Saturday, May 14, 2011

IESM Presention to Petition Committee

Dear Colleagues,
The Rajya Sabha Petitions Committee on OROP is in session. We are scheduled to make a presentation in the next week. Sub Hari Singh and Capt Chander Singh continue their membership drive relentlessly, undaunted by the oppressive Hisar heat. Their enthusiasm is exemplary. A letter written to the Defence Minister today is reproduced below.
Best regards,
Lt Gen (Emeritus) Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
Chairman IESM

Terminology 13 May 2011
Dear Hon’ble Defence Minister,
I draw your kind attention to the need for using correct terminology in Government communications. In the military, the terms Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Other Ranks (OR) have been historically used while referring to personnel of different ranks. The relevant point to be noted is that JCOs and NCOs are also officers though they may not hold the same level of commission as the Class 1 Commissioned Officers. It has been observed that for some time in the past a new term PBOR – Personnel Below Officer Rank – has been coined and is being used in official communication. The term ‘PBOR’ willy-nilly conveys an impression that personnel being alluded to are not officers. This does not fit facts as explained in the preceding paragraph. Use of term ‘PBOR’ arouses strong emotions of protest from the affected veterans. We had taken up the issue with the Army Headquarters and we were assured that the use of term ‘PBOR’ would discontinue. In a recent MoD letter dated 15 Feb 2011 concerning disability pension, the term ‘PBOR’ has again been used. It is requested that keeping in view the sensitivity of the environment and emotive angle involved, use of term ‘PBOR’ may kindly be eschewed in future.
With regards
Yours sincerely,
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Presentation: Petitions Committee on OROP

Hello All,
Here is an update of the meeting that Sanjay Prabhu, Rohit and myself had with Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions on OROP last week:
Presentation to the Petitions Committee on OROP, May 04th, 2011 – Highlights of the Meeting
Rajya Sabha Members Present
  • Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chairman
  • Ram Vilas Paswan
  • P Rajeeve
  • Nandi Yelliah
  • Paul Manoj Pandian
  • Avinash Pande
    From our side
  • Sanjay Prabhu
  • Anand
  • Rohit Nair (Bangalore Patriots Society)
    Highlights of the Meeting
  • The Meeting started with a brief invitation by Chairman of Committee and purpose of the meeting. He acknowledged that the role and sacrifices made by the defense personnel.
  • This was followed by our presentation which lasted about 10-12 minutes.
  • The theme of the presentation was emotional highlighting the courage, bravery and sacrifices of the Armed forces personnel and how this was an affront to the brave soldiers.
  • It also focused on how there was strong support for OROP from all sections of society – citizens, Parliamentary Committees, Political parties etc ( we read out quotes by past PMs and current political leaders who favoured OROP, Supreme Court and the Parliamentary Committee )
  • The Members were in agreement on slides which showed how other countries treated their soldiers in a far more dignified manner than India; and when support of politial parties was assured for OROP
    Feedback from Members
  • There were 3-4 innocuous queries from the Committee to us – about how many veterans will be benefitted ; will civilians officers object etc – which were part answered by Chairman himself and us as per the presentation.
  • P Rajeev and Ram Vilas Paswan were the members who raised queries. Others were quiet and made notes.
  • Before the meeting concluded, Chairman thanked us for a “fine and excellent presentation” that “conveyed out points clearly” and said they will call Veterans, Government and other petitioners to hear their points of view.
    Additional Opportunity
  • We landed an excellent opportunity to interact with the Chairman and Members of the Committee when they joined us for Tea.
  • We spent quality 20 minutes of informal interaction about OROP and related issues with the Members.
  • Chairman Koshyari seemed particularly happy with our presentation and said the Committee is keen to do justice to veterans and will arrive at a consensus on that. He will also be inviting Ex-servicemen, Serving Defense personnel and the Civilian bureaucracy.
  • Nandi Yelliah said there were no issues to implement OROP, except perhaps the financial obligations.
  • Rajeeve said he will support OROP.
  • Ram Vilas Paswan was the most emphatic of the lot. He said “he is aware of the issue and hurdles put by babus who don’t see the bodies of soldiers arriving at Palam”. He said the “Committtee will not make recommendations but ensure fulfillment.”
    What Next
    Anand will brief Lt Gen Kadyan on the meeting details so that they can depose with the knowledge of expectations and the kind of reaction to expect from the Committee. Regards,
    V. Anand
    Principal- Public Affairs,
    Office of Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament
  • ECHS- MOD's Enhanced Cargo Handling System?

    ECHS Seminar under ageis Western Command
    Wednesday, 06 April 2011
    CHANDIGARH: A two day All India Seminar on Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) concluded Wednesday under aegis of HQ Western Command. The Seminar was attended by over 40 senior officers from Army, Navy and Indian Air Force as well as a number of veterans.
    Lt Gen SR Ghosh, GOC-in-C Western Command inaugurated it. The Seminar assessed the present functioning of the scheme at grass-root level, and identified areas which need special attention and evolve various measures to make the scheme more efficient and user friendly.
    The ECHS was launched in April 2003 with the aim of providing Medicare and healthcare to veterans of the three services and to their families/ dependants. More than 36 lakh ex-servicemen, including their dependants are being covered under this scheme through 227 Defence Polyclinics and 1355 empanelled private hospitals of eminence throughout the country.
    The number of Polyclinics would be increased to 426 by 01 Apr 2013, in order to take the Medicare to the country’s remotest areas as well as to Nepal.
    Seminar on ECHS held at Western Command

