Tuesday, September 27, 2016
To our Ignorant Citizens and our Disillusioned
“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough, tough and hardened (wo)men of our Armed Forces stand at our borders ready to do violence-to kill and/or be killed-on their behalf. When these (wo)men first donned their uniform they had handed-over a blank cheque with the endorsement made to this Country."
"Up till, and including, my death"
Perhaps Indian Citizens and our self-serving Politico-Bureaucratic Combine, have yet to realise this un-stinted support and pledge of the Indian Soldier to the Nation, and has constantly humiliated, denied Justice, "Izzat" & just Dues while consistently degrading the same Indian Soldier.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Following the September 18 attack on the Indian Army’s Uri camp, the central government is reportedly contemplating strong diplomatic-military initiatives to counter Pakistan's growing audacity. But strangely, the Home Minister and the National Security Advisor (NSA) appear to be taking all the initiatives, ordering the NIA to investigate the attack, with the Defence Minister rather subdued, and an External Affairs Minister not even on the scene.
If the internal civil unrest with over 70 continuous days of shutdown in Kashmir is to be handled as a political problem (presuming that realization finally dawns on government), the Home Ministry doubtless needs to take the initiative. But even there, as former diplomat MK Bhadrakumar wrote in Mainstream: “In reality, ... the government directed the Army to create conditions on the ground that would hopefully enable the return of paramilitary forces and police who have fled their posts and were forced to concede large tracts of territory to protestors”. The local police are vulnerable since their families can and do become targets, though CAPF abandoning their posts cannot be justified. Thus, as Bhadrakumar went on to write, “the Army’s task is rather curious—namely, re-energise the police and paramilitary forces and restore their self-confidence, morale and operational viability ...[and] also reviving the demoralised police machinery and protecting it from the wrath of the people”.
In these circumstances, and especially following the attack on the Uri camp, neglecting the vital role played by the army when the chips are down, is to deliberately denigrate the institution and drag it down.
In this, it is difficult not to suspect the role of the IAS-IPS lobby, which has diligently diddled the Defence Services out of benefits which they grant to themselves, by keeping military representation out of successive CPCs. But “keeping down” the defence services apart, this unwritten policy goes directly against the national security interest.
In difficult times such as these, the Prime Minister (PM), Chairing the National Security Council (NSC), bears the responsibility to consult the NSC members (Ministers of Defence, Finance, Home and External Affairs, and the NSA) to weigh the options and work out a strategy on how to force Pakistan to behave itself, along with restoring some semblance of governance and genuine peace in the Kashmir Valley.
The political-strategic decision-responsibility is finally that of the PM, so he would engage in consultation with all NSC members. But the NSC does not include a military representative to render advice to the PM, advice which is vital in assessing the situation and working out a plan of strategic action, in a military environment which is increasingly complex and calling for joint army-navy-airforce operations (joint ops).
The problem with calling for military advice in today's circumstance is that any one of the three Service Chiefs, being responsible for his own Service, cannot adequately render advice to include the operational capabilities of the other two Services. It is precisely to cater for times like this, that the PM needs single-point military advice to include joint ops capabilities – advice which only a military officer who does not have direct responsibility for any one Service, can render.
This advisor has to be a military officer superior to the three Service Chiefs, so that he can call for reports and information from them in order to advise the executive head of the nation (PM). This role can be filled only by a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) who answers to the PM, a position created by every country except India. It cannot be assumed by an IFS/IAS/IPS officer (e.g., the NSA) who may have only passing acquaintance with the military.
Lack of a CDS constitutes a very serious shortcoming in national strategic planning capability, and this is evident that in 18 years of the existence of NSC, India's apex agency for political, economic, energy and strategic security, there is no national strategic document.
Even with an undisputable need for a CDS, and a case having been made out years ago, bureaucrats have stalled it because the CDS would become superior to the Cabinet Secretary in precedence, and weaken traditional bureaucratic hegemony over the Defence Services.
But what is really amazing is that retired senior military officers holding positions in think-tanks which advise government, have not been able to penetrate the bureaucratic screen to get the national interest angle of CDS understood by successive PMs. Or else, successive PMs, having heard, are unable to appreciate the gravity of the matter.
The PM receives information and advice from his PMO, which is manned by bureaucrats, one of whose necessary duties is to filter the enormous masses of daily correspondence and information, so as not to overload the PM. The PMO in turn reaches to think-tanks and other sources.
