Saturday, October 4, 2008

Heed the cry of the armed forces

"Fighter pilot." Whenever I introduced myself that way, while in service and now out of it, I could always espy a sense of awe and admiration.

Yet, I have forever regarded the infantry officer more than anyone else. For, I have been mesmerised by his mettle to command unquestioned obedience from the men he led into battle when everyone knew a likely death lurked round the bend.

But the soldier also knew that his officer would do his utmost to ensure the soldier's safety, and thus reposed unwavering faith in his leadership and followed him in the charge, hollering the war cry.

Infantry officers are moulded out of an extraordinary metal and they form a rare breed. And warriors like them are the ones who make soldiering the noble profession that it is. Where else will you find subordinates ready to live and die for you?

Unlike this sod, the Union government does not apparently think in such mushy terms about the image of its soldiers, sailors and airmen. Otherwise, it would not have compelled the three services chiefs to petition the defence minister to restore the existing parity with those from other central services, with respect to the Sixth Central Pay Commission (SCPC) awards. (A section of the media regrettably painted this as whinging and blackmail by the defence forces. Far from the truth. More than pay, what they are actually pleading is for the restoration of status and honour trampled hitherto by successive governments.)

In response, the government has constituted a panel of three top cabinet ministers to address the discordant subjects (upgrade lieutenant colonel to pay band 4, place lieutenant general in higher administrative grade plus and restore pensionary benefits of personnel below officer rank) highlighted by the chiefs.

The situation report
The forces had earlier raised several disquieting anomalies in the SCPC recommendations, and sought equitable remuneration for the kind of toil they do day in, day out. The government tasked a committee of secretaries to fix it. Given the composition of IAS officers in the committee, only a nincompoop would have expected justice for the servicemen.

The committee should have conjured up adequate pecuniary compensation for the posts in which the officers have to serve long, and also where the deficit of officers was most grave. But instead of smoothening ruffled feathers, its prescription made more hackles to rise. The fear of antagonists sabotaging the hope for obtaining a fair deal had come true.

Worse, the government twisted the knife in at a time when the three services were fighting a rearguard battle to attract talented candidates and to stem the exit of middle- rung officers. Not a soul in the government, evidently, has grasped the acuteness of crisis hobbling the armed forces. Nor has anyone attempted to fathom the depth of their discontentment nor estimate the fallout of the peacetime attrition.

Small wonder then that the services, which lumped the humiliation of its systematic downgrading all these years, were forced to tell the nation that they have had enough. The high and mighty clearly had not heard of the idiom even a worm will turn.

Military vis-a-vis civil service: two universes
Forget the primary role of defending our national territory, waters and air space. Forget fighting the armed inimical elements in Jammu & Kashmir, the Northeast and elsewhere. Now the services are requisitioned to do the salvage job, every day.

When the deluge ravaged Bihar, Assam, UP and Orissa recently, the army, navy and air force had to be marshalled to mount rescue missions. The civil administration was conspicuous by its truancy, making one wonder why crores are spent on such slothful and corrupt bodies, as the army will be SOSed ultimately. Mind you, these bodies are headed by IAS officers, the lot mainly responsible for the rotten state of governance in this country.

Not just natural disasters; they are summoned when the police bungle too. When a party of the anti-Naxal force Greyhounds was ambushed at Chitrakonda in the hills of Malkangiri district of Orissa on June 29, while boating in a reservoir, as the escape routes were heavily mined, the rescue operations had to be supported by air in marginal weather. The air effort and the team of 30 divers were provided by Eastern Naval Command headquartered at Visakhapatnam [Images].

Let me recall a recent news brief in a mainstream English daily as a primer to give you a peek into the contrastive ethos of the military and civilian universes. The vice chief of naval staff lamented that when the navy was called in for rescue and relief in inundated parts of Bihar, formal orders did not come in immediately from the government, and the financial head of the ministry of defence refused to release funds, forcing the navy to use its non-public funds to rush relief teams.

For the babu, the written order dripping officialese is gospel, does not matter if such devotion leads to the drowning of hundreds of citizens!

The serviceman could be excused if he thought that he was being used by the politicians and bureaucrats to conceal their incompetence and to clean up the accumulated mess excreted by their rank misrule.

The army, given the emasculation of the state police, will continue to be employed for internal security -- counter-terrorism, and before long it will be tasked to crush the subnationalist forces and insurrectionists like the Maoists. With body bags set to become an everyday sight, how many parents will be willing to send their sons to this death trap?

Since the very idea of India is at stake, both the polity and policy mavens need to put heads together to pre-empt the portent. But who, ensconced in ivory towers, cares?

The holy warrant of precedence
Why is the State unconscionably shoving its boots on the face of the military? What explains its downhill journey in the warrant of precedence?

Lately, in an article, retired Lt Gen Harwant Singh cited why the defence officers were being hard-bone-by. The bureaucracy, taking advantage of the Congress party's detestation of the military, kept the pot stirred by raising the odds of a military coup, and worked up this fear to emasculate the status of the top echelon, at the cost of the nation's overall strategic disadvantage.

A committee of secretaries revises the warrant of precedence periodically. Gen Harwant Singh writes that as the chief of defence staff in 1981, Gen O P Malhotra raised the issue of downgrading of service officers in the warrant of precedence (this has direct bearing on the pay).

In response, the committee of secretaries recorded, "Military officers were placed unduly high in the old warrant of precedence, presumably as it was considered essential for officers of an army of occupation to be given special status and authority." Mind you, it is not Mirwaiz Umar Farooq but the bureaucrats that called the Indian Army [Images] as an army of occupation!

Of course, Gen Malhotra riposted that the pliant colonial bureaucracy (civil servants and police) was the tool of oppression wielded by the Raj to quell the freedom movement, not the army. In fact, the strike of naval ratings in Bombay on February 18, 1946, that spread to major cities was what signalled to the British that it was time to pack their bags and decamp.

Gen Harwant Singh rightly concluded that it was highly malicious for anyone to decry the Indian Army as an army of occupation.

Once the political class colluded with the bureaucracy, there was no stopping the descent down the warrant of precedence. Perhaps the mandarins still see the military as an army of occupation, which should explain why they are pulling out all the stops to belittle it. Hence their effort to further throttle the services through the SCPC.

Course of action
When I was commissioned into the IAF in 1984, the air force pilot had the highest starting pay among the central government Class I officers. (That is history; the Book has been overwritten several times.)

Smitten by aircraft, bewitched by flying, fascinated by the frisson of foiling gravity, I joined the IAF. The smell of adventure in the air, the prestige associated with the uniform and the decent quality of life it offered were simply inciting appetisers. Oddly, till I was handed my first pay packet, after prevailing three rigorous years at the National Defence Academy and another exacting year at the Air Force Academy, I did not know what my starting pay would be!

Will I embrace the IAF again? I doubt. Gone are those days of chasing quixotic idealism to quench an inner itch. Now lads want to know how much their sweat will swell the bank account. Unless military service is made attractive, few will want to join it. Period.

A decade back, an IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre, a friend, told me he had brought out a paper on the need for officers both military and civilian to bury the hatchet, complement each other, and work together for the larger cause of nation-building instead of cutting the other down to size. Although his supremacist brethren laughed his treatise out of court, I ditto his standpoint.

Though carved out of the same governmental womb, the professions of arms and file-pushing are as different, alas as cold to each other, as the Ambani brothers. So, in the long run, the answer lies in delinking both the pay and stature of the armed forces from their civilian counterparts.

As the nature of jobs, career prospects, hierarchy, attributes, hardships and workplaces are poles apart, the very precept of inter se parity sounds disjointed. Actually it is preposterous to liken a major general with 33 years of service to a joint secretary having 17 years under his belt.

The pyramidal promotion- prospects of the forces and everyone-makes-it framework of the civil services are beyond comparison. Therefore, prudence suggests that instead of indulging in structural tinkering through pay commissions, it makes sense to have a separate pay commission for the defence forces. That is the only durable solution.

As for now, the recently convened ministerial panel must heed the cry of the armed forces and reinstate its stolen status and benefits. It is their due. High morale is the best known force multiplier.

A nation neglects its soldiers at its peril.

M P Anil Kumar is a former fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force.
Heed the cry of the armed forces

IESM: Press Conference 03 October 2008

"... My Lord, that the day when the Mauryan soldier has to demand his dues or, worse, plead for them, will neither have arrived overnight nor in vain. It will also bode ill for Magadha. For then, on that day, you, My Lord, will have lost all moral sanction to be King! It will also be the beginning of the end of the Mauryan Empire!"

We are very proud that India today is well on its way to progress. As a country we have already begun to be counted in the various world forums. Our rapid progress in the economic field where there has been massive infusion of the foreign funds, has been possible mainly because the country is secure and the foreign investors feel confident to park their assets here. Major contributors for this security are the Indian defence forces. Apart from their main task of defending the country against external threats the defence forces are also involved in a major way in tackling internal disturbances. In addition they are always in the forefront in providing aid during natural calamities like floods, cyclone, earthquakes etc.