    Gen VK Singh COAS inaugurated Basantar Sainik Aramgrah at Panchkula
    Punjab Newsline Network Tuesday, 05 April 2011
    Gen V K Singh, COAS and Lt Gen S R Ghosh, GOC-in-C, WC having a look around the newly constructed Basant Sainik Aramgrah at PanchkulaCHANDIGARH: General VK Singh, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) visited Chandimandir Tuesday and discussed operational and training issues with Lt Gen SR Ghosh, GOC-in-C Western Command.
    An important facet of his visit was the inauguration of the Basantar Sainik Aramgrah in Sector 2 Panchkula. The COAS dedicated this 56 room complex to the gallant veterans of the Indian Army who had devoted their lives in the service of the nation. The Aramgrah will provide much needed transit facilities to both outstations veterans and serving soldiers coming to the Tricity for medical treatment or for various other requirements.
    The Army Chief also met the participants of a two day Tri Service Seminar on the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) conducted by HQ Western Command. He complimented all the participants for their dedication and commitment to make the ECHS a success towards providing medical care to the Veterans staying in far flung areas. He also listened to the problems of Ex- Service men during the inaugural function.
    Gen V K Singh , COAS also laid the foundation stone of Basantar Senior Veterans' Enclave in the campus of the Basantar Sainik Aramgrah, Panchkula.
    Basantar Sainik Aramgrah at Panchkula

    OIC Polyclinic plays SMART card trump?
    Apr 26, 2011 by sankhyan
    I am writing this from Faridabad. ECHS polyclinic in Faridabad has became a rehabilitation centre for retired Commissioned Officers. They come to polyclinic and sit with any Doctor of their choice without their turn and remain sited (seated) their for a lot of time. No one in the polyclinic has dared to object them. Every person visiting ECHS polyclinic is a patient. Ill person has no discrimination. But the officials at polyclinic Faridabad has discrimination of a Commissioned Officer and Other ranks. If some one try to object the matter with OIC he threatens to suspend his ECHS Card.
    ECHS Complaints

    Tailpiece: How many Polyclinics provide working torch lights for their Medical Doctors?

    Ex Servicemen have a right to protest against injustices

    Congratulations to Gen K M Bhimaya,(Retd) for his brilliant article,sent from USA, which I hope will be read by our politicians, Babus and our own detractors. This is a view from an officer and a gentleman and is a vindication of what our IESM with excellent leadership is doing. Let us wholeheartedly join the Movement not only to project our demands; but join the people like Anna Hazare, to get freedom from the unscrupulous , corrupt and inept leadership provided by nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, criminals which are now joined by religious fanatics and a section of the media . Present leadership of our Defence Services barring a few, have been rendered impotent and made too subservient to their Netas and Babus and it is time for we the serving and retired Veterans in a concerted manner, strive to bring about a change, in National interest. In the process we should never lose our professionalism, apolitical nature and our strong bonds with the common people of India which sustain our Defence Services. The scams involving some of our senior officers and their wives have brought shame and sense of anger among our veterans especially among junior ranks, which is bound to erupt one day, if we continue our apathy towards them. Serving officers in responsible positions must take note of this and make the politicians and Government officials at every level with whom they deal with, to realize the long term adverse implications of this disturbing trend.

    The rank and file of Veterans are getting angry with serving and retired officers particularly the senior ranking ones, for not doing enough to ensure their welfare and restore their izzat. Sainik Welfare organizations are now staffed by officers with no dedication to their jobs and getting ineffective and redundant. Even though it is grandly declared by the Karnataka Government that 10% of the government jobs are reserved in Gp A, B, C and D for ESM, not even one job has been given to ESM for several years now and who is there to protest?! The result is that there is no one in the Government, to know and honour their sacred and national duty to look after the welfare of ESM. None of the relatives of politicians and officials are in the Defence Services to know their needs. Why should they care, when someone else is there to make all the sacrifice to keep our Nation secure, so that they can live in comfort?!

    Our worthy Chief Minister has enough time to visit many temples/ Mutts/ Religious institutions at public cost and dole out tax-payers money on vote catching gimmick: but he has had no time till now to chair even a single Rajya Sainik Board Meeting as its President, which is supposed to be held at least once a year. Who is there to protest?! At district levels our Deputy Commissioners do not even know that they are Presidents of Zilla Sainik Boards and they are supposed to hold meetings every quarter and supervise the work of Deputy Director in Sainik Welfare Office. They have no time for ESM and all the time for politicians and those who can offer favours. No meetings/ Sainik Rallies are being held in recent years, as in the past even though, funds are earmarked every year. Who is to protest? Who is to question?

    Since 2004, some of us because of the apathy of Sainik Welfare Department took the initiative and relentlessly have been trying our very best to get 14 guntas of vacant revenue land covered with lantana bushes near our Sainik Welfare Office to build our ECHS Polyclinic and ESM canteen without success so far. All our letters/ appeals/visits/ Memorandum to the successive Deputy Commissioners/ Chief Ministers/ Governors/ Defence Ministers etc signed by hundreds of local ESM ,have landed up in desk officers’ files gathering dust without any progress. We have met these Deputy Commissioners, Governors, ministers and concerned principal secretaries in their air- conditioned offices. They all speak nicely and give assurances,( probably to get rid of us); but nothing happens thereafter! We do not as per our ethos give Bribe, Beg or Agitate. Are we being side lined because of the virtues we have been displaying as opposed to our civilian counter parts!? Yet the very same government officials sanctioned( as per newspaper reports) a much larger, prime de-notified pieces of land at throw away prizes to the Chief Minister’s and a Cabinet Minister’s sons within a fortnight ! Thank God their political rivals (who are no better) and the Press got together to expose the scam and the injustice was set right; but the said Ministers are firm in their seats.

