Archive for April, 2012

1935 Vintage Veteran Addresses a Chief Designate …

Posted on April 28, 2012. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities, Searching for Success |

Dear General,

Accept my humble greetings on taking over the apex position of the Indian Army in the next two months.  I wish you many successes during your tenure to bring laurels to the country, the Defense Forces and to yourself.

You are about to take over onerous responsibility at a time when there is utter chaos on the political scene, absolute mistrust between aspirations of the Defence Forces and civil society led by ignorant, spineless politicians and scheming babus. By heading the most prestigious apolitical institution in the country, the people will naturally look at you as a Saviour should the country slide into a Banana Republic.

You are aware that right from the time of General Cariappa to the present (except during General Manekshaw’s tenure) the babus and politicians have kept gnawing at our status, emoluments and privileges of the Indian Army.  According to them we are no longer Class one gazetted officers but merely commissioned officers – commissioned to perform the duties of chowkidars for the nation.

And rightly so, they have used us for everything that goes wrong in the country. I will not be surprised if Delhi safaiwalas next go on strike, these babus will want us to clean the streets of Delhi and their toilets too. 

The Bard said: the fault is not with our stars but that we are underlings. 

While in service we live with military ethos viz esprit-de-corps, discipline, morale, nation first, not even any talk of politics, faith in our leaders and so on.  The reality dawns on us only when we retire between 35 and 50 and face civil life. A new chapter, with meagre pension, heavy personal responsibilities staring at us and being unable to find any job bar a dignified security officer/guard.

Such a disciplined force is left to the mercy of civil society for whom we are butts of jokes – at our discipline and clean approach to whatever we undertake.

You will be joining this conglomeration of wasted veterans in another 30 to 36 months.  Before you join us please visit some veterans, disabled war veterans and/or their widows in your family (if you know any) to get first hand experience of veterans and their problems.

At the start we had stalwarts as our national leaders. The constitution has been mauled, stalwarts have been replaced by pygmies of questionable antecedents, nincompoops with criminal backgrounds and many Angootha Chaps – as Lincoln observed, “Peuple get the Govt they deserve”.

Such leaders naturally depend upon babus, who are actually their backbone. This combination is busy making hay while the sunshines and are the prime reason why no electoral reforms can be made to clean up the deteriorating system.  We now salute babus too in addition to the politicians.

No one cares about the Defence Forces because their leaders have been hypnotised with a narcotic called ‘gajjar’. Babus have usurped the Keys of the Kingdom and they select only those who are the ‘gajjar’ eating class. And you have been part of the system and are now going to head it.

Every leader is unique and you have your strengths and weaknesses different from your predecessors. You have your dreams and ideals to lead one of the largest and finest forces in the world. I do not know how you are going to leave your stamp on the history of this mighty force – as a gajjar eating non entity or a leader of substance.

I will not blame you if you prefer to follow the gajjar because, after all, you are a product of the existing degenerating system.

Sir, you will be in your seat to ensure the security of this nation both against external and internal threats. The Nation will know you as a man standing against our external threats. The politicians and babus will utilize you for their own selfish, petty ends.

You are expected to keep an eye on the enemy but a blind eye and closed mouth shut against the internal systemic failures – whose effect largely falls on your shoulders.

Should you be a dumb spectator damaging national integrity?  Have you no role to guard us from external threat and internal disorder??? Must you remain subjugated to their ‘mehrbani’ and let the nation go to down the drain?

This is the thought you need to contemplate upon. Should you remain a silent spectator or actively advise erring politicians and babus?
Why should you not periodically give your opinion on the state of the nation so that it goes out both as a piece of advice as well as warning?

If you need to regain our ‘izzat’, then remember Iqbal who said: Khudi ko kar buland itna. The word ‘courage’ takes different connotation when you are at an elevated position.

Veterans have their own mind and grievances against the establishment led by babus. You be the judge and discover yourself the cause of all the hullabaloo raised by veterans and decide whether you have the character and courage to work for the mitigation of their miseries. Remember veterans in our beloved country are the children of the lesser gods, without any ‘mai-baap’.

Some Generals feel talking to veterans is a negative and they risk losing in the rat race. Even the so called Supreme Commander has abandoned them. The Apex court is only a spectator after giving favourable judgments.

