The Defence Ministry on Monday said the report of a one member committee on the One Rank One Pension is under examination, on a day when veterans protesting the OROP being implemented were forcefully evicted from their protest site.
Defence Ministry sources said the report, by the one man committee of Justice L Narasimha Reddy, the retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court, is being studied, and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also met him over the report.
"The report is under examination, we are looking into it," the source said.
A group of veterans had started the protest for One Rank One Pension at Jantar Mantar on June 15, 2015, and also staged indefinite hunger strike before government announced on September 5, 2015 that it was implementing OROP.
Some soldiers however continued the protest stating that the OROP implemented by government was flawed and would not justify the goal of having same pension for those retiring from the same rank.
Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), advisor to the United Front of Ex Servicemen and Chairman, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, who is part of the continuing agitation, questioned what is the government studying in the report, submitted to the Defence Ministry on October 26, 2016.
"What is the government studying in the report after one year? They are making fools out of us," he said as he and other soldiers protesting at Jantar Mantar were forcefully evicted on Monday by police and civic authorities following an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on October 5 banning protests at the spot.
The Central Government had appointed the committee under the Justice Reddy to look into the anomalies, if any, arising out of implementation of OROP.
The committee was formed to suggest measures for the removal of anomalies that may arise in the implementation of the OROP, measures for the removal of anomalies that may arise out of inter-services issues of the three armed forces due to implementation of OROP, implications on service matters and any other matter referred by the central government on implementation of the OROP or related issues.
The major sticking point for the protesting group of veterans is time period for revision of pensions. While government's OROP has revision every five years, veterans have demanded annual rationalisation of pensions.
The second major demand is fixing pensions at top of the scale against the current fixation of mean average.
The present OROP scheme has a mechanism of fixing pensions by calculating average of highest and lowest pensions for a rank, with protection to those with higher pension.
Third demand is to make the date of implementation April 1, 2014, and not July 1, 2014 as it is presently.
The government has said it has taken July 1 as the date of implementation as it came in power in May 2014.
The fourth demand is fixing the base year of implementation at financial year 2013-14, and not on the basis of calendar year as it is at present.
by the kind courtesy
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
'When there are two hostile armies operating in close proximity, moral ascendancy is very important -- and that is something, I think, we achieved.'
'What is important is the will and determination of a country.'
'That you are willing to do something about terror that is coming from across the border and that is the message that was sent out.'
IMAGE: Lieutenant General Deependra Singh Hooda, UYSM, AVSM, VSM (Bar), was the Northern Army Commander from 2014 to 2016.
The surgical strikes were among the most difficult operations under his watch.
As the highest ranking officer in Jammu and Kashmir during the September 28-29, 2016 surgical strikes, the buck literally stopped with Lieutenant General Deependra Singh Hooda.
General Hooda was the General Office Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command, in charge of the planning and execution of the top secret operation across the Line of Control.
Most officers and soldiers in the Northern Command -- responsible for the security of J&K and Line of Control -- were not aware of the strikes being planned.
As the general monitored the progress of his men as they crossed the Line of Control, their safe return was at the top of his mind.
According to the just released book India's Most Fearless: True Stories of Modern Military Heroes, Indian soldiers spent two nights and a day in "enemy territory". It was one of the most difficult operations under his watch, the general recalls.
Now retired, the former officer of the Gorkha Rifles with over four decades in the army, relives those unforgettable hours with Rediff.com's Archana Masih.
A year ago at this time, you had the plan in place for the surgical strikes. Do you find yourself going back and thinking about those days?
It was a successful operation. It was well done. Its scale and scope was pretty large.
You do think back on those days. How the whole planning was done. How we went about it.
The joy when everyone came back safe.
In your long military career, what have been some of the achievements that you look back with satisfaction? Where would the surgical strikes feature in that roster of military memories?
It has been wonderful primarily because you work with a highly motivated group of officers, very well trained officers.
There have been difficult times. One very difficult time for us was the earthquake of 2005.
I was the brigade commander in Uri and 95 per cent of the garrison had come crashing down.
We had to look after our own casualties, and carry out rescue, relief operations for the civilians.
The spirit of the soldier is such that it weathers through tough times.
Where do the surgical strikes figure in my book?
I would definitely say it was a very challenging operation and perhaps one of the most difficult on my watch.
What was your biggest concern in those hours after the men crossed the LOC and till the time they returned?