    We had defended the borders of the Country during wars and intervening disturbed peace with tremendous sacrifice. Is it too much to ask for measly 14 Guntas of land for welfare of ESM?! Has our civilian brothers have no sense of gratitude and patriotic feelings? I know, due to rampant divisiveness, this Country of ours will fall like a ton of bricks, if the Defence Services do not perform their duties with much more discipline and dedication than our civilian counterparts. In India, the much hyped pillars of democracy like the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary are becoming very brittle, which will crumble without active interest from the people who are sovereign.

    Let us join forces with IESM and well meaning people of India to toil till justice is done and Country is saved from utter chaos.
    Yours Sincerely,
    Maj Gen C K Karumbaya, SM(Retd)

    Brilliantly argued and very persuasively projected.
    Heartiest compliments to Gen Bhimayya. He should now take it up to the 'next level' with the IESM Leadership to evolve strategic thrusts and the Movement's plans.
    Lt Gen YN Sharma, Former Army Commander

    Army Research and Referral Hospital Retrogrades ESM Health Care

    Reference: Army Research and Referral Hospital Retrogrades ESM Health Care
    Dear Gen (MD ECHS),
    pl refer to above mail a copy of which has been endorsed to you. Being intimately involved in ECHS matters I would like to fully endorse the views of Gen Satbir. As I have said repeatedly the instances of mil hosps across the Country treating ESMs as an unwelcome load is more than adequately proven. The reasons are also well known . The armed forces medical fraternity feels that, the General Staff has appropriated to itself a function that legitimately belongs to them. This turf war between the two is unfortunately affecting the veteran population. What both sides to this unfortunate conflict fail to realise is that every serving soldier is 'a soon to be' veteran. What mil hosps fail to realise is that unlike the past where mil hosps were mandated to treat veterans based on availability of facilities and the OC hosps discretion, the situation today is quite different. Veterans today have contributed to the Scheme and can therefore demand medical cover from anyone tasked to provide cover under the scheme, which includes, empanelled hosps AND MIL HOSPS. We already have some ESMs approaching courts and tribunals in this matter. The next most unfortunate step will be ESMs going to Court against the Service hierarchy. THAT WILL BE A VERY TRAGIC DAY but will give our Babu hierarchy another reason to celebrate. Could these views please be passed on to the Chief and AG.
    Brig Sateesh Kuthiala.

    Date: Fri, 6 May 2011 09:28:07 -0700
    From: mdechs
    To: kuthiala
    Dear Brig Kuthiala,
    Last month of Apr saw ECHS being the focus of deliberations:
    #5&6 Apr-at Chandigarh attended by reps of the three services, AG, Army Cdr, MG-IC-Adms of all Army Commands etc.
    #Chief of COSC took up pending ECHS issues with Hon'ble RM.
    #25 Apr-Improving Medicare in ECHS-attended by Secy ESW, Secy Def FInance & ECHS.
    #26 Apr-Meeting with MoD chaired by COAS & Def Secy.
    #27 Apr-Managing ECHS- agenda during Army Cdrs' Conf.
    #28 Apr-Improving ECHS-review by RRM.
    Also on 5 Apr ECHS 24X7 Helpline was launched by Army Cdr Western Comd.
    COAS gave absolutely unambiguous directions to entire hierarchy. Armed Forces own ECHS, are the greatest stakeholders and would do all to improve and sustain it. Central Organisation is closely monitoring implementation of the COAS directions.
    Offg DG AFMS is aware of the issues raised and has promised full support to ECHS including opening of ECHS wings in MHs where required.
    On specifics now, You would recall that AHRR had as per earlier load appreciation only offered to treat ESM for Cardiology, Joint Replacement and Eye. Oncology treatment had not been made available and was ltd to consultation only. Brig AK Dhar and his specialty is overloaded and serving soldiers have to register at the reception and then at malignancy centre and thereafter wait for at least 2 to 3 hours in their turn.
    What is not at all correct that for surgery patient has to get drugs and consumables from ECHS. We will resolve the issue immediately. Nothing is required to be carried (just recd a call confirming this from AHRR).
    Navy and AF have been insisting on treating ECHS members in their own hospitals. Based on the request from the environment, we had to request them not to so insist as ECHS patients prefer treatment in hospitals nearer home rather than travelling to far away in heartless cities with no support. To enable full capacity utilisation of service hospitals for treating ESM, ECHS has started augmenting them with addl doctors. Gen Mathews (ex Comdt AHRR) has joined at Kochi. Hopefully more would join. Not for the compensation but for service to their brethren.
    We are trying to improve things, pushing through odds. Team ECHS is constantly at work. Join in. All are welcome!

