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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yes, blame it on all and sundry but not your own system!

Resistance to change or rigidity of thought? Can’t say. Can’t fathom. And it is tiring.

The forces can opt to keep their eyes closed, but psychiatric ailments and related incidents such as suicides and fratricides are on the rise and of course now in the public eye.

With growing involvement of the security forces in operations all over, not just the defence services but the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are also facing a steady rise in psychiatric and behavioural disorders.

But what is worth condemning and also a cause of worry is the casual dismissal of such incidents on the grounds of being ‘domestic issues’ and bizarre pretexts such as the growing use of mobile phones and improved lines of communication.

Let us tackle the ‘domestic issues’ front first. When a person is invalided out or released in a low medical category on account of a psychiatric disorder, military medical boards are quick to term such disabilities as ‘constitutional disorders’ and as emanating from domestic issues and hence ‘neither attributable to, nor aggravated by military service’ thereby denying the person and his family all service benefits including pension.

Now please tell me, even if a ‘domestic issue’ is taken as the source of a disability or disorder, can it not have a link with military service? Well, in most of the cases it would. Most of the year, a member of a security force remains away from his (or her) family in a regimented environment. Domestic issues such as studies of children, safety of family, property disputes, administrative issues or even minor irritants etc are bound to aggravate the psychiatric condition of a person for the simple reason that being away from the family he feels helpless, and coupled with this is the very true fact of an insensitive civil administration and the dipping scale of respect for the profession of arms.

Compare with him a person with ‘domestic issues’ who is a civil employee who stays with his family and is there for them every single minute of their lives. Domestic issues would not affect a civilian employee living with his family but surely would affect a member of a security force who is not there with them, who is not there for them. An encroachment of a person’s house back in his village is definitely a ‘domestic issue’ but his not being there to effectively sort it out is definitely not a ‘domestic issue’ and is linked with military service. The non-issuance of a domicile certificate for a jawan’s child for purposes of admission in an educational institution definitely is a personal problem, but his not being able to resolve it since he is ‘stateless’ or since he is unable to pursue his remedies properly is definitely related to the rigours of military service and its exigencies. The internal mechanism to cope up with such situations would unquestionably be more fickle in the case of members of the uniformed community. So how is it that domestic issues would not have a role to play in aggravating psychiatric or behavioural disorders? If life in the forces cannot be made stress-free, the least that the medical establishment can do is to make it a rule, rather than an exception, to favourably view such disorders for declaration of ‘aggravation due to military service’ in order to at least grant benefits to the person if he is released from service in such a condition. But no, our eyes are closed and so is our mind! I would again pray that one day the office of the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services wakes up and embraces medical science rather than outdated practices and principles of mathematics. 

Senior officers also regularly blame mobile phones for many ills facing the Indian military. Now tell me, do we want our troops to live in the past without any lines of communication? Do we want our youth joining the services to remain backward while their counterparts continue to enjoy the joys of technology? Would we be able to attract the correct talent if we consider improved lines of communication a bane? The answer would be in the negative. Does someone even realise that perhaps mobile telephony may actually be reducing stress levels of troops by helping them keep in touch with their families and reducing ancillary worries? No please, ignorance is not bliss! Not in this time and age. A simple reassuring call that things are alright back home could soothe nerves and not the opposite as is being widely believed. Cuts both ways but the benefits of mobile telephones outweigh the shortcomings. Instead of working on a regressive thought-process, the leadership may well be advised to find ways and means within the four corners of the times we live in. To top it all, there are no clinical psychologists in situations where they are required. Even the number of psychiatrists is pretty low. To further add to the injury,  the system is anti-disabled from all sides with the main thrust of litigation of the defence services being against their own disabled soldiers.

While most armies of democracies move towards recognising and accepting the problem of rising stress levels and thereby addressing it, we on the other hand have our eyes shut and continue to proclaim that fauj is one of most stress free occupations in the world. Keep sleeping.  

 Yes, blame it everywhere but on your own house!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sir,

I am Lt Cdr(Retd) Amit Arvind. I retired prematurely in 2008 after 12 years service. I am entitled to:
1. Any sort of identity card
2. Medical benefits


Pritika Gulati said...

The unfortunate condition of the forces is due to a distinct lack of leaders, at every level, who think for the benefit of the organization. The concept of 'covering my backside for as long as i am in the chair' is prevalent and results in none willing to catch the bull by its horns and take a stand on any issue. Its really sad to see such apathy and role models no longer exist in the system. I dread to think where we are headed.........

Anonymous said...

Sir Surely an eye openernarticle.Hope the system takes note of this.

Anonymous said...

Surely an eye opener article. Hope the people in power/ people who matter will take note of this.

good samaritan said...

Eye opening article indeed.

Col(Retd) Chandra shekhar said...

An article with indepth analysis.Not a single sentence could be denied.You have taken up a great social cause which would suceed in all probabilities.

Anonymous said...

What the author has elaborated is known to everybody related in decision making of the armed forces. But the irony fact is that they are adamant and will continue with the same approach unless and until they become accountable for their decisions against their own men in terms of their personal career/benefits.

Anonymous said...

hi sir,

BULLSEYE !!! need to say more. the aim should always b to to find the best path to move forward. I suppose the brass finds it difficult to understand ie technology !!! hence a desire to go with what they r comfortable with.

Major Ramesh Rana said...

Dear Sir,You are continously writting on this issue but our senior officers in chair do not bother at all. You wrote the letters to PM, President, Secretaries, three chiefs but no one adehered to. This will continue like this untill unless there is a total change in the old and out dated Army acts. The senior officers cannot cop-op with modern technologies like i/net e-mails and many more therefore they need a technical expert. They do not allow to use these modern technology by lower ranks. Even carrying the mobile phones in units and keeping internet connection at government residence is not allowed. when they will wake up ?

