Saturday, October 2, 2010

IESM: Letter to President of India

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
IESM/OROP/President 30 Sep 2010
Smt Pratibha Devi Singh Patil,
Her Excellency the President of India
Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi 110001

It is submitted that we were greatly disappointed when we visited the Rashtrapati Bhawan on 22 August 2010 to deposit medals. Her Excellency had not found time to meet us in person. As our Supreme Commander of Armed Forces, you are our last port of call to resolve all our just problems. As you would be aware, the Ex-Servicemen have been demanding ‘one rank one pension’ for the last 30 years and the Government have not yet acceded to our request. When all our pleadings and entreaties failed to convince the Government, then, after due notice to the authorities, we were compelled to go public with our demand. We are resolved to pursue the matter till we get justice.

We next plan to send a delegation to the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Sunday, 28 November 2010 at 14.30 hours to deposit more medals. We will again request Her Excellency to make it convenient to meet the delegation, hear them out and accept the medals in person. Failing this, we will have no choice but to bring the medals back. The environment will of course remain abreast of the development.

We again assure you that whatever form of protest we adopt, it will remain within the law and tenets of military discipline.
With best regards
Yours sincerely
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
IESM/OROP/Police 30 Sep 2010

Shri Y S Dadwal, IPS,
Commissioner of Police
M S O Building
New Delhi – 110 002

Dear Sir,
This is to inform you that 5,000 Ex-Servicemen will be holding a peaceful demonstration at Jantar Mantar from 10.00 hours to 15.00 hours on Sunday, 28 November 2010. At 14.30 hours, they will also be handing over their medals at Rashtrapati Bhawan. You are requested to kindly provide necessary security cover. You are also requested that vehicles and police escort for a delegation of ten members may kindly be provided at 1400 hours at Jantar Mantar for proceeding to Rashtrapati Bhawan for depositing medals.
With best regards
Yours sincerely
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan

IESM: Letter to PM regarding Widows Pension left in suspended animation

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
IESM/Widows pension/PM 30 Sep 2010
Dr Manmohan Singh
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
South Block, New Delhi 110001

Dear Hon’ble Prime Minister,
I draw your kind attention to the letter dated 15 July 2010, I had written to you opposing exclusion of the Service widows from the recent enhancement in pensions and the reply from the PMO, received through Army Headquarters. The reason given in the PMO response is – while citing the Cabinet Secretary’s Committee – ‘No recommendations in respect of family pensioners was made by the Committee’. Whatever be the compulsions of the Government to be bound by the recommendation of a subordinate Committee that the Government had itself constituted, the decision seems to prefer technicalities over sensitivity. This harsh decision to exclude the most needy has caused great consternation among the entire Ex-Servicemen community.

May I request a reconsideration so as to have the recent enhancement of pensions also extended to the Service widows so that they do not feel discriminated.
With best regards,
Yours sincerely,
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan

Copy to:
Mr AK Antony
Hon’ble Minister of Defence
South Block, New Delhi 110001
Secretary, ESW,
Ministry of Defence,
South Block, New Delhi 110001

IESM: Letter to the PM regarding OROP

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
IESM/OROP/PM dated 30 Sep 2010

Dr Manmohan Singh
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
South Block, New Delhi 110001

Dear Hon’ble Prime Minister
There is some information afloat that the Government are considering grant of modified parity in pension to the Ex-Servicemen. I have no means to ascertain the veracity of this information. I would like to submit that the word ‘parity’ is rendered meaningless if any conditionality is pre-fixed to it. Parity is full parity and nothing else.

Assuming that the above information is correct, do allow me to stress that it will not meet our just demand of ‘one rank one pension’, which implies the principle of equal pension for equal work. I would also like to mention that if any one of my colleagues has conveyed the impression that the modified parity would meet the aspirations of the nearly 2.5 million Ex-Servicemen, it may be treated as a motivated view and would be untrue.

The ongoing campaign for ‘one rank one pension’ that was forced on us and that started in 2008 after giving due warning and notice to the authorities, will continue in a lawful and disciplined manner till the demand of ‘one rank one pension’ is met in full by the government.
With best regards,
Yours sincerely
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan

Copy to:
Mr AK Antony
Hon’ble Minister of Defence
South Block, New Delhi 110001
Secretary, ESW,
Ministry of Defence,
South Block, New Delhi 110001

Friday, October 1, 2010

CWG: High-tech security

From plainclothes detectives mingling with the crowds to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Delhi is under an unmatched security cover to ensure a trouble-free Commonwealth Games starting in the national capital from Sunday.

Besides some 100,000 police and paramilitary personnel on Delhi's roads, the UAVs will be looking for possible air intrusions. Ground personnel are equipped to battle chemical, biological or radiological attacks.

According to officials, the most high-tech security systems are in place for the Games that has drawn 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 nations and territories.

Army helicopters have begun hovering over the sprawling Games Village housing the visitors. Armed personnel have taken positions at city centres and vital installations.

Hundreds of plainclothesmen are mingling with the city populace in markets and Metro trains, residential colonies and bus stations.

"Home Minister (P.) Chidambaram has been personally supervising the arrangements," Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran said.

"There may be extra checking and traffic restrictions during the Games but these are natural in a big event," said an official from the ministry.