Of course, the biggest concern was the safety of each and every man who was crossing in what I call 'enemy territory' at that time.
We were also very confident that we had done everything by way of planning, preparation, empowering the soldiers, equipping them, giving them everything they needed.
In that sense we were fairly confident.
Honestly, after the soldiers crossed the Line of Control, I had little control.
It was for the officers and men to successfully carry out the operation.
Sitting in Udhampur (the Northern Command headquarters), there was really little we could do except watch.
What was the conversation you had with your men before they left? What was your parting line to them before they set out for this daring military task -- beyond enemy lines as they say?
We sit with the team leaders, the commanding officers and discuss every aspect of the plan.
We make sure every contingency that can arrive is catered for.
It happens only in the movies that the general stands in front of all the soldiers and gives them a parting pep talk. It really didn't happen like that (laughs).
It was a very secret operation and we did not assemble everyone together.
But I am sure the team leaders would have constantly spoken and motivated their men.
My interaction was with the officers and commanding officers.
IMAGE: Nine soldiers of the Special Forces who took part in the surgical strikes were awarded gallantry medals.
In hindsight and because we have that luxury to ponder over that because it was a successful operation, did you ever feel what would happen if the operation failed?
We had prepared well and we were quite confident of success, but obviously, you can't say that you are going to 100 per cent succeed.
The risk of failure does weigh heavily on you.
If we had failed, obviously the consequences would not have been pleasant.
What consequences could those have been -- and for you?
I was at the fag end of my military career. I had two months left to go before my retirement.
It wasn't so much what other people would think or say. It was more about how you would look back and see whether you have done well or badly.
So the consequences were more in my head.
But it was a high for you. You were going to retire in couple of months and you went out in a blaze of glory, isn't it?
It was a high. But it wasn't something I did myself.
There was a contribution of all those who sat and planned it -- we had a small planning team, army headquarters, the directorate of military planning -- most importantly, the soldiers who went across.
If they hadn't done as well as they did, we would not feel the way we do.
Everyone contributed to its success.
The Northern Army Commander is in charge of J&K and the LoC. He shoulders enormous responsibility. What was your tenure like?
It was fairly challenging. I took over in 2014. The situation along the borders was deteriorating.
A large number of ceasefire violations were taking place. Internally, there were a number of issues like the floods in September 2014.
In 2015, the internal situation was not looking good. We had some attacks on our camps.
In July 2016, we had massive unrest (after Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani's death) and then we had the Uri attack.
It was challenging. There were times when we thought we could have done better.
I think every challenge was handled well and I relied on my commanders, officers and men to do the right thing.
What impact have the surgical strikes had on the soldiers in areas of conflict and in the rest of the armed forces?
One of the big intangible positives was the impact on our own soldiers.
Just prior to the surgical strikes, we had Uri which was one of the worst strikes on our garrisons in a number of years. We had 19 casualties.
One message was that the sacrifice of soldiers would not go unavenged.
Once information on the strikes came in, it was not only a morale booster for soldiers in J&K, but across the country.
It uplifted the morale of the Indian Army.
In the immediate aftermath, can you pinpoint to some of the changes that you saw in the soldiers?
After Uri, obviously, questions were being asked about 'What are you going to do?'
'What are your preparation levels?'
'How can people just come in and do this?'
'Are you going to be totally defensive as it generally happens?'
'Are we going to do something about it?'
Most of the people in my headquarters were also not aware that the strikes were going to happen.
After the strikes one could notice that shoulders were straighter, smiles on the faces (laughs). It had a huge effect on them.
How did it play out among the Pakistan armed forces and security establishment?
What are some of the direct consequences of the strikes on Pakistan and in its response subsequently?
In June 2015 we had the Myanmar operation.
Immediately, the Pakistan interior minister, military spokesperson made statements saying this can't happen in Pakistan. Pakistan is not Myanmar. Any Indian adventurism will have a befitting response.
I think they were completely shocked with the strikes. They had little idea how to respond.
They literally buried their head in the sand as if nothing had happened.
When there are two hostile armies operating in close proximity, moral ascendancy is very important -- and that is something, I think, we achieved.
Among the soldiers that were deployed on the other side, their leave was cancelled, they were told to be careful because the Indian Army could strike anywhere. We saw such changes in the Pakistan army along the border.
