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Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Points for Discussion With RM: 14 Mar 16
From: Satish Kumar Bahri
After the meeting I handed over copies of the points given in the attachment to the RM, Gen VK Singh and Mr Rajeev Chandershekhar. FYI
Satish Bahri (Lt Gen SK Bahri, PVSM, Former MGO, Chairman Alliance Of Ex Servicemen Organisations, 1st JSW Course)
Points for Discussion With RM: 14 Mar 16
I would like to state at the outset we pensioners are dependent on what a serving soldier gets. So it is important for the govt to look after its serving soldiers as they are the spearhead of any country, even though some of our CAPFs are claiming that they are the 1st line of defence! I have been in three ops and can tell with confidence none of these khaki clad pseudo soldiers want to be in the front line when the balloon goes up. This spearhead now feels that it is under siege from all sides. Somebody had the temerity to say that they have volunteered for this job with their eyes open and they knew their conditions of service, so why are they cribbing now. I can say with authority that when I was commissioned in 1952 we were a service apart with a special status, but after Gen Thimayya’s resignation due to his differences with his Commie RM, the then pacifist PM’s statement that the civil govt is supreme gave the civil servants an excuse to claim supremacy over the defence forces, while the political masters did not interfere. Thereafter, a concerted effort has been on to down grade the importance of the armed forces. I daresay a very dangerous course has been set which may cost the nation an unbearable price. One must remember that if the civil servants make any amount of blunders the country has a chance to rectify matters, but if the defence forces make a blunder the results could be worse than what happened to us in 1962 and to Pakistan in 1971.
I personally am disappointed with the Govt for the following reasons:-
a)The defence services are aware that the bureaucratic environment is against them and hoped that the political hierarchy will look after their interests. Unfortunately, this hope has been belied. What is more galling is that while the civil services take the cream away, soldiers are grudgingly given watered down “chaach”, despite their sacrifices.
b)It took us over 30 years to get the Parliament to approve OROP but again there is quibbling over a few hundred crores. Soldiers don’t quibble when the task given to them is to be carried out with inadequate equipment, for no fault of theirs. Did the political masters ever question NFU being granted for all civil servants, and how much it cost? The civil servants do not even provide an estimate so that public is not shocked as to how much it costs the country to keep the golf playingbabus in velvet. NFU has its unwarranted side effects as all civil servants are assured of progression in their careers whatever the quality of their service is, because there is no selection of the fittest one for a job. Imagine the cost to the country in terms of mediocrity being rewarded. For me to become a Lt Gen I was screened by 5 selection boards. Pray tell me how many selections our counterparts go through. It is a cakewalk for them!
c)It is often thrown in our face that as we get MSP, so we are adequately compensated. They never tell as what percentage of them draw deputation allowance, for just working from a different desk. We do not ask for a special allowance for being deployed in the desert, mountains or jungles. Even a person serving in Siachen is being offered a lessor allowance than a babu in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh. That too as a percentage of his salary unlike soldiers, who get a fixed amount whatever be their salary.
d)Despite govt orders that no one will wear uniform items similar to the army uniform. But right under the nose of the MHA and MOD every CAPF wears camouflage uniforms. With the result that in the recent Haryana riots Army flag march columns had to carry banners with ARMY written on them to identify themselves, as the police and BSF/CRPF personnel standing by the roadside were wearing similar uniforms. It is surprising that every police force wants to play soldiers without its culture or training. Some of us noticed that the last DG NSG was wearing a red band on his turban instead of a black/navy blue band. Also, it is disheartening that an outfit whose backbone is sourced from the Army is headed by a policeman, who has not run through even an obstacle course in the last 20 years, and is not an officer from the Special Forces. The Defence Security Corps has been guarding airbases, naval installations, ammunition depots, ordnance factories, defence PSUs and army workshops but are not required to wear camouflage uniform. But CISF wears it while guarding airports (not done in any other country) and even I am sure, Reliance oil refinery in Jamnagar!
e)Soldiers have to fight, go to Courts to get their dues. 6th CPC is a prime example of soldiers having to fight for rank pay, pension fixation at bottom of pay band, and broad banding of disability pension. A few years ago Maj Gens had to go to court as their pension was fixed below that of Brigs. Why does MOD let this happen? Does it not know the difference in ranks of the armed forces? And when SC ordered payment of 6 % interest to the affected people who had been denied rank pay, MOD appealed against this and got SC to amend the order to deny interest worth 20 yrs. A reasonable govt would not have appealed and instead taken action against the people who had played this fraud on the soldiers. Something unthinkable in our country.
f)A recent instance is of the CDA(P) seeking clarifications from MOD on payment of OROP. To every query the answer from MOD was to ensure that the soldier gets lesser of the two options posed by the CDA(P). The Chairman 7th CPC has lauded the Secretary of the Commission, an IDA&AS officer for his extensive knowledge of the armed forces and so had tendered expert advice. I would like to state that I as a CO had to send cases of rum to our PAO at Deolali, like other COs, just to get the Part II orders of my JCOs & OR published so that they could get their legitimate allowances. I also had the honour of informing the Secy Def Fin, Chief and the RRM, as MGO that a Director (Budget) in the MOD was demanding Rs 20 Lakhs from the CMD of a company for issuing an order for engines, which I had got cleared from the RRM. Nobody did anything about it and he was instead posted to the UN. But the man was sentenced to 10 yrs RI in New York as he tried the Indian tricks when posted in UNO’s procurement section.
Sir, in the interest of National security, please integrate servicemen in the Ministry in the true sense of the word, so that there is transparency and expert advice in its functioning and you get to know what is happening. When I retired in 1990 I am aware that none of the Chiefs was on speaking terms with the Defence Secretary. The DESW must be headed by a service officer who can do justice to ESM. Most western countries have e retired General officer as Minister of Veteran Affairs so that the PM and RM get correct advice, uncoloured by parochial views. Why do we do it differently?
OROP must be given in the true form with effect from 1 Apr 2014 based on pensions drawn during FY 2013/14 2014 as the start point, it should be based not on the average but on the maximum pension of the rank and qualifying service, this will leave room for fudging of figures by CDA(P). Also pensions should be revised every year and not every 5 years as envisaged by the Koshiyari Committee. The Nation has enough money and it should not stint on its armed forces, which have ensured the security of the nation and allowed it to prosper unhindered. Therefore, Soldiers should be rewarded for their consistent performance.
Lt Gen SK Bahri
(Source- Via e-mail from Col NK Balakrishnan (Retd)