Military & Aerospace

Respect and Armed Forces
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 09 Jul , 2015

Much has been written and spoken about Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s statement;  one of the reasons that respect of the armed forces has diminished is because for the last 40-50 years we have not fought a war. Our unbridled presstitutes went berserk raking in loads of moolah with TRP’s shooting up while opposition politicians cried blue murder. Not without reason MK Dhar, former Joint Director IB wrote in his book ‘Open Secrets – India’s intelligence unveiled’,  “The susceptibility of the fourth estate to the intelligence community had tied our hands down. They are one of the too many holy Indian cows. Some of them, as described by a senior member of the fourth estate, are ‘taxi on hire’. Any paymaster can hire this particular brand.”

But getting back to Parrikar’s statement, wonder how many noticed that Parrikar’s this particular comment was preceded by saying “In the past, when there was a letter from a military commanding officer to an IAS officer or any other authority, it received attention of the highest order. Today, that respect has diminished”.

Like many others who have prostituted the profession of Journalism, Will probably be nominated to Rajya Sabha”.

Now, one can keep conjecturing whether through his comment about armed forces respect having been diminished because of not fighting a war in last 40-50 years, Parrikar was articulating his own perception or that of the “IAS officer or any other authority” he talked of. The fact remains that a CO writing about any issue related to a soldier or his family to a Deputy Commissioner receives little response, even acknowledgement being out of the question.

Notwithstanding above, the Defence Minister should realize that in terms of respect of armed forces, what has been happening in the country is a constant effort to lower it, as would be apparent from succeeding paragraphs. Of course we have paid individuals dedicated to such task, morality and ethics being alien to them.

One example in the recent past was a prominent daily spreading deliberate rumours of an army coup having been attempted. Interestingly, describing this very Journalist, former Ambassador K Gajendra Singh wrote on April 5, 2012, “A top US / Mumbai corporate interests count, who also disseminates the ruling party’s line and is suitably rewarded by invitations to official dinners etc. Like many others who have prostituted the profession of Journalism, Will probably be nominated to Rajya Sabha”. Now we have a former IB officer, President of a so called ‘Patriot’s Front’, advising the government to strategize and put in place anti-coup measures because of the peaceful veteran protests at Jantar Mantar, even going to the extent of suggesting that Indian armed forces could surrender like the Pakistani army in East Pakistan during 1971 and Japanese army in WW II. Obviously such idiotic statements by this confounded self-appointed strategist are deliberate, with a malicious motive and on behest of his handlers.

Not many know how the NSG became the highest paid security force in the country.

Respect is a relative term and difficult to quantify like say loyalty. But then it is not difficult to decipher that the veterans protest at Jantar Mantar and elsewhere in the country showcases the plight of the military, bringing the country, not veterans, to shame. The President (Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces), the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister should be concerned. One may say that the Defence Minister has met the representative of the protesting veterans twice. But then he has not committed to any date for issue of the OROP implementation letter despite the veterans assurance that moment the date is officially announced, the protests would be called off. What the veterans fail to understand is that when we have a dynamic Prime Minister who personally takes a progress report every 100 days from MoS of every ministry, why a future date can’t be given for issue of the OROP implementation letter, even as mischief mongers are adept at taking every issue around the mulberry tree.

Additionally, any talk of injecting the idea about equating CAPF with the armed forces for OROP is most unfortunate especially with a CAPF policeman serving and drawing full pay till 60 years age compared to a military soldier retiring at 34 years, besides the perks that the CAPF enjoys including assured job to family member of a martyr, which is denied to the armed forces. Not many know that with the expansion of the SSB due commitments on the Nepal and Bhutan borders an SSB officer got his equivalent of Brigadier rank with just seven years service few years back compared to 27-28 years service in case of the military.

…there has been deliberate mischief to lower the pays, perks and status of the armed forces. That is the Jatil Samasya (complex problem) which needs to be addressed, not OROP alone.