    From: brig sateesh kuthiala
    Sent: 07 May 2011 09:49
    Dear Brig Kamboj,
    please see trailing mail (Gen Satbirs letter, my follow up and MDs response). Whereas there are problems and improvement is an ongoing process; what is heartening is the fact that we have an extremely caring and supportive Central Org ECHS. Whereas I can see that all questions with regards to Gen Satbirs letter have not been addressed specially with regards to why Army Hosps who have accepted to cater to ESMs cannot provide TOTAL treatment from consultation to post discharge care as required, I am of the opinion that we continue to give feed back and given the present totally positive response, matters will continue to improve. I am also aware that there are a number of veterans who feel that there are faults in the present org structure and micro management will not take us too far; we also need to look at the matter from the Service HQs point of view. Our top Services hierarchy is as committed to this cause as anyone can be. Those of us who have served at the Army HQ level and dealt with the MOD know only too well how Babudom and Netagiri function. These two roadblocks are a 'GIVEN' in any effort that we may make towards improvement in OROP-Pensions-Medicare and every other matter. So we will just have to 'Bash on Regardless'
    May i request you to pass this on as a package to the environment.
    Brig Sateesh Kuthiala (Retd)

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Ex Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme Expansion

    Expansion of Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS)
    The Union Cabinet has approved (a year ago) establishment of 199 additional New Polyclinic including 17 mobile military medical facilities alongwith 15 New Regional Centres and re-organisation of Central Organisation ECHS. Authorising additional 67 officers and 270 ESM Staff at 15 New Regional Centres, Central Organisation ECHS and 2263 additional contractual employees for 199 new polyclinics will enhance quality of medicare provided to Ex-Servicemen.

    Financial implications towards creation of infrastructure will be about Rs 141 crore. This will entail a capital expenditure of Rs 118.52 crore towards cost of land, construction and medical equipment. An amount of Rs 22.25 crore of expenditure will cover purchase of furniture etc, and IT hardware. On the recurring side, an expenditure of Rs 43 crore per annum is envisaged.

    The expanded network envisages 426 polyclinics in 343 districts of the country which will benefit Ex-servicemen residing in remote and far flung areas. The expanded network envisages coverage of about 33 lakh beneficiaries.

    Background: The ECHS was introduced with effect from 01 April 2003 to provide comprehensive medical coverage of Ex-servicemen Pensioners, war window and dependents by establishing 227 polyclinics at Stations with ex-servicemen population above 2500 through out the country.

    A large segment of Ex-servicemen are staying at locations where there is no ECHS Polyclinic within a radius of 200/ 300 km causing great inconvenience in accessing medical facilities. To address this 199 polyclinic will be established in those places with minimum ex-servicemen population of 1500.

    At present Ex-servicemen residing in remote areas where the ex-servicemen population is less than 2500, face a lot of inconvenience in reaching the polyclinics due to distant location varying from 200 to 300 km from their place of residence. The expansion of ECHS will provide easy access to health facilities for such ex-servicemen and their dependents.
    Expansion of Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS)

    Provision Of Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme Polyclinic at Churu
    Military Engineer Services
    Bikaner - Rajasthan - 01 April 2011 10:56:04 IST Commander Workers Engineer of Military Engineer Services, Bikaner invites tenders notice for provision of ex-servicemen contributory health scheme polyclinic type C at Churu.
    Tender Value INR 21,75,000/-
    Project Period 6 Months
    EMD INR 43,500/-
    Category Recreational & Entertainment Classes
    Products Health Consultant
    Document Fees INR 500/-
    Date 30-Mar-2011
    Contact Information/ Contact Person- Commander Workers Engineer
    Military Engineer Services Bikaner - Rajasthan India

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Indian Swiss Accounts will be disclosed

    WikiLeaks will out Indian Swiss accounts: Assange
    Press Trust of India, Updated: April 26, 2011 16:49 IST

    New Delhi: In comments that could fuel a fresh controversy over the black money issue, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today said there are Indian names in the Swiss bank data list that are going to be made public.

    "Yes, there are Indian names in the data that we have already published or are going to publish. I can't remember specifically whether there are Indian names in the coming publication. But I have read Indian names," Assange told a private TV channel.

    Indicating that there are bigwigs among the Indians having their accounts in Swiss banks, he said, "Similarly, in these private Swiss banking concerns, where you need at least a million dollar, which is a significant amount of money...not an average Indian..."

    Asked whether the names will come at any point, he said on "that, you should absolutely not lose hope". He, however, declined to reveal anything more on the issue at this stage.

    Noting that he has come to know through a report that there are more Indian deposits in the Swiss banks than any other nationality, Assange said, "there is no reason why India should not be aggressive."

    Praising the German government for its aggressive approach to unearth black money stashed offshore, he said that India "should be more aggressive because India seems like it is losing per capita much more tax than Germany."

    Assange alleged that Indian government's response to the WikiLeaks cables was "one of the worst in the world" and a "clear attempt to mislead the nation on what the cables were". He said that the response by the Indian government left a lot to be desired.

    Assange also dismissed contention of the Indian government that accords on double taxation were coming in the way of tracking the trail of black money. "Double taxation does not have anything to do with asset hiding. It doesn't simply cover asset hiding," he said.

    Assange said that the issue of stashing black money in foreign banks was much worse than just local corruption as when money is pushed offshore, "...then every time they are selling rupees and the result is that the currency of the nation is debased...everything for all Indians become more expensive as a result of that transfer."

    Assange had earlier claimed that he was handed over documents of bank accounts by a former banker Rudolf Elmer and the whistleblower also claimed that the names in the documents came from "US, Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia - from all over," and include "business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates - from both sides of the Atlantic".
    Read more at: Swiss Terror: Swiss Secret Accounts- NDTV

    Charming them into the Armed Forces

    Amutha Kannan The Hindu 09 May 2011
    Do you have it in you, asks Commodore Amar Singh Bagel to Generation Next
    It is a myth that salary of a Defence officer did not match up to employees of other sectors

    Photo:M. Periasamy

    Call to fight: Commodore Amar Singh Baghel, President, Naval Selection Board, explaining the opportunities in Armed Forces at The Hindu Education Plus Career Fair 2011 in Coimbatore on Sunday.