The Vivekananda Foundation, a think-tank reportedly ideologically close to the present dispensation, is perhaps one of the major sources, especially since it was founded by Mr A Doval, who is currently the NSA, and the PM's PS and Addl PS are both from this think-tank. There are other reputed Indian defence think-tanks (IDSA, CLAWS and ORF) named among the world's top 65, besides the United Service Institution (USI), all staffed with competent senior military officers.
Since the call for creation of the post of CDS is one that began decades ago from within the Defence Services, and serving generals can only go so far in pushing the matter, one would assume that retired senior military officers within these think-tanks would have pushed the matter (along with relevant facts and studies) to successive governments over the years.
If at all they have, it is clear that their arguments have not succeeded in overcoming the bureaucratic filters in the PMO. Or else, successive PMs, Messrs. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi, aware of the arguments for creating a CDS but unable to see the national (security) interest angle, have succumbed to the devious bureaucratic arguments against it.
Thus, due to an hitherto unbeatable combination of bureaucratic machinations, timidity or co-option of retired generals, and lack of strategic understanding among politicians engrossed in domestic or petty politics, India remains with an ineffective NSC without a CDS, to the continuing detriment of national security.
PM Narendra Modi can make history if he institutionally strengthens the NSC by immediately overcoming bureaucratic hurdles to appoint a CDS, especially at this juncture when a mere raid by fidayeen forces on the Uri army camp threatens wider international military dimensions. Serendipitously, the nation may also receive a national strategic document.
The souls of soldiers killed in the Uri attack will rest only when Pakistan receives a carefully thought-out strategic response, taking into account India's and Pakistan's military and diplomatic strengths and weaknesses, to put an end to Pakistan's habitual, unacceptable intransigence. Such a response will not be possible if military strategy is left to a civilian.
Dear, respected Prime Minister, the ball of national security is in your court. The world is watching how you play the ball. Jai Hind.
(Major General S.G. Vombatkere, VSM, retired as Additional DG Discipline & Vigilance in Army HQ AG's Branch.)
By the kind courtesy of
The views expressed here are the Author’s own. The article has been reproduced for Indian population to share author’s thoughts.
By Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)
That the J&K problem has been grossly mishandled right from the very start need no recalling. What should be of serious concern is that it is continued to be mishandled and mismanaged. Killing of a known terrorist has led to wide spread disturbances, considerable loss of life and injuries to hundreds of people, including police (state and central) personnel.
Stone pelting has become routine form of protest, where those indulging in this unlawful activity are paid Rs 200 to Rs 500 per day. That authorities have failed to track down the source of this money and those making these payment, speaks volumes of the poor state of administration, intelligence agencies and law and order machinery. Those instigating these protests from the precincts of mosques too have been given a free run. Else by now most of those indulging in these unlawful activities and those indulging in stone pelting should have been rounded up.
Given the ongoing unrest in the valley, Pakistan was expected to not only exploit the situation but equally give impetus to the disturbances by staging cross border raids in continuation of its policy of ‘thousand cuts’. That the Uri raid has caused so many casualties speaks equally poor state of alertness and security arrangements at this military camp.
While there is much chest beating and clamour in India for an immediate and strong retaliation, but what is not being appreciated is that India has been left with very few viable options. In any case the political class need enunciate its policy taking into account the full ramifications of it, and leave it to the military to execute it in the manner it finds appropriate. At the diplomatic level, to hope that concerted efforts by India can result in Pakistan being declared a terrorist state by the UN is to overlook the veto power of China. In any case diplomacy has never been India’s great asset.
What is possible and must be played out to full is, the abrogation of Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan. After all, terrorism and friendly treaties cannot go hand in hand. There is therefore, the need to put both Pakistan and World Bank on notice (Indus water Treaty was negotiated through World Bank). To let Pakistan know that we are serious about abrogating this Treaty, work on diverting waters of Chandrabagha (major tributary of Chenab) river into Beas River at Manali need be started.
Much of the discontent in the Valley has been hyped up. There is no absolute poverty there as it is in other parts of J&K and parts of India. Billions of rupees that Indian government has been doling out to J&K since independence, have mostly been deployed in the valley. Admittedly good portion of these funds have ended up in political and bureaucratic pockets. What India has been overlooking is the imperatives of trifurcation of J&K, into three independent states i,e. Kashmir valley, Jammu region including Kishtwar-Doda and Ladakh to include Kargil, Zanskar and Nubra Valley.
While Article 370 has been a major impediment to economic development of J&K, those in the valley have been made to believe that its abrogation will be their very ruin. This line has suited the political class and some others with vested interest to the great disadvantage of the common man.
