Monday, October 7, 2013

Civil-military ties worsening - Rajat Pandit TNN

New Delhi: When Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne,the countrys seniormost military leader,recently wrote to defence minister A K Antony to demand full representation for the armed forces in the new central pay commission,it was couched in extremely polite language. But the underlying message was crystal clear : theforces do not have faith in the civilian dispensation largely the bureaucracy to fully grasp the unique challenges of military service. And, hence, address long-standing,concerns over their eroding status, parity and equivalence as compared to their civilian counterparts.

The letter was a small but significant pointer to the larger malaise of the mounting dysfunctional relationship between the civilian leadership and military. The ongoing internecine warfare between the government and former Army chief General V K Singh, with well-calculated and timed leaks, is just the ugliest manifestation of the plummeting equation. There seems to be little concern, on either side, for the institutions being wrecked in the process, says an insider.

The civil-military divide in the sprawling and monkey-infested corridors of South Block is nothing new. But it has got accentuated like never before in recent years. Civilian primacy over the military has, unfortunately, morphed into bureaucratic control ... the political leadership just twiddles its thumbs in masterly inaction. Ex-servicemen, for instance, have been returning hard-won medals for the last five years but to no avail, says a top general. Responds a senior bureaucrat, Demands of the armed forces, which live in their own fiefdoms, have become highly unrealistic. The government, for instance, has hiked ex-servicemen pensions at least three times since the 6th Pay Commission, including a Rs 2,300 crore  package last year.

But pay and pensions is just one of the issues. The armed forces complain of being downgraded over the years, which extends to being kept at an arms length from policy formulation & decision-making. Experts say the huge politico-bureaucratic resistance to critical reforms in country's higher defence management suggested by the K Subramanyam-led Kargil Review Committee and the 2001 group of ministers report on reforming the national security system as well as the Naresh Chandra Taskforce last year is one of the main reasons for the failure to bridge the divide.

Just a few months ago, as was then reported by TOI, the defence ministry quietly rejected most of the key recommendations of the Naresh Chandra Taskforce. Pointing to lack of consensus in the armed forces as well as the need to consult political parties, it shot down the proposal to create the post of a permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC ). This General No.1,a four star officer like the three Service chiefs with a fixed two year tenure, would have been the principal military advisor to the government and an invitee to the Cabinet Committee on Security. He would have also helped usher in some desperately-needed synergy among the Army, Navy and IAF in planning, procurement, operational and doctrinal issues.

Similarly,another key recommendation that was junked was cross-staffing Z posting of military officers to MoD.


  1. Brown may have lost hair on his head bur he still has strong teeth which can bite. Hope his successor (Army & Navy)will also display similar strength

  2. It is unfortunate for the nation that these bureaucrats do not budge from causing damage to the interests of indian soldiers. This senior bureaucrat's remarks that "Demand of the armed forces, which live in their own fiefdoms, have become highly unrealistic.
    The government, for instance, has hiked ex-servicemen pensions at least three times since the 6th Pay Commission.
    This clearly indicates that the government (these bureaucrat s) have allowed these dues in three instalments, and that too after so much hue and cry by the soldiers, what should have actually been allowed at first instance. In fact, these so called enhancements were the shortfalls caused by the clarificatory circulars issued subsequently by these very bureaucrats. Otherwise, the initial letter issued by the government as per recommendation s of the Pay Commission had almost covered these enhancements. This has been amply proved by the decision of the CAT, subsequently upheld by Hon'ble P & HP and Delhi HC as also by the Hon'ble SC by rejecting the SLP filed by these bureaucrats. What a shame! Even Rs 2,300 crore highlighted by these bureaucrats comprises mostly the amount of long due arrears of pension of senior officers awarded by law courts. It is disgusting that exservicemen organizations are putting up a united front and taking cases to law courts. Civil government pensioners have already won OROP case with enhanced pension from CAT, which is upheld by HC and the Appex Court. But our organizations seems in deep slumber in this direction though they have a very brilliant advocate in Major Navdeep Singh with them. Further, Railway Supervisors Assn have already shot out letter to PM and FM for their representation in 7th Pay Commission, and Air Chief to the Defense Minister but veteran organizations may also write to PM and Finance Minister for representation in the Pay Commission. I request bureaucrats to treat indian soldiers with sympathy. Gurdip Singh ph.001-647-961-9172