Wednesday, September 28, 2022

New Chief Of Defence Staff (CDS) Is Lt General Anil Chauhan PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM.

Lt General Anil Chauhan PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, is new CDS. He is presently military advisor to the NSA Ajit Doval who heads NSCS.

He retired in May 2021, will be 62 years in May 2023.
Ideologically perfect!






Friday, September 16, 2022

Supreme Court grants Centre time till 15 December 2022 to implement OROP

The request for more time was opposed by the original petitioner in the case, Indian Ex Servicemen Movement, which challenged the OROP scheme before the Supreme Court in 2016

The Supreme Court gave the Centre three more months, noting that it had made some progress since March 16 when it passed the OROP order. (HT File Photo)
The Supreme Court gave the Centre three more months, noting that it had made some progress since March 16 when it passed the OROP order. 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Centre time till December to implement the one rank one pension (OROP) scheme after being told by the government that re-fixation of pension is a “time consuming” process.

The Centre moved an application for a three-month extension in June, just before the expiry of the deadline set by the Supreme Court in its March 16 ruling that cleared the OROP scheme.

A bench of justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli allowed the Centre’s application as it noted that some progress had been made since the passing of the order. The application assured the bench that the government was “taking earnest steps” to comply with the court’s directions which require Cabinet approval.

It was pointed out that the mandatory inter-ministerial consultations have been completed and a cabinet note drafted. After completing other formalities, the cabinet note will be sent for approval to the Cabinet Secretariat. “After the approval of the Cabinet, various types of pension tables will be required to be prepared by the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA), which is also a time-consuming process,” the Centre said in its application.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) N Venkataraman told the court that though three months have passed since the filing of this application, the government still required a further time of three months.

Acceding to the Centre’s request, the bench was willing to extend the time till December 31 but later modified it by saying three months from today. The three-month period will end by December 15.

The request for more time was opposed by the original petitioner in the case, Indian Ex Servicemen Movement, which challenged the OROP scheme before the Supreme Court in 2016. Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi appearing for the petitioner along with advocate Balaji Srinivasan told the court that the retired armed forces personnel have been deprived of the arrears payable to them under the OROP since its launch on November 7, 2015.

The scheme envisaged the re-fixation of pension after every five years. This process was to be done in the year 2019 but this wasn’t done since the matter was pending in court.

In its March judgment, the court said, “We order and direct that in terms of the communication dated November 7, 2015, a re-fixation exercise shall be carried out from July 1, 2019, upon the expiry of five years. Arrears payable to all eligible pensioners of the armed forces shall be computed and paid over accordingly within a period of three months.”

The challenge to the OROP by the petitioner organization and individual ex-servicemen was on two counts. They wanted an automatic revision of pension instead of a five-year periodic revision and even challenged the arbitrary cut-off of July 1, 2014, for determination of pension which put those who retired prior to this date at a disadvantage.

The court did not accept the two demands of the petitioners as it felt that the issue fell purely within the policy domain. The government had informed the court that the estimated budget allocation for defence pensions is 133825 crores representing 28.39% of the total defence budget estimate of 4,71,378 crores for 2020-21. This does not include the budget for salaries, which is 34.89% of the total defence budget estimates for 2020-21.

In its verdict, the court underlined that salaries and pensions accounted for 63% of the defence budget estimates for 2020-2021 and the government was entitled to take into account priorities for modernization of the armed forces and modulate the grant of financial benefits.


(Source : HT)

Friday, September 2, 2022

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi commissions India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in Kochi “INS Vikrant is not just a warship. It is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence and commitment of 21st century India” INS Vikrant is a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous resources and indigenous skills: PM Marking a departure from the colonial past, PM unveiled the new Naval Ensign, dedicates the Ensign to Chhatrapati Shivaji

 Ministry of Defence

azadi ka amrit mahotsav

Raksha Mantri terms INS Vikrant as a glowing symbol of an aspirational & self-reliant ‘New India’

“It is testament to our resolve to ensure the safety & security of the nation in the next 25 years”

INS Vikrant will protect the security & economic interests of the country: Shri Rajnath Singh