The soldiers spend major part of their service in far flung inhospitable areas living under extremely difficult, hazardous and dangerous conditions. A soldier's life can only be experienced, it can never be explained. Their service conditions where they work on a 24X7 work cycle can and should never be compared to other government employees who work on a nine-to-five, work schedule, five days a week. In view of the criticality of their role, it is in national interest that the defence forces are kept in a high state of morale and motivation and their material needs are well looked after. The recent controversy where the genuine demands of the defence services vis-à-vis the 6th Pay Commission report have been overlooked by the committee of bureaucrats has been a very unfortunate and avoidable development. It is hoped that the recently constituted committee of three senior cabinet ministers will remove the anomalies and sanction the emoluments as requested by the defence forces.

As part of their service conditions, majority of military personnel are compulsorily retired when they are still in their thirties and when their financial commitments are at their peek. They get a pittance as pension, which is grossly inadequate for them to sustain themselves. There is no guarantee or even a provision to give them an alternative employment till they reach the age of 60 years. If that cannot be provided, they need to be given enhanced pension till the age of sixty.
Also, with every pay commission the older pensioners get left out and get lower pensions than those who retire after the pay commission implementation. Equity demands that all retirees who have served the country for equal length of service and have attained the same rank should be given the same pension irrespective of their date of retirement. There should thus be 'one-rank-one-pension' for all defence pensioners. This concept of equating pensions of old and new retirees is already prevalent in the case of judges and legislators.

The four demands of the Ex-Servicemen are:

  • One-rank-one-pension. This is an old standing demand that arouses strong emotions among all the 2.5 million military pensioners.
  • Resettlement of Ex-Servicemen in alternative government jobs till the age of sixty. This is required to be done through enactment of a Parliamentary Act. Till this materialises all military pensioners be given their last pay drawn as pension till they attain the age of sixty years.
  • Constituting of an Ex-Servicemen Commission with necessary statutory powers at the national level to look after all the welfare measures of the Ex-Servicemen community. As is the practice for all other similar commissions the Ex-Servicemen Commission be headed by and should have members from the three defence services.
  • Representation of the Ex-Servicemen on all committees and other such bodies constituted for the purpose of looking into matters affecting the interests of the Ex-Servicemen.

    The Indian Ex-Servicemen comprising all retired defence officers, JCOs and men have been expressing their disenchantment with the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations ever since the report was submitted to the government on 24 March 2008. After projecting the above demands to the various decision makers in the country, and not getting any assurance, as a last resort they took their case to the public. The have formed a pan India Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) to project their demands jointly. They first held a rally on 27 April 2008 that covered 61 cities all over India. Next they observed a token hunger strike on 27 May where a synchronised action was carried out over 300 cities in the country. This was followed by yet another rally on 6 July 2008, which too was held all over India. A relay hunger strike is planned from 20 October 2008 onwards if the main demand of one-rank-one-pension is not accepted by the government before that date.

    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
    Vice Chairman
    Indian Ex Servicemen Movement


    01. Why One Rank One Pension (OROP) which was earlier recommended to be sanctioned by the Parliamentary Committee in 2004 not been accepted?
    02. Defence Personnel are compulsorily retired at the age of 35-45 years. Why not an assured Second Career till the age of 60 years as in the case of other Govt employees is granted to them through the Act of Parliament?
    03. Why Defence Personnel are not given the last pay drawn till the age of 60 years to compensate compulsory retirement at the ages 35-45 years.
    04. Why the youth no longer is opting for a career in the Defence Services?
    05. Why a Civil Servant (IAS) with 14 years of service gets almost double the salary than a Defence Officer of 14 years of service?
    06. Why representation of Defence Services on 6th Pay Commission and Review Committee were denied? As per the then Chairman COSC Admiral Arun Parkash, in Apr 2006, the then Raksha Mantri Shri Pranab Mukherjee had agreed in principle to the nomination of service representative on the 6th Pay Commission. Why this decision was later reversed?
    07. Why your Jawan gets Rs 950 less than even the Police Constable? Why a Subedar Major will get Rs 25 lacs less than a CRPF Inspector? Why a Defence Officer in 30 years span of service gets Rs 30 lacs less than his counter part in the civil?
    08. Why the year wise edge in emoluments of Defence Service personnel is not ensured over other civil services?
    09. Why anomalies of 4th & 5th Pay Commission have not been addressed by the 6th Pay Commission?
    10.Why Ex-Servicemen Commission with legal powers consisting of members only from ESM & ESM widows has not been constituted?
    11.Why the Defence Services "Order of Precedence" been lowered as compared to other services? Why should it not be restored what existed on 26 Jan 1950?
    12. The information received that RTI reveals that while the Pay & Allowances of IAS, IPS, IFS were increased after the 4th Pay Commission recommendations, the pay & allowances of Defence Services were not increased. Why a CBI inquiry or GOM committee not be constituted to probe the facts of the whole case and the anomalies addressed?
    13. The concept of civilian control over the Defence Forces implies the control by the elected representations and not by the bureaucracy. Why is the Govt dealing with the Military through the bureaucracy which in any case is biased towards it and not directly?
    14. Do we have realistic assessment of morale and motivation of our Defence Forces?
    15. Are we as a Nation heading to pre- 1962 disaster situation?
    Date Press Release: : 03 Oct 2008

    Dear Members of the Press,
    We are thankful to the members of the Press for attending the Press Conference at Press Club of India on 03 Oct 2008 at 11 AM in large numbers.
    We are attaching the Press Release and Questionnaire for the Hon'ble members of the Parliament regarding the Injustices done to the Defence Services personnel both serving and the veterans. Through the press, we appeal to the Hon'ble Members of Parliament to raise these questions in the Parliament in the coming session. The issues of Defence Forces personnel are of great National importance and needs to discussed at the highest National Body, that is, our Parliament & remedial measures taken on priority to address all the issues disturbing the Armed Forces.
    May we request you to kindly suitably cover the Press Release in your esteemed News Paper/ TV channel.
    Jai Hind
    With regards,

    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
    Vice Chairnman
    Indian Ex Servicemen Movement
  • Thursday, October 2, 2008

    SCPC: Flaws in traditional comparison behind lowering status

    Chandigarh, October 1
    As the status of Lieutenant-Colonel and Lieutenant-General vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts continues to hang fire, it appears that incorrect representation of past scales under comparative tables in the Sixth Pay Commission’s report may be responsible for degradation of status and pay of officers.

    Sources reveal that the pay panel in its report had formulated a historical tabulation of scales of military and civil officers in which the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel has been shown against the junior administrative grade (JAG) instead of the non-functional selection grade (NFSG) of the civil services.

    The pay of a Lt-Col was shown as Rs 1700-900 while that of the NFSG was shown as Rs 2000-2250 under the table for the 3rd pay panel. Experts, however, say that there were three NFSG grades in the 3rd pay panel, out of which only the highest one has been “conveniently” reproduced in the table. The two other NFSG grades were Rs 1650-1800 and Rs 1800-2000 and the Lt-Col’s grade was placed between them.

    Both these grades were shifted to Rs 14,300-18,300 by the 5th pay commission, while Lt-Col was granted Rs 15,100-18,700. The sixth pay panel, however, placed Lt-Col along with JAG in the band of Rs 15,600-39,100 instead of NFSG (Rs 37,400-67,000) in which the erstwhile closest counterparts of Lt-Col were shifted.

    Another anomaly reflected in the tables relates to the rank of Captain, which in turn had a cascading effect on higher ranks, sources said. While the rank of a Captain has been shown against senior time scale (STS) in the 3rd pay panel tables, it has been shown against junior time scale (JTS) bunched with Lieutenant under the FPC tables. Experts point out that there was no recommendation of down gradation of Captain from STS level by the fourth or the fifth pay panels, and the same is a self-created equation by the sixth pay panel with no official back-up.

    The non-addition of rank pay into basic pay of service officers for equivalence purposes is also refuted by some experts. Maj Navdeep Singh, author of a book on military benefits, says that rank pay was carved out of basic pay by the first pay panel and it had recommended the same integrated scale of Rs 2,300-5,100 for 2nd-Lieutenant to Brigadier, with rank pay as the differentiating factor.

    To say that rank pay is not to be added for status would mean that all ranks from up to Brigadier enjoy the same status. A group of officers set up by the government after the 5th pay commission had recommended that an Army officer in his 14th year of service should have parity with an NFSG officer of the civil services. Several retired officers also point out that special army instructions issued by the ministry of defence clarify that rank pay is a part of basic pay for all purposes.

