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Monday, November 24, 2014

A comprehensive paper on Lateral movement of Defence Services Personnel into other Central Govt departments written by Lt Col HKL Anand (Retd) and addressed to the Hon’ble Minister of Finance

            
Shri  Arun Jaitley,           
Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Defence,
132c, North Block
NEW DELHI 110011

Sir,

1 .While watching BIG FIGHT discussing budget proposals on NDTV on 12th Jul i  heard almost every panelist saying that the Finance Minister should raise more money. Therefore I submit a recommendation of the 6th Central Pay Commission which is expected to result in a yearly saving of Rs 800 Crores to start with and growing cumulatively save Rs 7,800 Crores, yearly, at Constant price index, in 13 years period in addition to many other advantages. It is the lateral movement of Defence Forces Personnel to Central Police Organisations [CPOs], Central Para Military Forces [CPMFs] and civilian posts in the Ministry of Defence.  Although it is in the best interests of the present and future Defence-Forces-Personnel, will solve the ever-existing problem of their  resettlement, attract capable young men to the Defence Forces, provide well-trained / disciplined /mature personnel to CPOs / CPMFs / Defence Civilian Organisations and save app Rs 7800 crores  annually ,yet  it has not been accepted by the Govt. Despite the Pay Commissions convincing replies to the objections of Home Ministry officials, selfish interests of CPOs, CPMFs etc have prevailed and the welfare of Defence Forces Personnel/huge financial benefits ignored. This proposal can be taken as an Off Setting Measure for The Expenditure On One-Rank-One Pension.  I am, therefore, writing to you to spearhead this recommendation of the pay panel because I consider this recommendation to be the Biggest/ Best Ever Step Taken for the Welfare of Defence Forces Personnel.   
                                                                                          Lateral Movement of Defence Forces Personnel

2.  Hon’ble 6th Central Pay Commission have dealt with the LATERAL MOVEMENT OF DEFENCE FORCES PERSONEL to Central Police Organisations CPOs], Central Para Military Forces [CPMFs] and Defence Civilian Organisations in Sec 2.4  of their report..  Although equation of various grades of Civilian Govt.  Servants with various ranks of the Defence Forces Personnel in terms of designation was established  by 3rd Pay Commission it is the 6th Pay Commission who have made the equation in terms of Grade Pay making the rank pay equal to Grade Pay. In sec 2.4 pay commission have explained that this step has established identical or  at least similar  pay scales for civilian as well  as defence forces personnel without which absorption of defence forces personnel I.e. ,Short Service Commissioned Officers [SSCOs] , JCOs ,NCOs and other ranks  at appropriate levels will not be feasible.

3.  Pay commission have, in their report, referred to their recommendation of LATERAL MOVEMENT OF DEFENCE Forces Personnel while making a number of other recommendations. They have also reported that they have discussed this scheme with Home Ministry officials as well as Defence Forces Officers. Whereas they found Defence Forces Officers welcomed it and were generally agreeable to the proposal, Home Ministry officials had some reservations/objections. These reservations/objections are reproduced below as an extract from the report. Pay Commission have rebutted them with sound and convincing reasons. In the present system of re-employment of Defence Forces Personnel in civil/CPO services, Military Service Pay (MSP) is discounted. But in this scheme the Pay Commission have recommended adjustment in pay fixation so that the Defence Forces Personnel are NOT put to any financial loss.

4. This scheme provides longer service to Defence Forces Personnel.. Hence superior to the present system of their re-employment and should be pursued vigorously. Due to a miniscule reservation of vacancies in their re-employment outside accepting a   service below their status in the Defence forces becomes a compulsion for Defence forces Personnel so that they can look after their dependents. .A CHM [Company Havildar Major] was seen serving as a PEON in an office in DELHI. A Daffadar of 9[Deccan] Horse is presently serving as a Chowkidar in Moti Lal Nehru School of Sports, RAI [HARYANA}. A Havildar and a Naik are serving in Delhi Police as Constables..This scheme will stop such denigration of JCOs and NCOs.

