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Thursday, October 11, 2018

How the Civilians Thrive at the Cost of the Defence Forces.

Isn't it a pity that the Indian Government is unable to visualise how the Civilian staff is feasting on the Defence Pensions, included in the Annual Defence Budget, which the Finance Ministry has been announcing with all the whims and fancies from year to year to impress the Indian Public. In fact they enjoy many more benefits sitting in their cosy offices, which have been often denied to the Defence Forces, just because they cannot protest or agitate like all others.

How long the Government including the Bureaucracy, would keep their eyes close to the realities of life, which the soldiers of this country face and have been subjected to through out their truncated careers.
Surprisingly the Indian Media is also reluctant to report their vows, despite the fact that the Minister for Information and Broadcasting who would have a say in this matter, is an Ex-Soldier. What a pity?

A reality View on India's Defence Budget

Most Defence personnel and experts agree with the views expressed by TR Ramaswami and would like the powers in the Government to look at the amount, the tail is eating into the defence budget. In this regard would the Army Chief ever dare to ask the MOD to trim the tail and compromise on the existing capabilities of the Defence forces?




Friday, October 5, 2018

Modi Government politicized surgical strikes but did little for soldiers


The Indian government has celebrated the second anniversary of the 2016 surgical strikes featured in a cross-border raid into Pakistan-administered Kashmir in retaliation for the killing of 19 soldiers at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir by four heavily armed terrorists of the Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammed group.

The adjective “surgical” was added by the government to dramatize the fact that the raid on multiple terrorist launch pads did not involve hand-to-hand combat. The government claimed that some 40 terrorists and two Pakistani Army regulars were killed, though Pakistan denied that the raid happened. But telephonic conversations between Pakistani police officials and Indian reporters from the Network 18 news channel confirm Pakistani casualties, though the number remains ambiguous. 

Immediately after the raid, Indian politicians began boasting that Pakistan had been “taught a lesson,” and that cross-border terrorism would stop. Prime Minister Narendra Modi even proclaimed that he had called up Pakistan but no Pakistani general was “available” to talk to him, implying that they had gone into hiding with fear.

The government riding covert operations to garner votes has not only jeopardized similar future operations in Pakistan-administered Kashmir but has done precious little for the Special Forces. Units are holding an assortment of new-old weapons, even assault rifles. Communication equipment is grossly outdated and surveillance equipment is far below authorization. Holdings of combat military free-fall parachutes are nearing zero.
Even basic Special Forces equipment such as laser target designators and general-purpose machine-guns authorized since 2002 are yet to be fielded. There is no sense of urgency beyond publicity. The institution of a separate Special Forces Fund is anathema to the government.
The government-appointed Naresh Chandra Committee on security reforms recommended the establishment of a Special Forces Command in 2012. After six years of inaction, the Defense Ministry approved the establishment of a Special Operations Division in the military last year. But it still requires cabinet approval.
There is no move to have special operations set up under the prime minister for strategic-level tasks. Despite having adverse asymmetric advantage vis-à-vis Pakistan-China at the sub-conventional level, there is no will to evolve systemic sub-conventional response.
The government launched an electronic and print media blitz glorifying the raid through articles, books, TV debates, and documentaries. But violence levels rose exponentially from 2016 onward compared with previous years; 2,134 ceasefire violations (including 1,046 this year), 916 infiltration attempts, and 566 terrorists and 242 security personnel killed as of September 30.
To think that tactical-level retaliatory strikes would make Pakistan stop terrorism was naive but India never really mustered the guts to take the sub-conventional war inside Pakistan, because of lack of political will and intellect, fear of failure, focus on internal security and fighting elections. Increased casualties in Jammu and Kashmir are also because of warped policy. The number of security personnel killed matters little to the government.

The government’s surgical strikes celebration spanned universities, colleges and events at the national level including releasing another documentary. Never have such celebrations been made for major wars India won including the 50-day Kargil Conflict. The exclusive aim of making political mileage is reinforced by the fact that no such celebrations were held last year during the “first anniversary.”