    Flaws in traditional comparison behind lowering status

    Comment: The 5th Pay Commission, the Army Instructions stipulated that Rank Pay is Part of Basic Pay, the Bureaucrats accordingly deducted Rank Pay from Basic Pay and then added it to the resultant diminished Basic Pay. With one stroke the Lt cols were left high and dry. This anomaly has till date not been resolved, except for one Officer who won the court case and got all his legal entitlements. Now the case rests in the Bureaucracy and Judiuciary. Can Maj Navdeep Singh enlighten us on this issue. Is it dead or alive?

    SCPC: Response to demeaning editorials

    Can the Military get a fair deal from a self- centered Bureaucracy?

    If a commander stands against higher authority, to safeguard the interests of those placed under his command or in support of righteous conduct, it is discipline of the highest order – acting according to the dictates of one’s conscience, irrespective of the consequences or irrespective of the relationship with persons against whom the action is being taken. The Bhagawad Geeta, which is revered as the greatest philosophical work on earth, teaches this and nothing but this. How will bureaucrats, cringing before their political masters, looking for favours or the political masters, who look towards their bureaucratic supporters, brought up on the lap of psychophancy ever understand the meaning of true discipline.

    If you want to know what discipline is, you should ask someone who had served in the Government in the pre- independence days, only very few of whom may be alive. I happen to be one of them– a second world war veteran. Read the story below and ask your readers a question.

    How may bureaucrats or how many law- makers of today can even dream of doing such a thing as Russel Pasha of 13th FF Rifles. Did he not know his men?(Later Lt Gen– Military advisor to Field Marshal KM Cariappa on our attaining independence).

    The story :
    Lt Col Russel was the Commanding Officer of a Frontier Force Regiment, where all the men were from Paktoonisthan. Col Russel, affectionately called by his men as “Russel Pasha” used to go to Paktoonisthan and spend his annual leave in the villages from which his men came, living as a Pathan, dressed as a Pathan speaking Pushtu as a Pathan and biting flesh of the carcass of a full goat, roasted on coal fire, along with his Pathan friends of the village and would return to his battalion on completion of his annual leave.

    What else can you expect from the bureaucrats, except elbowing their political masters to condemn the chiefs, who have stood by the interests of the men under their command, for lack of discipline?. This is another repeat of the glorious example of present day neo- rich, mowing down innocent pedestrians with their expensive cars, testifying that there was nothing wrong with the car but it was the pedestrian who came in its way who is to be blamed.

    Would you have the courage to have this published as a letter to the editor in your esteemed news paper or the courtesy to send your reporter to interview a ninety year old veteran of world war II.

    Col MS Krishnamoorthy

    Anti- Military Editorials
    The Tribune: Uncalled for defiance: Admiral Mehta’s conduct inexcusable
    The Times of India: Army brass defied Govt on pay hike by citing ‘larger interest of the services’

    Military veterans seek an apology from Antony

    CHANDIGARH: Expressing their anguish against defence minister AK Antony asking Army chief to maintain discipline, the veteran Army officers have sought an apology from him and have stated that instead of defence personnel politicians needs to observe discipline particularly while attending the parliament session.

    This statement from the former Army officials came during a media interaction in Chandigarh on Monday, where former Army officials from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir had gathered to discuss various pending issues concerning them including anomalies in the sixth pay commission report.

    Lt Gen (Retd) P N Hoon, national chief coordinator of Atam Raksha Sangh, said that statement of defence minister asking Army chief to maintain discipline is highly objectionable. He said there is need to have better type of leadership who understand politics. ‘‘To understand the needs and psyche of defence personnel, politicians should undergo compulsory month long training in Siachen and Rajathan under extreme weather condition. Then only they would realize under which circumstances security forces are serving,’’ said Hoon, adding that armed forces are not getting due respect and in next 10 years Army would not be able to defend the country.

    Col (Retd) G S Sandhu, chairman, Majha Ex- Servicemen Human Rights Front, said that reported harsh languages and threat used by the minister against the service chiefs should be condemned and political parties would have to pay heavily for this in the coming election if they do not support the demand of military veterans. He said no national level party has come out in support of the defence personnel regarding anomalies in the sixth pay commission.

    The government is in deep slumber on the issue despite knowing the morale of defence forces is low and there is deep sense of hurt due to anomalies in the sixth pay commission recommendations, he added. Sandhu said there was a shortage of 13,000 officers and a large number of officers are opting for retirement to move towards more lucrative corporate sector. Col (Retd) Dharam Singh, president, Rashtriya Raksha Dal said that ex- servicemen at block level were forming groups to turn themselves into a strong votebanks so that parties could not dare to ignore them in the coming election.
    Military veterans seek an apology from Antony

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    SCPC: Armed Forces will get fair salaries

    Goverment bends, armed forces win fight for fair salaries. The Central government will soon issue a new notification on revised salaries for the country's defence services. The difference in salaries between Lt Colonels and their civilian counterparts and Lt Generals and Directors General of Police will be removed. The Government agreed to study the defence services' demand after they almost refused implement the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations. Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday down played the controversy and said there were no differences between the government and the armed forces over the pay commission's report.
    SCPC: Armed Forces will get fair salaries

    BJP wages new war, says soldiers deserve more
    A day after the Government ordered the armed forces to end their defiance over the revised salaries recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) on Sunday jumped into the fray. "Prime Minister should ensure that the soldiers are given their due," BJP President Rajnath Singh said. "The soldiers deserve more," he added.
    BJP wages a new war, says soldiers deserve more

    Accessing Information under RTI Act

    Information hidden in reams of scattered files: Time for Retrieval Infinity

    Participatory Research in Asia has prepared a report on RTI based on the experiences of citizens in 10 states (2008). The States covered in this study are: Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. We would like to share the report with you.
    Warm regards
    Vikas Jha
    RTI: Citizens Experiences: 80 Pages of Resource Material on Bureaucratic Hurdles to Development

    PRIA is an International Centre for Learning and Promotion of Democratic Governance.It was founded in 1982, in reponse to the realisation that grassroot realities across much of India revealed that governments were unable to deliver relevant or sustainable development programmes. At the same time, local level initiatives were successful in raising awareness and mobilising community to participate in different aspects of their own development. PRIA works locally, nationally and globally.
    Society for Participatory Research in India

    We thank Maj PM Ravindran for the information.

    Comment: ESM, Ex- Servicemen Organisations and the like- minded NGO's have excellent opportunities under the RTI Act to combat Bureaucratic Corruption. How many ESM and welfare Organisations are using this potent weapon to curb corruption?

    SCPC: Shameful Tribune

    Dear Sir,

    I have read the Tribune for as long as I can remember and have appreciated its balanced stand on most issues. Your recent, self - proclaimed support of the armed forces on the issue of the Sixth Pay Commission has been particularly pleasing to all retired and serving personnel. However, this morning's editorial, criticising the Service Chief's so called 'defiance', that even goes so far as to headline Admiral Mehta's conduct as 'inexcusable' was in my opinion, out of line and uncalled for on your part.

    One of the basic tenets of being a good leader is his ability to understand the needs of his men and not only stand up for them but even stick ones own neck out in their interest, safety and comfort. Men do not follow into battle a leader who does not know in his heart that the morale of his men is of paramount importance. Forgive me if I sound rude but anyone who does not know this, is in position to pontificate upon the issue.

    The Service Chiefs have in fact, remained silent for far too long and have over the years borne successive humiliations at the hands of a manipulative bureaucracy with a stiff upper lip that has actually been to the detriment of the armed forces and the nation at large. Admiral Mehta has done nothing wrong in refusing to accept the crumbs thrown to the Services and there has been nothing even remotely unbecoming in his conduct. He has in fact done himself and the armed forces proud. For once there is a Chief with a backbone who has not succumbed to bullying or artful coercion. Hats off to him.

    Commander JV SINGH (Retd)
    Uncalled for defiance: Admiral Mehta’s conduct inexcusable

    The Indian Express: Rubbing the Brass on the wrong side?


    Your main headlines Army brass defied Govt on pay hike by citing ‘larger interest of the services’ have obviously been inspired by those who have brought our country to such an impasse on matter of pay & honour which should have been given as a matter of gratitude to servicemen who have been giving so much to many for so little. By rubbing the top brass even on the wrong side it would only add to their luster. The present top brass could have chosen to be content with their own elevation to the top band & may be governorship in the bargain had they towed the line. But they have rightly stood by their men & the services as true soldiers. The present spate of diatribes trying to teach concept of discipline to the most discipline lot- are only to deflect attention from the omissions & commissions which may get unraveled soon.

    Air Cmde Raghubir Singh (Retd)
    Army brass defied Govt on pay hike by citing ‘larger interest of the services’

    Editorial Responses: Tribune of Shame

    Dear Sir,
    Your editorial was unexpected and way off the mark. It is based on misinformation and shows poor understanding of the military functioning. You have castigated Admiral Mehta wrongly for the letter and failed to write who is responsible for the 6th CPC mess (despite warnings) and why the Naval Chief wrote this letter to his command.

