Friday, December 9, 2011

Parliament logjam reflects declining democracy

A wasted session
Parliament logjam a threat to democracy
It is a sad commentary on the functioning of our Parliament that its winter session has been washed out because of the rigid posture by both the UPA government and the Opposition over the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into mega scams like the one on the 2G spectrum allocation. The manner in which both sides have contributed to its paralysis gives rise to fears that the days of Parliament’s usefulness are numbered. There are indications that the Opposition is determined to extend the stalemate over the setting up of a JPC to the Budget session. Even as some Opposition leaders had hinted on Sunday that they might allow the smooth passage of the Finance Bill in the Budget session but will not climb down on the JPC demand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi have refused to bow to the Opposition’s pressure tactic. Consequently, there is no sign of any rapprochement in the near future.

This is deeply disturbing because the victim in the entire episode is parliamentary democracy. The principal function of Parliament is to ponder over issues, inform and educate public opinion about them, sift facts from prejudice, reconcile differences and, if this is not possible, to ensure that majority opinion prevails while assuring the minority that it has to wait for another day in a fair debate. Parliament works at two levels: through public debate between policies and points of view; and in the privacy of committees in which it is agreed by consensus what is to be debated, when, for how long and under what rules.

Clearly, there is no issue which MPs cannot debate in Parliament. This not only reflects the people’s will but also the trust and confidence that people bestow upon them. However, the Opposition has abdicated its constitutional responsibility by thwarting a debate in Parliament on the mega scams. Instead of cornering the government on these issues legitimately in Parliament through measures like adjournment motion, it sought to conduct the debate on television channels and newspapers. The UPA government, too, is yet to convince the nation as to why it is against a JPC probe. Surely, this is not the way in which the affairs of the nation ought to be run. The nation expects the government and the Opposition to see reason, rectify their folly and restore the smooth functioning of Parliament.
click here for Tribune report

Capital of Thugs and MPs
Delhi remains crime capital- Women are the worst hit

Does the Indian Army have a monitoring system for the war wounded and disabled?

Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
08-December, 2011 18:17 IST
Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI
Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), undertakes standardization, regulation and monitoring of the training of professionals in the field of rehabilitation and special education, promotes research, maintains register of rehabilitation professionals, prescribes code of conduct and ethics for these professionals etc.
RCI has developed training courses, organize Seminar/Workshop/Conference to update the knowledge of professionals dealing with the persons with disabilities. RCI has also recognized different courses through distance mode. The details of budget provided and the actual expenditure made is as under:
(Rs. in lakh)- Year/ Budget Provided (Grant)/ Actual Expenditure
2006-07- 317.19/ 334.07
2007-08- 332.30/ 270.40
2008-09- 417.00/ 352.20
2009-10- 410.00/ 445.82
2010-11- 404.00/ 512.85
This information was given by the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri D. Napoleon in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today. (Release ID :78335)
Rehabilitation Council of India

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Armed Forces Covenant Bill to help unemployed veterans

Published: Wednesday, Dec 7, 2011, 10:00 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

The Armed Forces Covenant Bill, 2011, will be introduced during the on-going winter session of Parliament to boost employment opportunities for our Armed Forces veterans.
The bill to be introduced by the Rajya Sabha MP, Rajeev Chandrashekar, comes in the backdrop of the US Senate recently passing a bill to help reduce veterans’ unemployment and grant tax incentives to companies who agree to hire them.
“The government should seriously consider passing alegislation similar to the US to boost employment opportunities for our Armed Forces veterans, “said Chandrashekar.
Recently, the US Senate had passed a bill through a unanimous vote. It will shortly be signed into law by President Barack Obama.
The provisions of the bill also include providing specialised job training and counselling to veterans leaving the service.
Chandrashekar has also written to defence minister AK Antony asking the government to seriously consider supporting the bill with suitable amendments
Read more: Armed Forces Covenant Bill to help unemployed veterans

MI 17 super- secret department blinds the Indian Army

NEW DELHI, December 8, 2011
The Hindu by Vinaya Deshpande
Military Intelligence paid hundreds of crores of rupees for outdated software, documents obtained by The Hindu show

