM and PM would not have been surprised and found merit in the issues raised by the Armed Forces subsequently).

The bureaucracy, knowing the schedule of foreign visits by the RM and PM, deliberately worked in a manner that would prevent exhaustive deliberations with the deadline of 01 Oct and thus pressurise (the pressure was brought through a section of the media, led by Indian Express and a print news agency) the Armed Forces to implement the Pay Commission in its current form and deferring the resolution of the core anomalies indefinitely. This is exactly what they achieved in the case of previous Pay Commission.

What is most disconcerting in the bureaucratic design that they resorted to “disobeying instructions of the RM”; and “Misleading the FM and Misrepresenting Facts Before Him”. The charge of “Defiance of Govt Authority” that is being labeled upon the Service Chiefs actually should be labeled upon the Bureaucracy.

As for the Service Chiefs withholding Notifying the Govt Order, it is a simple case of they being morally bound to apprise the Govt of their perception of anomalies and ill-effects of implementing its order, prior to blindly executing it. Once the Govt (represented by the RM and PM) found merit in reconsidering the aspects brought before it by the Armed Forces and assured the Service Chiefs of having a re-look, until it got back to the Services with fresh instructions, the Services cannot be blamed for ‘defiance’ or ‘disobedience’. Once the Govt did come back during the previous weekend with interim orders, the Services have accepted the same and are implementing.

As far as the communications issued by the three Services Chiefs to all ranks is concerned, one ought to read the complete documents and understand the context. There is nothing in them which can be distantly construed as ‘defiance of govt authority’. In fact, in all manuals on military leadership and of late, also included in teachings on HR by the corporates, one of the abiding principles is that of “keep men informed”. This is expressly meant for men not following prey to rumours, propaganda and misinformation as they can seriously subvert the morale, discipline and ultimately operational effectiveness of any organized group and especially, the Armed Forces.

Mr Shekhar Gupta’s contention of the Service Chiefs behaving as “Union Leaders” egged by cheering ex-Servicemen, is gross misrepresentation. The Armed Forces are denied right to form unions, firmly in the belief that the concerns of each individual are addressed by a strict chain of command. This chain leads to the Service Chiefs. The Service Chiefs are thus doing what they ought to do in a democratic setup and purely as per democratic norms which govern the interface between the Civil Govt leadership and its subordinate military leadership. Mr Shekhar Gupta has also attributed the Services Chiefs with “Open Defiance of Civil Authority”. Is he in know of or can he recollect any instance of any act or articulation by services Chiefs which any sensible person can construe as defiance of civil authority? He surely cannot. Further, the ex-Servicemen should, if at all, be complimented for expressing their concerns and grievances, not only in democratic fashion but in a “dignified democratic fashion”. He, through his column, could have actually asked other interest groups and individuals to emulate them.

The whole episode so far, has been a classic case of the bureaucracy “subverting the democratic functioning of the state”; “undermining ‘informed – thus wise’ decision making by the Elected Govt”; and “Subverting the Public Opinion by Using/Misusing the Media”.

The facts and their sequence as brought out may be verified by those willing and an objective opinion may only be made thereafter. The provisions of the RTI Act would surely help uncover the criminal collusion and lengths to which the officials in the concerned Ministries have gone to, to ensure misrepresentation of issues, misleading their own Ministers (and thus the Govt) with the ill-intent of depriving legitimate dues to the Armed Forces personnel and undermining their status.

The bureaucracy, especially those associated with the Defence Ministry, during the past six decades, have found themselves not only increasingly incompetent but even unwilling to develop related competencies, to fulfill their assigned roles. As this episode clearly shows, the bureaucracy have instead, attempted to usurp the role of the Ministers (& thus the Govt) by assigning most of the “decision making” to themselves in the growing belief that in all cases of Ministerial interventions, they can effectively misrepresent facts and mislead the busy Ministers and further, that their acts of commission and omission will never be open to scrutiny of the Armed Forces. In the instant case, the concerned bureaucrats had not bargained for the Service Chiefs walking up the political masters which led to exposing of their nefarious designs and professional gross misconduct.

It is anybody’s guess that the current media campaign is the handiwork of the same very bureaucrats in a last ditch effort to scuttle the “Informed Decision Making Process by the Appointed GoM” and to “Cover Bureaucratic Misdeeds & Follies” by raising the bogey of “Armed Forces’ Defiance of the Govt Authority”.

Posted by Shiv Aroor

Full article at: Army Guns for Babus: The Literal Lowdown

Comment: SCPC- Sequence of events at the North and South block vividly brought out by Headlines Today, amply speaks about how the Armed Forces have been cheated deliberately by the self- centered Bureaucrats snugly occupying the pedestal at Raisna Hill. Signifying that the trailing democracy is falling into a irretrievable pit of morass! For a moment as we tread let us read the inscription on the gateway to North Block: " Liberty will not descend to a people: a people must raise themselves to liberty. It is a blessing which must be earned before it can be enjoyed". Bureaucrats are smouldering Democracy. Where can citizens then find Liberty- Is it a blessing, can it be earned (bought perhaps!) or enjoyed?

Friday, October 10, 2008

SCPC: Press Release against injustice to Defence Forces


Dear Members of the Press.
1. It is our conviction that media which is a very potent pillar of our democracy must play its rightful role to enlighten the people about the true facts of issues before the Nation and assist create environments for taking the most appropriate decisions in the interest of the Nation. Some hidden hands are at work to stir up the sentiments of the Defence Personnel by twisting the facts and adversely commenting on them. You are aware that grave injustices have been done to the Defence Services by over jealous bureaucracy by hiding/ twisting the facts which has resulted into the present adverse situation. We, the veteran Defence personnel sincerely request our media fraternity to objectively cover our issues so that appropriate decisions are taken by the Govt on our demands.

2. It is now coming to light that the bureaucracy in all the concerned Ministries and departments have mislead the politicians by hiding and misrepresenting the facts. They have all through cheated the Defence Services which has resulted in their grave humiliation, down gradation of their status, respect and self- esteem. It is for everyone to know that under what circumstances the committee of secretaries recommended Lt Cols to be in PB3 and SEs and Directors who were drawing less pay that the Lt Col to be moved up in PB4 resulting in Rs 14000/- more to them as compared to the Lt Col. This can only happen in India. A serious wrong was done to the Defence Forces Officers in the 4/5th CPC with regard to the rank pay. Major Dhalapalan went to the court and won the case from SC. In the true sense of justice, the Govt should have compensated all officers automatically. On the ill advice of bureaucracy, the Govt has not yet given the benefit to all the concerned officers. Does the Govt want all officers to go to the courts? What a display of mockery of justice?. Is this the way the profession of soldering treated? Likewise, how can the status of Lt Gen be degraded vis DGP rank, and not give grade pay at par with other civil services?

3. The veteran Defence Services Personnel have been totally ignored and their long services to the Nation forgotten. The Govt has not even looked at their genuine demands. One Rank One Pension, Assured career till 60 years of age through an act of Parliament or the last pay drawn as pension till 60 years of age, constitution of Ex– Servicemen commission consisting of members only from Ex-Serviceman, and having Ex- Servicemen on all future commissions/ committees on addressing issues of Ex- Servicemen are the demands of veterans. We don’t know why the Govt is silent on these demands? We have been respectfully protesting since 27 Apr 08 but our demands have not been met.

4. We are left with no other option but to intensify our Movement. In case our demands are not met by that date, we will go on “Relay Hunger Strike” throughout the country from 20 Oct 2008 onwards. We will continue to upgrade our Movement in intensity till all our demands are met.

5. We request our worthy members of the press to give widest publicity to our cause “Justice for Defence Services” Through the media, we wish to appeal the PM & RM to accept all the demands of the veterans and the serving personnel.

With Kind Regards,
Yours Sincerely,
Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement (IESM)

Chain of command, demand

Dear Members of the Press.
1. An article by Mr Shekar Gupta Editor– in–Chief Indian Express on 04 Oct 08 titled “Chain of Command Demand” has been very unfair to the defence services. A large number of veterans and their family members have responded with rejoinders. Some of the rejoinders had been sent to the PM and also released to the Press on 10 Oct 08. Another veteran Bring V Mahalingam has asked a number of questions to Mr Shekhar Gupta having direct bearing on our demands. His mail dated 05 Oct is attached for your information and action for wide publicity please. The questions are so pertinent and factual that the answers to these will sum up the injustices being heaped on the Defence Forces.

