Saturday, July 19, 2008

Disparity and Despair: Kabul Bomb Blast

Letter Addressed to Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister Shri AK Anthony)
My Dear Sir,

1. It was indeed a noble gesture by the PM. As per news paper reports, the PM was so impressed by the devotion to duty of late Mr Rao, the IFS officer who died in the Kabul bomb blast, that he announced several benefits for his next of kin. These include, full salary and government accommodation till the officer would have retired in 2023. It is undisputable that every possible succour must be provided to the bereaved family under such circumstances. Yet, without prejudice to this thought or to the sacred memory of the deceased, certain politically incorrect questions arise?

2. What separates the case of Mr Rao from that of Brig RD Mehta, or for that matter Col V Vasanth and scores of other army personnel who lay down their lives in the line of duty, actively combating terrorism almost every day? Why has no one ever thought of such benefits for their families? Is there any doubt about their devotion to duty? Are their lives any less precious to their families, or to the nation? Or is it 'no big deal' because it is part of the professional hazards for services personnel, to lay down their lives? The violent death of a diplomat or bureaucrat, on the other hand , is a rare occurrence thus evoking greater sympathy?

3. All along, we are being told that that the armed forces are supposed to be at par with other services when it comes to fixing pay and allowances. This is the standard argument forwarded ,for denying a separate pay commission for the Armed Forces. By the same logic, the death benefits for other services should be the same as those applicable to the armed forces. The reason for these double standards is therefore hard to fathom. Irrespective of the reasons or sentiments behind such random acts of kindness, it must be understood that it undermines the supreme sacrifice made by others, and is liable to affect the morale of their comrades.

4.It is time that the government decided once and for all whether the armed forces are at par with other central services or not, and act responsibly rather than arbitrarily.

Brigadier PT Gangadharan (Guards) Retd
Manmohan Singh visits families of Kabul blast victims

ESM Challenges and Finding Officers for the Armed Forces

Retirement Blues
A service officer leads an active life and is generally in good physical health even at retirement. Time hangs on him when he does not take up employment/re-employment after retirement. That apart, mundane matters take their toll, such as – drop in income, he goes out of circulation, a dent to his already diluted service status and dignity etc. Needless to say every officer cannot find employment. He, therefore, needs to self-employ himself. Govt must recognize the need to utilize this trained and disciplined reservoir of human resource and rehabilitate them. Among many possibilities, I have listed a few with a brief on them. In some of these cases it will be complementing the existing resources. Existing laws may have to be amended in some cases or new laws made in others. All these will add to public confidence as well as public convenience without imposing any capital cost to the Govt. In addition, some of these will add to the status and dignity of a retired officer. Click link for the complete article.
Self Employment and Rehabilitation of retired Armed Forces officers

The Problem in Recruitment of Officers
An aspiring young man wanting to join the Armed Forces today will consider the trial and tribulations he will face during his entire life span before he joins the same. Armed Forces personnel retire early and more often his post retirement years will be longer than his service career. If you improve the salary and service condition of the serving officers alone it will not meet his aspirations and his apprehensions of post-retirement rehabilitation will remain. Only a holistic approach can change this. It is of concern that young India has relegated a career in the Armed Forces to a very low priority these days affecting recruitment of required numbers and quality manpower. This has happened because of inadequate compensation, loss of status and treating the retired officers as deadwood by the Govt. Rehabilitation of these ‘veterans’, along with other corrective measures, will have a profound effect on the future intake of the Armed Forces officers. Read complete article.
Recruitment of Officers in the Armed Forces

Col B Bhattacharya (Retd)

ESM: Let us be more Proactive

I have been getting a lot of emails, some directly from some veterans and some, forwarded by my close friends. I was not disheartened by the acrimonious sentiments expressed by some colleagues. For, I found the healthy current of concern for the Veterans, the Services and the Nation flowing deep within the heart of everyone. I found that our veteran colleagues are disagreeing on the approach and two different approaches perhaps are preferred for solving our problems. I am confident that we will build on the strength of this concern and work towards progressing ‘Common Maximum Points’ through the process of ‘Concentrating on Minimum Points’ at any one time.