5. Considering the problems created by the short tenure of the Defence Forces Personnel eg resettlement, resultant burden of pension on the government, acting as disincentive for young and capable persons for joining defence forces visa vies the requirement of CPOs, CPMFs and Civilians in the Ministry Of Defence and the recommendations of 5th Central Pay Commission, Honble 6th CPC have analysed this ,made their recommendations and explained the benefits of their proposal as reproduced below:-

AN EXTRACT FROM 6th CENTRAL PAY COMMISSION REPORT

Analysis

 2.4.5 The recommendations of the Fifth Central Pay Commission are even more relevant today and need to be further extended so that all posts in different CPOs are filled by lateral shift of Defence Forces personnel. A similar dispensation needs to be extended for filling up the civilian posts in Ministry of Defence which should also be filled by lateral shift of the Defence Forces personnel. The average yearly discharge from the Defence Forces personnel is approximately 40,000. Assuming that majority of these personnel would opt for lateral shift around 35000 posts would be required annually to accommodate these personnel in CPOs/defence civilian organizations. The size of the various CPOs is approximately 7,00,000 .The number of defence civilians in Ministry of Defence is around 4,00,000. The total number of average annual vacancies in CPOs and the various cadres of defence civilians would be around 35,000. Thus, the potential to allow lateral shift of nearly all Defence Forces personnel to CPOs and various cadres of defence civilians exists.                                 

Recommendations

 2.4.6 The Commission therefore is of the view that a scheme needs to be introduced for lateral shift of Defence Forces personnel to CPOs (including CPMFs) and defence civilian organizations. It is, accordingly, recommended that in future, all recruitments to the posts of Short Service Commissioned Officers and Personnel Below Officers Ranks in the Defence Forces, CPOs and various  defence civilian organisations should be made with the selected  candidates serving initially in the Defence Forces for some period before being laterally shifted to CPOs/defence civilian organizations. The lateral shift of the Defence Forces personnel to CPOs shall be operationalised in the following manner:-

i) Common recruitment shall henceforth be made to all the posts in Defence Forces, CPOs and defence civilians in Ministry of Defence.

ii) The recruitent shall be made by Recruitment Boards in Defence Forces.

iii) All the successful candidates recruited by this Board will initially render minimum 7 years of service in the Defence Forces. The span could, however, be extended to 17 years depending upon the vacancy position in CPOs/defence civilian organisations as well as the requirement in Defence Forces.

iv) On completion of the tenure in the Defence Forces, the  personnel shall be laterally shifted to an analogous post  either in any of the CPOs or in one of the defence civilian  organisation. The lateral shift to a specific CPO or a defence civilian organisation will depend on the availability of post as well as the choice and medical fitness of the concerned Defence Forces personnel.
v) During the lateral shift the pay fixed in the pay band and the grade pay of the employee shall be protected. Once the lateral shift is made, the military special pay will no longer be payable. However, while fixing pay in the corresponding pay band and grade pay on the civilian side, the Military Service Pay will also be taken into account so that there is no drop in the salary.

vi) The lateral shift, whether in CPOs or in one of the defence civilian organisations, will be to a post carrying same pay and  grade pay as being drawn by the concerned person in the Defence Forces at the time of lateral shift.

vii) The Defence Forces personnel would have the option not to opt for the lateral shift. In such a scenario, the personnel shall retire at the stipulated age prescribed for the rank held by him/her in the Defence Forces. Pension as per the normal   pension rules will then be payable. Since life time appointment would be offered under the scheme, no special pensionary benefits that were being given to compensate for the short tenure in the Defence Forces would henceforth be available.

viii) The seniority of the concerned personnel on being laterally shifted to CPOs/defence civilian organisations will be determined on the basis of the date on which they were appointed in that specific pay band and grade pay in the Defence Forces. Thus, the seniority shall be fully protected during the lateral shift to CPOs/defence civilian organisations. In accordance with the extant rules, the Defence Forces personnel laterally shifted to the CPOs/defence civilian organisations will continue to be governed by the pension scheme which governed them during their tenure in the Defence Forces. Consequently, they will fall outside the purview of the New Pension Scheme.               
                           Benefits of the proposed scheme

2.4.7 This scheme will not only make available sufficient number of trained manpower for  CPOs CPMFs and defence civilian organisations but will also curtail the   pension bill     of the Government significantly. It is estimated that the Government spends nearly Rs.100 crore per annum on recruitment and training of personnel for CPOs and defence civilian organisations. This expenditure will be completely saved. Further the Government will have to pay pension to the retiring Defence Forces personnel only after 30/33 years of service as against 17 years of service at present. This will result in a further saving of Rs.700 crore per year. These savings will grow cumulatively for a period of 13 years. Therefore, at the end of 13 years the annual savings on this account will be to the tune of Rs.7800 CRORES at constant price index.  Government will also not have to provide for special measures and find means of providing rehabilitation of ex-Defence Forces personnel. This will have other side benefits because the trained manpower of the Defence Forces will be engaged in a life time employment and no subversive elements will be able to misguide them for anti-social activities.       

