Archive for June, 2013

Spirit of the IAF …

Posted on June 28, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

By Gp Capt Unni Kartha (Retd). It is believed that the Army Commander left behind at the Assam Rifles post was none other than Lt Gen J F R Jacob. 

The dark, ominous, thunder heads had been rising from the depths of Subansary valley all morning. The orographic winds pushed them up the slopes and the impetus helped it to climb higher and higher till the cataclysmic thermodynamics of thunder clouds unleashed enough energy to help them climb unrestricted to unimaginable height, hell bent on destruction around Mechukaa. I was in the middle of it.

After waiting for several hours, I had got airborne from Dinjan in a Mil Mi-4, on a bad weather day, to take the Army Cdr on a recce of the Chinese border. He had other preoccupations and hence I got airborne close to 1100 hrs, something which we had been told not to do – due to bad weather and turbulence in the hills after 1200 hrs.

The Eastern Air Force, those days, was a different sort of IAF, much like the CIA operations in Lagos, a decade earlier, except that we did neither gun running nor dope peddling like the CIA. We were very socially useful and productive fellows.

Most of the guys in Chabua were either the ones who had failed the promotion exams, or were the guys on punishment posting – the guys that the IAF did not want to have around in any self respecting squadron.

Chabua was therefore the best self respecting places to be. SOPs were made just for the pleasure of breaking the rules. Anyway – to continue my story – that day we went from place to place on the whim of the Army Cdr, who seemed to be enjoying himself at my expense. He kept dilly dallying at each whistle stop and as the day went by, we got hemmed in by the line squall while we were deep in the hills.

Flying in bad weather was nothing new to me – in those years I was compulsively drawn to it. It was exhilarating, the most adventurous thing that I could do at the age of 26. As usual, I dumped collective, descended to the deck, with the Mi-4 wheels touching the Subansary river, more like driving a Jonga than flying an airplane.

I zig zagged along the river, acutely aware of a theorem propounded by my earlier Stn Cdr (Vir Narain). I whistled the morbid tune, taught to me by a navigator friend – it was called˜point of no return”. The Mi-4 was one hell of a helicopter to fly. In due course, we braved the weather and got out of the hills, to my recollection, around 1600 hrs, about 45 minutes before sunset.

That is when I heard James Palapura on the radio. James was overhead Tezpur in a MiG-21 acting like an airborne FAC coordinating search and rescue over Dulanmukh range. I heard arguments, between a Caribou, Chetak and James. The sensible guys in the Caribou and Chetak were calling off the search and going home due to impending bad weather and darkness. James was trying to order them back. I had no business to go anywhere other than directly east, back to Chabua, and get the Army Cdr off my back. Yet, curiosity overwhelmed me.

James Sir, I called on the radio. Who punched out?, I asked. Kempy, he said promptly, and gave me a quick rundown. It seemed Kempy (then Flt Lt Deviah, a course mate) had punched out from a Gnat earlier that morning over Dulanmukh after he got hit by ricochet and the engine flamed out. None saw him punch out, none noted where the aircraft went down. The place as you guys know is thick jungle, with crazy wild animals.

Just then my radio quit. That was not unusual. It was unusual if the radio ever worked in a Mi-4. We were quite used to flying the Mil Mi-4 without radio, without navigational aids of any kind, without anything known or popular in aeronautics, all except a wing and a prayer.

I went into a tizzy – sudden rush of shit to the brain. I was beset by a moral dilemma. Do I pretend not to have heard about Kempy ? Do I leave him there in the jungle and go home ? Do I rationalize that I had no business to get involved ? Do I make excuses that I had the Army Cdr on board ? Do I make an excuse that it was going to be sun set, that the weather was bad, that I was about 40 miles north and headed in the wrong direction ?

God, I didnt even know if Kempy was dead or alive. ˜Oh God, my CO will make mince meat out of me, I said to myself. No I did not bring God in between and I did not consult with him either. I went mind dead for about four minutes while I contemplated the odds. In the fifth minute, I turned around and went back to a clearing near Passighat which I had over flown about ten minutes earlier. I went and landed on a volley ball court next to some tents and without switching off, I ordered the Army Cdr out.

He was dumbfounded, at a loss for words. But when they came, he let them fly at me – alternating between request, order, court martial, pleading and jostling.