2. May we request you to give wide publicity to the rejoinder to enable the people of India to know the truth.

With Kind Regards,
Yours Sincerely,
Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement (IESM)

Dear Mr Shekhar Gupta,
I went through your article titled “Chain of Command demand” You have composed the article beautifully without any meat in it. I have the following questions to ask you.
(a) Does discipline imply accepting every decision of the cabinet howsoever erroneous or unreasonable it may be? If that is true, Sam Manekshaw should have gone to war with Pakistan in 1971 at a time chosen by the cabinet.
(b) When the Services raised the issue regarding the anomalies in the pay structure with the Government, if the Cabinet had a good reason to downgrade the services, as has been done, was it not necessary for the Government to inform the services and the servicemen the rationale behind the down gradation? Are soldiers not entitled to know why their status and pay scales have been down graded? I am sure we are not in a dictatorship and democracy demands a response in such issues. Incidentally, have you ever tried corresponding with the Government, its departments and organizations trying to get clarifications or decisions on any subject? They have developed a culture of remaining silent on issues of importance and as a result, never respond to queries thus leaving every one guessing. Are we to accept this state of affairs being in a Democracy?
(c) Are you aware that the issue regarding the Lt Col’s pay band has been created by the Committee of Secretaries and not the Pay commission itself? Are you aware of the logic why the Lt Cols alone have been left behind while upgrading the rest of the civil services to the next pay band?
(d) The pay commission recommended that the pension of PBOR be reduced from 70 % to 50 % consequent to their recommendation on lateral induction of ex servicemen. The cabinet took the decision to reduce the pension of service personnel from 70 % to 50 % without doing any thing about their lateral induction. Is this rank stupidity or does this indicate bias and vindictiveness? You can decide for yourself. Do you believe that the services should have accepted this cabinet decision and issued the order?
(e) Do you believe that this Government would have acted to rectify the anomalies had the services notified the cabinet order? Can you guarantee that?
(f) Had the Government kept quiet after the Cabinet Order has been notified, what in your view should have been the next step?
(g) Don’t you think that such a step would have been a bigger defiance of the Government and its authority?
(h) Are you aware, that similar anomalies, accepted by the services in good faith consequent to the earlier pay commissions are yet to be resolved by the Government? Does this not amount to betrayal? Don’t you thing that this is unbecoming of a Government? I believe even a banana republic would have shun to remain silent in similar circumstances especially in the case of Armed Forces.
(i) Are you aware that the court’s orders in Major Danapalan’s case has not been made applicable to the rest of the defence services personnel till today? Does the Government want every officer to go to the court and make a mockery of democracy and its ways? RTI applications have all remained unanswered. What do you suggest that the service headquarters and the ex– servicemen do in this case to get their dues without being branded indisciplined?
(j) In a democratic set up, personnel of the defence forces are barred from forming a union, engaging in “dharnas” or striking work. Under these circumstances, the onus of responsibility to safeguard the interests of the rank and file devolves around the Service Chiefs. Service Chiefs are accountable to the rank and file and the men have to be kept informed of such matters in time. Politicians and bureaucrats are used to keeping everyone guessing even in matters such as senior appointments or issuing government orders on subjects after the events have happened or issuing orders which cannot be implemented within the timeframe stipulated. Such things cannot happen in a military unit or a formation. These lots have no accountability towards any thing in this country, but Service chiefs do have a very major accountability obligation in such matters. It is impossible for a bureaucrat or a politician to understand these finer aspects of command function. The best they can do under the circumstances is, not to interfere with the command functions of the Service Chiefs.
(k) The services personnel retire much earlier than their civilian counterparts. Due to delayed promotions, their salaries are not comparable to personnel of equivalent years of service in civil at the time of their retirement. Pension, as we are all aware, is based on the last salary drawn. That being the case, how can both these groups be governed by the same set of pension rules or how can their pensions be equated? For example, take the case of a Service officer and an IAS officer who enter the service on the same date. The service officer retires at the age of 54 in the rank of Lt Col and his equivalent retires at the age of 60 at the minimum rank of Joint Secretary. In this case, the service officer receives his pension based on the salary of a Lt Col’s rank, at his 54th year’s service, while the IAS entrant receives his pension based on his grade, a Joint Secretary at his 60th year of service. Can you not see how his last pay drawn would have improved by the increments, promotions, increase due to revision by subsequent pay commissions, increased DAs in the 6 years? Do you know that the family Pension of both the individuals are also decided based on the last Pay drawn at the time of retirement? Due you not see that a service officer has lost out on rank, salary, increments, increase in wages due to subsequent pay commissions, increased DAs, service privileges for 6 years due to loss of 6 years of service in the name of keeping the Armed Forces young? After all these losses, do you want us to suffer loss of Pensions and Family pensions too? What fault have our families or we done to deserve this treatment in the hands of the bureaucrats? The case of the PBOR is still worse. How can the service in Armed Forces and civil service be compared? Do you think that representing these issues for which no response ever comes is an act of indiscipline?

Let me narrate a scene from the 1971 war to enable the countrymen to understand what discipline is. It was a bitter cold night on 15 / 16 Dec 1971. Our unit had been ordered to assault across the Basantar River in the Shakargarh Sector and establish a bridgehead across the river. The river and far bank of the river had been mined with a combination of anti personnel and anti tank mines. This included the jumping mines. Our patrols, which had operated in the area for over 2 nights, had confirmed this. The earlier day, our OP officer was killed while registering targets for the assault by enemy artillery when one of his defensive fire tasks was put on action. Despite all this information, the forward companies assaulted across the river. As the men crossed the obstacle, number of men and officers were killed and injured in the minefield and their dead and wounded bodies were lying in the minefield cum river obstacle. Luckily the first wave of assault was a success. The enemy infantry and a Armour within the defences had been neutralized. The second wave of the assault was to go once the success signal for the first phase was received. The success signal was received and the commanding officer gave out the password for the commencement of the second phase. The second phase of the attack commenced. No one thought of or questioned the order despite seeing the dead bodies and wounded men growling out of pain from within the obstacle system. That Mr Shekher Gupta is discipline. Do you think any other service in the country would have sacrificed, shown a sense of discipline or moral courage in the same way in similar circumstances? We never thought of our wives or the children who in any case would not have even recognized us due to separation. We had a total casualty of 201 all ranks dead and wounded in the operation.

Representing the genuine case of the soldiers who sacrifice everything in the name of the country, Regiment and the unit is no indiscipline. Swindling money from the developmental projects, housing and land allotment scams, flood relief funds, other relief funds, midday meal schemes, benefiting from business deals, twisting rules to award contracts for extraneous considerations etc are acts of gross indiscipline. I am sure you understand the difference.

With Best Wishes and warm Regards,
Yours Sincerely,
Brigadier V Mahalingam (Retired)

Give armed forces their rightful dues

Arun Kumar Singh
I must clarify that I am not a member of the ESM (Ex-Servicemen Movement) which has been holding marches and press conferences all over the country to press its demand for better pay and pension for military all personnel, serving and retired. Having interacted with military, civil and political leaders in dozens of countries, I firmly believe that in any democracy, the military must be subordinate to the civilian political government in power, but not the bureaucrats who are on the staff of ministers. Also, having served in the Navy for some four decades, and hailing from an "Army family", I believe Indians have full faith in the armed forces always remaining apolitical.

Unfortunately, I have been driven to pen this article after reading a newspaper article by Shekhar Gupta on October 4, Chain of command, demand in the Indian Express, which appears to be based on incorrect inputs and lack of sufficient exposure to the Indian military ethos.

India is a liberal democracy, and people have the right to say and write whatever they want without censorship. But it is essential to set the record straight. People are aware of the downgradation of the military by successive pay commissions where the armed forces were not even represented. Most Indians are also aware of the price India has had to pay (and continues to pay) for the political leadership not permitting the then Major-General K.S. Thimayya the two weeks he sought to complete the liberation of Kashmir in 1948. This was followed by large scale demobilisation and downgradation of the combat capability of the armed forces in the wake of the short-sighted "Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai" era. Unfortunately, since the service chiefs of that era could not muster enough courage to warn the government of the dangers of leaving our borders unguarded, the nation suffered a humiliating defeat in 1962 against China.

In 1971, the then Army Chief, General Sam Manekshaw, refused to comply with the government's order to commence hostilities in April because the Army needed time to prepare. General Manekshaw wanted to fight in December, after the fields had been harvested and snow had blocked the mountain passes, to prevent a Chinese intervention. The result was the victory in the 1971 war. Sadly, in 1987, the then Army Chief did not follow this precedent when ordered to go into Sri Lanka at short notice. The outcome of the IPKF operations is well known.

What the three current service chiefs have done with respect to the Sixth Pay Commission is not wrong. It is their duty to gauge the morale of the military and inform the political leadership of the need for corrective action before things get out of control (as had happened with a section of the Indian Air Force after the Fifth Pay Commission).