    The letter has nothing to do with mild mannered Defence Minister A K Antony. And where is the defiance? Do you believe the Government would have appointed the Ministers' Committee if the Service Chiefs had not raised this issue so strongly in the interest of the welfare and morale of their subordinates? Your views will contribute further to the resentment amongst serving and retired armed forces personnel.

    Yours sincerely,
    V P Malik
    General (Retd)
    Former Chief of Army Staff

    Dear Sir,
    Reference your editorial on Admiral Sureesh Mehta's letter on 30 September 2008.
    It is so easy for anyone in this country to chide service chiefs – politicians, bureaucrats, judiciary and the scribes. They all form the four pillars of Indian democracy. But they forget that India's armed forces are the bedrock on which stand those four pillars.

    Had the so called 'institutional mechanisms', referred to in your editorial Uncalled for Defiance, been in place and functional the service chiefs would not have been pushed into acting in so uncharacteristic a manner. They and two million ex servicemen have been crying hoarse about injustice perpetuated on soldiers, for some decades now. Had 'institutional mechanisms' been in place:
  • separate pay commission would have been in place after third pay commission or atleast a military representative member would have been included on the pay commission panel;
  • a military representative been on Secretary's Committee on anomalies;
  • justified demands and anomalies resolved before cabinet approval for implementation of sixth CPC recommendations;
  • observations of Supreme Court's historic judgment on 10 August 2008 on one rank one pension; ruling of the Supreme Court, in the same judgment, on removing a recognized anomaly wherein major generals were getting lesser pension than their subordinate ranking brigadiers.

    Instead of 'institutional mechanisms' (an all IAS Secretary's Committee) working towards removing anomalies, it compounded the issue further by creating new anomalies, of the most dishonourable variety. This very act of the 'secretaries', though fully anticipated by all soldiers - serving and retired - pushed them to act in the larger interest of their service; it is their duty to ensure safety and welfare of the men they command. The only other alternative left to them was to resign before implementation and execution of a seemingly wrong government diktat. It is time that politicians did their job, i.e. provide leadership.

    Institutionalised mechanisms are not meant replace leadership. The widest perception in the country is that Indian bureaucracy has only one agenda– perpetuating bureaucratic power; after all politicians come and go. Indian bureaucrat is seen as out of Indian politician's control. Political leadership is seen as having subordinated itself to bureaucratic manipulation and mechanisms. This is the stark ground reality and needs urgent correction, for the sake of the nation and not just the armed forces.

    There is a definite need for our politicians, bureaucrats, judiciary and scribes to study and understand military ethics and what goes into serving in the military. Then and then only they might realize the difference between acting in the larger interest of the service and willful defiance of orders. After all Hitler's order to exterminate Jews too had the government stamp but generals and soldiers who executed that order, forgetting military ethics, were tried as criminals against humanity. Admiral Sureesh Mehta has committed no offence. The Admiral has acted as per ethic- dictates of the military. If the government, in its wisdom, imposes punishment on this eminent soldier sailor, then so be it. After all there is always a price to pay for upholding truth and duty. That is what soldiering is all about.

    Maj Gen (Retd) K Khorana
    Uncalled for defiance: Admiral Mehta’s conduct inexcusable
  • Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    SCPC: Tribune of Shame

    Dear Mr. Editor,

    Your write up UNCALLED FOR DEFIANCE- ADMIRAL MEHTA’S CONDUCT INEXCUSABLE on the Centre Page of Tribune Dated 30 Sep 2008 is misconstrued and not based on deep analysis of the whole issue.

    It is very rare that Defence Services Chiefs make requests to the Government so repeatedly on any issue as in the case of constituting and recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission. This is due to the deliberate downgrading of the Defence Services over a period of last 30-40 years, time and again, when ever a Pay Commission was constituted.

    The Pay Commission is headed by a Judge or some such civilian. The Secretariat is manned by the bureaucrats. They are the ones who work out details and put up draft recommendations. The Defence Services have most respectfully requested the Government time and again, to hold a separate Pay Commission for them, failing which their representative be at least included in the Pay Commission. Defence Services have the largest number of officers and non officer cadre in the Country. Can you Sir think of any logical reasoning for not acceptance of this request? If this simple request had been accepted which was made well before the 6th Pay Commission was constituted, the present fiasco would not have taken place.

    As regards non acceptance of the award of the Pay Commission by the Defence Services, this was done based on similar past experience with the 4th and 5th Pay Commissions. Once the award is accepted, even conditionally, the bureaucracy and the politicians are quite content. However, years pass and the objections raised by the Defence services keep being processed on files, till even a new Pay Commission is instituted. A year or so before the New Pay Commission, notings are made by senior bureaucrats that the pending points will be examined by the new pay commission!! A large number of such issues from the 5th Pay Commission are still pending. Hence this time, the three Chiefs rightly took a decision not to implement the award of the Pay Commission. You will now agree that keeping in view how the bureaucracy and the Ministers function, this was the only course left for the three Chiefs.

    Sir, are you aware that the Committee of Secretaries headed by no less than the Cabinet Secretary appointed to examine the objections raised by the three Services in fact committed a fraud on the nation and the three Defence Services!! Apparently they raised pay bands of certain ranks in the Defence Services but side by side brought into higher pay bands many civilian and police appointments junior to Service officers, thus in fact down grading the status of Lt Cols and equivalents. They also brought down the status of Lt Gens below that of DGPs of Police. Our Ministers are so naïve that they did not bother to consult the Defence Services before accepting the new recommendations and issuing implementation letter. What are the Defence Services Chiefs expected to do under such circumstances!!

    Sir, the Defence Services personnel fight and give their lives based on loyalty. Loyalty to the nation, loyalty to the Service, loyalty to the Paltan/Ship/Squadron, loyalty to the officers. However, this loyalty is two way; upwards and downwards. The superiors have also to be loyal to the troops/sailors/airmen they command. They are responsible for their welfare and safety. We do not want rebellion amongst our Services on matters like pay and status. Therefore the Chiefs are duty and honor bound to stand up to the blatant discrimination and fraud committed by the bureaucracy, and incompetence of our Ministers to see through this game, in case they have to maintain morale and fighting spirit of the Forces. As you are fully aware, the Defence services personnel cannot form trade unions or agitate collectively. Hence it is the Chiefs who have to take up cudgel on their behalf, with all the will and determination.

    Sir, what has been done by the bureaucracy is a very serious matter for the nation to ponder. They have done what our adversaries like Pakistan and China would have on their wish list; To LOWER THE MORALE OF THE INDIAN DEFENCE FORCES. And now the actual culprits are rubbing salt on injury and further undermining the authority of the Service Chiefs by singling out Admiral Suresh Mehta for sending out a signal to all ranks regarding the implementation of the Pay Commission. It needs to be mentioned that this is how in the Defence Services Senior Generals/Admirals/Air Marshals deal with critical issues concerning with morale. The signal by the Naval Chief is very aptly worded and was intended to reassure all ranks and as a prevent measure against any unrest, that all possible steps were being taken with the Government. We hope you and the nation remember the Naval Mutiny of 1942. Lack of communication with lower ranks was one main reason for this unsavory happening.

    The Prime Minister should set up a commission immediately to investigate, how the bureaucracy misguided the Ministers and injected new disparities in the in-terse seniority of Lt Cols and Lt Gens, which has resulted in feeling of so much despondency amongst Defence Services. Also why the pensions for PBOR have been curtailed before lateral entry in other Government Departments is ensured.

    Sir, I am afraid in stead of lauding the patience, the statesmanship shown by the Defence Service Chiefs in face of such blatant downgrading of Service officers and complete disdain and neglect by the Ministers, except the Defence Minister, you have drawn wrong conclusions. You have lowered the standing of the Naval Chief, who also happens to be the Head of Joint Services Staff by writing the piece they way you have.

    We hope that with the above clarifications, you will be true to your profession and write another column, giving the correct picture.

    Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd)
    Param Vashishst Seva Medal

    Uncalled for defiance: Admiral Mehta’s conduct inexcusable

    SCPC: Defence Forces Pay Packet and Honour Decapacitated

    The crux of the defence forces’ grievances has to do with the manner in which they have been downgraded in relation to the civil services. A lieutenant colonel who drew Rs 800 more than his civilian counterpart now draws Rs 11,000 less. Similarly, other bands have been created which put even higher-level officers at a disadvantage vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. The forces had been demanding an integrated pay scale till the rank of major general, in order to reduce the feeling of stagnation. This was accepted in the Fourth Pay Commission, removed in the fifth, and has now been restored in the sixth (while introducing a similar facility for other services), but the way in which the scale has been fixed ensures that civilian employees draw higher salaries. The wonder of it all, if you go by the calculations submitted by the defence forces, is that the total cost of what they ask for is under Rs 250 crore. It is obvious that the issue is not the money, but a needless act of oneupmanship by the civil services. The group of ministers that has been constituted will have to make up now for past government insensitivity.
    Editorial: Extreme step

    NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 29 : The armed forces have agreed to implement revised pay scales and arrears from October 1 but in a highly controversial move last Friday, the Army top brass, taking a cue from the Navy, cited “the larger interests of the services” to justify their defiance and “delay” in implementing revised salaries.
    Army brass defied Govt on pay hike by citing ‘larger interest of the services’
    Respect and honour the Forces

    Comment: Leadership and Command and Control of Troops entails fighting for their rights; Rank, Honour, Status and also for Just Wages from a Government saddled with excessive Bureaucratic control and rightly called the "License Raj or Permit Raj".

    SCPC: Heed the silent protest

    Pay scales are important to soldiers- this term includes all personnel of India's army, navy and air force- but status (or, more meaningfully, izzat) is any day more important. The first is important to satisfy the corporal and temporal needs of the fighting man and his family, and the second is what motivates him to fight for his country and if need be, sacrifice his life. In our increasingly materialistic society, the two are inextricably linked. The way a soldier is treated by the public at large and by bureaucracy in particular when he is on duty (official interactions) and off duty (on leave, at a personal level) is a part of how the soldier understands where and how he fits into India's society.

    The public is not, in general, sufficiently interested in the soldier to understand the reason for the rank structure, and couldn't be bothered to understand what the soldier does or the stresses and risks that he undergoes, or that 90% of them retire before they are 40 years of age. And then there are (admittedly few but influential) people who think that the defence budget is a waste of money. The bureaucrat is known for harbouring a sense of being superior to the soldier. The fact of a Brigadierwith 24 years service having to deal with a Deputy Comissioner with half that service but equivalent pay only adds to that sense, while the bureaucrat usually treatsthe ordinary Jawan who gets paid less than a police constable, dismissively. Public disinterest and thinly veiled bureaucratic hostility rankle in soldiers' minds, but the discipline of military training keeps the soldier silent.
    Successive Central Pay Commissions (CPCs) have brought down the inter se status of all ranks of the Defence Services with respect to the bureaucracy and police.

    The recent Sixth CPC is consistent in that respect, with yet another step downwards. For many years, the Defence Services have been asking that since the soldier and the ex-soldier form by far the largest chunk of all government employees and pensioners respectively, the CPC should have representation of at least one serving soldier, but the request has been routinely, even contemptuously, brushed aside. Because of the consistent degradation of the pay and status of the soldier, and the lack of understanding or the need to remain "one-up" of the bureaucrat, the status of senior Defence Services officers vis-a-vis civilian officials has been falling with every CPC. This is nothing but repeated slaps on the face of the soldier amounting to, "Yours not to reason why, yours but to do and die". All this has been borne patiently and silently by the soldier, under successive insensitive, uncaring or apathetic governments.

    The soldier is routinely called out in his secondary role of aid to civil power for insurgency, social unrest or natural or man-made disasters, almost always because the civil administration (bureaucrats and the police under their control) has proved incompetent in its primary role. If this situation is exacerbated by degrading the soldiers' status vis-a-vis the bureaucracy and police, it cannot be viewed by the soldier as otherwise than deliberate insult.

    The three Service Chiefs conveyed to the Defence Minister that the 6CPC Review Committee that went into the anomalies of soldiers' pay once again without Defence Service representation, actually heightened the anomalous situation rather than remedying it. This culminated in their stating that the implementation of the 6CPC may not be possible because of the sensiblities of soldiers constrained to silence, but this was interpreted as breach of discipline. As reported in the Indian Express e-newspaper article on 28.9.2008, "Service Chiefs back off after Antony tough talk", the Defence Minister said words to the effect that "... the armed forces cannot unilaterally decide not to implement a Union Cabinet decision and that there was no way the UPA government would let them get away with it". If the Defence Minister imagines that the 6CPC recommendations will bring cheer to the soldier for Diwali he is sadly misinformed, because it has actually further diminished soldiers' status. On the other hand, it further heightens the soldiers' dismay with the manner in which his General, Admiral and Air Chief Marshal have been collectively disciplined. The Defence Service Chiefs' acquiescence is not because they were intimidated into submission by the Defence Minister's "tough talk", but because of their mature understanding of India's democracy, so as not to cause a constitutional crisis. Again, evidence of the patience and silence of the strong, with the thoughtless actions of the feckless and the weak.

    Mr.Veerappa Moily's off-the-cuff remark on NDTV's program on 28 September 2008, "Men in arms, Up in arms", that the soldier appears to speak about these issues only after he retires, is evidence of his unforgivable ignorance of the conditions of military service that (necessarily) deny the serving soldier the right of freedom of speech and expression and freedom to form associations or unions under Article 19 (a) and (c) of the Constitution of India. He might like to cogitate on what might happen to India if, God forbid, the suggestive title of NDTV's program came true. Soldiers who have the experience and honour of commanding men in the risky and life-threatening circumstances of military operations understand human nature in general, and in particular of the fighting man, much better than pen-pushing bureaucrats orsome politicians. It is mature understanding of human nature that a patient and silent man is not weak. Rather, he is patient and silent because he is strong. Testing the patience and misinterpreting the silence of the Indian soldier with respect to the 6CPC cannot be in the best interests of the Indian nation.

    Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)

    Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, VSM, retired from active service on 30 September 1996, when he was Additional Director General (Discipline & Vigilance) in Adjutant General's Branch, Army HQ, New Delhi. He is settled in Mysore where he is engaged in voluntary social work as member of Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP), National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

    SCPC: ESM Press Conference


    Dear Esteemed Members of the Press,

    1. This is to remind all our members of the Press regarding the Press Conference on 03 Oct 08 at 12 'O' Clock Noon at Press Club of India New Delhi in connection with the future action plans to get Justice For Defence Services.

    2. The Govt has adopted delay tactics by constituting a committee to go into the demands of the Defence Services and has unfairly criticized the three Chiefs for their refusal to accept the 6th CPC award. This is an issue of great National importance and the assistance of media both Electronic & Print is essential to inform the people of India the magnitude of the Injustices being done to the Defence Forces and their repercussions.

    3. You are therefore, requested to attend the press Conference and cover the event extensively in the interest of the Nation.
    With Kind Regards,
    Yours Sincerely,

    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
    Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement (IESM)

    Diatribes in the media trying to teach the services the concept of discipline or the security classification for communication- apparently by those who have flouted every rule of fair-play seem outrageous & outlandish to say the least. They have only brought ignominy to the government which has to soon go in election mode. It is not merely about pushing down the Lt Cols or reducing the pension of PBOR's in anticipation which is in future indefinite tense. Most disturbing is loss of faith which our country can ill afford. While Dr Manmohan Singh has done so well in clinching the nuclear deal- he has to defuse the confrontation bomb ticking at home. He must find out who all have been behind this shameful misadventure. For the ex servicemen at least – showing Chiefs in poor light is disturbing & unacceptable. It would be in order to have a more understanding Raksha Mantri who can come up to the expectations of the nation (As evident from the NDTV debate) & is able to control those Bureaucrats who are out on rampage.
    Air Cmde Raghubir Singh (Retd)

    It is not money alone. The joint communication made by the three Service Chiefs, to the Prime Minister to withhold the implementation of the 6th Pay commission for the armed forces, till their parity with civilian counterparts is restored, should not be taken so lightly. The 'anti-services bureaucracy' in India have systematically brought down the status of the defence officers, ever since our independence, with their aim to make the men in uniform as subordinates to the babus. Knowing fully well the role of the armed forces , the present shortage of officers and their morale crisis, why the bureaucracy and the politicians are still making concerted efforts to depress the status of the military officers? Now the entire population of Service Officers and ex- servicemen are so up set over the gross anomalies deliberately created by the pay commission. The Finance Ministry, while denying the deserved privileges to the service officers, must have forgotten the extent of damage it can inflict on the country's security system. A demoralized army will be a liability to the nation rather than a strength. Even though the Defence Minister has understood the gravity of the situation, unfortunately he has not been able to convince the government. The officers are not asking just money but to stop the steady lowering of inter se status vis-a-vis the civilian counterparts. Let our leaders understand that such lowering of status and discrimination is unacceptable to the defence officers. Equations need to be corrected and restored with an immediacy before the issue becomes unmanageable.
    Major Mathew Oommen (Retd)

    Letter to Editor: Tribune of Shame

    Dear Sir,

    How naive can editors be? This is exemplified by the editorial in The Tribune of 30 September 2008 (Uncalled for Defiance- link given below). Where is the defiance Sir? What the three service chiefs did was absolutely correct. What kind of a country are we living in where neither the government nor the media understands the frustrations and anger of all ranks of the military, as well as the military veterans. Do they have no rights? Should they accept the peanuts being doled out to them without protest, just because they are disciplined in a sea of indiscipline and have borne all the ignominy heaped on them over decades by callous bureaucrats and political leaders?

