Monday, August 26, 2013

What ails the Indian Military really?

[Navdeep Singh's observations and suggestions have been always objective and pragmatic. I think time has come to open out and share our inner thoughts - even anguish - candidly within the military and the people. People, because lack of information gives rise to rumour and propaganda which could be worse than laying the truth bare. We have endured enough, hidden enough to preserve the good image.  The more we hide, the more it rots. Inner purging to root out the corrupt and immoral, however high and 'connected' - in the Army has never been more expedient.  It's humiliating to see the top military leadership so pretentious yet so ineffective; flamboyant and bossy before the subordinates but obsequiously humble before the bosses; preaching sacrifice but utterly self-serving.
Thankfully, there are many virtuous higher commanders even in these decadent times.  These conscientious generals have to rise and assume higher responsibilities to reverse the trend before it is too late.  - Karan Kharb]

Maj Navdeep Singh

The issue of Non Functional Upgradation (NFU) has been one of the major carrots for the officer cadre of the three defence services.

 Last year, the Prime Minister had appointed a Committee of Secretaries for looking into various demands raised by the defence services and the said committee was to submit its report by 08 August 2012 after which the announcement was expected to be made by the PM on the eve of Independence Day 2012. 

Besides restoration of status, one of the issues was Non-Functional Upgradation as stated above. Explained earlier on the blog,  NFU basically implies that whenever an IAS officer gets empanelled at a particular appointment at the Centre, all other Group-A service officers are also upgraded to the same level after a period of two years from the date of empanelment, on a non-functional basis irrespective of whether they are actually promoted or not. For example, if an officer of the IAS of 1982 batch is empanelled as an Additional Secretary to Govt of India, then all other Organised Group-A civil officers of the 1980 batch shall also be placed in the ‘Addl Secy to Govt of India’ pay grade of Rs 67000-79000 (Higher Administrative Grade/HAG) which is the same as a Lt Gen of the Army. As a result, almost all organised Group-A civil officers are retiring with the pay and pension of a Lt Gen whereas less than 1% of defence officers are retiring in the said grade. Interestingly, in many arenas, civilian officers serving under senior military officers are drawing a much higher pay (and consequently pension) under the system of NFU than their seniors from the defence services. 

The report was ultimately submitted by the Committee to the PMO on 17 August 2012 rather than the scheduled day of 08 August 2012, and interestingly, the three Chiefs were given positive signals on the same by all concerned. Even the Services HQ were informally informed by Ministry of Defence staffers that it was only a matter of time before the report was accepted and implemented and all quarters had recorded positive notes on the subject. Of course, this was taken as the truth by the Services and the gullible faujis. Till date, the Services HQ are waiting for the final orders to be issued.  

How wrong they were! 

The MoD has kept everyone in a twist. The MoD in its inputs to the Committee has NOT recommended the grant of NFU to commissioned officers of the three services and has in fact recorded just the opposite in its comments. The MoD has recorded in its note that service conditions of the defence services are different than civilian officers and ample benefits are already available to them in the form of Military Service Pay (MSP) and other allowances and therefore the contention of the Services is not logical. The financial implications for the grant of NFU have been calculated as Rs 69 crores.  

On the issue of restoration of status and parity of the defence services, the MoD has time and again in its inputs referred to the 2008 report of the Group of Ministers led by the then External Affairs Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee. However, a perusal of the report of the GoM makes it clear that the GoM, ostensibly again due to wrong inputs from the MoD, has faltered on many points, some of which are: 

(a)  The GoM states on record that rank pay is not a part of basic pay and recommendations of the 4th CPC were merely recommendations and the cabinet decision is the final word on the issue. The GoM is totally wrong on this since the Cabinet itself had approved that particular recommendation of the 4th CPC which ordained that rank pay shall be part of basic pay for all intents and purposes. The same was also mentioned clearly in all Instructions issued by the MoD after the 4th CPC. Also, the Supreme Court has already decided that rank pay is not to be deducted from basic pay and hence any such statement recorded by the GoM is non est and redundant in the eyes of law. Moreover, rank pay was carved out of basic pay itself and till the 3rd CPC, without taking into account the rank pay, the Senior Time Scale (Under Secretary Govt of India) was equated with a Captain and Selection Grade (Director Govt of India) was equated with a Lt Col. When did the Govt issue orders after the 4th CPC degrading these military ranks? 