Not many know how the NSG became the highest paid security force in the country. For the ignorant, LK Advani, then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister was going to review an NSG parade. Alighting at the venue from his car, the receiving officer told him that the boys were looking for some more money. In his speech post the parade, Advani simply announced an NSG Allowance that would be 25 percent of Basic Pay. There were no discussions or deliberations and the Finance Ministry implemented the decision in two-months flat. Here we have the OROP issue going around in circles for past 40 years despite OROP being approved by two Parliaments and Modi’s call to the erstwhile UPA government to implement OROP forthwith while addressing an ESM rally at Rewari in 2013 as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, even as the government surrendered Rs 6000 crores on 31 March 2015 and failed to utilize Rs 1000 crores earmarked for the National War Memorial in the previous budget.

If the Government and the Defence Minister would care to examine the issue of respect of the armed forces holistically, they would discover it is not the systematic lowering of armed forces in the Order of Precedence alone but right from the 3rd CPC, there has been deliberate mischief to lower the pays, perks and status of the armed forces. That is the Jatil Samasya (complex problem) which needs to be addressed, not OROP alone. To top this, while the armed forces have never questioned civil control (which translates to political control), the bureaucracy considers such control as their own birthright,   even as generalist bureaucrats of the MoD continue to detest the military in the same way as their British period ICS ancestors did. This is no vitriolic, as following few examples would prove:

Field Marshal Manekshaw denied his pay of Field Marshal for years, till finally a babu took a cheque of Rs one crore to him lying on the hospital bed.

  • Field Marshal Manekshaw denied his pay of Field Marshal for years, till finally a babu took a cheque of Rs one crore to him lying on the hospital bed.
  • MoD represented by a low-level functionary at funeral of FM Manekshaw whereas in any other country the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and the Defence Minister would have felt proud in doing so.
  • A war wounded Vice Chief of Army Staff battled civil courts for seven years to get his authorized disability pension.
  • A former Defence Secretary summoned by Supreme Court for contempt of court for not implementing the Courts directive to disburse Rank Pay.
  • Inaction against MoD official (s) who did not sanction submarine batteries (available within the country) for months that led to sinking of Sindhurakshak and Sindhuratna.
  • Inaction in retrieving 17 bodies of naval personnel lying in the sunken submarine on the ocean floor for past one year plus.
  • Shifting of the venue for receipt of martyrs bodies at Delhi airport to an area wholly unsuited for such solemn ceremony. Would the Defence Minister care to visit the spot?
  • Unaccountable MoD officials with lackadaisical response, more so because despite numerous defence scams, none has been questioned, leave aside punished.
  • 20 anomalies still unaddressed in the 6th Pay Commission, and no military member in 7th Pay Commission despite this demand past several years.
  • Case for separate pay commission for armed forces given quiet burial.
  • Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) without any servng or military veteran continues malfunctioning, denying dues even to widows and war disabled; withhold payments till the veteran is dead or in abject penury.
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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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15 thoughts on “Respect and Armed Forces

  1. The comments of Mr. Govindan are in bad taste and full of negativity. Good relations as recommended by you (Mr. Govindan) and as I understand mean saying “yes” to people who have little knowledge about military matters. Relations do not matter – just do your duty for which you have been trained. Faujis are neither diplomats nor politicians, please do not try to untrain them and retrain them in sycophancy to get the weapons, equipment and ammunitions required to perform their duty.

    Everyone must perform as per their job description. If procurement is your job on behalf of the Govt just go ahead and do it as a civilian officer, forget about relations-good or not good. For that atleast you will have to treat a person sitting across the table as an equal and not an intruder. The standard of defence preparedness say it all you have sorted out the intruder. If you fail in your duty – you have failed your cadre, your position, your nation…future generations will not care about how many friends you made in the defence forces…how many projects you blocked. Hope good sense prevails and we all sail together.

    • Whatever I have written is based on facts and it is not meant for the old Army officers..At least some young officers will read and they may try to improve the relation with sister departments. in future.

