Saturday, December 27, 2008

Six years ago Sonia calls for one-rank-one-pension, now MoD scraps the concept

The estimated expenditure for One Rank One pension is projected Rs 2000 crores which is really less than 2% of total defence outlay for 2008

23 Nov 2002, 2200 hrs IST, TNN

CHANDIGARH: During her 40-minute stay at the rally, Sonia Gandhi endorsed the demand for one-rank-one-pension, which was earlier stressed upon by Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh at the North Zone Ex-servicemen rally addressed by the Congress president at the Sector 46 sports complex. Ex-servicemen have been demanding change in criteria for pension, as laid out by the fifth Pay Commission about seven years ago.

All India Congress Committee Ex-servicemen cell chairman Lt Gen MM Lakhera, who was Adjutant General when the pay commission proposals were being firmed up, highlighted the long pending demand for waiving the 33 years service criterion for earning full pension, since ex-servicemen below the rank of Subedar cannot fulfil this condition.

Lakhera also protested against the 'meagre monthly allowance' of Rs 600 to attendants of handicapped exservicemen. Both Amarinder Singh and Lakhera demanded that ex-servicemen be granted entitlement of free medical services in civil hospitals in areas where military hospitals are not available. They also pointed out that the present monthly entitlement of Rs 100 was far too meagre in case of ex-servicemen opting for medical allowance in lieu of facilities.

This amount, they said, should be enhanced to Rs 250 per month, at par with civilian employees. Gallantry award winners honoured: Sonia Gandhi honoured relatives of four Param Vir Chakra (PVC) and four Victoria Cross (VC) gallantry award winners— all from Punjab who laid down their lives during various wars, including World War-II. While the PVC is the highest Indian gallantry award, VC was the highest gallantry award awarded by the British during WW-II. The first to be honoured was Amarjeet Kaur, wife of Lt Karamjeet Singh, who laid down his life during WW-II, in 1945, for which he was posthumously awarded the VC. She was followed by Gurdial Kaur, wife of Captain Joginder Singh, who was awarded PVC for bravery during the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

Gurdial Kaur, wife of Lance Naik (honorary captain) Karam Singh, who was awarded PVC for his valiant acts in the 1948 Indo-Pak war, was presented a shawl. Karam Singh, who was commanding a section, was severely wounded. He forced the eviction of the enemy who had made a bid to recapture Tithuwal in Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, Sukhdev Singh, brother of Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, who was killed in the line of duty while on a UN mission to Congo, was also honoured by Sonia Gandhi.

She also honoured Sukhwinder Singh, brother of flying officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, the solitary PVC awardee of Indian Air Force. Sekhon was killed while defending Srinagar airfield during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, during which he shot down two USmade Pakistan Air Force Sabre jets with his Britishmade Gnat on December 14, 1971. The remaining three VC winners, whose family members were honoured, were Jamandar (Subedar Major and Honorary Captain) Gian Singh, Naib Subedar Nand Singh and Havaldar Prakash Singh— all of whom died during WW-II.

Let-down: A slip of tongue by Amarinder Singh left Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Hanspal somewhat red faced. The CM inadvertently called the state president 'district president' during his introductory speech.
Curiosity value: Dressed in a grey suit and white shawl, Sonia Gandhi charmed the large number of people who had come from all parts of Punjab to listen to this 'vilaiti' woman. Waving occasionally in her typical style, Sonia presented an image of her late mother-in-law Indira Gandhi towards the end of the speech as she urged the audience to say Jai Hind thrice -- each time in a more sonorous voice than before.
Sonia calls for one-rank-one-pension: Six years ago

Present Status: No OROP for veterans
Supreme Court had passed a judgement in 1982 on the One Rank One Pension scheme for military veterans and the KP Singh Deo Committee had recommended the same unequivocally in 1984. It was also one of the main planks for protests by veterans earlier this year. However the defence minister has categorically stated its unacceptability in the Rajya Sabha today.

Government has not found acceptable the demand of Ex-Servicemen for one rank one pension. This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri Kalraj Mishra in Rajya Sabha today. The defence personnel have not rejected the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission, he added.[PIB]

Pension Adalat extension of Bureaucratic Red Tape
Question-No.5: Pensioner of the same rank, group & qualifying service who was discharged from service from the same date is getting more pension than me.
Answer: Full details of colleague pensioner is required for checking the entitlement and making comparison. However, generally there may not be any variation between the pensions of those who are of the same rank, group, qualifying service and are of the same date of discharge unless there is some wrong fixation of pension.
Read it all: Common Questions Asked in Defence Pension Adalats By Pensioners/ Family Pensioners

Half Boy Half Man: A Jawan's Creed

I m enclosing a mail sent by none other than the chairman of Thapar Group, a business magnate who is among the top 10 business icons. He has sent the following message to his entire organisation for his employees to read and respond.
Commodore HA Gokhale

Half Boy Half Man
The average age of the army man is 23 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer in the capital of his country, but old enough to die for his country.

He's a recent school or college graduate; he was probably an average student from one of the Kendriya Vidyalayas, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a rickety bicycle, and had a girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip- hop or bhangra or gazals and a 155mm howitzer.

He is 5 or 7 kilos lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting the insurgents or standing guard on the icy Himalayas from before dawn to well after dusk or he is at Mumbai engaging the terrorists. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs trenches and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march. He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. His pride and self-respect, he does not lack. He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of combat dress: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his water bottle full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own wounds. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands He can save your life- or take it, because he's been trained for both. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed to do so.

He feels every note of the Jana Gana Mana vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hands from their pockets, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful. Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom.

Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is your nation's Fighting Man that has kept this country free and defended your right to Freedom. He has experienced deprivation and adversity, and has seen his buddies falling to bullets and maimed and blown. And he smiles at the irony of the IAS babu and politician reducing his status year after year and the unkindest cut of all, even reducing his salary and asking why he should get 24 eggs a week free! And when he silently whispers in protest, the same politician and babu aghast, suggest he's mutinying!

Wake up citizens of India! Let's begin discriminating between the saviours of India and the traitors.

End the VIP status symbols, ensure security for all

New Delhi
One of the reasons for huge public anger erupting like a volcano almost every week is the manner in which many politicians throw their weight to gain importance and impress upon the people. Almost every day we read reports of some politician delaying flights or trains. Why? The common man wants to know how worthy the worthies are or have they become leeches on India's society.

Having had the privilege of covering as a newsman New Delhi's political scenario from the days of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the author is a witness to the decline in values and the kind of arrogance that the so called leaders of today display.