(b)  The GoM states that there are 6 levels in the Civilian Set-up compared to 9 in the defence services which leads to bunching of ranks and grades. Totally factually incorrect. Let us place it out in simple mathematics. The levels of the Civil Services are:  Junior Time Scale, Senior Time Scale, Junior Administrative Grade, Non-Functional Selection Grade/Selection Grade, DIG/Conservator Grade, Senior Administrative Grade, Higher Administrative Grade, Higher Administrative Grade Plus, Apex Grade, Cabinet Secretary Grade, while on the military side, the ranks are Lieut, Capt, Maj, Lt Col, Col, Brig, Maj Gen, Lt Gen (HAG), Lt Gen (HAG+), Lt Gen (Army Commander/Vice Chief/Apex Grade), General (Chief of Army Staff). Now please count them. The Civilian set-up has 10 Grades while the Defence set-up has 11 Grades. From where was this figure of 6 vs 9 levels culled out and placed before the GoM?? 

(c)  The GoM states that Lt Gens are equivalent to Additional Secretaries to Govt of India. This may appear to be true to the untrained eye because of the one-sided imposed functional equation invented by the MoD within the said Ministry for day to day working, but is incorrect if analysed holistically since Lt Generals outrank all Additional Secretaries to Govt of India in the Warrant of Precedence by one Article. They also outrank DsG of CAPFs who have been placed in the Apex Grade.  

Why does this happen? 

There are multifarious reasons behind this, some of them are: 

A. All decisions are taken at the back of the stakeholders as far as the defence services are concerned. The MoD processes the cases with their own notings, crucial meetings are then held behind the back of the defence services and then a decision is taken based on inputs and file notings of lower level bureaucrats without seeking a response or rebuttal from the stakeholders. The Raksha Mantri should be made conscious of the fact that whatever is put up to him on file is not the gospel truth and he should only take  decisions after making  the stakeholders an equal partner in the decision making process and not at their back. The Railway Board is the closest example of the system where a consultative process is initiated before taking decisions. The Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) is another department wherein decisions related to pensionary benefits are taken only after a due consultative process by involving the official side and the staff side.  

B. The Defence Services should wake up and record their disagreements fearlessly on file. Even in courts it is seen that even if the stand of the Services HQ is at variance with that of the MoD, they would strangely start parroting the stand of the latter at their own peril and detriment. As independent Respondents in court cases, the Services are expected to present their own views and replies on the subject and not parrot the lines of some Section Officer or Under Secretary, otherwise what is the use of the system of having separate Respondents in litigation? Moreover, at key appointments, we sometimes let go of larger organisational issues for small personal gains, or want not to spoil ‘relations’, or want to impose personal opinion on file even if it negatively affects the future of thousands of others, and which is willingly agreed to by juniors because of obvious reasons. This has to cease, but this is not something that can be drilled-in or inculcated, the voice has to come from within, which of course is a tough call. I do not see it happening in the current culture. 

C. There has to be passion at work and strength of conviction. While glamorous issues are taken up in greater detail, issues which lie below the surface are not even touched. Expertise of officers who are positive in their approach should be recognized and they should be posted to key appointments irrespective of their posting profile. While the Air Force and the Navy are adept at this exercise, the same is lacking in the Army. For example, an officer who may be an expert in a particular field is not posted on an appointment requiring his expertise on the strange pretext that he was posted to the same station a few years ago, but another one who has no inkling of a particular job profile would be posted to the said appointment only because he had attended some obscure course somewhere or attended the Staff College or the CDM. Hello comrades, welcome to the real practical world, it extends much beyond PSc! 