  2. I am not against getting benefit to army personals. Like Army there are many big departments under the Central Government. But they have not faced any problems with bureaucrats. The problem in the Army is their superiority complex and ego. Like cancer decease this has been spread among majority of the Army officers. Because of this they are not able to maintain good relationships with their sister departments. In 1965, 1971 and Kargil war Army did not get air support in time and due to that we lost important strategic points in Chhamb sector. So it is natural that bureaucrats are not caring them. The other day one Amy officer addressed the bureaucrats monkeys. in his comments.They have no hesitation to use slang words. For the foreigners the supreme sacrifice is joining the Army. But those who are aware of Hindu Dharama, the supreme sacrifice claimed by Army is not the real supreme sacrifice. We have been taught in the younger age that a person should serve the country and the people without expecting anything in return. In our case freedom fighters who fought for the freedom without expecting anything. in return.Similarly those who joint the Indian National Army (INA). They have done the real supreme sacrifice. In the case of Indian Army personals they are getting remuneration. They are many other facilities like canteen etc even after retirement. Only thing is that it is not in par with IAS officers. The freedom fighters got pension after 33 years of Independence. During the Silver Jubilee year of Independence a Central Scheme for grant of pension to freedom fighters and their eligible dependents (Where freedom fighters have already expired) was introduced by Government of India with effect from 15.08.1972. In 1980, the Scheme was liberalized and renamed as �Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme,1980� (the Scheme) and made effective from 01.08.1980. Similarly this Govt. will announce OROP in this year. Indian Army will be celebrating silver jubilee of India’S victory over Pakistan In 1965 war. After the death of Smt.. Indira Gandhi Army did not get minimum equipments required for fighting a war. Where as Navy got every they want . This shows that Navy was able to maintain good relation with the departments. The Indian Navy is one of the largest in the world, and as of 2014 possesses two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, 9 Landing ship tanks, 9 destroyers, 15 frigates, one nuclear-powered attack submarine, 14 conventionally-powered attack submarines, 25 corvettes, 7 mine counter-measure vessels, 10 large offshore patrol vessels, 4 fleet tankers and various auxiliary vessels and small patrol boats.” Despite this, the Navy failed to prevent the 2008 terrorist attack. Even they were able to purchase Air Craft carrier and amphibious transport dock. These vessels have no use to us as we have no plan to attack other countries. So all is not well in the Army. “ In 1971, when the three service chiefs would meet the prime minister (Indira Gandhi), she would ask the army chief first, then the air force chief, about their views on the situation. And then she would look at her watch and say, ‘Admiral, you have anything to say?’And I’d say ‘No ma’am, I have nothing to say.
    ‘Why do we require Air craft Carriers ? Instead of Air craft carriers we should have purchased thousands of missile boats and P-8I maritime patrol aircraft from USA. to protect our territorial water. Those who have read the book india’s war since independence by Maj Gen Sukhwant Singh will lose respect for Army. He has exposed the deficiencies in the Army. Even during 1971 war there was no coordination among war field commanders . So all is not well in the Army. Majority of Officers still think of conventional war.

  3. Lt. General Katoch has written a wonderful piece without any exaggeration or rancour. The Defence Minister must take notice of the pain and hurt of our armed forces so faithfully elaborated by the General. Unfortunately the seeds for the malady were sown in our constitution by the weak leaders who feared ascendancy of the forces little realising that in our country patriotism was at its glorious best immediately after partition and Kashmir was an example of the dedication of our army. But our leaders instead of giving it a place of pride tried to divide its strength created quotas and making service condition less attractive and difficult. The most commendable is the suggestion of General Katoch is that the defence people serving and veterans do not understand power of VOTE. This is what they need to harness now. Care should be taken that they remain disciplined as ever and move among the masses inculcated their values in others and work to make the country great. Respect an gratitude of the countrymen thus achieved will enhance their own prestige to the height of Himalayas.

  4. My dear General Katoch,
    This state of affairs is enirely due to the senior officers who NEVER stood up to the bullies of the politicians and the babus. Had they confronted the dangerous nexus of politician and bureaucrats and told it where to get off, the Armed Forces would have got more respect. I’ll give an instance from my own experience. The District Collector who was quite junior to me in college used to drive straight to the office of the C-In-C of the rank of Lt-Gen about a land issue. The C-in-C would send for me and make me, a Commander, stand in front of him while discussing the isssue at hand. He should have told the collector to go and meet the concerned officer.
    2. Not a single Chief stood up to the Defence Secretary and tell him what he learnt about the armed forces while he was mugging for the IAS exam was obsolete and he should leave those matters to the better judgement of the chiefs. 3.The turf wars between the services that were decided by the babus left the services as second class travellers in the government.
    4.When the pensions were reduced in 1973, we meekly accepted it without even a whimper of protest. Had we raised our voice, significant after the 1971 war, this problem of OROP would not have arisen at all. It may be recalled the recommendations of the sixthe pay commission were kept in abeyance untill some issues were resolved. Why didn’t we protest in 1973?
    5. I think the senior officers should do some introspection and admit they had let down their juniors and ranks they commanded. As the saying goes, if we make our beds we must sleep in it. Unfortunately, the seniors made the beds and the rest sleep.
    Personally I couldn’t care less about OROP, but my heart goes out for lakhs of our jawans who have been let down by one and all from a low paid babu to the President who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