    What the Chiefs did and correctly was to inform their commands, whose morale and welfare is their sacred responsibility, about the delay in implementation and the reasons thereof. Such actions have been taken on innumerable occasions in the past. It is only naïve editors and self- seeking bureaucrats who do not know the ground realities of how the military functions. What a monumental shame? You will do well to back off and apologise to all soldiers who are sacrificing their lives, whom you have dealt a body blow with this "ill-thought-out" and "please- government" editorial.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd)
    Uncalled for defiance: Admiral Mehta’s conduct inexcusable

    SCPC: Injustice by Pay Commissions: Press Release


    1. The IESM (Punjab) has organized a Press Conference for the Ex- Servicemen Organisations of North India at Royal Hotel Phase- 10, Mohali, on 30/9/08 at 11:30am to 12:30 Hrs. This is being attended by Maj Gen Satbir Singh SM, Vice Chairman IESM New Delhi, and heads of ESM org & prominent ESM from Punjab, Haryana, UP, HP, J&K, Rajasthan and the Tricity. We strongly support the bold decision & stand taken by our 3 brave chiefs for proper justice, Value & dignity. We express anguish against Pay Commissions & Govt's indiscriminatory attitudes towards ESM Community & Forces. Surprisingly Defence issues are being handled by unprofessionals, who know nothing of our problems & values nor they want to understand. This GOM have already been tried out many times & we have no hope from them. They do not want Defence representation in them to ensure that cleverly manipulated anomalies are not revealed in time for correction.

    2. Bureaucrats have been manipulating & tampering Pay Commission reports to their advantages illegally, that too after the Government's approval. We request for CBI inquiry. For ESM Pensioners, even 4th & 5th Pay Commission reports are yet not implemented sincerely. We have been repeatedly cheated & openly told to get justice through Courts only. Our most genuine demands are over ruled without sufficient cause. Our National Security & Values is at stake, because quality intake is not joining Armed Forces. Civil administration often collapses in crises & the Army is being over used to run the Government. Still our pay, perks & status is much lower than our civil counterparts. Our Chiefs cannot speak more than this being in uniform & in a civilized society of the biggest democratic country.

    3. We report with heavy heart that Govt/ Defence Ministry have not appreciated nor responded to our peaceful methods of protests against repeated injustices & neglects caused by bureaucracy & Pay Commissions to Defence Forces, Ex-servicemen & Widows. We feel Govt only responds to violent agitations of high voltage. Some how, we have been avoiding indecent agitations being disciplined & responsible citizens but this decency have not been helping us in the most corrupted & irresponsible system. We are more than 40% Defence employees in the Central Government employees, yet we have not got a separate Defence Pay Commission nor a member in CPCs.

    4. Soldiers work for 24x7 days for 281 days in year but civilian who work only for 8x5 days & 165 days in a year, are being graded higher with more pay & promotions. Soldiers are unskilled workers even after handling needle to ship & rifle to Rockets and all electronic gadgets with highest degree of accountability & success rate. We have been sent home much prematurely, just to keep the forces young in the National interest. But Govt have done nothing concrete for our resettlement. We have asked for most legitimate & genuine four demands in a decent & democratic way but Govt is not responding because we have nobody in decision making bodies. That's why, our only main demands are:-

  • One Rank one Pension, which have been accepted by Parliament but Bureaucrats are not allowing its implementation by various designs. Whereas IAS Officers are manipulating and filling their own pockets illegally being in power.

  • Guaranteed Job up to 60 yrs age by lateral induction into Civil services & state Police, under Parliament Act. This will improve Civil Admn's credibility, discipline & reduce corruption in uncontrolled set- up. ESM deserve to get much needed Social & Financial Value and powers to look after the most neglected Defence Community. Soldiers will also get some incentive for early retirement after a very tough & disciplined life.

  • Constitute ESM Commission with statutory powers to safeguard our genuine interests, like many other weaker sections of societies. ESM Commission may be headed by retired SC Judge & only ESM members at National & State level. ESM should draft its terms & conditions with the help of Judiciary.

  • ESM representation in all Government Bodies Commissions & Committees where ESM Community interests are involved. Our properties, entitlements & honour are not safe & secure in our own nation.

    5. Even, Voting Right to Soldiers at their place of duty have yet not been implemented to elect our own representative in Assemblies. Every community gets more than they agitate for violently. The ESM Community should no more be branded as a weak Community. Therefore, we are being forced for undignified agitations. To start with, all ESM should also observe BLACK DIWALI & put Black flag on their Vehicles & houses, till our all demands are met without conditions. We have given our best and sacrificed a lot to protect the nation at our own cost & value; hence we deserve a respectable retired life with dignity, so that next generation replaces veterans happily.

    Lt Col SS Sohi (Retd)
    Coordinator, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, Punjab.
  • Red Flag 2008- IAF in action over the USA

    A Su-30MKI turns right base for Rwy 21R for recovery

    Group Captain Diptendu Choudhury, Air Commodore Jasbir Walia, Air Marshal PV Naik, and Group Captain Ajay Rathore, before a SU-30MK1

    Indian Air Force is reported to have done well in Ex Red Flag held in USA in Aug 2008. Some of the videos and pictures taken by Ken Sekhon S/O Col Gurdip Singh Sekhon of Corps of Signals, who was accredited for the Exercise, can be seen on links below:
    1. Interview with Chief Master Sergeant Emmery on a typical day during Ex- Red Flag: Typical day Ex Red Flag
    2. Takeoff/ Landing: Take off SU-30MK1 and IL76/78
    3. Pictures posted by Bharat-Rakshak: Photos of Warplanes
    4. Air Marshal PV Naik's team: More Pictures

    We thank Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd) for these awesome videos, pictures and links.

    SCPC: Unfair Critism of Defence Chiefs

    Dear Members of the Press,

    1. The three Defence Chiefs have rightly acted to the dictates of their conscience by bringing to the Notice of the Government the serious anomalies in the 6th Pay Commission award approved by the Cabinet and informing that till such time these anomalies are removed, the award is not implementable. But the Government has displaced utter lack of vision and concern of issue of National Importance by unfairly criticising this action of the Chiefs. There is a need to inform the people of India and the Government that the Defence Chiefs owe a responsibility to their men to protect their genuine rights and interests. Chiefs are expected to motivate their men and lead them to War against external as well as internal threats. If they remain mere puppets in the hands of the Government, what respect will they command from their subordinates? How can they then provide effective leadership in a crisis situation? The present messy situation has been brought gradually by successive Governments and the present Government has not read the signals of unrest in minds of Indian Armed Forces which is one of best in the world (as brought out by Admiral Arun Parkash very correctly on NDTV prime show on 28 Sep 2008).

    2. It is amply clear that the Chiefs have acted in National interest for such an issue has a direct bearing on the morale and the fighting spirit of the Armed Forces. All previous requests of the Chiefs to give Justice to the Defence Services fell on deaf ears. Government by its stubbornness not to accede to the genuine demands of the Defence Services has ensured that despondency sets in the Armed Forces.

    3. Setting up of three member committee consisting of the RM, FM and the Minister of external affairs is a delay tactic since these very Hon’ble Ministers have already been associated in the decision making in this case and once again they have not included any member from the Armed Forces. It is also understood that the Govt will be investigating as to why the Naval Chief sent a signal to all his lower formation on 27 Sep 2008 regarding 6th Pay Commission. It is felt that the investigation needs to be done not against the Naval Chief but to find out the circumstances leading to the situation. Why are the Defence Forces getting step motherly treatment? What wrong have they committed? One really wonders!

    4. We the Veterans of Defence Forces of India unanimously condemn this action of the Government and totally support the stand taken by the Service Chiefs. We appeal to the Government that the four demands projected by the Chiefs and "One Rank One Pension" of the veterans be accepted by the Government.

    5. May I request you to cover this in your news paper and TV Channels.

    With Kind Regards,
    Yours Sincerely,

    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
    Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Tribute to a Soldier killed by a terrorist

    Daddy's Poem

    Her hair was up in a pony tail,
    her favorite dress tied with a bow.
    Today was Daddy's Day at school,
    and she couldn't wait to go.

    But her mommy tried to tell her,
    that she probably should stay home.
    Why the kids might not understand,
    if she went to school alone.

    But she was not afraid;
    she knew just what to say.
    What to tell her classmates
    of why he wasn't there today.

    But still her mother worried,
    for her to face this day alone.
    And that was why once again,
    she tried to keep her daughter home.