The government wants students – youth comprise 65% of India’s population – to “show respect” to the armed forces despite every survey showing the military is already the most respected organization in India with an overwhelming majority. It is the politicians and bureaucrats that need to show respect to the armed forces.
If the valor of soldiers is milked for political gain while soldiers pay with their lives, the loss of lives is not the only apathy the armed forces face. Denigration and degrading of the military has been ongoing for decades, with the present dispensation accelerating the pace. Simultaneous to the surgical strikes, the Modi government slashed soldiers’ disability pensions.
More than 750 army officers have approached the Supreme Court against filing of a First Information Report (FIR) against military personnel serving in the Kashmir Valley for counter-insurgency operations.
The filing of an FIR leads to endless litigation for soldiers, who can be harassed by the police long after they retire. Ironically, Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave her assent to the then-reigning Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to file these FIRs against soldiers who were forced to open fire against stone-pelting crowds in self-defense. However, the federal government has now changed its stance and has sheepishly stated support for these officers.
Despite using the military as the first responder in nearly every crisis, it continues to treat soldiers shabbily. The Modi government did grant one-time relief under subterfuge of the “one rank one pension” (OROP) policy, which it is not. Despite calling itself “nationalist,” the government resorted to a police baton charge on peacefully protesting military veterans in August 2015, shaming the nation. Veterans’ protests for full OROP in New Delhi completed 870 days on October 1 this year. A blanket media ban on their activities is a slur on democracy and constitutional rights.

The military’s Order of Precedence continues to be lowered in the Constitutional scheme. Anomalies of pay commissions with respect to the armed forces from the third Central Pay Commission in 1973 to date remain unaddressed. The seventh Central Pay Commission (2017) brought pay and allowances of police forces above the armed forces. A serving or retired civilian defense employee is five times as expensive as his uniformed counterpart or veteran. The army is asked to cut down its strength unilaterally but the civilian-support part of defense continues to bloat.
The worst apathy is toward widows and the disabled, who are made to fight prolonged legal battles for their dues and pensions. It is difficult to understand why a female defense minister hires batteries of lawyers, paying each an average of 200,000 rupees (US$2,750) from the defense budget, to fight pensions and dues of widows and the disabled, knowing some of them don’t have the means to fight legal battles. This despite that the Ministry of Defense hasn’t won a single case to date.
Sitharaman told Parliament that the Ministry of Defense would not withdraw legal cases against widows and the disabled. A non-functional upgrade allowance is granted to government services but the government is fighting legal battles to deny this to the armed forces. The government is also complicit in denying soldiers the right to vote, especially those posted in forward or remote areas.
Both the prime minister and the defense minister skipped the last Army Day and Air Force Day celebrations but the entire government machinery celebrated Surgical Strike Day; so much for votes despite proclaiming that there is no opposition or opposition leader worth the name.
India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was known for harboring suspicions about the military, and the current incumbent, Narendra Modi, is having his way. Beyond institutionalized criminality and corruption, where India is heading has been queried in these columns. How the next government will treat the armed forces is anybody’s guess.


 The views expressed by the Author are his own and not of this blog.







The author retired as Lieutenant General from the Indian Army's Special Forces.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Are Armed Forces Ready for NFU?