DStop inflicting injuries to yourself. Limited Medical facilities to our old Emergency Commissioned Officers and Short Service Commissioned Officers as were available under existing instructions have been challenged by the Army itself in the Supreme Court. Imagine, the Army challenging its own scheme saying that medical facilities should be refused to its own officers. The concerned officers of the AG’s Branch and the DGAFMS who were instrumental in taking this action must be feeling great about it. Yes, sadism is pleasurable for some but round the world is and it all comes back. We have been so cheap on the said subject that after filing the sadistic appeal, we have deleted the "limited medical facilities to SSCOs" clause from the official brochure on terminal benefits issued by the AG's Branch. Another example, the Dynamic Assured Progression Scheme (DACP) for military doctors was stalled by our own people in uniform even after cabinet approval when the Chief of Staffs Committee (COSC) and the PPOC opined that it should not be implemented since it would result in doctors getting better pay and facilities than officers of other arms and services. Rather than saying that yes, DACP should be implemented for military doctors and then anomalies of others should also be resolved, we insisted on its denial to our own despite the fact that the MoD, DGAFMS, Air HQ and Naval HQ were fully in favour. When the AFT directed that it should be implemented, the MoD has now appealed against the same before the Supreme Court. and one of the major grounds of appeal of the MoD before the Supreme Court is that even the COSC has not recommended the grant of DACP to doctors. 

So there you have it! While DACP stands extended to all doctors under the central govt since 2008, it is 2013 and the case is mired in litigation for faujis, who is to blame? The problem is that we cannot see others happy, even if they happen to be our own. Period. 

Wake up faujis! Wake up!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Ordeal and Success of Major AK Dhanapalan