    But the little girl went to school
    eager to tell them all.
    About a dad she never sees
    a dad who never calls.

    There were daddies along the wall in back,
    for everyone to meet.
    Children squirming impatiently,
    anxious in their seats

    One by one the teacher called
    a student from the class.
    To introduce their daddy,
    as seconds slowly passed.

    At last the teacher called her name,
    every child turned to stare.
    Each of them was searching,
    a man who wasn't there.

    'Where's her daddy at?'
    She heard a boy call out.
    'She probably doesn't have one,'
    another student dared to shout.

    And from somewhere near the back,
    she heard a daddy say,
    'Looks like another deadbeat dad,
    too busy to waste his day.'

    The words did not offend her,
    as she smiled up at her Mom.
    And looked back at her teacher,
    who told her to go on.

    And with hands behind her back,
    slowly she began to speak.
    And out from the mouth of a child,
    came words incredibly unique.

    'My Daddy couldn't be here,
    because he lives so far away.
    But I know he wishes he could be,
    since this is such a special day.

    And though you cannot meet him,
    I wanted you to know.
    All about my daddy,
    and how much he loves me so.

    He loved to tell me stories
    he taught me to ride my bike.
    He surprised me with pink roses,
    and taught me to fly a kite.

    We used to share fudge sundaes,
    and ice cream in a cone.
    And though you cannot see him.
    I'm not standing here alone.

    'Cause my daddy's always with me,
    even though we are apart
    I know because he told me,
    he'll forever be in my heart'

    With that, her little hand reached up,
    and lay across her chest.
    Feeling her own heartbeat,
    beneath her favorite dress.

    And from somewhere here in the crowd of dads,
    her mother stood in tears.
    Proudly watching her daughter,
    who was wise beyond her years.

    For she stood up for the love
    of a man not in her life.
    Doing what was best for her,
    doing what was right.

    And when she dropped her hand back down,
    staring straight into the crowd.
    She finished with a voice so soft,
    but its message clear and loud.

    'I love my daddy very much,
    he's my shining star.
    And if he could, he'd be here,
    but heaven's just too far.

    You see he is a Marine
    and died just this past year
    When a roadside bomb hit his convoy
    and taught Americans to fear.

    But sometimes when I close my eyes,
    it's like he never went away.'
    And then she closed her eyes,
    and saw him there that day.

    And to her mothers amazement,
    she witnessed with surprise.
    A room full of daddies and children,
    all starting to close their eyes.

    Who knows what they saw before them,
    who knows what they felt inside.
    Perhaps for merely a second,
    they saw him at her side.

    'I know you're with me Daddy,'
    to the silence she called out.
    And what happened next made believers,
    of those once filled with doubt.

    Not one in that room could explain it,
    for each of their eyes had been closed.
    But there on the desk beside her,
    was a fragrant long-stemmed pink rose.

    And a child was blessed, if only for a moment,
    by the love of her shining star.
    And given the gift of believing,
    that heaven is never too far.

    With love and pride I was humbled
    Take the live and love.
    More soldiers are coming home draped in their flag.
    Daddy's Poem

    Thank a soldier or a veteran today. Lest we forget.

    SCPC: Govt, forces at loggerhead over pay scale

    Sudhi Ranjan Sen
    Monday, September 29, 2008, (New Delhi)

    An unclassified telegram from Navy chief, the senior most of the three chiefs, to his men on why the new pay scale will not be implemented drove home a strong message to the government.

    However, the unprecedented move aimed at calming the forces ended up angering the government and is now threatening to start a standoff between the forces and the government.

    "A committee has been set up, let it start the process. But I hope our genuine demands are addressed thoroughly," said Chief of Army Staff Deepak Kapoor.

    But a similar move by the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Suresh Mehta on Wednesday has upset bureaucrats and politicians and they are considering action against him.

    On Wednesday, the Army chief told his men that the new pay scales would not be implemented till the anomalies were sorted out and until then they should be patient.

    However, ministry sources say the letter sets a dangerous precedent of defying civilian leadership.

    But why did the Navy chief write the letter?

    Since the pay commission downgraded lieutenant colonels and their peers in the Navy and Air Force, there have been coordination problems with other forces and bureaucrats.

    On two occasions after the hike was announced, Coast Guard officers refused to work under the Navy in routine operations on the west coast. And Para-military officers have refused to work under army battalion commanders in field operations.

    Sources tell NDTV that Admiral Mehta's letter was really meant to soothe feathers in the forces that may have been ruffled by such incidents.
    But can the Navy chief write such a letter?

    "A commander has a right to speak to his men. I see no problem in sending a telegram like this," said Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd). Rather than debating whether the Chief of Navy Staff can write such a letter to his men, the civilian leadership should perhaps examine why he wrote it.
    Govt, forces at loggerhead over pay scale

    Comment: The Bureaucrats have a uncanny skill of putting the cart before the horse to ensure that the Government Machinery neither can move forward nor backward! Just look at the reams of rules and forms packed tight like cordite in the various Government Ministries; they are yet to be digitised!

    SCPC: Time to have Chief of Defence Staff?

    To: The Editor, The Hindustan Times

    Kudos to the Service Chiefs for standing solidly behind their officers & men against the scheming mandarins of the South Block while the ministers apparently have been oblivious? How the committee of secretaries overlooked the downgrading of the Lt Col or pension for PBOR's being reduced to 50% in anticipation of lateral induction? The services have stood pressure & disingenuous reassurances to sort out anomalies later- which never comes if pending anomalies of the fifth pay commission or fixing an entire generation of officers 20% lower during the fourth pay commission as came out in the heart burning Major Dhanpalan's case be any indication.

    Normally pay, honour or at least a place in the sun for those who have always stood by the nation through thick & thin, in war & peace, during famines & floods– should be going up without bringing situation to such a pass. Perhaps there are some shortsighted forces which are trying to drive wedge and demoralize the services. Pranab Mukherjee must examine how bureaucracy has been leapfrogging itself upwards every time & pushing down the men in uniform, humiliating the services through inspired leaks & even floating the idea that the government was unhappy with the chiefs. Those who have tried to bring the country to such brinkmanship must be identified & brought to book. This is the time to reorganize Ministry of Defence with Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) at the helm of affairs reporting directly to the Defence Minister. There cannot be better choice than the admirable Admiral Sureesh Mehta as the first CDS to restore the sagging services morale battered so rudely by the third rate pay commissions?

    Air Cmde Raghubir Singh (Retd)

    No differences with Government over pay says Army Chief

    NEW DELHI: The armed forces on Sunday expressed hope that the newly-constituted high-level ministerial committee will address their "genuine grievances" over the notification of their new pay scales.

    "We have made our recommendations and the government has decided to set up a panel. So, let us see how the deliberations go... we are hopeful that it will look into our genuine and bonafide requests," Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said after laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti in India Gate to mark the 181st Gunners Day.

    "I just want to clarify that this talk of differences between the armed forces and the government... I think that is not right. The fact is that the defence ministry is positive, and with us," added Gen Kapoor.

    This comes a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his ongoing trip to US and France, directed the setting up of a ministerial committee headed by foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, and including defence minister A K Antony and finance minister P Chidambaram, to look into the "core issues" raised by the armed forces.

    As reported by TOI earlier, the Army, Navy and IAF had refused to accept their new pay scales from October 1 since they wanted political intervention in restoring their parity with their civilian and paramilitary counterparts.

    As a compromise formula, a rattled government on Saturday set up a three-member ministerial committee, even as it directed the three Services to submit their draft pay vouchers to it by Monday to ensure the process to give all military personnel their new salaries and 40% arrears at the earliest could begin.

    Moreover, keeping in view that the re-fixation of pay, allowances and arrears "may take some time", the government on Saturday also announced ad hoc payment of arrears to all ranks in October as an interim measure.

    These amounts range from Rs 25,000 for jawans to Rs 50,000 for subedar-majors and their equivalents in the Navy and IAF. For officers, it ranges from Rs 55,000 for Lieutenants and Rs 80,000 for Lt-Colonels to Rs 1.60 lakh to Brigadiers and Rs 2.25 lakh for Lt-Gens.

    Antony, on his part, has already indicated his support for the main demand of the 13-lakh strong armed forces on the issue of downgrading of Lt-Cols, who constitute the bulk of the officer cadre.

    The forces are angry the "extant parity" of Lt-Cols (and their equivalent Wing Commanders in IAF and Commanders in Navy) has been lowered by retaining them in Pay Band-3 (Rs 15,600-39,100), while raising similarly placed civilians and paramilitary officers to PB-4 (Rs 37,400-67,000).