The home ministry, which controls Delhi Police, is in overall charge of the Games security.
High-tech security for CWG

CWG: Army hands over newly-built foot overbridge

New Delhi, October 1, 2010 Army hands over newly-built foot overbridge

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Engineers from The Madras Engineer Group, informally known as the Madras Sappers (a regiment of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army) are elated after successfully erecting and commissioning the "Bailey Bridge" near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium following the collapse of the originally planned bridge last week, in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: V. Sudershan

In less than a week, Army's 'Madras Sappers' have built 95-metre-long Bailey bridge at Commonwealth Games main venue.

The Army on Friday handed over the newly-built Bailey foot overbridge outside the main Commonwealth Games venue Jawaharlal Nehru stadium to the Delhi government, six days after it was tasked to construct it.

The Army was approached by the Delhi Government after a 95-metre-long under-construction foot overbridge came crashing down on September 21, injuring 27 people and causing a major embarrassment to the country.

The Army engineers had started work on the bridge on Saturday and completed its construction on Wednesday.

The hanging bridge, which was intended to be a showpiece, was built by a private firm for Delhi Government’s Public Works Department along with another adjacent bridge at a cost of Rs 10.5 crore to connect the parking lot of the stadium with other side of the street in Lodhi Road in south Delhi.

An army engineering regiment with nearly 1,000 men was deployed to construct the Bailey bridge which is a portable pre-fabricated bridge designed for use by military units.

The Delhi Government official said the PWD has completed construction of the second foot overbridge, adjacent to the collapsed bridge.
The Hindu: Army hands over newly- built foot overbridge

Qualcomm: The Future is an Internet of Everything

Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO, Qualcomm

Qualcomm based in San Diego California invented CDMA Technology. They proved the technology in New Delhi in collaboration with BSNL. The Company Celebrates 25 years of existence.

The Future is an Internet of Everything
Wireless has become the largest technology platform in human history and Qualcomm is the world leader in the development of the underlying technologies that enable next-generation mobile devices and experiences. As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, San Diego-based Qualcomm continues to drive the evolution of wireless worldwide and accelerate mobile growth and progress by pioneering exciting new solutions that are redefining what is possible in mobile.

This session highlights Qualcomm's vision for an "Internet of Everything" and what the Company is doing now to make vision of a totally connected world possible. Among the topics and trends expected to be covered are augmented reality, mobile social networking and recommendations, opportunities in emerging markets, wireless health, Qualcomm's breakthrough screen display technology, advanced network topology and of course, next-generation wireless air interfaces.

A Qualcomm Quarter-Century By Joseph Perkins1985: Qualcomm founded in the den of former UCSD professor Irwin Jacobs’ La Jolla home.
1986: Files for a patent on using code division multiple access (CDMA) for mobile communications.
1987: Qualcomm records $6.5 million in revenue and $208,000 in net income for first full year.
1988: Introduces first commercial product, OmniTRACS, a satellite tracking system used by long-haul trucking companies.
1989: Brings some 250 cell phone executives to San Diego to demonstrate its CDMA technology, which allows 10 times more calls in the same amount of radio spectrum as a competing cellular technology.
1991: IPO raises $73.6 million. Trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol QCOM.
1993: CDMA is adopted by the Telecommunications Industry Association as a North American digital standard for cell phones.
1997: Pays $18 million to rename the San Diego Chargers' home to Qualcomm Stadium.
1998: Spins off Leap Wireless, today the nation’s seventh largest wireless carrier, on the strength of its subsidiary, Cricket Wireless.
1999: Joins the exalted ranks of both the Fortune 500 and S&P 500.
1999: Stock price increases an exponential 2,619 percent in a 12-month period, as several dozen local investors become “Quillionaires.”
2004: Creates MediaFLO division, which uses Qualcomm technology to transmit video and data to mobile devices, enabling users to watch live television on their cell phones.
2005: Irwin Jacobs retires as CEO, succeeded by Paul Jacobs, his third son.
2005: Becomes the world’s largest mobile chipset provider.
2010: San Diego’s largest company celebrates its 25th anniversary, with more than 16,000 employees worldwide and market capitalization of $60 billion.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Qualcomm
•Qualcomm stands for Quality Communications.
•Chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs boasts more patents than his father, founder Irwin Jacobs.
•Famed actress Hedy Lamarr was co-inventor of the technology that led to Qualcomm’s commercial development of CDMA, the nation’s cellular communications standard.
•Qualcomm’s first office was in a humble La Jolla strip mall, above a dry cleaner and pizza parlor, in Holiday Court off La Jolla Village Drive.
•Hal and Jeff Jacobs, second and fourth sons of founder Irwin, are members of the Pelican Group, a San Diego production company that helped bankroll the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys
A Qualcomm Quarter-Century
More about Qualcomm- Click here

Thursday, September 30, 2010

OROP takes centre stage. Will the bureaucrats still stall the issue?

Dear Chander,
Shri Badal had rung me up late last night. I am currently in Pune. The Akali Dal government is tabling the issue of OROP in the Vidhan Sabha today.
I have sent him a brief just now, a copy of which I am enclosing for everyone's information.
Warm regards.
Vijay Oberoi
Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
War Wounded Foundation
Former Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS)
Former Director Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
30 September 2010

Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi

Meaning of OROP
‘One Rank One Pension’ or OROP means that a soldier's pension be determined by just two factors: his rank and the length of his service. That is, two military pensioners who retired in the same rank after rendering equal service should get equal pension irrespective of their dates of retirement. Nobody has so far cogently rebutted this rationale to be unreasonable.