Harsha Kakar
There are rumours afloat that Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU) for the armed forces may be released sometime soon. It could be either on the orders of the court based on an appeal whose decision is awaited, or by the government prior to the elections, seeking to assuage the armed forces. This has been the demand from all sections of the military.
While everyone desires that NFU be made applicable for the armed forces, internally the forces would need to evaluate their systems and methodology for its implementation, to prevent legal battles and cater for their specific conditions of service as against the Group A and allied services for whom it has already been released.
The Group A services comprise of three central civil services, which are allocated to states and employed by the Centre on deputation. They are the IAS, IPS and the IFS (Indian Forest Service). All others including the IFS (Indian Foreign Service), revenue and others (44 of them) are affiliated only to the Centre which is responsible for their promotions and postings and hence are termed allied services. Traditionally, the Group A services have been senior to the allied services.
The armed forces, whose officers are ‘commissioned’, are as per government orders, higher in status and position to both the Group A and the Allied services. However, by declaring the service HQs as attached HQs from independence, they have been kept away from decision making and hence regularly degraded in status. This is a result of fears of a coup if the army is too closely involved in government. This fear has been exaggerated by the bureaucracy.
Thus, when the armed forces officers seek to demand NFU as allocated to civil services considering their pattern of affiliation to only the Centre, they would be dubbed as ‘allied services’ and not a Group A service as they are not allocated to any state. They would then become the 45th allied service, which would be permanently below the status of Group A services.
The structure of the armed forces is also at vast variance from all other services. The armed forces have a pyramidical structure while others have a near cylindrical one. Within the armed forces due to the structure, supersession comes at every rank commencing from Lt Colonel upwards while in the civil services, anyone graded above average is to be promoted, which may however be delayed due to vacancies.
NFU, within the civil services, is a grant to enhance status of employees to the level of those who have risen earlier. This remains until the individual who is awaiting promotion obtains his promotion. Very few are superseded. In a statement in May 2017, the army chief stated that there is a misconception doing the rounds that because NFU has been granted to the civil services, the status of the armed forces has been downgraded.
He added, “A letter from the government states that NFU will be a purely financial upgrade and it will not bestow any right to the officer to claim promotion or designation to a higher post.” Why has this not been implemented in letter and spirit, mainly by those organisations where army and civil counterparts work together remains a mystery.
Further, within the armed forces, promotion up to the rank of Lt Col and equivalents in other services is time bound and there is no delay in promotions; hence NFU would be valid from where supersession commences, based on promotion boards. When the above is considered in totality, it emerges that NFU when granted to the defence services must be different in nature and form. It cannot be simply duplicated.
There have been multiple cases in the past, the Ex-Servicemen Compensatory Health Service (ECHS) being a prime example, where the concept has been copied from the civilian model, in this case the Central Government Health Scheme, and implementation failed only because an in-depth study involving specific armed forces requirements had not been factored in. The same should not happen with the NFU.
When the spirit behind the NFU is assessed, a few issues would need to be resolved before it is implemented. The first is that while an officer who has been superseded would be granted an equivalent upgrade as those of his colleagues who have risen, he would not get the same privileges and status. As different from the civil services, where promotion avenues remain open, in his case they are closed. Thus, he would only be compensated financially, without change in status.
Secondly, since NFU is only a financial upgrade, it would not impact pensions, which would remain dependent on the rank at which the officer retires. This implies that an officer drawing the grade of his colleagues of a higher rank, would not obtain a pension of the same. These two key issues must be amicably resolved to enhance satisfaction and reduce litigation.
Since NFU once allotted would be common for the three services it is imperative that they evaluate its implications and evolve a common procedure for implementation. It is unlikely that the government would continue accepting changes to the model. The aim should be to enhance satisfaction to the cadre for the long term, rather than for the immediate moment. Further, its implementation should not lead to increased legal cases.
The army is presently moving forward on its own cadre review, which may be impacted as it would offset the protocol balance within the services. NFU and the cadre review would need to be considered possibly together. The ideal agency to assess, analyse and offer a viable solution for the betterment of the complete armed forces cadre is the HQ Integrated Defence Staff.
It could conduct a study with members from all services and evolve a model to benefit the system, within the legal framework, rather than end up as a disappointment. Simply copying the civilian model to implement this in a rush would only enhance dissatisfaction and anger, as service conditions are unique.
The writer is a retired Major-General of the Indian Army.
By the kind courtesy of

An Appeal by Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd) Advisor United Front of Ex Servicemen & Chairman IESM


JOINT ANDOLAN BY JAWAN KISANS AND DALITS MAHA RALLY BY EX SERVICEMEN ON 09 AUG 2018 AT JANTAR MANTAR NEW DELHI

Dear Friends,

          Deprived sections of Society have been raising their voice to get justice of their demands and for that they have been doing Andolan individually. The fact that these Sections of Society are still executing their Protest Movements, as, their grievances have not been addressed to their satisfaction.

          Towards, this:-As citizens’ protests surge, India’s Dalits, farmers, and ex-servicemen have come together, with support from other sections of the society, for demanding justice and seeking redressal for their grievances. We have come together to put forward our demands with the hope that this is a Government that is responsible to the People. We expect a responsible government to answer questions put forward by the people and fulfill their demands. With this in mind, the important individual demands of three organisations are as follows.