Showcasing the country’s growing prowess of indigenous manufacturing and a major milestone in the path towards ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’,PM Shri Narendra Modi commissioned the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant at Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) on 02 Sep 22. During the event, the Prime Minister also unveiled the new Naval Ensign (Nishaan), doing away with the colonial past and befitting the rich Indian maritime heritage. He dedicated the new ensign to Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Addressing the gathering, the PM said, here on the coast of Kerala, every Indian is witnessing the sunrise of a new future. This event being held on the INS Vikrant is a tribute to the rising spirits of India on the world horizon. He said that today we are seeing a manifestation of the dream of the freedom fighters where they envisioned a capable and strong India. The PM exclaimed “Vikrant is huge, massive, and vast. Vikrant is distinguished, Vikrant is also special. Vikrant is not just a warship. This is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence and commitment of India in the 21st century. If the goals are distant, the journeys are long, the ocean and the challenges are endless – then India's answer is Vikrant. The incomparable Amrit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is Vikrant. Vikrant is a unique reflection of India becoming self-reliant.”

Commenting on the new mood of the nation, the PM said, no challenge is too difficult for today’s India. He said “today, India has joined those countries in the world, which manufacture such a huge aircraft carrier with indigenous technology. Today INS Vikrant has filled the country with a new confidence, and has created a new confidence in the country.” The Prime Minister acknowledged and praised the contribution of the Navy, engineers of Cochin Shipyard, scientists and specially the workers who worked on the project. He also noted the happy and auspicious occasion of Onam that is adding even more happiness to the occasion.

Every part of INS Vikrant has its own merits, a strength, a development journey of its own. It is a symbol of indigenous potential, indigenous resources and indigenous skills. The steel installed in its airbase is also indigenous, developed by DRDO scientists and produced by Indian companies, he said. Explaining the massive proportions of the Carrier, the PM said it is like a floating city. It produces electricity that is sufficient to power 5000 households and the wiring used will reach Kashi from Kochi, he said. He said that INS Vikrant is a living embodiment of the Spirit of the Panch Prans that he proclaimed from the ramparts of Red Fort.

The Prime Minister talked about the Indian Maritime tradition and naval capabilities. Chhatrapati Veer Shivaji Maharaj, he said, built such a navy on the strength of this sea power, which kept the enemies on their toes. When the British came to India, they used to be intimidated by the power of Indian ships and trade through them. So they decided to break the back of India's maritime power. History is witness to how strict restrictions were imposed on Indian ships and merchants by enacting a law in the British Parliament at that time, the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister noted that today on the historic date of September 2, 2022, India has taken off a trace of slavery, a burden of slavery. The Indian Navy has got a new flag from today. Till now the identity of slavery remained on the flag of Indian Navy. But from today onwards, inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji, the new Navy flag will fly in the sea and in the sky.

The PM remarked that when Vikrant descends to protect our maritime zone, many women soldiers of the Navy will also be stationed there. With the immense power of the ocean, boundless female power, it is becoming the lofty identity of the new India. Now the Indian Navy has decided to open all its branches for women. The restrictions that were there are now being removed. Just as there are no boundaries for the capable waves, there will be no boundaries or restrictions for the daughters of India.

The Prime Minister said drop by drop water becomes like a vast ocean. He also mentioned the salute by indigenous canon on this Independence Day. Similarly, if every citizen of India starts living the mantra of 'Vocal for Local', then it will not take long for the country to become self-reliant.

Commenting on the changing geo-strategic situation, he said in the past, security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean have long been ignored. But, today this area is a major defence priority of the country for us. That is why we are working in every direction, from increasing the budget for the Navy to increasing its capability, he said. The Prime Minister said that a strong India will pave the way for a peaceful and safe world.

In his address, Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh termed the commissioning of INS Vikrant at the onset of 'Amritkal' as a testament to the Govt’s strong resolve to ensure the safety and security of the nation in the next 25 years. “INS Vikrant is a glowing symbol of an aspirational and self-reliant ‘New India’. It is an icon of pride, power and resolve of the Nation. Its commissioning is an unprecedented achievement in the path of building indigenous warships. Indian Navy’s tradition is ‘old ships never die’. This new avatar of Vikrant, which played a stellar role in the 1971 war, is a humble tribute to our freedom fighters and brave soldiers,” he said.

