Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics live on Doordarshan

Doordarshan will telecast live the opening and closing ceremony of the London Olympics on its national channel while DD Sports would provide round the clock live coverage of the sporting events.
The coverage would begin from July 27 to August 13, an official release from Doordarshan said.
The Public Broadcaster would also air special programmes capturing significant moments and performance of Indian athletes.
Special daily highlight of half an hour titled, “India at London” will also be telecast on DD-National from 7 to 8 am, which will focus on the overall performance of Indian athletes on day-to-day basis.
One hour highlight programme on daily performances of all the athletes of the Olympic Games will be telecast on DD-National between 9 to 10 am.
In addition another one hour of highlights will be aired Monday to Friday between 3 to 4 pm on DD National.
Live telecast from London from 12 midnight till 2 am will be telecast on DD National besides any event featuring India in semifinals or finals will be covered live on DD National, a statement said. (BJ-26/07)
Olympics live on Doordarshan

Thursday, July 26, 2012

13th Kargil Vijay Divas

Massive tricolour hosted at Kargil war memorial Drass
A massive tricolour, was hoisted at the Kargil war memorial in Jammu and Kashmir in Drass sub-sector as part of the celebrations of the 13th anniversary of victory in the 1999 war.
13th Kargil Vijay Divas is being celebrated on Thursday.
The day is being observed as "Vijay Divas".
Various programmes are being organized to mark the occasion.
The successful eviction of Pakistani soldiers from the Indian soil happened thirteen years ago during the Kargil conflict, which began in May 1999, lasted more than two months before Pakistan soldiers were forced to retreat from the mountain tops they had occupied overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway.
A memorial service was organised at India Gate in New Delhi on the occasion.
Kargil War Memorial

OROP: Will it be another game?

Cabinet Secretariat 13 July 2012
Govt constitutes Committee to look into pay and pension related issues of defence services personnel and ex-servicemen
The Government has decided to constitute a Committee, under the chairpersonship of Cabinet Secretary, to look into pay and pension related issues of relevance to defence services personnel and ex-servicemen. The other members of the Committee will be:
(i) Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister
(ii) Defence Secretary
(iii) Secretary, D/o Expenditure
(iv) Secretary, D/o Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare
(v) Secretary, D/o Personnel and Training
The Committee’s ‘terms of reference’ will be to look into the following issues relating to:
(i) Defence services personnel:
• Common pay-scale for in-service JCOs/ORs
• Initial pay-fixation of Lt. Col/Colonel and Brigadier/equivalent
• Review and enhancement of grade pay
• Placing of all Lts General in HAG+ scale
• Grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to armed forces personnel
(ii) Ex-servicemen:
• One-rank one-pension
• Enhancement of family pension
• Dual family pension
• Family pension to mentally/physically challenged children of armed forces personnel on marriage
The Department of Expenditure will service the Committee. The Committee may co-opt any other member. The Committee will finalize its recommendations and submit its report to the Prime Minister by 8th August, 2012.
***SC/LM (Release ID :85337)
Cabinet Committee for pay and pension of defence personnel

Adarsh Scam: Gen Kapoor trying to save his skin?

Former army chief trying to save his skin? Gen Kapoor says Adarsh not a security threat
In a significant development, former Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor on Thursday said that he didn't believe that the Adarsh building in Colaba, which overlooks a military station, was a security threat. Kapoor said this before the two-member judicial panel that has been formed by the Maharashtra government to probe the Adarsh scam.
This claim made by Kapoor, who retired as the Chief of Army Staff in 2010, is not surprising. He had applied for and was allotted a flat in the Adarsh society building in 2005. According to him, he surrendered the flat in 2010 after the Adarsh scam broke out.
"I am aware that the site of Adarsh building is in the vicinity of the Army area in Colaba. But I did not find out whether construction of a high-rise building so close to an Army installation would be a security threat," Kapoor said.
He went on to add: "It did not occur to me that the building would pose a security threat because there are number of buildings of similar height in the area (in Colaba)."
The former Army chief's statement is at odds with that of the Defence Ministry that has all along been objecting to the Adarsh construction on two grounds: one, that it is a security threat as it overlooks a military installation; second, that the land was in their possession and it belonged to them.
The defence wants to demolish the 31-storey building as it poses a threat and has even filed a petition in the Bombay High Court for this.
Kapoor felt that the local military authority would be in the best position to determine whether a building is a security threat or not. However, he seemed to contradict himself when he said that a number of factors go into deciding whether a building can be classified as a security threat.
"The height of the building, proximity to a sensitive area and ability to overlook into the sensitive area needs to be considered," Kapoor said.
According to the Defence Ministy, Adarsh fulfills all these criteria. It is quite near to the military installation, and being 31-storey high, it also overlooks the military installations.
Read more at: Former army chief trying to save his skin?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pension and Pay Panel Discussion