I have tried in a humble way to analyze the issue of the services being marginalized by the government through two case studies pertaining to the functioning of two organizations one the ECHS under command to the AHQ and the other IESL created by visionary generals of the past. The analysis is in the subsequent paragraphs. I request the veterans who happen to come across this paper to pause a while to estimate the time I have spent in preparing this paper before passing judgment. Well, you might say it is not the effort that counts, and what counts is the content, if you happen to be the ardent follower of Bonaparte Napoleon. Please click on links below:

Functioning of ECHS
Functioning of IESL
Brochure of Tamilnadu Ex Services League

Summing Up: The suggestion I would project for the consideration of all is as follows:

The Directorate of Rehabilitation must involve itself with the affairs of Indian Ex-Services League (IESL) instituted way back in the early nineteen sixties with the farsighted visionary wisdom of two of the greats, Gen KS Thimayya DSO and Field Marshal KM Cariappa OBE.

A Regional Governing Council (RGC) must be constituted at every strategic location of the country with member from the affiliated local ESLs and the nearby Station HQs/ Sub Area/ Area HQs. The scope of responsibility of the RGC must include all establishments dealing with the welfare of the veterans and are funded by the Government. The main charter of duty for this RGC, along with other activities that shall improve the functioning of the organization concerned, should be ‘Periodic Performance Audit’ (PPA) of all aspects of the concerned organization. When we pay due attention to the word ‘reasonable’ we will agree that there is also a need to involve the concept of test audit of both the service and auditing organizations.

It is absolutely necessary that RGC comprises members from the local affiliated ESL and any other association that has the recognition of both the Government of India and Defense Service Head Quarters. The RGC concept can be extended to cover functioning of the CSD retail outlets and even the ‘Flag Day Collections’.

The usefulness and functioning of Medical Review Boards for the purpose conflict resolution, if constituted, has already been discussed above, in brief of course.

Introduction of reimbursement of medicine bills at an appropriate rate in the case of prolonged illness will be a boon for both the patients and the clinic staff.

Reintroduction of the medical allowance towards private treatment of minor ailment and annual medical checkup is a must.

It is every veteran’s moral duty to get involved in all ventures of the government to the extent possible. To quote an example, we are capable of constituting an effective study team to analyze the controversy of even the ‘Nuclear Deal’ and calling a spade a spade. But we shy away; but let us not shy away from doing our bit towards the welfare of our soldiers who are thrown out in the wilderness of the civilian domination.

Unite we must and it is better we unite under the banner of IESL and make the vision of our illustrious veterans of the past come true.

A brochure as (linked above) under circulation to all district level and other Ex-Services Leagues and association, in Tamilnadu. It is my attempt to unite all – I mean all – the defense veterans of Tamilnadu under the single banner of Tamilnadu Ex-Services League (TANESL).

Maj Gen RN Radhakrishnan (Retd)

Friday, July 18, 2008

British Govt Honoured Indian World War II Veterans In Canada

Five Indian retired World War II Veterans Namely Lt Cols Pritam Singh Jauhal and Inderjit Singh Gill, H/Lt Harnam Singh Sihota, Sub Maj Gurdev Singh Grewal and Hav Waryam Singh Bains were among few Caucasian Veterans presented “Veterans Badges” during a specially arranged colorful ceremony held at 240 Crescent Beach Legion, Surrey, Canada on July 9,2005. The Indian Veterans being members, were recommended for the Award by their 6 Cloverdale Legion. The Badges were presented to eligible Veterans by Mrs Leslie Maudsley, President Ladies Auxiliary Legion Royal Canadian Legion, White Rock, Canada.

Promoting an understanding of the significance of the contributions and sacrifices of World War II Veterans, 2005 was declared as “the International Year of the Veteran” to thank and honour Veterans who fought for their Countries in World War II. Throughout this Commemorative Year, civilians of all Countries actively remembered, honored, celebrated and learnt about the sacrifices of their Veterans.

The British Govt attaches great importance to identifying , recognizing and thanking World War II Veterans who through their commitment and sacrifice in the War years, helped to save the World from tyranny. The freedom that people take for granted was won for the World by the brave Veterans, who put their valuable lives on the “Line of Fire” voluntarily and willingly, the least caring for the safety of their aged parents, young wives and tiny kids, leaving them at the mercy of others.