The concept of rank is unique to the military. Those in non-military services may carry designations/posts like 'director general', ‘secretary’ etc. but these have no formal sanctity the world over. However, those in/from the military are always referred to by his rank, even after death.

While those serving in the military retire by rank, the other government employees retire by age. To keep the forces young, all jawans retire in their mid-30s; all JCO’s retire in their mid-40’s and the bulk of officers retire in the early fifties. Only a handful-about 60 Lt Gens serve up to 60 years. On the other hand, all civilian government employees serve up to the age of 60 years, whether they are peons or constables or secretaries and DGP’s. Since the date of retirement also determines the quantum of pension, with each pay commission (with periodicity of 10 years), the military veterans who retired early receive lesser pension compared to those who retired later with the same rank and same service. As military pensioners are subjected to three or more pay commissions in their lifetime, they have to suffer the disparities bred by it every 10 years.

The take-home package of a jawan for example and a constable hardly bears comparison, as the jawan starts getting half pay (pension) at the average age of 35 years, while the constable continues to serve till the age of 60 years, thus getting full pay for another 25 years. In addition, he gets pay rise with each subsequent pay commission, as well as increments. Furthermore, if we take the current average age of death (67 years), the constable will perhaps see only one pay commission after his retirement but the jawan will see a minimum of three or four pay commissions, each of which will further downgrade his pension when compared to the serving jawans or his comrades who retired in subsequent years. Where is equity and fairness? Should the veteran not get compensated? OROP will fill this lacuna.

The governments reasoning that civilian pensioners will also demand OROP is simply a bogey. They have never sought the equivalent of OROP to date, as they understand that their requirements are adequately met by serving up to 60 years. Further, when the 'one time increase' was granted to the armed forces, civilian pensioners never made it a bone of contention.
The pension structure of the defence personnel is distinct and no other central service has sought a similar structure or parity with the ex-servicemen.

The parliamentary standing committee in its 2004 report had estimated the annual cost of implementing OROP to be Rs 614 crores. Even after catering for inflation, the resultant amount is small change to governments that unabashedly hand out princely sums to patronise cronies, to cultivate vote banks and to feather their nest.

It is a great pity that the government, and the blinkered bureaucracy that steers it, do not think straight, merely on the assumption that the military will accept whatever is given to them without complaining. I am afraid the military veterans have now reached the end of their tethers and are in no mood to drop their highly legitimate demand.

Major Landmarks in the Tortuous Journey of OROP
In the early eighties, with a view to rationalise military pensions, the Supreme Court gave its nod to the concept of OROP on December 17, 1982. Consequently, a committee headed by K P Singh Deo was tasked two years later to settle the issues raised by the ex-servicemen. It made 62 recommendations including for OROP. While most of these were accepted, about 15 others, including OROP remained unresolved.

In a placatory gesture, the government granted a 'one time increase' in 1992. Later the fifth pay commission merged all the pre-1996 pensioners into one category, and created a new breed of post-1996 pensioners.

All political parties pledged bipartisan backing to OROP, both inside and outside Parliament. OROP has featured in the election manifesto of all major political parties. On April 10, 1999, George Fernandes, then defence minister, proclaimed at Anandpur Sahib that OROP would become a reality in 'a few days.'

Sonia Gandhi endorsed OROP in a Congress party rally at Chandigarh on November 23, 2002.

The parliamentary standing committee on defence, chaired by Madan Lal Khurana spiritedly favoured OROP in its twentieth report and it urged the inter-ministerial committee to examine the issue and operationalise it expeditiously.

It was the report of the sixth pay commission that broke the camels back on account of its highly biased and anti-military formulations, The committee of secretaries tasked to reconcile the contentious proposals did little for the military as the bureaucrats were hell-bent in keeping the ‘military in its place’, as publicly stated by no less a person than the Cabinet Secretary.

The central government further drove the nail in the coffin by their kowtowing with the bureaucrats. In a written reply, Defence Minister A K Antony informed the Rajya Sabha on December 11, 2008 that the government has not found acceptable the demand for 'one rank one pension' (OROP) by the ex-servicemen. The defence minister did not assign any compelling reasons for dumping OROP. Hence the government’s reluctance to sanction OROP is truly boggling.

What ails the Armed Forces: Wonderful insight into Defence Ministry's working

Indian Express Posted on Apr 17, 2003 at 0000 hrs IST.
Has anything changed for the better one wonders!

It is heartening to note that an editor of a national newspaper has taken up the case of the low-castes of the army — the other ranks. The Indian Army personnel are divided into three categories: the other ranks including the NCOs, the JCOs and the Commissioned Officers. In the US Army, there are only two categories — officers and the enlisted men.

The JCO, a peculiarity of the Indian Army, was the invention of the British and was meant to fill the communication gap between the British officers and Indian sepoys. However, after Independence, the Indian officers found it convenient to continue with the arrangement of JCOs.