Even in the UK, the Army and Naval Chiefs have openly voiced their anguish over low pay structure of the UK armed forces. The result was a public promise by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to take corrective measures. The armed forces are aware that while they regularly bail the bureaucrats out of tight spots (be it insurgency, Naxalism, riots, natural disasters etc), the babus and police effectively raise their own status and career prospects. After countless failures of civil administration in recent times, the Army has been repeatedly called to restore order. Look at the past two months: After dealing with the crisis in Kashmir, the armed forces had to step in to help in Bihar and Assam during the floods.

The civil services, which continues to lose the war on terror and against Naxalism (in 2002, Naxals were active only in five states; today, 16 states have active Naxals due to poor administration), have got a Diwali pay-cum-status hike for their non-performance and non-accountability. In the meantime, the same babus have been busy in releasing "selective and incorrect" leaks to a section of the media, between September 2 and October 4, casting aspersions on the armed forces. There were also veiled threats of the need to "discipline the armed forces".

Fortunately this time, the political leadership became aware of the manipulations done to the Sixth Pay Commission by the bureaucracy. The print and electronic media has given details of the four anomalies which are expected to be resolved before Diwali by the group of three ministers. On October 6, a news magazine reported how the IAS babus had given themselves an additional pay hike of Rs 12 crores per annum (two extra increments and an increase in grade pay of joint secretaries by Rs 1,000) without the Cabinet's approval. Hopefully, the Cabinet will pursue this scam to its logical end.

India's sad history of lack of strategic vision and its inability to protect the wealth its entrepreneurs have traditionally generated resulted in about 1,300 years of foreign invasions, slaughter and subjugation. Progressively destroying the morale and respect of the military, in 61 years since Independence, will result in history repeating itself.

The three wise ministers reviewing the armed forces' pay, may like to remember this letter written in 320 BC by Kautilya (author of Arthasashtra) to Emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya: "… My Lord, the day the Mauryan soldier has to demand his dues, or worse, plead for them, would neither have arrived overnight nor in vain. It will also bode ill for Magadha. For then, on that day, you my Lord, will have lost all moral sanction to be king! It will also be the beginning of the end of the Mauryan Empire!!"

Vice Admiral Arun Kumar Singh
Retired as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam
Give Armed Forces its due

The Editor
Indian Express.
For some time it has been evident that the Indian Express' standards have been steadily deteriorating. This was confirmed by the insensitive, craven editorial a few weeks ago which drew a righteous response. If further confirmation was required it was provided by Shekhar Gupta's lead article, "Chain of command…" . He observes that "Soon enough, there will be a civilian riposte, and unfortunately it could take away from the armed forces and their future chiefs some of the autonomy in decision-making, even small purchasing powers, that they have won in tiny parcels in a six-decade war of attrition. This pay commission episode will now be invoked by stronger governments, and certainly better defence ministers — as almost anybody would be after Antony — to "cut the brass to size" with the argument, "remember how they behaved over that pay commission?" Was he being the spokesman for the babus by holding out this threat? (His well known dislike for South Indians is evident here!)
There has been a virtual tsunami of responses to this article and I am sure what is circulated on the net is only a fraction of the outpouring of indignation, which demonstrates the depth and extent of anguish of the citizenry of the country. Most of them must have been consigned to the trash can – like this one will. Unfortunately, Down Under I cannot read Indian newspapers and am totally dependent on the internet.

With a dwindling subscriber base due to aggressive marketing and slick production by the 'Times of India' and other papers, he has been masquerading as a crusader of 'journalism of courage' by being "free, frank and forthright". The inability to start a TV news channel forced him to host an inane talk show, "Walk the talk", courtesy NDTV. Building memorials to the dead soldiers, (to which he personally did not contribute a penny himself) that was funded by the generosity of patriotic readers does not give him the license to insult living soldiers/ veterans by publicly denigrating the three Chiefs, when he is ignorant of the functioning of the services.

This ignorance is further on show as he has rattled off a few names of some well known Chiefs. He has forgotten one who like Sam Manekshaw stood up to a formidable PM (and RM) Indira Gandhi without the support of the two fellow chiefs, and got away by winning the battle for 'free rations' for officers, even though he himself was not a beneficiary. Many would know that Indira Gandhi then sought to replace him in the same way that Vishnu Bhagwat was replaced by George Fernandez. Fortunately for the IN (and India), the dramatis personae involved were true gentlemen and made of sterner stuff. When the aircraft landed clandestinely at night to fetch the "reliever" to Delhi, he informed the PM over the telephone, "unless my Chief orders me to come to Delhi, I will stay where I am"– and thereby defused an explosive situation. The two officers I refer to are (both late) Admiral Ronnie Pereira and Vice Admiral Vivian Barboza– both of whom are remembered with fondness and pride by all naval personnel of that era. I am glad that my friend, Faggy Mehta together with Deepak Kapoor and Fali Major are cast in the same mould. They have closed ranks and stood shoulder to shoulder to get justice for the men and women they command, backed by an RM who seems to know where his true strengths lie. More power to all of them.

The two cornerstones of military ethos are honour and loyalty (i.e. to the country, to the Service, to the unit). Contrary to what the babu thinks, loyalty is not a one-way street. It goes upwards and downwards: junior to senior and senior to junior. In following the axiom, "yours not to reason why; but to do or die", it is implicit that the senior would always do the right thing. What the CNS and the other chiefs have demonstrated (reciprocated) is their loyalty to their subordinates, by taking up cudgels on their behalf. The Chetwodian motto encompasses this. I hope the UPA has the sense to reciprocate their loyalty in the same fashion.

As I was 'writing' this, the news came over the BBC of the brutal killing of a close friend who was on the staff course at the DSSC with me. General Janaka Pereira of the Sri Lankan Army and his wife died in Colombo in a bomb blast on Monday. No doubt it happened in our backyard and not at home. It could well have happened to one of my erstwhile Indian colleagues, still in service. Does Shekhar Gupta or any of his bureaucratic cohorts know that people like Janaka lay their lives on the line every day, regardless of their rank – and the loss of life is no less poignant. Right now, somewhere some wife, mother, sister or daughter is mourning the loss of a loved one while people like Shekhar Gupta sermonize on what constitutes proper behavior for soldiers.

In days gone by, the soldier was placed on a pedestal as the call to arms was the noblest profession. Prompted by jealousy, the wily babu has been steadily chipping away at this pedestal for the past 60 years and has virtually succeeded in toppling him from that lofty position. One has only to recall the matrimonial columns of those days and look at the same columns today to realize this. Justice Srikrishna and the Cabinet Secretary, aided by Shekhar Gupta and his ilk have done what the ISI and the Pakistani establishment could not do in all this time ; sow the seeds of indiscipline. Let there not be any doubt about the repercussions which have already manifested itself in the BSF, Coast Guard Commandants refusing to take orders from the Army and Navy officers, who until yesterday were senior to them. The IAS is even now trying to sow the seeds of discord in the rank and file, with the intent to make them rebel against their officers. All this is being orchestrated by a special "DIRTY TRICKS DEPARTMENT" called the Department of Personnel and Training, headed by a Machiavellian secretary. This is the department which has consistently frustrated efforts to have a separate pay commission for the armed forces or even have a representative on the central pay commissions. Why is this demand inconceivable when the armed forces are always expected to conduct themselves differently from the rest – they even have their own unique justice system comprising summary trials and courts martial, mandated by Acts of Parliament? It is because of this justice system that army personnel involved in various scams have been tried and punished while their civilian collaborators (and co– accused) like George Fernandez and the like, still roam free. He still has a chance to redeem himself by issuing a public apology through his paper.

Carl H Gomes

Thursday, October 9, 2008

1950's Italian Police Motorcycle Drill Team Display

One minute clip of Motorcycle Team Display

Clicking five centuries old time machine.

Recently, we visited the Golden Temple at Sri Amritsar. And for the first time in my life, I had a careful look at the Sundial. Erected in the sixteenth century, it is well preserved. It is a small piece, but can tell time upto a few minutes accuracy. I am told they used to toll the bell to sound the passage of 'pahars' and 'gharis'.

They then erected towers on which they mounted clocks for every one to see time. But no one looks at them any more, when nearly every one has a wrist watch and a cell phone. I suppose, in due course of time, neither the clocks nor those towers will be of any significance. And then people will wonder why they were created, at such enormous cost! Change is indeed the only permanent thing in the world!

Maj Gen Surjit Singh (Retd)

Give forces their due

The War memorial near Chetwode hall at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun

The apathy towards defence personnel is unwarranted

The root of the discrimination could well be the vantage point captured by the ICS officers who were the representatives of the masters of India, namely the British. The IAS officers inherited the sceptre of authority; their importance grew in inverse proportion to the decline in the quality of the politician. Today, how many Ministers have a true grip over the subject of their portfolios? The disproportionate power and influence that has thus fallen into the lap of the bureaucrat are reflected in what the successive Pay Commissions have been recommending.