    The government has also indicated its willingness to restore the earlier 70% "pensionary weightage" given to PBOR (personnel below officer rank), overruling the 50% recommended by the 6th Pay Commission.
    No differences with govt over pay, says Army chief

    The SCPC has demoralised the Military by degrading Rank, Status and Honour. The WoP has favourably upgraded the Bureaucrat and successfully downgraded the Military Ranks. The consequences are irreversible. Let us take stock:
    Pankaj Jha, a medium-level officer in the Indian army, shot himself with a service revolver. He was 38. why Lt Col Jha pulled the trigger on himself - he had been serving in the military for the past 14 years. According to his mother, Lalita Jha, "there was no tension, no problems. I just can't understand why he did it". He is far from the only soldier to take his own life - Capt Sunit Kohli, Maj Sobha Rani, Lt Sushmita Chatterjee... the list goes on. In fact, the Indian army is losing more soldiers in these incidents than in action against the enemy. The army is losing many soldiers to enemy attacks, also equal number soldiers have already taken their own lives. In addition, another half of them have been killed by their own colleagues. The reasons are not difficult to fathom or perceive: It is the Poor Pay Package and Low Morale caused by degraded Rank, Honour and Status. The question of what many say is low pay - starting salaries in many jobs in middle- class India are double that of a new soldier, and for many of them the army, air force and navy, no longer holds out the promise of a good life. The SCPC has drowned the joys of the Serving Jawans and the ESM. Maybe the Diwali Sparklers will light up their homes!

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    An Inconvenient Bag: The Green Giveaway

    The green giveaway of the moment -- the reusable shopping bag -- is a case study in how tricky it is to make products environmentally friendly. By ELLEN GAMERMAN
    It's manufactured in China, shipped thousands of miles overseas, made with plastic and could take years to decompose. It's also the hot "green" giveaway of the moment: the reusable shopping bag.

    The bags usually are printed with environmental slogans as well as corporate logos and pitched as earth-friendly substitutes for the billions of disposable plastic bags that wind up in landfills every year. Home Depot distributed 500,000 free reusable shopping bags last April on Earth Day, and Wal-Mart gave away one million. One line of bags features tags that read, "Saving the World One Bag at a Time."
    An Inconvenient Bag
    View Slideshow
    Links by Brig VA Subramanyam (Retd)

    We all need to take up this matter more seriously. Surely, the cost of these bags can be cheaper if manufactured in bulk in India? Any takers?
    Col C Sridharan

    Pay anomalies will strain ties, affect joint operations: Navy Chief

    Can the Defence Forces jointly Network with the Para Military Forces with degraded Rank and Command Structure

    A dangerous split between the armed forces and the paramilitary, arising from the revised Sixth Pay Commission report, could have disastrous consequences for joint operations in troubled regions, the military has told the PMO.

    Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Navy chief and chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, has cautioned the government that the relationship between the two sits on a tinderbox and infighting would “seriously jeopardise” operations.

    The revised report has altered the existing parity between the armed forces and Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMF)/Group A services and IAS by retaining lieutenant colonels in a lower pay band than their paramilitary and civilian counterparts. Pay scales have traditionally determined status among government officials.
    Pay anomalies will strain ties, affect joint operations: Navy Chief
    Panel to look into Army's concerns over pay

    Armed forces defiant- set right serious disparities

    Fantastic! The armed forces have decided not to implement the new pay scales (6th Pay Commission) until their demands are met. Here's Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta's signal to all ranks on September 24:

    In recent times there have been several speculative media reports and disinformation on the final outcome of the sixth pay commission recommendations. The service headquarters have maintained continuous interaction with all authorities concerned and our concerns have been highlighted at the highest levels time and again.

    Whilst some of our concerns have been addressed we have been constrained to delay payment of arrears and new pay scales to officers and men in view of some serious disparities that have been introduced which disturb the extant parities between defence officers and those from other central services as also adversely affect pensionary benefits of PBOR. We are in the process of resolving all pending issues and this may take a little longer than we had earlier expected.

    Let me assure each one of you that I will spare no effort to bring our genuine concerns to the notice of our country's leadership with the final aim of giving our personnel their rightful due. In the meanwhile, I am certain that one and all will display maturity and patience and not be swayed by hearsay or speculative reports from any quarter. Shano Varuna and Jai Hind.
    Posted by Shiv Aroor at 11:26 PM
    Forces defiant- Meet demands, or no 6PC

    Set right anomalies in pay scales of armed forces: Rajnath

    SALEM: Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene immediately to set right the anomalies in pay scales of armed forces. This has lowered the morale of soldiers and officers.

    “The BJP is deeply concerned … that the armed forces have not raised their pay vouchers as per the Sixth Pay Commission notification. The anomalies have lowered the morale of our soldiers and officers, and it is not a good development,” said Mr. Singh, who was here to address the concluding session of the two-day executive and general council meeting of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit on Saturday.

    Blaming the problem on “administrative paralysis” of the UPA government, Mr. Singh said this situation had risen from the government’s failure to act on the demand of the armed forces for pay parity with civilian employees. “Left with no option, the armed forces have decided to raise their pay vouchers on the old pay scale and not on the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations. It should not be construed as any form of indiscipline.” “Even the pension for soldiers and officers has been reduced,” he said.

    Pointing out that maintaining the morale of soldiers and officers should be the highest national priority, Mr. Singh said that even the pay of a Lt. General was lower than that of a Deputy Director-General in the Border Security Force. The incorrect fixing of pay scales for middle-level officers had also created some anomalies.
    Set right anomalies in pay scales of armed forces: Rajnath
    The armed forces have every reason to be aggrieved. Our brave jawans and officers have relentlessly and valiantly defended the honor of the country against every form of aggression, be it open war or cross border terrorism. They have also rendered exceptional service in times of national crisis including natural calamity or even restoration of law and order in emergency situations. The morale and happiness of our jawans and officers should be our national priority. One who is willing to make the supreme sacrifice in national interest deserves not only to get his due but also at the appropriate time.
    Press statement by BJP National President: Rajnath

    Comment: It is the responsibility of all Political Parties to uphold the Rank, Status and Honour of the Armed Forces Personnel, of all those Serving as well as the Ex- Servicemen. This input needs to be an important aspect in the Parliament discussions on National security. Seldom are important issues given precedence cutting across Party Lines, instead of merely playing the blame game. Armed Forces have been the victim of Bureaucrats for the last 6 decades.

    Pay panel: Service chiefs back off after Antony tough talk

    New Delhi, September 27 The Manmohan Singh Government and the three armed forces chiefs reached a compromise on the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission but not before Defence Minister A.K. Antony did some uncharacteristic plain-speaking.
    On Saturday, the Centre set up a three-minister panel headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to examine the pay-related anomalies of the services and the defence chiefs agreed to send their revised salary bills to the Defence Ministry on Monday. But according to top sources in the Services Headquarters, before coming to the agreement on Friday evening, Antony made it clear to Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal Homi Major that the armed forces cannot unilaterally decide not to implement a Union Cabinet decision and that there was no way the UPA government would let them get away with it. What it meant was this: the decision of Admiral Sureesh Mehta—as reported by The Indian Express on September 26—to withhold the issuance of the government draft notification letter till the pay anomalies were sorted out, was breach of discipline.

    Antony also told the three chiefs that the Defence Ministry would be forced to issue the draft letter if the armed forces failed to follow the directions of the Union Cabinet—this was a contingency plan that South Block had drawn up. There was no way, the three chiefs were told, that the officers and ranks would be denied new scales on October 1, 2008, along with their civilian counterparts.

    After the three chiefs backed off, Antony said the pay related anomalies would be addressed by a panel that would have Mukherjee, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and himself. Reopening the Pay Commission recommendation, he is learnt to have said, had larger implications as even the paramilitary forces and the police had grievances. Antony conveyed all this to the chiefs after talking to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently in New York attending the UN general assembly.
    Pay panel: Service chiefs back off after Antony tough talk

    With the government setting up the committee, the services have now decided to accept the revised pay scales as a temporary measure pending its recommendation and to submit their salary bills to the Defence Ministry on Monday. The armed forces personnel will get their new salary and arrears on October.
    High-level ministerial committee to redress grievances

    Comments: Bureaucrats are using the time tested dual golden "Divide and Rule" cum "Carrot and Stick" Policy. The Defence Forces need to be united to unseat the evil designs of Bureaucrats who have systematically in the last 6 decades brought the Prestige and Honour of All Ranks of the Armed Forces to the lowest ebb. The ESM need to be proactive to get their legitimate Pension entitlements which is still being denied to the old Veterans. The ESM Cell and ESM Commission need to be headed only by Ex- Servicemen and not Bureaucrats who do not understand the Sentiments and Glory of Soldiering! We certainly opt for Patriots and not Bureaucrats. ESM Cell has not been able to get the Zilla Sainik Boards to neither modernize nor automate its procedures; as it is solely manned by disgruntled civilian staff with no motivation or work ethos. What services can an ESM expect from such an organization except for filling up numerous forms with voluminous irrelevant data?


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