Actually he was a very fine man, a person I held in great awe. So I reasoned with him – Course mate down, Sir – I said in clipped military parlance. He needs me – I told him with finality. You are the Tiger, the army is here, and they will take care of you, I think I told him. Kempy is down there, I got to go before the Tigers get to him.

I think the Army Cdr made a request to take him along. I think I did not want to take him along lest I endanger his life. It is possible that I left him behind out of spite, for making me wait at all the places where we went and making me go through bad weather. I don’t remember. It is quite possible. I was very young and impetuous.

Any way I then headed full throttle for Dulanmukh range. It was almost sun set by the time I reached there. I had to ask someone the general direction in which Kempy went down. I went and landed in front of the RSO€s hut and a WO ran out. He quickly pointed out the general direction and I was off the ground in a jiffy.

The jungles reek a musty smell as the sun begins to set. I noticed it because I was at tree top height flying with both side doors wide open. There was total green cover, thick foliage. I looked for a fire, broken branches, silvery flash of the Gnats fuselage or wings, a parachute, smoke, anything to indicate a crash site. There was nothing.

I did not know where to go looking. I did mental DR, 1/60 rule, calisthenics to try and figure out where Kempy may have crashed.

Over the whirring sound of the rotor, I had caught only snatches of what the WO had told me at the range. He had said something about cross wind. Yes, he had said that Kempy had ejected on the cross wind. That meant close by. James in his zealous enthusiasm had misdirected the search and others had gone looking for Kempy far and wide and had missed him.

I flew over a large patch of open grassy space. I saw a large herd of frightened wild elephants scattering in all directions with their tails and trunks held high.

Kempy, where are you ?, I shrieked over the noise of the wind and the Mil Mi-4. Suddenly I heard him. I swear I heard him. It seemed the Mi-4 knew where to go to find Kempy. I swear I never flew it.

It was the hand of God that held the cyclic.

I overflew a hut in another patch of grass, and I thought I saw about 50 people milling about. The Mil Mi-4 turned around on its own and this time I could see clearly that there was some commotion on the ground. I closed the throttle, yanked the speed down and set down the helicopter in a small clearing with very tall trees all around. When I switched off, the helicopter started juddering and after the rotors stopped, I realized that I had hit a tree while landing. About 7 inches of all the tail rotor blades had been cleanly shorn off. I also discovered to my horror that the Russians had made the tail rotor with ply wood. But at that time I was not too worried about the tail rotor. I ran forward to find Kempy.

Kempy was lying on a charpoy about 300 mtrs from where I had landed, where the villagers had brought him out from the jungle. He appeared to be semi conscious, groaning with pain. He still had his helmet on, though the mask was dangling around his chest. His nose was completely smashed and his faced covered with blood. His nostrils were choked partially with dried mucus and blood, still oozing plasma. He was labouring for breath through his mouth, spasms raking his chest. I think he had been like that all day, while the search was on overhead. The villagers were frightened to touch him.

The sun by then had set or was about to set. I quickly got Kempys helmet off, poured water on his face, cleaned his nose and mouth and made him drink some water. He seemed partially awake but he had no situational awareness or what happened to him. It also looked as if he had suffered a compression fracture of his spine.

I knocked out the charpoy legs, loaded Kempy still on the charpoy into the MI4 and we went back to Chabua, unmindful of the missing portion of the tail rotor, the MI4 juddering and shaking all the way. Forty five minutes later, when we landed, there was a big crowd on the tarmac, including the Station Commander and my CO, late Jayaraman. The docs took charge of Kempy and I think he was flown to Calcutta, never saw him for a long time.

The CO took me by the elbow and marched me to his jeep. Never said a word. He went straight to the bar, where Durga the ever smiling barman poured us both a large Rum with water, the favourite drink in Chabua. There were many others too in the bar. Jayaraman, took a sip and I think he could not control himself any more.

I dont know what to do with you, he said. First you broke the 12 O Clock rule, he waved the glass in my face. My untouched glass still on the bar counter.

True to Rimcolian tradition, I always took bull shit standing at attention. In RIMC, it was believed that attention was the only safe position to ward off predation. I can understand that you came out of the hills at 2 O clock, I can forgive you if it went to 3 O Clock. But I cannot suffer in silence if you decided to clear the hills at sun set.

His voice was quivering with emotion. There was pin drop silence in the bar. All drinks lay untouched on the bar counter. He took another sip. You got into bad weather. He paused. No, not just bad weather, you f***ing had to go and penetrate a line squall and mapped the Sunasari river with your wheel to get out.