INDIAN EX SERVICEMEN MOVEMENT (IESM)

1. Complete OROP as per approved definition of Parliament of India.

2. Arrest Functional, Pay Parity downgradation/degradation of the Armed
Forces personnel & restore status (in the Warrant of Precedence) as existed in 1947. Abolish the AFHQ CS (Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services).

3. Cancel the Cantonment Roads order. Implement Supreme Court order on the subject. Address the concerns raised by CAG & CGDA with respect to corruption in the Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE).

ALL INDIA KISAN SABHA (AIKS)

1. Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops at one-and-a-half times of cost of production (C2+50%) and guaranteed procurement.

2. One-time waiver of all loans of all farmers including bank loans, cooperative loans and private money lender loans.

3. Land to the landless poor, house sites for the homeless, ban on forcible acquisition of farmers’ land for corporate or corridor projects without proper compensation and rehabilitation, stringent implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

        ALL INDIA AMBEDKAR MAHASABHA (AIAM)

1. Withdrawal of all cases against Chandrashekhar, Shiv Kumar Pradhan, Sonu, Upkar Bawre and others detained under NSA and those arrested or implicated on 2nd April 2018 Bharat Bandh.

2. Restoration of SC, ST (Prevention of) Atrocities Act 1989 as it existed with its all provisions and penalties prior to the Supreme Court Judgement on 20th March 2018.

3. Establishment of Indian Judicial Service under the Article 312 of the Constitution.

In addition, all the three organisations have decided to unitedly stand up and fight for the following three vital issues:

1)       Put an end to the hate-driven mob violence and lynching plaguing the country. Fast-track the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for murders and those backing them in an exemplary manner.

2)      Revive and vote into law the Women’s Reservation Bill guaranteeing 33% reservation for Women in the Lok Sabha as well as state assemblies– within the term of the current (16th) Lok Sabha.

3)      Scrap The Aadhaar, which has wreaked havoc with welfare schemes by widening exclusion, compromised civil liberties by creating new forms of discrimination, and made real the threat of a surveillance state.

Henceforth the above three organisations, representing three critical segments of our society, will work in tandem and in a symbiotic manner with mutual respect & augment strengths on the ground. ‘Calls for Action’ will be actively supported by our constituents.

Action Calls in August

09 August 2018: BJP Quit India & Jail Bharo across 400 districts. Call given by All India Kisan Sabha.

09 August 2018: Bharat Bandh. Call given by All India Ambedkar Mahasabha
All rallies & protests will be synchronized actions where the three constituents (Dalit, Kisan and Jawan) will mobilise people across the country towards redressal of their demands.

       Action by Ex Servicemen:

·         Our Conveners are requested to liaison with local leaders of Formers and Dalits and support their demands by attending their Dharnas, Rallies as per their local Conditions.

 ·         Ex Servicemen Rally will be held at Jantar Mantar New Delhi on 09th Aug 2018 from 11AM to 3 PM.

·         ESM, members of our families and our supporters are requested to attend the Rally in large numbers to showcase solidarity to the Cause of Soldiers.

Part reimbursement of transportation expenses/rail fair as hither to will be made to the  ESM  attending the Rally  as under :-

Own vehicle upto 200 Km, 4-5 persons – Rs 500 per vehicle.

Own Vehicle beyond 200 Km - Rs 750 per vehicle.

Own Vehicle upto 200 Km, 8-10 persons – Rs 750 per vehicle.

Own Vehicle beyond 200 Km, 8-10 persons – Rs 1000 per vehicle.

By Bus – One side fare subject to 2nd class normal train fare.

By Train - One side 2nd class fare.
  
All concern are requested to give wide publicity to the above action/activities and motivate people to take part in the joint Andolan By Jawan, Kisan And Dalits across India.