The Indian Army's imagery interpretation capabilities, critical to providing information on the locations of enemy troops and their military assets, have been compromised by flawed contracts placed with a company that has failed to provide critical software upgrades, an investigation by The Hindu has found.
Documents obtained by The Hindu from the Ministry of Defence show that the firm responsible for supplying and integrating software used in critical image intelligence analysis was relieved of its responsibility to provide free upgrades in 2008 — and is now on the verge of receiving a Rs.165-crore contract for the supply of software it may no longer have licensing rights for.
MI17 — the super-secret military intelligence department that analyses data provided by India's spy satellites — relies on software provided by global software giants Intergraph, Oracle, and Bentley.
Rolta, an Indian company, supplied photogrammetry and geographical information system software licensed from these firms to the Army in 1996, integrating them into a single package to meet MI17's specific needs. From then to 2008, things went well — when a new contract for 14 photogrammetry and geographical information system packages came up to be signed.
The earlier contract bound Rolta to provide software “updates and upgrades” free of cost, as part of a maintenance contract. In 2008, though, the phrasing was changed to just “updates”— freeing Rolta of the obligation to provide the most recent software released by the original equipment manufacturer.
Rolta was paid Rs.506.45 crore for equipment purchased between 1998 and 2008. In addition, it received annual maintenance contracts for equipment purchased during this period; as of December 2008, their cumulative value was Rs. 40.66 crore per annum.
The Hindu Expose- click here to read the full article

Poorly conceived procedures
Commodore C. Uday Bhaskar, Director of the National Maritime Foundation and a former director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said the problem lay in poorly conceived bureaucratic procedures put in place after the Bofors scandal, which was exposed by The Hindu in 1987-1988.
“If the armed forces buy a lemon,” he explained, “it is obviously either because of incompetence or corruption. Now, though the post-Bofors system is ostensibly designed to prevent malpractices, in fact privileges incompetence and thus opens the floodgates to corruption.”
“What we really need is to create a cadre of young officers who are competent to make the kinds of highly technical judgments military acquisitions need today, not committees of bureaucrats with no specialist judgment,” he said. “Task force after task force have made thoughtful, well-considered recommendations to reform the defence acquisition system.”
Antony orders probe into controversial Rs. 500-crore contract: The Hindu

Appeal to President not to annexe war widows land for her retirement home

Anna takes up Khadki land issue
By: Vivek Sabnis Date: 2011-12-06 Place: Pune
Activist promises to join fight to get back land for those injured in war or jawans' widows; ex-servicemen say issue will reach logical conclusion soon

Being an ex-serviceman himself, anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare yesterday promised the ex-servicemen that he would join the fight to get back the Khadki land, which has been allotted to President Pratibha Patil for her retirement home.

For a cause: Lt Col Suresh Patil hands over the information about
Khadki land to Anna Hazare in Ralegansiddhi. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Lt Col Suresh Patil (Retd), managing trustee of Green Thumb Environmental Group, had long discussions with Hazare at Ralegansiddhi yesterday morning. Patil told Hazare about their agitation since September 2011.
Patil said, "Anna has completely agreed with the cause and is officially backing us." He added that the land should be given either to the war casualties or widows of the jawans. Patil was accompanied by the state head of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement Commander Ravi Pathak, trustee of Green Thumb Environmental Group Jahangir Mulla and a member of Justice for Jawans Prakash Sawant.
Patil said that Hazare had agreed that over 60,000 ex-servicemen in the district were living in bad conditions, while many were living in slums. "Being the head of all defence services of the country, President Patil should set an example by not using the land for her personal benefit. Anna has agreed to these points and is wholeheartedly backing this cause," Patil added.
According to Patil, Hazare is one of the trustees of Green Thumb Environmental Group and was attending some of its programs since the past 20 years. "Anna's support has given us a morale boost and the fight to get back the Khadki land shall reach to its logical conclusion, soon he added.
Anna Hazare on Saturday had said that the 75 per cent of the taxpayers' money was being spent on a purchasing new cars and sophisticated air-conditioning equipment. "This is a total waste and government should stop the misuse of the tax-payers money," he had added.
Referring to Hazare's statement, Sawant said, "If the same is happening with the President's post, we demand that the post come under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal Bill. We are not against the President madam or her wish to possess a retiring home. In fact, the state government should give her land at any hill station in Lonawala, Khandala, Mahableshwar or Matheran."
Appeal to President
The Green Thumb Environmental Group submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil on December 2, appealing to donate the Khadki land to the army widows or the Jawans injured in the war. "I am expecting an invitation from the President to discuss the issue in Delhi," Lt Col Patil said.
click here to read Mid Day Report

