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Monday, October 13, 2008

Pride and Precedence : Major Manvendra Singh (Territorial Army), Member of Parliament, Barmer

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Before this, a Newsflash : Mr Pranab Mukherjee met the PM on the military pay issue today. He is positive that the anomalies would be resolved very soon.


You can also view this (below) write-up here

(The views are the writer's own, this blog may not subscribe to the political statements expressed in this write-up)

Pride & Precedence : Manvendra Singh

The Congress party's DNA does not allow it to handle three subjects with insight, intellect or innovation. On most other issues the party comes up with interesting ideas, even if the process adopted is bizarre. But DNA is, in this case, essentially about memory and that is precisely the undoing of the Congress party when it comes to dealing with Pakistan, China, and the Indian armed forces. Not necessarily in the same breadth, but even as individual subjects.

While the principal culprit would of course be the invertebrate nature of the average Congressperson, the onus for this intellectual disaster falls squarely on the shoulders of late Prime Minister Nehru. The sheer scale of his capabilities and intellect when compared to what his contemporaries possessed created an aura of impenetrable proportions. It was, in a sense, India's first example of outsourcing wherein the party simply left thought to its leader. Whatever policy Nehru formulated was enshrined in party shastras. No reason to think again.

The ideas that the great leader bequeathed his small party did not require intelligence in implementing, as if they were cast in stone. But for the economic policy that was tossed out by an equally interesting leader, the late PV Narasimha Rao, the inability to think out of the box over Pakistan, China and the Armed Forces remains an enduring legacy. A brief attempt over these three issues during the term of the late Rajiv Gandhi came to naught as the enormous inertia of the Congress party checked him.

The same inertia has come to mark the incredibly inept handling of the armed forces Pay Commission crisis. The Government of India has compounded errors with its unbelievable ignorance about the grievance of the armed forces. The three chiefs have displayed their own ineptitude in how they've carried the message for their services, but more on that later.

The root of the crisis lies in the strange Indian practice of constituting a pay commission that would look at the army in Siachen and the additional secretary in South Block. How the two job requirements, and service ethos, can ever be written about on the same page defies explanation. Despite that the government did not appoint an armed forces member on the commission even when it had the opportunity to do so.

The end result of which is that the service headquarters are banging their heads on the wall to plead that the report as it stands is not implement able. Unlike what anybody has alluded to or accused the chiefs of not doing, the issue is not over pay, but over precedence. And as the doorman of any government official knows, it is precedence that carries the order of the day. But in this case the order of the day is going to have two very serious crises.

In the short term the government's ignorance, and insistence, is certain to wreck carefully crafted unified command structures in insurgency areas. Just as politicians stand accused of turning the socio-political clock back in the Kashmir valley, politicians can now also be accused of aiming to turn the operational clock back. The reason being that the Pay Commission has come up with its own formulations over pay and precedence.

While it had the authority to look into matters of pay, it did not have the licence to tamper with precedence. And by doing what it has done, it has ensured that the carefully worked out counter-insurgency mechanism stands on the verge of collapsing. The primacy accorded to the army vis-a-vis police, state and central, is being systematically being whittled away.

As a former journalist who covered the last Pay Commission, and its very sorry air force fiasco, suffice to say that what confronts the country today is far more serious. And insidious. The key officers accountable for India's tactics on the Line of Control or in anti-insurgency operations within are to lose the very precedence that has given them the authority to bring the situation to where it is.

While the responsibility devolved upon the state and central police forces, the control continued to spiral out of hand. It was only when the Army was deployed, and set into motion its own counter-insurgency grid, that a semblance of control could be seen. Now this same Army is being made accountable to the police forces in terms of precedence. When this has not happened in any other country in the world, how India could hope to re-invent this relationship is perplexing to say the least.

The second serious crisis is one the country will have to face when it goes into a conventional war. As per the war manual the Army takes command of the BSF and the Navy of the Coast Guard. When this tinkering of precedence has happened, who will now relinquish to whom? It is a very serious crisis of command and one which is testing the resilience of the three services.