I began to wonder where he had heard that one. Then I realized that the army may still be searching for their Army Cdr. I can understand if you left behind an Army captain, he said very softly. He took another sip of Rum and water. I can understand if you left behind a Colonel. I can forgive you even if you had left behind the GOC 2 Div.

He paused, seemingly at a loss for words. F***ing shit bag, you went and left the Army Cdr on a f***ing Assam Rifle picket and he is sitting on a charpoy right now.

Jaya banged his glass on the bar counter, and lit a cigarette. Through a smoke ring, he kept staring at me. You went and chopped up your tail rotor, and had the audacity to fly it right back to Chabua, he said softly.

I thought I could make out a note of admiration in his voice. “Sir, I said I shall go and pick up the Army Cdr first thing tomorrow”.

Jaya was my best friend, my guru, my only mentor, my only benefactor in all my years in uniform. You will do nothing of the sort, he roared. I shall pick up the Army Cdr myself, he said. You..he paused for effect. You are f***ing going on permanent detachment to Chakabama. He said with finality.

Chakabama, a helipad in the middle of nowhere in Nagaland was the loneliest place those days, detachment in Chakabama was akin to solitary confinement. But for now, Barman..he commanded, looking for Durga. The drinks will be on the house, put it all on Kartoos, he will pay for the drinks tonight. He then raised his glass, like a formal dining in night, For now, let us drink to Kempys nose. To Kempys nose, we replied in unison, drowning the glass of large Rum and water in one single bottoms up.

That night, we did bottoms up again and again, each time toasting to Kempy’s nose. My bar book was closed that night, I had exceeded Rs 75, the bar book limit.

Considering that Rum cost Rs 3.50 a bottle, and water cost nothing, we drank around 22 bottles of Rum that night, all towards Kempys nose. Assuming that there were around 28 of us that night at the bar, including the Gnat guys on detachment at Chabua, that was around 10 large pegs each, all for good cause, Kempys nose. May be we all had one peg each and quite possible that Jagga Barar drank the extra 28 pegs.

I think it was one of those nights when Jagga did not count the pegs using match sticks, lined up on the bar counter, one stick per peg. I think he lost count, like Counta Barar, who never counted.

Next morning I was packed off to Chakabama in the dicky of a Mil 4, and I am told I kept saying, To Kempys Nose all the way from Chabua to Chakabama. I stayed there for three whole months before Jaya relented and brought me back.

Kempy now has a wonderful nose. Makes him very handsome and dignified. Every bit like his illustrious martial predecessors from Coorg. I cannot take the credit, it was the Docs at Calcutta who made Kempy’s nose look Coorgi, handsome and accomplished.

Me, I take the credit only for the incredible act of closing my bar book in one night, cheering for Kempys nose .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Case for Commensurate Pay for Defense Services …

Posted on June 21, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Great Writing, Guide Posts, Indian Thought, Personalities |