On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II, the Govt of United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence decided to issue beautifully designed “Veterans Badges” to all World War II Veterans who fought in the War as a part of the Commonwealth Forces. In Canada, those badges were presented to eligible World War II Veterans through Royal Canadian Legion, on receipt from London, England.

The badges are required to be worn by their recipients with pride on High Streets, in the Buses, in Public Places and of course at Commemorative Events over the coming years when dressed in civilian attire. By doing so, they will remind the Citizens of their Countries to say “a heart-felt Thank You” for the victory they won and for the freedom people now take for granted. Light Refreshments were served to all recipients of the Badges and a Group Photo taken at the end of the Ceremony, which went extremely well.

Lt Col Pritam Singh Jauhal (Retd) World War II Veteran
Founding President Indian Ex-Servicemen Society British Columbia
Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945

SCPC: Empowered Pay Panel Report Stuck?

A man fortunate enough to have work holds his monthly wages, equal to just over GBP80. His pay includes a travel allowance which, due to inflation, is now greater than the salary itself. The cost of living doubled as Zimbabwe's annual inflation reached 3,700%.
Zimbabwe: Secret Lives, Guardian UK

The pay commission has proposed that the recommendations should be implemented with effect from January 1, 2006, and this would entail a huge cost to the exchequer. Given the current trends, sources said, the implementation of recommendations is also expected to contribute to the rising inflation. “The best policy for the government is definitely to wait and watch what shape the current political developments take. Obviously, speedy implementation would depend on the very survival of the government,” they added. Click link below for full details:
Pay panel report stuck in political uncertainty

Gore Aims High on Renewable Energy Goal for United States

Former Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore outlined a bold climate goal for the nation Thursday, challenging the US to create every kilowatt of electricity through renewable energy sources within 10 years.

"Our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges -- the economic, environmental and national security crises," Gore saidin his speech in Washington. "We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change."
Gore Aims High on Renewable Energy Goal for US

1897 Saragarhi Battle

The battle of Saragarhi is among top ten acts of bravery in War, in the history of mankind. Signaller Gurmukh Singh, on receipt of orders to close down Signal Communications, when all his Comrades except one had fallen dead, immediately laid down his Signalling Flag, picked up his rifle and continued firing at the tribal hordes. His Comrade was killed and he himself seriously wounded. Even after being wounded, he killed 20 Pathans and having fired his last round, fell dead.

During 1897, 4/11 Sikh Battalion was detailed to hold the Somana Hills between the Kurram and the Khanki Valleys in Baluchistan. Their defences lay over five miles of extremely difficult hilly terrain. Signal communications those days were provided between various posts using telephones on Field Cables, Signalling Flags and Helios during the day and lamps at night. The ranges of Signalling Flag and Lamp signalling being visual were very limited. With the use of binoculars, their ranges could be increased somewhat and the clarity of the signal received improved substantially.

Signal Platoon of the Sikh Battalion tried in vain to provide direct Signal Communication between Forts Lokhart and Gulistan due to large distances. The use of telephones on Field Cable was just not possible because not only the laying of field cable was extremely difficult but to maintain it in the hills occupied by the tribals was most dangerous. After detailed appreciation of the situation, it was decided to establish a Signalling Post at Saragarhi Hill top between Fort Lokhart and Gulistan in the Sumana Hills. Its sole aim was to relay messages between Lokhart and Gulistan Forts. The Post consisted of a small well-defended Stone House manned by twenty men of the Sikh Battalion under the command of Havildar Ishar Singh.

There was a general uprising of the Pathans led by the Mullahs from Tochi and Maklakand in North West Frontier (now in Pakistan). On the 3rd and 9th September 1897, the Pathans attacked Gulistan in large numbers. However, these attacks were repulsed by the Sikhs with very heavy losses to the enemy. To avenge these reverses, thousands of Afridi and Orakzai tribals fell on the small Saraharhi Post on the morning of September 12, 1897. The tiny Garrison of Saragarhi repulsed several determined attacks and killed over two hundred enemy troops during the six hours of their gallant resistance against overwhelming odds. Time and time again, the Pathans asked the small Garrison to surrender, but each time they were met with a volley of fire and challenge from the Sikhs.