India''s first Prime Minister mixed freely with the common people. Every year the Holi festival in the front lawns of Teen Murti House was great fun for one and all.

There used to be adequate security for Jawaharlal Nehru. Let's not forget that India's first Prime Minister was as much under threat, after having annoyed the world's leading powers like the US and the USSR by refusing to take sides during the Cold War era.

There were elements hostile to Pandit Nehru at home as well. Yet, the police then were trained to be discreet and manage the situation without causing any inconvenience to the public.

In today's India, even at the official receptions held at the President's House the dignitaries sit under a shamiana expecting the guests to come there in a queue and greet them. Gone are days when Pandit Nehru, with guests like Marshal Tito and Gamal Abdel Nasser would mix with the vast crowd of invitees at the Presidents House. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi always loved to walk around the gardens admiring flowers and meeting people.

Gone also are the days when President Eisenhower was cheered by the surging crowds in Connaught Place in New Delhi. The convoy of Bulganin and Khruschev passed through milling crowd from Palam to President's house and was almost held up by the enthusiastic crowds in Calcutta. The police managed the security concerns well, worried like hell as they were at that moment.

Those events seem a distant dream! However in another country -- the United Kingdom - even today the Queen travels around without a huge cavalcade, causing inconvenience to the public. So does the Prime Minister of that country. I have not seen any British politician making himself a nuisance to ordinary citizens during my stay in London for a while. And please don't forget that Britain faces as much of a jehadi threat today as it earlier faced insurgents from Northern Ireland.

Indian police and security agencies managed VIP security in a discreet manner for many years after Independence. If they are not able to do so, it is not because of their inefficiency. The reason is the rise of the new class of politicians - the 'fixers' who want to make a show of their power, by displaying gun toting security personnel around them. Some of these worthies are never tired of shouting "Don't you know who I am?"

The story does not end merely with the misuse of police and commandos, but the public nuisance that most of the so-called VIPs create today. To seek their special right of the way, no one can tell you for sure as to how many cars today have red light globes atop their roofs.

They are such a nuisance that the man in the street makes derisive remarks by saying that those displaying red lights belong to the red light district!

Rahul Gandhi has described this as ‘laal batti’ (red beacon light) culture. Time and moment has come when this must end. You can be sure that policemen who are put on such security duties with the ‘paper-tiger’ politicos hate their job.

Imagine a constable cooling his heels outside a school waiting for the child of the so-called VIP or the poor constable who is forced to carry bags of vegetables and groceries of the VIP ‘memsahib’ as part of his duty to protect the 'who is who'.

If India is to survive as a democracy, it is time that these new feudal lords are brought under check. No one is going to grudge security provided to those holding constitutional positions. But even that must not cause undue inconvenience to the people.

Everyone must stand in a queue with other passengers while boarding a flight and go through normal security drills. Why have special lounges for VIPs at the airports.

The only way to end this ‘laal batti’ culture is to order its removal altogether from all the cars including that of real VIPs.

The leaders of earlier days were known for their simplicity and accessibility. We can revert to those days and learn from their simplicity.

The present security cover smacks of a show of power. These agencies can have a close look at the manner at the way the problem is handled in the United Kingdom and some other countries.

In the final analysis it is the duty of the government to ensure the security of all citizens. If each and every citizen is secure, you can be sure of the safety of politicians too.
End the VIP status symbols, ensure security for all
Political Ploy: Private Vehicles with Party Flags and Red Lights tout and Violate all traffic rules. Even criminals baltantly scout and use the Party flags and symbol in private vehicles to ward of any Police scrutiny or checks! A mobile Nation of Political terrorists let loose on the streets!

High Court raps MoD over reply in pension case

Vijay Mohan, Tribune News Service, Chandigarh, December 25

The tone and contents of a reply submitted on behalf of the defence secretary in a contempt petition has invited wrath of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Recording its displeasure on the manner the reply had been drafted, the court observed that such actions were non-appreciable.

Though the High Court discharged the defence secretary from contempt proceedings in the case pertaining to release of pension of an ex-serviceman, it directed him to be careful in the future while filing such replies.

Harjinder Singh, residing at an old age home here, was discharged in 1967 after the completion of pensionable service in the army. However, the CDA authorities denied him reservist pension on the ground that he was discharged from service at own request. The army made several requests, one even through a special requisition by the then vice chief of the army staff, but to no avail.

When approached, the High Court allowed Harjinder Singh’s petition and even ordered the release of his pension, terming the action on the part of the authorities concerned as “inexcusable”. Later, Harjinder Singh filed a contempt petition when his pension was not released despite directions from the HC.

A reply to this thereafter, submitted on behalf of the defence secretary, invited the ire of the court when it was submitted by the Ministry that the petitioner was not eligible for pension but the HC in its judgement “had allowed the petition and the respondents had, therefore, obeyed the court orders in a positive manner”.

In response to the factual statement of the petitioner that his petition had been allowed, the Ministry’s reply had called the petitioner’s averments as “vexatious, fictitious, calumnious and denied”. Further, the reply went on to state that the court “had only given two months for implementation of its orders”.
HC raps MoD over reply in pension case
Tailpiece: MoD= Monster of Deceipt. Ex Servicemen are systematically denied pension entitlements in spite of the spate of court rulings all over India. The Bureaucrats are saving the paisas by stealth and reducing the Security and Morale of its Patriotic and law abiding Citizens.

IESM: Fast for Justice Rally Jantar Mantar enters twelveth day

Dear Colleagues,

The fast continues. Shortly after 0200 hours this morning Nk Rekh Raj had developed some complications. He had to be rushed to hospital by the police van where he was put on the drip. Refusing to get admitted, he is back with the team. A large number of senior officers visited the site today. There has also been a flood of telephone calls from veterans all over the country. Membership of IESM is increasing by the minute. Donations too are pouring in. The Movement has indeed brought the ESM community together.

Last night Maj Gen Kataria and Maj IS Jakhar were both at the site. Tonight jakhar himself is hoding the fort. They were all in high spirits and good cheer at 2120 hours when I left the place.

A huge rally is being planned at Jantar Mantar for 27 Dec commencing at 1100 hours. We request all veterans around Delhi/NCR to kindly join in.

Best regards,
Lt Gen (Emeritus) Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
Chairman IESM

December 24, 2008
Press Statement issued by Shri Jaswant Singh
Leader of the Opposition (Rajya Sabha)

The Bhartiya Janata Party views with concern the relay fast undertaken by veterans of our defence forces at Jantar Mantar as it enters its 8th day today. Sipahi Suleman Khan and Naik Lek Raj, who have been on ‘fast unto death’, have now been joined by Captain Om Prakash and Subedar Major Dahiya. The number of volunteers sitting on ‘fast unto death’ is likely to rise in the days to come.

