Military & Aerospace

Military’s Izzat – who is responsible?
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 07 Sep , 2015

Much that remains under cover various administrations, by now it is well known that as per the Rules of Business of Government of India, the responsibility of the defence of the country remains officially with the Defence Secretary, not the Defence Minister. While some 100 amendments have been made to the India Constitution, no government has made any effort to amend the Rules of Business, the second major advantage being that the Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters remain as ‘Attached Offices’, which implies that the MoD bureaucracy remains unaccountable and yet supreme because the military has been kept away from higher defence organizations and even the official defence-industrial set up. This system suits the mafia with many successive governments who have used the Defence Minister for boosting the ruling party’s kitty, as well as lining individual pockets.

…MoD bureaucracy remains unaccountable and yet supreme because the military has been kept away from higher defence organizations and even the official defence-industrial set up.

That is why despite scores of defence scams, no bureaucrat or politician has ever been questioned, leave aside prosecuted. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan should actually including cleaning this type of filth but even the more recent scams like Tatra, Eurocopter and VVIP helicopter will perhaps be buried or at best blame restricted to persons  outside the MoD.  The Tatra scam will be buried deepest because having spanned over number of years, it cuts across party lines.

But while the Defence Minister is NOT responsible for the defence of India, is he responsible for the izzat of the Military? The official responsibility is perhaps ambiguous and guarded more than the files on Netaji Subhash Chander Bose or the mystery of the passing away of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri at Tashkent (both perhaps linking the KGB with the known unknown of India) though successive governments have downgraded the standing, pay and allowances, and pensions of the military right from the time of the 3rd Central Pay Commission, no one can put the finger on who is responsible.

Notwithstanding this, Defence Minister Mohan Parrikar indicates that he  possibly is in-charge of the military’s izzat, guessing from his recent Independence Day broadcast to the forces. He has spoken about his constant endeavour to work towards welfare and well-being of serving and military veterans, and also that  his thoughts are with near and dear ones of those who laid down their lives for protecting the nation – all of which is extremely heartening. But then something extraordinary and heinous happened on August 14 when Delhi Police and CRPF assaulted the peacefully protesting military veterans and war widows at Jantar Mantar in a bid to evict them, an obvious pre-planned operation by the Home Ministry since both Delhi Police and CRPF are directly under them. The scuffle was covered live on TV channels. Some in the social media called it a mini Jallianwala Bagh action minus Brigadier Dyer.

82 year old veteran Bishamber Singh of 5 Grenadiers who had fought three wars for India had his medals including his Sena Medal (Gallantry) ripped off his chest by a goon of a policeman. The indigenous Brig Dyer (Delhi Police Commissioner Bassi) refused to take any calls by the military veterans at the site who were desperately trying to contact him. The situation would have gone uglier but for MoS General V K Singh who intervened on August 14 against Police action at Jantar Mantar and got the veterans’ agitation restored, with his personal staff running around and securing the permissions for veterans to continue their agitation gracefully. Otherwise the damage would have been much more, as intended by the mafia.

The President, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, addressed the nation on Independence Day eve but also failed to make any reference to the police action at Jantar Mantar the same morning…

What the political hierarchy fails to understand is that when the military fights for the izzat of the country, the izzat of the military personnel cannot be ridiculed and denigrated in such dastardly manner even if they are considered small fry in the vote bank politicking. Images of the police action at Jantar Mantar on August 14 against military veterans have gone viral world over, as also that of the Delhi Police Commissioner reading out his Independence Day address with the national flag upside down behind him.

India has indeed become a laughing stock of the world but one wonders if the political hierarchy understands the tremendous damage it has done to the military psyche in India. The previous government was accused of making the system hollow by pitting the IB against the CBI but this government has surpassed all that by pitting police forces against military veterans. Astonishingly, the Prime Minister famous for his all and sundry tweets has nothing to say about the dastardly action. The Defence Minister’s Independence Day broadcast a day earlier made no mention of the police action just a day prior either.

The President, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, addressed the nation on Independence Day eve but also failed to make any reference to the police action at Jantar Mantar the same morning; a horribly unprecedented action in independent India.  So who is responsible for the izzat of the military – surely making bland statements that government respects its defence forces have little meaning?