There weren't any blogs during the last Pay Commission, and nor was there much of an email presence. Yet mobilisation happened on levels that could be termed scary. Both these new technologies have given much air to voices of those that have always remained mute.

In order to have the honour of wearing the President's commission an officer forfeits certain fundamental rights. This holds true for all ranks. The historical and global logic being that the sheer scale of that honour is enough to compensate for those losses. Those who have experienced the pleasure and honour of the uniform will vouch for the judiciousness of this exchange. So it is galling when the three chiefs seek to right a wrong and they're accused of sedition. Being soldiers they're of course meant, and seen, to be mum on all matters. But when honour is at stake it is the duty of all to stand up and be counted. For this is at the core of India's civilisation as enshrined in the Bhagvad Gita.

In their inexperience with politicians, and their ineptitude at being messengers, the chiefs were delivering the wrong message all this while. It had nothing to do with pay but with precedence. It is in the nature of all bureaucracies to encroach. The military bureaucracy also does it when given a chance. But this creeping encroachment encouraged by political blindness could cost the country very dearly. For at stake is the honour of India's armed forces, the institution that the country holds dearest. And giving it to those that the country loathes, in khaki, safari and white.

Courtesy Rediff, Thank You.

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

IRS ISSUES HAVE BEEN RESOLVED BY FM..THE ORDERS HAVE BEEN SIGNED

Anonymous said...

ARTICLE BY MAJOR GENERAL(RETD) DR MRINAL SUMAN ON INDIAN DEFENCE REVIEW -

PUBLIC STANDING OF THE INDIAN MILITARY

“Our God and soldiers we alike adore ev’n at the brink of danger; not before: After deliverance, both alike requited, Our God’s forgotten, and our soldiers slighted”. (Francis Quarles)

A number of social scientists and military historians have been trying to discover reasons for Britain’s success in ruling the world while retaining its own independence throughout known history. Many are of the view that the secret of the British success lies in the fact that it always values its soldiers and the military, unlike most countries who forget them the day the war is over. No other country bestows so much honour on its war heroes. To prove their point further, they recall that before World War II; it was not uncommon to see placards hanging outside some restaurants in Paris which read, “Dogs, lackeys and soldiers not allowed.” On the other hand, even pregnant women used to get up and offer seats to soldiers in London buses. When the war broke out, they recall, France capitulated in no time while Britain remained undefeated.

Soldiers are highly sentimental by nature. Their dedication to duty, loyalty to the nation and willingness for the supreme sacrifice are driven less by material considerations and more by an overwhelming urge to earn love and respect of their countrymen. A grateful nation’s recognition of their contribution to national security acts as the strongest motivator. Unfortunately, only a few nations have understood this aspect. It is often said that any country that does not care for its soldiers, loses moral right to expect them to die for its security.

The standing of soldiers in a country is dependent on the interplay of a number of dynamic factors like the conduct of military leadership, treatment meted out by the political leadership, relationship with bureaucracy and the image created by the media.

As regards India, public at large still holds the military in high esteem. However, its standing appears to be getting unduly affected by some unsavory trends noticed over the last few decades. First, the military is in media for all the wrong reasons. Secondly, there is a deliberate attempt to downgrade soldiers in some segments of the society. Thirdly, India has not fought a major war since 1971 except for the Kargil conflict which was localised in nature and did not affect the whole nation as such. Lastly, with growing economic prosperity, there is an increasing apathy amongst many countrymen towards security matters.
The Political Leadership

Indian political leadership lacks compassion for the military for the following reasons:-

* No political leader has even the remotest connection with the Services. In the history of independent India, no political leader has sent his progeny to the services. Therefore, they can neither relate to the military nor empathise with their lot.
* Political leadership is inadequately qualified and equipped. Any politician with no knowledge of national security imperatives can be appointed as India’s defence minister. They neither possess basic military knowledge nor display any penchant for educating themselves. Further, there is no culture of orientation training or briefing. Inadequacies of the political leadership result in their over dependence on the bureaucracy for governance.
* Most importantly, soldiers do not count as a worthwhile vote-bank and hence do not need to be cultivated.

