Saturday, December 31, 2016



Faux regalia in the real unforgiving world: Look at yourself in the mirror, Part 2

Like many times before, I debated if I should pen my thoughts today- free flowing, without structure. I debated because, as I have stated before, critical pieces are at times used as tools by some frustrated souls to pinprick and grind axes against the system, rather than to introspect, improve and march ahead.

But then I still decided to. And I shall be honest.

I have written about this earlier but the wedge between the civil and the military world has since widened as the voices have become shriller. And then I saw this very important and much valid statement by General VP Malik in his recent interview to The Times of India:

“...The chief must have wide experience. The chief should also be civically literate and conversant with the principles and precepts expressed in the Constitution...”
Though we are on a different subject and not discussing higher defence appointments here, the statement is important since it comes from a retired Chief of the Army Staff, who, even though retired in 2000, seems much more progressive and practical in thought than many of our current commentators. Valid since it makes one realize the fact that the knowledge of basic constitutional concepts, democratic or even administrative principles is not optimum within the military community. To put it crudely, many serving in the military are not aware how things work.

A few days ago, at an official gathering where I had a longish conversation with some highly competent officers of the defence services, certain issues that I speak of above, stuck me hard. One, that there is an extreme lack of understanding, knowledge and acknowledgement of contribution of other professions or services. Two, that the basic insight regarding our national institutions is lacking. Three, that there is some kind of a feeling as if only the military is serving the nation while all other professions are lax, dishonest or both. Four, that there is strong resistance to change and things have come to such a pass that attempts to impress are made not by the depth of learning or knowledge but by scratching the surface and flowery English.

In the same conversation, I was also taken aback by a number of broad statements such as “80% of judiciary is corrupt” and questions about how the judiciary enjoys the month long vacation of Courts in the month of June or the promotional avenues in the civil services or how the Central Armed Police Forces are paid more than the Army while they are not performing duties that are as exacting. Urban legends, basically. Pitiful though is the fact that while the military itself is facing a multitude of challenges, people have time to discuss other professions from afar regarding which their knowledge or understanding might not be of the desired level. Or, to take an example from the above, though not germane to the subject, the actuality that it is only the Constitutional Courts that close for vacation in June and not others and that even the said Courts continue to function with vacation judges and that overburdened judges at times have to hear hundreds of cases per day, read their files in the morning and evening and night, apply mind on the precious rights of litigants, pronounce judgements, dictate decisions, sign orders and so on. Just as military personnel avail about three months of leave in a year, perhaps judges (and lawyers) too deserve a break to maintain mental equilibrium or even to look through pending work which piles up during court days, and they too are serving the society in their own way. Talking ill ofbabus is also fashionable, repeatedly comparing the military and the bureaucracy. I don’t think that a young newly inducted IAS officer looking after the magisterial, executive and revenue functions of his sub-division or a young IPS officer supervising the policing and security in the same area is encumbered with any less onerous responsibility than a newly commissioned defence officer. While we continue to ascribe duties to our officers (in the name of so-calledgrooming) that are not commensurate with their ranks thereby ourselves lowering the prestige and sheen of the military brass, paradoxically, on the other hand we speak poorly of other professions. 

What stands out distinctly from the above is that there is not enough education being imparted in our academies or institutions about other occupations and services with whom we have to work shoulder to shoulder in today’s complex environment. The vision expressed by General VP Malik for senior staff is as much valid for the youngest officer since if he or she does not build up knowledge in the formative years, the foundations shall remain weak even on attaining higher ranks. If not given attention, the knowledge about concepts such as the constitutional separation of powers or even elementary notions that would be clear to a civics student in school, would remain elusive. The net result would be tunnel vision and spending time forwarding fake social media and text messages spreading disaffection, discontentment and planting falsehoods against seniors and the establishment instead of focussing on positive well-rounded advancement to take on challenges in the real world. There would always remain people like us who shall steadfastly stand behind the genuine causes of the men and women in uniform, but not at the cost of causing injury to the reputation of  others. While IAS and IPS officers get to know more about the Army while on attachment, the equivalent exercise is missing in the defence services. Shouldn’t Gentlemen Cadets in batches be attached for a week to a Police Station to understand its functioning and the challenges faced by policemen and women or basics of investigation or criminal law? Shouldn’t they be attached at the local tehsil to comprehend its functioning? Till the time there is cross faculty exposure, which is the call of the times even for essentially military functions, seminal growth shall continue to dodge us.