At the UN General Assembly Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi accused India of indulging in terror activities against his country and of 'war crimes' in Kashmir.
He warned of a 'matching response' if India 'ventures across the LoC'.
We have heard these words before. Pakistan has complained of war crimes in Kashmir. It has said that India poses an existential threat to Pakistan.
More than statements it is the attitude that the country has towards India.
Unless that changes, relations will continue to remain hostile. It is something for them to think about.
IMAGE: General Hooda pays tributes at the Kargil war memorial at Drass in Jammu and Kashmir, July 26, 2016.
How did the open acknowledgment and declaration of the surgical strikes by the government alter India's position and response to its handling of terror from across the border?
A lot of people question the acknowledgement, but I think it was right.
If you are a strong, determined, nation, you should be able to show your capability.
One thing we showed is that our response to terrorist attacks will not only be defensive; it will not only be on our side, but we will also go across the border.
Internationally also, it made a big statement. Among the various response options we have, this (surgical strikes) was one more added.
It showed one major response we have in how we respond to terror.
What according to you has been the biggest purpose the strikes achieved? How has it made the LOC and India more secure?
We were quite clear in the military that one surgical strike is not going to end all terrorism in Kashmir or that it will stop cross border infiltration.
After all, Osama bin Laden's killing has not finished Al Qaeda or sorted out the problem in Afghanistan.
What is important is the will and determination of a country. That you are willing to do something about terror that is coming from across the border and that is the message that was sent out.
It really wasn't so much about finishing terrorism in Kashmir. That was not even remotely our objective.
Surgical strikes is one of the options we have in our response to terror -- and it is an option we can employ in the future too if need be, right?
I am not saying a surgical strike is the answer to each and every terrorist attack or problem that we have, but as I said it is has definitely added to our response option.
If required, it can be done.
Would you be able to say how many camps were destroyed and how many terrorists were killed? Is there a number?
No. I can't talk about the number of targets struck. It is classified.
As far as casualties are concerned, frankly, nobody was waiting around to start counting.
There have been occasions in the past when Indian forces have gone across the LOC in similar, albeit in smaller ops? Is that right?
Yes, that is right.
You had said as Northern Army Commander that it is going to be a long war in Kashmir. At what stage have we reached in the course of this long war?
It is very difficult to say. I say it is a long war because it needs a long term strategy to deal with it.
Sometimes, unfortunately, we go from here to here and say 2017 is better than 2016 because then more terrorists were killed or 2015 was better than 2016.
This year on year comparison is not fair and we are making a mistake.
Yes, there is a problem in J&K, there is also the issue of Pakistan's support, there is also the issue of growing radicalisation, the issue of economic development.
All these require a long term strategy.
Therefore, I say it is a long war. You have to have patience. You have to move towards the direction you want to go.
Unfortunately, some of it hasn't happened so fast.
When things were peaceful, we just said ok, we said fine. That is why we have these cycles of violence.
This year we saw many incidents of stone pelting, where the Kashmir valley seemed to be spiralling out of control. What is the situation now?
As I said, if we just look at current indicators and say this is our definition of things getting better. In March-April-May we had more incidents of stone pelting than now, so things are better.
Have we looked at the root causes and tried to address them? I think this is where we need to do some thinking.
What do you think of the Pakistan army chief's statement that it will continue supporting the Kashmiri right to self determination and wanting more army interaction with Pakistan's parliament? How is he different from his predecessor?
As an institution the Pak army has been used to being in power. Now they want power without any responsibility.
I don't think any chief can be different. They have grown up in the same system.
IMAGE: Then army chief General Dalbir Singh with then Northern Army Commander General Hooda in Srinagar.
On a personal note, did your wife and family sense that you were bearing the weight of such a military task? What was it like when you finally got home in Udhampur after the ops ended?
When the going gets tough you cannot show your emotions (at work) or your frustration because immediately panic strikes.
When you get home, you can lower your barrier and take off your frustration.
It always helps to have a calm wife (laughs).
The army has a very supportive family.
What did you say to the men when you met them after they returned?
A day after the operation was over all the officers that took part in the operation and planning came home in the evening.
We shared many joyous moments. It was very good to meet them.
I was happy that they had returned safely.
How is retired life? Does a soldier ever retire?
What you miss on a daily basis is the very motivated bunch of men and women of the army. But everyone's time gets over. That is the reality.
