Sunday, January 11, 2015

Appeal from a War Veteran to Hon'ble PM for National Security

Dear Hon’bler Pradhan Mantriji,

I wish you a Happy, Brighter and Joyous 2015.

You have taken many initiatives like Jeevan Pramaan, Jan Dhan Yojna, Self Certification, File Movement software, Pahal, NITI Aayog, Biometric attendance system in Central Govt offices, Visa on Arrival, improvement of functioning of our embassies/high commissions abroad, Swatch Bharat Abhiyan, Digitised India just to cite a few in just seven months.

Sir, these initiatives tell us how much you are concerned for Aam Aadmi.

I know you will launch many such out of box initiatives in your desire to usher in Good Governance in your term of office. You deserve our whole hearted commendation.

I am an Armed Forces Veteran having served Indian Army for 32 years. It is but natural for me to feel concerned with our National Security. I assert it is not due to your fault but what you have inherited from 10 years of non-governance. Whether mis-governance of politicians since 1990 or ineptitude of the self serving & greedy bureaucrats, we have let down our National security.

Sir, National Security in its simplest form has two components: Weapons and Motivated Man behind Weapon.

Unfortunately, whatever rosy picture your service chiefs may be painting to you in every monthly meeting, our country, in my view, is not safe anymore.

When you have bureaucrats calling all the shots and wielding power without any responsibility and accountability it is a sure recipe for disaster. You do not have to believe my statement. Listen to Adm DK Joshi, former Chief of Naval Staff for five minutes only and he will tell you where is the rot in our system?

Sir, it takes centuries to make fighting fit Armed Forces and only a decade to destroy it.

Please ask your Service Chiefs (a) to list out what all weapons systems they need to take on Pakistan in conventional war if forced upon us (b) what they have as on today and (c) in how many years they will take to equip our Armed Forces fully fit to score a decisive victory in future wars.

News papers and TV scream every day that :

         We have no replacement for our obsolete Bofors guns.
         We have no replacement for our aging T– 90 battle tanks.
         We have no adequate number of submarines to guard our sea lanes.
         We have creaky air defence weapon systems.

Bureaucrats will not approve procurement of operationally and urgently required weapons systems nor do they want Service Chiefs to get financial powers.

Please do not lull yourself into that complacency that future war is going to be repetition of 1971. Overrunning East Pakistan which is cut off from main land i.e. West Pakistan with no reinforcements to come to the beleaguered Pak Army is different story. What did we achieve in Western Front in 1971 will tell you the real story.

Sir, it takes any Nation 2 to 3 years to conclude a defence contract, 4 to 6 years to procure deficient equipment even if you are Kuber with all money, 2 to 3 years to familiarize your men to operate the equipment.

Sir, Fighter aircrafts cannot be produced in dozens a year even by advanced countries like USA or Russia. Even if Russians were to give us Sukhoi 30 Mk 1 Aircrafts to make up our depleting squadrons, they can only give us not more than 18 aircrafts per year i.e.one sqn per year. You need 20 sqns more to make your IAF air worthy (we need 45 squadrons but have only 25 sqaudrons and by 2025 we will have just 11 squadrons).

Where is the money Sir and what will happen if Pak in desperation starts war? One does not need to be an ace fighter pilot to tell you what happened in 1971 will be repeated in 2015. PAF came upto Bhopal in 1971 and now they will come upto Chennai in 2015. 

Today serving soldier sees what is happening to retired soldiers and he knows that is going to be his fate in a year or two. The number of suicides unheard of few years back is alarmingly on the rise. Soldiers are bonded to each other by comradeship but that is broken by fratricide where they are killing their own friends and finally our men are emboldened to beat up their own officers. This is the health of Indian Army. IAF and Navy may be a bit better. If this deterioration of Armed Forces in pay, perks, status and izzat goes down, you will have only Army like Iraqis who when one shot is fired, thousands run back leaving their positions.

One Rank One Pension (OROP) which you mention in every address you make costs just Rs 9,300 crores per annum. Finance Minister writes off Rs 34,000 crores as Non-Performing Assets without blinking his eyes but our Raksha Mantri tells us that he can only give 80% satisfaction on OROP. If serving soldier also gives only 80% output can you imagine what will happen in any future skirmish forget about a full blown battle or war.

