Military & Aerospace

Military and the CAG audit reports
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 12 Dec , 2012

Military expenditure is subject to audit, similar to that of any other government department.  Such checks are essential to guard against wasteful expenditure. CAG has generally done a good job and kept a watchful eye on government’s profligacy and violation of rules. In more recent times, CAG has exposed mega corruption, such as in allotment of spectrum ( 2 G ) coal blocks  ( known as coalgate ) and a host of other cases.

Military service has increasingly become unpopular in the country due to government apathy towards the soldier. Of the recruitable male population of the country, soldiering has become its last option…

CAG has also raised a number of inconsequential objections against the military such as use of military land  (defence land) for golf courses, need for audit of unit run canteens and now use of defence land to run army schools and their subsequent maintenance through government funds etc.  Such objections only highlights gross ignorance of the functioning of military and its special position in the scheme of things.

It has been contended that golf is not an authorized game for officers. It is not clear  from where details of sports activity authorized for the military have been derived by the CAG. May be the CAG is not aware ( but his wife, who regularly plays golf at the Air Force golf course at New Delhi would know ) that there is a golf course in the President’s Estate too and one wonders if according to the CAG, golf is an authorized sport for the supreme commander of India’s armed forces! It is besides the point that most of the supreme commanders have not been physically fit to play this game. Moreover it is military’s business to ensure that its officers remain physically fit and mentally alert, as also to make the best use of class A land within cantonments.

There should have been no need for the military to run schools of it’s own, if only government had provided the right facilities for good education for children within cantonments. Given the turbulence in the career of military personnel, their children change school as many as 6 to 8 times by the time they complete 10 plus 2 standard. The need for the army to run its own schools arose due to difficulties for these children to get admissions in schools at new locations, every two years and often during middle of school terms.

…schools are not for profit but are there purely as a welfare measure.

More over cantonments being away from population centers government schools ( if any at some of the remote locations ) are not easily accessible. In any case providing good education, even to military’s wards is in overall national interest. Use of some land within cantonments for such schools should not be considered improper and some small amount spent for upkeep of school buildings need not excite the CAG to a point where he puts it down as a serious objection. Incase government funds are not deployed for the upkeep of such school buildings, then soldiers whose wards study there, will have to contribute towards maintenance in the form of enhanced fees. These schools are not for profit but are there purely as a welfare measure.

Military service has increasingly become unpopular in the country due to government apathy towards the soldier. Of the recruitable male population of the country, soldiering has become its last option, below lowest level of government service. The reasons for this state of affairs are not unknown to the government. Soldiers retire at age 35-36 years, while for every government servant the retirement comes at age 60 and if one is a bureaucrat then re-employment takes one to 65-70 years: CAG himself being in no different position. This early retirement, both for soldiers and officers ( around 98 percent of the army )   has multiple disadvantages and these are too well known to be recalled.

It is not to say that there are no serious malpractices in the military, but very few manage to escape the wrath of the military’s systems and laws, once they get pointed out.

So if the military attempts to soften this gross discrimination against the soldier, by providing a few welfare measures, CAG need not get so worked up.  It is these few facilities, such as schooling and availability of canteen stores and a few other welfare measures which offer some limited incentive to join military service. Even so, military has not been able to draw on suitable manpower, both for rank and file and officer cadre.

Finally military has its own audit, besides that by the audit authorities. There are checks and balances and irregularities get pointed out with all the attendant action against the defaulters. It is not to say that there are no serious malpractices in the military, but very few manage to escape the wrath of the military’s systems and laws, once they get pointed out.

Excessive interference in military’s functioning will impair its working and lead to unwanted caution and unintelligent adherence to rules. Militaries exist for just one purpose and that is to defend the country and if necessary go to war, where commanders often have to write their own rules.

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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 Harwant Singh

Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff. He also commanded a corps in J&K.

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One thought on “Military and the CAG audit reports

  1. Let the ARMY function the way it is designed by the great generals. its a big deal to relocate with family and getting admission into a school. Even children undergo a lot of mental change due to change in location every 2-3 yrs.

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