Due to accurate fire as well as the tenacity and courage of the defenders, the enemy was unable to get near the Post. Thus, they set fire to the dry grass and bushes around the Post and, under the cover of thick smoke, breached the wall of the Picket forcing an entry. By this time, all except two of the defenders had fallen. Until then, Signaller Gurmukh Singh had maintained signal communication with Forts Lokhart and Gulistan and was giving graphic account of the battle. On receipt of permission to close down the Signal Communications, he immediately laid down his Signalling Flag, picked up his rifle and, along with only surviving Comrade, continued firing at the tribal hordes. Because of their overwhelming large numbers, the enemy forces ultimately succeeded in capturing the Post. Gurmukh Singh’s Comrade was killed and he himself was seriously wounded. Even after being wounded, he killed 20 Pathans, and having fired his last round, he fell dead.

The highest gallantry award those days was the Indian Order Of Merit(IOM). All intrepid martyrs of Saragarhi Battle were posthumously honoured with this highest award. The Government of India gave 26 acres of land and a cash award of 500 rupees to the family of each hero. Martyr Signaller Gurmukh Singh’s name should be written as a Pioneer in the History of the Corps of Signals in Gold.

Stay with me God, the night is dark. The night is cold, but my little spark,
of courage dies…The night is long. Be with me God and make me strong.
I love a game, I love a fight, I hate the dark, I love a light.
I love my child, I love my wife. I am No coward, I love my life.
Life with its change of mood and shade, I want to live, I’m not afraid.
But me and mine are hard to part, O Unknown God lift my heart.
You stilled the waters of Dunkirk, and saved your servants - all your work,
Is wonderful down God, you strode, before us down that dreadful road.
We were alone and hope had fled, we love our Country and our dead.
And we could not shame them, so we stayed, the course and we were not afraid.
Dear God that nightmare road-and then, the sea - we got there - we were men.
My eyes were blind, my feet were torn, but my soul sang like bird at dawn.
I know that death is but a door, I know what we are fighting for?
Peace for our children, our brothers freed, a kinder World, a cleaner breed.
I’m but the son of my mother bore, a simple man and nothing more.
But God of strength and gentleness, be pleased to make nothing less.
Help me God when death is near, to mock the haggard face of fear.
And when I fall- if fall I must, my soul may triumph in the dust.

"World War Veterans put their life on the line for Democracy in which different people could live together and enjoy freedom in peace. Remember them!"

Lt Col Pritam Singh Jauhal (Retd)
Founding President Indian Ex-Servicemen Society British Columbia
Saragarhi Battle
Tirah Campaign

Legion Extends Welcome In 2001

Considering me as a distinguished War Veteran, I who was once denied entry into the Newton Legion for refusing to remove my turban, was honored at a Remembrance Day ceremony in Crescent Beach Legion, Canada in 2001. I was invited to speak and lay a wreath at the cenotaph at 240 Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“We felt that we would like to do something in our Legion to show Col Jauhal that we honour the man” said Legion member Reg Selwage, who along with several others left the Newton Legion in disgust over the incident in 1993. “We just felt we would like to have Col Jauhal there and show him the respect he deserves”. During the ceremony, I addressed the gathering about my experiences fighting for the Commonwealth in the Second World War. I also read A Soldier’s Prayer.

Later, I said I was reluctant to accept the invitation, given my shabby treatment back in 1993. This time, my presence and comments sparked a thunderous standing ovation by those in attendance. I enjoyed the ceremony enormously. It was memorable. I conveyed this in writing to the madam Donn, President of 240 Legion. The ceremony was one of many in the community as the cities of Surrey and White Rock joined Canadians across the Country in paying respects to Canada’s War Veterans and those who gave their lives for freedom.

In 1993, I was invited to a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Newton Legion. After laying wreaths, the Veterans marched behind a pipe band to the Legion’s Lounge and as I and four other turban-wearing Veterans reached the door, we were told to remove our turbans if we wanted to enter the Lounge. I took a firm stand against the injustice and discrimination As a result, today no Legion in Canada refuses entry to a Sikh wearing a turban. Originally, a soldier with the Indian Army, I fought in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt and Libya as apart of 8th British Army. During the Second World War, I fought for the independence of India and was a peacekeeper in Vietnam, and earned 13 stars and medals.