A Mark of Honour
            It was 1987. General K. Sundarji was in Pune, briefing senior Southern Command officers on the Fourth Pay Commission, when a lowly captain asked an uncomfortable question. He wanted to know why his basic had actually gone down, after the rank pay was introduced. There was a buzz in the room. The chief told the captain to meet him separately, he would explain the issue. “I didn't seek private audience later. I was too junior,” chuckles Major A.K. Dhanapalan (retd). “I actually had no business rubbing shoulders with senior officers that day, except that I was operating the computer for the conference. But I hadn't got it wrong. I was right, bang on.” The Engineers officer chanced upon the anomaly when he was asked to work on preparing the pay fixation of defence civilian setups, like Military Engineering Service, on the Fourth Pay Commission template. “That year, the commission introduced a rank pay for defence officers between the ranks of captain to brigadier, which was Rs. 200 at captain rank. But what it actually did was deduct the same amount from the basic pay and give it as rank pay. Since all emoluments are linked to basic, not only was there no net gain, we were actually losing out,” Dhanapalan explains. He redid his calculations several times till he was convinced the government had tricked the defence officers. “I wanted to take the matter to court, but I was in Pune and the High Court in Mumbai. Then, I got posted to Udhampur, and the High Court was in Jammu. Next, I was transferred to Port Blair....” Dhanapalan finally got his opportunity on being posted to Kochi in 1995. His office was close to the Kerala High Court; it was time to make that move. His colleagues were shocked at his daring. His advocate, too, was not convinced. The court, however, understood and ruled that the Union of India should pay the rank pay arrears and an interest of 6 per cent. The matter went on appeal and a division bench of the court upheld the judgment. The government took the matter to the Supreme Court but had to eat humble pie when, in 2006, the court rejected its plea. He did not stop there. The arrears, while welcome, were not his goal. His aim was to alert defence personnel not to be lulled into complacency by the “you are being looked after” attitude of the establishment. So he photocopied the verdict and posted them to officers and clubs he had addresses of. “That itself cost me a bomb,” he recalls. One such letter reached Colonel B.K. Sharma. Sharma was the first officer to do motorcycle daredevilry in the Republic Day parade in 1978. Post-retirement, he realised it was daredevilry time again, this time to take on the government for which he had once fought. He circulated copies of the judgment in canteens and clubs. Knowing there was strength in numbers, some retired officers got together and registered Retired Defence Officers' Association (RDOA) and filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 2007. Meanwhile, across India, officers were litigating for the same demand, and all the cases were finally clubbed together before a division bench of Justices Markandey Katju and R.M. Lodha.
“We had not bargained for the level of resistance from the government. Instead of conceding gracefully, they tried repeatedly to stonewall us,” says Sharma. When in 2010, the bench ruled that it agreed with the reasoning of the Kerala High Court that rank pay be paid retrospectively, with 6 per cent interest, the government filed a transfer petition before a bench of three judges. The three service chiefs recommended to the solicitor general to withdraw the litigation and honour the judgment. The defence ministry, however, pressured the chiefs to withdraw their written communique. In a rare show of defiance, the chiefs stood their ground. The RDOA had to file an RTI to confirm the service chiefs' stance on the matter. “They used every tactic, from pleading inability to meet the financial burden to the solicitor general not appearing in court, due to which proceedings would get postponed,” recalls Sharma. “This summer, when the court fixed the last hearing day on September 4, we actually wrote to the law ministry that so many officers had already died in the last 26 years. Delaying justice was not fair, so either they withdraw the special leave petition or ensure the solicitor general be present in court on September 4.” The final hearing was a marathon session. The government made a last ditch plea that interest be paid only to litigants. The court refused. However, it reduced the date of calculation of interest from 1986 to 2006 at 6 per cent, ordering that it be paid within 12 weeks. “This is a big victory,” says RDOA advocate Aishwarya Bhati. “It gives a shot in the arm to all other cases that the defence personnel have been fighting.” According to RDOA, over 45,000 officers, retired and serving, will benefit, and it will also impact pensions and widow pensions. The amounts, Sharma calculates, will range from around 06 to 01 lakh, depending on length of service and rank held. The government claims it is a burden of 01,600 crore. “It isn't about money. We fought on principle and we have won our prestige,” says Sharma, but admits being flooded with congratulatory calls, all of them with the suffix, “Mujhe kitna milega? (How much will I get?)” How did only Dhanapalan get wise to the anomaly? “Faujis are great at protocol, discipline and a hundred other virtues. Studying pay slips isn't among those, unfortunately. They usually don't question what goes to the bank, or do the sums themselves,” says Dhanapalan.
