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Monday, April 30, 2012

Stark discrimination between disabled employees of the defence services vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts

The tragedy of our country is that while there is ample lip service and pseudo-respect available to the cause of defence veterans, theory does not translate into actual action on ground. While there are many in the nation who perpetually brag about the facilities and benefits provided by the government to defence personnel, not even a fraction can actually fathom how innocuous sounding provisos and exceptions have been carved out to the detriment of  the men and women in uniform.

The following paragraphs contain a self-explanatory letter endorsed by me to various addressees which would go to show how disabled defence veterans are unduly being discriminated vis-à-vis their peers in other government services. While some of the addressees have replied stating that the cause and the grievances reflected are genuine, again not much has moved except lips, symbolically speaking.

Following is the reproduction of the letter referred above. If you find the data a little heavy on your time, may just have a look at the table in the middle.

Addressed for independent action to:
A. The Defence Minister, South Block, New Delhi
B. Chiefs of the Army / Naval / Air Staff, New Delhi
C. Secretary, Ex-Servicemen Welfare, South Block, New Delhi
D. Law Minister, Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, New Delhi
E. Minister-in-Charge, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, New Delhi
F. Secretary, Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, New Delhi


1.     As you must be aware, Section 47 of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (Annexure-A) protects the employment of disabled government servants. This proactive and welfare oriented provision provides that the government shall not dispense with the services of a disabled government employee. The said provision also further provides that even in case a disabled government employee cannot be adjusted on any suitable post, he or she may be kept on supernumerary strength till the age of superannuation (60 years in case of Central Govt) and resultantly be paid full pay and allowances, and pension thereafter, even if the affected employee is unable to attend to any official duty. The Act is applicable to State Govt also.

2.     The Govt however, as per proviso to the above Section 47, can exempt certain organisations from the operation of the said section through a gazette notification. In pursuance thereof, the central govt has exempted combatants in the armed forces from the applicability of the protection under Section 47 (Annexure-B) and similar notifications have also been issued for employees of certain other security organisations. The issuance of such notifications and the exemption of such organisations from the scope of Section 47 is well understood and well appreciated in light of the fact that security forces have to retain a young and fit profile in order to perform the cardinal duties set out for them.

3.     The problem however is that this exemption, which was primarily undertaken to retain a fit fighting profile for such organisations, has unwittingly resulted in a grave form of injustice for the disabled members of such forces who suffer disabilities on accounts of reasons declared as non-service connected or neither attributable to, nor aggravated by service. While in all government services, the employment, pay, allowances and pension of a person who suffers any kind of disability (whether connected with service or otherwise) are fully protected due to the applicability of the above Act, on the other hand, in the armed forces, neither the employment, nor the pay, allowances nor pension are protected and such individuals are discharged or invalided out of service without any kind of pension/disability pension or protection which may be very much required for leading a dignified life. It may be important to point out here that as per the current pensionary provisions, a member of the armed forces who is discharged or invalided out with a disability attributable to or aggravated by or connected to service conditions is entitled to ‘disability pension’ irrespective of length of service, but the same is not admissible to those who are discharged or invalided with disabilities not connected with service such as injuries sustained on leave. It is common practice for persons with disabilities to be discharged from military service on account of disabilities and the minimum service requirement for earning an ‘Invalid Pension’ for injuries, diseases and disabilities due to non-service reasons is 10 years whereas civilian employees cannot at all be discharged on account of disabilities and can enjoy full tenure with full pay & allowances till the age of superannuation and pension thereafter.

4.      Non-availability of any kind of monthly financial assistance or pension to such disabled military personnel with less than 10 years’ service who are invalided out or discharged with disabilities directly infringes their right to enjoy a dignified life. Such personnel are unable to support themselves or their families while their civilian counterparts face no such impediment. In a common recruitable population, it is highly demoralising to experience a disabled military personnel fighting against odds to make both ends meet for himself/herself and his/her family while his or her peer in civil employment enjoys complete protection in this regard. A major chunk of such disabled personnel are from the category of persons who suffer injury while on authorised military leave – even such personnel are not entitled to any form of disability or invalid pensionary benefits on being discharged as per current provisions. It may not be out of place to point out that in all developed democracies, personnel suffering injuries on authorised leave are entitled to disability pensionary benefits but the same has been denied to Indian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel despite the passage of more than 6 decades of freedom. It may also be pointed out that the Pensionary Entitlement Rules of the Indian Military are modelled after the American provisions (and not the British Rules) and the American Rules fully provide for disability benefits for disabilities suffered on authorised leave (Title 38, United States Code). In Canada, there is an Accidental Dismemberment Insurance Plan (ADIP) for non-service related injuries suffered by members of Canadian Forces which involves payment of a monthly amount. Even in Bhutan, which has just embraced full democratic principles, a disabled member of the forces is paid full pay and allowances till age of superannuation in case of inability of performance of military duties. In other countries even where service benefits are not admissible to such cases, a handsome disability allowance is admissible which is adequate to ensure a life of dignity.

