DEMANDS BY INDIAN ARMY
Date: 30 Apr 2008
DEMANDS OF INDIAN ARMY. PAID PEANUTS BY THEIR GOVERNMENT.
1. At the time of independence military officers were of far less service and experience than the Civil Servants and from then onwards they allowed themselves to be short changed by clever bureaucrats , resulting in an enormous decline in their pay, perks and prestige. Now the Indian Army is the lowest paid major army in the entire world . General Omar Bradley once remarked, “Second rate incentives attract second rate people, but , the defence of a country can not be entrusted to second rate persons”. If the ‘incentives’ don’t improve amply , defence of our country, over the period, is likely to go into the hands of second rate persons with disastrous consequences .
2. The Indian military has no “Mai Baap” in the ‘establishment’ to look after them . Almost each Civil Service has its representative in their respective ministries to safe guard their interests e.g. IPS officers are posted in Home Ministry and they “Facilitate” matters concerning their service. Similarly technocrats have their representatives in their respective ministries, like, railways, telecomn etc. Bureaucrats have absolutely no exposure to ‘Military Service’ and hardly any knowledge of “Matters Military”. The decisions are thus one sided to the detriment of the Military. Hence, there must be senior military officers in concerned ministries to safeguard their interests as ‘users’ . Though the Services Headquarters have been rechristened as Integrated Headquarters Ministry of Defence, but , apart from nomenclature, nothing has changed. The bureaucrats perhaps have scared the political leadership of a totally and absolutely imaginary fear of military take over as happened in our neighbourhood . Politicians’ relationship with the military seems to be based on distrust of the latter which the wily bureaucrat have exploited to the hilt to keep the military further down and unduly upgrade themselves at its cost under their totally untenable, mistaken and mischievous notion of ‘Civil Supremacy’ . Civil supremacy, all the world over means ,‘supremacy of elected civilian representatives of the people’ and NOT that of the ‘ Civil Servants’ ,who do not represent the ‘people’ but are their ‘Servants’. While most of the politicians are well meaning, it is the IAS Babus who thwart their good intentions as they did in 1990 when the then the Prime Minister, Mr VP Singh wanted to sanction ‘One Rank One Pension’
3. Certain extremely dangerous trends are discernible . Due to neglect over the decades, “Service Conditions” and (so called) “Quality of Life” of the military have deteriorated dismally. Few want to join it and there is an enormous deficiency of about 16, 0000 officers (excluding Lady Officers who can’t be employed on combat duties) and about 62,000 Persons Below Officer Rank (PBOR) in the Defence Services . Thousands more want to quit the services. Earlier only PBOR used to desert , now in last few years dozen of officers have ‘deserted’. Gross under subscription in officers’ training institutes like the NDA, OTA, and IMA are grim signs of the true state of affairs. All attempts to improve “Living Conditions” are met with a standard excuse of “Resources Crunch”. No such “Crunch” is affecting the “living conditions” and “Quality of Life” of the bureaucrats who in fact are a “Pampered Lot”. Due to poor living conditions, lower economic (hence ‘Social’) status, military personnel, have lost a “Sense of Pride” and while inter-acting with the civilians they prefer not to be identified as such. We have an Army with its tail in between its legs. Sense of ‘Self Worth”, which is most powerful motivating factor for a warrior , is almost missing in middle level officers and PBOR , who really have to produce results. Due to lack of resources and red-tapism, despite all their best efforts, officers can not improve the lot of their command. An environment of despondency appears to be setting in and an attitude of “Chalta Hai” (“Let it carry on as dismally”) may become all pervasive. Well meaning officers are helpless, others are constrained to take the line of least resistance.
1850’s Syndrome .