Yes, the OROP is being granted but not the yearly equalization of pension as was recommended by the Koshyari Committee and approved by the Parliaments of the UPA and the present government. If only a five yearly equalization is to be given then this could have been announced months back because without the presstitutes being used to propagate that five year equalization is acceptable to ‘majority’ – pray which is this majority?

…the Finance Minister not explain why 45 percent of the defence pension outlay is being consumed by 22 percent civilians of the MoD.

Countries like the US and UK and most other advanced democracies, with Armies that are facing conflict, venerate the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces. The UK Parliament has even passed a law called Armed Forces Covenant. An Armed Forces Covenant is the expression of the moral obligation that the Government and the nation owe to the armed forces community. The covenant acknowledges that members of the armed forces sacrifice some freedoms and often face dangerous situations. It recognizes that families play a vital role in supporting the operational effectiveness of the armed forces.

It is only in India where our men and women have to go through the humiliation of a comparison with a discredited bureaucracy. Why does the Finance Minister not explain why 45 percent of the defence pension outlay is being consumed by 22 percent civilians of the MoD. The Koshyari Committee has clearly described why the military veterans cannot be equated with any other government service.

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Now if 100 percent of Railways, bureaucrats, judiciary, civilian defence officials and parliamentarians are getting OROP and ‘annual’ equalization of pension, why not the military? As per an FB post, the ‘huge financial outlay running in­to thousands of crore’ as calculated by ­the Finance Ministry under Arun Jaitl­ey is grossly inaccurate, a brief explanation of the actu­al outlay involving: 1 April 2014 – one time financial liabil­ity worked out by the Defence Ministry, Defence Accounts and accepted as the base figure is = Rs 8293 crore; 1 Apr 2015- enhanced expenditure to equali­se pensions @ 0.85% comes to Rs70.49 crore;  1 Apr 2016 @ 0.62% comes to Rs 51.42 crore; ­1 Apr 2017  @ 0.32% comes to Rs 26.54 crore; 1 Apr 2018 @ 0.21% comes to Rs 17.42 crore; 1 Apr 2019 @ 0.0% is nil, and so: total enhanced expenditure for four ye­ars subsequent to implementation of OROP­ thus works out to mere Rs 165.86 crore!­ But then the mafia remains supreme – who can question the bureaucrat?

But surely the people of India need to know who is responsible for the izzat of the military, and why have they not been granted annual equalization of pensions while granting OROP especially when the four year equalization amount comes to a meager Rs 165.86 crores? Five year equalization defeats the very concept of OROP. Is this how the politico-bureaucratic dispensation honours the military?

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

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9 thoughts on “Military’s Izzat – who is responsible?

  1. Satbir and gang should tell the truth about VRS. Satbir now I tell you what you should say. You went to the MoD and met an official with your delegation. Everything was discussed and it was decided that the Defence Minister alongwith three Chiefs will roll out the OROP. You said that you wanted a graceful exit from Jantar-Mantar and your agitation must be seen as successful. Accordingly, it was decided to add an innocuous term VRS. You said that after the press conference you will raise objection on the issue and by night you would ask for another meeting, and then claim victory for the OROP. That is why after the press conference you all started feedings sweets to each other at Jantar-Mantar.

    When some people contacted you on VRS, you chillingly said: “Oh! Don’t worry it’s a minor problem and will be sorted out by tonight”. But the political class turned out smarter. Mr Modi next day took a Metro ride and had arranged for some senior faujis in medals and caps. In a public rally from the dais he spent good two minutes to dispel the doubts about VRS. He went to the extent of saying that if anybody deserves OROP the most it is the people who have gone on PMR (Pre-Mature Retirement), as they help the armed forces to remain young. When he announced this, I rang up your people and they were so incensed that why Modi did not follow the script and let Satbir announce it.

    So now you are riding another campaign of falsehood because your game is up. Satbir, 46% of the people, i.e. beneficiaries of OROP are PMRs. So how does the figure then come to 8,000 to 10,000 crores. Without the PMR, it should be 4,000 to 5,000 crores. So stop fooling the people at the behest of AAP and the ISI. Narcotics money cannot keep your afloat forever.