    COIMBATORE: As much as they had realistic answers for why youth did not want to join the Armed Forces, students had interesting answers for why they did want to join, at a session on career opportunities in the Armed Forces at The Hindu Education Plus Career Fair 2011 on Sunday.

    Queries from them to Commodore Amar Singh Baghel, president of Naval Selection Board, disproved the theory that there was no awareness among the public about a career in the Armed Forces. It was more of a reassurance forum for a moderately informed audience that the Armed Forces, too, offered attractive job options.

    The session began with Commodore Baghel providing the basic information on these options. But, it did not continue as a routine one-way affair. It turned lively with the high-ranking officer switching to an interactive mode. What followed was a more-than-an-hour discussion on the salary, perks, professional advancement prospects and other benefits the services offered.

    While Commodore Baghel got answers such as “danger to life, frequent transfers, pay package not being good, difficult life, highly competitive, disruption in family life, etc.” for reasons behind youth not joining the services, he pointed out that ‘simply not knowing how to join' was also as a reason. While he gave ‘honour, pride, quality of life, educational and pension benefits, job security' as some of the reasons for joining the services, he got interesting add-ons like “love for the uniform, spirit of adventure, stability in employment” as other reasons from the students.

    The Armed Forces also provided success, monetary gain, advancement, responsibility, recognition and an amiable working environment that youth sought in a career.

    Busting the myth that the salary of a Defence officer was not on a par with that of a personnel in a private firm, he said the allowances, perks and privileges that came along with the salary could not be quantified only in terms of money. It showed in the quality of life an officer enjoyed, Commodore Baghel said.

    He also cleared other ‘misconceptions' like knowledge of Hindi being mandatory and physical fitness being given the top priority.

    He said all this could be learnt or improved in the training period.

    He also spoke about the opportunities the personnel got to showcase their talents at national and international level sporting events, and listed the various points of entry into the services for those who completed Plus Two or graduation.

    Some sites for reference that could be of help:,,
    Charming them into the Armed Forces

    Ex Servicemen have a right to protest against injustices

    The Sixth Pay Commission’s dispensation to the armed forces is a lingering shame. As if this was not enough, the Secretary’s Committee’s report added insult to this injury. The impassioned letters from Gen Ved Malik and Admiral Arun Prakash to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh adequately encapsulated the anguish caused by the Sixth Pay Commission among the rank and file of the armed forces, particularly among pensioners. The IESM contemplated several initiatives to articulate the pensioners’ grievances more aggressively. Some respected veterans enjoined caution, arguing that such a public demonstration of the pensioners’ grievances goes against the grain of the armed forces’ ethos, and would undermine the “dignity” and “decorum” with which the Indian Armed Forces have traditionally identified. In short ,the sage advice from some of the veterans forbade the IESM, or other agitating veterans to cross the “Lakshman Rekha.” The purpose of this note is to evaluate these conflicting viewpoints.

    General Sinha, the former VCOAS and foremost authority on the evolution of civil-military relations in post-independence India, has written several articles, citing incontrovertible evidence, how the bureaucratic control of the armed forces strengthened, over time. The outcome is loud and clear: Armed forces were not represented in the Sixth Pay Commission. They were also not represented in the Committee of Secretaries. The upshot was: first, the Committee’s report made a passing reference to their “interaction” with senior members of the armed forces, without summarizing an analysis of the senior members’ feedback. Second, as an inconspicuous tailpiece, the Committee recommended some relief to a handful of Lt Gens and a large number of additional secretaries! How can the pensioners seek to redress this enormity? This is the crux of the difficulties and the nub of the issue. Here, it may be necessary to attempt a brief, historic analysis of the provenance of some of the traditions of the armed forces, from which our “dignity” and “decorum”, perhaps, sprang (Gen Khanna, former GOC 2 Mtn Div, did make a passing reference to this aspect in his brilliant piece, published a few weeks ago by the IESM).

    The officers’ code of conduct, mandated by the British, was a good template to replicate for the post-independence period. Among other things, there were some unwritten conventions, such as, “Don’t discuss politics in the officers’ mess.” It is not clear whether this commandment was intended to discourage a discussion of controversial issues, or to isolate the Indian Officers from the storm of nationalist movement that was sweeping through the country. Ill-disguised contempt for the “dotiwallas” and the “INA” was encouraged. I found the hang-over as late as the early 1950s, when ICOs used to scoff at the INA and proclaim with much gusto, “During the advance in Burma, we shot the INA like dogs,” or words to that effect. What is remarkable in these episodes are not the facts, but the faithful articulation, albeit inadvertent, of the British sentiments. I allude to these instances not to critique the contribution of the INA, but as a reaction to the former Naval Chief’s reference to the INA: “The monastic devotion to discipline is the reason that Subhash Bose’s Indian National Army and the Free Indian Legion are, till today spoken in hushed tones in the Service Environment.” No doubt the former Naval Chief included this argument in all sincerity and without meaning to detract from the INA’s contribution to our freedom movement. The nagging question, however, persists: “Do we have to apologize for the creation of INA by that bold, dynamic leader, Subhash Chandra Bose?”
    In Western democracies, service personnel freely discuss political issues, and even attend political party meetings in civilian clothes. Veterans participate in political campaigning, exercising their free speech, including but not limited to the criticism of the government. They also participate in protest meetings. In Britain, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the former CGS, soon after retirement, declared that he would join the Conservative Party. Again in Britain, Clive Ponting, a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Defense, leaked secrets about Gen Belgrano in the Falkland War and was tried under Official Secrets Act. He claimed that he leaked the secrets in national interest. Even though, the Judge reminded the Jury that public interest is what the government of the day decides, the Jury exonerated him. I am not recommending that we should emulate these examples. However, why should we deprive ourselves of our legitimate right to protest peacefully, without breaking any law? Surely, such an action is neither unseemly nor undignified.
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his conversation with General Ved Malik has made it abundantly clear that the political leaders will continue to exercise control of the armed forces through the bureaucrats, thus reaffirming the policy that was already in place. Even Gen Harwant Singh’s appeal as late as April 11, 2011, seems to have made no impact. In fact, the petition was never put up to the PM by the P.M.O’s office. The PM is also quoted as having remarked that the veteran petitioners cannot meet with the President, because they wanted to return the medals. Are armed forces veterans mandated by law not to protest, or not to return medals as a token of a disapproval of bureaucratic injustice? I think not.
    Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. resorted to civil disobedience to protest against injustice and iniquity. They did not lose their dignity. Under the British rule, Rabindranath Tagore renounced the knighthood to protest against the Jalianawallah massacre. This act was noble, not indecorous.