New people have to come in and they come in with new ideas.
I generally spend my time reading. I love reading. I write a little, then people like you keep me busy with some interviews (laughs).
by Archana Masih / Rediff.com
Thursday, September 21, 2017
· Vijay Mohan
The Supreme Court has declined to stay the judgment of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) granting non-functional upgradation (NFU) to members of the armed forces on the same lines as it was granted to civilian Group-A services a few years ago.
The scheme was not extended to the armed forces and central armed police forces (CAPF), following which their officers sought judicial intervention. A serving Army officer, Col Mukul Dev, had moved the AFT contending that the armed forces fulfilled the criteria laid down for being considered in Group-A service. He averred that it had not only affected the morale of thousands of defence officers, but also lowered their stature vis-à-vis civilian officers while violating Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The AFT had, in December 2016, allowed Col Dev’s petition along with that filed by other officers. The Union Government moved the apex court against the judgment earlier this year and the matter had been pending over some technical issues.
The Supreme Court’s Bench did not issue any notice to the parties today and fixed October 26 as the date for final arguments the petitioner’s counsel, Col Rajiv Manglik (retd), told The Tribune. “This can imply that there is now no bar on the government to grant NFU to the armed forces,” he added.
Representing the government, Solicitor General Ranjit Singh had sought a stay on the AFT judgment on the grounds that similar petitions concerning CAPFs were still pending.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Did You Know Countrymen, Everything Is Free In Armed Forces. Your Freedom Is Absolutely Free of cost to you
The issue is regarding Insurance for Serving Military Personnel.
Presently the monthly insurance premium is Rs 5000 for officers and Rs 2500 for JCOs for a sum assured of 50 lakhs and 25 lakh respectively, which is deducted from their salary.
The Mkt Rate for 'Normal Life Insurance' (without covering War and other risks of war and terror operations) for a ANNUAL premium of RS 4000 for a sum assured of Rs 1 crore. The heavier premium paid by soldiers is about 220% higher than normal due to the additional war and terror risks.
Govt does not fund the Army Group Insurance Scheme at all and the soldiers not only risk their life for the Country but also pay in cash for taking such risks.
The salaries of the officers who are posted to HQ AGIF to manage these activities are again paid from corpus raised from the salaries and not by the Govt. (The money is refunded to CDA's by AGIF)
In other countries like the USA, every soldier is insured regardless of rank for a monthly premium of 27 dollars for sum assured of 4 lakh dollars. This is made possible by the Federal Govt Law by which the heavy premium is borne by the Federal govt.
In India, we virtually and effectively ask the soldiers to risk their lives and also pay for it too ..
SO YOU THOUGHT EVERYTHING IS FREE IN ARMED FORCES. YOU ARE VERY RIGHT. THE LIVES PROTECTING YOU ARE FREE. THEY PAY FROM THEIR SALARY FOR THEIR INSURANCE SHOULD THEY DIE PROTECTING YOU ..
EVERYTHING IS FREE IN ARMED FORCES. THE INDIAN SOLDIERS DIE FOR FREE.
Mera Bharat Mahaan
Silently yet determinedly in the last two years, the shape of the steel frame has been getting moulded at the Government of India level. ‘How Bharatiya has been the Indian Bureaucracy,’ ever since the Modi government was formed.
My initial feeling was that the changes brought about are at best piece-meal. It persisted until I got first-hand taste of the silent yet titanic change a few days back when I saw the empanelment list for Additional Secretary of my batch officers in IAS. I was taken aback to know that out of about 102 officers of 1988 IAS batch, only about 40 figured in the said list. My surprise was over the radical weeding out of more than half of them. It was a radical shift from the past where about 90 percent of those who joined early could easily aspire to retire as Secretary to the Government of India. Not any more.
Changes unleashed at the top level bureaucracy, when the new regime took over at the Centre, were at a small level of ensuring office punctuality irrespective of rank, which graduated to keeping track of frequenting IAS officers to golf clubs in Delhi, to posting non-IAS officers to assignments held traditionally by IAS officers, to weed out the rotten eggs through the traditional mechanism of compulsory retirement in good numbers, and it climaxed at unheard performance based mid-term transfers at the level of Joint Secretaries. All these new changes were at best piece-meal, because they did not attempt to alter the fundamental character of Indian bureaucracy. As a result, I heard how reluctant were officers increasingly becoming in joining the government of India. They felt the changes will not affect those who stay back in states.