6. Hon’ble Pay Commission have, however, not brought out a very important advantage which COMRADRY brings with it. Security Apparatus consists of Defence Forces, C POs/CPMFs and Police Force.  CPMFs deployed on border are placed under command Army Unit Commanders. Civilians in Defence Services are employed in peace establishment and the nodal offices at headquarters of services and Min Of Defence .Erstwhile colleagues try to maintain old relations and, therefore, while working in these departments, they will  continue old relations which is likely to improve  efficiency in inter-organisational  working.

7. LATERAL movement will NOT affect employment because Defence Forces personnel will become un-employed if not moved laterally. Their lateral movement will result in saving of the amount of their pension as brought out above. The money thus saved can be used to employ extra people on new welfare projects, thus reducing   un-employment. 

 8. This scheme has far-reaching Financial, Social and Employment benefits. The pay Commission has allayed the fears of the Home Ministry Officials very satisfactorily. Although the Pay Commission have concluded that this scheme should be implemented in its entirety without delay yet it is 6 years past since the report was submitted and nothing appears to have moved for implementation of such an important scheme. Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Social Justice and the Defence Forces are the main stake holders in this scheme. Whereas the Finance Ministry will have a sizable amount of money for welfare schemes, a reasonable social justice would be done by providing employment  to all the retiring Defence Forces Personnel. As all the Defence Forces Personnel will be retiring at the age of 60 years, but for those discharged from service due to some disability, there will be no requirement of resettlement. Retirement/discharge from service early is one of the distractions for capable young men from joining the Defence Forces. With guaranteed service up to 60 years of age due to these scheme capable young men will be attracted to the Defence Forces.

Reservations expressed against the Scheme and analysis thereof

2.4.8 The issue of lateral shift of Defence Forces personnel in CPOs was discussed by the Commission with officials from Ministry of Defence as well as Ministry of Home Affairs. Whereas the former were generally in favour and in fact welcomed the scheme, the Ministry of Home Affairs had expressed several reservations. The Commission has analyzed these reservations of MHA as under:-

i) MHA argument – The age profile of the CPOs will be hit adversely by this lateral shift. Analysis – Presently the average age of recruitment in Defence Forces is 19 years. As against this, in CPMFs personnel up to the age of 26 years are recruited. After that such persons have to be trained. This on an average takes one year. If the recruits in Defence Forces are laterally shifted to the CPOs after a stint of 7 years, their average age at the time of entering the CPOs will be around 26 years. Moreover, they will be fully trained. As such, the age profile of CPOs will not be hit adversely by this lateral shift.

ii) MHA argument – The training of Defence Forces personnel is different from that of CPOs. Defence Forces personnel are trained to kill whereas police forces personnel are trained to control and not kill. Therefore, lateral shift of Defence Forces into CPOs will lead to operational problems.

Analysis – It is fallacious to assume that training procedure of Defence Forces will not be effective for rendering service in CPOs. In fact, Defence Forces are highly disciplined and are trained to take action as per the orders given and as per the demand of the situation. This is evident by the fact that Defence Forces are now being used in a major way in all the counter insurgency operations which earlier were being carried out by the CPMFs and CPOs. Defence Forces are increasingly being used for various kinds of duties in the interior of the country which are far removed from protecting the borders from the attack of foreign enemies. The ex-Defence Forces personnel are also given employment in State Police and CPOs. In fact there is a 10% reservation for ex-Defence Forces personnel to the post of Assistant Commandant in CPOs. Nobody has every complained that the ex-Defence Forces personnel recruited in various police forces/CPOs have not performed as well as any other CPMF personnel. The argument, therefore, is not sustainable on facts.

Analysis – It is fallacious to assume that training procedure of Defence Forces will not be effective for rendering service in CPOs. In fact, Defence Forces are highly disciplined and are trained to take action as per the orders given and as per the demand of the situation.
This is evident by the fact that Defence Forces are now being used in a major way in all the counter insurgency operations which earlier were being carried out by the CPMFs and CPOs. Defence Forces are increasingly being used for various kinds of duties in the interior of the country which are far removed from protecting the borders from the attack of foreign enemies. The ex-Defence Forces personnel are also given employment in State Police and CPOs. In fact there is a 10% reservation for ex-Defence Forces personnel to the post of Assistant Commandant in CPOs. Nobody has every complained that the ex-Defence Forces personnel recruited in various police forces/CPOs have not performed as well as any other CPMF personnel. The argument, therefore, is not sustainable on facts.

iii) MHA argument – The scheme will curtail the available employment opportunity.