The military must not lag behind in real terms by way of some kind of show of faux superiority or holiness. Sense of entitlement must yield and make way for sense of legitimate expectation. Theoretically camaraderie is stressed upon but unlike the civil services, there are sharp divisions within the system when it comes to benefits, cadre management or  even welfare schemes whether it is a struggle between the Army, Navy and Air Force, or between the Combat Arms and Combat Support Arms or between Arms and Services, and at times even between Regiments.Healthy competition is replaced with peer jealousy and crab mentality. Problems are created for own comrades at each level. Whether it was the Dynamic Assured Career Progression Scheme (DACP) for doctors or medical facilities for our Short Service Officers or certain benefits for women officers, most impediments emanated from within the uniformed community, not from outside. While we discussed whether women commissioned officers, who were allowed to serve for 14 years, were fit enough to serve for 6 more years to earn pension or not, the Central Armed Police Forces deployed women personnel at jawan level even at high altitude locations and for extreme riot control, without controversy. While we with our high noses debate how the military is superior to the ‘paramilitary’, the latter have implemented the DACP smoothly while our Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) at one time made presentations to the Ministry on why it should not be implemented, a fact now made use of by financial mandarins. While civil organizations discussed with their employees and pensioners how best to present their views before the pay commission, the military refused to share its memorandum to the pay commission even with its serving rank and file and also refused to part with it under the RTI Act. While lawyers of civil departments go out of the way to assist the courts graciously and fairly when it comes to litigation of their employees, our officers brief govt lawyers as if it’s some kind of war being waged against litigants- of course they are not at fault since they are pressurized by higher headquarters to ‘win cases’. Promotion related litigation for empanelment under the Central Staffing Scheme with the central government has sharply decreased in civil departments because all promotion related and other administrative policies of the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) are now available online and transparency is valued, while in the defence services, officers keep groping the dark to get a grip on what has hit them. Sporting events and movies come to a halt if a military VIP enters and till he is given his separate large chair in a separate enclosure with better cutlery, something unheard of in today’s civil set up. During the OROP agitation, certain veterans were full of hate towards civilians, while civilian pensioner organizations, on the contrary, supported us to the hilt even during the Anomaly Committee meetings during the recent disability pension reduction controversy. While we continue to rightly feel proud about the military, its discipline and impeccable service to the nation, there are a few things we can learn from others.

Operations and strategy, though nationally of utmost importance and also pertinent to military morale, do not affect the quality of life or basic dignity of defence personnel and their families. In every sense of that sphere, civil departments and services are doing better than the defence services- in cadre management, in welfare related issues, in facilities, in progressive personnel policies. So next time we talk about others, we must go to the nearest mirror and take a very hard look. To end, I must add that what I write above should not make you gloomy since it is simply a call to embrace positivity and reformatory thought with an open mind. Till when would we thump our chests about our past and rest on our laurels? This feel-good regalia could quite be useless in the actual world.

Get real.