Shri Rajnath Singh also asserted that it is a key responsibility of the Indian Navy to secure the country’s maritime interests for uninterrupted maritime trade, amid the constantly-changing global situation. He commended the Navy for always being the ‘First Responder’ in times of any national or international crisis and exuded confidence that the commissioning of INS Vikrant will further enhance the force’s capability. He added that this is an assurance to the friendly foreign countries that India is fully capable of meeting the collective security needs of the region. “We believe in a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our efforts in this regard are guided by ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) as envisioned by the Prime Minister,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri also described the commissioning of INS Vikrant as a confirmation that the Govt’s unwavering commitment to achieve ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ is not an isolated policy. It is an important part of the huge transformative change taking place in India under the leadership of PM Shri Narendra Modi, he said.

Shri Rajnath Singh commended the PM for his visionary leadership in realising the dream of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, stating that the government has made path breaking changes in all sectors such as defence, health,education, agriculture, trade, transport and communication. He listed out a series of steps taken by Ministry of Defence to achieve the objective. These include setting up of defence corridors in UP and Tamil Nadu; issuance of three positive indigenisation lists; earmarking of 68% of capital procurement budget for domestic industry; Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 and increase in FDI limit. He said, the aim is ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ and exports of more than $400 billion in the last year is a proof of this vision.

“As India is moving rapidly towards a $5 trillion economy, our share in global trade will increase in the coming times. If the share will increase, a large part of it will inevitably be through maritime routes. In such a situation, INS Vikrant will prove to be crucial to safeguard our security and economic interests,” the Raksha Mantri said.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar voiced the Navy’s resolve for India@100 to become completely self-reliant until 2047, consisting of ‘Made in India’ ships, submarines, aircraft, unmanned vessels and systems and remain a ‘Combat Ready, Credible, Cohesive and Future-Proof Force’. He added that the Navy is determined to move forward on the path of five pledges - developed India, removing any sign of servility, pride in heritage, unity and fulfilling the duties -  as envisioned by the Prime Minister.

The Chief of the Naval Staff exhorted the Commanding Officer and crew of INS Vikrant to take forward the proud legacy of erstwhile Vikrant which served the country for 36 glorious years and played a significant role in the 1971 war.

About INS Vikrant

The commissioning of INS Vikrant is a proud moment for the Nation as it showcased the ‘Aatmanirbhar’ credentials during ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ and a true testament to the country’s zeal and fervour in pursuing capability build up towards enhanced maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region. With the commissioning, India has entered into a select band of Nations having niche capability to indigenously design and build an Aircraft Carrier and real testimony to the Nation’s resolve for self-reliance and ‘Make in India’.

INS Vikrant is designed by Indian Navy's in-house Warship Design Bureau (WDB) and built by Cochin Shipyard Limited, a Public Sector Shipyard under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Vikrant has been built with state of the art automation features and is the largest ship ever built in maritime history of India.

The 262.5 m long and 61.6 m wide Vikrant displaces approx 43,000 T, having a maximum designed speed of 28 Knots with endurance of 7,500 Nautical Miles. The ship has around 2,200 compartments, designed for a crew of around 1,600 including women officers and sailors. The carrier is designed with a very high degree of automation for machinery operations, ship navigation and survivability. The carrier is equipped with the latest state of the art equipment and systems.

The ship is capable of operating air wing consisting of 30 aircraft comprising of MiG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31, MH-60R multi-role helicopters, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Navy). Using a novel aircraft-operation mode known as Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR), INS Vikrant is equipped with a ski-jump for launching aircraft, and a set of ‘arrester wires’ for their recovery onboard.

With 76% indigenous content, construction of INS Vikrant has resulted in direct employment generation for over 2,000 employees of CSL. In addition, it has resulted in indirect employment generation for approx 12,500 employees for over 550 OEMs, sub-contractors, ancillary industries and over 100 MSMEs as well, thereby bolstering plough back effect on economy.