Hospital for ex-servicemen to come up at Manarcad

Hospital for ex-servicemen to come up at Manarcad
Staff Reporter The Hindu

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has reiterated his government's commitment to the cause of ex-servicemen and their dependents.
Speaking at the ex-servicemen meet organised by the State Ex-Servicemen Welfare Department here on Sunday, the Chief Minister said his government would take the issues concerning war widows, dependents of servicemen who laid their lives in the service of the nation, physically challenged ex-servicemen and their dependents, in all its seriousness.
Assistance for widows
Already, the government has doubled the financial assistance to WWII veterans from Rs.500 to Rs.1,000. A new scheme of providing monthly assistance of Rs.500 to their widows has been initiated.
The Chief Minister announced that a rest house-cum-hospital complex for ex-servicemen and their dependents would be constructed at Manarcad. The government has identified 50 cents of land for the purpose and has earmarked Rs.2.5 crore for the project, he said.
The work on the rest house at Ernakulam is nearing completion and that at Malappuram would commence immediately, he said.
Aid doubled
The financial assistance to the dependents of jawans who lay their lives in war or war-like situations, has been doubled to Rs.10 lakh.
The income ceiling for availing of financial assistance has been increased from Rs.75,000 to Rs.1.5 lakh, he said.
The government is seriously thinking of introducing a new scheme which would extend financial support to those who have received bravery awards, the Chief Minister said.
The government has also decided to extend financial assistance to ex-servicemen and their dependents who undergo dialysis. Total financial assistance of Rs.10,000 at the rate of Rs.1,000 per dialysis will be provided to the eligible.
The government also provides a monthly financial assistance of Rs.200 to poor, aged ex-servicemen who are staying at old age homes.
Speaking on the occasion Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Minister for Revenue, said the interests of those who have served in the services and their dependents would be protected by the State.
Brig (Rtd) MJ Prakadan, District Panchayat President Radha V Nair and others spoke.
Hospital for ex-servicemen to come up at Manarcad

Financial aid to non-pensioner ex-servicemen and widows

TODAY - Thursday, Dec 08, 2011
Financial aid to non-pensioner ex-servicemen/widows
Source: Hueiyen News Service
Imphal, December 02 2011: The Office of the Rajya Sainik Board, Lamphelpat, Government of Manipur has announced that the following Financial Assistance for the Ex-Servicemen and widows of the state are available.
Penury Grant (above 65 years Non-pensioner upto Hav rank) @ Rs 1000/- pm for life time, Education Grant @ Rs 1000/- per month, Officer Cadet Grant @ Rs 1000/- per month, Disabled Children Grant @ Rs 1000/- per month, House Repair Grant @ Rs 20,000/-, Marriage Grant @ Rs 16000/-, Funeral Grant @ Rs 5000/-, Medical Grant @ Rs 30000/-, Orphan Grant @ Rs 1000/- per month, Vocational Training Grant for Widows @ Rs 20000/-, and for serious diseases like Cancer, Open Heart Surgery etc @ 75% to 90% for Officer Ranks and Below Officer Rank @ Rs 75,000/- per financial year, according to a press release of PRO (Defence) Further details can be obtained from the office of Rajya Sainik Board, Lamphel, Imphal between 1100 hrs to 1300 hrs during office hours.
Financial aid to non-pensioner ex-servicemen/widows