A few years ago, some bureaucrats were ordered by the then Defence Minister to visit forward areas to get a feel of the ground conditions. The services were very excited as they felt that at last they had a Defence Minister who empathised with them. The Defence Minister’s stock went up considerably amongst the soldiers. In a social gathering soon after the above incident, a few service officers were busy eulogising him. Overhearing their conversation, a senior retired bureaucrat told them that the euphoria was premature. He advised them to watch for a few days. “Military salutes and guards are good for ego but politicians need funds to fight elections. Therefore, they need bureaucrats and listen to them,” he added.

Political leadership is highly uncomfortable in dealing with military officers and prefers to let the bureaucracy handle them. However, it does not hesitate in ticking off top military leadership in public to show its supremacy. Courtesies mean little to them. An inconsiderate and grossly ill-suited Defence Minister always took pleasure in bypassing the military leadership to establish rapport with soldiers, thereby denting the chain of command. He shall be long remembered for his unethical sacking of an honest and forthright Naval Chief in collusion with the bureaucracy. Recent criticism by the Defence Minister of the Naval Chief for accusing Russia of reneging on contractual terms follows the well-set pattern of trying to put down the service chiefs. A well known opposition leader lost respect of the servicemen when he publicly criticised the Army Chief for his comments on the Chinese incursions. It came as a surprise to many as he is an ex-army officer and was not expected to make impolite comments.
The Bureaucracy

The services blame the bureaucracy for lowering their standing in public eyes. Soon after Independence, exploiting the inexperience and gullibility of the then military leadership, bureaucracy took two major steps - one, put the services out of the governance regime by making Service Headquarters as departments of the Government, and secondly, perpetuated the notion that civilian control of the military is synonymous with control through the bureaucracy. Indian military has not been able to recover from this body blow to date, and worse, there has been a continuous flow of policy changes which have further reduced the status of the services.

According to a senior retired functionary, bureaucracy bears no animosity towards the services and the haughty conduct is a manifestation of the inferiority complex that they suffer from. A large number of bureaucrats would have unsuccessfully appeared for the NDA or other entry schemes to join the services in their youth and it affects their psyche for life, he stated. “It is only later on in life that they manage to enter IAS. Some through quotas and reservations. But while dealing with the military officers they get reminded of their own failure and inability to succeed in open competition and hence tend to hold a grudge against them,” he added. Penchant of every bureaucrat in the defence ministry for wangling a military staff car with uniformed soldier-driver is symptomatic of their unfulfilled aspirations, he declared.

Another observer had a different explanation. He was of the opinion that the services officers by their professional knowledge, smart dress, polished demeanour and impeccable manners make bureaucrats feel under-equipped and deficient. Most bureaucrats are incapable of drafting a sound and well-reasoned paper. Invariably, the services are assigned the task. Although they wield authority, their knowledge about military matters is highly shallow. By rejecting services’ proposals repeatedly on specious grounds, they try and put the services down to assert their power. Their misplaced sense of importance is the biggest impediment in their relationship with the services. Although a joint secretary is equated with a two-star service officer, he never visits a service officer’s office for consultations and demands that the service officer comes to him. Through such petty acts, bureaucrats try to overcome their sense of inadequacy and ‘keep the military in its place’.

Whatever be the underlying reasons, there is no denying the fact that bureaucracy has been responsible for continued damage to the esteem of the armed forces. It appears to be least interested in the well being of the soldiers and their morale. Putting down the services is common. Every proposal to curtail powers of the military is instantly approved. Civilian functionaries of Military Engineering Service and the Border Roads Organisation routinely approach the bureaucracy over the heads of their military superiors and obtain dispensations that dilute military’s authority and vitiate the working environment.