The basic demand of the veterans is ‘One Rank one Pension’ (OROP). The issue has already been debated in Parliament and examined by the Parliamentary Committee on Defence in detail. The unanimous recommendation is to accept this demand. The BJP has always supported this vital concern.

Shri Jaswant Singh the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha had once again raised the issue on the floor of the house on 23 October 2008. He has also written to the Raksha Mantri drawing his attention to the matter urgently.

Their demands are:-

  • One Rank One Pension (OROP)
  • Resettlement till the age of sixty
  • Consideration of an Ex Servicemen Commission
  • Services representation on all committees deciding issues of their concern.

    Pension is a right for services rendered. Elementary logic suggests that two individuals rendering equal service and reaching the same rank, thereby having discharged the same level of responsibility, should get equal compensation, irrespective of their dates of retirement.

    The Bhartiya Janata Party therefore demands of the Government to immediately take steps to save lives of the veterans, both being Personnel Below Officer rank through suitable and urgent action.
    Press Statement issued by Shri Jaswant Singh Leader of the Opposition (Rajya Sabha)
    Original copy of Shri Jaswant Singh's letter to the Raksha Mantri

    Relay hunger strike enters sixth day, Chandigarh, December 21

    While the relay hunger strike by the ex-servicemen has entered the 6th day today, two retired soldiers have proceeded on a fast unto death. The ex-servicemen are protesting against the government’s attitude towards their demands.

    Sepoy Suleman Khan and Naik Rekh Raj are sitting on fast unto death since December 17 and December 20 respectively, a press note issued by the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement said today. The ex-servicemen are holding their protest at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

    The statement said one rank-one pension (OROP), which is their main demand, has not been accepted. A group of 11 ex-servicemen, consisting of officers, JCOs and jawans sit on 24-hour relay fast. If their demands are not met, ex-servicemen will intensify their stir and their wives will also join them in the relay fast, the statement added.

    Stating that the ex-servicemen had gone to the President, the Prime Minister, the defence minister, MPs and political leaders with their demands, but without any positive outcome. The statement said the rejection of one rank-one pension by the defence minister had left ex-servicemen across the country feeling that they had been cheated by the government.
    Relay hunger strike enters sixth day, Tribune News Service
  • Friday, December 26, 2008

    IESM: Fast for Justice Jantar Mantar

    All Members And ESM Organisations
    Dear Friends In and Around NCR,
    Jai Hind.
    We wish to show INDIA the strength of ESM support to the Veteran on Fast for Justice at Jantar Mantar on, Saturday, 27 Dec 08. Please DO VISIT Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS, between 1100 hrs and 1300 hrs on Saturday, 27 Dec 08. WILL YOU PLEASE? A map of the area showing the exact location of the IESM Tent on Jantar Mantar Road is attached to help you reach the location. Maybe the road in front of the IESM site may be blocked. In that case plan parking your vehicle at any one of the following places:
    1. Under ground parking at Palika Bhavan in Connaught Place.
    2. Park Hotel, Parliament Street.
    3. Any of the Car Parks on Janpath.
    4. Patel Chowk Metro Station.
    The IESM Shamiana on Jantar Mantar Road is at easy walking distance from Patel Chowk Metro Station. It is about a Km from Palika Bazar underground parking.

    In Service of Indian Military Veterans
    Chander Kamboj.

    Seasons Greetings: Citizens Charter

    Dear Friends and Family,

    On 26th November 2008, Our Financial City Mumbai was targeted by the terrorists and innocent lives were lost. Our brave men in Uniform restored the situation. Many of them made supreme sacrifices. Mumbaikars shook the Government by their dignified protest. The Nation joined them to give wake up call to the Authorities. World support is with India. The War on Terror has been declared.

    On the eve of this Winter Holiday season and on the eve of New Year, every citizen of India needs to resolve:
  • firstly, to think, speak, and act like responsible citizens of this country always and every time
  • secondly, to tell the politicians whenever and wherever they go wrong, and hold them accountable by writing to them on issues which affect the constituents
  • thirdly, tell always to the Government servants that they are public servants and not to treat the public as servants
  • fourthly, to give a smile whenever you come across a policeman/ policewoman and if possible thank them for their service. Should they ask for bribe still smile and tell them that you have already paid your taxes
  • fifthly, make it a point to meet a soldier and an ex-service person as often as possible and thank them for the sacrifices they are doing for the country

    I thank you for spending time to read this mail in full if you have done so. If not, please go back and read it.
    Happy Holidays, and Best Wishes for a Very Prosperous New Year.
    Love & Best Wishes,
    Col TN Baba (Retd)
  • SCPC: Defence Forces "Children of lesser God"?

    Dear Gen Surjit,
    Why have retired Army Cdrs/Vice Chiefs/ Chiefs been treated as a holier than other categories? In their cases OROP has been applied. Undoubtedly this is aplicable to their equivalents in all the Central Goverment Services. This shows that the IAS has ensured that their Secretary level and Cabinet Secretary level appointments are protected. Surely in their case no seperate terms of service were laid down giving them benefits in pensions also. The rules and the arguments must be the same for all. You may consider.
    Thanks for all that you are doing,
    Lt Gen V Madan (Retd)

    Dear Gen Vijay Madan,
    Your question is valid, and it is my bounden duty to answer it to the best of my ability. Here is what little I know on this subject.

    The scales devised by the Sixth Pay Commission are "Of the IAS, for the IAS and created by the IAS" Others merely happen to be there. We soldiers are the "children of a lesser God" and the government makes it a point to rub it into us, whenever they can. Geographically, the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy is not very far from the IMA, but they did not have a Chetwode to give them the famous dictum. Over the years, they have evolved their own creed, and the slogan which is tattooed on their palms with invisible and yet patently legible ink runs as follows:

    Your own career progression and place in the ceremonial table of precedence come first, always and every time.
    The honour, welfare and the prosperity of the service to which you belong comes next
    The interests of the teeming millions of citizens of the country come last always and every time.

    In the Pay Commission, an exclusive scale, PB-4 was created specially for the IAS. Indeed, several others have barged in to it, but that is considered by the civil servants (who are not particularly 'civil' any longer) as a trespass. They could not do much to do them down, so they chose to take on the hapless past pensioners.