We need a permanent solution to the tussle over emoluments so that the armed forces need only confront the enemies of the nation, says TR Ramaswami, IAS.
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In the continuing debate on pay scales for the armed forces, there has to be a serious and transparent effort to ensure that the country is not faced with an unnecessary civil-military confrontation. .
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This country requires the best armed forces, the best police and the best civil service. In fact that is what the British ensured.. By best one means that a person chooses which service he wants as per his desires/capabilities and not based on the vast differential in prospects in the various services.
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How much differential is there?
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Take Maharashtra, one of the most parsimonious with police ranks thus still retaining some merit. The 1981 IPS batch have become 3-star generals, the 1987 are 2-star and the 1994 have 1-star.
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In the army the corresponding years are 1972, 1975, 1979.  i.e. a differential of 10-15 years. While the differential is more with the IAS, the variance with the IPS is all the more glaring because both are uniformed services and the grades are “visible” on the shoulders.
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First some general aspects. Only the armed forces are a real profession where you rise to the top only by joining at the bottom.
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We have had professors of economics become Finance Secretaries or even Governors of RBI. We have any number of MBBSs, engineers, MBAs in the police force though what their qualifications lend to their jobs is a moot point. You can join at any level in the civil service, except Cabinet Secretary. A civil servant can move from Animal Husbandry to Civil Aviation to Fertiliszrs to Steel to yes, unfortunately, even to Defense.
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But the army never asks for Brigade Commanders or a Commandant of the Army War College or even Director General Military Intelligence, even from RAW or IB. Army officers can and have moved into organizations like IB and RAW but it is never the other way round. MBBS and Law graduates are only in the Medical or JAG Corps and do nothing beyond their narrow areas.
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Every Army Chief – in any army – has risen from being a commander of a platoon to company to battalion to brigade to division to corps to army.
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Next, one must note the rigidity and steep pyramid of the army’s rank structure. In the civil services any post is fungible with any grade based on political expediency and the desires of the service. For example I know of one case where one department downgraded one post in another state and up-graded one in Mumbai just to enable someone continue in Mumbai after promotion!
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You can’t fool around like this in the armed forces. A very good Brigadier cannot be made a Major-General and continue as brigade commander. There has to be a clear vacancy for a Major General and even then there may be others better than him. Further the top five ranks in the army comprise only 10% of the officer strength. Contrast this with the civil services where entire batches become Joint Secretaries!
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Even the meaning of the word “merit” is vastly different in the army and the civil services. Some years back an officer of the Maharashtra cadre claimed that he should be the Chief Secretary as he was first in the merit list.
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Which merit list? At the time of entry more than 35 years before? The fact is that this is how merit is decided in the IAS and IPS. Every time a batch gets promoted the inter-se merit is still retained as at the time of entry. In other words if you are first in a batch at the time of entry, then as long as you get promoted, you continue to remain first! This is like someone in the army claiming that he should become chief because he got the Sword of Honor at the IMA.
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Even a Param Vir Chakra does not count for promotion.
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In the armed forces, merit is a continuous process – each time a batch is promoted the merit list is redrawn according to your performance in all the previous assignments with additional weightage given not only to the last one but also to your suitability for the next one. Thus if you are a Brigade Commander and found fit to become a Major General, you may not get a division because others have been found better to head a division. That effectively puts an end to your promotion to Lt General.
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The compensation package must therefore address all the above issues. In each service, anyone must get the same total compensation by the time he reaches the ‘mode rank’ of his service. “Mode” is a statistical term ie the value where the maximum number of variables fall.
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In the IAS normally everyone reaches Director and in the IPS it is DIG. In the army, given the aforementioned rank and grade rigidities and pyramidal structure, the mode rank cannot exceed Colonel. Thus a Colonel’s gross career earnings (not salary scales alone) must be at par with that of a Director. But remember that a Colonel retires at 54, but every babu from peon to Secretary at 60 – regardless of performance.
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Further, it takes 18-20 years to become a Colonel whereas in that time an IAS officer reaches the next higher grade of Joint Secretary, which is considered equal to a Major General.
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These aspects and others – like postings in non-family stations – must be addressed while fixing the overall pay scales of Colonel and below. Thereafter, a Brigadier will be made equal to a Joint Secretary, a Major-General to an Additional Secretary and a Lt General to a Secretary. The Army Commanders deserve a new rank – Colonel General – and should be above a Secretary but below Cabinet Secretary.
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The equalization takes place at the level of Cabinet Secretary and Army Chief.
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If this is financially a problem I have another solution. Without increasing the armed forces’ scales, reduce the scales of the IAS and IPS till they too have 20% shortage!  Done?
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Even India ‘s corruption index will go down.
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If the above is accepted in principle, there is a good case to review the number of posts above Colonel. Senior ranks in the armed forces have become devalued with more and more posts being created.
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But the same pruning exercise is necessary in the IAS and more so in the IPS, where Directors General in some states are re-writing police manuals (one is doing Volume I and another Volume II!
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Further the civil services have such facilities as “compulsory wait” basically a picnic at taxpayers cost. And if you are not promoted or posted where you don’t want to go they seem able to take off on leave with much ease. In the army you will be court-martialled. Also find out how many civil servants are on study leave. The country cannot afford this.
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Let not someone say that the IAS and IPS exams are tougher and hence the quality of the officers better. An exam at the age of 24 has to be tougher than one at the age of 16. The taxpaying citizen is not interested in your essay/note writing capabilities or whether you know Cleopatra’s grandfather.
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As a citizen I always see the army being called to hold the pants of the civil services and the police and never the other way round. That’s enough proof as to who is really more capable.
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Also recall the insensitive statements made by the IG Meerut in the Aarushi case and the Home Secretary after the blasts.
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Further, when the IAS and IPS hopefuls are sleeping, eating and studying, their school mates, who have joined the army, stand vigil on the borders to make it possible for them to do so. Remember that the armed forces can only fight for above-the table-pay. They can never compete with the civil services and definitely not with the police for the under the table variety. 
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Finally, there is one supreme national necessity : The political class  better become more savvy on matters relating to the armed forces. Till then they are at the mercy of the civil service, who frequently play their own little war games. At ministerial level there are some very specialized departments – Finance, Railways, Security (Home), Foreign and Defense – where split second decisions are necessary. It is always possible to find netas savvy in finance, foreign relations and railways. Security has been addressed in getting a former IPS officer as NSA at the level of a MoS.
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It is time that a professional is also brought into the Defense Ministry as MoS! The sooner the better. In fact this will be better than a CDS because the armed forces will have someone not constrained by the Army Act or Article 33, of the Constitution.
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Of course the loudest howls will come from the babus. The netas must realize that a divide and rule policy cannot work where the country’s security is concerned. Recall 1962?
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Our army, already engaged in activities not core to their functions, including rescuing babies from borewells  apart from national calamities, should not have to engage in civil wars over their pay scales.
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I only hope our Defense Minister or anyone who would take a reasonable stand for defense forces ever gets to see this article. It would definitely affect any person with an iota of integrity.