In the photo, I am seen overcome with emotion during the Remembrance Day service at the Crescent Beach Legion. Corporal Vincent Haithwaite of the 2812 Seaforth Highlanders acted as a sentry for the ceremony.

Lt Col Pritam Singh Jauhal (Retd) World War II Veteran
Founding President Indian Ex-Servicemen Society British Columbia

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Panipat: Elevated Highway to Reduce Traffic Snarls

Travelling through this particular stretch on this National Highway would take only ten minutes which is much less than the present average travelling time of 45 minutes...Panipat elevated highway inaugurated by Baalu.

Panipat (Haryana), July 16, Union Minister of Shipping Road Transport and Highways Thiru T R Baalu, along with Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Chief Minister of Haryana today inaugurated the ten kilometre long Panipat Elevated Highway on North- South corridor.

The elevated highway has been constructed with a view to ease acute congestion in the Panipat city on National Highway-1 (NH-1) between Delhi and Amritsar.

Baalu said that the Rs 325 crore project has been completed six months ahead of schedule and it would bring relief to a large number of road users in Panipat and to the people proceeding to Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh who were earlier facing traffic jams on NH-1.
10 KM long Panipat elevated highway inaugurated today

Legacy of Honoured Veterans of World Wars

World Wars Veterans were remembered with formal photographic portraits just in time for last Remembrance Day. I had the honour to be among Canada’s Cloverdale Legion, World Wars Veterans, photographed with medals.

The Lower Mainland Region of Professional Photographers of British Columbia, voluntarily made phonographic portraits by donating their time and expertise for the photography. They also found suitable donors to assist them in the production of portraits. The Portraits have since been made and displayed at various locations throughout the Lower Mainland, Canada and also presented to individual Veterans. A hard bound album of all portraits has been created and kept by The Royal Canadian Legion and the Canadian Archives as a visual record of the legacy of our honoured Veterans.

For next Remembrance Day and as the continued commitment of Canadian Forces around the World to establish peace, this project has definitely added awareness of our aging Veterans’ sacrifices made for all Canadians who enjoy freedom in peace today. Here is a quote from Grey Vowels, President British Columbia /Yukon Command, the Royal Canadian Legion, “ We consider the Veterans’ Portraits Initiative, by the Professional Photographers Association of British Columbia, Lower Mainland Region, as a poignant and memorable community contribution, in preserving the proud and stellar legacy of our Canadian Service Men and Women. It is a legacy and accomplishment of utmost importance, one of peace, freedom and Canadian values. We applaud the Region of Professional Association of British Columbia’s leadership and proud to be associated with this partnership.”

Does every Canadian know how many Canadians sacrificed their lives in the World Wars I and II? The official figures being 60,000 and 40,000 respectively are scary indeed. While enjoying life in peace in Canada, don’t forget that it is a gift from our heroes who fell during the Wars, had their limbs amputated, leaving them unfit for the rest of their lives and those who were lucky to survive.

Lt Col Pritam Singh Jauhal (Retd)
Founding President Indian Ex-Servicemen Society British Columbia
Cloverdale Legion

Canada Honours An Indian World War Veteran

Promoting an understanding of the significance of the contributions and sacrifices of all Veterans, 2005 was declared By Canada “The Year Of The Veteran” to thank and honour all Veterans who served in their Country in times of the war, military conflict and peace. Throughout this special commemorative year, Canadians actively remembered, honoured, celebrated, and learnt about the services and sacrifices of Canada’s Veterans.

I put my life on the line during World War II in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt and Libya as part of the 8th British Army under World famous Field Marshal Montgomery, from August, 1940 to December 1942, to defend the Commonwealth and protect the Democracy, in which different people could live together and enjoy freedom in peace. Since my immigration to Canada on April 16, 1980, I have been actively advocating with Veterans Affairs Canada, on behalf of Indian World War Veterans settled in Canada who are incapable of doing so, due to lack of knowledge and education. As a result, all officials of Veterans Affairs Minister Canada are aware of my service records including my serving along with Canadian officers in the International Commission for Supervision and Control Vietnam from March 1961 to December 1961.

