Thursday, September 25, 2014

Different retirement ages for Time Scale and Selection Grade Ranks in the Air Force are discriminatory: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in a landmark decision today has upheld the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal wherein the discriminatory policy of different retirement ages for the ranks of Group Captain (Time Scale) vis-a-vis Group Captain (Selection Grade) was held illegal and struck down.

The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal filed by the Ministry of Defence and the Air Force against similarly placed officers led by Gp Capt Atul Shukla, and has concluded the following in strong words:

Suffice it to say that the basis for classification in question for purposes of age of superannuation which the appellant has projected is much too tenuous to be accepted as a valid basis for giving to the Time Scale Officers a treatment different from the one given to the Select Officers.

We are also of the view that concerns arising from a parity in the retirement age of Time Scale and Select Officers too are more perceptional than real. At any rate, such concerns remain to be substantiated on the basis of any empirical data. The upshot of the above discussion is that the classification made by the Government of India for purposes of different retirement age for Time Scale Officers and Select Officers does not stand scrutiny on the touchstone of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution as rightly held by the Tribunal.

The above closes another yet long tumultuous journey of affected officers. In fact, once the decision was rendered by the AFT, the Air HQ should have taken up a case with the Govt for rationalizing the policy rather than unnecessarily challenging it before the Apex Court.
It is high time that litigation against own employees is considered on the touchstone of logic and equity rather than indulging in ego-fuelled appeals. It is time for the political executive to take a call on this and trample on the vicious cycle of luxurious litigation without accountability

How unfortunate that even with the para in RED at the end of the judgement, the MOD has found a dubious way of continuing litigation.

From Maj Navdeep Singh Blog

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Soldiers of misfortune

Will the new regime come to Indian Armed forces rescue?

Text by Sandeep Unnithan. Graphic by Saurabh Singh

At a national security meeting in Delhi on April 16, 2010, then-defence minister A.K. Antony assured top military commanders that budget constraints were a thing of the past. "There will never be a paucity of funds," the minister said confidently, "as far as it concerns the modernisation of the armed forces." It was music to the ears of the officers.
 Click to enlarge
The economy was on an upswing and military purchases were on track. Barely a month before the meeting, India had signed a $760 million deal for 12 VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Other big-ticket acquisitions were being processed. Among them was a $4.1 billion contract for 10 strategic lift aircraft from the US-unheard of for the IAF, which had till then bought entire fleets of Russian fighter aircraft for lower. Military planners of all three services in the room, therefore, had no reason to disbelieve their minister. A few days later, a serving armed forces chief would remark that money was no longer a concern: "It's a blank cheque. Funds are not an issue any longer, what matters is what we need and when we need it." But the heady days the four-star officer was looking forward to-the creation of a modern force with enough firepower to blunt any conventional misadventure in the region-would never come.

Defence scandals surfaced in the following months, starting with the Sukna land case, and combined with a sliding economy, paralysed policy and decision-making. With Antony willing to err on the side of caution and stall rather than risk a scandal, his ministry all but shut down for business. The result: India's defence modernisation plans have crumbled into a mess.

The lost years

The policy paralysis has hit the armed forces the hardest, with little progress made in most of their ambitious projects and plans to modernise. The irony is that the Indian military is the only one of its kind that is swimming against the global trend of being "lean and mean" by raising the number of troops. Key suppliers such as Rheinmetall, Rolls-Royce and Finmeccanica were blocked from dealing with India under the 'put on hold' principle for firms suspected of corruption. The only major defence deals sealed by the UPA government in its last years in power was a contract to equip the IAF with basic trainers and another to upgrade the Mirage 2000 fighter fleet.