In such circumstances what must veterans do to find a place under the sun after all their rigours and sacrifices? The cries of veterans for justice may be mere bleats but God forbid if the nation has to bear the brunt of their roar!!!And then, like all other national problems of political and babugiri origin, this one too may fall in your lap. And you will be like Arjun in Mahabharata struggling with his own conscience and there will be no Krishna to advise.

These random and disjointed thoughts from an old veteran are for your consideration before and during the occupation of the exalted chair.

You need to understand your role on the national scene with regard to the Defense Forces for internal security, bringing parity between Defence Forces and Civil Services, focusing off and on, on the neglected tribe of veterans and appointing yourself as Colonel Commandant for them.

Veteran Ram Gulrajani (1935 vintage).

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AUNG SAN SUU KYI … Her Personal Story

Posted on April 27, 2012. Filed under: Personalities |

 The Story of Aung San Suu Kyi, who went from devoted housewife to Champion of Democracy in her native Burma, is told in a new film whose Producer gives these touching details. 

When I began to research a screenplay about Aung San Suu Kyi four years ago, I wasn’t expecting to uncover one of the great love stories of our time. Yet what emerged was a tale so romantic – and yet so heartbreaking – it sounded more like a pitch for a Hollywood weepie: an exquisitely beautiful but reserved girl from the East meets a handsome and passionate young man from the West.

For Michael Aris the story is a coup de foudre, and he eventually proposes to Suu amid the snow-capped mountains of Bhutan, where he has been employed as tutor to its royal family. For the next 16 years, she becomes his devoted wife and a mother-of-two, until quite by chance she gets caught up in politics on a short trip to Burma, and never comes home. Tragically, after 10 years of campaigning to try to keep his wife safe, Michael dies of cancer without ever being allowed to say goodbye.

I also discovered that the reason no one was aware of this story was because Dr Michael Aris had gone to great lengths to keep Suu’s family out of the public eye. It is only because their sons are now adults – and Michael is dead – that their friends and family feel the time has come to speak openly, and with great pride, about the unsung role he played.

The daughter of a great Burmese hero, General Aung San, who was assassinated when she was only two, Suu was raised with a strong sense of her father’s unfinished legacy. In 1964 she was sent by her diplomat mother to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford, where her guardian, Lord Gore-Booth, introduced her to Michael. He was studying history at Durham but had always had a passion for Bhutan – and in Suu he found the romantic embodiment of his great love for the East. But when she accepted his proposal, she struck a deal: if her country should ever need her, she would have to go. And Michael readily agreed.

For the next 16 years, Suu Kyi was to sublimate her extraordinary strength of character and become the perfect housewife. When their two sons, Alexander and Kim, were born she became a doting mother too, noted for her punctiliously well-organised children’s parties and exquisite cooking. Much to the despair of her more feminist friends, she even insisted on ironing her husband’s socks and cleaning the house herself.

Then one quiet evening in 1988, when her sons were 12 and 14, as she and Michael sat reading in Oxford, they were interrupted by a phone call to say Suu’s mother had had a stroke.

She at once flew to Rangoon for what she thought would be a matter of weeks, only to find a city in turmoil. A series of violent confrontations with the military had brought the country to a standstill, and when she moved into Rangoon Hospital to care for her mother, she found the wards crowded with injured and dying students. Since public meetings were forbidden, the hospital had become the centre-point of a leaderless revolution, and word that the great General’s daughter had arrived spread like wildfire.

When a delegation of academics asked Suu to head a movement for democracy, she tentatively agreed, thinking that once an election had been held she would be free to return to Oxford again. Only two months earlier she had been a devoted housewife; now she found herself spearheading a mass uprising against a barbaric regime.

In England, Michael could only anxiously monitor the news as Suu toured Burma, her popularity soaring, while the military harassed her every step and arrested and tortured many of her party members. He was haunted by the fear that she might be assassinated like her father. And when in 1989 she was placed under house arrest, his only comfort was that it at least might help keep her safe.

Michael now reciprocated all those years Suu had devoted to him with a remarkable selflessness of his own, embarking on a high-level campaign to establish her as an international icon that the military would never dare harm. But he was careful to keep his work inconspicuous, because once she emerged as the leader of a new democracy movement, the military seized upon the fact that she was married to a foreigner as a basis for a series of savage – and often sexually crude – slanders in the Burmese press.

