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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Status of Special Family Pension on remarriage for pre-1996 cases : need to educate

Special Family Pension (SFP) is granted to families of deceased personnel when the death is declared either attributable to, or aggravated by military service.

According to earlier provisions, SFP used to be discontinued on re-marriage of a widow, except when the marriage was with the deceased husband’s brother. However this condition was abrogated with effect from 01-01-1996 when it was provided that SFP shall continue on re-marriage irrespective of the person with whom the marriage is solemnised. But the new stipulation was only made applicable to post-1996 cases.

However later, in 2009, the Government of India extended the new provision to pre-1996 cases also and as on date, all widows, irrespective of the date of the death of their husbands, are entitled to receive SFP. This needs to be disseminated to the affected cases since even today many widows who had re-married continue to remain without pension because of the lack of publicity of the new Govt of India letter.

With effect from 1-1-2006, even ordinary family pension is allowed to continue on re-marriage.

Ideally, the MoD / AG’s Branch should publish such issues in all national papers or should direct all record offices to inform affected cases whenever such a letter with retrospective application is issued since there is just no manner otherwise to inform pensioners of newly introduced provisions. It may be a tedious process for the record offices to undertake, but there is no other way.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

MNS cadre restructured

The following is the Cabinet note on the approval accorded yesterday :

The Union Cabinet today approved the proposal of cadre restructuring of Military Nursing Services (MNS). The proposal approved by the Cabinet includes:-

Upgradation of 74 posts of Lt Col (Time Scale) to the rank of Lt. Col (Select) and above. Now, there will be 2 Major Generals, 18 Brigadiers, 58 Colonels and 157 Colonels (Select) in MNS.

Revision of service criteria in the Time Scale promotion in the non Select Rank up to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (Time Scale) will be as follows : Captain- 3 years (from existing 5 years); Major – 8 years (from existing 12 years) and Lt.Col.(TS) – 16 years (from existing 20 years).

Qualifying service for Lieutenant Colonel (Select) rank by Selection Board revised from the existing 18 years to 14 years.

The decision will reduce stagnation in the various ranks of Military Nursing Service by increasing the number of select appointments. It will also help in retaining competent and qualified nursing officers in service by providing adequate opportunities for career progression.

The last cadre review of Military Nursing Service was carried out in the year 1986. The authorized strength of MNS cadre is 3860 and there are only 161 select rank posts in the MNS cadre. There is a steep pyramidal structure at higher select ranks. An MNS officer is able to pick up the select appointment in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel approximately after 26-28 years of service, when she is around 46-48 years of age. On account of limited number of vacancies, arising out of superannuation, there is large scale supersession of many deserving nursing officers (both specialised and non-specialised) in the Promotion Boards for promotion to higher ranks. Apart from causing de-motivation among these nursing officers, non-selection for promotion also leads to seeking premature retirement by such experienced nursing officers. To retain such qualified and trained nursing offices, it has been considered necessary to improve promotional avenues at all levels so as to mitigate the hardship of nursing officers by increasing the number of posts in select grade appointments within the overall strength of cadre.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

There and Here, Part – II

The subject line refers to an old post on this blog.

Though the following excerpt has been circulating for quite some time now, I think it deserves better attention from all of us. It is a pick from Pages 110 & 111 of ‘Towards Resurgent India’ by Lt Gen M M Lakhera who currently holds a gubernatorial appointment.

I had gone to UK in 1995 as Deputy Leader of the Indian Delegation to take part in the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the victory in Europe during the Second World War. I along with four other Army officers, had just stepped out after attending the inaugural session and were waiting on the roadside for the traffic to ease so as to walk across the road to the vehicle park. Among those with me was Honorary Captain Umrao Singh, a Victoria Cross winner (unfortunately, I have received the sad news of his expiry just two days back). All of a sudden a car moving on the road came to a halt in front of us and a well dressed gentleman stepped out. He approached Umrao Singh and said, “Sir, may I have the privilege of shaking hand with the Victoria Cross?” He shook hands with him. Evidently he had spotted Umrao Singh’s medal from his car and had stopped his car to pay his respect to a winner of the highest gallantry medal of his country.

Then he looked at me and said, “General, you are from Indian Army.” When I replied in affirmative, he gave out his name, saying that he was Micheal Hazelstine . I was absolutely astounded as the recognition dawned on me that he was the Deputy Prime Minister of UK. I was totally overawed by such courtesy shown by a dignitary of the second highest status in the British Government and humbly thanked him for having invited our delegation for the VE Day function. Again his reply was typical of his sagacity, “General, it is we the British, who should be grateful to your country and your Armed Forces, who had helped us win both the first and the second World wars. How can we be ever so ungrateful to forget your country’s great contribution.” Suddenly I became conscious that all the traffic behind his car had come to stand still. I hurried to thank him and politely requested him to move along to relieve the traffic hold-up. He stated, “Sir, how dare I drive off when Victoria Cross has to cross the road.”