5.       The stark variance between a civilian vis-à-vis a defence employee in this regard is discernible from the following tabulation :-

Civil Govt Employee with 9 years of service who suffers a disability
Military Employee with 9 years of service who suffers a disability

Protection of Service

Full protection under Section 47 of the Act.

Will not be discharged on account of disability.
Armed Forces exempted from operation of Section 47. Hence no protection of employment available in case of disability. Employee can be discharged on account of disability.

Pay and allowances
Full pay and allowances admissible till the age of 60 even if unable to attend any official duty. Can even be kept on supernumerary post and paid all pay and allowances.

NIL admissible.


Entitled to full service length till superannuation and pension thereafter.

NIL admissible.

Right to life of dignity for self and family.

Full pay and pension and complete govt protection/cover with entitled  facilities admissible to dependants.
NIL. No facilities or protection for self and dependants.

6.            The above would show that it is only in our country where members of the armed forces who suffer non-service related disabilities are made to suffer the life of ignominy with no protection whatsoever. Equity demands that our disabled who are discharged from service due to reasons not under their control should be made entitled to atleast some minimum allowance, irrespective of their length of service, that may be required to lead a decent dignified life. The lack of any such protection is not only dispiriting but also demoralizing for persons joining the armed forces vis-à-vis their peers joining other services. This also is a great disservice for our youth and highly discouraging for the men and women in uniform. Lack of protection of Section 47 hence has not only resulted in guarantee of employment in case of disability but also denial of pension and a right to a dignified life for military personnel and their families, a viewpoint that may not have been taken into account earlier. As stated above, while the reason for exemption from Section 47 is much appreciated, it should not have a detrimental effect in other arenas which could not have been visualised.

7.           I hope that the above would be appreciated in a pragmatic light and a way out of this acute problem would be addressed. Since the protection of disability laws is not available to armed forces, either the requirement of 10 years of service for invalid pension should be abrogated, or disability pension (for which already there is no minimum service requirement) should be made admissible for non-service related disabilities also, except perhaps those disabilities that may have been incurred during any illegal activity. This would not only be a great service to our brave armed forces but also to the disabled population as a whole. I am confident of positive action in this direction with your intervention.

                                                            Thanking You

                                                                                                (Navdeep Singh)

Copy to:
1. Adjutant General, South Block, New Delhi
2. Chief of Personnel (COP), Indian Navy, Sena Bhawan, DHQ PO, New Delhi
3. Air Officer-in-Charge Personnel (AoP), Air Headquarters, New Delhi
4. Director, PS-4 (Legal), PS Directorate, Sena Bhawan, DHQ PO, New Delhi
5. Chairman, Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), New Delhi
6. President, Disabled War Veterans (DIWAVE)
7. Secretary, Department of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
8. Secretary to Govt of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi
9. Directors General CRPF, BSF, ITBP



(Legislative Department)
New Delhi, the 1st January, 1996 / Pausa 11, 1917 (Saka)
Section 47
47. (1) No establishment shall dispense with or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his service.
Provided that, if an employee, after acquiring disability is not suitable for the post he was holding, could be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits.
Provided further that if it is not possible to adjust the employee against any post, he may be kept on a supernumerary post until a suitable post is available or he attains the age of superannuation, whichever is earlier.
(2) No promotion shall be denied to a person merely on the ground of his disability:
Provided that the appropriate Government may, having regard to the type of work carried on in any establishment, by notification and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be specified in such notification, exempt any establishment from the provisions of this section.


Appearing on Page Nos. 3489-3490
Date: 13.4.2002

New Delhi, the 28th March, 2002

S.R.O. 1179.- In exercise of the powers conferred by proviso to Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (1 of 1996) the Central Government having regard to the type of work carried on hereby exempts all categories of posts of combatant personnel of the Armed Forces from the provision of the said section.
(No. 16-27/2001-NI.I)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rumour mongering on General Bikram Singh’s alleged fake encounter

Allegations are flying all over regarding a supposedly fake encounter in which General Bikram had reportedly been ambushed. It is also being alleged that he had feigned injury in a managed militant attack.