I was interviewed at my home by Mr A. Neil Robinson Counsel, Legal Services , Veterans Affairs, Department of Justice from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (P. E. I). The interview lasted lose to 4 hours and covered the experiences and achievements during my entire life. I was grilled with numerous searching questions which I could only answer from my memory. My service in World War II, Indo-Pak wars, Indo-China war. Peace Mission to Vietnam were extensively covered. My 7 years service in Central Reserve Police as a Commandant, dealing with insurgents was gone into thoroughly.

I was given to understand that my entire interview will form part of Canada’s Archive and will remain on record permanently for future Canadian generations to remember and learn from my services and achievements. I was provided edited copies of my interview. I was honoured to receive letter dated July 14, 2005 from the VAC which read as follows:-

"On behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada, I would personally like to thank you for your participation in the Heroes Remember Project. By sharing your personal stories and recollections, you have helped create a portrait of a nation’s history through the eyes of those who have served. Your willingness in helping us preserve this rich legacy for future generations is greatly appreciated. Should you experience any problem with our copies of the interview, please do not hesitate to contact us by mail or by calling our toll-free number 1-800-443-0394. Sincerely, Signed Stephen Ogden , Project Director, Heroes Remember Project- Canada Remembers”.

Lt Col Pritam Singh Jauhal World War II Veteran
Founder President Indian Ex-Servicemen Society British Columbia
Veteran Affairs Canada
Other articles by Author in the Blog

Our Prayer: We are truly proud of your lifetime achievements. This has been rightly honoured by the Canadian Government. Your interview and deeds have been recorded for posterity and generations to come. We salute you, for preservation of World Democracy. Our fervent prayer and hope is that our Government at least attempts to emulate the Canadian Government by honouring our own Officers and Jawans who have laid down their lives for Integrity of the Nation.

SCPC: ESM Assemble for Justice at Lucknow 06 July 2008

1. The ESM of Lucknow assembled at the 'Shaheed Smaarak Park' at 10 am on the 6th July 2008. The sky was overcast, and, still the gathering was almost a hundred.
2. Support/ participation of the state Vice President of the Ex Servicemen League – Wg Cdr Gufran Ahmad - was a big indication of unity. Representation of another 8 localized ESM groups, in addition to the Poorva Sainik Seva Parishad (PSSP -supported by the BJP) also remained heartening.
3. Large number of ESM from the UP Poorva Sainik Kalyan Nigam also gathered, just as it was a Sunday; and they were free from their duties– as security guards at different establishments/ offices/ banks etc.
4. To begin with, Maj Gen K. K. Ohri 'AVSM' and four other Offrs/ JCOs/ NCOs paid homage to the unknown martyrs.
5. Brig D N Varma,VSM enlightened the gathering about the rationale/ details of our first set of demands; while Col Vijay Deep stressed the need for tackling the root cause of the issues affecting us, at the macro level.
6. The efforts of Sub Maj Hari Govind Singh must get highlighted for spreading awareness amidst maximum ESM organizations of Lucknow cantonment and adjoining areas.
7. Lt Col Ashok Kumar highlighted the dedication of Brig C S Kamboj, in this crusade. He referred to Brig Kamboj as the grand father of this awakening for unity amidst services and ranks.
8. Reporters from media (Channel 9x)/ news papers sought our next move if the government didn't pay heed to our disciplined representations.
9. They were told that we shall continue with this graceful style only, and were certain of getting the support of the entire nation coming to pressurize the government for acceding to our genuine demands for the sake of national security.
10. An ad-hoc steering committee, for the I ESM Movement, was formed at the end of the gathering, headed by Brig. D N Varma VSM.
11. A select team, of the gathering handed over the 'Hindi' (translated) and 'English' memorandum to be forwarded by the CM (U.P.) for the PM, through the DM Lucknow.
12. The next meeting of the 'Lucknow' Steering Committee is scheduled for Sunday, the 27th July 2008.

A quarter column report, on page 2, of TOI Lucknow, dated 07th July 2008 covered the event of 6th July very well. [Soft copy of this is also awaited – to be forwarded.]
The 'Hindi' paper 'Dainik Jagran' also gave a brief account of the event and handing over of the memorandum, in its issue dated 07th July 2008.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Indian Army Sexual Harassment

Chandigarh July 15, 2008
A captain in the Indian Army Tuesday alleged that she was being sexually harassed by three senior officers and was being illegally confined in her unit in Haryana's Kalka town near here. However, the army authorities said she had a history of "mental weakness" and was not under house arrest.