    In the pension structure, they have given to themselves a bonanza, since it is well known that nearly every direct entrant into the IAS and the IPS who is worth his salt does rise to the level of a Secretary, Special Secretary or a DGP. And all of them are on a par with the Army Commanders. In the Armed Forces (now known as the 'harmed forces') no more than six or seven officers rise to this exalted level per year. Consequently, the total number of retired Cs-in-C of all the three services of the pre-2006 vintage has been estimated to be about 90. Compare this with the number of officer pensioners, which has been estimated at over 35,000. Thus, we have given OROP to less than 0.25% of the total officer population.

    I have a suggestion. Let just a few of these fortunate Army Commanders decline the bonanza meted out to them. The guiding rule for the vast majority of pensioners is a factor of 2.26. By this formula the revised pension of the Army Commanders (and equivalents) works out to Rs 29,380. The total amount surrendered by them will be about Rs 10,620 of which about Rs 3000 will go into Income Tax. The remainder money (i.e. Rs 7000) is a very small sacrifice for this noble cause. The message which this little gesture will send to our rulers can shake them. It will be far more effective than the demonstrations and the rallies which we have been organizing at great cost and effort.

    It is also my belief that if the 'fortunate few' do not respond to this clarion call, they will become socially isolated in the evening of their lives, because the peer group has its own method of expressing discord. In the gatherings of veterans they will be seen as outcasts. And, indeed, if they do not speak up and join our movement for grant of justice, then we may be led to believe that the Chatwode's credo has been forgotten by them. They do not belong to our ilk any more.

    With best wishes for a Merry Christmas to every one. May the Gospel of Jesus guide us, always and every time. God Bless.
    Maj Gen Surjit Singh (Retd)

    SCPC: Mumbai Mayhem concern for strengthening National Security

    Date: Tuesday, 23 December, 2008, 11:02 AM

    Dear Friends,
    As you would know, Gen YN Sharma was Chairman, Pay Cell during the Fourth Pay Commission. This letter has been addressed to the PM with a copy to every one who matters.
    Maj gen Surjit Singh (Retd)


    1. I am a former GOC in C and an erstwhile Chairman of Army Pay Commission Cell (4th PC-1985) and a veteran of 1971 war.

    2. I am conscious that you are presently engaged in making the most crucial decisions related to National security, consequent to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. India’s honour and integrity have been challenged and those must be forcefully defended. Indeed, the Armed Forces shall deliver, in whatever manner required, consistent with their tradition of trustworthiness and sacrifice. In return all they expect is ‘Izzat’ and a fair deal in their compensation package. Sadly they are being ‘begrudged’ even that.
    3. At this juncture, raising issues related to the inequities of the 6th Pay Commission award may seem inopportune. But here too ‘honour’ and ‘integrity’ of the Armed Forces are at stake. Anything that impinges on the morale of the military fraternity and their faith in the National leadership cannot be neglected. The lack of responsiveness, so far, has ‘spiralled’ the sentiment so negatively that highly undesirable forms of Veterans protests like fasts (in one case, unto death) are being resorted to. The angst and the sense of grievance are indeed pervasive. It is a sad lesson of history that a deep sense of Veterans’ disaffection can transform, what is otherwise a national asset, into a security risk. Nor would their future generations remain motivated to take up the traditional military career. It is in this context that I seek your sagacious intervention.

    4. The Service Chiefs, and many former higher Commanders/ other leaders, have already conveyed their views to you. Nothing in my suggestions, given below, negates any of those. I have, however, chosen to selectively highlight some critical problems and a pragmatic way out, based on my experience and perceptions.

    5. I do believe that the problem is not due to any ‘perversity of principles’ on which the Award is based-these are essentially progressive and laudable. The ‘devil’ lies in the ‘indiscriminate implementation’ and absence of ‘safeguards’ to provide for unique features of the Defence Services. This has been compounded by the insensitivity of the ‘bureaucratic system’. Let me illustrate:-

  • Military ranks are an exclusive and ‘unique institution’ of the Services; fundamental to their command structure and ethos. Any pay/pension change that tinkers with this ‘hierarchy’ and its horizontal equivalences, is antithetical to the very fabric of the Service. Likewise, in the psyche of the soldier a disability due to ‘war injury’ can never be equated with one due to a motor cycle accident or hypertension. In the absence of integral military advice such nuances have been overlooked in the Pay Commission award.

  • In the absence of necessary implementation safeguards major distortions have arisen, as illustrated below:-

    Four ranks ranging between Cols to Lt Gens which are clubbed under PB4 have been entitled pensions which are almost the same. This is because the floor level of PB4 is the common start point. The gross inequity stands out when viewed in the context that a Col (TS) may have commanded no more than a Coy (str100+) whereas a Lt Gen would have led a 100,000+ strong Corps. To add insult to injury a post 6th PC retiree Col would attract a higher pension than the Lt Gen who may have retired a day before 1/1/2006. In the military culture such things are blasphemy. Even by modern management norms, quantum of pension which is a deferred wage cannot be delinked from job status/spectrum of responsibility held while in service. Similar distortions exist in the case of PBOR also. This problem does not exist in the case of Sub Maj, Army Cdrs or the Chiefs. The solution lies in fixing rank-based floor levels in the running Pay Bands, so that perverse relativities can be avoided. I may mention here that the innovation of a running pay band was introduced for Lts to Brigs by the 4th Pay Commission. Initially it had created similar problems, which were administratively resolved. The deviance in the horizontal equations of Lt Col (misplaced in PB3) and Lt Gens is well known, hence not dwelt upon any further. They must be upgraded.

  • The sensitivity to pay-based status equations is very real and sharp. Over the years this matter has become highly convoluted due to profligacy of cadre reviews and ‘empire building’. In my view the solution lies in evolving a new status matrix and need-based working models. This should decouple military ranks-civil status-pay scale nexus. A rationalised warrant of precedence which restores some of the historical dignity and lays down joint working norms is needed.

    6. In the preceding paragraphs some approaches have been indicated for your consideration. I appeal to you to restore the perception of good faith and be the leader who is responsive to the needs of the Veterans and Serving soldiers. Some decisions may be taken soon and others can follow. Prime Minister, a healing touch is needed at this stage and we know that you are ideally equipped to provide that.

    Dr. Manmohan Singh
    Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
    Prime Minister’s Office
    New Delhi-110011
  • IESM: Fast for Justice

    Dear Colleagues,
    Another veteran Nk RK Yadav has voluntarily joined the 'fast unto death' team. There are six now on this mode, with Sepoy Sulaiman Khan being on his ninth day and Nk Rekhraj on sixth day of fasting.