For the next five years, as her boys were growing into young men, Suu was to remain under house arrest and kept in isolation. She sustained herself by learning how to meditate, reading widely on Buddhism and studying the writings of Mandela and Gandhi. Michael was allowed only two visits during that period. Yet this was a very particular kind of imprisonment, since at any time Suu could have asked to be driven to the airport and flown back to her family.

But neither of them ever contemplated her doing such a thing. In fact, as a historian, even as Michael agonised and continued to pressurise politicians behind the scenes, he was aware she was part of history in the making. He kept on display the book she had been reading when she received the phone call summoning her to Burma. He decorated the walls with the certificates of the many prizes she had by now won, including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. And above his bed he hung a huge photograph of her.

Inevitably, during the long periods when no communication was possible, he would fear Suu might be dead, and it was only the odd report from passers-by who heard the sound of her piano-playing drifting from the house that brought him peace of mind. But when the south-east Asian humidity eventually destroyed the piano, even this fragile reassurance was lost to him.

Then, in 1995, Michael quite unexpectedly received a phone call from Suu. She was ringing from the British embassy, she said. She was free again! Michael and the boys were granted visas and flew to Burma. When Suu saw Kim, her younger son, she was astonished to see he had grown into a young man. She admitted she might have passed him in the street. But Suu had become a fully politicised woman whose years of isolation had given her a hardened resolve, and she was determined to remain in her country, even if the cost was further separation from her family.

The journalist Fergal Keane, who has met Suu several times, describes her as having a core of steel. It was the sheer resilience of her moral courage that filled me with awe as I wrote my screenplay for The Lady. The first question many women ask when they hear Suu’s story is how she could have left her children. Kim has said simply: “She did what she had to do.” Suu Kyi herself refuses to be drawn on the subject, though she has conceded that her darkest hours were when “I feared the boys might be needing me”.

That 1995 visit was the last time Michael and Suu were ever allowed to see one another. Three years later, he learnt he had terminal cancer. He called Suu to break the bad news and immediately applied for a visa so that he could say goodbye in person. When his application was rejected, he made over 30 more as his strength rapidly dwindled. A number of eminent figures – among them the Pope and President Clinton – wrote letters of appeal, but all in vain. Finally, a military official came to see Suu. Of course she could say goodbye, he said, but to do so she would have to return to Oxford.

The implicit choice that had haunted her throughout those 10 years of marital separation had now become an explicit ultimatum: your country or your family. She was distraught. If she left Burma, they both knew it would mean permanent exile – that everything they had jointly fought for would have been for nothing. Suu would call Michael from the British embassy when she could, and he was adamant that she was not even to consider it.

When I met Michael’s twin brother, Anthony, he told me something he said he had never told anyone before. He said that once Suu realised she would never see Michael again, she put on a dress of his favourite colour, tied a rose in her hair, and went to the British embassy, where she recorded a farewell film for him in which she told him that his love for her had been her mainstay. The film was smuggled out, only to arrive two days after Michael died.

For many years, as Burma’s human rights record deteriorated, it seemed the Aris family’s great self-sacrifice might have been in vain. Yet in recent weeks the military have finally announced their desire for political change.

And Suu’s 22-year vigil means she is uniquely positioned to facilitate such a transition – if and when it comes – exactly as Mandela did so successfully for South Africa.

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English Pronunciation …

Posted on April 24, 2012. Filed under: Searching for Success |

IF YOU CAN PRONOUNCE CORRECTLY EVERY WORD IN THIS POEM, YOU SPEAK ENGLISH BETTER THAN 98% OF THE WORLD’S ENGLISH SPEAKERS.

Dearest creature in creation, Study English pronunciation.

I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.

Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.

And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.

River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.

Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.

Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?

Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.

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CHARISMA … Better term is Personal Magnetism!

Posted on April 6, 2012. Filed under: Personal Magnetism, Uncategorized |

There is this article on ‘CHARISMA’ with emphasis on Jedi Mind Tricks’

http://www.fastcompany.com/1826514/cultivating-charisma-how-personal-magnetism-can-help-or-hurt-you-at-work

Evidently a book on the subject has also been published.