Realizing his genuine feeling I and my colleagues quickly crossed the road. Reaching the other side I looked back and saw that Mr Hailstine was still standing waiting for the Victoria Cross to be safely across. Ladies & Gentlemen, that is the type of regards they have for their decorated soldiers. I have always aspired that similar respect could be shown at least to a Param Vir Chakra or Ashok Chakra winner by the leaders and prominent figures in our country.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another pro-employee step by the DoPT for officials on foreign assignments

Employees on foreign assignments had one very genuine grievance, and that was transferring out of such officers and officials at a time which did not coincide with the academic sessions of their children.

In a proactive and pro-employee move, the Govt of India has decided that from now onwards the postings of such central govt employees shall be planned in a manner so as to ensure the completion of annual examination of their children. Employees shall also be informed and assured that their postings shall coincide with annual examinations. Even curtailment and extension of tenure would be possible so as to keep this very important aspect in view.

The letter issued by the DoPT can be accessed by clicking here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Same story everywhere...

It has come to light that the US Army may have discharged many soldiers on the basis of a wrong diagnosis leading to denial of disability and pensionary benefits.

Rather than acknowledging soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they were stamped as having personality disorders.

This article throws light on this very grim problem being faced by Iraq veterans of the US Army.

It’s the same story here in India for we analyse psychiatric disorders in a manner which is more mathematical than clinical. But more on that later….

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fresh guidelines on the Central Staffing Scheme

The Central Staffing Scheme is one of the oldest systems in place in Central Secretariats of the Union Govt.

Officers from the rank of Under Secretary to Govt of India till Secretary to Govt of India are selected and placed in all Ministries and Departments under the Central Staffing Scheme.

Apart from officers from the All India Services and participating Organised Group A Services, officers from the Central Secretariat Service (CSS) also play a vital role in the Central Staffing Scheme. Central Secretariat Service Officers are initially recruited as Group B Officers at Section Officer level and then rise to Group A level on promotion.

The Govt is in the process of issuing fresh guidelines on the scheme and has floated a draft Office Memorandum seeking comments and suggestions so that the same can be incorporated in the final circular.

Holding of a particular level of appointment does not ipso facto result in eligibility under the Central Staffing Scheme. For example, to be eligible for an appointment as Joint Secretary to Govt of India, an officer needs to be in the Senior Administrative Grade (SAG : PB-4 / GP 10000) but that alone does not make one eligible to be placed as Joint Secretary to Govt of India since there is an elaborate process by way of which officers are empanelled for particular appointments. Officers of the IAS may reach the stage of GP 10000 in 16 or 17 years of service in their own cadres and also become eligible for empanelment after 17 years of service but are not actually and practically empanelled till attaining about 20 to 21 years of service. Moreover not all officers of the SAG are empanelled as Joint Secretaries to the Central Govt.

The draft guidelines can be accessed by clicking here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another glass ceiling shattered in the US : Lady Officer to command naval carrier strike group

Rear Admiral Nora Tyson becomes the first lady to command a Carrier Strike Group - Carrier Strike Group II of the UN Navy. She took over command aboard USS H W Bush, the last of the Nimitz class carriers.

Commissioned in 1979, Admiral Tyson is a one star officer. Unlike the Indian Navy, the US Navy has two grades of Rear Admiral, that is, lower half (one star) and upper half (two star).

The Admiral graduated from Naval ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Course), the rough naval equivalent of the Indian Territorial Army, and not from a Regular Academy, and later turned from a reservist into a full time naval officer.

A news-report with some interesting comments on the development can be accessed by clicking here.

A brief history of women in the US Navy is available here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Clarification by finmin on travel by private airlines

The finance ministry has clarified that entitled officers can travel to J&K by private airlines and that the restriction of Air India LTC-80 fares shall apply to all officers entitled to travel by air, irrespective of airlines.

The relevant clarification can be accessed by clicking here.

This has to be read with the earlier OM on the subject issued by DoPT on 18th June 2010.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

RTI Act shall apply to central govt bodies in J&K : High Court

Regular readers would recall this post on the subject.

For those who may be wondering, all departments of the central govt including the MoD already have thier PIOs under the RTI Act properly in place in the State of J&K.

The bad press for the organisation on the issue is uncalled for since the Army cannot be blamed for the action of a particular officer in deciding to file such a petition in the HC. In fact, I am sure that the MoD and the top brass at the Army HQrs would not have been even apprised of filing of this petition against the well reasoned and common-sense based CIC verdict though a petition in the name of Union of India through the Defence Secretary could not have been legally initiated without explicit consent of the Ministry, more so, since the said petition was against the national policy pertaining to RTI Act which has been adopted by all Ministries.

Monday, August 2, 2010

For all those who did not opt for a beneficial switch-over to 6th CPC scales : help may be on the way !

When the 6th CPC recommendations were implemented, an option was to be exercised by employees regarding the date of switch-over to the new scales. This was supposed to be done within a period of 3 months of the publication of Central Civil Services (Revised Pay) Rules, 2008 and the analogous SAIs in the defence services.

Due to confusion created by introduction of new concepts such as pay bands and grade pay, many central govt employees were in a fix and as a result exercised options which did not ultimately prove to be beneficial. The Central Govt has therefore relaxed the rules and the option which was initially to be provided within a period of 3 months can now be revised and changed till 31st of December, 2010. The CCS (Revised Pay) Rules, 2008, have already been amended to the extent and as per precedent, a mutatis-mutandis approach would have to be followed by the Ministry of Defence for defence employees.