During the same British rule, the armed forces were under the Commander-in-Chief and not directly under the Governor-General or Viceroy. In the bargain, the soldier remained on the sidelines of Government and, incidentally, had to tolerate the status of a national chowkidar in the eyes of the bureaucrat. To illustrate the point, look at Pakistan. There, with the advent of Field Marshal Ayub Khan to civilian power, the soldier ceased to be a mulazim and became a malik. The civilian slipped to a subordinate position. This is not to suggest that such an equation is desirable; certainly not. Nor, however, is the situation in India. A balance of importance is the answer.

We must not forget that so much of our territory is in Pakistani and Chinese hands and a great deal more is under claim by Beijing. The Kashmir Valley is a bleeding sore while the Maoists and the Islamists may well provoke military intervention at some stage. Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland did require army help in the course of time. Pakistan may not pose a live danger while the Al Qaeda and Taliban are at the tail of Islamabad but what if these extremists were to cross the Indus? How can the people of India tolerate their armed forces being discounted collectively and disgruntled individually?
Prafull Goradia
Read the full article at: Give forces their due

Our fight is for equality: Naval chief

Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta gave a new twist to the armed forces fight for pay hike on Saturday by suggesting that the issue involved the command and control relationship between the armed forces' officers and their civilian counterparts. His comments came amid reports that the three defence service chiefs have been ticked off for their unprecedented defiance over the Pay Commission report.

Mehta, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, told reporters in New Delhi that the issue was not about money but status and equality. The money aspect has been overplayed by the media, he said.

"It is about status and equivalence that existed (before the Pay Commission) and the command and control relationship (between the armed forces officers and their civilian counterparts)," he said days after the three service chiefs refused to implement the Pay Commission report unless "anomalies" are rectified.

The Admiral made these remarks at a Territorial Army day parade where Defence Minister A K Antony, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief F H Major were present. The other two service chiefs were walking alongside Mehta when the reporters talked to him but they did not make any comments.

Antony, who is reported to have conveyed the government's unhappiness to the service chiefs over their stand, took the salute at the parade and left immediately thereafter skipping customary tea with the officers present.
Our fight is for equality: Naval chief

Military repose no Faith?
I would like to bring out a fact that even the then late Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw when preparing for the war in Bangladesh did not trust the bureaucracy and wanted direct reporting to the then PM Indira Gandhi. There has never been a trust and faith in them.
Brig AB Joshi (Retd)

Utter Brinkmanship?
The press release on 07 Oct by the ministry of defence denying any rift between the government & the armed forces is quite disquieting indeed. The ministers must realize that the anti-services stance of its wayward blue eyed boys has not been in the best national interest & their inspired leaks showing the services in poor light has only increased the chasm. It is to be ensured that the policies laid down by government & not perverted by the copy writers should become the orders. A case in point is introduction of newer anomalies by the committee of secretaries constituted to resolve the existing distortions. It is surely not the money or perks the services or the veterans have been concerned about. It is about the demising status, honour & systematically being pushed to the wall. The government must see the writing on the wall & take initiative to reassure them that it is on the right side.
Air Cmde Raghubir Singh (Retd)
Circulation of some documents on Pay Commission by Army Denied

Women officers will play major role in future: IAF chief

With the government allowing permanent commission to women in select branches of the armed forces, Air chief Fali Homi Major today indicated the Services were open to the idea of career women officers in several other departments too.

"The government has agreed for permanent commission to women officers in certain branches of the three services. It is just a beginning. There will be many more branches in which (they) could be given permanent commission as we go along," Major told reporters here soon after taking salute at the 76th Air Force Day parade at Hindan near here.

"This is the first time, permanent commission has been introduced in the country for women officers. So let us give it a little time before we progress beyond what the government has given so far," he said.

In a path-breaking move, the government had on September 26 announced granting permanent commission to future batches of women officers -- a privilege enjoyed by men till then -- in select non-combat services of Army, Navy and Air Force such as Education Corps and Judge Advocate Branch.

With this, India will most likely have its first woman as a career officer in the armed forces by late 2009 or early 2010.

Women officers will play major role in future: IAF chief

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Corruption and the Nation

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely

It is not easy to define corruption. But in a narrow sense, corruption is mostly concerned with ‘bribery’ and it takes several forms. Corruption is a global phenomenon and it is omnipresent. Corruption has progressively increased and is now rampant in our society.

National scenario
Corruption in India is a consequence of the nexus between Bureaucracy, politics and criminals. India is now no longer considered a soft state. It has now become a consideration state where everything can be had for a consideration. Today, the number of ministers with an honest image can be counted on fingers. At one time, bribe was paid for getting wrong things done but now bribe is paid for getting right things done at right time.

Effects of corruption
Indian administration is tainted with scandals. India is among 55 of the 106 countries where corruption is rampant, according to the Corruption Perception Index 2007 Report released by Transparency International India. Corruption in India leads to promotion not prison. It is very difficult to catch ‘big sharks’. Corruption in India has wings not wheels. As nation grows, the corrupt also grow to invent new methods of cheating the government and public.
Corruption in India

Comments: The Bureaucrats are undermining the Honour, Rank and Status of the Military. The SCPC anomalies committee has conveniently subverted the Cabinet Decision on Pay and Allowances to the Armed Forces. Anomalies of 5th Pay Panel is yet to be resolved because the decision- making process has been confused out of shape by the self- centered Bureaucrats sitting at the helm of affairs.

Command and Demand

The Editor, The Indian Express

Dear Sir,
I write with reference to the article "Chain of command, demand" by Shekhar Gupta (Ind Exp 4th. Oct 2008). Mr. Gupta has not only castigated the chiefs but also predicted dire consequences for them. Not difficult when your courage can bask in the knowledge that the armed forces cannot respond because of the various Acts. Fortunately I also don't have to worry about these laws. Gupta has forgotten important issues and aspects of the whole affair. The present chiefs have less than 18 months to go. In 2010 you will have a brand new trio. If the chiefs were to go by what Gupta has implicitly suggested, three scenarios emerge.

Scenario 1: In the Golf Club at the 6th. Hole (recall it is the 6th. Pay Commission). Says one chief to the others - what do we do now? The other says- arre bhai chodo na, ki farak pendha. We are out in 18 months and then we would be looking forward to becoming Governors/Ambassadors etc. Let's sign on the dotted line. No one will remember this after one year.

Scenario 2: Same place. The chiefs say - Hey, we are a democratic country remember? So why not conduct a poll through Indian Express by email/sms. All officers and men will vote on – should we accept the 6th. PC or not? One lucky officer and one lucky jawan will get a prize – not being posted to Siachen at all. After all, being a democratic government, Raksha Mantriji will congratulate us. See how they keep on saying – people supreme, people supreme. So for us, officers and soldiers supreme, no?

Scenario 3: The chiefs accept the proposals so as to maintain discipline and supremacy of the civilian government, but resign to register their protests. Sounds corny, but do you like it?

What would "General" Gupta choose? Let us know. With reasons. Yes, the whole affair has been mishandled. But by whom? By the Defence Minister who was probably acting on the advice of his Defence Secretary. So let Antony start by booting his Defence Secretary out. But he can't. As you have rightly stated a more powerful government and a defence minister who knows the difference between a human butt and that of a rifle may pounce on the services. But there also has to be an army then. Will we have an army in 5-10 years? Why is the armed forces pay always in dispute? Because the establishment mafia which includes netas, land owners, owners of assets and media want the country to be defended as cheaply as possible with the lives of other people's children. How many of these categories have their progeny in the forces? If MPs can decide their emoluments and civil servants theirs, why can't the armed forces do so directly with the political leadership? Why not make the Defence Ministry independent with its own budget like the Railway Ministry. We the people would contribute what it wants and we will pay only the difference to the Consolidated Fund (or is it Fraud) of India.

You have hit below the belt by stating that the present chiefs are not a patch on Thimayya, Maneckshaw, Lal, Sunderji, Tahiliani et al. But time and fate are great balancers – the army got the chiefs needed to deal with stalwarts like Patel, Krishna Menon, Indira Gandhi and Jagjivan Ram. Recall how Lt. Gen Thakur Nathu Singh asked Nehru how much experience he had as PM when the latter wanted Britishers to continue for 15 years after independence because Indian Generals did not have experience. That's why Indian Express also had a Ramnath Goenka during the emergency. Today, even a Major (sorry for the pun), let alone a General, is more than sufficient. We have a Defence Minister who will not last 10 minutes in a debate with a Powell or a Rumsfeld. The Chinese Defence Minister will eat him raw in less than a minute. Read the recent book by a former Expressman, Arun Shourie – Are We Deceiving Ourselves Again – of how an outstanding soldier – Mao - made Nehru look like a boy scout on his first camp. Even after 45 years the Henderson-Brookes Report has not been released.

