At the time when China is all fire and brimstone on our Eastern borders on Doklam issue, even threatening war, Pakistan has increased its cross border terror activities in Kashmir Valley on our Western Borders, Kashmir Valley is on the boil and is controlled by Army, in NE states also Army is deployed in counter insurgency role in a big way. In any other country the ruling Netas would have thought twice if not several times before issuing orders taking away the facilities enjoyed by the Armed forces since ages, at this sensitive time, but not in India. God knows who is advising the current ruling dispensation on matters military but these recent arbitrary orders taking away perks of armed forces will have demoralising effect across the board in armed Forces.Enough has been written about Seventh Pay Commission in media and how this commission due to lack of knowledge about functioning of the armed forces or by design has degraded the armed forces even below police. This is so pathetic that the armed forces which enjoyed second in order of precedence at the time of independence, came down to 33rd after Independence and thanks to pay commission they have been further degraded. The Cabinet Committee on Security, highest national body dealing with security does not have membership of the three services chiefs. They can be called if required and fact is they are never called. Netas and Babus with no knowledge of strategy or matters military take decisions on all security issues. Netas and Babus of India want to solve all problems concerning countries foreign policy by diplomacy. Even in the current Doklamstandoff all efforts are being made by Indian netas to solve the problem by diplomacy while China is threatening war. It is OK, diplomacy is a must, but our netas must understand that diplomacy only works when you also pack a solid military punch. China spending 150 billion dollars on its military and America 600 billion dollars are cases in point. We must also remember that military punch is only effective when the armed forces are highly motivated and raring to go.Suddenly a bolt came from skies in the form of an order last month which said that henceforth Armed Forces officers in peace stations will not get free rations but instead will get 96 Rs per day in lieu. What is this paltry sum of 96 Rs per day? Officers get same rations as Jawans so if for 1.3 million strong Army rations are supplied how it will save anything to Ex Checker if 49000(strength of Army officers) additional rations are supplied? Needless to say this is mischief of Babus straddling Ministry of Defence. Even when these rations were authorised in eighties during Mrs Indira Gandhi's time, these IAS Babus had very big complain against it. What is even more surprising is that the three services chiefs are totally silent on this issue which has demoralised Armed forces across the board. Surely these services chiefs know that there is a saying that “Army marches on its stomach”. It is their responsibility to safeguard the interests of men they command or else they should resign. it only happens in India that what is authorised to Armed forces are taken away arbitrarily like this, just because Armed forces are banned from having any Associations or Unions on the understanding that while they fight on the front, country and its elected representatives will look after them. Had it been some civilian organisation, if this type of arbitrary act was committed they would have been on streets protesting.If this is not enough another direction has come from Ministry of Defence this month which has cut 70% CSD Canteen facilities available to all ranks of the Armed Forces of India. This is really very serious matter which affects all ranks of the armed forces and is bound to affect morale of forces across the board. Why take away the facility which armed forces were availing since time immemorial? Especially since profits made after sale to armed forces personnel by various canteens were going for welfare of serving and retired soldier’s families specially the children of those soldiers who were martyred in Battle or in counterinsurgency operations.It is very important that these two orders must be set aside if country wants a motivated and highly professional Armed Forces. Our Netas must understand that weapons do not fight; it is the man behind the weapons who fights. If this man is demoralised this way arbitrarily, then God help this country. Modi Government must realise that at this sensitive time keeping a part time Defence Minister in Mr Arun Jaitley is very dangerous proposition. Country must have a full time Defence Minister who can control the MOD Babus from running riot. These Babus have no accountability but Defence Minister has. Let us not forget that Armed Forces of the country are the last resort. If they fail country fails. Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India who arbitrarily cut the salary of Army to half saying India does not need Army, Police is enough, result was 1962 shameful defeat of India against China. Once again same arbitrary tendencies are surfacing. Hope this time better sense will prevail.
(Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd) is a distinguished Defence and Strategic Analyst. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)
This is a pathetic state where all infrastructure projects, the periodic replacement of eqpt and upgradation is on hold for last 40 years. Further there has been major conflict to bolster the requirement of Armed forces. See the state when P M of a country from the ramparts of Red Fort says to Defence Forces that to pay you I have to rob farmers. When farmers and soldiers are from the same breed , why make such statements.