Captain Poonam Kaur, who is serving in an army supply and transport unit located at Kalka, alleged that she was being sexually harassed by her commanding officer Col RK Sharma, his second-in-command Lt Col Ajay Chawla and Major Suraj Bhan.

Army officer says she was tortured
Army officer alleges sexual harassment, authorities deny charge
Sexual harassment rampant in Army
Credentials of Army Supply Corps Video

Question: How an Officer of history of "Mental Weakness" has been commissioned into the Armed Forces? Does mental weakness constitute mental illness? Does history mean one or two years or decades? Have the selection standards been so adversely diluted? Or is the Mental Illness/ weakness attributable to Service conditions. If so the mute question is what compensation she be paid for her honourable discharge, now that Officer's whole life has been ruined due to Mental Illness and Scandal. Why is this news hitting the national Headlines tarnishing the image of the Armed Forces? The IAS Officers are not too far behind, read: Harassment charge against IAS officer

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw: Memorial Service New Delhi

Memorial service New Delhi on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 for the former Indian Army Chief Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw: Read the tributes linked below.
Sam Manekshaw taught us to stand up for ourselves: Grandson's eulogy
Demand for Bharat Ratna for Sam Bahadur
Antony calls upon Armed Forces to Imbibe Qualities of Field Marshal Manekshaw
NDTV:Army holds memorial service for Manekshaw
Tribune: Demand for Bharat Ratna for Sam
The Hindu: Sam Manekshaw remembered

PM might step in on military pay hike

Monday, July 14, 2008 (New Delhi)
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might have to step in to ensure central government employees get what the Sixth Pay Commission promised them, that's because two key government departments are at loggerheads over the proposed pay hike.

Central government employees may have to wait a little longer to get an enhanced pay package. Differences between the finance and defence ministries over giving better salaries to the armed forces has delayed the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission's report.

Defence Minister AK Antony is now fighting a battle he perhaps never expected to, his opponents, babus in the finance ministry. Now Antony may be forced to call in the prime minister to get a pay hike for the armed forces.

The minister is pushing for a 15 per cent special allowance to all men in uniform plus a four per cent assured annual increment and an additional military service pay of Rs 2,000 for jawans.

But NDTV has learnt that the finance ministry is fiercely resisting these proposals, that will cost the government around Rs 4,000 crore annually.

Read: Manmohan might step in on pay hike

Question: Are Secretaries running the ministries or the Ministers? The bunch of bureaucrats working in tandem holding the Nation to ransom! The problem will be resolved if the Minister's portfolio's are interchanged. This exercise alone will confirm or belie our worst fears that "Bureaucracy has usurped the Nation".

Govt Fails To Mollify Armed Forces Over Pay Hike
With anger simmering in the rank and file of armed forces over pay commission, the three chiefs of course do not want to be accused of “a sell-out” by the men they command. In the end, however, there is grudging acceptance that once presented with a fait accompli by the government, the armed forces will have to like it or lump it. “We are a highly-disciplined force. We cannot take to the streets like our civilian counterparts. But, pay commission after pay commission, the forces always end up being short-changed by the bureaucracy,” said a Colonel.
Read: Govt Fails To Mollify Armed Forces Over Pay Hike

Indian officers quit army over generals pay hikes
LOWER level Indian army officers have begun submitting their resignations after generals won higher pay hikes in a move that threatens the military's combat readiness, officials said.
Read: Indian officers quit army over generals pay hikes

Monday, July 14, 2008

Indian ex- servicemen protest

Chandigarh, May 28 (ANI): Retired soldiers and ex-servicemen gathered at a soldiers' memorial in a suburb of Chandigarh demanding pension hike. They wore black badges and went on a hunger strike to protest against being shortchanged by the sixth pay commission. Meanwhile, Indian army Chief General Deepak Kapoor expressed the hope that the central government would set correct the aberrations.