In 1963, moving the first no-confidence motion after the Chinese debacle, Acharya Kripalani said "I hope the Defence Minister can defend himself better than he has defended the nation." Today, for the sake of the country I hope we can get one who can defend the nation and understands the blood group OG. Then he will have no necessity of defending himself. Has any babu spent 40% of his career in non-family stations? What happened to the grandiose plans of George Fernandes to send his secretaries to Siachen for a few days? Look at how your own comrades of the Fifth Column have dealt with the subject. For every article in favour of the armed forces, there are ten favouring the netas and babus. Not surprising since the armed forces do not give you licences etc. Look at the insipid and inane polls your paper carries – 'Is Naveen Patnaik ineffective' or 'Is the Tata-Singur affair harmful to West Bengal'? Perhaps the next important questions will be – 'Is the Ranbir-Deepika couple more romantic than the Saif-Kareena one' or 'whether Ganguly should be dropped'? How about one which asks – Shouldn't our soldiers be paid more than our netas, babus and police? Lastly don't forget that the Chiefs are only fighting for scales from 2007, while the army has been short-changed from around 1957. So who is going to make up for those 50 years – Indian Express?

There are stated and unstated hints and fears that the armed forces have become too big for their boots. This morbid fear is because hardly any neta has ever served in the forces. Assuming that the country is worth taking over, they already have. They have been forced to wear big boots. They are fighting on the borders, fighting insurgency (police work) within the borders, handling floods, earthquakes, tsunamis (all civil work) and very soon will be asked to help in finishing the stadiums for the Commonwealth Games and even win medals. Where do you think the bands and mass parades/drills are going to come from? They run some of the best schools, best medical college (AFMC) and the best engineering colleges (one in Pune for their children and also the CME). Each of their institutions, from NDA to IMA to DSSC to AWC to NDC, not to mention HAWS and CIWS, is world class. Their cantonments have always been like Singapore, ie better than Shanghai. Last but not least, their daughters dominate Bollywood and beauty contests. Unfortunately the law does not allow them to get into media or they will beat you there also. They are effectively in charge without sitting in Rashtrapathi Bhavan or Race Course Road because the other arms of state have proved to be totally inept as epitomised by the Home Secretary who said on TV that he is learning and getting his on-the-job-training from every bomb blast. Perhaps the fees are being paid by the lives of the aam aadmis.

Gupta's article states that it is of national interest. I fully agree. I therefore reserve my right to send my response to the three HQs, the media and such other parties who are interested in national affairs. I am also including Mr. Gupta's id in this email. The present chiefs may not be Thimayyas or Maneckshaws, but let us see whether Gupta is a Ramnath Goenka, even when we don't have an emergency. Let's see whether this article is printed, even in a sanitized form.

Yours faithfully,
TR Ramaswami

This is one of the best responses from a civilian on Mr Shekhar Gupta's article in Indian Express on 04 Oct 2008. We thank Brig VA Subramanyam, for sharing this with us.

Electric Cars the future answer to the spiralling gas prices

Move over, Tata Nano; Tara's electric Tiny is now the world's cheapest car. With its battery power, the Tiny will have a top speed of 70 km per hour (43 mph) and a range of 100 km (62 miles). The operating costs is 60 paise for every km, about one-fifth to one-tenth the cost of using gas. The Tiny is expected in the next three to five months along with three other electric cars tentatively branded: Tara Titu, Tara Micro and Tara Mini.

Tara International is working with China's Aucma, and has already ordered a 14-seat electric bus that will ship this May. Tara may even release an electric two-wheeler. It's not clear if Tara plans to release the Tiny overseas, but what is clear is that the Nano won't be the only car selling for about 1 lakh this year. Nano has shifted from Singur to Gujarat. The roll out schedule delayed obviously.
Tata Nano; Tara's electric Tiny

Nissan's electric car, the Nuvu, on display at the Paris Auto Show: Remy de la Mauviniere/ AP
If Barack Obama and John McCain are as serious as they say they are about ending US dependence on foreign oil, they might want to dispatch a trusted aide or two to the Paris Auto Show, a biennial global industry extravaganza that opened last week.
Electric Cars at the Paris Auto Show

A Case for the Soldier

Photo courtesy BBC
Do we need a military to win wars or one controlled by the bureaucrats doomed to failure?

How many of our leaders, political or otherwise, have a son or a daughter in the Forces, that they would ever fathom where the shoe pinches? When one daughter of a neta was kidnapped, the entire government machinery was subverted to release terrorists to get her safe release. When it comes to making provision for the pay and pension of soldiers who are committed to lay down their lives for the country, every paisa is begrudged on the grounds: “ Why do we need the Army?”

Leave alone make provision for their pay and pension, no babu or neta has ever moved forward to bring back the prisoners of war who are rotting in Pakistani jails for decades. None of them have a neta or a babu for a relative, you see. At the time of the Kargil war, lakhs of rupees were paid to the next of kin of the soldiers who laid down their lives in the face of the enemy. There are still many survivors and families of the brave of previous wars, struggling for survival in total anonymity, for who will take up their cause?

Meanwhile, while the soldier serves in the most difficult of terrains, in all manner of climes, surrounded by mountains, forests, glaciers or even mines, the babus sit in their air conditioned offices and conferences halls to pontificate on military pay and pensions, how many PCOs or Paan shops may be allotted to those who survive the loss of limbs in the field.

Has anyone ever examined the fortunes of the IAS Babus and those of their offspring; how were those offspring educated and then employed etc. For every babu offspring who gets into the top schools in India, how many offspring of Fauji officers make it? How many hours of work do babus actually put in between their elevenses, chai breaks, gossip session and so called seminars and workshops which have produced a Mighty Little in taking the country forward.

The unfortunate part is that the soldiers have no forum for venting their grievances. If anyone speaks up at the Darbar, believe me, he will never be heard off again. In the case of the Sixth Pay Commission, it was left to retired officers to take up cudgels on behalf of the serving personnel which cannot speak out.

What of the grievances of the retired personnel? In Gujarat, they were promised 16 acres of land each. A handful got that land and the rest ran from pillar to post to emerge empty handed. Neither the babu nor the senior officer wants to touch on this problem. Or the shortages of housing, the impoverishment of the large majority; they get by pointing fingers at the few who have been caught with their hands in the till. How many corrupt Army men have you heard of and how do those compare with the number of corrupt bureaucrats?

How much more do we add before resting our case before the Committee which has been set up to examine the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.

Kussam Choppra

Kusum Choppra has been Gujarat correspondent for venerable publications like The Week, Rajasthan Patrika, Current and Maharashtra Herald (now merged into Sakal), apart from writing for a number of other publications, such as liberal magazines like Opinion and Freedom First. Earlier this year, five of her short stories made her a published author in the anthology called “CURTAINS stories by nine women”, published by Unison Publications, Bangalore. Born a Sindhi (Dolly Khemlani), married to a Punjabi, now a retired army officer who is a senior TV man......both of them ended up as journalists!
Full article at....A Case for the Soldier by Kusum Choppra

In defence of the military

Tuesday, October,7 2008 (New Delhi).

Let me begin this piece by stating emphatically that it is written in defence of the Indian military. I believe that it is an institution worth defending, warts and follies notwithstanding. And that is why this piece.

Of late, the Indian military leadership has come under a lot of motivated and ill-informed criticism for doing what any self-respecting commander-in-chief would do.

In taking up the issue of pay and parity between the armed forces and their civilian counterparts, all that the three chiefs have done is to bring to the notice of the highest political authority in the country the four core issues that affect the services. And they did it in the most dignified manner possible.

But their action has kicked up a furious debate in the media and depending on who you speak with, there are two views on the issue. Most non-military viewpoints are alarmists, to say the least. A few inspired leaks by the stung bureaucracy has led to a spate of articles and opinion pieces alluding to a breach of discipline and a show of "defiance" by the service chiefs. Some commentators have even gone to the extent of saying that the three chiefs have set a dangerous precedent that does not augur well for Indian democracy! Others have said the chiefs were left with no choice. And unlike any other time, I will be a subjective observer in this.

As someone who has been in the thick of reporting on the pay panel recommendations and the subsequent developments, I must point out without reservation: The three chiefs have never ever defied the government. A quarter century interaction with the armed forces has convinced me that the Indian military is not capable of indulging in politics, leave alone usurping anyone's authority as perceived by some. And even in this case, the three chiefs have simply taken recourse to the best possible method that was available to them. And by appointing a three-member ministerial committee to look into what clearly are genuine grievances of the armed forces, the political executive has shown the sagacity of recognising the seriousness of the issue. Unfortunately, the top bureaucracy has not shown the same level of maturity in dealing with the situation.