Military Matters: Formation Commanders root of Corruption

Of Matters Military - Probity and Formation Commanders
Major General Mrinal Suman
The manner in which a nation perceives its soldiers has a profound influence on their morale and psyche. Soldiers are very sensitive to adverse publicity as it threatens the very edifice of their sense of military honour from which they draw their sustenance.
Citizens have put Indian soldiers on a pedestal and feel let down whenever cases of their unbecoming conduct are reported. Even minor acts of misconduct carry considerable shock effect. These are the challenges the army has to face due to the high expectancy quotient that it enjoys.
Hardly a day passes without the army being in the news for all the wrong reasons. Resultantly, there is a serious threat to the exalted status of the army. People have started questioning OG’s claims of uprightness, honour and ethical conduct. They wonder if the soldiers are still ‘different’ or have they also got sucked into the national quagmire of corruption.
It is unfair to fault the media for the negative coverage. It is for the army to carry out an honest introspection and undertake necessary corrective measures before the situation drifts beyond redemption.
Numerous arguments are being offered to explicate reasons for falling standards of probity in the army – influence of materialistic environment, soldiers coming from the same stock of the society, inadequate remunerations, rising aspirations and prevalent corruption in the country. Undeniably, these reasons do act as contributory factors. However, the primary cause of the ills afflicting the army as an organisation is the gross pomposity, ineptitude and self-indulgence of the formation commanders. They and they alone are to blame for the current state of affairs. Take the case of Adarsh society. Can anyone believe that three chiefs and other senior commanders were unaware of the complicatedness of the case or else a well-connected sub-area commander would never have been posted back as the area commander to negotiate the case through its tortuous path? Sukhna and all other land cases also point to the involvement of the formation commanders.
In their typical haughtiness, it is fashionable for most formation commanders to condemn services like MES, ASC, ordnance and EME for the prevalent corruption in the army. Undoubtedly, these services are not above board. But the question that needs to be answered is – who is responsible for their transgressions.
An incident that took place during an army commanders’ conference some years ago needs to be recalled here. While discussing some issues concerning MES, most army commanders slammed it for unbridled corruption. E-in-C heard them all in silence. Thereafter, he sought permission of the chief to respond.
He looked at the army commanders and stated – “I agree that MES lacks required integrity. But, it is the formation commanders who sanction projects and take them over after completion. They have powers to initiate disciplinary proceedings in case of unsatisfactory performance. I wonder why tens of MES officers are not being court-martialled by them. On the contrary, allegedly corrupt MES officers get far better ACR from the formation commanders as compared to officers serving in engineer regiments. Finally, I have details of the commanders who are misusing MES for their personal purposes including private houses. If unconvinced, I can circulate the list right now.” Needless to say, there was a pin-drop silence thereafter.
The point being made is simple. MES, ASC, ordnance and EME are under command their respective formation commanders and accountable to them for their performance. Therefore, the formation commanders are duty-bound to proceed against all corrupt officers. Their failure to do so points to the presence of skeletons in their own cupboards. Asking the services for dishonest favours renders formation commanders spineless and it is this spinelessness that prevents them from exercising their immense powers to punish the guilty. On the contrary, they befriend such officers for extracting undue gains.
If a formation commander wants to curtail his electricity bill by loading all air conditioners in the appointment house on the circuit for security lights or demands repainting of the house every year to match new curtains, he forfeits the right to question MES officers for their misdeeds. Of late some formation commanders are known to demand ‘cut’ from MES before sanctioning works.
The same reasoning applies to EME, ordnance and ASC. Things have worsened after the grant of rations. A formation commander who demands unauthorised or excessive rations can never muster courage to question his ASC officers for their alleged wrongdoings. Many smart formation commanders choose to feign ignorance as regards authorisation and receipt of rations, intelligently preferring to leave the whole matter to their personal staff, thereby freeing themselves of any guilt complex. However, their culpability does not get reduced as abettors of corrupt practices.
Many formation commanders possess two-faced personality. They pretend to be no-nonsense, incorruptible, hard task masters in public but demand undue favours from the services in private. Most corrupt demands are justified as ‘command privileges’. This unethical arrogance is the crux of the whole problem.
Indian army is a command oriented organisation wherein the formation commanders wield all the powers. Therefore, every case of corruption should be considered a command failure and the concerned formation commander dealt with as an accomplice. No officer from the services will ever have the guts to cheat if his formation commander is above board. Fear of assured exemplary punishment will be the biggest deterrent.
A few years back, a middle-aged lady was often seen driving a Fiat car in Pune, displaying a sticker – “MY SON SERVES IN THE ARMY”. Evidently, she was very proud of that fact. One wonders if she still feels the same way now. Or, has she removed the said sticker?

Monday, July 23, 2012

OROP: Raising hopes will the PM take the bite?