In the wake of the controversy raised by the Sixth Central Pay Commission, a retired senior service officer wondered if the bureaucracy was aware that by slighting the military it was demoralising soldiers, thereby gladdening the hearts of India’s enemies. Most service officers lament the fact that the bureaucrats do not empathise with them due to their ignorance of trials and tribulations of military life, as they hardly have any close relative or progeny in the services.
The Media

Both print and electronic media have seen unprecedented growth and proliferation over the last few years. The pace of propagation has been too fast for comfort, especially for the coverage of security matters. There are very few writers, reporters, anchors and correspondents who know much about military affairs. Due to their incapability to carry out any worthwhile coverage of serious issues, they resort to sensationalism of the poorest genre. For them, military matters mean problems faced by a few women officers, some enquiries about rations and some sound bytes about shortage of officers.

Media must remain objective and provide balanced coverage. Criticising the military for sensationalism is highly unfair. It lowers military’s public image unwarrantedly.

For example, the media is quick to highlight that 15 officers or so have been court-martialled and punished for various acts of misdemeanour. Tone and tenor of the report faults the military for the falling standards and paints a negative picture. The media fails to recognise the fact that in a 1.3 million strong organisation, there are bound to be minuscule aberrations. It should, in fact, praise the military for being the only institution to take prompt disciplinary action against defaulters, whereas all others carry on regardless.

A woman officer committed suicide in Jammu last year. A major TV channel organised a discussion the same evening on ‘working conditions in the Army that force women to commit suicide’. It went on to flay the Army brass for gender-bias and ill-treatment of women officers. Apparently, the said channel did not ascertain facts and wanted to be the first to highlight the allegedly sorry plight of women in the services. Had it waited for the police investigations to be over, it would have realised that the suicide was due to matrimonial dissentions and the husband has since been arrested for abetting it. The working environment had nothing to do with it, yet the Army was subjected to public condemnation.

Despite having a plethora of TV news channels, not a single in-depth programme either on security concerns or on the tribulations of a soldier’s life has ever been telecast. For them, coverage of a film star’s visit to a military unit and dancing with the troops is adequate. Incongruity of media’s priorities can be gauged from the fact that twenty fifth anniversary of India’s world cup win was played up as an unprecedented achievement whereas victories in 1971 and the Kargil War are remembered in a perfunctory manner. But then cricket crazy India has little time for national security concerns. See box.
Conclusion

Despite repeated representations, India still does not have a war memorial in the capital to honour independent India’s dead soldiers. India wants to ape the West in all sundry aspects but not in matters that affect the well-being and morale of the armed forces. The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington in Washington, Arc de Triomphe in Paris and the Cenotaph in London are admired by all Indian visitors. Yet, the absence of a suitable war memorial in New Delhi does not appear odd to them.

All countries honour their war heroes by erecting their statues at prominent places like Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square. No statues of political leaders are seen in the developed countries. On the contrary, millions are spent every year in India on erecting statues of politicians as they are an essential part of vote-bank agenda of most political parties. It is not considered necessary to honour war heroes, martyrs and gallantry award winners as they do not fetch votes. One is reminded of those poignant lines of A Lawrence Vaincourt’s classic poem:-

“When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,

While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,

But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land,

A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,

Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?”

As seen above, the falling stature of the military is due to both historical and cultural factors. To a considerable extent military commanders are responsible for the same. Their conduct has certainly raised questions regarding the quality of leadership that the military is throwing up. It is a cause for concern. Additionally, the political leadership and the bureaucracy must realise the irretrievable damage they are doing to the morale and the fighting potential of the military. India survives today because, as General Sir John Hackett said, “A soldier places his body between those of the citizens of his country and those who are attempting to destroy them.” The media must also realise that most soldiers are posted at remote border posts or are battling insurgency against heavy odds and at great personal risk. Denigrating and lowering the image of the military can prove extremely dear to the country in the long run.

Finally, India will do well to remember the advice offered by Kautilya to Chandragupta on the treatment of soldiers. He said, “Pataliputra reposes each night in peaceful comfort secure in the belief that the distant borders of Magadha are inviolate and the interiors are safe and secure, thanks only to the Mauryan Army standing vigil with naked swords and eyes peeled for action, day and night, in weather fair and foul, all eight praharas (round the clock), quite unmindful of personal discomfort and hardship, all through the year, year after year. While the citizenry of the State contributes to see that the State prospers and flourishes, the soldier guarantees it continues to exist as a State! The day when the soldier has to demand his dues or, worse, plead for them, will also bode ill for the State. For then, on that day, you, My Lord, will have lost all moral sanction to be the King! It will also be the beginning of the end of the Mauryan Empire!”