Take it from me that the incident was not fake.

I say this since I personally knew two officers present in the same incident. One was Late Colonel JP Janu, commanding a Territorial Army Battalion, and the other was Late Lieutenant Bikramjit Bajwa. While Col Janu lost his life, Lt Bajwa lost his limbs in the same incident.

Bajwa later joined the civil services and unfortunately died in a road accident. He was known to be one of the finest and most honest young civil servants in Punjab.

Lt Bajwa’s father is an ex-SSCO who had later joined the BSF from where he ultimately retired. He’s settled in Mohali, Punjab.

A news-report from 2001 related to Col Janu’s demise can be accessed by clicking here.

It is unfortunate that the Army has been reduced to a rubble of rumour in this entire episode.

Very sad!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Of lions, deer and military leadership : Ajai Shukla

Col Ajai Shukla speaks the cardinal truth in this piece. Truth we would not like to hear.

Of lions, deer and military leadership

Ajai Shukla

(Original text appears in ‘Business Standard’ and on Col Shukla’s blog.)

On Sunday the army chief, General V K Singh, raised an intriguing question while talking to schoolchildren in Jaipur. “An army of deer led by a lion is to be feared more than [an] army of lions led by a deer,” said the general.

My first thought as I mulled over this profundity was: can a deer that has served all his life in an army full of deer suddenly transform into a lion at the top? Alternatively, could a lion serving in an army full of deer be promoted somehow to the top slot?

Common sense would rule out both eventualities. An army full of deer would only promote a deer to the top, just as an army of lions would always have a lion in command. But the Indian Army presents a paradoxical third alternative. The numerous lions in this excellent army serve up to a certain rank. Then, around the time they become colonels or brigadiers, something strange happens: the lions start turning into deer!

The General V K Singh affair illuminates the generals in a harsh and unforgiving light. The generals emerge as riven with infighting; they undermine meritocracy by promoting loyalists; and, perhaps most worryingly, they compromise the army’s readiness for war by meekly acquiescing in crippling shortfalls of equipment and ammunition.

Over a drink, ask any junior or mid-ranking officer, and you will find disillusionment with senior commanders and with a working environment that rewards the safe and predictable rather than the bold and unexpected. Recent controversies have exacerbated murmurs that generals only think about themselves. Talk to the generals, on the other hand, and they express disappointment over the “poor quality” of young officers. There is a clear disconnect between the two ends of the rank pyramid, between the lions and the deer.

This observation is fraught with personal danger, since my army batch-mates have just been evaluated, and many of them cleared, for promotion to major general! Knowing these gentlemen as intimately as a course-mate, comrade and friend of many years does, I acknowledge with some satisfaction that the army has homed in on the high achievers. But identifying good lions is of little use if they begin turning into deer.

At a time when many soldiers – serving and retired – bitterly regard themselves as under attack from the defence ministry, the media, and even the judiciary, it is time for India’s finest and most resilient institution to look within rather than without. What are the systemic flaws in the army structure that disempowers its leaders and binds them in mental shackles?

The first is a growing culture of conformity: an intolerance of alternative viewpoints that is the natural attribute of under-confident commanders. This causes the boss’ viewpoint (itself springing from what he thinks his boss’ viewpoint might be) to become the viewpoint of everyone down the chain — effectively killing any prospect of internal reform. The system cannot be challenged from within, since any discussion about alternative leadership models presupposes that the existing model might be less than perfect.

It is nobody’s case that the army should encourage dissent; no military does. But great armies tolerate, and actively encourage, non-conformism. This is essential, not just for operational innovativeness that would keep the enemy guessing in war, but also for throwing up essential bottom-up challenges to the status quo. Totalitarian Conformism, as today’s army leadership style might be termed, reduces the landscape of professional and personal creativity to a dull wasteland where the fabled “dashing young officer” is marked not by flashes of innovative genius but by his quickness in agreeing with the boss.

Young officers allow themselves to be bound by these shackles because of the army’s insularity. Segregated from the world outside, and with little realisation of their actual worth, junior officers are reluctant to buck the system. Given the conviction that promotion is the only measure of success, they toe the line rather than risk professional hara-kiri by setting out to change the system. Their outlook can only change with exposure. Sending out junior officers on secondments and deputations – with academic institutions; successful government enterprises; media organisations; the police forces – will enrich the military’s bloodline with external leadership and decision-making cultures. It will also provide officers with the confidence that is required to challenge the status quo and to create a bottom-up dynamic that forces the generals to respond like lions rather than continue like deer.