With Article 370 in place, no large-scale industry has come to the State. Equally, no major investment from outside has taken place in the tourist industry, though the scope for it in J&K is enormous. Nor has the State drawn any outside investment in education and healthcare. Further, Article 370 has resulted in stagnation of price of properties and land. Absence of industrialization has denied the youth of the State lakhs of jobs, which industry and tourism would have, otherwise created. Therefore, unemployment haunts the youth and it has become the more disgruntled element, not only in the Valley but in whole of J&K. In the valley they are easily exploited by the separatists and ISI of Pakistan, pinning the cause of their distress on India.
With the trifurcation of J&K, the choice to live with article 370 or abrogate it should be left with the three states. At the same time, steps towards abrogation of Indus Water Treaty, should be taken in hand without any delay and dithering.
The petition states that there rightly operates a statutory bar on military employees on forming associations and this fact should have resulted in the system being more sensitive for hearing the views of defence personnel.
Acting on a petition filed by a serving Colonel seeking the representation of all stakeholders before a committee looking into the Seventh Pay Commission (7th CPC) anomalies, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Wednesday issued notice to the Central Government and has also directed that, in the meantime, the anomaly committees shall take into account the views of the affected defence personnel.
In his plea, Col Preetpal Singh Grewal has pointed out that the Government has constituted ‘Anomalies Committees’ to look into 7th CPC recommendations. These committees are granting hearings to civil employees, their associations and the civil establishment but not to defence personnel or even the defence services or establishment which, ironically, constitute the highest number of employees and pensioners. The writ petition avers that no information at all was even given to the defence services about the institution of the committee and it was through press reports that the fact came to be known that the Committee had held several meetings with civil employees.
The petition states that there rightly operates a statutory bar on military employees on forming associations and this fact should have resulted in the system being more sensitive for hearing the views of defence personnel, and hence not granting any opportunity of hearing or interaction even to the official defence establishment is against the principles of natural justice as ruled by Constitutional Courts. The plea also says that the Supreme Court has already held that defence personnel should not be treated in a ‘shabby manner’ or denuded of rights that are available to other citizens.
It is also averred in the petition that even the Standing Committee on Welfare of Ex-servicemen which was ordered to hold meetings every three months by none less than the Defence Minister has not even held a single meeting thereby undermining political authority by lower officials. The petition has emphasized resolution of differences in a conciliatory manner by way of mature governance rather than ham-handed measures which increase the gap between various services. It states that lack of reaching-out by highest echelons of government and a perceived trust deficit leads to inimical elements taking advantage to the detriment of national interest by spreading discontentment through anecdotal hearsay in social circles and social media.
Besides opportunity of hearing to affected stakeholders, the petition has sought the institution of a suitable alternative participative mechanism in view of the statutory bar on forming associations, which could meet at regular intervals wherein issues related to defence personnel could be discussed, reconciled and resolved by way of institutional representation.
By kind courtesy ofhttp://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/7th-pay-commission-anomalies-cpc-defence-personnel-army-punjab-haryana-high-court-3042743/
Thursday, September 15, 2016
By: Nitin A Gokhale
The current impasse over the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission award for thethree armed forces will be resolved soon, Raksha Mantri Manohar Parrikar has asserted.
Speaking to BharatShakti.in, Mr. Parrikar in his first public comments over the deadlock said: “I am aware of the anomalies and shortcomings in the award for the military. The Service Chiefs have also briefed me again. I have assured them that I am confident of resolving issues very soon,” he said in a brief chat this evening.
Mr Parrikar said the three Service Chiefs raising the issue with him is not being viewed as defiance. “I only told them that we care for the forces and all concerns raised by them will be addressed by taking them up with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister,” he added. The only way to find a solution to these issues is discussion, Mr Parrikar said. “The Service Chiefs know that I am using all the strength at my command to find a way out. You must understand that I got the gazette notification announcing the 7th Pay Commission amended to make sure the military retains its edge over the Central Armed Police Forces. Such a step has never been taken ( to amend a gazette notification),” he pointed out.
Although he refused to put a timeline for the resolution of the problems, the veryfact that the Raksha Mantri met the Prime Minister last night and is understood to have apprised him of the all the points demonstrates the seriousness with which the government is treating the issue. Unlike earlier times, the issues will be resolved without delay, Mr Parrikar said.
Asked why were these issues not resolved before the notification was issued, Mr.Parrikar pointed out that a cabinet notification cannot be corrected before it isnotified. “The anomalies committees are meant to correct the shortcomings,” he said.