This here Post holds a diametrically opposite stance. Here follow our considered beliefs on this little researched subject -which most certainly does not depend upon jedi mind tricks!

Let it be stated at the very outset that personal magnetism or charisma,  is a synonym for self control. All persons who seem to be blessed with personal magnetism always retain mastery over themselves in all circumstances. This is their most distinguishing quality.

They seem to have perfect control over mind and body. They never wear their hearts on their sleeves. It seems that they are masters over themselves as well as over outside events.

Hence it follows that personal magnetism is directly dependent upon the amount of intelligent direction which the mind may give to the entire body – the physical, mental and nervous aspects. Moods and feelings will then appear as slaves and not as masters.

There are a large number of areas which need attention and this even includes what we eat since that affects the body no end.

Personal Magnetism is hence an essence, a quality,  an endowment that comes and goes at will. It is only influenced and controlled by one’s mind and moods. It may however be held within one self by accidental habits which preclude the leaking of one’s vital physical, mental and nervous energies.

Magnetism depends on our moods and feelings. These may control us or we may control them.

Personal magnetism is more or less fleeting in weak characters who lack control over self. One needs to give attention to one’s physical aspect, to ones mind and how it functions and to ones feelings which may be controlled or  be controlling.

Another aspect that needs to be given attention is one’s voice which may itself  attract or repel.

Note Disraeli’s observation that the surest index of character is the voice!

More by and by.


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How the Defense Services in India get their weapons and equipment needs …

Posted on April 5, 2012. Filed under: From a Services Career |

This is from an article by Major General (retired) Mrinal Suman of the Ordnance Corps of the Indian Army.

The bureaucracy has stifling control over the entire procurement process and its reluctance to delegate authority to the Services. Old bureaucratic mindsets and penchant for status-quoism promote inertia. As their approach continues to be entrenched in procedural quagmire, the process suffers from indifference, apathy, inefficiency and lassitude.

The current procurement procedure, for instance, is so time-consuming and complex that it takes a minimum of 36 months even for a routine purchase to materialise. Every proposal is subjected to repeated reviews and approvals. Every approval means months of delays.

The case of the Tactical Communication System (TCS) is symptomatic of the malaise. A proposal to acquire TCS to handle communication requirements (voice, data and video) of a field force in the Tactical Battle Area was initiated in 1996. Initially, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) ordered that it be considered as an upgrade of the existing system. In 2001, after wasting five years in processing it as such, MoD ordered that it should be considered a new procurement. Then, MoD approved import of the first two systems, with the rest to be produced inIndiawith imported technology. The case was still under process when MoD changed its stand yet again in 2007 and decided that TCS would be developed indigenously. Result: The whole process had to be started afresh. Nearly 16 years have elapsed, the MoD is yet to finalise who should be asked to develop and supply the TCS.

The Blacklisting Syndrome

Every time a corruption charge is made, the Indian government resorts to a familiar routine: blacklist foreign arms vendors without considering how it could hurt our own military preparedness. When the Bofors gun scandal broke out in 1986, the then Swedish gun-maker still got to sell us the 410 gun systems we paid for, but the government’s ban on the company when allegations of kickbacks were made only deprivedIndiaof the transfer of technology which, too, had been contracted for. Result:Indiastill cannot produce 155-mm guns, and we are again looking for a big foreign buy today – with the same drama of kickbacks and blacklisting playing out all over again.

Discussions were in final stages with Denel of South Africa for 155-mm howitzers when it emerged that Denel had employed unacceptable means to win another contract for the supply of NTW-20 Anti-Material Rifles. MoD blacklisted Denel in 2005 and cancelled all orders.

The case of HDW makes for instructive reading. A contract was signed with the German firm in 1981. HDW delivered two submarines in 1987 and two more were assembled inIndiain due course. As allegations of kickbacks became public, the government blacklisted HDW, only to deprive ourselves of maintenance support, upgrades and development of indigenous skills.

To this day, the government has learnt no lesson. It recently debarred six more companies, including Israel Military Industries (IMI) and Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK), for a period of 10 years.