    Gen Sinha, in his perceptive article in Asian Age (April 13, 2011) deplores the comments of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who made some remarks about the possibility of the rise of extra constitutional authority in India, as it did in Pakistan in 1958. This has been, unfortunately, the theme that politicians and bureaucrats have been conjuring up to undermine the status and pay of the armed forces, over time. The sad irony is that during its sixty-one years of existence, it was assailed by extra constitutional forces only once. And it came during the infamous “emergency” from a civilian leader, not the imaginary “man on the horseback!”

    That the President of India cold shouldered the Veterans’ Delegation should not surprise us. The President of India is bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers. Rarely, would a President assert his/her authority. In the United States, the President participates in saluting the bodies of servicemen killed in war; he visits with the bereaved families and condoles them; he meets veterans and socializes with them on Veterans Day; he privately felicitates and honors gallantry award winners and families in the White House. The American Public leave no stone unturned to make the service personnel as comfortable as possible: Priority Access is provided in airports; special transit and rest areas are provided in major airports; most important, the passengers spontaneously recognize them in the aircraft, often bursting into a chorus of the National Anthem. We are not there, yet.

    Apart from asserting our rights, it is our duty to create and spread the awareness among lay public that we are among the patriots that are deeply concerned about national security and its concomitant: morale of the armed forces, in whose framework, the morale of the service personnel and that of the veterans are seamlessly and indissolubly bound. If communication and appeals fail, we have to resort to other legal, visible, and peaceful means of protest. In this, we should not be deterred by any real or imaginary Lakshmana Rekha, or Rubicon. Our protests will be issue- specific, incremental, and need- based. They will never be violent, or violative of law. And they will be modified with shifting exigencies and changing environment.

    The morale of the Indian Armed Forces has been sustained by the taproot of “Izzat” through wars and crises, trials and tribulations. Humiliation, brought about by unwarranted downgrading of status and pay/pension, is the antithesis of Izzat. And humiliation has its limits. Policy makers will be advised not to mistake the absence of evidence of humiliation for its absence, per se.

    Here is a cameo from the Economist, December 18, 2010: “But decent countries allow disruptive protests and even deploy the forces of law and order to protect them. That is the price of political freedom, negotiated over many years and subject to many checks and balances.” We need to evaluate the maturity of our political system from the reactions of our elected representatives to our legitimate grievances.

    It is not unusual for a nascent organization, such as the IESM, to be confronted with challenges of self doubt and fatigue, particularly when it is wrongfully perceived as an anti-government organization. A few dedicated men are admirably coping with the challenges with demonstrated grit, resilience, and determination despite a lack of resources and support. They are volunteering time and thoughtful attention, while, seeking no rewards or recognition. Kudos to these unsung heroes!
    Maj Gen K Bhimaya (Retd)
    10th JSW Course

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Disabled War Veterans - A Forgotten Tribe

    Status of War Wounded and Widows a year ago!
    02 Apr 2010 8ak: As the supreme court severely criticised the government for a 'beggarly' Rs 1,000 per month pension for a soldier disabled while on duty (read Sify article) 8ak spoke to Col H.N Handa from DIWAVE about the plight of our brave soldiers disabled in the line-of-duty.

    Col H.N. Handa: War creates families of dead soldiers normally associated as War Widows. However it also causes immense life long suffering to those wounded as a consequence. Wounded within a few years of joining the forces, generally in the age group 17-24, in the prime of their youth. These wounded can be classified as orthopedically wounded (a majority), blinded or paralyzed.

    A soldier sacrifices his life or limbs without rancor for many reasons - national honor, pride in his regime, a high level of motivation and above all, the understanding that the nation will look after his next of kin if he meets his death on the battlefield or is disabled. He goes out fearlessly to fight aggression of any type, as he is trained to, self-assured and confident. Without this knowledge, a soldier would not be able to render his best.

    Sadly, at present he sees that the care is seriously lacking for the war disabled or families of those killed in action. It is unbelievable that the Ministry of Defence has no record or database of the existing Disabled War Veteran - their names, degree of disability or their whereabouts. The reason advanced for this is that welfare of ex-servicemen is a state subject. This indifferent approach has made it difficult to adopt fresh welfare measures for the Disabled War Veterans, many of whom badly need immediate care, but are unable to receive it. Caring for the war disabled by the Central Government will reassure the soldiers of a secure future while going about their stressful duties. The number of such war disabled is rather small, estimated by the Ministry of Defence as a mere 10,000 out of which 97% are Persons Below Officers Rank (PBOR).