It was in the tradition of the Indian caste system and helped the officers keep their distance from the sepoys. In other armies, there is no intermediary between a lieutenant and sergeant (Havildar in the Indian army). That is why Hav. Shinde could not have written to an officer. In the case of Sgt Romero and Major Sturek, communication was natural because both were in the same platoon with no JCO between them. So strict is the chain of command in the Indian Army that a letter from Shinde to his former company commander would have resulted in disciplinary action against him instead of it being appreciated. You mentioned that Maj. Sturek forwarded the sergeant’s letter to two people he thought should be reading it: Army Sergeant Major Jack Tilley and Chief of Staff (General) Eric Shineski. For us in India, it is understandable that he forwarded it to the General, but why to a Sgt Major, who is only an NCO? Because, as the US World Almanac says, ‘‘the US Army, Navy and Air Force in 1966-67 each created a position of senior enlisted advisor, whose primary job is to represent the point of view of the service’s enlisted men and women on matters of welfare, morale and any problems concerning enlisted personnel.’’ In the Indian army, there is no representation for other ranks in the higher echelons. So is the case with JCOs. The battalion has a Subedar Major, who used to be a father figure and who directly advised the commanding officer on discipline and welfare of the men. But nowadays, the post has been reduced to that of an informer, if not an errand boy of the CO. Neither was the NCO/JCO represented in the committees that advised the Pay Commission or the rehabilitation and resettlement organisations. Let me narrate a personal incident. When I requested the United Services Institution, to change my associate membership into a regular one, it was rejected by the Executive Council comprising retired generals, because I had served as a JCO. This when there are half-a-dozen books on military matters written by me in the USI Library. The Royal United Services Institution, on the lines of which the USI was established in 1870, has no such ‘‘officers only’’ restriction. Aren’t our Generals more British than the British?— Sub Maj N. Kunju (Retd)

Whither our Indian pride When I was a member of the faculty of Defence Services Staff College, I was told by an American officer that his soldiers would not serve in the conditions that our soldiers do. His statement sums up what our Army is all about: ‘‘serve without expecting anything in return’’. It is not enough for George Fernandes to just visit Siachen. Let him translate his words into deeds. He can modernise our forces instead of returning the funds unspent. . As a nation, we lack pride. This translates into the treatment of our soldiers. We think of them only during war, and make promises only to forget them. That is the difference between Shinde and Romero. Colonel A. Sridharan (Retd) The Ex-Servicemen’s Contributory Health Scheme launched with much fanfare just a fortnight ago has sought as much as 50 per cent contribution from the pensioners. If this is the way we treat our Armed Forces, the quality of those opting for it will go down. After all, who would like to get stuck in a career which demands the best part of your life and gives nothing in return?— P.M. Ravindran

The approach of our civilian leadership towards national security is absolutely scandalous. If there is an India-US war tomorrow, the fate of the Indian Army will be no better than the Iraqi Army.— Dilip

If George Fernandes was half the man that Shastri was, he should have resigned many times over with the now almost-daily MiG crashes. But he’s not, and we have to rue the fate of our jawans. Havildar Shinde is no Romero. He can be no Romero when we have callous individuals who assume and retain powerful positions without responsibility.— Jay Iyer

When real life heroes are ignored It is really very depressing to learn about the appaling conditions faced by our brave soldiers and nothing being done about it. I guess that’s the way we Indians are. Even I, after reading your article and feeling so bad for our soldiers, will forget about it in a day or two if not earlier. Recently, Aishwarya Rai, who earns in crores for each movie and got hurt in a minor accident, had private planes at her disposal to carry her back to Mumbai. I wonder whether the owners of these planes would even spare a thought for our brave soldiers, who are always facing injury and death while guarding the country. — Shankar It is so true that our politicians are so out of touch with the real issues. Our netas have to be made more more accountable. Then the death of even one jawan would be taken more seriously than just another photo-op for handing a paltry check to the widow.— Bob Thukral

I strongly believe that India has too much of democracy. By this, I mean that even buying essentials like supplies for the military is being scrutinised and criticised by the Opposition. The result: These people are scared to spend money even for basic necessities. How else can one explain the unspent funds?Basker Mathrubootham

Yes, in the Indian Army it is impossible to change or modernise anything without giving an arm and a leg. Forget Havildar Shinde, a mid-level infantry officer cannot get anything changed for his men or himself. Our senior officers reach their exalted ranks because of two premier qualities: they have to be docile in action and a tiger on paper. Among the many things that the Army really needs, but cannot articulate, are: better and lighter rifles, modern form of Web equipment (pouches etc), better water bottles, more powerful and lighter binoculars, boots which do not require an anklet, computers to accurately fire 81 mm mortars, more lethal grenades, GPS equipment, replacements for the archaic one-ton vehicles which guzzle fuel. If we could somehow bring about these changes, the Indian Infantry would be revolutionised. If India wants to be a modern nation, it will have to liberalise its Armed Forces and give them a free hand, change the cult of subservience and cut out the colonial system. Otherwise the country will be roundly defeated in the next war by a military Pakistan. If our military officers are mere lackeys, the country cannot proactively defend herself.— Maj A.K. Mathur (retd)

It is not just the Army but our entire mindset about seniority and the notion that the ground-level people don’t know anything that has to be changed. Even in our schools and colleges, are students ever encouraged to ask probing questions? How often does a company ask your opinion about their product and actually do something about it? You talk about the rifles used by the Indian Army. But think about the buses, trains and other mass transport systems in use in the country. How have they changed in the last two-three decades? It’s all due to our lazy, unimaginative approach.— S. Chatterjee