    A large number of officers and PBOR visited the Jantar Mantar site today to show solidarity. This included 15 Air Force ESM who all became members. Many gave monetary contributions and we all owe them grateful thanks.

    A big rally is planned at the Jantar Mantar site on Saturday 27 December from 1100 hours to 1300 hours. All those supporting the cause of OROP and believing in disciplined and orderly demonstration of our hurt at the govt rejection of this demand are requested to join in.

    Best regards,
    Lt Gen (Emeritus) Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
    Chairman IESM

    Seasons Greetings from Blog Team

    Dear Friends,
    Due to heavy load of emails I forgot to send you 'Seasons Greetings' in time.
    I have received very large number of greetings from members. Now it is very difficult to acknowledge those very kind greetings individually. WE WISH YOU ALL AND YOUR FAMILIES MARRY CHRISTMAS AND VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS 2009. OUR VERY SPECIAL WISHES TO ALL IESM MEMBERS. MAY GOD BE WITH THEM AND GRANT THEM SUCCESS.
    Toshi and Brig CS Kamboj (Retd)
    25 Dec 08

    SCPC: PM clears military pay hike

    Nitin Gokhale
    Monday, December 22, 2008, (New Delhi)

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cleared another military pay hike, top government sources told NDTV on Monday.

    However, it is only a half measure since a crucial demand of parity with civilian counterparts has been rejected.

    As per the new provisions, officers of the Lieutenant Colonel rank will now get Rs 10,000 more than the present salary per month. The three star officers will be at par with the Director Generals of Police.

    It also makes provisions for retiring jawans to continue to get pension equivalent to 70 per cent of their the last salary.

    In October, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony.

    A ministerial committee, headed by Mukherjee, was set up to look into the armed forces' grievance about pay "anomalies".

    The committee, which also included Antony and Chidambaram, was set up by the Prime Minister on September 25 in the wake of deep resentment in the armed forces, who complained that there were "anomalies" in the sixth pay commission recommendations and that it had lowered the status of their officers.

    After the government notification was issued on August 29, the issues of "anomalies" in the pay for officers was first raised by Air chief Fali Homi Major in his letter in his capacity as acting Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

    Chiefs of Navy and Army too have been voicing their resentment.
    PM clears military pay hike: NDTV

    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    SCPC: Fast for Justice at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

    Dear Colleagues,

    One more veteran, Major IS Jakhar has joined the 'fast unto death' squad. Veteran Sulaiman Khan is now in the eighth day of fast and Veteran Rekh Ram in the fifth day. Capt Om Prakash and Sub Major Sant Ram Dahiya are both in their second day. The police arrived with a doctor today and examined all the veterans. Veteran Sulaiman Khan is beginning to have some gastric problem due to the stomach remaining empty.

    Print and visual media did cover the action today. They interviewed those on fast and others. In the evening the TV channel 'Sahara Samay NCR' had a 30-minute live telecast from the battle station. It was a very moving moment when Sulaiman said the he lives in a rented place with wife and two sons, and with Rs 2600 as pension he only eats one meal a day. I wonder what effect it would have on the viewers. But its effect on his nephew who is now an Army man can easily be visualised - he must be seeing his own future with clarity.

    Maj IS Jakhar, himself on fast, is holding the fort at the venue.

    Best regards,
    Lt Gen (Emeritus) Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM ome today.
    Chairman IESM

    IESM: Fast for Justice BJP Press Release

    The Bhartiya Janata Party views with concern the relay fast undertaken by veterans of our defence forces at Jantar Mantar as it enters its 8th day today. Sipahi Suleman Khan and Naik Lek Raj, who have been on ‘fast unto death’, have now been joined by Captain Om Prakash and Subedar Major Dahiya. The number of volunteers sitting on ‘fast unto death’ is likely to rise in the days to come.
    The basic demand of the veterans is ‘One Rank one Pension’ (OROP). The issue has already been debated in Parliament and examined by the Parliamentary Committee on Defence in detail. The unanimous recommendation is to accept this demand. The BJP has always supported this vital concern.
    Shri Jaswant Singh the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha had once again raised the issue on the floor of the house on 23 October 2008. He has also written to the Raksha Mantri drawing his attention to the matter urgently.
    Their demands are:-
  • One Rank One Pension (OROP)
  • Resettlement till the age of sixty
  • Consideration of an Ex Servicemen Commission
  • Services representation on all committees deciding issues of their concern
    Pension is a right for services rendered. Elementary logic suggests that two individuals rendering equal service and reaching the same rank, thereby having discharged the same level of responsibility, should get equal compensation, irrespective of their dates of retirement.
    The Bhartiya Janata Party therefore demands of the Government to immediately take steps to save lives of the veterans, both being Personnel Below Officer rank through suitable and urgent action.
    Defence forces veterans on fast unto death, fighting for justice. Shame on us, Hindustan that we can’t respect our veterans
  • Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    SCPC: Fast for Justice at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

    Dear Colleagues,
    A large number of (about 35) Service families from Jhajjas District of Haryana joined the venue today. Having waited for an hour for the media to arrive, the women took it upon themselves to sit across the road that stopped all traffic. Within minutes a large contingent of police persons arrived and positioned themselves on both sides and remained silent spectators thereafter.

    A number of TV channels and print media reps also appeared on the scene. The women gave vent to their ire. In all that commotion Veteran Rekh Raj suddenly felt unwell. He was rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in a police PCR van accompanied by Col RS Yadav of our team. His ECG etc showed normal and the doctor ascribed his condition to excitement. He was soon back to a warm home-coming. We pleaded that he should give up the fast, but he won't hear of it. He is back at his 'fast unto death' post. Since the women had to travel back almost four hours I requested them to lift the seize at 1600 hours.

    Happily a large number of veteran officers visited to show solidarity. The membership forms have been positioned at the site and many became members. Hopefully the media should carry some news.

    The PM's response to the four core issues has been released today. As expected only the PBOR issue is accepted in full, the issue pertaining to the Lt Cols and Lt Gens accepted in part and the fourth issue of Grade pay has been rejected. On this subject the NDTV called me to the studio for a two-minute slot during at their 9pm news.

    Best regards,
    Lt Gen (Emeritus) Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
    Chairman IESM

    Stability in Pakistan good for India, Afghanistan

    Violence and instability in Afghanistan are at a peak, up by 500 per cent since the end of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. President George Bush is right in saying that Afghanistan had changed - for better or worse - in eight years. This month, the Taliban used a 13-year-old boy to trigger a suicide attack in Helmand province and demolished five US/ISAF logistics convoys in one week inside Pakistan, marking a new low in security on both sides of the the Durand Line.