          Maximum participation is requested at our ESM Maha Rally at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 09 Aug 2018 from 11AM to 3PM.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

One Rank One Pension: Govt says No to Annual Revision of Pensionery Benefits


The Central government on Friday told the Supreme Court that it will not revise the formula for One Rank-One Pension (OROP) scheme nor would it bring down the timeline for periodical revision of the pensionary benefits for retired armed forces personnel.

The ASG sought dismissal of the petition by Indian Ex-servicemen Movement also on the ground that there is a limited scope of reviewing a policy decision.


The Central government on Friday told the Supreme Court that it will not revise the formula for One Rank-One Pension (OROP) scheme nor would it bring down the timeline for periodical revision of the pensionary benefits for retired armed forces personnel.

Appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh made the government's stand clear in response to a PIL.

"We will not revise the OROP formula. The government has already gone out of its way," Singh submitted.

The law officer added that whatever has to be decided by the government has already been done.

"More than Rs 10, 000 crore has been sanctioned after much deliberation. This has huge ramifications on the exchequer and any interference would further burden us," Singh told the Court.

The ASG sought dismissal of the petition by Indian Ex-servicemen Movement also on the ground that there is a limited scope of reviewing a policy decision.

"This petition is not maintainable because it seeks to challenge a policy decision," said Singh.
Representing the petitioner, senior advocate Vivek Tankha replied that he is ready to argue on both maintainability and merits of his plea.

The Court then asked Singh to file a formal affidavit in reply to the petition and fixed the matter for hearing after four weeks.

The Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM) and others have challenged the government’s policy of periodic review of pension once in five years.

It has sought a direction for the government to implement OROP as recommended by the Koshyari Committee with an automatic annual revision, instead of the current policy of periodic review once in five years.

“OROP is the uniform desire of all three defence services. Ex-servicemen are presently drawing pension that is not consistent with their rank and/or length of service... the pension of past pensioners be automatically and contemporaneously enhanced, whenever there is any future increase or enhancement in the rates of pension,” said the petition.

It added the government should be directed to fix the pension on the basis of highest pension of financial year 2014-15 and not 2013.

A video by IESM released thereafter can be seen at: 


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Status Downgradation Of Armed Forces

Dear Veterans,

A Letter written to Hon’ble Raksha Mantri   and three chiefs by Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd) Advisor United Front of Ex Servicemen
& Chairman Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM)  on the above subject is given below herewith for your information and widest circulation please.

                                                             Dated 27 Jun 2018
To
Smt  Nirmala   Sitharaman     
Hon’ble Raksha Mantri                                                                                 
104, South Block, New Delhi-110011

STATUS DOWNGRADATION OF ARMED FORCES

Dear Raksha Mantri,

With concern, we wish to bring to your notice the systematic and continuous downgradation of Defence Forces and request the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri to seriously address this issue to ensure, the most suitable youth is attracted to the noble profession of Arms.

It is brought to your notice that there has been deliberate down gradation of status of Armed Forces- Functionally as well with respect of Pay Parity.

Functional Downgradation.

Armed Forces Officers have always been equated with All India Services Officers, as documented in Warrant of Precedence (WoP), Post War Pay Committee Report & Raghuramiah Committee Report.  JCOs have been accorded Gazetted Officers status by an Act of Parliament vide Section 3 (xii) of Army Act 1950. Senior NCOs always carried the status of Non Gazetted Officers. However, MoD has started equating JCOs with Non Gazetted/ Gp C employees & Sr NCOs with even lower level employees. Lts & Capts are being equated with Gp B Offrs, Lt Cols with Dy Dir/ Under Secys (lowest Gp A designation), Cols with Jt Dir/ Dy Secys (2nd Gp A designation) & Brigs with Directors (3rd Gp A designation). This issue of Degradation of Military ranks is being actively pursued by AFHQ CS Cadre, which is a Gp B internal support cadre of Services HQ, in their quest for comparative up gradation of their own cadre designations.

A number of letters on these degraded equations have been issued by CAO/ MoD/ Cabinet Sectt during last over 20 years. Though RM had ordered for cancellation of one such letter during Jan 2018, but host of other letters remain in force. These equations are now slowly & slowly being put into effect on ground in all functional aspects in Services HQ, ISOs, MoD & on Deputations in other Deptts/ Ministries, including Channel of Reporting, Protocols & various Entitlements.