    First praised sky high and showered with promises ‘…then subjected to indifference and boarded out'…finally made to suffer callous negligence. That precisely sums up the lives of our brave soldiers and officers who were wounded in action, defending the country and its people in numerous wars and army actions prior to Kargil from 1962, 1965, 1971. Para military forces receive ex-gratia grants in addition but none for these War Disabled.

    Assurances were given as is evident from the MOD letter 200847/71/Pen-C dated 24 Feb 1972 indicating that service element of pension of an invalided out war veteran will be equal in amount to the normal retiring pension including-Death-Cum-Retirement gratuity to which an individual would have been entitled on the basis of his emoluments and DA for maximum service of the rank at time of disablement. War disabled would be deemed to have served his full service of the rank of disability. This has been whittled down over the years.

    War Injury Element/ Disability Element of the pension is a monetary compensation for the physical and mental suffering undergone and continued to be undergone by the War Injured/ Disabled Ex-servicemen. Justice and fair play warrants equal compensation, irrespective of the date of injury/ invalidment, as has been done in the case of Constant Attendance Allowance.

    A Disabled War Veteran needs, above all, to live with dignity and pride which can only be achieved if he has financial security.

    To assist the Disabled War Veterans, whose very strength is unknown due to lack of a database, the Disabled War Veterans India, (DIWAVE) a voluntary organization working to rehabilitate the war wounded, was founded in 1978 by Capt N.K. Mahajan, Major Vijay Kumar, Major Ahluwalia of Everest fame and many others. It is a registered organization under the Registration of Societies Act and recognized by Ministry of Defence, Government of India. A non-political, not-for-profit, democratic, secular and voluntary body of committed people. It is solely dependent on the subscription of its members (kept deliberately low) and donations to sustain itself. The present President, Capt N.K. Mahajan, himself is 100% disabled of the 1971 war, pulled out of a heap of dead bodies as someone saw his arm twitching. The Senior Vice President is Col H.N. Handa, 75% War Disabled of 1965 War and currently the oldest war wounded.

    For the war disabled ex-servicemen, the 6th CPC has recommended that the War Injury element of the War Injury Pension be linked with reckonable emoluments. MOD has accordingly sanctioned 100% of reckonable emoluments for 100% disability. However, this benefit has been restricted to post-2006 war disabled ex-servicemen only. Pre-2006 have been given only marginal fixed increase over the amount sanctioned. Civilian government employees continue to receive disability element based on percentage but this disparity has been accorded defence personnel only.

    The CPC, while recommending the percentage-wise linkage between the reckonable emoluments and disability/war injury element of the pension, has nowhere stated that it should apply to future disabled ex-servicemen only. In the case of service pension, the 6th CPC clearly stated that for pre-2006 pensioners, modified parity would apply. However such a stipulation does not exist for Disability/War injury pension, with the implication that the new formula of percentage linkage with last drawn pay would equally apply to all Disabled War Veterans, including pre-2006. It is noteworthy that while implementing the 5th CPC recommendations on the disability element, no discrimination was done between pre-1996 and post-1996 disabled ex-servicemen.

    The 5th Pay Commission subsequently stipulated that the War Injury Pension comprising service element plus disability element should not exceed the basic pay of the rank at the time of injury thereby denying the disabled their entitlement to the extent of up to 50%. Sensibly, the Government has recently recommended the removal of this restriction.

    A further discrimination was introduced in broad-banding of disability percentage into 3 slabs - 50%, 75% and 100%. MOD had done this for post-1996 disability cases, denying similar benefit to all pre-1996 cases, creating thereby another situation of denial of OROP. This relates to persons with same amount of disability receiving different percentages of disability element. As a result of DIWAVE’s representation , the Government has decided to eliminate this disparity. The government orders are still awaited.

    One very important aspect is the supply of modern, light and durable prosthesis to Disabled War Veterans, -An issue which even the 6th Pay Commission has taken cognisance of - near their place of residence. Currently, all prosthetic fittings for war-disabled are provided by the Artificial Limb Centre, Pune, which provides archaic limbs with outdated technology to the disabled. Also, ALC takes unduly long for limb-fitting. Disabled ex-servicemen often have to travel long distances to reach Pune and have to remain in hospital for several weeks.

    The situation can be remedied by empanelling private prosthetic centres that provide modern prostheses like Ottobock, Endolite etc. in metropolitan cities and state capitals on the same lines as for other major ailments. This would result in better quality limbs with less waiting period, without entailing long travels and cost of hospitalisation etc. The arrangement is likely to be overall cost effective, ensuring better user satisfaction. Needless to add, fitting of good prosthesis helps the disabled to accept his disability better.

    Ailments such as angiography, angioplasty, hip and knee replacements, cancer treatment etc are undertaken for the retired and serving government employees by empanelled private hospitals. However, a properly fitting modern prosthesis has so far been denied to the Disabled war Veterans.