There are many other issues with defence pay and entitlements, but defence personnel say the government is changing tactics. Instead of risking its decisions being challenged in court, it now procrastinates. The Sixth Pay Commission anomalies are an example. Last heard, a four-member committee headed by the cabinet secretary was appointed to look into the issue. Then Navy chief Nirmal Verma had expressed anguish at no defence representative being on the committee. Meanwhile, the man who ignited the spark sits back with a smile. “The government paid arrears only till 1996. I decided not to contest it, as by then, RDOA took up the fight.” There are fears the government might give arrears only till 1996 to others, too. “My mission is accomplished. No longer will faujis take at face value what is given to them. They have learnt to read between lines, ask, and fight for their dues,” says Dhanapalan, getting ready to go to the temple.
Maj AK Dhanapalan's Message to Military Veterans
Dear Veterans, 
In the resent past a few issues have come up in the blog concerning the Armed Forces Personnel and the Veterans. A few of them are:- 
1. Non Functional Up gradation (NFU) to officers. 
2. Amending the Pension Regulations of the Armed Forces. 
3. Non-Implementation of Judgments of AFTs which is around 2000. 
4. Payment of 100% pension to the Veterans up to the age of 60 years (age for superannuation for central Govt employees) and payment of OROP thereafter. 
5. Separate Ministry or a Defense Board (like that of Railway) for Armed Forces Personnel. 
6. Cadre Review (being done at every 5 years in other Departments) 
7. Date of Birth (DOB) issue of Army Chief himself. 
8. Difference of pension between two immediate Ranks is more than Rs.11,000/-PM 
9. With drawl of existing Rank Pay by 6th CPC (replacing with grade pay to give additional emoluments to civilian employees and also to create an equation between civ and Mily.)
10. Majors with more than 15 years of service equated with cadets and Hony Lt. (PB-3).
11. A meaningful resettlement of Armed Forces Veterans. 
12. Dignity (Izzath) of the personnel in uniform/Protocol/precedence, V/s civilians. 
The above are some of the major issues that are occupying internet mails and blogs nowadays. The blame is often put on the babus of MOD & the Politicians. But one must think honestly ! Are they fully responsible for these omissions? What is role of the Service HQs? Can we give a clean chit to service HQs on these issues?  Aren't they responsible for creating such a mess? Take the example of Judgments passed by the AFTs. It is understood nearly 2000 judgments are pending for implementation. The Service HQs are the Nodal agency for their implementation. So the service HQs are answerable for the non-implementation. Can we blame the MOD for this? If there is a problem, the service HQs should come out publically or inform the Ex-servicemen associations or at least inform the individual about the factual position rather than some “goal..Mall…English”, so that he can take further action. If some decision is needed from the Ministry, the service HQs should put up the note and get the same in a time frame. The service HQs should also give the present position of all judgments immediately in the web site for the info of all. Similarly, Is it not the responsibility of the Service HQs to get themselves involved in drafting the Pension Rules of men under their command? Is it possible now? When a dept called “Ex-servicemen Welfare” was created during 2004 outside the Service HQs, no one has raised their voice. Even no one commented on the instructions issued by that dept regarding welfare, re-employment and rehabilitation of Ex-servicemen which can only be termed as an Essay on Ex-servicemen - no seriousness about the welfare-every org even the companies have the welfare schemes linked to their Provident Funds, whereas we depend on the mercy of someone which is also now restricted to only war widows and disabled which is the full responsibility of the Govt of India being the employer, re-employments are left to the States which only remained in paper, without any mechanism to check. How many vacancies in a year- now body knows, whether it commensurate with the number of retires in a year and the rehabilitation left to none- to the fate. There is yet another org called (Directorate General) Re-settlement, to put the jawans of the great Army on “Chowkidar” duties in front offices, hotels, houses for a monthly take-home pay ranging from a paltry sum of Rs 1500 to a max of 5000/- without any other benefits and taking commission out of it. (the benefit of pension of such person goes to the employers, if otherwise they have to pay salary like any other employee with other benefits like leave, pension, Provident Funds, ESI facilities etc. Take the case of the biggest employers-BSNL, Air Ports, Customs etc and see the difference between their regular employees and the “Chowkidars” under the re-settlement scheme. What a pity that no one has raised any voice on this policy issued by the newly created “Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare”.