  1. This article is written by Maj.Navdeep Singh.I salute him as he is crusader in spearheading retired faujis's movements.His high standard of English is one particular asset for him.He is an outstanding lawyer in profession.
    I agree with pain heart,defence people are certainly ignorant of the various functionaries in the nation building services.Partly it is due to the false horse hood they were made to wear,under the guise of military discipline.That is"Do what is ordered to do and do not ask why,when,where and how.
    Secondly they are thrown out of the service in the middle age to search for a second time lively hood.It is not the case with Officers.Even a sheep gets commissioned,its rest of the life is secured just because they rule the forces for themselves.
    Respected Maj.Navdeep Singh Ji should know what a fauji had lost during his service tenure, apart from his early younger age is the CIVIL LIBERTIES.Unlike the civilians who are allowed to work sitting in the house&bestowed with job security till retirement,faujis are punished with hand to mouth pension and thrown out to keep the defence youg.No definite pension policies.All CPPCs in unison planned and made sure to bring them on cross roads with begging bowls.The learned major should never compare a civilian and a fauji.Do if possible,give the faujis the liberties granted to civilians while in service.Then you will come to know our general knowledge.We will not ask free ration,once you allow us to go home,cook eat and come back to fight in the war front.Grant the liberty to a fauji to apply for casual leave sitting in the house.Provide a fauji permanet married accommodation which a Chaprasi in civil service enjoys and no extra service conditions attached to him.Let every civilian face the stringent medical test,including the pull ups which I undergo for a promotion wich fetches me only few hundred rupees benefit.I can write more than than Mr. Navdeep Sighh Saab.It is endless.The world becomes dark when the cat closes its eyes.

  2. The first step to improve upon the situation is to close NDA because "catch them young" strategy is the root of the evil, and augment the graduate entry through old NCC system of OTU. A real on ground graduation from the College campus is far different from the degree by JNU.

    1. I endorse your view Mr anonymous. NDA is a back door entry for sons daughters of big bosses.It is just like RAJYA SABHA for the wards of defence personnel

  3. The saying goes "Self praise is no commendation". So is the case with this write-up. The writer should have also written that Civilians enjoy family life, their children, parents, near & dear. Is this "Luxury" available to What about the hardships faced due to different extreme weather, frequent transfers, suffering loneliness & so many other difficulties of life which a civilian is not even aware of. Better it will be to project both sides of the mirror. Mere thumping one's own back is no commendation. HFO BL Kalra.

  4. Hats off to dear Gavini ji, HFO Kalra ji and indeed to the flowery critical self assessment by an insider to put up a mirror to all our misdemeanor and back patting; such reviews are to me made frequently, so that a student of literary critique and neo journalist also can have some light on the life of our soldiers.Kalra sab, our avenue had been larger and there are still down trodden millions in this great country, and for them we can bear this personal inconveniences !

  5. Yes, I fully agree. It reminds me of of a fat half Colonel pretending to be a full Colonel who would snatch away copy of the Govt letter sanctioning me disability post Court order on the pretext that he needs permission of his superior to give me a copy .... copy of a letter pertaining to me, affecting me, already delivered to all except me .... and he needed permission to give one copy to me .... such are the ways some of us think Ex Servicemen welfare should be handled and executed. I was also aghast to hear from one Lt Col dealing with Ex - Servicemen in derogatory tone addressing me not appropriately but as "litigant", as if being a litigant was something which makes you loose your basic dignity and honour and as if being "litigant" was something that deprived you of your military status... so bizarre have some of us made our own system to our own utter disadvantage.

    Most of those who deal with Ex Servicemen grievances utterly fail to understand the basic psychology and mindset of a retired person, his hopes and aspirations and his expectations from a person dealing with him. They deal with them as unwanted, undesirable and irrational individuals who need to be shunned, shown the door, and made run from pillar to post even for paltry legitimate benefits that is due to him. That reflects on our utter incompetence to deal with civilian matters and issues normally out of the ambit of the uniformed staff. They pick all bad from their civilian counterparts and no good from them.

  6. Major Saab has written a good but imbalanced article. He should endeavor to learn more about infernal Armed Forces function and then give his views. An attachment with units rather than formation HQs will be more educative. A little modesty will help. He is talented and experienced and an asset to the org.

  7. Arrears of circular 568(de 33yr) not paid to any one till date sir my pda is cppc obc

  8. Oriental Bank of commerce is not standard one,It has very few nos of branches in network.There are number of banks,who deal with pensions like SBI are available in all cities and villages.You get your pension transferred to any other bank

  9. Maj Navdeep is a full time politician at this stage.He should teach and preach these things to the other side. What the fauz has in its hand ..nothing. They are just on mercy of people..LDCs, UDCs, Section officers.....Reality is very harsh..reforms are required and not these creamy write ups.

  10. Salute to you Major. May Gurus blesses for crusade you are doing with best of human intents for VETERANS

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