Analysis – This argument will need to be seen in the light of the fact that the scheme will provide life time employment to the successful candidates who will serve for a few years in the Defence Forces and thereafter be laterally shifted to CPOs/defence civilian organisations. Presently, persons recruited in the Defence Forces get a service of only 17 years. Consequently, re-employment has to be found for them once they are discharged from the Defence Forces. The new scheme will resolve this problem effectively. Therefore, no real loss in employment opportunities will occur due to implementation of this scheme.

iv) MHA argument – There will be problems about career progression of existing recruits who are directly inducted in the CPMFs because Defence Forces personnel on lateral shift to CPOs/defence civilian organisations will retain their seniority and will, therefore, become senior to these personnel.

Analysis – This problem will exist for some of the existing personnel who are recruited directly in CPMFs. However, the current scheme of running pay bands and the modified assured career progression scheme will ensure that none of the existing direct recruits in various CPOs/defence civilian organisations stagnates at any point in his/her entire career. Further, the problem will not exist for a very long time because eventually all the recruits in CPOs/defence civilian organisations will come through the Defence Forces personnel which will automatically resolve this problem.

v) MHA argument – It will be difficult to establish one to one parity between different posts in Defence Forces and CPOs/defence civilian organisations.

Analysis – While it is true that no clear-cut parity had existed in Fifth CPC pay scales between different posts in Defence Forces and CPOs/different defence civilian organisations in the revised scheme of running pay bands and grade pay being recommended, a complete one to one parity has been established between posts in Defence Forces vis-à-vis those in CPOs/other civilian organisations. Hence, the problem has been effectively addressed in the revised scheme of running pay bands being recommended by the Commission.

9. This Pay Commission comprised of Mr .Justice BN Srikrishna, Chairman, Professor Ravindra Dholakia and Shri JS Mathur, Members and Smt. Sushma Nath, Member Secretary.  The Secretariat of the commission consisted of   2 Joint Secretaries, 1 Advisor, 1 OSD, 2 Directors, 1 Deputy Secretary, 1 SPS to the Chairman, 4 Undersecretaries’, 2 Personal Secretaries and 3 Assistants. Commission comprised of eminent/expert   personalities and the secretariat of all Central Civil Service. There was NO Defence Forces person. The recommendation of Lateral Movement of Defence Forces Personnel by this commission is unique because it is for the first time in the history of Indian Defence Forces that such a solution to the biggest and ever-existing problem of the Man- Management of Defence forces personnel has been thought of. This recommendation is in the interest of the country/nation in a big way because this scheme aims at looking after the welfare of a big chunk of population in addition to a saving of Rs 7800 Crores per year.  Pay Commission had expected that this scheme will take 13 years for full implementation.  They submitted their report in 2008.It would have been 5 years old if the scheme had been implemented even in 2009. We would have been able to practically evaluate this highly nationalistic recommendation of the Honble Pay Commission and see it fructifying. Opposition to this recommendation is really NON Nationalistic and selfish. 
    
10. I am sure that you will be remembered not only by the presently serving Defence Forces Personnel but also by the future such personnel

Yours Sincerely
Lt Col HKL ANAND [Retd]




Copy to :

1.General DS Suhag, PVSM,UYSM,AVSM,VSM,ADC 
    Honble. Chief of the Army Staff.

2. Admiral RK Dhowan, PVSM,AVSM,YSM,ADC
   Honble. Chief of the Naval Staff

3.Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, PVSM,AVSM,VM,ADC.
    Honble Chief of the Air Staff

4. Air Marshal PP Reddy,VM,
    Honble Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff     


An Unparalleled and Daring feat of an Air Force Flying Cadet, RB Menon who lost the Opportunity to be an Air Force Officer

I wish to congratulate Somdev Rao Madala of 25th NDA course 'F' Squadron to have narrated a true life anecdote of his course mate, Flying Cadet, RB Menon, Ex Cadet from 25th NDA course, 'K' Squadron, undergoing final flying training at PTE, Allahabad, during 1963-64 period, to be commissioned in the Indian Air Force. I also appreciate Somdev for having briefly narrated the circumstances which led Menon to embark upon such a daring and adventurous but uncalled for action careerwise, as to annoy his bosses so much, for which he had to lose the opportunity to be an officer in the Indian Air Force.