The service HQs felt very happy that this burden has gone away from them. So how can you blame that Dept now, for making a Pension Reg or any Regulation as they feel like? At least C’nt it be challenged in the Court of Law? Why is it not being done by the Army Chief who has filed a case for his own benefit, Is it the HONOR OF THE ARMY lies on the honor of the Army Chief or on the Soldiers of the Army? Where is pride of the Army Chief when lot many ex-servicemen are in the street with begging bowel after giving their youth to the Army? Is it not a matter of Right for them to have a Meaningful resettlement? Or the Right is only for the Army Chief to have his DOB corrected? What I am trying share with you all is that we are Not serious about what is happening to the Armed Forces Personnel as a whole, we are only self centered on petty issues. If it is a mistake on our part accept it instead putting the blame on someone else. Now, what is the further course of action to come out of this self created problems? Can these be solved by creating Mails or blogs?? It can only create awareness amongst the veterans but most of our problems were not ever made available to Medias for a public opinion. My humble suggestions are:- 
  • 1. Service HQs have to do some home work very seriously. The above points have come to light only when some of the Veterans have taken some trouble to study these cases and put in the mail, but the service HQs are silent or they have no such points at all. 
  • 2. Like any other department ,the Service HQs should take full responsibility to look after their Veterans, Widows, officers , JCOs and NCOs and their families who gave their blood and sweat to build Indian Army to the present shape from the scratches of Chinese aggression in 1962 and those who laid their lives . There is no point in blaming the Officers in MOD, for our in efficiency for that matter. It is for the Service HQs, how they Work out the strategy to accomplish this task. This is more important as there is no trade Union functioning in the org for collective bargaining of their service benefit which is available to all employees including the Central Govt. 
  • 3. Art 312 of the Constitution of India giving powers to Make Rules for Service benefit to Defense Services must be evoked by putting pressure on the Govt, the PM and the Supreme Commander. This has to be done by the Service HQs only because we are worst sufferers of all other Central Services. If a pay or a service condition is to be changed /modified in respect of any Central Service, this has to be duly notified in the Gazette of India with the approval of the Govt/Parliament whereas it could be seen in the past that only an Army Instruction can meet the requirement in respect of the Armed Forces Personnel including the Service Chiefs. This has no backing of the Law of the Land. In the early years after the Independence, the matters concerning Armed Forces Personnel were dealt separately at the level of PM or RM but later it has been brought under the purview of the pay commission- only erode the dignity and reduce them to the status of mere employee. Well, then the Army Act also needs to be amended to include the liberty for collective bargaining for their service benefits which has not been done so far, the Service HQs should pursue this.
  • 4. The Service HQs should create a high powered committee who will take up the matters concerning the personnel matters of Armed Forces Personnel with the RM, PM, The Supreme Commander. They should take feed -back and suggestions/complains from all corners including the jawans direct. They should also interact regularly with other departments, companies, consultants, Ex-servicemen Associations, Veterans etc. and update themselves with the latest, for which a proper office with well experienced Officers and Staff from both veterans and outsiders is set up for function on regular basis. It is not so difficult to set right the bureaucracy if the Service HQs have a will to firmly handle the Organizational interest, the interest of the Armed Forces Personnel and no compromise to be made at any point of time at any level. This should be made clear to all up to the Pl commanders.
  • 5. A MEANINGFUL re-settlement of all veterans should be the full responsibility of the Govt and the Service HQ should ensure this (A suggestion in this direction is enclosed ) 
  • 6. All are requested to offer their valuable comments and they may also take up the matter with the service HQs individually or collectively. 
  • 7. May I request you to kindly forward this to at least 10 (Ten) veterans with your comments. 
With Regards,
Maj AK Dhanapalan