Monday, December 5, 2011

Military Land Scams: Culture of Corruption

Laudable aims but difficult to achieve when embedded in a culture of corruption!
Directorate General, Defence Estates (DGDE) is the Headquarters of the Indian Defence Estates Service. DGDE provides advisory inputs on all Cantonments and Land matters to the Ministry of Defence and Service Headquarters ie Army, Navy, Air Force and other organizations under Ministry of Defence. Acquisition of lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation of displaced persons, Hiring and requisitioning of lands and buildings, are some of the responsibilities of DGDE. It also ensures implementation of Cantonments Act 2006, Policies, Rules & Regulations and Executive instructions.

DGDE has under its jurisdiction six Principal Directorates namely, Principal Directors, Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-western and Western Command. Under the Principal Directorates there are 37 Defence Estates Offices and 4 ADEO Circles for management of defence lands in the country.

There are 62 Cantonment Boards. These are local bodies responsible for providing civic administration and implementing the Central Govt schemes of social welfare, public health, hygiene, safety, water supply, sanitation, urban renewal and education.

To manage defence land effectively and efficiently and provide an efficient, effective, transparent and honest civic and development oriented administration in Cantonments. To make the Indian Defence Estates Service an institution of Excellence.
Land being a scarce and precious national resource and Cantonments becoming part of urban agglomeration, Defence Estates Department would strive to achieve the following:
•Transform Cantonments into model local bodies for improving quality of life of its residents through:
1.People friendly administration
2.Effective delivery systems
3.Transparent and result-oriented governance
4.Zero tolerance to corruption and mal-practices
5.Making adequate provisions for health and education services including vocational training
6.Caring for senior citizens and the disadvantaged
•Protect environment and heritage
•Make optimum utilization of land resources
•Protection and maintenance of defence lands and land records
•Manage defence land effectively and provide help to stake-holders in land management
•Prompt problem resolution
•Be effective advisers to Government
•Leverage technology including e-governance in all aspects of administration and land management

Toll Tax and NHAI

Dear sir,
will it be possible to take up case with the Government for exemption of toll tax for the ESM, by you? It is one of the demands of all the ESM.
with regards & thanks.
Lt Col RC Sharma
Gen Secy, RSESL

Present Status
I have time and again received queries and complaints on refusal of toll exemption to ex-servicemen / veterans. It is clarified that the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, is NOT applicable to ex-servicemen. Certain Ex-servicemen organizations had been flaunting a letter dated 17-11-2006 supposedly issued by the NHAI in which it was stated that besides serving personnel, even ex-servicemen were entitled to toll tax exemption. The NHAI has confirmed that the letter is fake. Toll exemption is only available to private vehicles of serving personnel.
Posted by Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh
click here to read more

For public Grievances please contact General Manager Coord-I & Public Grievances:
Sh Vishnu Darbari
General Manager Coord-I & Public Grievances
National Highways Authority of India
G 5 & 6 , Sector 10, Dwarka,
New Delhi - 110075
Phone – 011-25074100/25074200
Extn: 1520

Comment: Organisations like IESM and IESL should take up the case for Toll Tax Exemption for ESM with the appropriate authority. The RMS forum is only confined to disseminating news to ESM through this blog and emails.

Colonel demands Commission: Malice gravitating to a Military disease

Colonel demands Rs23,000 as bribe, held
A colonel posted as commander at the Border Roads Task Force (BRTF) was arrested along with his deputy by the Central Bureau of Investigation after they were allegedly caught red handed accepting bribe from a contractor in Udhampur district.
Col Kunwar Vijay Partap, Commander 35 BRTF and JK Singh, engineer and second-in-command were arrested after CBI laid a trap on Tuesday over a complaint that they were demanding bribe from a contractor to release the payment for supplying batteries for vehicles.
Both the accused were produced before the court on Wednesday which later sent them on the police remand till Saturday. CBI sources said both were caught red handed while accepting the bribe of Rs23,000 for releasing the payment of Rs14.58 lakh. The duo had demanded money as “commission” for releasing the payment to the supplier. The officials also recovered the money charged as “commission” from them.
“It was decided that contractor’s payment would be released only when he pays 1.5% commission. Accordingly they had reached an agreement that the contractor will pay Rs23,000 before his payment is formally released”, said one of the CBI officials.
Soon after their arrest, the CBI team went into an overdrive and raided their residences in Udhampur where they allegedly recovered huge cash, investment details and some documents. -via DNA.
Colonel demands Rs23,000 as bribe, held

