Saturday, August 22, 2015
OROP - VIEWS FROM THE OTHER SIDE (IAS COMMUNITY) IN BLUE - AND COUNTERVIEW OF WG CDR RAJESH KHOSLA (RETD) IN RED
Dear Mr Devasahayam,
Kudos to you for attempting to present a view from the other side of the hill. More kudos for presenting a balanced view in a very neutral manner. That makes these views all the more credible. I shall attempt to answer these views in the manner of Reply to C& AG ( Comptroller & Auditor General) Audit, sentence by sentence , shown of all emotionalism. To differentiate the text, my answers are in red. Since public memory is short, I shall confine my narrative only to the last few years.
Wg Cdr Rajesh Khosla (Veteran)
Concerned with the emails and messages exchanged on the Veteran network on this surcharged matter of OROP
I posed the issue in my IAS email circuit. There have been several responses from my colleagues who have been Secretaries to Government of India, some of them closely associated with Defence issues. I reproduce just five of them for your info without revealing their identity:
A commendable effort.
1. "Let's face it. As the son of an army officer, i can see that the obstacle to the OROP is not economic, not financial-PM himself announced the huge income generated by different government initiatives in mining etc.- not even political; it is simply bureaucratic. Surely there is someone in the political leadership astute enough to realise this and cut the purely illusory Gordian Knot?"
I thoroughly agree with the writer above. The average man in the street goes into a coma when a few zeros are added to any sum because that sum is beyond his comprehension and therefore with his limited knowledge he can be manipulated. Who does the manipulation? No prizes for guessing. Service Chiefs are not allowed to give interviews on even Operational Matters. The sum being bandied about is 8000 crores today. My last Station, Awantipur had a Capital outlay of Rs 1500 Crores (at prices 25 yrs ago) and an annual maintenance budget of Rs 150 crores. Conclusion: The propaganda war will always be won by the Babu.
2. "Having worked in MOD for many years, I think I do have some understanding of military-bureaucratic relationship We need to understand that the political class is not so naive as to ignore a very powerful vote bank of veterans and the Armed Forces. The assumption that the civil servants in MOD or MOF would resist a legitimate demand and be able to prevail upon the political class for over a decade is not well-founded. The OROP is likely to have implications for other services, otherwise the demand would have been conceded by now, specially because the P.M. has himself made an unequivocal commitment. Another aspect to be considered is the impact on MODs pension budget. OROP will perhaps have a cascading effect,eroding resources for modernisation and defence preparedness. To attribute delay to some bureaucratic conspiracy or recalcitrance may not be fair. The pity is that the implications or complexities are never brought out in the public domain."
Veterans may vote but the Armed forces almost always never do. In my 25 years in uniform, I voted only once. I happened to be posted in a large city and I got the ballot paper in time. Dare anybody deny this. Veterans have till now not used their political power and in fact have been indifferent to all political parties because in the past they were brought up to be a-political. They voted as individuals. It is a terrible shame that today one party is being espoused over another by Veterans leading to the politicization of the Armed Forces. I consider this a very dangerous retrograde step. I can assure you that when Mr Modi held General VK Singh’s hand at Rewari, his victory was assured, notwithstanding Gujarat. 40,000 votes were not counted at Ghaziabad to ensure that Mr Modi’s victory was not eclipsed by VK Singh. So much for the vote bank. An allusion to the ‘powerful’ vote bank of the Veteran is mischief because it never existed before. BUT. The Veteran is deeply , deeply respected by every Indian. Go to any village where a veteran lives and find out for yourself. Even in the South, which has seen no wars for the last 100 years. Anna Hazare is a case in point. An Army Havildar. That was his base when he started and that is why villagers listened to him.
The mess that is civil aviation today is the mess that is Defence today. Being technical operations, Both are not understood by the politician and both are run by the IAS. The IAS is hardly better qualified to understand technical games. One thing is assured, both these services are cash cows with, till now, no vote bank. The politician is a very insecure person, A rape somewhere could unseat him or even internal party politics. Money buys security and the Presstitutes. That is why Mrs Gandhi does not hang on a gibbet. The Bureaucrat ensures steady flow of money and in return is given a free hand. As long as there is steady flow of money, the MOD can not only prevail upon the political class for a decade but for eternity.