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Regime too inebriated to see!

Karan Kharb
We are passing through very critical times. The UPA Coalition is actually a minority ruling the country while the majority sits as Opposition in the Lok Sabha. There are political parties (SP, BSP etc) that vehemently decry every step of the ruling Coalition and yet when it comes to voting, they quietly acquiesce and join the Treasury Benches. This stage-managed display is not only betrayal of the public faith but insults heaped on the electorate as their conduct justifies and perpetuates the farce of Democracy.  
               The insensitive and thick-skinned behaviour of some very senior party leaders and ministers at the Centre and in the States is so far from sanity that one would believe the Minister/Leader concerned must have been drugged. While astute statesmanship, sagacity, vision and maturity are some of the basic virtues expected of those who preside over destinies of India’s millions, what we get is uncouth, brazen arrogance so similar to urchins fighting for backstreet dadagiri. Boorishly unconcerned about larger national interests, they are ever ready to rake up and question the settled cases involving terrorists for which the role of the police and security agencies was lauded and honoured. Petty tactics might be adding a few votes to their credit in their so doing but it costs the country its security, unit and social integration because it demoralises the sincere and committed officers and men in the Security Forces and, more dangerously, it engenders unhealthy rivalry and animosity between communities. Irresponsible comments were passed by some very responsible ministers/leaders in respect of Batla House case despite the court having upheld the genuineness of the operation. Soon after Mumbai 26/11 too, a sinister confusion was attempted to be created by suggesting that Hemant Karkare, chief of Mumbai police ATS was not shot by terrorists but by ‘Hindu right-wing elements’. Terms like ‘Saffron Terror’ have been officially propagated to create mass confusion in the public and relief to the terrorist organisations.    
               More recently, the Defence Minister’s statement in the Lok Sabha appeared to be absolving the Pakistan Army for its unprovoked raid that resulted in five Indian soldiers being killed in Poonch.  Although the statement was later modified to blame the Pakistan Army, India’s diplomatic edge was blunted. When the mortal remains of four martyrs from Bihar landed at Patna Airport, no political leader was there to pay homage to the martyrs. Worse, a minister of the state cabinet, when asked, brushed aside the soldiers’ supreme sacrifice by saying, “Why make an issue out of it? Soldiers are there to die, what else?”  It is an indicator of how our national character has degenerated and decayed. Where else would ISI or terror groups like LeT find a better allies than these leaders of India whose tactics facilitate their plans?  How could India’s responsible leaders behave this way unless they were drugged by ISI or other anti-national agency?
Another evidence of how our politicians are ganging up against public interests is clear from the following facts :-
·        Lokpal Bill: India appeared to be rallying behind Anna Hazare who forced the Prime Minister to give an undertaking that a tough Lokpal Bill as demanded would be enacted soon. The Parliament passed a unanimous ‘Sense of the House’ endorsing this commitment.  Today no one talks about it even as a host of other self-serving bills have been enacted and more are being pushed without much debate. ‘Satyagraha’ or expression of popular will of the masses has no meaning in the present regime.  Godse killed him only once; they are now killing Gandhi every day!  
·        Political Parties above RTI: The core of all political corruption lies in the Political Parties.  Hawala, Tehelka and nearly all big scams ultimately converge towards the political parties. The CIC’s decree on a petition by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) places all national political parties under the purview of RTI. All political parties were suddenly angry at it. Now, we hear they are planning to escape public scrutiny by modifying the RTI Act itself!
·        Criminals in Parliament: The number of criminals has been steadily increasing in the Parliament and State Legislatures. There are 162 MPs in the present Parliament who are facing criminal cases in the courts. Honourable Supreme Court has ruled that anyone sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more shall forfeit his/her seat on the day such a judgement is passed. Whole nation welcomed it but the Political Parties, hell bent to their criminals, refuse to be purged by the Judiciary. They are reportedly planning to move an amendment to the Representation of People’s Act that would render the Supreme Court Judgement inoperative.
·      Reforms: A whole array of Reforms like Police Reforms, Judicial Reforms, Electoral Reforms, Land Acquisition, Mining Rights…….. and more are awaiting political nod but it seems that there is a vested interest in delaying and postponing the Reforms. A regime of ambiguity in procedures and accountability is naturally more advantageous to the unscrupulous officers and leaders.  Hence the reluctance!    
If not drugged, our politicians are certainly intoxicated by an overdose of power. Honest officers are being hounded and harassed, RTI activists are being eliminated, but the corrupt and criminals are protected. How far shall we continue to endure this anarchy?   