On the one hand there are American soldiers who are embarrassingly dependent on their Air Force or so called ‘‘Smart Bombs’’. On the other, are our soldiers who have a lot to grumble about, but hardly ever complain. I feel that the loss of their lives during the Kargil conflict could have been substantially reduced if we had proper equipment. I hope our politicians read your article.— Aditya Chandra

You have missed the point. Havildar Shinde stands nowhere in comparison to their Sergeant Romero because of the die-hard colonial legacy of our defence services, even 55 years after Independence. Where else do you find such ranks among NCOs ? So your well-intentioned harangue on poor equipment only touches the fringe of the malady.— R. Misra

Sergeant Romero may have become a hero in America for his email. But to me, it shows gross indiscipline on his part. I do not think it is right to allow sergeants to write letters directly to the authorities, bypassing the chain of command. In fact, such acts would create indiscipline. And while our brave jawans must be provided with the necessary equipment and the basic amenities needed for their day-to-day life, it must also be ensured that they do not end up becoming a pampered lot.— V.P. Damodar

Too often we tend to take our brave jawans for granted and expect them to perform miracles; which, given the terrible battle conditions they have to deal with, they often do. But do the brass (civilian and military) care? Perhaps not. Consider the infamous post-Kargil coffin-scandal and the every-other-day MiG crashes. So how do we set this right? A public interest litigation on behalf of our jawans?— Sriniisn

It is not right to blame just the military brass for the callous attitude towards the soldiers. Let us not forget that the English language Press lionised General Parvez Musharraf during the Agra summit. The US State Department frequently equates India and Pakistan by treating the aggressor (Pakistan) and the victim (India) as equally responsible for the situation in Kashmir. They do this to promote the interests of the US. The US Press reflects this position — as they do whenever matters of US foreign policy are concerned. The Indian press should realise that when foreign policy is concerned, the country’s interests should come first.— Nagaraja Rao

The article is a beautiful insight into the Defence Ministry’s functioning. Why don’t you lead a signature email campaign to bring this into the limelight? Like the Bofors scandal, we need to raise a big noise to be really heard. This is the least that we can do for our jawans.— N.S. Rao
What ails our Armed Forces?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CWG: Stop misusing the Army

THE INDIAN Army has once again been called in at the last second to replace the collapsed foot overbridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium constructed by the PWD. I leave it to the people of the country to form their own opinion on the commitment, pride, accountability and efficiency of the civil department and its masters in handing over to problem to the Army after being at it for well over a year.

Despite the Armed Forces being a 24 x 7, all weather and all problem response, why are soldiers being treated shabbily? Why is a soldier retired compulsorily at an early age without a suitable alternative career or being compensated for the overall loss of his lifetime earnings while every other government servant retires at an age of 60 or above? Doesn’t the government compensate government servants and employees of the Public Sector Undertakings by paying them a handsome compensation for a Voluntary Retirement Scheme? Even the lowly One Rank One Pension that can partially offset the loss of overall lifetime earnings is being denied.

Why? Doesn’t a soldier need as much finances to bring up his children and take care of his family as anyone else in the society? Talking of finances, the government has no problem providing Rs 70,000 crore for the botched up Commonwealth Games, Rs 80,000 crore for the loan waiver scheme for the farmers or to enhance the pay and allowances of the Parliamentarians.

The loss to the exchequer through illegal mining or scams which surface almost on a daily basis does not seem to be a cause of financial worry to the ruling class but when it comes to paying the soldier, they seem to have an inexplicable predicament.
Brigadier V Mahalingam ( Retired)
Mail Today Sep 2010 Page 40

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SC upholds law exempting armed forces from toll

NHAI letter clarifying the exemption for all serving service personnel, retired service personnel (yes!) and dependents (yes! yes!!). Keeping a copy in your car's glove compartment should be handy.

SC upholds 105-year law exempting armed forces from toll
Upholding provisions of the 105-year old Indian Tolls Act, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a special leave petition (SLP) seeking withdrawal of concessions provided to Armed Forces personnel under the Act.
A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Ashok Bhan and Mr Justice Markandey Kadju declined to interfere in the directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had dismissed a petition filed by a Chandigarh resident, Sanjeev, in May. Sanjeev had challenged the provisions of the Act on the ground that it was discriminatory, unconstitutional and against the spirit of Article 14 of the Constitution of India which provided for equality before law. He had also contended that other central government employees and members of the para military forces are not entitled to such concessions.
The HC Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice H S Bedi and Mr Justice Ranjit Singh, however, ruled to the contrary and had dismissed the petitioner’s contentions. Thereafter, he had filed a SLP in the apex court against the HC order.
Section 3(a) of the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, provides for toll tax exemption on all public or private roads and bridges in India to officers and men of the regular forces whether they are on duty or not. Further civil vehicles and animals moving under military orders, are also exempted from payment of toll tax. The Act also has an overriding clause, which causes it to override all other Acts or directions by any legislature or central or state government in India.
The controversy regarding applicability of the Act began a few years ago, when private toll operators under the Build-Operate- Transfer (BOT) system on various roads and bridges had started refusing toll exemption to defence personnel and in certain cases even to defence vehicles.
The issue had then been settled after Chandigarh-based lawyer, Capt Navdeep Singh, took up the matter with the Central Government in 2004 and instructions were issued by government thereafter that the Act was very much applicable to toll roads and bridges being operated under the BOT schemes or otherwise. The instructions also clarified that the Act was applicable even to private vehicles belonging to personnel of the regular forces.
While the problem of illegal charging of toll tax has more or less been settled with the instructions being circulated all over, sporadic incidents of harassment of defence personnel continue to be reported mainly from the Delhi-Noida- Delhi Flyway and from some areas of Himachal Pradesh.
'With a warm handshake in thought'