Comment by Sumit Ganguly
These episodes underscore a tragic reality- the once impregnable bastion of the armed forces has now also fallen prey to the temptations of making a quick buck, in flagrant violation of professional norms, moral rectitude and legal strictures. Taken together they constitute a disturbing postscript to a number of other, larger and wider scandals that have wracked India in the recent past. They underscore that no institution in the country is now without some taint and that the quality of India’s democracy is now at risk.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Greedy Generals Subvert Military Land Titles

Generals Vij and Deepak are they the perpetuators of this Puzzle?
Puzzling land title system behind Adarsh scam: Jaipal Reddy
New Delhi, Nov 27 (PTI)

Against the backdrop of Adarsh scam, the Union government today blamed the complex land title system for increasing number of such cases and favoured urgent reforms in the sector to make it transparent and effective.
"The recent scandal relating to Adarsh housing society is a classic example. Nobody knows to whom the land belongs," Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy said here at a seminar on Guaranteed Land and Property Certification system.
He said, "Can there be a more sorry example of land titling. I am not talking of misuse by the people belonging to every important walks of life -- politicians, defence forces, bureaucrats...I am not referring to the scandal part of the thing. Today nobody knows to whom the property belongs."
The seminar was organised to discuss ways for introducing property certification system in the country. He said the system is being exploited by people like Haji Mastan (land mafia) and there is a nexus between politicians and officials.
"Thanks to the problem of urban land titling, we have Haji Mastans (land mafia) in every towns. Most of the politicians, policemen, officials... are hand in glove when it comes to urban land," Reddy said, adding, "In the last ten years, mining land and urban land have become best source of money making. It is difficult to find a non-disputed land."
He said, "Land titling is a ticklish question not only in urban area, but also in rural areas. Even in pre-Independent India it took decades to settle the land suit and that situation remains (till today)." Since urbanisation is growing apace it is difficult to distinguish rural and urban land, he said.
Referring Nandigram, the minister said there is need for a comprehensive law for guaranteed land titles. "We saw the problem in Nandigram where land owners were in Kolkata and somebody else was the tenant. Today no body knows to whom the property belongs. In my view, land titles pose most legal puzzle to our system."
Hoping that there will be a way forward, he said, "The subject is with the state government and not with the Centre. Let us find a solution. Let us take a few small steps." The Centre has already set up a working group and is developing a model land title for the states. The model will be provided to the state so that they can adopt a modern, effective and transparent land title certification system, Urban Development Secretary Navin Kumar said.
Puzzling land title system behind Adarsh scam- Deccan Herald Report

Court-martialled officer not to get post-retirement benefits
Army sacks guilty General in Sukhna scam
New Delhi/Guwahati, Dec 3, DHNS:

Former military secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash was on Saturday dismissed from service after he was found guilty on three counts in a land scam at the Sukhna military station in West Bengal in 2008.
Sixty-one-year-old Prakash is the third Lt Gen rank officer to be court-martialled and the second to be sacked.
As Prakash has already retired from service on January 31, 2010, as per the Army Act, the dismissal means he will not get any post-retirement benefits like pension, medical facility and provident fund or be able to retain the rank and status of Lt General. He also automatically stands stripped off all his medals.
The order by the military court will be sent for confirmation to the eastern army commander, the convening authority of the General Court Martial in the case.
The order has to be signed by the Army chief to come into effect and Lt Gen Prakash can appeal against it in the civilian higher judiciary
Sukhna Scamster dismissed


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