Question: Will the demands of ESM materialise? One Rank One Pension a promise unfulfilled!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Learning from History: Unity sans Ego

Dear Veterans,
These anecdotes from history may be useful guides for our on going struggle.
Brig Harwant Singh (Retd)


Subordinating ‘Ego’ for a Higher ‘Cause’
In the first Anglo-Sikh War in 1846, in the very first battle at Moodki (near present Faridkot– Punjab) the British were mauled badly, some of their Regiments even losing their ‘Standards (Colours)’ to the Lahore Army. Losses were so high that they anticipated losing the war and spent whole night burning sensitive records. (It was an other thing that the Sikh leadership , both political and military , was in league with the British, that they did not capitalize on their success and on the contrary made their Army think that they had lost and made them to leave the field – a classical case when both armies felt defeated , one actual and other contrived ) . Lord Hugh Gough was the British C-in-C. Considering the importance of the war, the Governor General was also present on the battle field. The Governor General, Lord Harding, assessed that with Hugh Gough’s bullheaded leadership they won’t win. And Lord Hugh Gough was too strong a personality to be side lined. Those were peculiar days when almost all leaders of the East India Company also held military ranks .In military seniority Lord Harding, the Governor General, was junior to Lord Hugh Gough, the C-in-C. During the War Conference at night, the Governor General placed himself ‘Under’ the C-in-C, as per his military seniority and offered to fight as his second-in command (2i/c) and took charge of operations. Rest as they say is history and the Sikhs were defeated (apart from treachery of their own leadership) in the subsequent battles of Ferozeshah and Subraon, by superior handling of the battle by Lord Harding than what Lord Hugh Gough could have done. (From History of the Sikhs by Capt Cunningham or a similar book)

War for Justice
Now relating it to our ‘WAR FOR JUSTICE’ against 6th Pay Commission. What stops our more talented and capable ‘Leaders’ working under presumably less capable ones, who are already ‘established’(like the then C-in-C, Lord Hugh Gough was)?. It is only their EGO. Why can’t they sacrifice it like Lord Harding did to win the war? Is winning the war more important or nursing one’s ego? The learned readers and the “LEADERS” may like to reflect. Lord Harding is still remembered as victor of First Anglo-Sikh War, while very few know many others who were “PRISONERS OF THEIR EGO”. Those of our LEADERS who sacrifice their EGO for a higher CAUSE will be remembered by the Military Veterans for ever.

Choice my dear leaders is entirely yours how you want to be remembered. As victors or as one’s who grabbed “Defeat out of the jaws of Victory”, as did the Sikh Leadership in 1846 War?

Lack of ‘Quality’ the Need of the hour
In all the wars the in the 19 and 20th century, the German Army showed utmost efficiency, their defeats due to more numerous forces and far greater resources of their opponentsnot withstanding. The credit for that efficiency, apart from other factors, went to German General Staff. When Germans lost World War I, ‘Treaty of Versailles’ was signed and one of its clauses was disbandment of the German General Staff. In a conversation with his German counterpart, the French Commander, Marshal Foch asked him, “What qualities you seek while selecting officers for your ‘General Staff’ ?. The German General replied, “Marshal, we don’t seek any qualities, rather we seek the lack of some”. Foch was foxed and asked for elucidation. The German officer replied, “All those whom come for selection to the General Staff are professionally and otherwise ‘Soldiers par Excellence’, so we don’t seek any more qualities in them. All we seek in them is ‘LACK’ of ‘Personal Ego’. Thus it is ‘lack’ of that quality which determines their selection”. He further went on to add, “Highly competent, but egoistic persons are most dangerous ones for their ego might come between them and the organization’s mission and they might wreck the organization for their personal glory. They are ‘Team Breakers’. Since they are highly competent the damage would be far more than what a mediocre person can inflict. We weed out such officers ruthlessly in the selection process for the General Staff”.

Now my dear Comrades in Arms, reflect on the wisdom of the good old German Army and compare it with the scenario we are faced with in our war for “JUSTICE” against Sixth Pay Commission Report.

Can we learn any lessons from the above historical facts? Or, Are we capable of learning any thing from history?

Brig Harwant Singh (Retd)
First Anglo-Sikh War
The First Sikh War
Sikh Heritage Images
Unity in Uniform: Unless that happens, the bureaucrats will continue to bypass the Services

We thank Brig Harwant Singh for this thought provoking article "Unity sans Ego", the need of the hour.


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