 

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A Prayer …

Posted on June 21, 2013. Filed under: Great Writing, Guide Posts, Searching for Success |

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as how it should be; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

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‘If’ – Sorry Rudyard Kipling …

Posted on June 20, 2013. Filed under: Searching for Success |

‘IF’
If you can start the day without coffee,
 
and remain cheerful and never have aches,
 
And not complain and bore people with your pains,
 
If you can eat the same food day after day and remain ever so thankful,
 
If you can understand when your loved ones
have no time for you,
 
If you can take unwarranted blame and criticism in your stride,
 
And conquer tension wihout medicine or alcohol
and go to sleep without sex or drugs,
 
Then You Are 
 
The Family Dog!
 
 who handles problems by biting, snapping
Or Just
Peeing on them.
 
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Civil Servants mock the Services and the Supreme Court …

Posted on June 16, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Indian Thought, Personalities |

Major Navdeep Singh has written this piece (carried in  the STRATPOST) re the current crisis between the Chiefs led by Air Chief Martial Brown and the Defense Minister and his Ministry. 

Major Navdeep’s views are on the report that the Defense Minister has referred the rank pay issue to the Attorney General, with the armed forces getting an opportunity to brief the AG on their interpretation of the orders issued by the Supreme Court last year – currently disputed by the defense ministry. Over to Navdeep –

This reference will not necessarily lead to a resolution of the issue, since similar measures taken earlier have failed to reach equitable conclusions.

For instance, in March of 2012, the defense minister had asked the Army and the Ministry to submit to the Solicitor General their respective views on a disability and war injury pensions issue arising from the judgment in the case of former Vice Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi, and directed the ministry not to file appeals before the Supreme Court in similar cases till the time the Solicitor General gave his opinion and the defense minister took a final decision.

Here’s what happened. Firstly of all, the ministry continued to file appeals despite the minister’s directions.

Secondly, the ministry asked the Army to ‘change’ the brief it had prepared for the Solicitor General.

And then the ministry made its own notes by subsuming and suppressing the analysis of the Army.

Finally, the Army was ultimately never provided a chance to present its views to the Solicitor General, allowing the Ministry to obtain an opinion that opposed the interests of disabled veterans.

And By The Way… This is notwithstanding that the Solicitor General should have excused himself from giving an opinion on this issue because of a possible conflict of interest, since he had himself personally appeared against disabled soldiers on the same issue before the Supreme Court, representing the defense ministry.

As to rank pay, the issue was decided by the Supreme Court in March of 2010 in favor of commissioned officers of the three services, ruling that ‘rank pay’ was not to be deducted while fixing the salaries of defense officers.

What is Rank Pay?

For those who come in late, a running pay-scale was introduced for commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Brigadier (and equivalent) by the 4th Pay Commission to which a rank pay ranging between Rs 400 to 1200 was to be added for Captains, Majors, Lieutenant Colonels, Colonels and Brigadiers.

The notification in question stated that said ‘rank pay’ would be a part of ‘basic pay’ for all intents and purposes. Still however, while fixing the pay scales, the Ministry of Defense had deducted ‘rank pay’ from the ‘basic pay’ thereby resulting in damage to finances and the pay grades of military officers.