As decision-making came to a standstill, thorny issues were kept pending for months before being quietly taken off the agenda, say members of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex body of the ministry on purchases. Though in some cases, the laborious process of floating tenders, and evaluating and shortlisting suppliers is on, the process seems tailored to delay or stall final agreements. The lack of drive in the defence ministry has led international companies to scale down operations in India. Major firms such as BAE Systems are cautious about expanding in India while the likes of Textron (Bell) and Sikorsky have shifted focus to the civilian market. Even European giant EADS, now being renamed Airbus, has downsized. Rheinmetall has shut shop. Months after the new Government came to power, many modernisation plans remain in disarray and funds for emergency purchases are hard to find.

The chronic 'Antony delay' in decision-making, as some in the forces call it, together with a falling rupee and rising inflation has meant that India's pending military modernisation projects are today worth more than $35 billion. Many of these projects are stuck in their final stages, and several are not expected to make it due to the severe funds crunch the NDA Government cannot overcome in a hurry. These range from critical artillery for the mountain strike corps coming up on the China border to aerial equipment crucial to maintain a conventional edge and undersea capabilities. At the heart of the problem, officers and analysts say, has been the UPA government's tendency to not only stall modernisation attempts but also shrink the slice of national resources allotted to the forces.

Indian defence spending has come down to an all-time low over the past four years. In terms of the most acknowledged global measure of spending, the amount of money India allots to defence as a percentage of GDP is at its lowest in more than four decades at 1.74 per cent. This has steadily declined from an average 3 per cent in the 1980s. The global average is 2.5 per cent even though there are wide variations. NATO guidelines for its members stipulate 2 per cent of GDP for defence while China has never spent below 2 per cent of its vastly higher GDP on security. "It is clear that current allocation is insufficient to undertake military modernisation which is necessary to meet emerging threats and challenges. Defence spending has been stagnating over the years," says defence analyst Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd).

Arming without aiming

Not only has India's defence spending fallen but another unhealthy trend that is crippling modernisation of the forces has emerged-the steady jump in revenue expenses such as paying salaries, maintaining infrastructure and filling of diesel tanks. This head will account for more than 60 per cent of the defence budget for 2014-15. Although the defence budget has grown by an average 12 per cent annually in the last few years, much of the increase has been gobbled by the increasing salary bill, rising fuel costs and exchange rate spikes. Last year, the government had to transferRs.7,800 crore earmarked for modernisation to meet rising fuel costs. "There is a crunch that no one can deny," laments a three-star IAF officer.

Click to enlarge
"The money we have this year for new contracts is just around Rs.2,500 crore. The rest of the capital budget is committed to tranches of payments for previous long-term acquisitions." Those past deals include the Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters, Boeing C-17 planes and C-130 transporters. A brigadier told INDIA TODAY that the Army's budget for signing new deals is limited to just around Rs.500 crore this year, a pittance for the million-plus force.

In February this year, at a gathering of the world's top defence suppliers who had come to Delhi to showcase their products at the Defence Expo, Antony dropped a bombshell many expected. Commenting on what has been called the biggest ever global tender- the acquisition of 126 fighter aircraft for the air force-Antony said "there is no money left for this now". By confessing that "almost all money has been spent", he dealt a mortal blow to the Defence Expo on its first day, leaving top global defence executives wondering about the point of participating in the event.

How did India, in a short span of four years, slip from "no paucity of funds" to "all the money has been spent" without giving an exponential edge to the combat abilities of its armed forces? Some part of the answer lies in the argument central to the book, Arming Without Aiming: India's Military Modernisation, by defence experts of the Brookings Institution, Stephen P. Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta. The book argues that India lacks a security strategy and hence also a rudder for military modernisation. But beyond that simple formulation, defence modernisation programmes ended up getting muddled under the UPA even when there were clear, present and immediate needs. Indecision within the ministry, open squabbling with the finance ministry and political considerations have resulted in a 'procurement of convenience' where projects deemed to be easy to process have gone through while other, more critical requirements have been ignored. For instance, IAF's $4.1 billion deal to buy 10 transport aircraft from the US was an easy-to-process government-togovernment deal. The US pushed it strongly and India was willing as it was seen as uncontroversial and clean. The only problem was that the IAF's hard-bargained funds were spent on a logistic capability instead of on acquiring firepower and bolstering the fighter squadron strength.