Here I am placing the NDA days Photographs, both of 25th NDA course viz Cadet RB Menon 4225-K (The Performer) and Cadet Madala Somdev Rao 4141-F (The narrator)

  Cadet RB Menon 4225-K

Dear all Course mates,

One of our course mates who should find place in the memory-lane of the extraordinary and the remarkable of our 25th NDA course 'K' Squadron is one, unassuming and quiet, RB Menon; who proved that there are people who can reach beyond the beaten bureaucratic mindset, by showing that he has the guts and the grit to take off a HT-2 aircraft and go under the bridge over the Ganges. Even the instructor, who was ordered to follow him; reportedly, had difficulty to follow him under the bridge, obviously scared? Was he? Menon, our worthy course mate, repeated the feat thrice, perhaps to prove that it was not a freak, and that it was a very calculated and measured feat.

I had the opportunity, officially ordered, to be his escort until he was cleared from the Air Force Station, Allahabad. Therefore this reminiscing for permanent record of achievement of one of our course mates.

The collection of parachute from the cadets cloak room and walking towards the HT-2 aircraft, starting of the engine, taking clearance  from the Air Traffic  Control Tower(ATC), taxiing to the Take Off point, lining up for the takeoff, finally a smooth takeoff; it was all so normal that it was too perfect to be suspected. The adventure started thrilling the early morning moments of the elements over The Triveni Sangam, only when the aircraft was seen doing the extraordinary; IE, descending lower than the permitted limits and going towards bridge. One instructor who saw the unusual, reported to the ATC; who ordered the instructor to keep following the unauthorized flight. In the early sixties our aircraft surveillance radars were not that advanced to trace and track air-crafts. The instructor-aircraft had the responsibility to follow our course mate, Menon's aircraft and keep reporting its movements. The ATC had the responsibility to keep track of both of them.

The highlight of our Menon's achievement becomes noticeable when we learn that ATC kept on ordering the instructor-aircraft to follow wherever Menon's aircraft is heading to, even though towards the bridge. The instructor repeated that Menon is descending dangerously lower towards the sea-level and proceeding towards the bridge. The ATC was duty-bound to repeat its instruction to the instructor to keep following and not to lose track of Menon. We cadets could not contain our boasting boost when we learnt that the instructor conceded that he would not be able to go under the bridge even though our Menon, a flight-cadet is daring to do the seemingly impossible feat.

Group Captain Philips, the then Commanding Officer (CO) of Air Force Station, Allahabad; arrived and joined our group (probably, less than 10 minutes, since it was early hours of the morning) of cadets who were waiting to see how Menon would approach for landing and of course carry out the landing. Finally, Menon appeared on the final approach for landing well lined-up with the runway and was, surprisingly, steadily descending. The very first appearance of the final approach gave us a feeling of assurance that Menon had the control of the situation. It was a smooth landing. We all sighed with relief. Menon parked the aircraft at the appropriate place; got out of the aircraft, did 'after-landing-checks', unlocked the parachute and slung it over his shoulder, walked towards flight-Cadets rest-room, in front of which we were all standing. As Menon approached the CO and saluted, Gp Capt Philips ordered Menon to Clear-out of the station within 24 hours; and ordered me, (who was unwittingly standing next to the CO), to do escort duties for Menon.  

Here, the providential play.

Menon was generally a reticent person. He was in 3rd battalion and I was in 2nd in NDA. It was only in 3rd year we interacted in the Air Force Bay. He was ahead of us in matters of aviation knowledge.

After Menon was put under a sort of arrest and I was to be his escort until he was cleared from the station, we had to spend time together and inevitably the discussion of the cause and effect of his action. The cause, though he did not spell out in as many words; but at the same time, he did not leave me in unfathomable doubt: that he did not get what he thought that he deserved; ie, to be one of the first flight cadets to be sent on the 'SOLO' (the first flight a flight cadet is sent to fly without the instructor). He decided within himself to show to the world that if his instructor does not recognize his merit and enable him to go as one of the first to fly solo, then he would himself show to the world what he can. 

Here, I am presuming, since the time Menon was ordered by Gp Capt Philips and until the time Menon walked out of the Air Force Station, Allahabad, that I was perhaps one of few persons who would have interacted with or shared what he did with me, which was due to sheer providential play. With emphasis added, I would certainly welcome if someone corrects me (with authenticity or without!)

