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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Guest link: The Army- What’s gone wrong? ~ Karan Kharb

Col Karan Kharb reflects on the recent worrying developments in the Army and the issues and predicaments facing men and women in uniform today.

The views are of the author. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Do not disown your own – Part II

As most readers would know, non-pensioner ex-servicemen, including our Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSCOs) and Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECOs) are entitled to limited out-patient medical facilities from Military Hospitals (MHs). Such non-pensioners are also entitled to medical reimbursement through the Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB) in case an MH certifies that the facility is not available in the concerned MH.

There are various letters to the above effect but during the last decade or so there was stiff resistance by the office of Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) to these policies and they even unilaterally stopped providing such facilities to our non-pensioner ex-servicemen. Even medical reimbursement scheme by KSB was almost rendered redundant since MHs stopped issuing certificates to the effect.

Resultantly, the affected personnel had to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal which in turn directed the Govt to continue providing limited medical facilities to such veterans.

However, as has been brought out earlier also (see this, this and this), the Army, on insistence of DGAMFS itself challenged the verdict before the Supreme Court. Meaning thereby, that the Army itself prayed before the Supreme Court that the Army should be directed to stop providing medical facilities to the affected former members of the Army.

What could be more ironic?

In fact, the terminal benefits brochure issued by the AG’s Branch also clearly mentioned the procedure and medical facilities for non-pensioner veterans such as SSCs but elements in the Army HQ forced the AG’s Branch to eliminate that particular part of the brochure and the said clause is conspicuously absent from the lately issued versions of the brochure.

Why I am bringing this subject again is to bring to light the following factors after which the readers may themselves decide whether the organisation is being fair to its own veterans or not:-

A. Army Postal Service personnel who may have served in the Army only for 6 months (or more) have been made eligible for proper Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) facilities, while our own ex-servicemen who may have served much longer are not even being allowed to avail their limited medical facilities to which they are entitled to under existing instructions.

B. Nepal domiciled non-citizens of the Indian Army can now avail full and proper ECHS facilities in Nepal.

C. An ‘in-principle’ approval rendered by AK Antony for extending ECHS facilities to SSCOs has not yet been implemented by issuance of instructions to the effect since it has faced major resistance from within the Army.

The idea is not to say that APS personnel or Nepalese citizens should not be granted ECHS facilities. They definitely should be. But the question is that while all and sundry are being included under the actual ECHS, our old non-pensioner veterans covered under the definition of ‘Ex-Serviceman’ such as World War II veterans and War Veterans under the Emergency Commission are being illegally denied even existing limited facilities to which they are entitled to? While the office of the DGAFMS runs around to get the Dynamic Assured Career Progression (DACP) scheme implemented for its officers, what about the minimum assured izzat scheme for our veterans? 

What message are we sending to the world at large?

You decide!