He asserted that at least three of the four major anomalies over which the serviceHQs are perturbed will be taken care of very soon. They are: 1. The entry level pay suppression in the middle ranks; 2. Non-functional Upgrade (NFU) and 3. Enhancement of Military Service Pay (MSP) for JCOs.
Experts on Pay Commission issue say one way of overcoming the problem posed by no NFU to military personnel (an anomaly from the earlier Pay panel) is to grant a onetime notional NFU for pay scale fixation in the armed forces so as to maintain the equilibrium with other services.
Mr Parrikar pointed out that most of the other anomalies are also carried over from the earlier Pay Commissions and will have to be taken up in the two committees formed to resolve them.
The Raksha Mantri said he has asked the Service HQs to start implementing the benefits of the 7th Pay Commission to the troops as soon as possible. “The financial outgo of the corrections that will be made, is not likely to be more than Rs 600 crores and can be given out later, he said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nitin Gokhale has been a multimedia reporter since 1983. He has recently made a transition from being a full-time journalist to becoming an author, media trainer and researcher.
Monday, September 12, 2016
On Sunday, September 11, 2016, some news papers had prominently reported the decision of the three Service Chiefs not to accept the unjust award of the Seventh Pay Commission, as it pertains to the military. Others ignored this important news, either on account of a gag order or perhaps not to annoy the government, as the news does show how badly the politico-bureaucratic combine has treated the military!
This news reflects two important points. Firstly, it shows the government in very bad light indeed, and is actually a slur on the ability of the political leadership not to understand the extent of angst in all ranks of our military.
Secondly, it shows the resolve of the Chiefs to fight a highly unjust award, planned, written and implemented by the bureaucracy by taking a nod from the political leadership.
Secondly, it shows the resolve of the Chiefs to fight a highly unjust award, planned, written and implemented by the bureaucracy by taking a nod from the political leadership.
I want to congratulate the Chiefs for their principled stand, which they have taken for the good of all ranks of their commands. I doff my hat to you Sirs!
The Indian Military has been at the receiving end of unjust and even illegal decisions that our political leaders have thrust on the military, at the behest of the bureaucracy. There are many reasons for this state of affairs, but it will suffice to say that due to their naivety in the intricacies of governance, they have become marionettes to whatever the bureaucrats tell them. Sometimes I wonder whether ours is a democracy or a bureaucracy ruled oligarchy!
Besides the above, the bulk of current Members of Parliament (MP’s) are semi-literate, who have been elected only on account of money and muscle power and selling dreams to the gullible in the name of caste, creed and religion; as well as the much publicised ‘Jumlas’, which many in the current government have stated a number of times.
If memory serves me right, it was the venerable Finance Minister who uttered the word first; and then the party president followed on more than one occasion! In addition, with more talk and less implementation in most areas of governance, this government has already earned the sobriquet: “Jumla Sarkar”!
The result is all round ignorance of the bulk of MP’s in their ability to govern and falling back on the bureaucrats to make decisions on their behalf. Our Prime Minister, of course never tires of telling the nation in his speeches, which he delivers with gusto and panache, about how he will clean up the Augean Stables of the bureaucracy, but we are still to see any action or implementation in this regard..
The bureaucrats being clever, if not wily, have been taking the elected representatives of the people, who constitute the decision-making ‘Executive’ in accordance with our Constitution, for a right royal ride! The pity is that barring a few political leaders who understand the nuances of governance, the rest are mediocre, if not worse. These leaders belong to all political parties and the abrogation of their powers to the bureaucracy has steadily increased over the years and decades. A great pity indeed, especially for a nation that prides itself in its knowledge in all facets of life, not just governance for centuries.
The time has come for the nation to reflect on the treatment meted out to the most dynamic institution of the country – the Indian Military. The niche carved by the military’s selfless service has been an enduring example to the nation – always dependable, standing rock-like in the service of the nation and the people, and religiously adhering to the Chedwodian motto “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time …”.
While the bulk of the citizens have a great deal of love and respect for their military, the policies of various successive governments towards the military have ranged from ambivalence to downright antagonism. Has it served the nation well and how does the nation view it? Has it received the support of the various governments that have ruled the nation during the last 70 years and the people who had elected them? Have the aspirations of the Indian Military been met by successive governments?
The nation needs to and must know how the manipulating bureaucrats have tried their best not just to downgrade the military in all spheres but have made it hollow and indeed impotent! Strong words no doubt, but the time has come to say them openly.
Let me spell out how it has happened, for which the start point is our Independence in 1947.