By banning Bofors, Denel and now STK, Indiahas virtually eliminated most of the major manufacturers of 155-mm guns in the world, thereby making procurement of these guns in the foreseeable future improbable. Similarly,India’s quest for indigenous production of heavy-calibre ammunition for 155-mm howitzers has suffered a serious setback. By cancelling contracts signed with Denel and IMI for technology transfer, hundreds of crores of rupees spent in setting up the factory have gone down the drain, and dependence on imports continues.

The DPSU Stranglehold

The Army Chief’s allegation that he was offered a Rs 14-crore bribe to sign off on an order for Tatra trucks – heavy-duty vehicles that have been supplied to the Army for over 25 years — has opened a Pandora’s box, throwing a harsh light on defence PSUs, most of which are nothing more than the official importers and traders of foreign equipment, despite being mandated to obtain technology from the vendors and indigenise production.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Consider the Chief’s even more serious complaint that the Army does not have ammunition for tanks and artillery. There are 39 ordnance factories and nine defence public sector undertakings under the MoD. With the armed forces as their captive customer, they are assured of continuous flow of orders. They thrive on assembly of imported sub-assemblies and thereafter selling them to the helpless services at a huge premium. Additionally, they indulge in pure trading activities wherein they import equipment, carry out minimal value addition and pass it on to the services at unethically high profits. Neither the country gains technologically nor the services get equipment at economic rates. Yet, the services are given only one option: “take whatever the public sector offers or do without it”.

In all import deals where transfer of technology is negotiated, the nominated recipient is always a public sector unit. Unfortunately, the received technology is never used as a springboard to develop indigenous competence. No one should be surprised that the armed forces are saddled with mediocre and outdated equipment.

DRDO’s Failures

Its glossy brochures notwithstanding, the record of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been one of tall promises, false claims, unexplained delays and sub-optimal products. In over 50 years, DRDO has not developed a single major equipment in the promised time-frame and conforming to the required parameters.

With 51 laboratories, 5,000 scientists and over 25,000 support personnel, the only success DRDO has to its credit relates to replication of some imported products (commonly called “reverse engineering” and “indigenisation”). Even if the DRDO is able to make some progress in a few cases, it is always done with major compromises on qualitative requirements. The services are forced to accept sub-optimal equipment.

No equipment can be imported unless DRDO gives the go-ahead by accepting its inability to develop the product in the necessary timeframe. On numerous occasions, the services have been denied urgently required equipment because of DRDO’s exaggerated claims. In 1997, for instance,Indiawas on the verge of importing Weapon Locating Radars (WLR) when DRDO intervened to scuttle the deal with claims that it would develop and produce them in two years. The Indian Army went into the Kargil conflict without WLR and suffered many casualties because it could not locate and neutralise Pakistani artillery effectively. Unsurprisingly, DRDO has not been able to produce WLR to date. There are numerous such cases.

Equipped by the Ill-equipped

Any procedure is only as good as the people who operate it. Defence procurements inIndiaare handled by officials drawn from the services and the bureaucracy. They are not selected for any special educational qualification or demonstrated capability or displayed flair. They are posted to acquisition appointments in routine turn over.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has commented adversely on the system of acquisitions being handled by unspecialised personnel who are posted for short tenures. CAG emphasised that defence acquisition is a cross-disciplinary activity requiring expertise in technology, military, finance, quality assurance, market research, contract management, project management, administration and policy making. Unfortunately, the current setup possesses none of those competencies. Defence procurements worth billions of dollars are being carried out by people ill-equipped for the task.

The Way Forward

As an emerging economic and military power,Indiamust possess armed forces that can guarantee security of its interests in a dynamic geo-political environment. For this, it must be ensured that the military is well-equipped at all times through regular induction of newer weapon systems.

But, can we call ourselves a Superpower on the strength of imported weapon systems? Self-reliance in defence production is vital.

But that’s a goal that’s as distant as ever. In the early 1990s, MoD declared that it would buy 70 per cent of defence equipment from indigenous sources within 10 years. Then, the deadline was extended to 2010. All the initiatives have failed utterly. We continue to import 70 per cent of defence goods.
India is set to spend at least $120 billion over the next 10-15 years on defence buys. It is estimated that an efficient acquisition system can save it upto 15 per cent — or $18 billion – in initial purchase price and associated life-cycle costs while getting modern equipment on time. What we need is a thorough overhaul of the system.