Ajith said...

Pranab Mukherjee's meeting the PM is reported by Yahoo news.

Pay issue of armed forces to be resolved soon: Pranab
Mon, Oct 13 02:37 PM

A ministerial committee, set up to look into the armed forces' grievance about pay "anomalies", is likely to sort out the matter soon.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the three-member committee, on Monday said he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony.

"Shortly, I am going to discuss with the Finance Minister (P Chidambaram)," he told reporters here when asked about the issue.

Without giving details of his discussions with the Prime Minister, Mukherjee merely said "I do hope we will be able to sort out the issue shortly".

The committee, which also includes Antony and Chidambaram, was set up by the Prime Minister on September 25 in the wake of deep resentment in the armed forces, who complained that there were "anomalies" in the 6th Pay Commission recommendations and that it had lowered the status of their officers.

After the government notification was issued on August 29, the issues of "anomalies" in the pay for officers was first raised by Air chief Fali Homi Major in his letter in his capacity as acting Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

Chiefs of Navy and Army too have been voicing their resentment.

Antony has strongly favoured resolution of core issues raised by the three services chiefs in their representation to the government.

He wrote to Chidambaram, raising issues of disparities", including the ones relating to Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBORs).

http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20081013/804/tnl-pay-issue-of-armed-forces-to-be-reso.html

Raxas said...

Nice Article by Manvendra Singh. Although I have met some brilliant poiticians, I did not reasise that they have such ability. One I met could talk to me man to man about Siachen- He later became the CM of Rajasthan. The ability to clearly and concisely write is not given its due in Indian Politics. Retired politicians do write but then it it to make some money off their experiences. Good to have some educated politicians. Particularly for Barmer. Hope we had more such guys.

Anonymous said...

Whether somebody agrees or not all the articles written by eminent writers about Services and the Services' issues are read mostly by service people, whereas they are actually meant for Civilians' consumption

def said...

Solution: Lt(0/6100) Capt(2/6600) Maj(6/7600) LtCol(9/8300) MAJCOL(13/8700PB4) Col.(16/9000).... All OsC /2ICs Appointment in Coy/Bn to be held by MAJCOL in PB4
If IAS get PB4 after 13 yrs so should we. You may call them PB3 Lt Col or PB4 Lt COL as per your wishes Remember 13 yrs is the bottom line
JAG(9/7600PB3) SG(13/8700PB4) SUPERTIMESCALE(16/10000PB4)

MAJCOL @ 16 Yrs to fill the gap created by us

bill said...

bill said...
Non payment of MSP from 1.1.06 to Armed Forces is a major Annomaly,created by wily baboos, which must be addressed by GOM.The reasons/logic/rationale for not giving MSP from 1.1.06 must be taken from the CPC & examined by GOM,considering that MSP is EXACTLY similar to GRADE PAY which has been given from 1.1.06.The 6CPC must also be asked to explain as to why Grade Pay has been given from 1.1.06 & not from 1.9.2008? An analysis of this issue will clearly indicate the ANTI Armed Forces stance of 6CPC & Baboos of subsequently formed commettees(Review,Annomalies,CoS,etc)

Col_30 said...

Is our Def Min so weak that he can't sack his Dy Secy in the MOD for disobediebce of orders and not being able to understand what his boss had asked him to do when he was leaving the country. Mr Antony! Come on muster some guts and do the right thing at least for once at your own.

Anonymous said...

Undoubtedly a stirring article by Maj Manvendra Singh, MP and the addendum by Maj Gen (Retd) Dr M Suman. I only wish that somebody puts these issues in front of the countrymen!

Anonymous said...