The OROP is likely to have implications for other services? Can you compare apples and oranges? ( Quote by an IAS Officer who I shall name: Avay Shukla and many others ). Where do you even start? Pension Budget? Why, for Gods sake have you not done lateral induction of young VERY HIGHLY DISCIPLINED, very young( mid thirties) men into other services for the last 40 years. Would the IAS care to answer this? The British did this. Why did the IAS stop it . Whose game were they playing? Modernisation? If we are talking about modernization, then why are we surrendering such huge chunks of the Defence Budget? Why DRDO is almost zero? Do you know how much a single front line fighter costs? 50 million dollars. (325 Crores). Exactly 1 ½ fighter squadrons to make 8000 crores. Is 1 ½ fighter squadrons grounds enough to destroy the Armed Forces Of India? What is at work here?
Aha! Now the cat is out of the bag. “never brought out in the Public Domain” The greater the secrecy in financial matters, the greater the skull duggery and the lesser the accountability. RAW and the Cabinet Secretariat are the most secret organizations in India. How do you explain that the DIA ( defence Intelligence Agency), a military operation has 16% of the budget of RAW and yet provides 60% of the intelligence? It is the dark and inaccessibility that the Babus love the most.
3. "Your mail is very timely and welcome, and while everyone has fullest sympathy and support for the forces, the precise reasons and implications of the whole matter need to be brought out and placed in the public domain for an objective view. It would be very useful if an experienced person like you or any one with understanding could write an article, which could present an objective analysis, without in any way expressing opinion either ways, in view of the complications and politicization."
Mr Devasahayam, you being from the Army as well as the IAS are being be-seeched to act as honest mediator to get the IAS out of this terrible jam.
4. "Looking at this from a distance, the whole process seems very opaque. Greater transparency would, I'm sure, remove many misgivings and misconceptions."
5. "I make no claim to knowing the single objective reality.My opinion is based on my own experience.I wish I knew how exactly the OROP case was processed and what role the civil servants played. As you are aware, MOD follows a single file system, the Chiefs,Vice-chiefs and PSOs sit in the Ministry and have an easy access to the Minister and PMO. The Chief's opinion carries great weight. They have the support of the brightest minds in the armed forces and my guess is that on an issue as important as OROP they would have had many opportunities to clear the obfuscation, if any, created by the bureaucracy. I am inclined to believe what Avay Shukla says in the piece circulated by Deva. Of course, all bureaucracies protect and further their own interests"
No Sir, The MOD follows the Whitehall filing system. Main case files remain with service Hq while part cases are sent to the Ministry. This is in the case of files originating from Service Hqs. I expect a similar procedure would be followed in MOD where a Main File would be opened based on the Part Case. I have never seen any file returned from MOD where individual officer’s notings were entered for scrutiny by Servicemen. Admiral Arun Prakash has waxed eloquent on the number of times he met the Defence Minister. Maybe once in a quarter. There are more pressing issues to discuss than pensions. THE DEFENCE SECRETARY IS DE FACTO COMMANDER OF THE ARMED FORCES. The Service Chief is selected by him. Please note my arguments with respect to technical services above. This is what the VK Singh case was all about. In my own experience with my course mates, I observed that the most deserving candidate never made Chief. The one they made Chief was the one they had a handle on, like Suhag being wanted by the Guwahati High Court. Boy, he better behave. His silence on the subject of OROP is most deafening. Do you really think he is serving the troops? If he was, he should have put in his papers after all this brouhaha. Admiral Joshi did it for much less. The services have a rigid command structure. Cases go to the Chief ( read Def Secy) who has the authority to summarily reject them.
Finally, I will not summarise and draw conclusions in the same manner as this note has been written. The reader may draw his own conclusions.
Please note the portion in bold and get the meaning.
(Source- via e-mail from Col NK Balakrishnan(Retd)