    It is now clear that Pakistan and Afghanistan are together the epicentre of terrorism. Also described as the incubator of extremism, Pakistan’s clinical reference as an “international migraine” is equally apt. The Mumbai carnage is a direct offshoot of this collective instability sparking yet another India-Pakistan crisis, the seventh since 1984 and the second after the attack on Parliament in 2001.

    It is no accident that the eastward path of the suicide bomber has left its trail from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan stopping short of the Radcliffe Line and India. Only an integrated regional approach can end the periodic turmoil and convulsions rooted in the crucible of violence to our west. Any number of conferences on Afghanistan and Pakistan have recognised this central fact: that without treating Pakistan, the region will continue to suffer from bouts of epilepsy.

    Pakistan created the Taliban and the jihadis - they openly admit now - to achieve strategic depth in Afghanistan and Kashmir. After 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, Islamabad’s strategic focus shifted from the east to the west of the country, according to some, India no longer being enemy No 1. Unfortunately, jihadis and co have turned inwards, creating a two-and-a-half-front situation for Pakistan for which they had not bargained. Worse, the Pakistan Army and its unguided missile, the ISI, are unwilling and unable to disown these groups. The spillover of instability stemming from the insurgencies along both sides of the Durand Line and their ripples in the hinterland flow into India also.

    The multiple wars against foreign occupation in Afghanistan, numerous tribal and inter-gang conflicts, sectarian wars and counter-insurgency operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda and other shades of Taliban in Pakistan are confined to the border lands crisscrossing the diminishing Durand Line. The writ of neither state runs there. It is the survival of the fittest. Any black and white characterisation of the conflicts is an oversimplification of the complex situation. The Army is involved in selective operations like in Bajaur, but elsewhere it is paramilitaries and local Lashkars who are fighting. No Great Game has succeeded here - neither for the British nor the Soviets nor evern Pakistanis; the same is true about the US-led NATO forces. Historian Olaf Caroe had rightly observed: “all wars in Afghanistan start after they have ended”.

    The Taliban are fast closing in on Kabul. Already this year, there have been 129 suicide attacks, some using multiple bombers. Air-strikes have caused more than 400 civilian deaths and Western troop casualties are the highest during the last two years. With a new US President and Military Commander, a grand new strategy is expected for the region. The buzzword is “surge” --- not just military but political and economic too. An additional 30,000 US troops, dialogue with the “reconcilable” Taliban and converting the Durand Line into an economic gateway are elements of a regional strategy which seeks an honourable exit, preserving the gains.

    The key to any strategy on Afghanistan is Pakistan, given the Al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries on its territory in FATA, the NWFP and Baluchistan and the logistics lifeline for the US/ ISAF from Karachi straddling these areas to Afghanistan. After the recent pounding of the convoys Americans are considering alternative routes for supplies from the north and west through Central Asia. Feeding Pakistan’s insecurity is Indian investment and intelligence activities in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s assurance to secure the supply lines is as half-hearted as its commitment to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

    Barring sketchy counter-insurgency operations in Baluchistan and the Northern Areas in the past, the Pakistan Army, trained to fight the Indian Army, has little appetite or expertise to fight unconventional operations. It says it has lost 1200 soldiers in recent battles on the western border in Bajaur and other tribal areas. After the Red Mosque fiasco last year, a demoralised Army has become the target for Pakistan’s Taliban and its other denominations. It does not realise that Pakistan faces an existential threat from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It is in a Catch-22 situation: in spite of the government accepting the ownership of the war on terror, people in the western frontier areas believe it is the spillover of the US war in Afghanistan that the Army is fighting. Making matters worse, the jihadis have infiltrated Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

    For better compliance from Pakistan, the incoming US regime is toying with inducements on Kashmir, Afghanistan and aid tied to performance. Kashmir is a red herring, as even after it is resolved the Kashmiri jihadis will remain unconsummated. Pakistan’s real concerns are the settlement of the Durand Line, a friendly regime in Kabul, access to Central Asia and India’s role in Afghanistan. The question Americans are asking is: can India be restrained in Pakistan’s perceived backyard? Delhi feels it is engaged in legitimate intelligence and diplomatic activity.

    Pakistan is the source of terrorist violence in both Afghanistan and India. It is Pakistan, not India, that has to be restrained in Afghanistan. The Kabul attack on the Indian Embassy was masterminded by the ISI. Pakistan is facing a huge backlash from the jihadis it nurtured. Now, after the Mumbai carnage, there is international condemnation, including a UN fiat to ban terrorist groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Jihadi heat has been unleashed through 68 suicide attacks in Pakistan this year, half of which were in the NWFP with violence bordering Peshawar. Limitations of a weak civilian government with notional control over the Army, and still less over the ISI, are no secret. The Army decides the policy on India, Afghanistan and nuclear assets.

    Restoring democracy is key to stability but only when the Army decides to step under civilian control. Together with the ISI it is using a combination of lashkars and peace deals to fight the Taliban. Till it gets its combat act together and launches full throated counter-insurgency operations against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban instead of attacks involving aircraft and artillery, which the Indian Army has almost never used, it will never get from the US the approval rating it seeks.

    It may be the ultimate indignity for the Pakistan Army that New Delhi could offer to help it train and launch counter-insurgency operations. The two armies have worked and fought together on several UN peacekeeping missions in Africa; so why not in Afghanistan? At present Pakistan has 18 brigades meant for the east operating along the Durand Line. Pakistan should feel free to move more troops to quell the violence on the western borders. Even after the Mumbai tragedy, India can reassure Pakistan that it will not fish in troubled waters. Stability in Pakistan is key to stability in Afghanistan and India. The threat to all three is not from one another but from terrorism. As far as possible, keep the US out of this.

    Maj Gen Ashok K Mehta (Retd)
    Terrorism a common threat

    1965 Indo Pak war as viewed by Pakistan Brig Shauket Quadir
    Pakistan went into Operation Gibralter without any preliminary preparations and undertook a guerrilla operation inside Indian Held Kashmir with a large number of regular soldiers, some SSG elements and a smattering of irregulars, expecting to be welcomed by the local population and raise them up in arms against the Indian government. They were destined to be rudely disillusioned. Far from rising up in arms, the local population denied any support and, in many instances handed over the infiltrators to Indian troops. An act for which they should not be held to blame in any way, since by then they were reconciled to staying within the Indian union and Pakistan had made no preparations for such a venture. It was to take another twenty four years for them to rise indigenously against the Indian union. Gibralter soon became a disaster.
    Full article: The War of 1965: This Indo-Pak war was a comedy of errors by Brig Shauket Qadir

    SCPC: The clear and present danger

    The "blame-game" which has inevitably reared its ugly head in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks instantly reminded me of the fervent appeals of three successive Chiefs of R&AW to Naval HQ, in recent years, to loan them naval officers for analysis of maritime intelligence. They were seriously concerned that they did not have the necessary in-house expertise available to draw the right conclusions and inferences from the mass of information the agency collected from open, human and technical sources. And very correctly they approached the Navy.