But the radical-most of all is what started two years back, and it affected each, irrespective of one’s placement in state or the Centre. The Government of India made a move to shortlist names of IAS officers for senior most empanelment based on what is known today as the 360-Degree Review. It is an out of box appraisal system to select, promote and even punish officials. It has changed the rules played hitherto in that each officer’s suitability to hold the senior-most post is judged not only by what his immediate seniors hold for him/her. He/she is judged today by what the juniors, peer group, or even social circles think of him/her besides his immediate superiors. This essentially reduces the reliance on annual confidential reports as the key basis for short-listing and empanelment. This, in turn, has a significant bearing on the final selection of a bureaucrat to a top job.
The striking fact about the radical most shift is that its mechanism is the least revealed to even those who are part of the system. Surprisingly, the names of three retired secretary–level officers is a tightly guarded state secret, not known to an ordinary senior officer.
As a result, over the past three years, this new system has slowly unhinged certain basic assumptions in a bureaucrat's zone of maneuverability-like lobbying the minister concerned for a job in his department, or even other top bureaucrats.
This is not to say that any of these methods has turned obsolete. But their effectiveness, or ‘rate of return’, has sharply dropped. While some of it has to do with the erosion of coalition era multiple power centres, the simple fact is that new rules have replaced old rules. It is feared that grounds are prepared that in few years from now, more than half of the Secretary's level post in the Government of India will be held by private sector experts.
It’s said that so devoted is the prime minister to the 360-degree system that he doesn't even want himself to be exempted. He has reportedly chosen to drop names forwarded from his office if they don't pass the 360-degree test.
Three questions arise: What is this review? How is it done? And why is it so important to GoI?
A way had to be found to counter a decade of Congress rule in which the bureaucracy held sway, allowing for long-lasting loyalties to be cultivated across services and beyond retirement barriers. For new equations to be built, old ones had to be disrupted.
But how? After all, lines and rows of batches-cum-cadres seemed well sorted with a string of ‘outstanding’ reports and recommendations. There was no way that they would fail the existing evaluation and selection system, unless there was outright political high-handedness, which would have invited avoidable bureaucratic opprobrium.
Then there was the mandate against corruption. This provided the perfect setting for a systemic overhaul by a newly elected political leadership. This is also the reason why GoI could carry out more senior bureaucratic reshuffles than usual in the past three years.
It was in this context that the 360-degree system was put in place. What does it mean? Quite literally, like in many corporates, it amounts to conducting a holistic evaluation across talent, skills, social and personal parameters instead of simply looking at filework. In bureaucracy, this meant don’t go by confidential reports alone. GoI’s highest echelons were convinced that this system had been rigged, and that many officers were not making it to the shortlist because they had one ‘outstanding’ less than the other. Few important calls were made.
One, all eligible candidates, regardless of their average performance on their appraisals, will be considered for this assessment. Two, the minister’s recommendation of the post being filled will not override the outcome of the 360-degree process. And three, integrity will also be assessed by way of reputation, not just by a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) clearance.
A Tightly Held Secret
So how is the process conducted? The exercise is a tightly held secret conducted by three retired secretary-level officials. They have been appointed for a two-year period, subject to health considerations, and their identities are supposed to be classified.
This group is expected to work pretty much independently, sharing all the cadres among the three, collecting information from myriad sources in an unsuspecting, unassuming manner, figuring out the general reputation of the officer among subordinate staff, paint an overall perception picture on integrity, besides making any other relevant observations. At the same time this group wouldn't be made aware of the job an officer is being considered for. Now, whom they talk to, and whose views count is still more or less a grey area. But what we know is that this report is placed before a panel headed by the Cabinet secretary in case of secretary-level appointments, and the establishment officer, who heads the panel for joint secretaries. Both panels have PMO representations.
All other inputs, including intelligence reports and ministerial recommendations, are on the table. But the contents and conclusion of this report have a definitive bearing. The recommendation of this panel is largely final. In other words, the measure of perception and reputation has come to matter more, regardless of what appraisal reports say. And while that may give a second chance to many who have lost out in their careers for the wrong reasons, the system has also introduced new variables, including subjective elements, that have drastically altered the field of play.
This bold article on Indian Bureaucracy is by Uday Sahay, A former IPS officer