Thursday, September 3, 2009

Malaise of the Armed Forces: The decline of rank, status and honour of men in uniform

1. The malaise that has afflicted the Defence Services does not begin and end with OROP.
2. The apathy and laissez-faire attitude of successive Chiefs of the three services, barring an odd one, towards the welfare of their Officers and men are largely to blame for the morass the Services are in now. In the ever evolving national social milieu, let alone obtain added benefits, they even failed to protect the existing rights and privileges. It is horrifying that right up to mid 1980s, Officers and men went into battle or fought the insurgency without an insurance cover. What the next of kin of a casualty got was a pittance of a pension. I presume that whatever coverage available even now is financed by the service personnel themselves.
3. Instead of projecting the unique identity of the Services and demanding and obtaining attendant compensation and perquisites, the Services groveled for crumbs like extension of retirement age and time scale ranks. One high profile Committee proposed a wholesale grant of time scale ranks and strutted that it had won the war for the Services. The Babus gleefully let the proposal sail through and had the last laugh when the corridors of Formations were cluttered with the red tabs ending up doing clerical work. And of course, riding pillion with the DR. The famous Committee had apparently forgotten to demand appropriate infrastructure and perquisites for the truckloads of time scale promotees. The Babus had the Services truly and properly emasculated at last. So at this juncture it is not surprising that the Bureaucracy considers the Services and their top brass cerebrally deficient and equates them as such. The grave has already been dug by our top brass and the Babus are only driving the last nails on the coffin.
4. At the other end our JCOs and NCOs have been deprived of their identity and status altogether. Bracketed under a totally new category as PBOR, these personnel who are the sinews of the Services now appear to be equated with the lowest of the low in the civilian rungs. It is a great injustice indeed, to which the Officer Class appears to have paid scant attention.
5. The Service Chiefs have a commitment to their Officers and men and also to the nation. They are morally bound to ensure that the nation’s Armed Forces retain their √©lan and remain young and vibrant and capable of delivering on demand. The nation will not accept its Armed Forces to be a doddering and sulking mammoth bogged down by age and inertia. It is therefore imperative that the Chiefs convince and compel the Government to provide the wherewithal for maintaining such Forces. Lateral diversification, guaranteed second career, etc, are a miniscule part of the wherewithal.
6. As regards the ESM’s demand for OROP and other facilities, it is apparent that the present Government is stonewalling the case on the advice of the Bureaucracy. We should therefore be prepared for a long haul and as a first step sink our differences and get united. Second step is to get organized at national, state and Panchayat levels. Third step is to aggressively employ constitutional, legal and political means to compel the Government to accede to our rightful demands. All out efforts should be made to reach out and contact Veteran JCOs and Ors since it appears that they have been presently left out of the loop.
Lt Col Sushil Chilimbi (Retd)

Additional Red Tabs entails colossal infrastructure and perquisites sucked out from scarce resources
Dated 23/4/2007
Television news channel 'Times Now' reported that the Indian Armed Forces is about to become "top heavy" with a general consensus to appoint 150 more generals, admirals and marshals to the three services. Appointing 150 top officers would translate into a 40 per cent increase over the current force strength at senior levels. Under the plan, the army will get 95 more lieutenant and major generals, the navy 23 admirals and the air force 38 marshals.
Armed Forces Top Brass Structure Reforms

Those who defend India's borders, especially our jawans, deserve a far better deal than what has been proposed
The constant hankering by the armed forces for equivalence with the civil services, and particularly with the IAS, is somewhat unrealistic. It is easy to see how untenable it is considering that the sanctioned strength of officers in the Army is over 40,000 while there are barely about 4,000 IAS officers in all. It is not that the civil services in general are treated any better than the Army. The very different functions of the armed forces and the civil services account for differences in their organisational structures, reflected in pay packets. The armed forces have a steep pyramid for an organisational structure, which results in few promotion posts for officers. To alter this command structure beyond a point would render the Army top-heavy and inefficacious. The comparison with the civil services is also unfair as more civil servants make it to the top only because in modern societies the peacetime functions of Government are all pervasive and there are many Government departments. Yet, whatever the emoluments of the armed forces, there really has been no radical departure in recent years in the principles on which these are based.
Indian Armed Forces deserve more

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