    Lack of maritime intelligence has also been the Navy's bane for years, so we understood the handicap R&AW worked under, fully shared their concern, and felt that it was the navy's duty to help. I recall (as the Chief of Personnel) having personally selected some officers for deputation to R&AW, but to my consternation, I learnt within a few months that most wanted to return to the navy. Before I go any further, let me just say that this piece is not about intelligence failure. It is about a failure on a larger scale which represents an equal degree of danger to the nation.

    The naval officers deputed to R&AW did not wish to continue with their deputation (and I learnt that this was not a new phenomenon) because when they were assigned their desks in the Cabinet Secretariat they found to their dismay that they had been placed under officers who were many years their junior in terms of service. Having taken this stoically, they then found that they were deprived of things like telephones, stenographers and transport because the "status" assigned to them did not entitle them to these utilities.

    The R&AW authorities were most sympathetic but pleaded that the they were not in a position to alter the equivalences, apparently "laid down" by a Kafkaesque Department of Personnel. Neither pay-scales nor years of service nor any logic seem to guide this fixation of relativities of Armed Forces officers with civilian counterparts. It was not that we had not experienced such discrimination earlier - the Service HQ have always been chary of sending their officers on deputation - but one felt that intelligence was an issue of national importance and certainly worth undergoing some inconvenience. But we found that naval officers would accept such assignments only with the utmost reluctance.

    I have used this example, only because it is symptomatic of a larger malaise: the lack of coordination between organs of the Government of India (GoI) which has contributed to the recent Mumbai fiasco. This should not come as a surprise because the GoI seems so laissez faire in its approach that it will not intervene to eliminate inter-agency inequity even when it clearly results in crippling disfunctionality, as mentioned above. On the contrary, by its acts of omission as well as commission the GoI has been contributing to steady erosion of the locus standi of the Armed Forces in the national security matrix.

    In a seemingly illogical and self-destructive continuum, the GoI has progressively and with great deliberation proceeded to marginalize, downgrade and degrade its own Armed Forces, thus undermining the security of the Indian State as surely as the nation's worst enemy. This is a process that has been underway since independence, and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I would venture to state that the proverbial last straw may have been added by the 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC).

    Today, there is a distinct impression that the CPC has erred grievously on many issues relating to the Armed Forces because they were not represented in the commission, and its recommendations have spread confusion and consternation. One of the most serious consequences (whether intended or not) is the sudden and arbitrary alteration of relativities between the Armed Forces and their civilian counterparts, to the detriment of the former. The resulting change in relationships between the Armed Forces and para-militaries has grave operational implications which do not seem to have been understood at all at the political level.

    The ex-Servicemen (ESM) are completely stunned to see the number of anomalies thrown up by the CPC. This confusion has been further compounded by different interpretations being put out in successive letters by the Controller of Defence Accounts. To take just one example: no one understands by what logic a Lieutenant-General, Major-General and Brigadier are going to be paid exactly the same pension, and a Colonel (with half the service) will receive just one hundred rupees less.

    The GoI has yet again rejected the "one rank on pension" demand, but not even a feeble attempt has been made to bridge the yawning gap between today's and yesterday's pensioners of the same rank. There is also a distinct impression that the CPC recommendations have been fiddled with, and even changed by the bureaucracy, without due authorization at the political level. Such is the level of discontent and strength of feelings that one hears of planned hunger strikes by ESM; something that would have earlier been unthinkable in the Armed Forces ethos.

    The most logical way to avoid this confusion and the resultant sense of grievance in the armed forces and the ESM would have been to place a Service representative, if not in the CPC, then in the Review Committee. Either the committee would have convinced this representative of the appropriateness of the issues or the other way round; thus avoiding controversy, speculation and unhappiness. A few retired Service Chiefs (including this writer) had written to the PM to accord this concession but the appeal remained unanswered.

    What people have either not understood, or are imprudently ignoring, is the fact that the CPC recommendations (and subsequent developments) are causing deep resentment, because they strike, not at the monetary status of the Services and the ESM, but at their standing relative to the other services. The Armed Forces just cannot understand (nor has anyone explained to them) why it was necessary to cut them down, yet again, a few notches relative to the police or the civil services at this particular junction. This severe blow to their "izzat" appears illogical and incomprehensible.

    If there is indeed a sound rationale for the down-gradation of the Armed Forces, the Government must share it with them, and with the nation. Most importantly, the impression that this is the result of machinations of the bureaucracy, must be dispelled, if untrue; and it must be made amply clear that this decision emanates from the GoI.

    Spreading unhappiness and confusion amongst the nation's Armed Forces or demoralizing them, and the 2-3 million strong ESM community does not serve anyone's interest. Should someone in authority not sit up and take notice?

    Adm Arun Prakash (Retd)

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Mumbai Mayhem: The Insecurity of Security

    I have been seeing with amusement, the after effects of the 26/11 tragedy. Heads of politicians have rolled. I am still to see accountability of the bureaucrats who are responsible for their lapses. The intelligence gathering of information was correct, but the collation and inference failed. So the elected representatives have been made accountable, who in any case have to go back to the masses every five years for re election. Is the bureaucrat to be suffered for 30 years once he passes the central services exam? No situation is permanent and no man indispensable. But because he is supposedly an expert in that field, he definitely is more accountable then most.

    I have heard that in a particular condominium on the outskirts of Delhi, a DIG was stopped at the gate as a routine security check. His accompanying security guards beat up the Guards of the complex. So the custodians of our security felt insulted when an employee was only carrying out his job . We also see a look of disdain when we are made to stand in a queue for our turn, be it be at the airport or at a security check. The aam aadmi is equally to blame for our arrogance and self importance. Our style icons, be they politicians/actors/ sports personalities can so easily make discipline a habit, for others to emulate. We read recently about a cricketer who felt insulted just because one of his friends was frisked as part of security, at the hotel access. He in fact should be the style icon for encouraging the security man in doing his job, rather then be selling a popular aerated water or face cream. How many times we ourselves are guilty of jumping lines for something as trivial as buying cinema tickets. We all need to introspect for our own indiscipline, within.