"Airpower is inherently an offensive force. We need to invest in firepower delivery to take the war to the enemy instead of focusing largely on what are logistic elements. The problem is that each of the three forces are deciding acquisitions on their own. There is no national defence policy and hence no coherence as to what is our intent when arming the military," says Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia (retd), former chief of the Western Air Command. "Also, 80,000 new troops on the China border is strange. The revenue budget will hit the ceiling. Do the Chinese intend to capture territory here? I don't think so," Ahluwalia says, referring to the proposed mountain strike corps.

No quick fix

In one of his few media interactions after taking charge as finance and defence minister in May, a visibly exasperated Arun Jaitley remarked that it remained to be seen "how many bills are pending and how much we can do" before any action could be taken. He, however, ruled out a quick-fix solution in the form of a jump in budgetary support. "As the base of the economy expands, even a lesser percentage (of GDP) may increase the amount. Whatever amounts are necessary, our endeavour in due course is to make them available," Jaitley said.

The new Government is obviously being cautious as it tries to figure out the mess and move forward. Over the last three months, new policy decisions on manufacturing, export and procurement have been notified with a view to give some direction to defence modernisation. The central theme, officials say, is to encourage private sector participation in defence production, promote joint ventures in India with foreign collaboration, give incentives to Indian firms to lead all major procurements and reduce foreign exchange outflow. And this is already beginning to translate into action on the ground.

At a meeting in late August, a threestar air force officer met senior representatives of four top Indian defence manufacturers in his office in Vayu Bhawan. The agenda was to push three cutting edge projects the air force has identified for private sector participation- the LCA MK II project to create a new version of the fighter with more thrust; the planned Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project to develop a new indigenous fighter aircraft; and the futuristic unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). The message was clear: identify foreign technology partners, form collaborations and come back with a viable plan and these projects could be yours, ending the tradition of involving PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in every military aviation programme.

The Army is preparing to go the Navy way-fully indigenous manufacturing with foreign assistance if needed-when it comes to purchasing new guns. About 4,000 artillery guns are expected to be bought in the next decade. The plan now is to ensure that all future procurements will be made only from Indian companies, many of whom have acquired technology from across the world by buying out patents and even entire production plants. Besides policy decisions, the new regime is taking tough calls on projects stuck in the pipeline. Last month, it cancelled the deal for 197 light choppers for the Army. The deal was hanging for almost four years as the UPA had put it on hold following allegations of irregularities. The cancellation has delayed the modernisation of the Army Aviation Corps, but some in the army are relieved that a decision has been taken and a new process to buy the choppers can be initiated. The defence ministry has also approved the contract for 15 Chinook heavy lift choppers and the deal for 22 Apache attack helicopters. As part of its focus on promoting modernisation projects that entail production and development in India, the Government has approved procurement of 118 Indian-built Arjun tanks at a cost of Rs.6,700 crore. The Army is also set to get its first artillery systems in three decades with Jaitley clearing a Rs.900 crore project to purchase 40 Arjun 130-mm Catapult systems, mobile artillery that the Army needs badly.

Besides, the ministry has agreed to upgrade and refit six submarines at a cost of nearly Rs.5,000 crore, a move that will partly address concerns over the health of the underwater fleet. Another major decision has been to eliminate HAL from an air force project to replace its Avro transport aircraft fleet. The contract, likely to cost close to Rs.30,000 crore, will be handled by Indian private companies in collaboration with a foreign partner. Although some defence analysts feel the policy of the new Government is driven largely by a consortium of Indian private sector players, the forces won't complain as long as these moves fulfil their demands. The private sector, for one, is excited and this can create thousands of high technology jobs even though the process of shifting manufacturing to India is expected to be slow.

