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Sunday, 22 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 22 June

Leaving the IAS
Corporates buy officers’ contacts in government
by Arun Bothra

IF you are asked what is the way to earn a hefty salary at a young age, your likely reply, the Sixth Pay Commission notwithstanding, will be that it is a corporate job through an IIM or IIT. But it is incorrect. The correct answer is to join the corporate world via the civil services, especially the IAS!

With multiple surveys on the subject appearing every weekend we know that a fresh graduate from the IIM, Ahmedabad, can comfortably land a job with an annual package of Rs 15 lakh plus.

But if the same person joins the corporate world after serving a stint in the IAS or IPS or IRS, he is worth 1 to 2 crore rupees! One wonders about this “value addition”. Even if he is not a management graduate, the price tag for a civil servant is in crores only. A doctor or an engineer or an MBA sells his skill in the field of medicine, engineering or management. But what is the skill a bureaucrat has to sell?
How come a graduate of the IIM, Ahmedabad, or ISB, Hyderabad, joins as a middle-level manager in a big company but a Gautam Goswami is straight away taken as vice-president of the Sahara group?
The reason for the high price band of the civil servants is not their personal skills only. It has more to do with their ability to sell contacts in the government. In this new age of liberalisation, the art of liaisoning has turned into a science. Nothing pays better than contacts at the right place. If you know one or two powerful politicians and senior officers, you can manage almost anything in this country. And who can better manage the babus in the government than one among them.
An ex-babu knows all the routes and keys in the talisman of babudom and the corporate sector is more than willing to pay the price. Recently some senior civil servants have joined DLF and other infrastructure companies. We all know that the huge packages given to them are not for their knowledge of civil engineering only! The price band of IAS or IPS officers in the corporate world depends on many interesting factors. One is cadre, a phenomenon which does not leave an officer during his career and even after he leaves the service. The corporate world is especially kind to the officers who come from the states with big business potential like Maharashtra and Gujarat or the states where business is growing bigger by the day like Orissa and Jharkhand. An officer from the North-East or J&K cannot expect the same price. Another factor which matters is, of course, the length of service. The more the years in the civil service, the higher is your worth. But this again depends on posts held in the government.
A person with experience in coal, mining, petroleum or urban development ministries will be any day preferred to one with experience in the panchayati raj or tribal development departments. A stint with the Government of India is a big value addition. An IAS officer with Secretary-level experience in the Government of India and a few years to retire is actually beyond the reach of small companies. Having served the mighty government at such a high level, they cannot serve anyone but an Ambani or a Tata only. Low salaries are often cited as a reason for attrition in the civil services. But don’t they know about such low salaries while joining the service? The UPSC publishes the pay scales in bold letters while inviting applications for the civil services exam. It is not a secret for anyone that private companies pay more than the government at senior levels. A civil servant knows that their classmates in the IIM or the IIT will get three to four times more starting pay. But then the trick is to join the civil services, especially the IAS, and after some years defect to the same companies at a much higher level. The companies are eager to milk their contacts and experience in the government to raise their profits. Such lucrative job offers are not always for future benefits of the companies. At times, they come as a reward for the services rendered in the past as well. No officer starts searching for a job after leaving the government. The negotiation starts during the service career only. At this stage also many people start contributing to the growth of their future employers. Is it not amazing that a big babu who takes crucial decisions on the application of a company on behalf of the government one fine morning appears in the board meeting of the same company? Can we allow a police commissioner of Mumbai to appear, even after his retirement, as an advocate for Abu Salem? There is nothing illegal if he does so. But will it be ethical?
In the whole game the government is the biggest loser. It loses everywhere from beginning to end. Recruitment and training of the all-India service officers is a long and expensive exercise. A huge amount of public money is spent on training these officers. They are also sent for refresher courses and foreign training during their careers. Then they are given study leave with pay and perks to sharpen their administrative skills. But interestingly, officers with such sharpened skills tend to leave more often than the others. As an employer the government also loses during their service careers, especially when they are planning and winding up to run away. Finally, they use and misuse their experience and contacts for the benefit of their employer and, in turn, to the disadvantage of the government. Some other officers prove smarter. Instead of leaving the government they quietly vanish from their offices only to reappear in the corporate world. At present, the Government of India is searching for more than about two dozens such absconding officers. Notices have been issued to them to reappear but to no avail. With stringent rules it is difficult to remove them. Hence such officers are technically still in the government enjoying the best of both worlds — job security of the public sector and wealth of the private sector.
The officers leaving for greener pastures in the private sector serve their tribe well in their departure also. Those still in service cite such cases to demand more pay and perks. It is argued that this attrition can only be contained if their talent is suitably rewarded. The pay commissions with civil servants on board are more than willing to oblige.
The writer has worked with Jansatta, and is at present an IPS officer in Orissa.