Following Independence in 1947, organisational changes strengthened ‘civilian’ (meaning ‘political’) control over the military, which was fully accepted by the military hierarchy. This has continued for the last 70 years, even though there were many occasions when any other military would have revolted.
However, the ethos of the Indian Military; its training and discipline; its culture of loyalty; and above all its leadership, at the senior levels especially and also at other subordinate levels, acted with maturity and balance, averting ugly situations.
It is a great pity, however, that the government in power at that time and also later governments, egged on by the self-serving bureaucracy, misinterpreted their sacrifices as a sign of docility and weakness, not appreciating that it was all done in the national interest.
At Independence, the Indian Military had firmly believed that the new dispensation would be as fair as the last one, if not better, and the ‘System’ would take care of their concerns and aspirations, without their kowtowing to the new political leadership. Sadly, the bureaucracy did just the opposite and ingratiated themselves with the new leaders. Even then they were not satisfied, for their thirst for power and the filthy lucre was unending and continues to be so.
Over the years and decades, on account of the naivety of the political leaders, the bureaucrats have made themselves indispensable to the political leaders. Without going into any detailed explanations, it is quite obvious that the elected representatives of the people have steadily abrogated their responsibilities to the bureaucrats.
In the Fifth and Sixth Pay Commissions, their greed had reached new heights and the military, though extremely angry, again controlled itself and accepted the downgrading, though there was an obvious fall in morale. Again, instead of taking cognizance of it, as also the loyalty and incredible sacrifices of the armed forces and meeting their concerns, the various governments, including the present one, continued delaying the ‘anomalies’ on one pretext or the other.
With this background, it is no wonder that the three Chiefs have taken a very wise decision not to implement the heavily skewed dispensation between the military on the one hand and every other branch of government employees, from IAS, IFS, IPS and the so-called other Allied Class I Services to the other. The three Chiefs’ need to be congratulated for taking a principled stand against an unjust award, and doing so in such a mature and balanced manner.
It is the paramount duty of all military commanders to get the best for their commands and now the Chief’s have done so. I have no doubt that they would now be offered blandishments of all types, like more committees; ministerial interventions and even subtle threats, not to mention the usual ‘how much the nation needs you’ kind of words! They must desist and not fall for such ploys.
The Indian Army has been engaged in active operations on a sustained basis, since Independence, with only short periods of peace. These challenges have helped the Army to earn a formidable reputation of a force that delivers, usually against heavy odds. It will continue to fight the nation’s wars and conflicts, giving its best, but the nation must also support it to the maximum extent, meet its aspirations and restore its “izzat”, besides alleviating its concerns and misgivings.
Let me end by once again drawing the attention of our political leaders to the oft-quoted words of Chanakya; “The day a soldier has to demand his dues, is truly a sad day in the history of the nation”.
(The writer is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff)
By the kind courtesy : www.thecitizen.in
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Chiefs of Staff are likely to seek the intervention of the Prime Minister to get anomalies rectified
An implementation order on the Seventh Pay Commission for military personnel was issued by the Defence Ministry early this week. However, with key anomalies raised by the Services remaining unaddressed, the three Chiefs of Staff are likely to seek the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While the Seventh Pay Commission has been implemented for civilian government employees, the separate order required for the defence services was not issued as the Chiefs of Staff had written to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Mr. Modi over discrepancies that were not cleared by the empowered committee appointed to look into concerns.
“While the small concerns have been taken care of, the major concerns put forward have not been addressed,” sources in the defence services said.
The commission’s recommendations had disconcerted the Services as they were equated on a par with the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), which they said reduced their status. “The notification corrects the issue of parity,” one official said.
As per procedure, the three Services have to now issue individual service instructions. “The process is likely to take 15 to 20 days and the new salary would be reflected in this month’s salary,” the official added.
Service chiefs briefed
The three Chiefs of Staff were on Wednesday given detailed presentations on the implications of the implementation in its present form. While the exact course of action is yet to be finalised, the chiefs are likely to seek Mr. Modi’s intervention and have the issue addressed by the Group of Ministers (GoM).
“They will speak to Mr. Parrikar and are likely to write to Mr. Modi that the matter be taken up by the GoM,” sources said.
The service instructions are likely to be delayed till the issue is addressed. The Services are likely to ask the defence ministry to put the specific instructions on hold till the anomalies are sorted, sources added.
The services had on several occasions raised four key issues in addition to others, which they perceive reduce the status of the armed forces with respect to their civilian counterparts. These relate to the Non Functional Upgrade (NFU), NFU pay fixation, Military Service Pay (MSP) and the common pay matrix for civilian and military services.