As the only available Major in the unit, I was detailed to inquire into (and apportion blame) for a 'soldier run amok' case in the neigbouring unit engaged in intense counter insurgency in J&K wherein there were 12 fatal casualties. Ironically, the bugger survived despite shooting himself in the neck! He finally shot himself for which there was another court of inquiry, but that's another story). Since the event, I have often wondered how on earth could a first class combat soldier kill his very brethren for whom he had risked his life almost daily? Its only now, after browsing the net for the discussion of status and honour and the barbs (both, out of ingnorance and malice) for armed forces officers that , I think, I am beginning to get the idea.

Yogander Singh said...

Ignorance of gigantic proportions

1. Indian press and the politicians routinely blame the bureaucracy for many ills including corruption, sloth and inefficiency. The same press also routinely articulates bureaucratic view of politicians as ignorant and self-serving. Sometime bureaucrat and politician get together to blame press for wrong reporting/misquoting. And, the self-same set by and large calls Indian military a beacon of efficiency and patriotism. Not that sacrifices of our soldiers need any certificates! But when it comes to the same military seeking a fair deal in terms of service including pay and allowances, one sees contours of a different equation emerging. The earlier adversarial positioning vis-à-vis each-other is now shown as what it really was – a fraud . It was our mistake to imagine a drawing room discussion between members of a family, as a system of checks and balances. Yes in a way it is a system of checks and balances but for their own benefit. Dispossessed of the society including soldiers are not part of the family. Now that the Chowkidar (soldier) has shown the temerity to seek a fair deal, he must be put in his place. It calls the soldiers whiners, their Chiefs are portrayed as imbeciles who are being defiant and need to be taught obedience. This disconnect between the elite and people who toil and shed blood for the nation is the reason why we keep getting defeated at foreign hands for 23 centuries. But the time has come to let the elite know the truth and expose fallacy of their position.

2. Position of Soldier in a democracy. Soldier in democracy is a citizen first. This stands amply clarified by the Supreme Court of India in more than one judgment. A soldier is first and foremost citizen of democratic, socialist republic of India, and just like any other citizen he has rights and duties which remain with him even after he joins the armed forces of the nation (Bedi PPS, Lt Col, VS, UoI, AIR 1982 SC: 1413: 1983 Cri LJ 647 (SC), : 1982 (2) SLJ 583 ). Second the Indian soldier is a volunteer. He willingly takes on himself the noble task of defending the nation unto death. This spirit of self-sacrifice for a higher cause makes him a `special citizen’ and not any less citizen. Curbs on his freedom are not meant to make him a slave. These are solely meant to meet certain operational necessities and in no way curtail his right to due process of law in matters of pay and allowances. This is amply clarified through judgments of various courts including the Supreme Court itself (Rai DSC, Maj Gen v GCM Fort St Goerge, Madras, Madras High Court WP Nos. 3067 and 3068 of 1984 (Order dated 25 April 1984) .

3. Command of Armed Forces Article 52(2) of the Constitution reads: "Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision the supreme command of the Defence Forces of the Union shall be vested in the President and the exercise thereof shall be regulated by law." Due process of law applies as much to government of the day as to the soldier. Soldier is duty bound to obey `legal orders’ of government but has no obligation to suffer indignities and calumny. Soldier is entitled to protection extended to other employees in service matters including fair and just compensation. In fact the Army Act provides special protection to soldier from attachment of his pay for any reason and here we have a situation wherein the Cabinet on the advise of bureaucrats (Committee of Secretaries) has lowered pay and status of soldiers and their pensions without giving any reasons (in administrative matters speaking order is legal necessity) and what does the so-called independent press do! It goes on to blame the Military Leaders calling them defiant and disobedient!! If this is not ignorance, then I am sorry to say that it is travesty of truth.

4. Role of Military Leaders in administration of troops. Soldiers do not form trade unions because the task of negotiating a fair deal with the government is assigned to head of unit/regiment/army. It is a duty enshrined in the motto of Indian Military Academy. I quote it in full for the benefit of ignorant.
“ The safety honour and welfare of your country
come first always and every time.
The honour welfare and comfort of the men
you command come next.
Your own ease comfort and safety
come last always and every time “
5. When Military Chiefs articulating their anguish and opposition on patently illegal downgrading of military officers and reduction in pension of jawans they were performing their legal, nay, sacred duty.