Also, presently Armed Forces have almost no say in decision making in their own Ministry. Even files endorsed by Chiefs are being subjected to scrutiny by lower bureaucracy. Decision making in MoD is being directly influenced by lower level civil bureaucrats who have aggressively started competing for status & service privileges applicable to uniformed personnel, thereby actively attempting to downgrade & degrade the Armed Forces.

Pay Parity Downgradation.

Till 5 CPC, Brigs were placed in SAG II equivalent Pay Scales, Lt Cols in Director’s Pay Scales & 2/Lts had their starting Pay Scale higher than IAS Officers. The JCOs were in Pay Scales
equivalent to Gp B Gazetted Officers, while Sr NCOs were in Gp B Non Gazetted Pay Scales. Today the old established Pay Parity is almost bordering two  Rank Downgradation. Presently Maj Gens are in Level 14 while Police ADGs have moved to Level 15; Cols are in Pay Level 13, applicable to NFSG Directors; Subedars are placed in Level 7, which is applicable to Non Gazetted employees & Nb Subs are Level 6, which is even lower than Non Gazetted. Havildars are in further   lower Pay Levels. This is the very reason the JCOs are not being given higher MSP, NFU is being refused to Officers & lateral absorption is not working out.

Way Forward.
           
 In Dec 2008, PMO had directed for setting up of High Powered Committee (HPC) for resolving Status & Rank Equivalence issue. However, same has not been done till date. While Anomalies Committee was set up by Govt immediately after 7 CPC for resolving Pay Anomalies of Civilian employees, including Defence Civilians, no such Committee has been set up for resolving Defence Pay Anomalies till date. It is therefore imperative that:-

(a)    There is immediate need to arrest the downgradation and restore the status which existed as on 15 Aug 1947.  This be completed in a given schedule at the earliest say by 31 Dec 2018.
(b)  HPC consisting of Parliamentarians be set up by Govt for establishing one to one Rank equivalence with All India Services within three months ie by 30 Sep 2018.
(c)    Separate HPC consisting of Parliamentarians be also set up for resolving outstanding Pay Anomalies of Defence personnel by 30 Sep 2018.
(d)    MoD be restructured to include adequate representation from Armed Forces for balanced & synergised decision making earliest.
(e)      AFHQ Cadre in Services HQ & ISOs be replaced by employing ESM & non-empanelled Offrs, thereby bringing considerable savings to the Govt.
            It is against all principles of management that decisions on Armed Forces are being taken by civilian executives who do not understand the ethos and comraderie of Armed Forces. The main driving force of the armed forces is its discipline and the fact that a soldier dashes into to volley of bullets and sure death on orders of his commander are very complex issues, beyond comprehension of a person who is not involved in these issues. Decisions taken by individuals who do not understand these issues and emotions will be void of reality and will never be for raising morale of Armed Forces. Request of Armed Forces to include their representatives in decision making has always been brushed aside on the pretext that Armed Forces HQs are always consulted for any decision. Whereas we all know that that is not the truth and Armed Forces HQs are only given orders to implement whether they like it or not.

            With regards,
                                                            
Yours Sincerely,


Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
(Retd)                                                                                                                          Advisor United Front of Ex Servicemen
& Chairman Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement
(IESM)                                                                                                                
Mobile: 9312404269, 01244110570                                                                                                  
                                                                                                          



Copy to :-

General Bipin Rawat,  UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM
Chief of the Army Staff                                       
Integrated HQs of Ministry of Defence (Army)
South Block, New Delhi-110011

You are requested to take up this important issue jointly to restore the status of Defence Forces as suggested above.
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa ,PVSM AVSM YSM VM ADC
Chief of the Air Staff 
Integrated HQs of Ministry of Defence (Air Force) Vayu Bhawan, New Delhi 110011


Our request as above.
Admiral Sunil Lanba ,PVSM, AVSM, ADC                                         
Chief of the Naval Staff  &
Chairman Chiefs of Staffs Committee (CoSC)
Integrated HQs of Ministry of Defence (Navy)  South Block, New Delhi -110011

Our request as above.