Latest status and clarification
This is in reference to the toll exemption letter placed on your blog which supposedly grants toll exemption to ESM.
While the news report reproduced in your blog related to the toll issue taken up by me is old news (2006), it only relates to serving personnel. The letter for ESM is fake. It has been forged by some mischievous elements. The news report originally appeared here in Sept 2006: click here
Toll exemption is not available to ESM and I have clarified it on my blog a number of times, the latest being: click here
Maj Navdeep Singh
Major Navdeep Singh is an author, activist, lawyer and a member of the Indian Territorial Army- click here to read more.

We thank Maj Navdeep for the latest position and clarification. The ESM are not exempted from the Toll Tax while travelling in the National Highways. The purported NHAI letter is a Fake (like all other Fakes in India).

Army Constructs foot bridge in 3 days

RAINBOW DELIGHT: The army is working overtime to rebuild the collapsed foot overbridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. It was called in to construct a Bailey bridge after the incomplete structure gave way last week. The new structure is almost ready, with soldiers showing how to bridge the gap with minimum fuss, time and money.

View of collapsed bridge which was under construction for 120 days now replaced in 3 days by Army Corps of Engineers.

Kalmadi deflects responsibility
FACING heat for inefficiency and mismanagement in preparations to the Games, Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Saturday tried to deflect some of the criticism, saying he was not solely responsible for the delays and the shoddy work.

“I don’t think the OC is responsible for it,” Kalmadi said, referring to the situation at the Games Village flats which has prompted visiting athletes to stay at hotels for the time being.

“The last 18 towers were handed to us just three days back and we have been working on these Games for the past few years. I wish all the venues were handed over to me earlier.

We would have done a better job,” he told reporters with Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Mike Fennell and CEO Mike Hooper by his side.

However, Kalmadi refused to step down.

“My job is to conduct the Games and I will do that. I am not going to quit.” He pointed out that several other agencies were responsible for projects related to the Games.

“Contrary to popular belief that the OC had the right to spend `30-40,000 crore on the organisation, we only had `1,600 crore allotted. The rest was taken care of by the government and the Indian Olympic Association. “Everyone had fixed responsibilities. Our job was to ensure that the athletes of all the countries reach safely and ensure that their stay is comfortable,” Kalmadi said.

“We have some issues in the Games Village but I think it is a fine Vil-lage. Only that some blocks have to be cleaned up. But all the infrastructure is good. The international zone, the food, the kitchen are good. I can assure you that our aim is to host a good Games. Our aim is to do as good as Melbourne did in 2006,” a defensive Kalmadi said.

He also sounded optimistic of finishing all work in time for the Games. “There are still eight days left for the Games, and we will, in the next few days, finish all the work that needs to be done,” he said.

He even said that athletes were made to stay in a university hostel during the 2002 Manchester Games. He avoided a direct answer when asked whether the mess meant India cannot hope to host the Olympics. “We will answer that question once the Games are over.”

He also sought to redress security concerns in the wake of the recent shooting incident near Jama Masjid. “We have had a CGF adviser who has been monitoring the progress of the work every second month,” he said.

Elaborating on the security arrangements, Kalmadi explained that there will be two police patrol cars — one in front and the other behind every team bus. An armed police person will also be present in the bus. Later, accompanying journalists at the Games Village, Kalmadi also urged them to look at the overall class of the Village, which he termed ‘fantastic’.

Pawar makes fun of his one-time protege
UNION agriculture minister Sharad Pawar decided to take a dig at Suresh Kalmadi, the man who is fast becoming the topic of most SMS jokes. Speaking at a public function in Pune, Pawar came up with a joke. “Nowadays, I am hearing a story that due to severe criticism, the chief of the organising committee decided to commit suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling, but ironically, the ceiling came down. Maybe the quality of the ceiling was not good,” he chuckled, drawing forth laughter from his supporters.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) functionaries said that they were waiting for an attack to come from Pawar for a long time. “He chose the right moment and spoke at the right place. The statement would not have had the desired effect in Delhi, but Pune is a different matter as it is the bastion of Kalmadi,” an NCP leader said. He added that the Kalmadi- Pawar fight is an old one.
Kalmadi deflects responsibility