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Bribes and Babus …

Posted on April 5, 2012. Filed under: From a Services Career |

THE BRIBE AND THE BABU
Omesh Saigal is a 1st class engineering graduate (1962) from IIT, Kharagpur 
and an IAS of 1964 batch.
Whether General V K Singh’s sudden public revelation of the bribe offer, a year and a half after it was made, was the deft move of an ex-commando or the innocent protest against civilian apathy of a third generation soldier…. well, let future historians decide. For me, though, it is a bold effort of a person who stands for probity and honesty and, maybe, it is a blow against the ‘consultants’ and middlemen ridden world into which the bureaucrat has to tread. I wish I had shown just a part of his courage when confronted with a similar situation.
I had just cleared my files as in walked an Member of Parliament who, though then in the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, earlier represented Delhi, a state where I had spent the bulk of my working years. It was soon clear that he was here to request for postponement of an order for embossing a certain statutory warning on cola bottles, which, if implemented, would cost several crores of rupees to his bottling company. “We met the minister”, he declared, “he is clear that he will do as advised by you.” His statement did not surprise me; a minister is supposed to be guided by the departmental secretary. What he said next took my goat. “How much do you think the minister will want?” he asked suddenly. It was all so matter of fact that I didn’t even think there was something amiss. “Why don’t you ask his private secretary?” was my simple retort. For a moment he may have been taken aback but soon he quipped. “Okay, Mr Saigal….tell me how much do you want?”
My response, though instant, was quite different from the General’s ‘Get out’ reaction. I sprung up in my seat: “Slap me as hard as you can, Mr….!” And, before the taken-aback MP could react, I went on: “That will cause me less pain than your query.” With just a moment’s respite, I went on: “With my retirement just a couple of months away, I was happy in the thought that at least I could spend my old age narrating stories about my integrity and probity and the fact this was appreciated and accepted by all. But, sir, you have shattered that dream. I have nothing left to count now but my meagre retirement benefits, that won’t even buy me a two-bedroom flat in Faridabad.”
I salute the solder in General Singh for having the guts to disclose a fact like this while still in service because I have been able to do so only now, a full 10 years into my retirement.
The relationship between the Babu and Bribe has always been intimate, almost like the left hand to the right. My father, who joined the imperial services way back in the Twenties of the last century, often joked: “The corrupt person is a ‘dohathad’ (two-handed)… he takes his salary with the right and uses the left to collect the balai money (bribe).”
In the ‘good’ old days the bribe was really of the nature of bakshish, a voluntary payment by the beneficiary. Even the British had found a way to ‘reward’ officers who spent almost their entire lives honestly serving the king and country. Just a few years before their retirement, they were seconded to the political service and appointed as agents in one of the princely states. It was a tradition to give dalis during Christmas. Naturally, the dali had to measure up to the ruler’s self perception and meant a substantial pre-retirement bonus for the officer.
Both the balai and the dali had one thing in common: they were voluntary. And that was essentially the nature of bribes that babus took. I found this early in my career, during my first posting in Hamirpur, UP. During tea with the SDO of the PWD, he had a visitor. Hardly any words were exchanged and the chap left leaving a few hundred rupee notes on the table. “Did he owe you the money?” I queried. “No, no”, quick came the reply; “this is my consultancy fee”.  Seeing the puzzled look on my face, he continued: “You know the doctor, sees your pulse, tells you the medicine…and you pay him. Same with the lawyer….”. “But what advise did you give him?” I asked, still not clear what he meant. “Arre what else… I told him how to get his bill passed and to seamlessly get the cheque.”
It is not that all people who made balai were ‘consultants’. The SDO himself narrated the case of an engineer who cheats on cement and steel. “You know what happened to him?” The SDO confided. “A bridge made by him fell down and he is still serving a jail sentence!” He himself never let such events cloud his ‘consultancy’.
Another version of the ‘consultant’ was the babu in Akbar’s court who refuses to give up his corrupt ways even after umpteen transfers from one job to another. A not very amused emperor orders his transfer to the farther most corners of the empire. His duty: count the waves. It is not funny how he converted this too into a money making venture by not letting ships come in (of course without paying) as it would disturb the waves he was counting.
This guy may have thought of himself as a genius but he had yet to reckon with the 2G guys of our time. At least he could see the waves; the latter, who probably made more money than Akbar himself, was dealing with a much more invisible and insubstantial entity.
Whether the changeover from dali-balai to multi crore scams was seamless or can be pinned on a particular person or persons, there is no doubt the old order has changed and has yielded place to the new. The new order has given a new meaning to the word ‘consultant’, a meaning that will shake the old Hamirpur SDO out of his dhoti.
Whatever the consultant may appear on paper or through is CV, he is nothing but a middleman, an agent. His job is to get the contract awarded and then execute it through third parties….after retaining a substantial cut for himself and, of course, for the babu who facilitated his ‘consultancy’ in the first place.
The consultants have made it big now. In fact so big that they walk into offices of highly placed functionaries as was done in my case by the MP and in the case of the General by a highly ranked retired officer of the services. If Anna Hazare has made a big mark by pointing out to the need of reining in the babu through the aegis of the Lokpal,General Singh has sounded a powerful cautionary note to the babu to beware of the army of touts and agents, whatever they may call themselves.
Apart from whatever he may have done in the Rajput Regiment, this will be the greatest service the General has done to promote probity in the bureaucracy.
Omesh Saigal is former chief secretary, Delhi and secretary to Government of India. 
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SAM BAHADUR – Finally, Govt shows him some respect …