New Ensign of Navy

Resonant to the ongoing national endeavour to move away from colonial past, need was felt to transition to a new design that drew inspiration from our history. The White Ensign identified nation-wide with the Navy, now comprises of two main constituents - the National Flag in the upper left canton, and a Navy Blue - Gold octagon at the centre of the fly side (away from the staff). The Octagon is with twin golden octagonal borders encompassing the golden National Emblem (Lion Capital of Ashoka – underscribed with ‘Satyamev Jayate’ in blue Devnagri script) resting atop an anchor; and superimposed on a shield. Below the shield, within the octagon, in a golden bordered ribbon, on a Navy Blue background, is inscribed the motto of the Indian Navy ‘Sam No Varunah’ in golden Devnagriscript. The design encompassed within the octagon has been taken from the Indian Naval crest, wherein the fouled anchor, which is also associated with colonial legacy, has been replaced with a clear anchor underscoring the steadfastness of the Indian Navy.


Kerala Governor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan, Kerala Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan, Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, National Security Advisor Shri Ajit Doval, Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Ajay Bhatt and senior civil & military officials of Ministry of Defence and CSL were among those present on the occasion.

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ABB/VM/Savvy


(Release ID: 1856230) Visitor Counter : 1507

(Posted On:02 SEP 22 12:02PM by PIB Delhi)

Record Digital Disbursement to Defence Pensioners via SPARSH : 5.6 lakh Pensioners migrate to the Digital Platform

 Ministry of Defence

azadi ka amrit mahotsav

Providing impetus to Digital India initiative, the System for Pensions Administration – RakSHa or SPARSH has disbursed more than Rs 3,090 Crore to Defense Pensioners digitally in the month of Aug 22. In another milestone, 5,62,946 Defence Pensioners migrated successfully onto the digital  platform of SPARSH in August 2022. The total number of pensioners onboarded to SPARSH has crossed over the one million mark with 11 lakh beneficiaries, which is nearly 33% of the total defence pensioners in India.

This transformational change has been made possible only thro incremental innovations. SPARSH is the web-based system processing the pension claims and crediting the pension directly into the bank accounts of defence pensioners without any external intermediary. It has grown exponentially with more than Rs 11,600 Crores disbursed in the Financial Year 2021-22, from just about Rs 57 crores in FY 2020-21.

The Defence Accounts Department is the nodal implementing agency of Project SPARSH, integrating over 3000 pension initiating, sanctioning and disbursement agencies. It has brought pension services right at the door step of the veterans – from digital process of pensioner verification to real time tracking of grievance redressal.

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ABB/GC   

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(Posted On: 02 SEP 22 3:05PM by PIB Delhi)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Time for Defence Ministry to Review

I am a defence pensioner and I have asked many of my acquaintances across the military rank structure about the efficacy of the old system of disbursing pension. I am yet to receive any negative feedback on that score. On the other hand, pension grievances mostly pertain to the Department of Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare, CGDA, and their interpretations of rules and their manner of dealing with court rulings. SPARSH does not in any way appear to rectify such problems, at least not in any reasonable timeframe, because inadequacies of human agencies cannot be possibly compensated by a centralised digital system like SPARSH.

Whatever be the eventual result, there is no denying the fact that the CGDA would have expanded its empire – whether personnel, infrastructure or control. Most grievances of pensioners are likely to continue facing indifferent inaction from the bureaucracy. The only beneficiary would be the CGDA in terms of its vastly increased power and attendant benefit thereof. At the same time, cyber vulnerability would also have expanded in scope. Mere publicity drives cannot solve these issues.

However, SPARSH can be halted in its tracks, if the provision that is available on its website regarding migration from the old system to new requiring individual consent is activated. It won’t be surprising if an overwhelming majority of the remaining pensioners—who are still a significant majority—opt out. If, however, it is accompanied by a provision that in the event of failing to exercise their option for migration their assent will be assumed, the system could incorrectly show sizeable bloated numbers opting for it. In fact, if most pensioners are allowed to voice their opinion, they would broadcast the fact that their spouses (many of whom are barely educated) still live in a world that is distanced from the Digital India that SPARSH seems to take for granted and wishes to leverage.