Allow me to go back in time a little to understand the context in which the three service chiefs have been forced to do what they have done. After the 6th Pay panel submitted its report, a committee of secretaries was set up to look into various anomalies that were brought to the notice of the government. The service headquarters had reasoned with the ministry that since the armed forces make up for 30 per cent of the government employees, they should have a representative on the committee. But their request was not heeded. Instead, the service chiefs were told their concerns would be addressed without prejudice and with sympathy.

This assurance was taken at face value but when no communication was received from the committee of secretaries, Adm. Sureesh Mehta, in his capacity as chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, asked for the details of the decisions taken in the committee. He wanted to see that the armed forces' concerns were adequately taken care of. But the Committee of Secretaries did not deem it fit to respond to the admiral's plea. So when the cabinet approved the amended sixth pay panel report, it was assumed all the pending issues were taken care of. But to the great consternation of the service headquarters, not only were their major grievances not addressed, three more anomalies, indeed, glaring discrepancies, were introduced by the committee of secretaries in the final cabinet notification.

For the armed forces, this was the last straw. This was worse than the aftermath of the 5th pay commission a decade ago when 48 anomalies were pointed out by the armed forces but only eight were resolved over a 10 year period till the 6th Pay Commission was notified!

It took some time for the reality to sink in but when the anomalies were noticed, all the three chiefs decided to take up their case with defence minister AK Antony. After the meeting, Antony was convinced of the logic presented by the three chiefs. So he apparently asked his ministry officials to prepare a detailed note in support of the services' demand to resolve the core issues and send that communication to the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office for necessary action.

The core issues, the three service chiefs felt, would affect command and control functions in the field especially between the Army and para-military forces and the navy and the coast guard, to cite just two examples. Having taken their case to the defence minister, the three chiefs felt they would at last get justice. Shockingly however, the finance ministry and the PMO were presented a completely diluted case. Left with no other alternative, the chiefs then took up their case with the Prime Minister himself who too agreed that their concerns were genuine and should be resolved favourably. The only catch was: the MoD had not sent the requisite supporting documents!!

In the meantime, neither the Prime Minister nor the Defence minister could meet because of their pre-scheduled foreign visit. That's when the three service chiefs decided that they would delay the implementation of the flawed 6th Pay panel report. And decided to communicate this decision to their men down the chain of command. The internal communication by all three chiefs in fact spoke about the need for not falling prey to rumours and speculation. For instance, the Naval chief's communication dated September 24, said:

"In recent times there have been several speculative media reports and disinformation on the final outcome of the sixth pay commission recommendations. The service headquarters have maintained continuous interaction with all authorities concerned and our concerns have been highlighted at the highest levels time and again.

Whilst some of our concerns have been addressed we have been constrained to delay payment of arrears and new pay scales to officers and men in view of some serious disparities that have been introduced which disturb the extant parities between defence officers and those from other central services as also adversely affect pensionary benefits of pbor. We are in the process of resolving all pending issues and this may take a little longer than we had earlier expected.

Let me assure each one of you that I will spare no effort to bring our genuine concerns to the notice of our country's leadership with the final aim of giving our personnel their rightful due. In the meanwhile I am certain that one and all will display maturity and patience and not be swayed by hearsay or speculative reports from any quarter. Shano Varuna and Jai Hind."

If the above signal, as the communication is called in military parlance, is defiance then no military chief will ever be able to give assurances to and take his men in confidence. Anyone who has dealt with the armed forces will tell you that there is not an iota of truth in the canard that is being spread about the three chiefs "defying" the civil authorities. Yes, they questioned the bureaucracy's attempts to wittingly or unwittingly introduce pay and status disparities between the armed forces and their civilian counterparts. Yes, they took the matter to the Prime Minister but in no way did they defy the government.

The question here is: Does civilian control of the military mean control by civil bureaucrats? Or should it in reality mean that military be subservient to the elected government and by extension to the Parliament and in the larger sense the people of India? This is the question that needs to be debated thoroughly for correct civil-military interaction and cohesiveness in decision-making in spheres of national security in the future.

What the three current chiefs have done is unprecedented in India's short history as an independent nation and therefore a surprise to many. But they have done their uniform proud by standing up for their men, a trait most essential in any leader but an absolute must for a military leader.

Nitin Gokhale
Senior Editor, Defence and Strategic Affairs, NDTV
In defence of the military

Related Reading:
This is not defiance
Armed Forces gun for the Babus: The Big Chief: Navy Chief lashes out at Indian Express: Why the outcry against Shekar Gupta's column

Bureaucrats taking the Nation for a ride?

Respected Veterans,

This is the time for all of us to stand united behind the Chiefs of Army, Air Force and Navy and support them in their confrontation against the malicious Indian bureaucracy.

The Headlines Today, in the News at 1400 Hrs., has exposed the sixty, year old deep routed systematically planned conspiracy against the Defence Forces. (We owe our heartfelt gratitude to Headlines Today, particularly their Defence Reporter, for this daring investigative journalism).

The Defence Secretary has disobeyed the Defence Minister. Before his departure to the USA, the RM had ordered the Defence Secretary to put up the representations made by the Defence to the PMO. Not only did he disobey his orders, but even manipulated his travel plans to the US, so that he is away from India earlier than expected. During his absence, the Defence Secretary pressurised the Defence Chiefs to accept the Pay Commission Recommendation's, as approved by the Cabinet.

The FM, P Chidambaram, had mentioned to the Chiefs, when they met him, that the Defence and Finance Secretaries had misguided him on many issues related to the 6th pay Commission report affecting the Defence Services. Quoting from a Secret Circular, said to have been circulated within the Army, the TV asserted that the Defence Services have no faith in the Bureaucracy of India.

This tragic infamous situation, for the first time in the sixty year old largest Democracy of the world, highlights the deceitful manner by which the bureaucracy has taken over the Ministerial Functions of our government. They will now be prepared to stoop down to any shameful extent to safeguard their supremacy over the Defence Services.

The UPA Government have to be aware of the "Bureaucratic Terrorism" operating right under their nose and take urgent and effective corrective measures, failing which the defence preparedness of India will be adversely affected.

Coached for the Competitive Examinations. IAS selection a farce?

Bureaucratic Terrorism is a serious matter. A critical study of the geneses of the Indian bureaucracy will show that it is a part of the British Colonialism. The ICS officers were the loyal servants of the British. After independence the name ICS became IAS, but there was no other change.

In the free India, they had the freedom to do what they wanted. There was no worthwhile administrative reform. We continue to follow what the Britishers had handed over to us. What the bureaucracy did was to lay a foundation for DISGUISED SLAVERY and enforce it on the people of India.

I have two suggestions:
  • To find solutions to the present crisis. The Government should recall the 6th Pay Commission and ask them to re-examine their recommendations in light of actual data submitted by the Defence. The Commission should invite the representatives of the Defence Services to assist them. The final report should be submitted directly to the RM for approval, before it is allowed to pass through the rest of the process.
  • To Strengthen Indian Democracy through Long Term Reforms. The Government should stop forthwith, direct recruitment to all the All India Services. Evolve a system, through well thought out Administrative Reform, to fill up the positions in All India Services, from the Defence Services. Scientifically select officers and men to the three services. After TEN years of spotless service, they be allowed to appear for competitive examinations for selections to All India Services. Give SIX months of specialised professional training to them. Those selected will shed their uniform and take up the positions assigned to them. We will thus have a team of honest, patriotic, disciplined and brave leaders managing our Motherland.

    Dr Kunneth Ramakrishnan
    Management professional- Served the IAF for 20 years.
  • The SCPC Fiasco

    Defence forces are designed to work in seclusion. Soldiers intrinsically are shy of publicity. This is part of their ethos. They work unnoticed. They die unsung. The recent Pay Commission controversy has pushed them in limelight. This could be foreseen when their request for inclusion of a defence member was rejected. The economic experts comprising the commission could not understand a soldier’s problems. No civilian can. Military life can only be experienced; it cannot be explained. Previous pay commissions had been pushing the military down, both in status and salaries. The 6th PC further widened the gap. The report drew immediate negative response; muted from the serving, vociferous from the veterans. The report was then put before a committee of secretaries. The disparities were too stark to escape even an untrained eye. The senior, experienced Secretaries knew what should have been done to restore balance. But they did not. While making some cosmetic alterations they in fact injected some more serious disparities. The cabinet endorsed the report. It is doubtful they got involved in the nitty-gritty.