    There is also a need to issue Special Identity Cards for Disabled War Veterans, clearly identifying them as such. This would enable the MOD to develop the correct databank thereby make it possible to provide better welfare measures and facilities to them. Special attention and courtesies extended to the Disabled War Veterans in government offices, official dealings etc. at district and lower levels in particular, would help in enhancing their self-esteem and dignity and would also act as a morale-booster to serving soldiers.
    Disabled War Veterans - A Forgotten Tribe!
    8ak stands for "8 Arms of Knowledge" and comes from the 'spider' that was written to trawl the net for news. 8ak also publishes an e-newspaper for the Defence (Defense) Sector and produces specific reports to cover all military/ armed forces issues relevant to India.
    ... click here to read Gen Vijay Oberoi's article on war wounded

    Disabled War Veterans are now listed

    Message from President Disabled War Veterans (India)
    A few years ago, when we, representing the Disabled War Veterans, requested for certain measures both in regards Pay & Allowances and the initiating of welfare measures for such categories of personnel, to the Parliamentary Committee, we were rather surprised at MoD & Services HQ indicating to them that they were totally unaware of the number of Battle / War Casualties since no such records were maintained.

    You are aware that proper statistics and data would help greatly, especially in calculating the expense to the exchequer to enable any measures getting past the MoD (Finance) and the decision making process.

    With the assistance of the Adjutant General Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal and Lt Gen B V Nair, DG DCW, we undertook this gigantic task of obtaining and collating data of such personnel. We are thankful to all the Colonels of Regiments, Centre Commandants and Record Officers to have delved into their past records and produced the desired data. This Data, duly compiled in 4 Volumes has been handed over to the DG DCW, MD ECHS and Secretary (ESW) for future planning purposes.

    However, our task does not end here. The Data of officers is not fully available especially of those serving, those voluntarily retired from service and others.

    This is an appeal to all officers who are known to you or who see this mail that they should send me the data regarding themselves to diwave1(at)
    1. No Rank Name
    2. Unit Date of Birth Age
    3. Theatre of War Where injured.
    4. Exact nature of Disability
    5. Percentage Disability
    6. Prosthesis/Other
    7. Whether Invalided out or retired
    8. Other Health issues
    9. Address-Temporary aand Prmanent
    10. Dependant Family members with Age
    11. Contact Details: Tele: Mobile: E Mail:
    13. ECHS Card No
    14. Dependent ECHS Clinic Name
    Message from President Disabled War Veterans (India)
    Comment: Commendable work. We need to have an online database which can be updated by concerned Officers, JCO's and NCO's.
    Finance Budget 2011
    A lump-sum ex-gratia compensation of Rs.9 lakh for 100 per cent disability to be granted for personnel of Defence and Para Military forces discharged from service on medical ground on account of disability attributable to government service.
    FM Tax Proposals 2011

    CWG Conman's Event Knowledge Services under investigation

    Taking a serious view of Shunglu committee findings, the Prime Minister's Office has suggested to Sports Ministry a probe by CBI and Enforcement Directorate based on the panel's report into alleged irregularities in the contracts executed by CWG Organising Committee.

    In its letter, the PMO has asked for probe by the agencies specifically in works carried out by Event Knowledge Services (EKS), an international private consultant, and other irregularities pointed out by the Committee.

    EKS was given three contracts of over Rs 70 crore by the organising committee to extend consultancy services for the venue development and management, games workforce, and games planning and project management services.

    The PMO has directed "expeditious action" on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's order in the matter and sought the reply of Sports Ministry within a month on the fifth report of the high-level committee appointed by him.

    The financial loss suffered by the Government due to favouritism for workforce contract aggregated to Rs 18.36 crore, the report said.

    "Department of Sports may forward, to the CBI/ED, for action as appropriate, relevant extracts of the report pertaining to the matter of EKS, and the clear cases of forgery, falsification, record creation etc., mentioned in case of other highlighted irregularities," the letter written to the Sports Ministry said.

    The Prime Minister had on 25th October last year appointed the high-level committee under the chairmanship of former Comptroller and Auditor General V K Shunglu to investigate and report all irregularities in executing various projects by several government agencies during the Games held here between October 3-14 last year.

    The committee, in its report submitted to the PMO on 28th March, found several discrepancies in the projects executed by the company and "collusion" among sacked OC Chief Suresh Kalmadi, Chief Executive Officer of CWG Federation Mike Hooper and other senior functionaries of the Games body.

    "The contract was awarded on a single source basis on the recommendation/statement of Mike Hooper, CEO of CGF that EKS was much better informed regarding Delhi venues status than any other International Consultant. This was both a biased and misleading statement," the report said.

    "CEO, CGF made every effort to ensure award of these contracts to EKS. The CEO not only personally testified the credentials of this firm but also justified the reasonableness of rates and maydays utilisation and also attended the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) meetings," it said.

    The panel found indication of "personal interest" by Kalmadi, currently lodged in Tihar Jail, in giving the contract to EKS.

    "The fabrication of the minutes of two meetings (to decide on contracts) purportedly held on January 30, 2008 and March 10, 2008 was strongly suggestive of collusion between OC top management, CGF functionary and EKS for accomplishing its pre-meditated objective," the report said.

    Interestingly, the Games Planning and Project Management Contract permitted EKS to assign the same to a sister concern.

    EKS incorporated a new company in November, 2008 in Mauritius by the name Event Knowledge Services Pvt Ltd.

    The entire contract was assigned to the new company in June 2009, thus, making a mockery of Quality Based Selection System (QBS), it said.

    "This is a fit case for reference to the CBI and the ED. They would have to investigate the ownership of EKS Private Limited, Mauritius and trace the flow of funds from the OC to EKS private limited and onwards to other recipients.

    "The aspects of fraud involved in this case would also need to be investigated and suitable criminal action taken against the guilty," the findings read.

    The committee's fifth report has scrutinised all projects like sponsorship, ticketing, overlays, ceremonies, technology contracts and catering among others executed by the Games OC. (SP-8/5)
    PMO recommends CBI, ED probe in CWG contracts


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