CWG: Hang me if I'm proved guilty, says Kalmadi

Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi looks on at...New Delhi: 'Hang me if I am proved guilty,' Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi declared dramatically on Monday, even as he ruled out his resignation on the graft charges that have hit the Games preparations, terming this a 'conspiracy against India'.
'I am ready to face a judicial enquiry after the Games on corruption charges, hang me if I am proved guilty,' he told CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai in an interview
The 'conspiracy against the Games is a conspiracy against India' and a 'few pictures of dirty toilets does not mean that the Games Village is not world class', Kalmadi maintained.
Kalmadi said he had never considered resigning at any stage.
'Never, my team of four thousand people are working day and night and I always knew that it will be a great Games and the government of India has given me a total support,' he said.
'I take responsibility for mess but must be given credit if the Games are a success,' Kalmadi said.
He charged former sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyer - a prominent detractor - for not having moved on Games for two years and also trained his guns on Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper, who last week had described the conditions in the Village as 'filthy and unlivable'.
Hang me if I'm proved guilty, says Kalmadi

Their Common Wealth
New Delhi: Father and daughter, uncle and nephew, twin siblings, mother and son, sister and brother, father and daughter and daughter-in-law — the list of employees of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games, chaired by Suresh Kalmadi, includes at least 38 of the top brass who are related to each other, an investigation by The Indian Express has revealed.
Common Wealth shared between Relatives: Click here to read the full story

No Politician will ever be convicted in India. The loot and wealth is commonly shared and that makes the CBI investigating being branded as the Criminal!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Soldiers ate expiry dated food- Sliding Standards of ASC

Two soldiers preparing their food.

The Comptroller and Auditor general (CAG) has exposed a rampant scam in the rationing management of the Indian Army. According to CAG, soldiers consume rice, atta, tea, sugar, dal, oil etc 6 to 28 months after the expiry date of ESL (Estimated Storage Life). The main villains behind the scams are Army Service Corps and Army Purchase Organisation, reported CAG officials. They also suggested that the Army HQ and Ministry of Defence need to act together to supply good quality rations to the soldiers.
Big scam in Indian Army- soldiers ate expiry dated food!

Rakhsa Mantri's response
A week after government auditors exposed Army supplying stale food to jawans, Union Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday gave an assurance that efforts were in progress to improve quality of rations given to them.

In his message to the armed forces personnel on the eve of 64th Independence Day broadcast over radio, Antony said necessary provisions had also been made for supplying special rations for jawans deployed in counter-insurgency operations and high-altitude areas.

"The government has taken several welfare measures for the defence personnel. We are making efforts to improve the quality of atta, rice, vegetables, tea, pulses and other items. Similarly, we have made a provision for special rations to troops deployed in counter-insurgency operations. Special rations have also been authorised for additional troops serving in high-altitude areas above 12,000 feet," he said in his address.

The Comptroller and Auditor General had in its report last week slammed the defence ministry for supplying rotting food items that were unfit for human consumption to jawans, particularly those in Jammu and Kashmir and North East.
After CAG rap, Antony promises quality rations to jawans- August 14, 2010 20:56 IST

Citizens Voice
It is his duty.
by skumar rudr on Aug 15, 2010 03:48 PM
Dear Anthony sir,
Let us remind you that it is your duty as a minister to provide good quality food. You sound as if you are making a favour by promising quality rations. I think the same ration which was supplied to the armed forces should be provided to your and your corrupt ministers. Mr Prime minister, it is a shame on your government that several scandals like Telecom, Common wealth games etc have emerged and you congratulate yourself for being the third longest serving prime minister.

Commonwealth Games: Salvaging National Honour

Exterior view of Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex

click here for more photos
CWG Schedules: Dates, Events and Staduims: Click me
Opening and Closing Ceremony- Buy your tickets- click me

A disastrous failure of the Games would not be just a failure of an incompetent India. We as a nation are not incompetent. It would be the failure of an emerging India and the damaging of its image as a democratic nation worthy of emulation due to the alleged incompetence of a small group of people who had the control of the Organising Committee. The world would not want India to be seen as a bungler in the face of an authoritarian China which made a spectacular success of the Olympics of August 2008.

Thanks to the dithering by the Prime Minister, we seem to be left with no other option but to sink or swim with Mr. Kalmadi and his Organising Committee. Swim we must and swim we can, if the Prime Minister gives up his bureaucratic ways of dealing with a crisis, steps on to the deck and takes control of the damaged ship. Only he can save the ship of our national honour at this late hour. No one else can. He has to take control now without further delay.

India is not bereft of managerial wizards in the Government and the private sector. The Prime Minister should set up a committee of consequence managers chaired by him to mount an exercise for the salvage of the national honour. Specific responsibilities should be allotted to the members of the committee relating to the venues of the games, the maintenance of the Games Village, the welfare of the participants, the physical security and public relations. The Organising Committee should be told to carry out its instructions. Any attempt by the Organising Committee to undermine or sabotage its functioning should be ruthlessly put down. The Committee should be given all the powers and resources it needs. The young and enthusiastic officers of the police and the Armed Forces, who passed out last year, should be placed at the disposal of the Committee to have its instructions carried out. The Prime Minister should hold meetings of the Committee every evening to review its work and give appropriate follow-up directions. The Prime Minister should make himself available for instant meetings with the members of the Committee.

It is too late for us to hope for a spectacular CWG, which could compare with the spectacular Beijing Olympics. We could even now make it a decent CWG and salvage our national honour if the Prime Minister acts and acts decisively and makes it clear that hereafter he will be in charge till the Games are over.