In a stark contrast to this inebriated class of politicians, there but one Leader who stands apart as a shining example of genuine Secularism, a character of unimpeachable honesty, integrity and resolute determination.  Narendra Modi has emerged an unchallenged towering figure who can lead India to a glorious future.  Rise India, rise and rally around the New Age Leader!



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Talking to Pakistan

Lt Gen (Retd) Prakash Katoch.

Farooq Abdullah is going shrill in recommending that talking to Pakistan is the only option. One wonders if this noise is being made to obfuscate the happenings in Kishtwar, graphic photographs and narratives of which, including the role of the minister present, have gone viral on the web. Our politicians could learn from China who with all her prowess in cyber warfare and technical knowhow is unable to control citizen exchanges on the social media. What Faroukh Abdullah should be addressing instead is who rigged the 1987 elections in J&K that ushered in militancy, political patronage to terrorism in J&K and recent revelation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that the Jammu and Kashmir Affectees Relief Fund Trust has in the last 10 years collected huge sums of money which has been diverted to Pakistan based militant groups and that in all Rs 600 crores has been pumped in for terror operations since the last two years through donations and relief funds, the Jammu and Kashmir Affectees Relief Fund Trust topping the list having transferred 95 crores – right under the noses of Farooq and Omar Abdullah. No wonder the hardcore Hurriyat feel so smug, freely travelling to Pakistan and conniving with terrorist organizations. Is his political party sponsoring Hurriyat members to Pakistan to meet Hafiz Saeed and apprise him of the state of impotency of our politicians? But then political response to the NIA findings would be no surprise. These can well be visualized like “NIA has overstepped its authority”, “NIA findings have no basis”, “The money transferred is notional”, perhaps even alleging “The figures were supplied courtesy a conspiracy by Modi or BJP” and what have you.
Coming back to Farooq’’s rant that talking to Pakistan is the only option, would any self respecting nation want to do so and that too at this point of time notwithstanding the fact that the paid media is going full hog in building public opinion to facilitate Manmohan Singh’s trip to electrify his native village in Pakistan, not that the Prime Minister needs to earn any limelight, himself having sailed through nonchalantly the two tenures in robotic fashion. And who are we going to talk to? Nawaz Sharif for : taking no action against perpetrators of 26/11; refusing to acknowledge any cross border raids, killings, beheadings by the Pakistani military; not shutting down 42 terrorist training camps in POK; Naik Sule Khandan’s televised bragging of how they killed Captain Saurabh Kalia and his patrol; his constituency officially doling out millions to terrorist organizations; permitting terrorist mullah Hafiz Saeed’s anti-India ravings and rallies; permitting an anti-India resolution while his military supplies terrorists to India, infiltrates the top scum of Pakistan to India laced with drug and fake money? The list is endless.
What India fails to acknowledge is that Nawaz Sharif and his administration are mere puppets in Pakistan with Kayani the puppeteer, as would be the latter’s successors. The military’s private business-industrial-corporate worth in 2007 was pegged at US$ 20.7 billion and there is no way the military will permit peace with India and Afghanistan that can result in their being returned to barracks. A Pakistan which underwent a political uproar when it acknowledged publicly that the US was operating drones from bases within Pakistan now does not mind Chinese military digging 22 tunnels in Gilgit-Baltistan while Pakistani nationals cannot even enter these areas – all facilitated by the Pakistani military. It is not without reason the recent study titled “Pakistan: Dynamics of a Failing State Theory’ by the South Asian Inter-Scholastic Association (SAISA) describes radicalization of Pakistan army, common recruitment areas for the army and LeT, tilt in balance from the military to the jihadis and expresses fears that the situation can become “disastrous in a three to seven years time window should Pakistan find another Zia-Ul-Haq in the army.
Ironically, our astrologers who predicted military coups in the past while serving as paid media too are chorusing with Farooq Abdullah that we must talk to Pakistan. Some even propose we talk to Kayani, Musharraf’s protégé. What good that would do is, however, not predicted by these pundits. We certainly are not the US and if we want to talk to Kayani who is masterminding all these brazen anti-India activities then we might as well talk to the whole range of this galaxy gentlemen with dubious distinctions – Kayani, Hafiz Saeed, Asim Umar, Ayman-al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, Dawood Ibrahim et all. Our Defence Minister has stated that the Army is free to retaliate but retaliation by itself can hardly suffice any more. To this end, the ‘free hand’ should include pro-active options by the Army where needed to send the right message. An animal gone rogue needs to be battered to some extent till it can be tamed. If battering is too scary terminology then shall we say the rogue be administered anesthesia in required doses or at least be drugged periodically.
There is also the need to examine establishing a no man’s belt own side of the border where any movement would invite fire. This issue has been ignored because of politics at the J&K State primarily because political will is absent to finish insurgency and terrorism which has been converted into an industry for fiscal gains and retaining political power. Therefore sparse habitation and isolated houses in proximity of the LC continue to be used as staging posts by Pakistani infiltrators provided shelter under fear of the gun barrel. Significantly, this issue was raised by officers attending the National Defence College Course in year 2000 to Farooq Abdullah who had come to address them as Chief Minister of J&K. A British Officer asked him why a two kilometre no-man’s belt could not be created when J&K has ample land to re-habilitate the sparse population in this proposed belt to the hinterland since the population would be more than happy in avoiding the vagaries of a volatile border. His sheepish response was that there were many villages and for shifting one village he has demanded Rupees 120 crores from the Centre. Well that was 13 years ago, zero rehabilitation has taken place and how many civilian houses are in the two kilometer belt can well be counted. 
The crux of the problem why we are being perpetually bullied is, however, not confined to our weak hearted hierarchy. The hard fact is that this is an era of unconventional wars which cannot be countered by conventional and nuclear forces. This is something our politicians and bureaucrats continuously fail to acknowledge or understand. Pakistan and even China have developed substantial unconventional warfare capabilities that they will continue to optimize to bleed and humiliate us till we can remove this asymmetry. Despite Pakistan’s head start all that we need is political will and a small gestation period. Talking to Pakistan or Nawz Sharif is pointless without this. Border talks with Pakistan have been held many times in the past including increased surveillance, joint patrolling, hot-lines, the works but to what end. What do you want to talk in the first place when Pakistan says it is the most peaceful country in the world, does not indulge in terrorism and has never violated the ceasefire? Does Farooq Abdullah want to open the dialogue with Pakistan to find out how much of the Rupees 600 crores transferred to terrorist organizations from J&K, as revealed by the NIA, has actually reached on ground?

Prakash Katoch is veteran Special Forces Lt Gen of Indian Army.