Will the generals permit such a change? Most probably not since empowering junior officers and encouraging non-conformism are threatening prospects. Good reasons are ready at hand to shoot down such “unworkable” and “impractical” ideas: a shortage of officers; inter-se seniority issues during secondment; and so on. It would, therefore, be necessary for the government to intervene. We’re waiting for Godot.

Tailpiece: The phrase “lions led by donkeys” was used by the Germans to describe the British army during World War I. It encapsulated their impression of incompetent generals letting down the brave and dedicated British soldier.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two important pensionary anomalies resolved by the Ministry of Defence

Pension of post-1996 retiree Majors whose scales were upgraded to pay-scale of Lt Col on completion of 21 years of service:- The Govt of India, as a one-time measure after the 5th CPC, had provided vide MoD letter No 1(5)/97/D (Pay/Services) dated 21 Nov 1997 and Para 5(a) (iv) of SAI 2/S/98 that officers who had become substantive Majors prior to 01 Jan 1996 and who were in service as on 01 Jan 1996, were to be granted the pay scale of a Lt Col (TS) on completion of 21 years of service, that is, pay scale of a Selection Grade Lt Col with the rank pay of a Major. Such Majors who could hence not be promoted as Lt Col (TS) due to medical or other criterion were granted the scale of the said rank purely as a one-time measure. Naturally, their pensions were also to be fixed in accordance with the scale of Lt Col since pension is directly linked to the pay drawn and is basically granted @ 50% of reckonable emoluments at the time of retirement. Even after the 6th CPC, as per Govt of India letter dated 11 Nov 2008, the pensions of such affected officers were to be fixed at a rate not lower than 50% of the revised replacement scale of a Lt Col which corresponds to the pre-revised scale (and not rank) from which they had retired. Pension as we know is based on the scale held on retirement and not rank. The pension of such Majors who were holding the pay scale of Lt Col (TS) at the time of retirement was to be fixed at Rs 25,700 for full service calculated on the basis of Pay Band-IV as applicable to Lt Cols.  

However though the above proposition was amply clear from the orders issued after the 6th CPC, there was lack of co-ordination between the PCDA(O) which had to issue the Last Pay Certificates (LPCs) and the PCDA(P) which had to issue the revised PPOs. As a result, whereas some officers were suo-moto granted the benefit, some were refused.

Now the MoD has clarified to all concerned that such affected post-1996 retirees who had retired in the rank of Major in the pay-scale of a Lt Col, would be granted the benefit of Pay Band-4 with the Grade Pay of Rs 8000 for the purposes of pension also.

This issue which had resulted in multiple rounds of litigation hence stands resolved.

Anomaly of lower ranks drawing more pension than higher ranks in cases of Other Ranks and Junior Commissioned Officers:- After the implementation of the report of the Committee of Secretaries with effect from 01 July 2009, tables for revised pension were issued by the office of PCDA(P) vide a Circular in March 2010. There were however instances wherein lower ranks were being paid more pension than higher ranks with the same length of qualifying service.

This anomaly has been rectified and revised tables have been issued by the Govt of India wherever this anomaly had been observed and identified. 

Many thanks to the staff at the Army HQ, especially the PS Directorate and the Army Pay Commission Cell for pushing the above through. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Consolidated instructions by DoPT on the subject of age relaxation

Many veterans, especially Other Ranks, face problems while applying for civil jobs after retirement / discharge / invalidation as far as the issue of age relaxation is concerned.

The Govt, through various OMs and notifications issued from time to time has provided for age relaxation for various categories of individuals, including ex-servicemen, for the purposes of recruitment.

To mitigate confusion on the subject, the Department of Personnel and Training has issued consolidated instructions in the form of an OM for the information of all concerned.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pension enhancement of pre-2006 widows : more movement

As was reported on this blog on 25 November 2011 with full details and modalities, the enhancement of pensions of widows is on the anvil.

Though the Raksha Mantri had accorded an in-principle approval to the policy revision, the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) and Defence Finance had forwarded the file to Department of Expenditure which had then further endorsed it to the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) for its consideration whether such a revision would invite similar demands from other services.

The IESM informs that the DoPPW has written back on the subject with neutral notings and the file is soon going to be back in the Defence Ministry.

With the new Secretary DESW, Mr Samirendra Chatterjee in chair for a few more months and who seems to be strongly in control of the situation without being over-reliant on the lower level staff of the DESW, positive movement can be expected soon related to the file on which the Raksha Mantri has already in fact given his word of approval.