    The defence forces cannot form unions and associations. The soldiery’s problems are projected up the established chain of command. Those beyond the purview of intermediary levels reach the Service Chiefs. The latter in turn approach the government. This is part of their function. This was done for the PC disparities too. Going by media reports the defence minister supported the demands. With the finance minister stonewalling the recommendations and the PM being out of the country, the issue remained in limbo. Time was running out for the October 1, 2008 deadline. The delay in implementation of the PC report could cause disquiet. Rumours resulting from heightened media reporting could fan discontent. The Chiefs would have got inputs of the rank and file edginess. The memory of Jamnagar Air Force base disturbance during the 5th PC would have come to their recall. They had to act. Inaction was not an option. Various options would have been examined. Should they implement the PC report on the assurance that the disparities would be resolved later? That the anomalies of the 5th PC have remained unresolved for over 12 years foreclosed this option. The fact of the Defence Minister still batting for amendments rendered the cabinet decision ‘under review’. A message down the command chain to forestall any possible brewing problem was the obvious choice. It was rightly followed by all three Chiefs. The Naval Chief was the first to do so. His message said, “We are in the process of resolving all pending issues and this may take a little longer than we had earlier expected...” He then exhorted his command, “...In the meanwhile I am certain that one and all will display maturity and patience and not be swayed by hearsay or speculative reports from any quarter”. There is nothing palpably wrong with what he told the Navy. He was chastised for sending an unclassified message. That is absurd. The lowest military security classification is ‘Restricted’. Its very name suggests that its circulation be restricted to the intended few. When a message is meant for dissemination to every sailor in the Navy, where is the need for making it ‘Restricted’? Nor do the contents reveal any State secret. The disquiet on the PC report has even appeared in the Pakistani Press. The three Chiefs should actually be complimented for displaying foresight and for taking pre-emptive action.

    The Service heads are being questioned – even editorially - for not implementing the cabinet decision. They are told it was ‘not expected of them’. This is the common whip the government uses to browbeat soldiers. It raises two important points. If ‘expectations’ from the mlitary are different and much higher than from other government organs, then why are they not also distinct for salary and perks? Putting them in a common basket is a clear case of equal treatment and unequal obligations. Secondly, can the soldiers also have some reciprocal expectations from the government? Is the government expected to empower the bureaucracy and let them loose to ride roughshod over the defence forces? Is the civil control to be taken to mean control by bureaucracy instead of by the elected representatives? Is the government expected to push down an unacceptable and patently biased PC report down the military throats despite clear disparities that have been accepted by the Defence Minister himself?

    Over the years governments have been routinely ignoring defence forces’ plea against discrimination. This has left scars of distrust and frustration. The grouses have accumulated. Even a small wound becomes a festering sore if ignored. That the 6th PC report was unacceptable to the defence forces has been blindingly clear to all. The unequal emoluments hurt their pockets. What is even more important, the skewed parity also hurt their pride. Military is one organisation that has been doing its job with sincerity, dedication and with success. Why does the bureaucracy-dominated government keep constantly gnawing at their roots? Considerable damage has already been done. Further damage needs to be controlled. The committee of ministers needs to accept their four pending demands without delay.

    The reported stand- off between the government and the Services has pushed the Ex-Servicemen (ESM) issue on the back burner. The ESM remain steadfast on their four demands; One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP), resettlement till age of sixty, constitution of an ESM Commission and their representation on all committees deciding issues of their concern. Out of these the most emotive is the OROP, repeatedly promised but never unfulfilled. Pension is a reward for services already rendered. Logic suggests that two individuals rendering equal service and reaching the same rank - and thus same level of responsibility – should get equal pension, irrespective of their date of retirement. The ESM are demanding equity and justice, not necessarily more money. If the government cannot afford, let them pay less pension, but uniformly to all. The 6th PC recommendations are extremely harsh on the old pensioners, who constitute the majority. They have actually created One-Rank-Several-Pensions, an extremely retrograde step. If OROP remains unresolved, the ESM intend to continue their fight for it. They have already put the government on notice for a relay hunger strike beginning October 20, 2008. The ball is in the government’s court.

    Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd)
    Chairman, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    Chanakya words of wisdom

    Chanakya quotes (Indian politician, strategist and writer, 350 BC 75 BC)

    "A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and Honest people are screwed first."
    " Even if a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous."
    "The biggest guru-mantra is: Never share your secrets with anybody.! It will destroy you."
    "There is some self- interest behind every friendship. There is no Friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth."
    "Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions - Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead."
    "As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it."
    "Once you start a working on something, don't be afraid of failure and don't abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest."
    "The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all direction."
    "Whore's don't live in company of poor men, citizens never support a weak company and birds don't build nests on a tree that doesn't bear fruits."
    "God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple."
    "A man is great by deeds, not by birth."
    "Never make friends with people who are above or below you in status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness."
    "Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next five years, scold them. By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like a friend. Your grown up children are your best friends."
    "Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person."
    "Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats the beauty and the youth."

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    SCPC: Primus Inter Predators?

    Best practice? The PM gives a pep talk to IAS probationers.

    Primus Inter Predators? The IAS lobby has cornered for itself far more pay than the Union cabinet cleared....

    Smash and Grab
  • The Union cabinet had cleared two additional increments for IAS officers, but bureaucrats gave themselves four
  • Even the two additional increments cleared by the cabinet were meant only for a limited period. But the IAS lobby has manipulated to see that this incremental edge over others stays throughout service period.
  • The additional fiscal burden for these increments not sanctioned by the cabinet is Rs 12 crore a year
  • New notifications scripted by the babus have ensured that junior IAS officers will draw more than their seniors in other services
  • Those in other services who were drawing the same pay as their IAS counterparts will now get less

    Who is supreme, the Union cabinet or the bureaucrat? There was never the need to raise this question. But the flurry of notifications from babus of the department of personnel and training after the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations were approved by the cabinet on August 14 makes one wonder whether bureaucrats—IAS officers—have overriding powers. Documents accessed by Outlook show that the cabinet approved a certain pay structure, but it was subverted by the IAS lobby for salary gains.
    The notification that gives IAS officers a pay advantage

    At a conservative estimate, this manipulation entails an additional annual burden of Rs 12 crore on the exchequer, not taking into account the proportionate gains the IAS lobby has allowed the IFS, or foreign service. Besides, in terms of arrears, 4,000 IAS officers will end up being paid Rs 32 crore. All this is money that wasn't authorised by the cabinet in the first place. Here's how the interpretations and manipulations took place:

    On August 14, the cabinet okayed two additional increments for the IAS in the fifth year of service. This would put them ahead of other streams vis-a-vis salary till the completion of sixteen years, after which there is pay parity across all services.

    However, while interpreting the new pay band system, the IAS lobby slipped in an additional two increments in the tenth year as well.

    The bureaucrats have also ensured that the pay edge they have got over others remains till they retire. There will be no cutoff after the 16th year in service.
    These machinations haven't gone down well with the other services. They have already shot off strong letters to the cabinet secretary and have also taken up the matter with senior members of the cabinet. "This malafide manipulation raises a basic question about who is supreme in the government—is it the Union cabinet or the IAS? The fact that this has been done shows that even the cabinet has no sanctity when it comes to the self-interest of a particular lobby in government," a senior police officer told Outlook.

    State associations of IPS and Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers have sent in strong protests and representations, demanding not only a reversion to the original intent of the cabinet but also action against the officials responsible for "misinterpreting a cabinet decision."

    In response to a fax to the Union finance ministry, an official associated with the pay commission told Outlook that the intention of the cabinet was to continue with the advantage for the IAS and IFS at three levels.

    "This was discussed at several meetings and has the sanction of the government," the official insisted, and pointed out that "members from the other services, including the IPS and the IFS, were present, they were fully aware of the implications, and gave their stamp of approval." However, the meetings took place on July 2, much before the issue came up before the cabinet.

    Besides awarding themselves additional increments, the bureaucrats have also arbitrarily awarded themselves a higher salary structure than what was recommended through several arbitrary means. While the commission recommended Rs 9,000 as grade pay for joint secretary level officers, it has been increased straightaway to Rs 10,000.

    The justification runs thus: an IAS officer of the director rank is equivalent to a colonel in the army or an SP in the police. The next step up the ladder makes a bureaucrat a joint secretary, equivalent to a major general or inspector general of police. However, police officers and those in the army and other defence services have to pass through one more rung—the brigadier-DIG level —before they are on par with a joint secretary. The commission's increment for DIG-level officers meant a grade pay of Rs 8,400—just Rs 100 more than an IAS director. The former protested and the grade salary was raised to Rs 8,900. This upset the joint secretaries, as their grade pay was Rs 9,000. The IAS lobby promptly raised it to Rs 10,000.
    The cabinet mandated that the IAS has an edge over other services at only 3 middle levels, with 2 additional increments. But the new notification means that IAS officers get 4 additional increments, which continue throughout their career.