5. In early 1850s, many prominent middle level officers , drew attention of their seniors to the maladies the East India Company’s Army suffered from . Basking in the glory of just won Anglo-Sikh Wars (1846 &’49) and with no more battles to fight, the higher leadership rudely silenced them saying that there was nothing wrong with the army and the so called ‘maladies’ were a figment of their imagination. They conveniently forgot that the British escaped sure and disastrous defeat in those wars due to treachery and treason by the opposing leadership and not because of the efficiency of their ‘Native Army ’. Soon , despite ample but unheeded warnings , there was ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ of 1857. Outwardly, there is nothing common in the circumstances prevailing in 1850’s and now, yet to a discerning mind some of the commonalities are apparent like a proverbial ‘Writing on the Wall’ . Major factors leading to ‘1857 Mutiny’ were ; ill treatment of Indian Soldiers by the British Officers, perceived impending loss of religion (with rumours of imposition of Christianity on them), deposition of their mentors (like Kings of Awad) and delay in finalization of disciplinary cases leading to laxity in discipline . Withdrawal of ‘Bhatta’ (Field Allowance) irredeemably eroded the faith of the soldiery and made mutiny inevitable . The ‘Greased Cartridge’ that sparked the ‘waiting to explode’ mixture of pent up grievances was just incidental and immediate provocation. Ironically , similar factor are again present now . Bureaucrats and politicians have replaced the British officers for ill -treatment of the Indian Soldiers (term includes Sailors and Airmen) . Even the service Chiefs are not spared by a mindless politico-bureaucratic combine. Enormous lowering of military’s status has resulted in their lack for ‘IZZAT’ (honour) . “IZZAT”, in fact , is a Soldier’s religion ,which they have already lost . All privations and miseries are tolerated if there is an element of “IZZAT”. What a worse denial of “IZZAT ” than contemptuously treating Jawans as “Unskilled Labour” though mostly they are 10+2 educated (with science and maths) . Since they can not bribe their way through the bureaucracy , they are treated like dirt and are at the receiving-end each and every time they go to civil offices in pursuit of their most genuine problems. Their mentors , the Commanding Officers are rendered totally powerless to do any thing good for their soldiers. Their pleas for the welfare of their men fall on deaf bureaucratic ears and illicit no response , forcing many soldiers to commit suicide out of sheer hopelessness when their most pressing domestic problems are not resolved by a callous civil administration. Their property and families are not safe . Strangely, rich NRI’s property in many states is protected but not that of poor Soldiers . Also; army is being grossly mis used, even for mundane tasks like rescuing children from tube well holes, which are well with in the capabilities of the civil administration. Fraudulent withdrawal (denial) of ‘Rank Pay’ by the bureaucracy after 4th Pay Commission’s award, is worse than withdrawal of ‘Bhatta’ in 1850s. Now the Sixth Pay Commission Report (SPCR) has driven the final nail in the coffin of Soldiers’ aspirations for reasonable pay and emoluments commensurate with the dangerous , difficult , disturbed , harsh service conditions and truncated career they have to undergo , some times maintaining two or more establishments with their utmost meager pay. To keep the army young , which is a ‘National Requirement’, about 94% soldiers are ‘Forcedly” retired in their mid 30s and early 40s without any rehabilitation. Though the SPCR includes recommendation for their ‘Lateral Induction’ in to Para- Military Forces, but knowing the entrenched vested interest, it is most unlikely to materialize. Reacting to the protest by all the three Services Chiefs about the SPCR , though the govt is reported to have constituted a ‘Committee’ to review it , but there is no hope of any major benefits being given to the Services since the ‘Review Committee’ is dominated by the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) . Why couldn’t the govt associate some members form the Military , who form bulk of the govt employees , with this ‘Review Committee’? The IAS is responsible for all the problems of the Defence Services and is perhaps rightly viewed as latter’s “Enemy No1”. Under the given circumstances, only a ‘Greased Cartridge’ is missing. Is SPCR the ‘Greased Cartridge’ ? Is history repeating itself? Only time will tell .
6. By no stretch of imagination, “Mutiny of 1857” is likely to be repeated in the same form , the Indian Army being far too disciplined and the officers and Jawans dedicated to each other. Where as 1857 was a ‘Violent Mutiny’ (which is easy to crush) a stage is getting set for a “Silent Mutiny”, or a ‘Mental Mutiny’. If fratricides, suicides, (amounting to loss of over 100 lives annually), etc, are any indicators, the Indian Army appears to sitting on a “Volcano of Discontent” and “Mental Mutiny” in the Army may well be underway . Such a “Silent Mutiny”, may render a (still) very fine army dysfunctional. Collective ‘Sense of Hurt’ (inflicted by the SPCR) may lead to ‘Collective Alienation’ of the military from the govt and may unleash a “Silent Tsunami” in their relationship based as it is on distrust of the military. Military ‘Top Brass’s inability and helplessness to ensure a ‘Fair Deal’ to their subordinates, while they themselves are reasonably ‘rewarded’, will erode their ‘Credibility ’ and ‘Standing’ in latter’s eyes . This will lead to ‘Collective ‘Bickering and Heart Burning’ , which will not only loosen the bonds of mutual faith but may also negatively impinging on military discipline and ethos , which is a sure recipe for disaster . Such a “Silent Mutiny”, may render a (still) very fine army dysfunctional. If the maladies like the loss of pride and wilfull neglect by the state are not attended to vigorously, a “Paralysis of Will” may engulf the entire military leadership, rendering its ‘Body’ paralytic. Material well being and concrete actions to ensure“ IZZAT-O-INSAAF” to our defence forces are inescapable. Cosmetics will not do, allocation of adequate resources and a visibly ‘Caring State’ will only do. Ominously , a vital difference between “1857 Mutiny” and impending “Mental Mutiny”, is, that while the former was a leaderless one, in the latter officers may involuntarily get involved , committed as they are to their subordinates’ welfare . This scenario is too disastrous to contemplate and can be ignored only at Govt’s own peril , who stands warned .