    • GV Rama Rao,
      Kindly read my comments July 10,2015 at 8.26pm. You people will think always confrontation and not by keeping good relation. with other departments. This kind of mind set has put the Army down in the administrative field. Britishers have inherited superiority complex and ego.

    • Well said . The colonial approach of running the armed forces with the flag ranks living of the taxpayers money and self appropiated privaleges without any effort to reform and continue with the traditions has reduced solders , naiks , havaldars pension and status even less than peons , capts and maj drawing pensions less than sub inspectors . lt gens reduced to beg on the streets . The service chiefs and the c-inc s who equate themselves with cabinet secretaries and secretaries are nothing but self serving jerks who though supposed to fight for the subordinates have betrayed the trust , collective bargaining by all officers and ranks will only make the politicians andbabus budge .why blame the politicians and babus who atleast look after their own juniors .

  5. What happens really is that India is ruled by criminals since 1947 who have no interests in the Nation at all, but only lining the pockets of themselves, their cronies and their vote banks by looting the Nation. This is not just the politicians but the bureaucrats, police, judges and all civilians who have any power derived from India’s grotesque constitution and laws to abuse. The focus of the Indian Republic since 1947 has been to steal from the haves and the have nots for the exclusive benefit of the kleptocracy. Here, the Armed Forces are not of as much help as competing services. And so it is that the Police have more Generals per district than the entire Indian Army, because the Police serve the objectives of the Republic better and thereby command respect. In India, anybody who is not a criminal is at a disadvantage when it comes to respect or even decent treatment.

  6. Excellent article it should be published in all dailies, weeklys, monthlys etc the people of India should be made aware of the plight of the def forces as generally awarness is poor e.g a MP saying that people join the forces to drink rum – so that is the calibre.

  7. One Rank , One Pension ( OROP )

    As against 14 lakh serving military personnel , there are some 25 lakh retired military persons , in India , today

    They are demanding , ” One Rank , One Pension ”

    In simple terms :

    > Col Mhatre retired in 1985 , with last drawn salary of Rs 10,000 pm

    > Col Chari retired in 2000 , with last drawn salary of Rs 50,000 pm , and

    > Col Patel retired in 2015 , with last drawn salary of Rs 100,000 pm

    They all served for 30 years at the time of retirement

    As per present Pension Rules, by way of pension :

    > Col Mhatre may be getting Rs 2000 pm

    > Col Chari may be getting Rs 10,000 pm

    > Col Patel may be getting Rs 20,000 pm

    Under OROP , all of them would today , get Rs 20,000 pm !

    And as salaries keep climbing , with each passing year , they will all keep getting the same amount as pension, as the latest retiree in the same rank , who has put in same length of service , at the time of retirement

    A kind of ” Indexation ” , aimed at neutralizing the ever-rising ” cost of living ” which is same for all three retirees !

    And , the argument goes :

    ” Why not ?

    Those who are serving , get their ” cost of living ” neutralized thru DA ( Dearness Allowance ) which automatically keeps rising every month , as CPI / WPI etc rise !

    Why should early-retirees be made to suffer , for having been born earlier / served earlier ? ”

    One cannot find fault with such an argument !

    But if OROP is implemented , the Governments ( Central + States ) must get ready with answers to the following :

    > Will this lead to similar demands from millions of retired para-military forces and Police personnel , in all the States ?

    > Could this lead to similar demands from all retired Civil Servants , at the Centre as well as , in the States ?

    > Can this demand find an ” Echo ” in all retired Municipal / Panchayat employees , all over India ?

    > Will private sector retired employees make similar demands on Corporate Employers ?

    After

    • My countryman… How little do you know of your Armed Forces…are you aware that all the category of people mentioned by you retire at the age of 60 while the bulk of the armed forces are compulsorily retired at 35-37 .Please get your facts right before making such statements.It is quite obvious that none of your family has ever donned the uniform

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