The salvaging of our national honour depends on one man, the Prime Minister. Will he step onto the deck?
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:
Commonwealth Games: Salvaging National Honour

Sunday, September 26, 2010

CWG: Jokes in the time of a floundering Games

Jokes in the time of a floundering Games
New Delhi: If you think the Commonwealth Games have just brought grief, misery and embarrassment to the people of the country, you are wrong. The virtual world is flooded with CWG jokes, poems and graphics as the creative sharpen their satirical skills -- bringing on a cynical smile, if not provoking outright laughter.

"A collapse a day keeps the athletes away," a parody of an old saying finds its way to the status message of a 20-year-old Delhiite on the social networking website Facebook. The message was posted earlier this week after a foot over bridge outside the maverick Jawaharlal Nehru stadium went down with the last hopes of the diehard optimists.

Crumbling infrastructure, apathetic authorities, international shame, a "filthy and unliveable" Games village, global scorn, athletes pulling out, lax security and a thousand other things... it has been a grim time for Indians who take pride in their country. The impotent annoyance is finding creative expressions in the form of witty one-liners.

Paying homage to the latest blockbuster "Munni badnaam hui" from "Dabangg", a status message on Facebook says: "Sheila Dixit to Kalmadi: Delhi badnaam hui darling tere liye!" A comment on the message improvises with "Sadkein bhi jam hui, CWG tere liye".

Micro-blogging website Twitter is also overflowing with tweets taking pot-shots at CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi. "Suresh Kalmadi must be the first choice if ISRO goes for trial and error experiments for manned space mission," goes one such tweet.

Another one imitates the nursery rhyme to ridicule Kalmadi. "Ba ba Kalmadi, have you any shame. No sir, No sir, we are having a Common Loot Game. Crores for my partner, crores for the dame, crores for me too, for spoiling India's name!" "Suresh Kalmadi walked into a bar. The bartender was still spraying pesticides over the barley plants. It was the best bar ever," went a subtle one.

Some jokes are even cleverly laden with context. Ahead of the Allahabad High Court Ayodhya verdict, a tweet doing the rounds was: "Compromise proposal for Ayodhya: Let the Hindus construct a temple, but the project must be led by Kalmadi." "Bhagwan Ram patched up with Allah so that the focus remains on KALMADI," went another clever one after the verdict was deferred.

Thanks to the Kalmadi series of jokes, even text messages have got a new lease of life. "Rain rain go away, Kalmadi wants to come out and play. Lyrics by MS Gill, sung by Mani Shankar Aiyar, music by AR Rahman!" goes an SMS doing the rounds.

"AMAZING BUT TRUE: If you re-arrange the letters "Sir U made lakhs" you get "SURESH KALMADI"!!!

But Kalmadi is not the only one dominating the cyberspace. He has CWG Organising Committee Secretary General Lalit Bhanot as competition. Thanks to his "They (foreigners) have different standards of hygiene from us (Indian)" comment, the tweeting population gloriously doubts his hygiene standards.

"Dude, looking at Lalit Bhanot I really wonder when was the last time he had a bath," posts a Facebook user. A chain of speculative comments follow, betting on what is the correct answer.

"Sarah Palin knows more about world politics than Lalit Bhanot about hygiene," goes another one.

Even Sports Minister MS Gill is not spared. "Gill calling himself a sports lover is like Shiney Ahuja declaring himself to be a feminist," went a double edged one.
Source: IANS
Images: PTI/AFP/Reuters
Jokes in the time of a floundering Games

Ex-Vice Chief of Army challenges disparities in disability pension

Ex-Vice Chief of Army challenges disparities
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service Chandigarh, September 25
A former Vice Chief of Army Staff has moved the Armed Forces Tribunal seeking removal of wide disparities in the disability pension of ex-servicemen and their civilian counterparts as well as grant of similar benefits to disabled ex-servicemen who retired prior to January 2006.

The Tribunal’s Chandigarh Bench comprising Justice Ghanshyam Prashad and Lt Gen A S Bahia has issued notices to the Union of India on the petition filed by Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd).

The petition has contended that by fixing an arbitrary and artificial cut-off date, the government has denied to pre-2006 military retirees the revision formula of disability and war injury of pension as implemented after the Sixth Pay Commission. This has not only resulted in discrimination between those who have retired before and after 2006 but also between civil and military disability pensioners.

While all benefits of revision of disability awards recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission have been extended to pre-2006 civilian retirees, parallel benefits under the same master policy have been denied to pre-2006 defence pensioners.

In 2001, a new system, fixing disability element of pension at 30 per cent of the basic salary was introduced for pre-1996 civilian disabled employees and all civilian retirees irrespective of the date of retirement were hence placed on the same formula. The rates for operational disabilities (war-injury element) were even higher and pre-96 civilian employees were also brought into its ambit.

Defence pensioners, however, remained on the slab system, which was to their disadvantage. For example, a major general suffering disability was entitled to Rs 5, 880 per month, while his civilian counterpart was entitled Rs 15,187.

Services Headquarters took up the issue with the government for grant of disability element on percentage of basic pay basis for defence personnel also and it was finally implemented through the Sixth Pay Commission.

The percentage system, however, was implemented for only those armed forces personnel who retired after January 2006. This also created a huge disparity in the disability pension of those who have retired before and after 2006. At the level of a lieutenant, the difference is Rs 2,220, while at the level of a general the difference is a whooping Rs 21,120.
Ex-Vice Chief of Army challenges disparities


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