Here is how he carried out his plan:

Menon was one of us, who was daily transported in a 3 tonner Lorry from Allahabad, where we were staying tents in cold winter months, to a neighboring satellite airfield, Phaphamo, when we had to cross the Ganges over a bridge. He said that he noted the length of the bridge. Hypothetically '1000' feet. He counted the number of pillars that supported the bridge; say '10' pillars. Then the distance between the pillars would be: '100' feet. He knew that the span of HT-2 (wingtip to wingtip) say for our discussion, was '20' feet. So there was ample clearance, horizontally. Similarly, he calculated vertical clearance. What was more appreciable was his knowledge that morning hours are turbulent-free over the sea water as he would have to fly just a few feet above the water. (Pardon for the indulgence, this is just one point that only the flyers would appreciate that flying almost touching, but yet flying without touching, is a subjective experience.) Menon should find a very remarkable place in the historical records of the exceptional course-mates of 25th NDA, not only for the point that is mentioned above, about being accurate in flying through the bridge just above the Ganges waters; but also for several other intelligent moves he made, (which the reader would appreciate shortly) to make that flight successful.

Air-traffic Control would not allow any aircraft to move out of parking area unless everything connected with a flight is not as per laid down rules. Every aircraft has to take permission for every movement of the aircraft within its control area. Therefore, Menon used the Code-reference of hie instructor to move out of the parking area; taxied out (moving out) of parking area, sought permission to line-up for take-off, and took-off as if there was his flight-instructor; but he did it all alone.

The consequences of his action were very clear in his mind. He was obviously prepared to take on what is to come. On my inquiry, he revealed that he was not that well off financially at home. He was aware that he cannot hope for any good career-oriented job. He said there are a few close associates (did not spell out their relationship), but they were close enough to be dependable upon joining him either in designing some fishing boats and such machines as motor-boats etc, which have a perennial demand  in his home-state. Kerala. His dream project, he expressed, was to design an aircraft with the engine behind the fuselage, unlike the conventional design. He was full of novel ideas of designing, and design-drawing too, which he was good at. One could see the pleasure in his face when those drawings were observed and discussed upon by others, let alone if appreciated.

In legal technical terms and analysis, to my mind, he could not have been convicted for any serious sections of law; because he neither caused any damage to any governmental property, nor any such defiance any specific order that was served upon him. Having dabbled in law in later part of my life, I am only indulging in unsolicited, probably one may call it a wishful thinking for a dear course-mate, about whom I would like to learn the latest, if anybody can.

I hope that I have done a reasonable job of sharing what I should, as I thought I may have been one of the few who had the opportunity to witness personally what is not the run of mill stories of adventure; yet so simply done and yet so simply forgotten.

With fond regards to the course-mates;

Somdev Rao Madala, 4141-Foxtrot.   















                

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ex-servicemen are agitating to be heard : An Appeal to the Indian Prime Ministert on behalf of the Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Movement.


Dear Veterans

Let us understand this important issue very clearly. OROP is our main demand and is 30yrs old. We have been demanding OROP but our demands fell on deaf ears. Some veterans got together and IESM was born in 2008. IESM changed the tactics and decided to start agitations for getting OROP because in India and Indian politics one cannot achieve anything unless one agitates. In India agitation is not considered bad but this is the only authentic method of conveying your demands. 

I will not be wrong, if I say, that politicians till not long ago, did not even know the meaning of OROP and bureaucrats, who had been in the proximity of politicians, always fed them incorrect picture of OROP. They even scared them that expenditure on OROP will run into thousands of crores and even central Govt employees will start demanding it. 

Let us also not forget that bureaucrats are against granting any concessions to Indian armed forces and will go to any extent to deny it. The famous remark of ex defence secretary is still ringing in my ears "OROP OVER MY DEAD BODY"

Reason for delay in issuance of OROP notification is not that GOI is short of money. Do we need any bigger certificate than Finance Minister who has committed to IESM that funds are no problem for OROP. We still remember the statement of Honorable PM Shri Narendra Modi in Leh and Siachin "OROP is my Government's commitment and sufficient funds have been allotted for it in this financial year”. In the same breadth Mr Arun Jaitley told the IESM delegation that your expectations are very high, so please lower your expectations. IESM delegation out-rightly rejected this preposterous suggestion. Please remember subsequent statements of Mr Arun Jaitley that he is referring the OROP issue to a tribunal. 

Now the question arises what definition of OROP was known and explained to all stalwarts of BJP. I was personally present in a meeting with Shri Rajnath Singh, who after listening about OROP said that this is the most reasonable demand of ESM and if NDA Govt is formed at center he would personally ensure that OROP will be given to ESM. Mr Jaitley asked Chairman Gen Satbir Singh to explain the true meaning of OROP. Gen Satbir went to his house and gave him a presentation on OROP just before he left for Amritsar for his elections. To top it all Mr Modi who started his campaign from an ESM rally at Rewari and roared like a lion that had BJP  Govt been in the center OROP would have been reality by now. 

