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The armed forces remain short changed
Six decades have passed still the armed forces lack joint warfare culture and government is denied single window military advice. The entrenched bureaucrats do no allow CDS system to be implemented even though sanctioned by the NDA government.
AFTER MUMBAI terror attack, the anger of the Indian public, which had come on the streets across the country, on December 3, protesting against the insensitivity and lack of will of our politicians and bureaucrats to fight jehadi terror was palpable. Nevertheless they had all praise for the country’s armed forces. It is a paradox that it is this very love and affection of people of India for their armed forces that motivates them for every sacrifice possible in protecting the country. But, the same love results in the growing insecurity of the politicians and bureaucrats. Unfortunately, they are always out to let the country’s armed forces down.
Since the time the current UPA government has announced the final acceptance of the review committee report of the Sixth Pay Commission, two instances have already come to light in Kashmir where paramilitary forces have declined to work under an infantry battalion of the army commanded by an officer of the Lt. Col rank. One such instance has also been reported in coast guard, who are refusing to work under the navy. This is just the beginning and is happening because the review committee of the bureaucrats set up by this government to look into the anomalies of the Sixth Pay Commission has upgraded the officers of paramilitary forces and police, by taking them out of third pay band as recommended by the Pay Commission, to fourth pay band, while the same has not been done for the armed forces officers of the Lt Col rank in army and equivalent rank in air force and navy. In the Fifth Pay Commission these armed forces officers were above them.
In the 54000-strength officer cadre of 1.2-million strong army the Lt Col rank officers form the main leadership segment commanding field troops. This has been kept this way to keep the army young. By degrading them below their counterparts in civil, police and paramilitary forces, in addition to the monitory loss, is a direct blow to their Izzat. Our note to vote politicians fail to understand that more than money it is izzat, which is very dear to the armed forces. This deliberate act of short changing the silent force by the bureaucrats has demoralised the entire rank and file. This has happened when country needs its armed forces the most. After Mumbai carnage, a war with Pakistan cannot be ruled out.
In the Fifth Pay Commission, a PBOR (below officer rank) could take home 70 per cent of his pension, even if he got a job after retirement but the Sixth Pay Commission has reduced it to 50 per cent on the pretext that they will be provided lateral employment in paramilitary forces and police. This, however, has not been guaranteed and no quota has been fixed.
Further, in the new dispension an Lt General of the army, a Corps Commander, who commands more than a lakh troops, thousands of tanks, heavy artillery guns, helicopter gunship and what have you costing billions of rupees (there are only three strike corps in India) and who decides the fate of the country in war, has been placed below the DGP of the state police and paramilitary forces.
In other words in J&K and other places, where army is operating against terror, now they will have to work under police. If this happens, god help this country and its people!
It is strange that whether it is Azadi demand in the Kashmir Valley, Amarnath Shrine land dispute in Jammu, insurgency in North East India, Mumbai terror attack, floods in Bihar, Taslima Nasrin problem in Kolkatta and Sonu falling in a bore well, it is the army, which is always called in to set things right but in the grant of pay and perks, it is the police and paramilitary forces, which are rewarded.
What justice is this? What’s even more galling is the fact that first time in the history of independent India all the three Services Chiefs together have been running from pillar to post, from President to Prime Minister to Defense Minister and Finance Minister trying to apprise them of the demoralisation that is setting in the rank and file of the armed forces due to these shenanigans of the bureaucracy, in vain. Manmohan Singh has set up a GOM to set right the mischief done by the bureaucrats in the Sixth Pay Commission but so far nothing has come out of it.
If the politicians in power really have interest of their armed forces in heart then what stops them from constituting a standing committee like Blue Ribbon of America and Royal Commission of Britain composed of eminent citizens and retired armed forces officers, who constantly keep on taking care of armed forces problems. This way Army Chiefs are free to plan and execute their operational tasks.
Immediately after Kargil operations, the then NDA government in power had constituted a GOM who had come out with 23 recommendations for reforms in the countries defense set up. All of these were accepted by the government. The most important of the proposal, setting up of the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) system in India has yet not been implemented. The proposed CDS is supposed to be single window adviser to the government on all matters military with full accountability. The current debate going on whether Indian navy should be patrolling Gulf of Aden protecting Indian shipping from Somali pirates or for that matter why they could not intercept the Pakistani ship ‘Al Husseni’ bringing the terrorists to Mumbai coast, could all have been suitably dealt with in most professional manner by the CDS.
The CDS is also required to evolve and finalise joint warfare doctrines and maintain the harmony between the three services. What military action should India take against Pakistan in the current crisis, is again the responsibility the proposed CDS.
The entrenched civilian bureaucracy sitting in Ministry of Defense is playing the General is not allowing CDS to be implemented at the cost of countries wellbeing, since this will curb their unfettered power.
There is a seething anger brewing in armed forces. It is time Singh and Antony gave this problem a serious thought before it is too late.
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