6. Role of press in dealing with a set of people who have legal/ self-imposed vow of silence. There are certain curbs on a soldier’s interaction with media. These are meant to safeguard from premature divulgence of sensitive operational information. Training of military is such that it makes the soldiers intrinsically are shy of publicity. This silence becomes part of their ethos and is reflected in adjectives like `the silent service’, which the Indian Navy uses to describe itself. Most of the soldiers extend these limited restrictions to even matters of routine administrative nature. Hence it is the duty of the media persons reporting on defence matters to be scrupulously fair and sensitive to the ethos of military in reporting matters relating to services and avoid any hint of superciliousness, partiality or impropriety. In the instant case these qualities were conspicuous by their absence. Just demands of the military were termed `whine lists’. The 60 year old Chiefs, who have put in nearly four decades of service to the nation were reportedly `castigated’ by a firm political leadership and `told firmly’ to `behave’. This is nothing but lack of character on part of reporters and absence of editorial control.

7. Role of Government in safeguarding military leaders from slander. Even more worrisome is the absence of sensitivity on part of those in the government. One hand when a TV Channel reported existence of a letter in Army HQ purportedly written by serving senior officer (s), the Press Information Bureau of Government of India was very quick in denying its existence. But when on more than one occasion the press reported about `castigation’ of Chiefs, the same PIB kept totally quiet. At the very least this points to grave insensitivity towards honour and sensibilities of the military on part of government or at worst a well planned strategy to humiliate and down grade entire military.

8. Future. It was heartening to note that people at large, who are the ultimate repository of sovereignty in a democracy have extended overwhelming support to their brothers and sisters in uniform. They instinctively recoginse the special nature of duties a soldier performs, risks he takes, deprivation he suffers and price he pays in terms of family life and risks to life and limb he bears are for the good of entire nation. Let us all stand up to the self serving elite and expose it for what it really is – a set of self-serving, in-breeding cowardly lot who have no stake in Bharat that is India. Let us build a strong vibrant and confident India whose soldiers are proud to bear arms in its defence.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance of gigantic proportions

By Yogander Singh

1. Indian press and the politicians routinely blame the bureaucracy for many ills including corruption, sloth and inefficiency. The same press also routinely articulates bureaucratic view of politicians as ignorant and self-serving. Sometime bureaucrat and politician get together to blame press for wrong reporting/misquoting. And, the self-same set by and large calls Indian military a beacon of efficiency and patriotism. Not that sacrifices of our soldiers need any certificates! But when it comes to the same military seeking a fair deal in terms of service including pay and allowances, one sees contours of a different equation emerging. The earlier adversarial positioning vis-à-vis each-other is now shown as what it really was – a fraud . It was our mistake to imagine a drawing room discussion between members of a family, as a system of checks and balances. Yes in a way it is a system of checks and balances but for their own benefit. Dispossessed of the society including soldiers are not part of the family. Now that the Chowkidar (soldier) has shown the temerity to seek a fair deal, he must be put in his place. It calls the soldiers whiners, their Chiefs are portrayed as imbeciles who are being defiant and need to be taught obedience. This disconnect between the elite and people who toil and shed blood for the nation is the reason why we keep getting defeated at foreign hands for 23 centuries. But the time has come to let the elite know the truth and expose fallacy of their position.