    I also saw with much disdain on a popular TV show, an actor who made a statement that we see Pakistani flags fluttering on houses/ shanties in Mumbai, and not much is being done about that. She was pounced upon by somebody in the audience. Why don’t we have the courage of convictions to accept the truth. They flutter, with impunity, because these are vote banks and unfortunately not brought to justice. Truth hurts. I am also amused that the people of Mumbai want to buy Bullet-proof jackets for their police men. Well, that is not their job nor expertise. You have a trained Police force, who must be given adequate funds to meet their requirements, and a system in place to ensure accountability. If you think the Police is incompetent to do that, then in any case he does not even deserve the salary that he gets. Let the Public not get over zealous and take on everyone’s job in society. The visible bane is that we have a diarrhoea of ideas abut constipation in action.

    Today we heard that all beach parties in Goa have been cancelled for the next fortnight due to security fears. So I presume, that next time there is a security alert that an aircraft may be hijacked, all travel will be stopped and aircraft grounded. That would be the escapist route. We must have adequate security measures and regular security audits to ensure that all loopholes are plugged. The “show must go on.” is about fire prevention and not about fire fighting.
    Anne Wilson Schaef said,”Security is an attempt to try to make the universe static so that we feel safe”......that however is not the answer. We must have measures in place to correspondingly increase security and search levels once there is an an intelligence warning. We cannot just cancel events and let the terrorists overtake our lives just because we cannot take on the increased work load. That actually is their aim, to throw our lives in turmoil. We as a nation must understand, that they do not control our lives. We have the will and means to prevent, strike and negate all these forces. We must set up standard operating procedures and have periodic security audit checks.

    We have been seeing that the Government has been making a lot of effort to make our neighbouring country accountable for what took place in Mumbai. As usual, we take the high horse and they the slippery road of denial. Well, we all know that they already have huge problems on their Western front, in an area which is called “Gair Ilaqa”, which is controlled by feudal war lords/ Taliban. It would be in the interest of the Taliban for the forces to be diverted to the Eastern borders to take on India. With the American forces pushing from the West/Afghanistan,perhaps the time has come to squeeze the middle, and look for a permanent solution. Pin point/ strategic strikes may not work. The US forces have had enough experience without adequate results in that kind of warfare in that terrain.

    In the meanwhile, while our Government looks for options to root out the fundamentals flaws, be they within or across our Borders, it is the duty of every proud Indian to invoke a sense of discipline in thought and action. We must encourage the security man to do his job with diligence. The VVIP syndrome that most of us have, must give way to an essence for a secure surrounding. Each one of us must be an icon towards that goal. The problems of the insecurity of security will automatically fall in the scheme of things, for a safe tomorrow. We owe that to our children.

    Jai Hind
    Maj Moshe Kohli (Retd)
    James F Bymes: "Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death."

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Mumbai Mayhem: Defence meet keeps option of Pak strike open

    NEW DELHI: Keeping the military option alive and kicking in face of Pakistan doublespeak on the crackdown on terror, a top-level meeting was held on
    Saturday evening to review the security situation in the region and the state of defence preparedness of the armed forces It was a clear signal to Pakistan that it could not look away from its commitment to take concrete action against terror emanating from its soil soon after India, under persuasion from the West, indicated it would not prefer to use force. Interestingly, the meeting also came a day after foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee declared that India was keeping all its options open since Pakistan has not kept the assurances it has given.

    Though there was no official word on Saturday's meeting, attended by Mukherjee, defence minister A K Antony, the three Service chiefs - General Deepak Kapoor, Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal F H Major -, among others, sources confirmed that all options were discussed, with an audit of pros and cons of each possible scenario.

    "The option of cross-border surgical strikes has not been abandoned. The armed forces, on their part, are maintaining a high level of alertness to meet any eventuality, as they have been directed,'' said a source.

    Saturday's meeting came in the backdrop of Pakistan trying to deflect the focus from terrorism, with its frequent flip-flops on action against Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, or even the lone surviving terrorist behind the 26/11 strikes, Ajmal Ameer Kasab.
    More: Defence meet keeps option of Pak strike open: Times of India
    Banks struggle to keep check on terror financing
    LeT financier confesses to role in Mumbai terror attacks
    Botched Mumbai Arrest Highlights India's Intel Failures

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    More: This spam is just for you!

    SCPC: Ex-servicemen’s hunger strike continues

    In support of their demand for “One Rank, One Pension”

    NEW DELHI: A relay hunger strike under the banner of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) in support of their long-standing demand for grant of “One Rank, One Pension” entered its fifth day at Jantar Mantar here on Saturday. Two of the participants -- Jawan Suleman Khan and Naik Rekh Raj -- are on fast unto death at the protest venue.

    Supported by 300 organisations of ex-Servicemen across the country, the indefinite hunger strike began on December 16, coinciding with the Vijay Diwas. Eleven ex-Servicemen, including retired officers, take part in the strike every day.

    Besides, immediate implementation of “One Rank, One Pension”, their other major demands include constitution of an ex-Servicemen commission with necessary statutory powers and provision of giving them representation on all committees.

    “Our demand for ‘One Rank, One Pension’ has long been pending. A Parliamentary Committee on Defence recommended grant of one-rank-one-pension in 2003, but it could not be implemented due to change of guard at the Centre. Even the Congress party, which heads the present coalition government at Centre, supported our demand in its manifesto. In 2002, Congress president Sonia Gandhi endorsed the demand speaking at a rally in Chandigarh and then President A.P.J Abdul Kalam also supported the demand while addressing both Houses of the Parliament. But it is distressing that the demand has now been rejected by the Government without giving any reason,” said IESM vice-chairman Major General (Retd) Satbir Singh.

    “We organised a day-long hunger strike at India Gate in May and also held rallies across the country in support of our demands. We called on senior political leaders, but no one listened to us. When pushed to the wall, we decided to go on an indefinite relay hunger strike to highlight our demands. We wanted to hold the strike at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, but the Government refused the permission,” said Mr. Singh.

    Lamenting the alleged “apathetic” attitude of the government towards the demands of ex-Servicemen, Mr. Singh said: “If the demand for one-rank-one-pension is not met, it will adversely affect the quality of manpower in Defence services as veterans are the extension of the serving soldiers. To say the least, it is unjust, unfair and unethical. It is demoralising for the Defence personnel who are the strongest pillar of democracy and the last bastion of the nation.”

    A delegation also called on former Defence Minister George Fernandes on Friday seeking his support.
    Ex-servicemen’s hunger strike continues: The Hindu


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