General Body of IESM has discussed all pros and cons of the issue and then decided to start agitation only to remind the GOI of their promises. It is not a do or die agitation. That is the reason why the plan, program and duration of the agitation has been fixed. Agitation will start on 3 Dec (The day war with Pakistan started and all ESM had participated in the war) and will finish on 16 Dec (Victory diwas the proudest day for any army when 90000 soldiers of enemy were taken as POW). I will briefly pen down the reasons for starting and ending the agitation. 

1.    This is a myth that GOI does not have funds. Funds have never been a shortage for GOI. Your PM and FM have committed this. 

2.  The truth is that CGDA and MOD are proposing a different definition of OROP which is contrary to the definition approved by both Govt (UPA and NDA). The reason for creating this confusion at this stage is very clear and leaves no doubt about the delay in issuing notification. Please remember the famous qoute of ex defence secretary "OROP OVER MY DEAD BODY".

3.   Ex RM has decided to refer it to a tribunal to clear his mind. Now the moot question is if the tribunal, which will be manned by bureaucrats, gives a decision that OROP is not possible in this definition then who in this country will over-rule that recommendation. That will be end of OROP and our struggle of 30 years. We can keep shouting at the top of our voices. Even hunger strike till death will not deter these insensitive politicians and bureaucrats. 

4.   OROP is commitment of PM, approved by two parliaments, has approval of all parties including two big parties but it is still a mirage for us. Who can tell IESM, what is holding the release of notification? Why is Govt having cold feet at this stage? IESM has analysed this in detail and come to a conclusion that this inordinate delay is because this decision was taken to get votes of ESM and now that the political parties have got the votes they are under the pressure of bureaucracy not to release the notification.

5.   Having approved OROP in principle why has there been no positive statement from any responsible Politicians giving us the reason for the delay? Why there has been a stunned silence by the Govt?

6.   If the Govt was short of funds they could have issued DGL prepared by the Armed Forces Headquarters and announced deferred payment. How could IESM/ESM ever refuse this plan?

7.   This agitation is to remind the Govt that ESM are vigilant and will not tolerate any dilution and deviation from the set definition of OROP. This will also indicate to Govt that it is fine you conned us and have taken our vote but ESM are vigilant and do not approve of this back-stabbing. 

8.   This agitation is not planned to issue threat to Govt but to register our protest that ESM are unhappy with the Govt. Agitation is the most appropriate form of registering protest and demands. 

9.   IESM has written many letters to all functionaries of BJP to grant IESM delegation a meeting to clear our doubts but there has been no response from any one of them. What could be the reason for this stunned silence from the Govt/Party?

        10.     This issue has been discussed in details in the AGM of IESM held on         16 Nov 14. Agitation mode has been approved unanimously by the                 AGM.

IESM has been very careful to select the aims and plans of agitation. ESMs want this Govt to do good work and will support it in all its endeavours. IESM/ESM are well within their rights to question Govt for the delay in issuance of promised notification. 

IESM INVITES ALL ESM TO JOIN HANDS IN THEIR FIGHT FOR OROP. IESM ALSO REQUESTS ALL ESMs, PLEASE DO NOT CREATE ANY DOUBTS IN THE MIND OF ESM BY ISSUING STATEMENTS AND MAILS WHICH CAN CONFUSE THE EX-SERVICEMEN ABOUT PLANS OF AGITATION.  

PLEASE PLAN AND COME IN LARGE NUMBERS TO CONVEY YOUR DEMANDS AND TO TELL GOI THAT ALL ESMs AND ESM ORGANISATIONS ARE UNITED FOR OROP AND WELFARE OF VETERANS. 

IESM WISHES TO SEE YOU ALL EX-SERVICEMEN IN LARGE NUMBERS ON 3 DEC ON START OF RELAY HUNGER STRIKE AND THEN ON 7 DEC FOR A MAMMOTH RALLY AT JANTAR MANTAR.

Regards

Gp Capt VK Gandhi VSM


Gen Sec IESM

A letter to Indian Defence Minister from An Indian Army Veteran residing in America.

This communication is worth a read for one and all and for opening the eyes of our Politicians and bureaucracy. However, I have observed many a times that numerous such appeals by the aggrieved, have failed to move the souls of these hard shelled authorities, who think only about themselves, but never about those brave hearts who are ever ready to sacrifice their everything for this Nation of ungrateful authorities who matter.

Will the heart of our New Defence Minister move in any way by this meaningful communication.

Dear Shri Manohar Parrikar,

I write to you today after attending Veterans Day celebrations in Washington DC on November 11, 2014, as a former Indian Army Veteran. I would rather prefer calling ex-servicemen as ‘Veterans’ without giving them a feeling of gender bias or being left out as the term ‘ex’ conveys.