Posted on April 5, 2012. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

Now at last at a special ceremony at the Zoroastrian Parsi Cemetary at Ooty in the Nilgiris, India’s first Field Marshal (who won INDIA its  first ever military victory in a thousand years)  Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, will be commemorated by laying a gravestone on his grave which lies  next to that of his wife, Siloo.

At long last some amends for the shameful manner when no National or other honor was accorded the Field Marshal when he died on June 27, 2008 in the Military Hospital in Wellington Nilgiris in South India,  the Defense Minister, Shri AK Antony will attend the ceremonies along with Chief of Army Staff, the President of the Gorkha Brigade (who is from Sam’s own 8 Gorkha Rifles) and other senior officers from the Navy and Air Force.

“This is a very private occasion but the Army has been kind to help us with the military ceremonial which my father always relished,” said Maja Daruwalla, younger daughter of Sam and Siloo.

Sam’s gravestone bears the inscription: “It is a Life Well Lived” with Siloo’s reading “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds”. The combined inscriptions encapsulate their lives — well lived and which spread goodwill.

The Indian Government was niggardly in recognizing Sam’s unprecedented achievements. Stemming the rot in 4 Corps after the catastrophic debacle of 1962, Sam had announced, “Gentlemen, there will be no more withdrawals”. He later stumped the Chinese in the Eastern Sector when as Army Commander he allowed the big guns to open up when Col Rai Singh of the Grenadiers took a no nonsense stance against the Chinese antics.  Of course thereafter he comprehensively won India, its greatest ever victory in 1971.

Mrs Indira Gandhi  made Sam, India’s first ever Field Marshal after sending him home without any laurels or recognition. This was again against the wishes of  Defense Minister Jagjivan Ram and the bureaucracy. They had earlier turned down the proposal for awarding him the Bharat Ratna. Later even Mrs Gandhi did not go through with making him the Chief of the Defense Staff .

He went home unsung and without ceremony. Such was the jealousy he aroused that it is rumored that officers were forbidden to see him off at the Raikway Station when he boarded his special train to Coimbatore.

The Government’s loss was the corporate world’s gain. He was on the board of a dozen private companies like Britannia, Bombay/Burma, Harrison Malyalam, Nagarjuna Fertilisers and the Oberoi Group. A charismatic personality with a gift of the gab made the Field Marshal – Sam Bahadur to his Gorkhas who were with him as long as he lived and when he died in Coonoor – much loved and adored by the general public.

He had won his Military Cross in the Battle of Sittang in 1942; So spectacular was his action that the GOC 17 Infantry Division Maj Gen Punch Cowan, thinking his wounds were fatal, pinned his own MC on Sam’s chest. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1968 and after 1971, Padma Vibhushan. The Padma series of awards for the military was soon stopped on the advice of the bureaucracy.