Taken together, the failure of the CGDA to implement the revised OROP scales and the decision to go for SPARSH should loudly ring alarm bells for the defence minister. He needs to realise that he has, in all probability, been sold a plot that is based more on hot air than fact.

Lt Gen (Dr) Prakash Menon (retd) is Director, Strategic Studies Programme, Takshashila Institution; former military adviser, National Security Council Secretariat. He tweets @prakashmenon51. Views are personal.

(Source : The Mint)

Is SPARSH any good?

It is against this backdrop the CGDA has taken on more responsibility for itself and launched another scheme called SPARSH (System for   Pension Administration) related to defence pension management.    The initiative claims to be derived from the vision of Digital India, Direct Benefit Transfer and ‘minimal government, maximum governance’. In essence, it centralises the complete cycle of pension that includes initiation, sanction, disburse-ment, revision, service and grievance management under a single entity, the Defence Accounts Department.

SPARSH received negative publicity when over 50,000-odd defence pensioners who had been migrated to the scheme did not reportedly receive their pension in the month of April 2022. Apparently, their annual life certificates had not been received and the algorithm had done its job. The issue was immediately resolved and the pension disbursed. The pensioners were given more time to send their certificates. The episode however reflects a larger problem about assumptions related to leveraging Digital India.

Digitisation permits greater centralisation but simultaneously increases vulnerability. There are currently approximately 26 lakh defence pensioners and the number will only grow with time. When housed in a single system like SPARSH, its vulnerability to a cyber-attack cannot be ignored. Amongst other issues, a cyber-risk assessment should have given cause for caution. But even if it was done, it seems to have been overshadowed by the main argument – purportedly for saving money, sweet music to the ears of the bureaucracy and politicians.

The existing system of pension disbursement has public and private sector banks as intermediaries for which they charge a certain fee. SPARSH, it is said, requires no intermediaries. But for sure, it will require enhanced numbers of personnel and also infrastructure. Both these demand short-term and long-term financial outlays that may undermine the primary logic of savings. The existing system was partially outsourced, but the plan is to make it a purely governmental enterprise. So, it does not support the notion of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’.

(Source : The Mint)

SPARSH will make defence pension digital, but problems won’t disappear. Ask pensioners

Failure to implement revised OROP & go for SPARSH should ring alarm bells for Defence Minister. And it won’t be ‘minimum govt, maximum governance’. By LT GEN PRAKASH MENON

The management of defence pensions has been taxing the capabilities of the Ministry of Defence for decades. The implementation of the One Rank One Pension or OROP) scheme has turned into a legal and bureaucratic battleground. Some ex-Servicemen have locked horns with the Executive and the Judiciary, but justice remains elusive. Even the refixing of pension every five years that was due in 2019 has not been done. The reasons for the delay are revealing of the awkward consequences brought about by the interplay of multiple actors.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD), it is said, has not refixed the pensions on the due date since the issue was sub-judice. An unrepresentative group of ex-Servicemen had filed a case in the Supreme Court that the MoD was violating the OROP principle by replacing it with ‘One rank multiple pensions’ for persons with the same length of service. On 16 March 2022, the court dismissed the case and directed the re-fixation to be carried out from 1 July 2019 and arrears paid within three months.

Three months have elapsed on 16 June 2022 without implementation of the SC’s direction. Technically, it opens the door for contempt of court. The reason for this delay obtained through a Request For Information (RFI) has indicated that on 30 May 2022, a note was initiated by the Department of Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare in the MoD that various types of pension tables will be required to be prepared by the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA), which is a time-consuming process and therefore the SC be requested to grant minimum three months more. Since then, no other proceedings involving the SC has come to light. Pensioners continue to wait.

On 29 July, Ajay Bhatt, the minister of state in the MoD, in reply to an unstarred question in the Lok Sabha on the implementation of the three months for refixation, replied that it was ‘under process’. What was left unsaid was that various executive arms of the government were overwhelmed by the effort required to implement the ruling of the SC. The CGDA, the prime institution involved, has had years to formulate draft pension tables – a task that should not be so daunting in the computer age and yet they are asking for more time.

(Soure : The Print)