Sir, could you ask Cabinet Secretary how much money is being spent on Non Functional Financial Upgradation sanctioned to 54 types of Group A Services Officers?

Sir, Stagnation is most acute in Armed Forces where in only 0.8% (yes Sir less than 1 percent) reach the rank of Maj Gen after putting 28 to 30 services (rank equivalent to Joint Secretary) where as 100% IAS Officers reach that rank in just 17 years service and all other Group A officers reach it in 19 years Service. Where is stagnation, sir? If Armed Forces cannot be given NFFU, then I am sure you will agree that even Class A Officers also should not get NFFU. You will be saving at least Rs 5,000 crores per annum now leaking out of our ex-chequer to pay for these fat bureaucrats.

As an Armed Forces veteran who proudly served Indian Army for 32 years, I am not getting sound sleep. If our bureaucrats in Ministry of Defence are in sound sleep, I feel jealous of him.

          Sir, my suggestions are:-

(a)      Integrate immediately Armed Forces HQs with that of Defence Ministry.

(b)      Empower Service Chiefs to procure indigenously available items to make up their operationally required items on fast track basis with out referring to Min of Def.

(c)       Make Service Chiefs members of Cabinet Committee on Security.

(d)      Make Service Chiefs responsible for defence of our country and not Defence Secretary.

(e)      Make Min of Def (ESW) manned by Ex-Servicemen.

(f)      Implement OROP with effect from Feb 2014. Arrears of OROP from Apr 2014 can be paid in installments from financial year 2015.

(g)      Make all defense Public Sector undertakings headed by Armed Forces senior officers and a representation of faujis in all important departments of these PSUs.

(h)      All salary paying agencies like PAOs (OR), CDAs and pension sanctioning authorities like PCDA (Pensoins) Allahabad to have 50% of ESMs re-employed.

(j)       Lateral movement of serving soldiers on completion of their term of engagement with Armed Forces be absorbed in Min of Defence, Para military forces, other Central Govt ministries/depts./PSUs.

(k)      Conclude contracts immediately for making up for deficiency in medium guns, tanks, Air Defence weapons, equipment for Special Forces, Cheetah and Chetak helicopters & latest engineer equipment.

(l)       Construct tunnel under Zojila pass to defend Ladakh.

(m)     Place BSF, ITBP, SSB under operational and administrative control of Armed Forces to get synergy.

(n)      Integrate all intelligence agencies (IB, RAW, SIB, Military Intelligence) under Joint Intelligence Council to be headed jointly by Minsiter of Defence, External Affairs and Home Affairs with Vice Chiefs of Services, Director IB, Director RAW, Director SIB etc as members.

(o)    Pass on benefit of lower crude to people.

AAP is going to win Delhi elections on a single theme of theirs : Modi iss Desh ka Pradhan Sewak Nahi Hai, lekin woh tho Ambani aur Adani ka Pradhan Sewak hai. People are not believing stand of your Govt that Rs 10,000 crores mopped up by raising excise duty on crude will be used in construction of roads.

Sir, your bureaucrats will not tell you when the international crude price goes down by US $ 1 per barrel, we save US $ 1.03 Billions in imports of crude. So from US $ 147/barrel of crude, its price has plummeted to US $ 59 as on today. Is this reduction only Rs 10,000 crores? This lower petrol and diesel prices will bring down inflation. With lower inflation and lower interest rates, you will see manufacturing industry getting revived and economy will bounce back to healthy 9% GDP growth rate. By now you must have realised Lawyers and Bureaucrats are the biggest liars.

Sir, the moment you announce these or any other measures in consultation with Service Chiefs and reputed ESM Associations like IESM, IESL, DIWAVE etc you will soon see how the Nation would be enthused.

I sincerely pray God to give you wisdom and foresight to take this country from darkness to brightness.

I do believe if you cannot do, no other politician will be able to do it now or in the future near or distant.

I am sure you will do everything possible to see India does not become a failed state. The entire Nation is with you sir, if you start improving National Security.

With profound regards,

Brig CS Vidyasagar (Retd)

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