His lectures on leadership are stuff of legend and laced with illustrations from his career and peppered with humour. Some famous punch lines –

“My trouble is, I have too much energy and I don’t know what to do with it”.

“I keep thanking the almighty for making me a man and not a woman. If I’d been a woman, since I cannot say no, I would have always been in trouble.”

: “Whoever says he knows no fear is either lying or a Gorkha.”

Two years from now, Sam would have turned 100. If anyone deserves a Bharat Ratna, it is Sam with his well lived life.

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INDIA as seen by an eminent Mind …

Posted on April 3, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Nani Palkhiwala was the eminent jurist cum finance guru who was Lord of ACC , a TATA fiefd0m. His take on the annual Budget Speech, several score years ago was used to be more eagerly awaited than the Budget Speech itself. 

Here is what he wrote on INDIA on Jan 16, 1984. The picture that emerges is that of a great country in a state of moral decay. The immediate future seems to belong to the doomsayers rather than to cheer mongers. 

We suffer from a fatty degeneration of conscience and the malady seems to be not only persistent but prone to aggravation. 

The life style of too many politicians and businessmen bears eloquent testimony to the truth of dictum that the single minded pursuit of money impoverishes the mind, shrivels the imagination and desiccates the heart.

The tricolour fluttering all over the country is black, red and scarlet – Black money, Red tape and Scarlet corruption.

With a personal apology to all dogs –

My dog sleeps about 20 hours a day. He has his food prepared for him. He can eat whenever he wants, 24/7/365. His meals are provided at no cost to him. By the way he does not need to pay for medical insurance He visits the doctor once a year for his checkup, and again during the year if any medical needs arise.

For this he pays nothing, and nothing is required of him. He lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than he needs, but he is not required to do any upkeep. If he makes a mess, someone else cleans it up. He has his choice of luxurious places to sleep. He receives these accommodations absolutely free.

He is living like a King and has absolutely no expenses whatsoever.
All of his costs are picked up by others who go out and earn a living every day. 
I was just thinking about all this and suddenly it hit me like a brick in the head –That is the description of the Indian POLITICIAN!

Btw this is what Charles D’ Gaule had to say –  “The more I see of men, the more I like dogs”.


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Chanayakya Addresses his King …

Posted on April 3, 2012. Filed under: Guide Posts, Indian Thought, Personalities |

O’ KING, 
.
The Mauryan soldier does not the Royal treasuries enrich nor the Royal granaries fill. 
He does not carry out trade and commerce nor produce scholars, litérateurs, artistes, artisans, sculptors, architects, craftsmen, doctors and administrators. 
He does not build roads and ramparts nor dig wells and reservoirs. 
He does not do any of this directly.
 .
The soldier merely ensures that the tax, tribute and revenue collectors travel forth and return safely. 
That the farmer tills, harvests, stores and markets his produce unafraid of pillage. 
The trader, merchant and financier function and travel across the length and breadth of the realm unmolested. 
The savant, sculptor, maestro and mentor create works of art, literature, philosophy and astrology in quietitude.   
The architect designs and builds his Vaastus without tension. 
The tutor and the priest teach and preach in peace. The rishis meditate in wordless silence.
The doctor invents cures and medicines undisturbed. The mason and bricklayer work unhindered.
The mother and the wife go about their chores and bring up children in harmony and tranquility.
The cattle graze freely without being lifted or stolen.
.
Pataliputra reposes each night in peaceful comfort, O King, secure in the belief that the distant borders of Magadha are inviolate and the interiors are safe and secure, thanks to the Mauryan Army standing vigil with naked swords and eyes watching, day and night, in weather fair and foul, all eight praharas (round the clock), unmindful of discomfort and hardship, all through the year, year after year.
.
While the citizenry of the State contribute to see that the State prospers and flourishes, the soldier Guarantees that it continues to EXIST as a State! 

To this man, O Rajadhiraja, you owe a debt. 

Therefore, see to it on your own, that the soldier continuously gets his dues in every form and respect, be they his needs or his wants, for he is not likely to ask for them himself.

The day the soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha. For then, on that day, you will have lost all moral sanction to be King!”

Kautilya – Better known as Chanakya

 
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