Having served the Indian Army, given my youth to the nation and being a third-generation Army officer I am proud to say that the qualities of ‘guts and glory’ run in my blood.

With this open letter, I intend highlighting the fact as to how Veterans are respected and revered in the United States of America, which I never witnessed back home in my own country. This, I say with conviction after having a first-hand experience at various events, which reflect the honor meted out to the Veterans of the Armed Forces. The country and its citizens do not give any differential treatment to non-US Veterans like me. Rather the kind of attention and respect I have received here as a Veteran is applaudable.

The Veterans Day Celebrations made me feel how American citizens (including civilians) were proud of their soldiers who defend their borders. Each person who knew that I had served my nation came to appreciate my role and hugged me. I wonder why our Indian civilian population would not pay attention to the soldiers who have sacrificed their youth for India. The root cause for all this is that we do not glorify the important role of our Armed Forces in the World Wars and respective wars in the annals of history in the curriculum taught at school level.

Are our men and women in uniform only to be remembered for a short attention span? They are called only on occasions such as Republic Day and when in dire straits especially during natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquake for relief work. Not to mention the ‘aid to civil authority’ in times of domestic turmoil just because the local police and administrative authorities (the so called babus) could not handle the situation.

I would like to emphasize that USA has special programs and scholarships (yellow ribbon program) to encourage veterans to continue their higher studies. Please note that this scheme is alike for officers and troops. One such example is yours truly.

I am presently pursuing my Masters of Laws in a top ranking US Law School and the University has awarded me at par scholarship as a foreign veteran. There are various networking events and recruiting workshops that are conducted only for the veterans.

The US Veterans face the same myths of ‘irrelevant experience’ and ‘rigidity in thought and action’ while moving to the civilian world however the US government and its policies make the transition simpler. The US Department of Veterans Affairs and other authorities as well as universities make the Veterans’ ride smooth to move from the battlefield to the boardroom. US Companies receive tax benefits on hiring Veterans. It is pertinent to mention that US troops (not just officers) have been making a mark in the corporate arena by displaying their leadership qualities.

My concern at this point in time is that why our Armed Forces personnel are not glorified for their heroic acts. Our soldiers have been fighting in the toughest terrains possible in this world.

Why are the Veterans treated like a ‘burden’ by the serving officers and the Ministry of Defense? Why does a Veteran have to struggle to get his paltry sum of disability pension by resorting to long drawn and expensive litigation doing rounds of Armed Forces Tribunal and higher Courts? Why are the majority of appeals filed by the Ministry of Defense in the Supreme Court against their own disabled soldiers and old pensioners? Why are you- the decision makers, shielded and insulated from the real problems suffered by the veteran stakeholders and made to sign on the dotted line wherever the military or civilian bureaucracy wants resulting in unilateral decisions which are forcibly imposed?

Why do you not directly get to hear the authentic voice of the Veterans and the problems that they are facing? Why is the status of military personnel on a constant decline in the official pecking order? Why are there not enough continuing legal programs for our soldiers except the antiquated vocational courses of Director General of Resettlement? Why is the Kendriya Sainik Board not being pro-active on policies on Veterans? Is showing an agenda on paper enough?

I say this not as a disgruntled Veteran but as a responsible former officer of Judge Advocate General’s Department who has served in the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defense and worked with these institutions closely.

May I also remind you that your party in its manifesto had promised minimizing appeals against soldiers with respect to the rulings rendered in their favor by judicial bodies, an issue which was also strongly raised by Ms Smriti Irani when she was in opposition, however sadly nothing seems to have moved in that direction, there being not even an iota of change in the attitude of the Ministry in the said regard.

I request you, as the new Defense Minister, to implement progressive policies for all Armed Forces personnel (not just officers but also the troops) and Veterans of the three Forces.

As for the Indian citizens to look up in awe towards the Indian soldier and appreciate the role of Armed Forces at all times, this change in attitude and thought has to be instilled in the minds of the younger generation by highlighting the glory of the Forces. This is also the reason for the low rate of selections in the Armed Forces in the past few years at the Commissioned Officer level.

My country has the third largest Army and an equally capable Air Force and Navy, that craves for attention and respect for the valor it has shown over the ages.

It is for you to take a call on this, Raksha Mantri Ji, it is for you to ensure that Indian Military Veterans like me command respect and dignity in my own country too, just as we do, ironically, in other democracies.

Sincerely,
Loveleen Kaur Mann
Former Captain,
Judge Advocate General’s Department
Indian Army