Feel free to contribute on burning issues concerning the armed forces. Contributions would be acknowledged - Use the 'Comments' tab or email navdeepsingh.india[at]gmail.com. No operational/business/commercial matters to be discussed please. Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained. Information on this blog is opinion based and is neither official nor in the form of an advice. This is a pro bono online journal in public service related to issues, policies and benefits, and the idea behind it is to educate and not to create controversy or to incite. Be soft in your language, respect Copyrights.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I pick what I like : DoPT

The central govt touts itself to be transparency and information friendly. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in a detailed and lengthy recent judgement had upheld the right to access answer sheets. The judgement was rendered in 54 pages.

Though the judgement was landmark in every sense of the term, it is interesting to note what the DoPT - the nodal department concerning RTI, has found from within the judgement.

This latest circular issued by the DoPT, rather than conveying the spirit of the judgment which of course goes against the grain of current official policy, has picked up something which it intends to flog for its own use. It was one paragraph in the judgment that the DoPT found extremely useful and has floated to all ministries and departments and not the entire judgement. Meaning thereby, that rather than bringing the judgment to the notice of all concerned or asking public authorities to follow the judgment and its spirit, the DoPT wants them to only implement one paragraph which says that only that information is to be provided which actually exists and that only those opinions or advices can be provided which actually exist on paper. Actually, this is nothing new and is already well understood and has even been discussed on this blog way back in September 2009.

Anyway, the underlying attitudinal currents of the officers who handle the RTI wing in DoPT become very clear and lucid by way of their latest circular.

Whither transparency !

Monday, September 19, 2011

Revised rates for defence personnel : The Taj Group

The Taj Group has revised its special rates for defence personnel.

The preferential rates are now applicable to Taj Hotels and Resorts located in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Coimbatore and Chandigarh.

The special rates, benefits, terms and conditions can be accessed by clicking here.

Thanks to my friend, 'Conscience', for sending this in.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Related to the previous post of contractual appointments in CAPFs

CRPF authorities have informed me that they have already issued the advertisement for contractual employment of ex-servicemen to serve in naxal affected areas and for imparting rotational training. The advertisement can be accessed by clicking here.

Also it has come to light that after the issue was pointed out, a decision had been taken to favourably change the rank equation earlier this year and one phase of recruitment for JCOs (including Naib Subedars) at the level of Inspector and of other ranks (including Sepoys) at the level of Head Constable, has already been carried out.

The above advertisement may be circulated to ex-servicemen organisations for the benefit of our released JCOs and OR.

As readers would be able to make out, though there is drastic improvement in the rank structure and the pay package being offered, there still are slips in the policy. For example, though such veterans are not being granted regular pay-scales with GP, still if a Naib Subedar joins for counter-IED operations, he is taken in as an Inspector (GP 4600 level), but if he joins for imparting training, then he is taken in as an ASI (GP 2800). If a Subedar Major opts for Counter-IED operations, he shall be made an Inspector (GP 4600) however if he joins for imparting training, then he shall be made a Subedar Major (GP 4800).

For those who are wondering, unlike the Police, the appointment of Subedar Major exists in CAPFs also, just like the Army

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rank mis-match : some relief !

"About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age." - Gloria Pitzer

Since the last two years, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs – formerly known as CPOs) had been issuing advertisements for recruitment of Ex-Servicemen on a skewed rank equation. CAPFs were seeking Naib Subedars (GP 4200) to join at GP 2800 level and also Havildars (GP 2800) to join at GP 2000 level. The same was pointed out on this blog and also strongly taken up by me separately with the MHA as well as the AG’s Branch.

It seems that collective efforts have borne fruit to an extent. The CRPF is soon going to undertake a massive recruitment drive for ex-servicemen. I have been informed that a decision has been taken to rectify the rank equation as far as re-employment is concerned. Henceforth all JCOs, including Naib Subedars, would be recruited as Inspectors (GP 4600) while other ranks (including Sepoys) shall be recruited as Head Constables (GP 2400). Further, JCOs would be entitled to a handsome fixed compensation package of Rs 54000/- per month while other ranks would be entitled to a fixed package of Rs 34,000/- per month. Recruitment would be offered to those who have done courses related to explosives, field engineering and IEDs and the deployment would probably primarily be in naxal affected areas.