The thing is, basic pay is generally dependent on length of service. And a Colonel and Brigadier could easily end up (for example) with the same length of service. So this was also a measure to distinguish rank on the basis of pay grade.

Evidently aware that their stand since the 4th Pay Commission was no longer sustainable after the Supreme Court verdict, the defense ministry set up a committee to figure out the financial implications of the judgement, and then, in an unprecedented move, approached the Court asking it to take back its own order and hear the issue again.

This was not a request the Court was ready to accept and it ruled on the issue in September, 2012.

The defense ministry argued that implementation of the judgment would require rehashing of not only the 4th Pay Commission scales but also the scales devised by the 5th and 6th Pay Commissions. The ministry also said this would alter the payment of all consequential benefits to officers and their families, as well as, affect the benefits of officers who had retired prior to 1986.

But this was a given, considering the deduction of rank pay from 4th Pay Commission scales and beyond had been declared illegal. And as a result, the pay-scales needed to be upgraded through the three pay commissions leading to enhancement of the pay and status of defense officers.

The defense ministry was now left with no option but to implement the judgment. But they decided to play games with it, again, when they issued their implementation letter in December 2012.

Here’s what the ministry said in the letter, purportedly to implement the Supreme Court judgment:

….and to re-fix the initial pay of the concerned officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force in the revised scale (integrated scale) as on 01-01-1986 as per Para 6 of those instructions without deduction of rank pay appropriate to the rank held by the officer on 01st January 1986….

For those not in a terrible hurry to read the entire Supreme Court judgment and compare it with the language above, here’s what ministry did.

It changed the language used by the Court in its judgment, when it issued this letter.

While the Court had ordered re-fixation of pay ‘with effect from 01-01-1986′, the Ministry’s letter grants it to officers ‘as on 01-01-1986′.

This subtle variation makes all the difference.

The judgement which was to have a cascading effect on pay-scales after 01-01-1986 with effect from the 4th Pay Commission, continuing till date, now effectively applied only to those persons who were already receiving rank pay as on 01-01-1986.

The letter also states that no changes would be made in the instructions issued after the 5th and 6th Pay Commissions except to the extent of re-fixation necessitated due to fixation as on 01 Jan 1986.

This simply meant that there would be no upgrade of scales or change in the implementation instructions except that, for those affected officers as on 01 Jan 1986 who remained in service as on 01 Jan 1996 or 01 Jan 2006, their re-fixation within the existing tables based on the fitment formula would be affected while switching over from 4th Pay Commission to 5th Pay Commission and then from 5th Pay Commission to 6th Pay Commission tables, but within the same scales.

This was nothing more than a natural consequence of the stipulation of fixation as on 01 Jan 1986.

With a dry, half-hearted implementation letter, the defense ministry not only ignored the spirit and the character of the judgement but also its own commitment before the Supreme Court. The ministry has also tried to tacitly impose litigation on affected officers to get similar exactly parallel anomalies of the successive pay commissions corrected.

But no change in pay scale, status or even the scales after the 4th, 5th and 6th Pay Commissions has been notified.

Clearly, getting the intentional anomaly rectified is a tough call since it involves not only the correction of the scales but also the restoration of the status of defense officers which has been on a constant downward slide after the 4th Pay Commission.

Downgrade of military ranks

While the rank of Captain had been shown equivalent to Senior Time Scale (Under Secretary to Govt of India) of the civil services till the 3rd Pay Commission, it was suddenly shown below this civilian counterpart with effect from 01 Jan 1986 after the 4th Pay Commission, when the concept of rank pay was introduced since it was deducted from the basic pay.

And while there was no 4th Pay Commission recommendation or government order downgrading the rank of Captain (and subsequent ranks), this downgrade was surgically performed in a vacuum without official sanction, without authority and it continues till date.

The problem also remains that the defense services, especially till the last Pay Commission, were guilty of a failure to appreciate the impact of the actions of the bureaucracy affecting them. Some serving officers also never had the foresight to analyze how such issues would affect future generations as well as retirees, which would someday include their own selves.

The ministry appears to be overly reliant on the diligence of its junior bureaucracy and the Defense Accounts Department, which portrays an attitude of opposition to military pay upgrades. For instance, most of the letters issued in pay and pension matters by the defense ministry are drafted by the office of the Controller General of Defense Accounts, including the letter issued on the rank pay issue.

It might not be politically correct to say this, but to get anything fair out of the bureaucratic retinue in the defense ministry, the armed forces need to be smarter and more artful in their pursuit of this issue.