Fixing the Indian defence mess is not expected to be easy and the new Government will be faced with several tough calls in the months and years to come. And until a full-time defence minister is named, the task will sit heavy on the shoulders of Jaitley, who is already burdened with the enormous responsibility of fixing the Indian economy.

Follow the writer on Twitter @manupubby

Thailand Government released new Postage Stamps on Hindu Deities

Government of Thailand released remarkable new edition of stamps depicting the Hindu Deities, which will definitely delight the hearts of Hindus in Asia and other parts of the world. Thailand has a remarkable affinity to the Hindu Religion and Thai People are obviously proud of their Indian (Hindu) connection with the rich and colourful Thai culture and tradition.

The newly published stamps and the first day covers are embossed and printed with four (4) idol images of Hindu gods, namely Lord Ganesha, Lord Brahma, Lord Narayana (Phra Narai) and Lord Shiva (Phra Issuan) has indeed created a wonderful feelings and has brought great honor to the minds of the Hindu fraternity in Thailand and every parts in this globe. The inclusion of Aum sign and the Trimurthi ( Brhama, Vishnu and Mahesh) in the first day cover enhanced the significance of Hindu Dharma into the mind of every Hindu admirers without any doubt.

Hindu Existence Group conveys its warm greetings to the Thai Government and every Thai People for this noble cause.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Say Bye to Petrol & Diesel

Sheikh Zaki Yamani the famous Saudi Arabian oil minister of the 1970s once said that the stone age came to an end not for a lack of stones but because the human race moved on. Similarly the oil industry will come to an end not for a lack of oil but because the human race would have moved on.

About 10 days ago a tectonic movement of sorts hit the world automotive industry. This is a game changer. A paradigm shift and a bold (and very expensive) breakthrough by the Toyota Motor Company of Japan. 

They have introduced a production model car that runs on the hydrogen fuel cell. These cars will not need petrol or diesel anymore.

Before we talk more - just a little bit on the hydrogen fuel cell.

"A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen/air to sustain the chemical reaction; however, fuel cells can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied"
Above : Block diagram of a simple hydrogen fuel cell.

Below : A schematic for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle

The hydrogen fuel cell engine does not use fuel oil at all. It uses hydrogen and oxygen both of which can be extracted from the air or through electrolysis of water (H2O). And here is the most interesting part - the hydrogen fuel cell has zero exhaust gases. The byproduct is water (H2O).

Ok I am keeping this really short. Here is Toyota :

·        reduced cost of fuel cell cars significantly
·        several advances in hydrogen fuel cells make themcheaper
    • company to sell a car in 2015 — years before its competitors.
    • $50,000 and $100,000 - a big improvement over million-dollar vehicles
    • Toyota will display concept car this month at the Tokyo Motor Show.
·        Toyota fuel-cell system smaller and uses less platinum
    • fuel cell produces electricity, fed by a tank of hydrogen, platinum catalyst
·        water vapor comes out
·        hydrogen tank can be refilled like a conventional gas tank
    • General Motors plan fuel-cell vehicles around 2020.                                         
    • The key number is the US$50,000 - US$100,000 price tag. This is the game changer. Prior to this, hydrogen fuel cell prototypes cost anything from US$1.0 million and more. The savings that have been achieved by Toyota now has increased the efficiency by a factor of 10 to 20 times. US$50,000 is a very affordable number cost of making a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car has fallen dramatically.                               
    • vehicle that cost $1 million now made for $50,000 goes on sale in U.S. in 2015.
    • Toyota testing 100 fuel cell vehicles based on Highlander platform
    • next generation will be shaped more like the Prius and will be for actual sale.
Now General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan and a host of other car makers have also announced their own hydrogen fuel cell vehicle programs. This is because if they do not innovate they will die.

Here is some history behind Toyota';s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Four years ago in 2009, Toyota came to a cross roads of sorts after they had spent billions of US Dollars trying to develop the fuel cell vehicle. It has been a long process, hard work, billions of dollars and really capable research and development efforts. By 2009 Toyota had made major breakthroughs and they decided to press on with developing the fuel cell vehicle.