7. However, the situation can still be redeemed. Since all our institutions are based on the British pattern, the Indian Military’s “Precedence” , Pay and all other allied aspects should be similar to the British military vis a vis their bureaucracy. Indian military officers have mainly suffered for being far too much of ‘Gentlemen’. Their courteous conduct usually gets misconstrued as ‘Servility’. While they must continue to be true gentlemen at heart, yet, they may have to change their out ward posture. They need to be “Assertive” and “Forceful” rather than “Submissive”. They must “Demand” rather than “Submit”. May be they have to shed their obsession with ‘Courtesy’ and invoke the “Principle of Reciprocity ” while dealing with bureaucracy. They must base ‘Level of Contacts’ on the length of service and not on latter’s ‘Self-Promoted’ ‘Seniority’. The Defence Services have to produce an “Iftekhar Chaudhary” (Pakistani Chief Justice who stood up to Musharraf), to stand up to an arrogant bureaucracy to save themselves from further damage. Finally , the least the Services Chiefs can do is to make clear that they are NOT available for any post retirement assignment , like late Gen BC Joshi , the then Army Chief , had done .
[BRIG HARWANT SINGH (Retd)]
The All India Defence Brotherhood (Regd).
Indian Ex Services League ,(Punjab & Chandigarh).
Phones:- 09814432554 & 0172-2270154
54, Phase – 7 , Mohali . (Punjab)
ALL Ex-Servicemen’s Organisations
Charter of demands
1. We vehemently REJECT the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission Recommendations (SPCR) as pertaining to the Military .They are most unfair, unjust and demeaning to the military. Status of the Indian military, which is already lowest, amongst all the democracies of the world, is intended to be further lowered by the SPCR. It is like insult to injury .Every Organisation and individual has limit of patience and tolerance .The Military has been pushed to that limit. Govt MUST NOT test their patience and tolerance any further. Their discipline must not be construed as their weakness. Implementation of SPCR will spread unrest in the military and may lead to either mutiny or even take over of the country. We do not want any of that to happen. The govt must see the writing on the wall.
2. We reject the ‘Review Committee’ as it is dominated by the IAS Babus, who have no exposure to dangerous difficult, disturbed, harsh and exacting service condition of the Defence Services. They just can’t comprehend life of a Soldiers (term includes Sailors and Airmen) either in peace, insurgency infested areas like J&K, or in war .The IAS Babus, who are the root cause of all our miseries, weather it is insurgency due to their ‘Mis governance and Mal administration’ or denial of our most legitimate dues in all the previous Pay Commissions and otherwise, are Enemy No.1 of the Indian Defence Services, worse than our external and internal enemies. How can one expect justice from an ‘Enemy’?
3. We demand a ‘Separate Pay Commission’ for the Military on UK pattern and as is done in all major democracies of the entire world , since there is absolutely no commonality between the service conditions of the military and civilian employees.
4. Such ‘Separate Pay Commission’ consisting of serving and retired the defence personnel and other prominent public personalities, must give its recommendations with in six months of its constitution.
5. Mean while, an ‘Interim Relief’ should be given to the Serving and Ex-Servicemen, wef 01 Jan ’06.
6. One Rank One Pension . already agreed to by the govt , even on the floor of the Parliament , must be implemented forthwith.
7. Arrears of ‘Rank Pay’ as awarded by the 4th Pay Commission and accepted by the Cabinet , but fraudulently denied by the IAS Babus must be paid immediately. In the mean time , CBI enquiry be held pertaining to the said ‘Fraud’ committed by the IAS Babus.