    The manipulation of recommended pay structures doesn't end here. In a bizarre move, the slew of new pay notifications have also ensured that junior IAS officers get more money than their seniors in other services. For instance, a junior IAS officer drawing Rs 16,300 in the old pay structure will now get a gross of Rs 40,890 under the new scheme. But officers from other services, who were his seniors and were drawing a higher pay packet of Rs 16,400, will now get Rs 39,690.

    The other services have also been crying foul at the way grade pays have been fixed for them, while keeping the IAS at an advantage. In representations to the Centre, other service associations have pointed out that their increments have been proportionately much lower than that of their IAS counterparts. While increments for other ranks have been higher, for the DIG/brigadier level the ratio has been kept at a measly 0.14. This has led to IAS officers at a lower level drawing more than DIGs and brigadiers.

    Similarly, an IAS officer drawing Rs 15,100 today will now get Rs 39,690. But his counterpart in the other services, drawing the same salary, will now, inexplicably, get Rs 38,500. "It is not just about money," a police officer says. "Pay structure also decides seniority, perks and powers. By ensuring the superiority of one service at the cost of all other services, you are ensuring bad governance. This will mean that other services will remain subservient to the wishes of the IAS. Is that desirable in our framework of good governance or in view of the efforts that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is making to bring about more professional delivery of governance in India?" he asks.

    In the end, even as bureaucrats bestow increments and sops on themselves, can citizens expect better governance? All government employees associations have rejected a key recommendation made by the commission: to link twenty per cent of annual increment to performance. So, while the exchequer is drained at the expense of the common man, the babu has ensured that he will continue to reap benefits—even as he shortchanges the government he is supposed to serve.
    Primus Inter Predators?
    We thank Brig VA Subramanyam (Retd) for the link to this interesting article highlighting ploy played by the IAS manipulators.
  • Sunday, October 5, 2008

    Chain of command, demand

    Pune War Memorial
    Chandigarh War Memorial
    The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

    The last thing a columnist should do is begin an argument on an apologetic note, and certainly that is not what readers of National Interest have come to expect. But let this one be an exception, only because it concerns a group of the most honourable, most loved and admired Indians, our armed forces.

    Therefore the apologetic note. This newspaper under this editor, and under the leadership of his eminently worthier predecessors, has stood by the armed forces as has no other. It has engaged, intellectually and professionally, with key issues concerning the armed forces, from the high strategy of war-fighting, to higher defence management, civil-military relations and even the benefits and welfare of professional soldiers. This newspaper’s commitment to the soldiers’ cause is also shared by its readers.

    The finest examples of that commitment are the two war memorials that have been built, in Pune and Chandigarh, with contributions of nearly Rs 2 crore, raised entirely by the readers of The Indian Express and, indeed, members of its staff. And the logic behind that ambitious — and ultimately successful — fund collection drive was that our governments, or rather politicians, are much too cynical and self- centred to even extend such elementary courtesies to the armed forces as a proper memorial to their martyrs. This, when other democracies honour even who died in unpopular wars — the Vietnam war memorial in Washington is an example — and even animals, dogs, horses, camels who perished in war — see the British armed force’s touching “Animals in War” memorial, sculpted by David Backhouse, between Hyde Park and Park Lane in London.

    It is because The Indian Express considers itself to be so much a soldier’s paper, and because of the kind of affection it has received from the armed forces over the decades, that it’s been traumatic for it to take a view of the ongoing tussle between the top brass and the Union cabinet that could be considered most unpopular — if you go by the evidence of so many SMS polls on TV channels and even on this newspaper’s front page. You ask the people of India to choose between the political class and the soldier, and the latter will win 95 to 5.
    Shekhar Gupta
    Chain of command, demand
    Expression of our gratitude: All personnel of the Defence Forces Serving as well as Veterans, will ever remain indebted to the Citizens and the Indian Express team, who have erected the Memorials as an "Eternal Tribute" to the Soldiers who have laid down their lives, to preserve the freedom and sanctity of the Nation.

    Rejoinders and Responses

    Dear sir,
    Apropos 'Chain of command, demand' (4th Oct 08); all the perfumes of Arabia cannot sweeten the odour emanating from the core message conveyed by your leading article. According to its view, when the cynical, scheming, vindictive (your adjectives) politico-babu nexus, stabs the Defence Forces in the back, the Service Chiefs should politely request them to allow our Armed Forces to be subjected to yet another 10-yr Anomaly-resolution plan just because they are so-honourable, apolitical, nation-before-all (your adjectives). This, after many anomalies of 4thCPC were never resolved and 75% of the 5thCPC remain unresolved even 12 years later.
    Office-bound people cannot comprehend the Forces' ethos. Service Chiefs are required to and do give orders that put at risk the life and limb of their subordinates – our fellow countrymen. Consequently, it is vital that they and other Commanders retain moral authority over subordinates - a prerequisite for eliciting unquestioned obedience, which may even result in some more brave sons being martyred at the altar of Bharat Mata. Therefore, they cannot stand by when two key ranks are double-downgraded and PBOR deprived of 33% pension through unashamed and unprecedented bureaucratic skulduggery. Despite the gravest of provocations, they have exercised admirable restraint and performed their duty to their men by entirely constitutional means.
    'An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.' (Arab proverb). The flagrant threat bureaucrats have conveyed through your paper, seeks to transform our lions into pussy-cats. If the nation is to preserve its national security in the most dangerous neighbourhood on earth, we must nurture powerful lions to lead the forces or be doomed to repeat history and face national dismemberment.
    Furthermore, as a nascent N-power with major-power aspirations, we need to emulate the stature enjoyed by military commanders of other democracies and even China, specially when they conduct military diplomacy around the globe and particularly in our neighbourhood. Hence all patriotic Indians and media need to support our lion-hearted Chiefs in their struggle for justice and MoD would be well advised to desist from inter-departmental wars against the Forces.
    Additionally, Indian Express should introspect whether to change its mast-head to Bureaucratic Express – or remain in consonance with over 95% Indians (your poll results).
    Yours etc.
    Maj Gen Pushpendra Singh, (Retd)

    Shri Shekhar Gupta,'Indian Express',New Delhi.
    The 'inspired' lead editorial in IE on 3 September, severely admonished the Armed Forces for their temerity in seeking a fair deal, for retaining their pre-existing parity with the "superior" civil services. Now your 'op-ed, with screaming head-line "DisService Chiefs" (IE, 4/10/2008), unabashedly becomes a vehicle to convey to the 'offending' soldier, a dire warning and a threat of the oncoming retribution from these 'superiors'- "behave or else!" A great role indeed, for the "Journalism of Courage"!

    Moral percepts are credible only if seen as honest and sincere; otherwise these are treated as so much humbug, and sophistry. Notwithstanding many column-inches of the 'op-ed' admittedly proving your record of support for the Armed Forces, you have failed to examine the issue on it's merit - your failure lies in not seeking answers to some basic questions, before castigating the Service Chiefs for doing their bounden duty. First, what National imperatives dictated at this point of time, that the pre-existing civil/military equations be distorted to the detriment of the military ? Were the operational and moral implications of this disturbance analysed, understood and discussed with those responsible for the country's defence ? Second, Who is responsible (and accountable) to let things slide to such a desperate pass, when the Chiefs have been making their representations right from the MoD upwards, to the PM ? And most importantly, exactly which individual(s) is/are responsible (and accountable) for the distortions and skullduggary in the proceedings, after the Cabinet had approved the 6th CPC report ? As the self-appointed 'guardians of National Interest', it was morally incumbant on you to obtain the answers, before insulting the Chiefs.

    Statute restricts the Fundamental Rights of speech and assembly, for the soldier, and thus it the institutional duty of the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee to be, what you call the 'union leader' of the Indian Armed Forces and of the Service Chiefs, for their Services. It should be a matter for great satisfaction and pride for all thinking citizens, that our Chiefs have fulfilled their bounden duty of safeguarding the interests of those they command, and the three Services speak with one voice. This is the 'jointness', for which the armed forces world-over, strive. It is too bad, if those with who place the country's interests after personal and parochial interests do not like it; and shame on those, who for a moment cast aspertions on the staunch loyalty, fidelity and honour of the Indian Armed Forces. Administering their commands and and keeping all ranks informed is an established command function. So this contrived alarm and brouhaha over normal informatory signals sent by Service HQ to Commands is nothing else but pettifogging by ill-minded, who have no intimate knowledge of Services functioning. All honour to the Chiefs !

    Soldiers with high 'elan' win battles; those with low self-esteem, don't! Let Indian Armed Forces be proud of themselves, their uniform. By belittling our Chiefs, no one is doing any favour to this country.

    I know that this letter will not be published in the IE, but I trust you will read, it to learn what we think of you!

    Yours faithfully,
    Maj Gen Rajendra Prakash (Retd)


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