Goes to show that most of our problems emanate from the reason that we do not even want to try. There are people willing to listen but nothing shall move till we speak. Let us not just watch the show, let us engage ourselves with the problems that stare us in our face, and that includes the overall deterioration of our status and standing in the official hierarchy. We need to keep our eyes open, and most importantly it is the people currently in service who need to play a greater role, rather than people like us who are occupied in other professions and can at best maintain a hawk-eye but only from the side of the ring, rather than from bang in the middle of it !

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Attributability on negligent handling of weapons

I was party to a discussion recently wherein a senior officer was directing a junior to change the statement of attributability in a case involving negligent discharge of a small arm while on duty by a Sepoy. It was not a case of self-inflicted injury. The senior officer was of the opinion that such cases should be declared ‘not attributable to service’. He was further of the opinion that such personnel should not be made entitled to pension or disability pension in case of invalidation from service.

Is such an approach correct ?

Not at all. Firstly, such cases definitely have to be declared ‘attributable to service’ since acts and omissions while handling weapons have a direct link and nexus with military service. Would the person have suffered this particular injury had he not been in the Army? The answer would be in the negative. Hence, the correct way to address such situations is to declare the injury attributable to service and also to endorse the element of negligence, if established beyond doubt which may or may not lead to any in-house punishment. Moreover, it is not for military authorities to decide whether such personnel should be entitled to pensionary benefits or not. The right to pension should not be held mortgage to a senior officer’s personal opinion, bias or prejudice. Entitlement Rule 13(a) and Pension Regulation 175 clearly provide that in case of negligence, the disability element of pension can be reduced, but not refused.

A recommended reading on the above subject would be a case decided by the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court in the year 2009 titled Kuldeep Singh Vs UOI (CWP 9566 of 2008).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

But what's in a name ???

The MoD has again touted the renaming of Services HQ as a major achievement as can be made out from the following report appearing in the Times of India today :

NEW DELHI: The old debate in the Indian defence establishment, about the lack of integration between the bureaucracy and the military, is back - and as expected the civilian bureaucracy has disagreed with the military leadership.

Authoritative sources said the Chiefs of Staff Committee, comprising the three Service chiefs, has complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the lack of integration between the ministry of defence and the three Services, saying it was contributing to prolonged delays in procurement and hampering other higher defence management activities.

According to a senior official, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, who was the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, in a detailed communication to the PM put forward the military concerns. It was among ACM Naik's last communications to the PM before he retired on July 31.

Sources said ACM Naik pointed out to the PM that the Kargil Review Committee, appointed after the 1999 conflict between India and Pakistan, had recommended integration between the defence ministry and the three Services, and it was duly approved by a Group of Ministers. The Committee had recommended that the "structure and interface between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Armed Forces Headquarters be comprehensively studied and reorganized". Many decisions of the GoM were implemented, resulting in the setting up of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), Defence Intelligence Agency etc.

Some aspects specifically regarding the integration between the MoD and the Service headquarters were also implemented, among them being the concept of the single file system. Earlier, the MoD and Service headquarters used to maintain separate files on the same subject, but this was given up. The Army and Navy headquarters have been renamed "Integrated Headquarters of MoD".

However, ACM Naik complained to the PM that the level of integration was not enough, with the civilians in the MoD having overriding powers over most crucial activities of the military, especially big ticket purchases. He suggested that it was high time that the government appointed senior military officers in the MoD, at the level of joint secretary etc, sources said.

In response, the MoD in a recent communication told the Chiefs of Staff Committee that the integration was in fact complete and was visible in several aspects. The MoD cited the single file concept and the renaming of the military headquarters to back its claims.

The Kargil Review Committee had pointed out that India perhaps was the only major democracy where the Armed Forces Headquarters were "outside the apex governmental structure". Thus the Service chiefs have "assumed the role of operational commanders of their respective forces rather than that of Chiefs of Staff to the Prime Minister and defence minister". The committee said the "Prime Minister and defence minister do not have the benefit of the views and expertise of the Army commanders and their equivalents in the Navy and Air Force so that higher level defence management decisions are more consensual and broadbased."