Here are some of Toyota';s major technology breakthroughs :
·       significantly decreased amount of platinum needed in fuel cells
·       comparable to what cars have in catalytic converters
·       reduced platinum by making catalyst more effective
·       developing precise equipment for applying catalyst to ensure none wasted
·       requires fewer fuel cells to be stacked together
·       improving design of fuel cell.
·       engineers modified membrane to allow protons to pass more freely
·       increases amount of power that each fuel cell can generate
So in 2009 Toyota shareholders made a decision to continue spending money to develop the hydrogen fuel cell car. Here is some Toyota news from 2009 :
·           Toyota Still Committed to Producing a Hydrogen Vehicle - 24/06/09
·           At shareholders'; meeting in Japan, executives stated commitment to bringing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to market in the near future. 
·           revised their timeline, pushing production back a year to 2015.
·           awfully soon but maybe Toyota knows something we don';t
So it has taken them many years, perseverance, tons of money, great will power and technical capability to achieve this ground breaking technology. This is now history. Toyota is bringing out their hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in 2014/2015. They are quite on track.

A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will be more fuel efficient than a petrol driven car. A "litre" of hydrogen (or natural gas) should be a lot less cheaper than a litre of petrol. Plus it has 100% non exhaust gases (other than water). Since 40% of the world';s oil consumption goes into transportation (cars, ships, trains, planes) this hydrogen fuel cell technology will have a significant effect on oil consumption and automotive technology.

The stone age is coming to an end again - in the rest of the world.

By the way if hydrogen fuel cells take off (and they will) here is what is going to happen in the Middle East :

 Received above information through kind courtesy of Dewan Satish

Thursday, September 4, 2014


01 Sep 2014

Sh. Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)
New Delhi -110001


Dear Prime Minister,

This is in continuation of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) letter dated 14 Aug 2014 and 22 Aug 2014.  This is the third letter, I am writing to you on behalf of the Ex-Servicemen and Defence family pensioners Fraternity to request you to fulfil your assurances given to them during your Election Rallies which were also reflected in the BJP Manifesto. 

Mr. Prime Minister one of our Ex-Servicemen Maj Gen  K M Bhimaya (Retd) visited Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library at Springfield Illinois and came across a priceless peace of tribute to the US Army Veterans by the Decatur Review (May 31, 1893).  I would like to share with you the excerpts from the above piece which the General has shared with us.  After reading the piece. I am sure you will  feel  deep inside, the obligation of the Nation towards its Martyrs and Living soldiers  both serving and retired and their members of families :-

“Every soldier who placed himself on the deadly altar is as deserving of credit as if he had died there. The truest way to honor the dead is to rightly appreciate the living. The returned veteran who is healthy and beyond need and to whom the nation is largely indebted does not ask charity at the hands of the government he served, but it is not too much to ask that the pension laws shall be so perfected and so administered that none of our worthy comrades and their families shall be left to suffer for the comforts of life.”

Sir, we were very sure that you at the helm of affairs of the Govt will undo the injustice done to the Defence Forces by successive Govts for the past 67 years.  Our status and inter-se-equations with other Central Services have been systematically downgraded since 26 Jan 1950.  One Rank One Pension as per the accepted definitions ie “Pensions as on 01.04.2014 of defence personnel will be paid to all past pensioners with same rank and same years of service and the future enhancements in the rates of pensions will also be passed on to the past pensioners” as assured by you starting with Rewari Rally, has not been implemented even six months after its sanction.  The Defence Fraternity is rather surprised to know that the bureaucrats have as “Red Herring” brought in the hurdle of Finances and are trying to create confusion by giving a twist to the very definition of OROP.  At the time of giving approval to the concept of OROP and issuing executive orders for the same, it was clearly mentioned that funds required for the same will be made available.  Then, sir, why, the Draft Govt Letter (DGL) prepared by the Service HQs which has been correctly prepared as per the Govt executive orders has, not yet been issued?