Serving officers need to remember that they too will be veterans one day and their interests are common to them.

 

 

 
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COAS Office hits Rock Bottom …

Posted on June 15, 2013. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

Excerpted from an article by Edwin Francis based on WikiLeaks, TEHELKA and other News Reports ..

What a mighty fall for an organization when the names of its Chiefs are figuring in scams!

It is said that General Deepak Kapoor institutionalized corruption. “He did not just pocket huge kickbacks but went on to invite the entire evil nexus of corruption (politician -bureaucrat -contractor) into the office of Army Chief. He did this by letting it be known that he is pliable and willing to use his office to share the spoils”.

A large number of officers aver that it was his predecessor, General NC Vij, who started the slide. What an irony that one manned and the other aspired to head the National Disaster Management Agency!

Wikileaks has given the title AT EASE WITH GREASE to its coverage of these Chiefs. It calls Kapoor a bit of a geek and avers that such was his combat incompetence that he proposed a simultaneous war with China and Pakistan so as to obliterate both! His main aim it is alleged was to amass personal assets by milking the system.

In the ADARSH Scam, the Maharashtra Govt gave the building a clearance certificate despite Western Naval Command objecting for security reasons and requesting action against the officers involved. Both Vij and Kapoor feigned ignorance about the fact that the building for Kargil war widows.

When Kapoor applied for a flat in the building, the rules required that an aspirant should have lived in Mumbai for 15 yrs. To oblige him, the Chief Minister gave him a domicile certificate. Further the salary slip he submitted with his application showed his salary as Rs 23450/- pm! When queried about this, he feigned surprise.

Equally damningly, the West Bengal MP, Ambika Banerjee, wrote to the Defense Minister that General Kapoor had assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and went on to list a flat in Dwarka and some five flats in Gurgaon beside one in Lokhandwala Mumbai. The General met the Defense Minister and denied these allegations.

There is the Northern Command High Altitude Tent  Scam when Kapoor was the Army Commander. His successor, General Panag ordered an inquiry but Kapoor as Chief shifted him to Central Command.

TEHELKA contacted Kapoor to get his version. On the fifth attempt, he responded, “There are a lot of things going on and I  would not like to comment”.

Then there is the SUKHNA Scam in which the Chief went soft on his Military Secretary who along with two other senior officers was indicted. The Defense Minister had to step in and ensure that needed disciplinary action was taken.

As the saga of General Deepak Kapoor and others unfolds, the Nation is traumatized by the  crumbling of a pillar, which it believed stood tall. It is sad that the rot runs deeper than these ex Chiefs because it was in 2001 that TEHELKA’s seminal expose on corruption in defence procurement, Operation WEST END, graphically laid bare the dangerous spread of the cancer of corruption in the higher echelons of the Indian Army.

Instead of launching a no holds barred clean up act, the Govt and the Army launched a witch hunt against TEHELKA. The gun fire was clearly misdirected for it created an enabling environment for corruption to grow – as seen by  the indictment of senior officers  in corruption cases in the last five years.

At the end of the decade, despite the dark cloud of corruption in the Army, there is a silver lining made of several strands in that whistles were blown and several officers went by the book to make exposes of corruption, that courts of enquiry were held and court martials proposed.

By the end of the first half of the current decade, India would have spent Rs 2.21 lac crores on what the consultancy firm, KPMG, calls one of the largest procurement cycles in the world. Leading defense manufacturers are flocking to Delhi for a slice of the defense spending. Indian firms too stand to gain contracts worth Rs 44.29 crores. The scope for kickbacks and grease money is obvious.

Patrick Choy, Chief Marketing Officer for Singapore based ST Kinetics, (which was reportedly black isted by Kapoor and was in the run for the Rs 13289  Crore contract for the 155 Howitser) stated plainly, “It has come to a point where we may be driven out because we cannot continue with what appears as a Black Hole”.

Detailing scams in the last decade covering the ASC, Ordinance and MES is sickening. But then they have always been prone to corruption. But now since it has made inroads into the Arms and breached the office of even the COAS, serious action is warranted.

It is up to the Services to look inward and appraise the battle worthiness of its command structure, from platoon to army and question whether the current promotion system itself is the root cause because currently it is infected.

Such action can only be considered by those who are worthy of trying on the shoes of the Cariapas, Thimayas and Manekshaws of the Indian Army.

Till such time, there is little hope.

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