Will the PM make the military happy on August 15, 2012
Written by Nitin Gokhale NDTV| Updated: July 19, 2012 21:05 IST
New Delhi: Will the Prime Minister bite the bullet and grant a long-standing and just demand of 21 lakh ex-servicemen to implement the principle of One-Rank-One-Pension? Developments in recent days have raised their hopes as never before.
On Wednesday, the three service chiefs, led by Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) met with a high-powered Committee of Secretaries constituted by the Prime Minister to resolve anomalies in the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission award for the Armed Forces.
Although a total of 39 anomalies have been identified by the three services since 2008, they have decided to concentrate on some core issues that directly affect both serving and retired armed forces personnel.
The issues are:
  • Fixing common pay scales for all JCOs and ORs
  • Grant of NFU (non-functional upgradation) status to commissioned officers
  • Correcting difference in rank pay of commissioned officers
  • Extending the HAG+ (Higher administrative Grade Plus) scale to all three star officers
  • Granting One-Rank-One-Pension to retired personnel There have been strong demands from ex-servicemen and from acting servicemen for One-Rank-One-Pay. And to push for their demands further, the three Service chiefs, led by Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Naval chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, along with his colleagues, Chief of Air Staff ACM, NAK Browne and Army Chief General Bikram Singh gave a detailed presentation to the Committee of Secretaries on Wednesday.
    The six-member committee, comprising the Cabinet Secretary with the Defence Secretary, Secretary Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Secretary DoPT, Expenditure Secretary and Principal Secretary to PM, as members was set up by the Prime Minister after a Rajya Sabha panel last year recommended granting One Rank One Pension to the retired defence personnel. The government has asked the committee to submit its report by August 8, 2012.
    There is a buzz in the corridors of power that the Prime Minister wants to make a grand announcement from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 and therefore the deadline of August 8!
    For the uninitiated, the One-Rank-One-Pay scheme implies that uniform pension be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement, and any future enhancement in the rates of pension be automatically passed on to past pensioners.
    But the issue that has upset and angered serving defence personnel is NFU.
    For those not in uniform it needs a bit of an explanation.
    Buckling under pressure from Group A organised Services under the Central Government like Border Roads Organisation, Military Engineering Services, Postal Services, the Sixth Pay Commission gave them a special concession.
    It allowed the officers in these services to be placed in a grade pay scale equivalent to an IAS officer two years behind that particular IAS batch. For example if the 1992 batch of the IAS officer got placed in the Joint Secretary grade in 2012, all Group A organised officers of the 1990 batch would automatically get the pay and allowance equivalent to the 1992 IAS batch, irrespective of the post and place they are serving in. That is the upgradation will be done on a 'non-functional' basis.
    This has brought in huge functional problems in day-to-day affairs when military officers have to work in close coordination with MES Civil Officers, BRO Civil Officers, IPS Officers in BSF, CRPF, ITBP, Defence Accts (IDAS), Test Audit (IA&AS), Ordnance Factory Board etc, with whom Defence forces officers interact regularly, will now get the salary and grade pay of Joint Secretary/Major General (Grade Pay Rs. 10000/-) after 22 years of service, and will draw the pay of Additional Secretary to Government of India which is equal to a Lieutenant General (Grade Pay Rs. 12000/-) in 32 years of service whereas military officers senior to them in rank and service will get less grade pay at the same level of service thereby creating a functional disparity giving rise to insubordination and subtle non-compliance.
    Military officials have pointed out that this has adversely affected organisational command and control in multi cadre environment. It also led to lowering the status of Armed Forces Officials vis-a-vis organized Group A officers and IPS Officers. Organised Group A and IPS Officers reach HAG (Higher Administrative Grade) Scale at 32 years while only 0.2 per cent of Armed Forces Officers can ever reach that level.
    With over 97 per cent Armed Forces Officers retiring in the Grade Pay of 8700, their exclusion from the NFU is seen as grossly unfair. This differential not only disturbs financial parity, it pushes down the Defence services in status as even direct recruit officers of Group B services attain a better pay and promotional avenue and manage to reach the level of Joint Secretary/Major General before retiring. Both the OROP and granting the NFU status to Armed Forces officials is not going to be expensive either.
    According to calculations done by the military, the annual outgo for granting One -Rank-One-Pension to the approximately 21 lakh ex-servicemen would not be more than Rs. 1300 crore. Similarly the NFU status, if granted, will cost the exchequer a mere Rs. 70 crore annually but will go a long way in restoring the pride and status of the armed forces' officers.
    The other core issues are minor in comparison but important nevertheless.
    Can the Prime Minister show sagacity and wisdom in agreeing to these basic demands of the armed forces and restore dignity to the men in uniform at a time when the military has been buffeted from all sides?
    In taking this decision, the technocrat Prime Minister will have to rise above his usual bureaucratic approach.
    He may as well recall what good old Chanakya said about how the state should treat the soldiers, ages ago:
    "He (the soldier) is thus the VERY BASIS and silent, barely visible CORNERSTONE of our fame, culture, physical well-being and prosperity; in short, of the entire nation building activity. He DOES NOT perform any of these chores himself directly: he ENABLES the rest of us to perform these without let, hindrance or worry ('nirbhheek and nishchinta').
    Our military sinews, on the other hand, lend credibility to our pronouncements of adherence to good Dharma, our goodwill, amiability and peaceful intentions towards all our neighbour nations ('sarve bhavantu sukhinaha, sarve santu niramayaha...') as also those far away and beyond. These also serve as a powerful deterrent against military misadventure by any one of them against us."
    My roots as a fauji son say the PM will take the correct decision and not let down the soldier; the journalist in me (and now I have been a journalist longer than I have been a fauji child) does not agree.
    Will the PM make the military happy on August 15, 2012
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