May we request you to kindly issue instructions to implement the One Rank One Pension (OROP) exactly as per the approved definition the earliest please? What we understand from your policies and manifesto that your Government will ensure stronger military and would raise the morale of Armed Forces Personnel by respecting them and giving them their dues. Sir, Armed Forces personnel look up to the veterans as their future life and see them as their guide and philosopher. Wellbeing of Ex-servicemen will raise morale of serving soldiers many notches high. 

Any further delay, will cause disillusionment amongst the Ex-Servicemen towards the BJP and its Govt.

With regards,

Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, SM
Chairman IESM

Copy to

General Dalbir Singh,                  
Chief of the Army Staff 

For Info pl.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha,            Chief of the Air Staff 
& Chairman, Chiefs of Staffs Committee (CoSC), 
Admiral R K Dhowan,                     Chief of the Naval Staff                                                                        


Thursday, August 28, 2014

A saga of unparalleled bravery. - Original source/link unavailable:

On June 2, 1999, General V. P. Malik, the then army chief held a " Sainik Darbar" at Gumari in the Drass sector after three failed attempts to recapture Tololing Hill, which stands at 15,000 feet. Fifty- nine Indian soldiers from different regiments had already died, following which Gen Malik summoned the commanders of the 2 Rajputana Rifles to present their plans.
The Army chief was just not convinced by their plans when a 30-year- old commando from the last row got up, summoned all the courage that an Army Naik would need to speak to the general, and said: "I am Naik Digendra Kumar known as Cobra, the best commando of the Indian Army. Sir, I have a plan that guarantees our victory." "Explain," said the General. "Sir, the hill is straight," Digendra offered. "We will take the same route as the enemy." A surprised General Malik countered saying death is certain on this route. Digendra wouldn"t back off. "Death is unavoidable otherwise too. Leave this to me.
Give me the tools, and I shall win the battle. "He got what he wanted"
1. 100 metres of Russian rope that can bear up to 10 tons of weight,
2. Russian nails that can easily be put into rocks, and
3. high-powered injections to get rid of fatigue.
The story of Digendra, who was later promoted to havaldar and received the Mahavir Chakra for his valour, is a tale of real and unparalleled courage.
For two days starting June 8, Digendra and his colleagues recced the area before putting rope all over, a task that took 14 hours. On June 12, Digendra and nine fellow commandos began the mission to free Tololing. He was carrying an AK-47 rifle with 360 bullets, 18 hand grenades, one pistol and a commando dagger dipped in cyanide. Each of them was assigned to blast one bunker each of the 11 that the Pakistani army had built. "I assigned myself the first and the last bunkers," says Digendra.
The group began to climb the hill in the dead of night. "It was pitch- dark," Digendra remembers. "At one point, I thought I touched a stone. It wasn"t; it was actually the barrel of an enemy machine gun. I pulled it, and threw a grenade in the bunker. It caught fire. We knew that the Pakistanis would retaliate. And they did.
Around 250 soldiers and artillery tanks began firing upon us." Digendra and his team were unable to move due to the intense firing. "I asked that cannons be made to fire a metre above by changing the angle. "It worked and the team moved under the raining bullets.
As they were moving ahead, Digendra was hit by three bullets in the chest, one in the left thumb and another in the lower waist. Four of his colleagues died. Soon, the Pakistanis overwhelmed Digendra’s team with sheer numbers, and all nine died.
Before they died, they handed over their guns and grenades to Digendra who threw 18 grenades in all the 11 bunkers. All of a sudden Major Anwar Khan appeared to confront him. Digendra targeted his gun. "He jumped on me”.
I lost my gun. So, I grabbed him with his hair and beheaded him with my dagger." He was soon able to take the hill and place the Indian flag on top. By then, he was unconscious. He woke up in a military hospital. He was officially a disabled soldier after receiving five bullets.