Anonymous said...

I recollect as an Adjt, a JCO was updating the CO of how a particular jawan has been ‘taken over’ by evil spirits. The jawan was always quite, not interested in work, lacked enthusiasm not participative in sports… BASICALLY A MAKRA!!. “Le ke aao use – main uska bhoot nikalunga!!” roared the Tiger!
Before the third slap by the Tiger, the jawan’s bhoot was all gone!!... atleast the jawan said so! The jawan was cured!! The Tiger gave a slanting look all around and felt like his majesty - Akbar the Great! “Next time I get a report” – I will hang you!!”
Two months later the jawan committed suicide – while the inquiry members felt to be a case of Depression who was denied Psy care, the organisation felt it was due to domestic reasons.

Anonymous said...

Blaming all the fault on Medical services in army would not be appropriate. Because when medical faculty thinks logically then they are blamed that they don't think about organisation. When they do 'what they are asked' from various channels of command to do then they are blamed they don't have empathy. They are also awestruck what to do. Believe me in higher channels DGAFMS will be the only one who will be concerned about such incidences with troops, rest no one cares. But then he is not the only one who can make policies higher up. I know because when I thought with sympathy towards troops, it was forcefully suppressed by others saying that organisational interest comes first. So the sole reason today is that in army we work just to keep ourselves safe. We work for our career and ACR. Blaming evrything on medical service is just not right because in the end they are the ones who take care of families when jawans are away on duty.

Anonymous said...

Sir, an excellent and a very thought provking article....as always..the observations, its gravity and its logical growth has been very well written and brought out by you. your words have indeed stolen my heart's emotion and minds thought..sadly either the seniors are BLIND EYE or just wavering the time of their duration which is AGREVATING THE SITUATION BADLY ON GRND.....PL PL keep up the good work..

Anonymous said...

In my opinion"Neither attributable to nor aggravated by military service"is a phrase used by British Indian Army in those days and Indian military Doctors continued with the same phrase to submit medical reports easily to please superiors with out realizing changing Indian military Envionrment.

Anonymous said...

I was initially unwilling to post but since the soldiers are dying I am posting this to bring the truth what is happening in name of psychological help.
DIPAS, Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS), DRDO conduct research on Physiological and Psychological aspects of uniformed personnel. In March -May 2012 number of questionnaires and other research materials were sent to armed forces doctors.
The aim was to find out about the psychological problems of the soldiers which are observed by the doctors and to report them.
In my unit INS Angre, Mumbai which is the biggest unit of IN, the doctor in charge (PMO) did not bother to fill the questionnaire till the last date. Only when the reminder was sent then he filled everything in one hour and submitted.
All the answers were cooked up and irrelevant and were given without due diligence.
That is why we have absurd reasons like mobile as cause of suicide in PBOR. If mobile is cause of suicide in PBOR then the same should be for Officers. But is it so?

Less it is said about the Office of DGAFMS better it is.

Sreenivasa S said...

If anyone cares for the soldier then you need transparency in administrative aspect of services like Army Medical Corps and optimal utilization of human resources and work distribution according to org requirement rather than rules and regulation made for Britisher's Army. I hope some take a note of duplicacy of work at almost every step of administration and stop doing it ( I know most even not worried about its authenticity), so that the same energy is used for more productive things. Medical regulations need a overhauling as per the need of modern medicine and ability for speedy adaptation of newer evidence in medical regulations.
I Hope this happens in my life time

Anonymous said...

Well said Sir. But unfortunately no body wants to acknowledge the facts.

Anonymous said...

CAS letter to Def Min on Rank Pay case


PBOR said...

aankh mein aansu aa gayee aur dimaag mein "khaap Panchayat" :-(

A Sunder Rajan said...

Indeed a very serious matter.It is tme the army doctors adopted modern , humane and sympathetic methods to classifying suicides in the army.To my mind most, if not, all suicides should be classified as due to military service or aggravated by military service.Period.

Kudos to Maj Navdeep, as always, he is doing an Yeoman service for all mil pers,past n present.
Col A. Sunder Rajan

Anonymous said...

With a profound pain and empathy towards our AF personnel who are enduring this inefficient and unprofessional system I would only hope (which is diminutive) for the better days to come.

corona8 said...

It's heartening to learn the
intrasigence of the bureucracy has resulted in a wll deserved contempt notice.

b singh said...

1. There must be a National Commission to look after the welfare of JCO's / NCOs’ / OR's and equivalent ranks in the Defence Forces. There is no real representation of 95% strength of JCO's / NCOs’ / OR’s and equivalent ranks in the defence force.

2. Till the time Defence officers remain '' spoke person, writer, well wisher OR Mai Bapp'' of JCO's / NCOs’ / OR’s and equivalent ranks, there will be no significant change in the status of JCO’s/OR’s in service or even after retirement.

3. Therefore National Commission is a urgent need for JCO's / NCOs’ / OR’s and equivalent ranks of Air force and Navy to compare with civilian counter part for pay & allowance and other facilities as officers always compare with IAS/IPS.

Dr.ChandranPeechulli,Ph.D;MBA;FIE(INDIA) said...

Very true THERE NEED BE A SERVICE COMMISSION FOR NON OFFICER ENTRY, into Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. Today's NEWS in The Hindu, the times of India, Chennai edition, states JAWAN accidentally shoots himself and dies. It is a foul-play, bullets are removed while full-through and it is done collectively under supervision. This for Officers to escape enquiry. Besides the family will suffer without after service benefits of the soldier. IMPERATIVE that systemic failures are curtailed by such commission, for soldiers voice to be heard.