2. Position of Soldier in a democracy. Soldier in democracy is a citizen first. This stands amply clarified by the Supreme Court of India in more than one judgment. A soldier is first and foremost citizen of democratic, socialist republic of India, and just like any other citizen he has rights and duties which remain with him even after he joins the armed forces of the nation (Bedi PPS, Lt Col, VS, UoI, AIR 1982 SC: 1413: 1983 Cri LJ 647 (SC), : 1982 (2) SLJ 583). Second the Indian soldier is a volunteer. He willingly takes on himself the noble task of defending the nation unto death. This spirit of self-sacrifice for a higher cause makes him a `special citizen’ and not any less citizen. Curbs on his freedom are not meant to make him a slave. These are solely meant to meet certain operational necessities and in no way curtail his right to due process of law in matters of pay and allowances. This is amply clarified through judgments of various courts including the Supreme Court itself (Rai DSC, Maj Gen v GCM Fort St Goerge, Madras, Madras High Court WP Nos. 3067 and 3068 of 1984 (Order dated 25 April 1984).

3. Command of Armed Forces Article 52(2) of the Constitution reads: "Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision the supreme command of the Defence Forces of the Union shall be vested in the President and the exercise thereof shall be regulated by law." Due process of law applies as much to government of the day as to the soldier. Soldier is duty bound to obey `legal orders’ of government but has no obligation to suffer indignities and calumny. Soldier is entitled to protection extended to other employees in service matters including fair and just compensation. In fact the Army Act provides special protection to soldier from attachment of his pay for any reason and here we have a situation wherein the Cabinet on the advise of bureaucrats (Committee of Secretaries) has lowered pay and status of soldiers and their pensions without giving any reasons (in administrative matters speaking order is legal necessity) and what does the so-called independent press do! It goes on to blame the Military Leaders calling them defiant and disobedient!! If this is not ignorance, then I am sorry to say that it is travesty of truth.

4. Role of Military Leaders in administration of troops. Soldiers do not form trade unions because the task of negotiating a fair deal with the government is assigned to head of unit/regiment/army. It is a duty enshrined in the motto of Indian Military Academy. I quote it in full for the benefit of ignorant.
“ The safety honour and welfare of your country
come first always and every time.
The honour welfare and comfort of the men
you command come next.
Your own ease comfort and safety
come last always and every time “
5. When Military Chiefs articulating their anguish and opposition on patently illegal downgrading of military officers and reduction in pension of jawans they were performing their legal, nay, sacred duty.

6. Role of press in dealing with a set of people who have legal/ self-imposed vow of silence. There are certain curbs on a soldier’s interaction with media. These are meant to safeguard from premature divulgence of sensitive operational information. Training of military is such that it makes the soldiers intrinsically are shy of publicity. This silence becomes part of their ethos and is reflected in adjectives like `the silent service’, which the Indian Navy uses to describe itself. Most of the soldiers extend these limited restrictions to even matters of routine administrative nature. Hence it is the duty of the media persons reporting on defence matters to be scrupulously fair and sensitive to the ethos of military in reporting matters relating to services and avoid any hint of superciliousness, partiality or impropriety. In the instant case these qualities were conspicuous by their absence. Just demands of the military were termed `whine lists’. The 60 year old Chiefs, who have put in nearly four decades of service to the nation were reportedly `castigated’ by a firm political leadership and `told firmly’ to `behave’. This is nothing but lack of character on part of reporters and absence of editorial control.

7. Role of Government in safeguarding military leaders from slander. Even more worrisome is the absence of sensitivity on part of those in the government. One hand when a TV Channel reported existence of a letter in Army HQ purportedly written by serving senior officer (s), the Press Information Bureau of Government of India was very quick in denying its existence. But when on more than one occasion the press reported about `castigation’ of Chiefs, the same PIB kept totally quiet. At the very least this points to grave insensitivity towards honour and sensibilities of the military on part of government or at worst a well planned strategy to humiliate and down grade entire military.

8. Future. It was heartening to note that people at large, who are the ultimate repository of sovereignty in a democracy have extended overwhelming support to their brothers and sisters in uniform. They instinctively recoginse the special nature of duties a soldier performs, risks he takes, deprivation he suffers and price he pays in terms of family life and risks to life and limb he bears are for the good of entire nation. Let us all stand up to the self serving elite and expose it for what it really is – a set of self-serving, in-breeding cowardly lot who have no stake in Bharat that is India. Let us build a strong vibrant and confident India whose soldiers are proud to bear arms in its defence.