Perhaps the only live soldier to receive the Mahavir Chakra in the Kargil War, Digendra received his medal on January 26, 2000.

Beware netas, 'Bigg Boss' Modi is watching

by  Rajeev Sharma

Call it Gestapo or the prying big brother; call it whatever you will. But the fact is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is walking his talk on a crusade against corruption, which he publicly reiterated in his Kargil rally on 12 August when he said: 'na khaoonga, na khane doonga (won't take bribe, won't let others take)'.

He has already unleashed the cat among the pigeons, so to say, by making it clear to all his ministers, bureaucrats and government servants alike that his supreme template of governance is zero tolerance on corruption.

Here is a pithy compendium of Modi’s latest diktats and moves, most of which you would perhaps be getting to know for the first time.

* CCTVs in Ministries

The Modi government has embarked upon a never-before move of installing closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) in major central ministries. The first in the line is the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, the cash-rich ministry where deals, orders and contracts worth billions are commonplace.

The proposal to install CCTVs in the petroleum ministry’s headquarters in New Delhi’s Shastri Bhavan has just been cleared and it will be a matter of days or weeks until all the CCTVs are in place. And this is an informal pilot project. More ministries will have such CCTVs in future. The Defence ministry should also be in this list.

* Ministries to Make Cabinet Notes Under PMO Directions

Another unprecedented decision that the Modi government is quietly pushing is that the union ministries will no longer prepare cabinet notes about their future plans on their own. Rather, under the new scheme of things, the ministries will be required to consult the Prime Minister’s Office and wait for PMO instructions for drafting cabinet notes about their functioning and future plans. Thus far, the ministries have been routinely preparing cabinet notes for consideration by the union cabinet. Henceforth, the ministries will be divested on this privilege and micro-managed by the PMO, even on the issue of preparation of cabinet notes.

* DAVP’s Advertisements to Newspapers in Last Ten Years Under Scanner

The Information and Broadcasting ministry’s Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) has also come under the PMO’s scrutiny. The DAVP has been told to submit to the PMO, all information and data about the advertisements it has given to media outfits in the past ten years. The PMO wants to know how much government money was pumped into which media outfits in the past decade (read the UPA tenure).

The idea is to regulate the pumping of government money in media outfits by way of advertisements which has kept these entities financially afloat. This is bad news for media outfits, including several major mainline newspapers, which have survived mainly on account of government doles in the form of advertisements. At least two major English dailies would be directly affected and may face closure if government advertisements were to dry up for these. One of the affected newspapers is a prominent English daily which has been pro-BJP in its editorial orientation and patronized by a tall leader of the BJP who is no longer in Modi’s scheme of things.

* Ministers Are Constantly Under Watch

Union ministers are constantly under the watch of PM Modi. 
More importantly, they have been given rude jolts from time to time to remind them that they are under watch.

Consider these two examples.

One minister was breaking bread in a five star hotel in New Delhi with a top industrial magnate who is known to be very close to PM Modi. During the course of his meal, the minister gets a call from the PM himself, inquiring whether the meal was over. It was a brief call and no directions were issued But the message was driven home and the minister quickly wrapped up his meeting and headed back to office.

Another minister was happily going to the Indira Gandhi International airport for his maiden foreign trip a couple of months ago, dressed in jeans. He had barely driven for about a kilometer and a half when he got a call on his mobile from the PM himself. The PM casually inquired where he was headed to and the minister gently reminded him about his foreign trip which had been duly cleared by the government. But he was flabbergasted when Modi chided him for wearing jeans and told him that as a public servant he would be under people’s gaze in India as well as abroad and may be criticized for his choice. As the line went dead, the befuddled minister ordered his driver to take the car back to his residence where he quickly changed into the traditional kurta-pyjama and proceeded with his foreign trip.

In fact, such is the mortal fear of PM Modi that ministers and top bureaucrats have stopped using their personal mobile phones for their very private conversations. Instead, they have started using the phones of their drivers and aides for such conversations as these phones are ‘safe’.