  2. Gen Katoch is always very accurate in giving the correct picture. In this even the figures have been worked out for MOD and MOF. Why are they acting dumb? They need to throw up some other excuse for not implementing OROP. They must keep their egoes aside and do something before agitation goes out of hand. I wonder if it is too late already.

  3. I agree that the Izzat of the Armed Forces has taken a beating. However, why are we ourselves not in a position to stand for our Izzat is of equal concern. One part of the courage statement for leaders in the Armed Forces is the ability to stand for for what is perceived by the majority as right. Some of the misdeeds by the civil servants and politicians affected the Armed Forces directly and these should have been curtailed by a collective response even at the cost of a few heads rolling. If the leaders of the Armed Forces are not ready to take a stand for the Izzat of their men and organisation then how can one expect a corrupt system to stand by the organisation . Probably the connect with the country men is too stiff and needs to be changed. The veterans have made an attempt to redeem the status but it apparently is a baby step. It is a long and arduous journey if the Armed forces wish to redeem their Izzat and it has to be pillared both by those in uniform and those out of it. At no stage must patriotism and loyalty to the countrymen be allowed to come under cloud. The Armed Forces are the strategists then why are they being outsmarted needs pondering.

  4. Gen Katoch, you write well, and I try to read most of your articles. In view of the continued shortsightedness of the Netas and Babus, or for their self serving interests the higher defence management has suffered. From the way VRS was inserted in the OROP it is clear that these Netas / Babus are willing to cut their nose to spite their face. The damage that will / would have been done to the defence forces if VRS /PMR clauses are not removed would be extreme.
    It is time that knowledgeable and reputed persons take up the issues of neglect of the defence forces and problem with higher defence management if Defence Secy remains non accountable for his actions and of the MOD in public forums, media and with concerned Netas / citizens. Wonder whether IDR has on visibility beyond a very narrow audience.

  5. The attitude of the Army officers. made them to suffer such a long time. They know only to fight and not management . Management is equally important to run any organization . One of the main important aspect of management is to keep good relation with every body particularly sister departments. Army officers quarrel with everybody.. Sound of Music film is a good example . They treat their children like soldiers. So Govt. should think of giving management training to all officers along with military training. The main duty of the high ranking officer is to procure and supply good weapons to the soldiers. In a democracy no equipment can be purchased without the concurrence of the finance department . But in this case Indian Navy is far better. During 1971 war Indian Navy was a very small force . But to day Indian navy is 4th in the world. The main reason was they kept good relation with all sister departments particularly DRDO. Before blaming others try to improve the managerial skill in the Army . This kind of article is not going to help the Army . At the same time giving opportunity to the people to expose Army’s weaknesses .

  6. Sorry Lt Gen, this post regarding OROP compliants does not sound logical or factual. Having read other reports (unless you want to say ALL press reports are rubbish!?!), the general consensus in public discourse is that PM Modi led BJP has done maximum under the precarious finances at its disposal to appease the veterans. We are NOT US or UK in terms of finance muscle but a poor country where 2/3rd children are malnourished and its youth lack necessary skill for earning respectful wages and decent standard of living.
    Your point on requirment of greater involvement of military brass in MoD is well taken but do not club it with OROP implementation.

    • You obviously have not read the Koshyari Parliamentary Report that was accepted for implementation other wise you would not be posting this comment. As regards the media, I guess you have also not heard the term “Presstitutes”.

    • Bharat you obviously have no clue what the armed forces are all about.Have you ever objected to the perks that the bureaucracy and the political class sanction for themselves.The British economy is doing far poorly than ours.However they do believe that a guy you expect to give his life for the country needs to be respected and looked after.It is because of such sentiments expressed by people like you that a soldier today is seriously questioning himself whether you really deserve his supreme sacrifice.

      • There must be a limit for greediness. None of the Army personals are doing any supreme sacrifice . No body asked them to join Army . People joint Army knowing well the working conditions. and rules. Are they poorer than the daily wages laborers.? N Retd.Govt. employees are getting more pension the salary when they were in service. Dearness allowance is more than the pension. So you are blindly supporting the Ex. Servicemen. Even God is not able to satisfy everybody. So how can we expect Modi ji will be able to satisfy every Army men. He has done to the extend possible.

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