Nishant UAV a step closer to Army induction

Bangalore (PTI): India's indigenous pilotless aircraft, 'Nishant', has moved a step closer to induction into the Army.
A pre-induction trial carried out by the Indian Army along with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on friday has been successful, DRDO officials said. "The confirmatory trials were successful," they said.
Army troops which would work with the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) took out 'Nishant' for trials at Kolar in Karnataka.
"Nishant has completed development phase and user trials. The present flight tests are pre-confirmatory trials before induction into the Services," officials said.
The flight test was witnessed by user (Army) representatives, in the presence of senior scientists of DRDO.
The UAV will give Indian Army capabilities for discrete aerial reconnaissance and target acquisition on land and air. The Indian Army would put 'Nishant' to use in forward areas in Jammu and Kashmir, for gathering electronic intelligence and for electro-optical reconnaissance.
In a battlefield, 'Nishant' can help Army units to direct heavy artillery shelling and for guiding fighter aircraft to fire rockets and drop precision bombs at enemy positions. It can also be used in anti-tank role.
Nishant is one of the few UAVs in the world in its weight class capable of being catapult launched and recovered by using parachute, thus eliminating the need for a runway as in case of conventional take-off and landing with wheels.

India to take up Chinese incursions
20 Jun, 2008, 0423 hrs IST, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: India continued to downplay Chinese incursions into Indian territory and said that it would take up the matter with China at the ``appropriate level.’’
“The issue of incursions will be raised at the next flag meeting (between Indian Army and PLA) and also discussed at appropriate highest level. As two responsible neighbours, we will sort it out,” minister of state for defence M M Pallam Raju said here.
In the latest episode, the People’s Liberation Army entered the Indian side of the border around northern Sikkim called the ``Finger area’’ and returned after some time. A previous incursion into this territory was also called ``minor and local’’ by government officials. However, the constant incursions are significant in the light of Chinese claims over the territory in Sikkim.
“It is unfortunate that these (incursions in Finger Area) have happened and it (the issue of Sikkim) is being raised again...Sikkim is a closed chapter as far as we are concerned,” Mr Raju said on the sidelines of a seminar. India had conveyed this to China during external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee’s recent visit to Beijing.
Mr Raju said that the incursions could be China’s way of putting pressure on India over the border dispute. “I think it is China’s way of putting pressure to resolve the border disputes with India. We are going about with talks to arrive at a consensus. It is their style and we have our style (of deal with border disputes).”
India at a previous flag meeting had told China that incursions by Chinese troops into the area would be taken as a breach of the treaty between India and China to maintain peace along the border.
China, responding in its own style, called the boundary issue a “very sensitive issue” and urged India to maintain the strategic cooperation in other areas.
Chinese vice foreign minister Wu Dawei was quoted as saying that both sides had agreed that they need to work together to maintain peace and tranquillity in the boundary area and that “strategic cooperation between China and India in other areas should not be affected by the boundary question.”
“China and India have a common border of over 4,000 km. This is... a very sensitive issue,” Mr Wu said. He further said that it was an issue that was left from history. ``So we should seek to resolve them properly in the course of history,” Mr Wu said.

Afghan & NATO Forces On the Offensive
against Taliban

by Dr. Subhash Kapila

The tide may be turning in favor of United States and NATO Forces military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan as exemplified by the swift response to launch a sizeable military offensive to preempt the Taliban to set up a staging area on the outskirts of Kandahar for a major effort to capture the city. Kandahar is the city where the Taliban were established by Mullah Omar acting as a proxy for Pakistan in the 1990s. Kandahar is also the city to which Afghanistan’s current President Karazai belongs to. And Kandahar is the prize that Pakistan is seeking from its Taliban protégés to reclaim Afghanistan as its strategic backyard. So therefore both symbolically and militarily it is in the fitness of things that US & NATO Forces along with Afghan Forces should launch their first major offensive against the Taliban on June 18, 2008.
Initial reports of the military operations suggest that more than 600 Taliban militiamen who had concentrated in the area of Arghandab, an outskirt of Kandahar were the target of Afghan & NATO Forces military operations supported by combat aircraft and helicopter gunships. Sizeable Taliban casualties are reported in what appears to have been a fierce fight. The sizeable Taliban casualties also seem to be an indicator that the Taliban were not expecting a swift military response from NATO Forces.
The most encouraging feature of the Kandahar military offensive against the Taliban was the employment of the Afghan Army Forces as the major component of the offensive against the Taliban and that they proved effective, unlike in the past. The other major military factor that was encouraging was the employment of air transport for conveying over 600 Afghan Forces to Kandahar area for the planned offensive . This speedy airlift to the operational area seems to have also added to the surprise factor.
Going through the visuals in the media of the Afghan Forces emplaning for the operational area one got the impression that they now appeared to be professional soldiers both in terms of their body language and their weapons and equipment. This is a healthy development as ultimately it are the Afghan Forces who have to progressively takeover the responsibilities for the security of Afghanistan and combat the Taliban as the major threat.
For far too long was the United States was depending on Pakistan to apply restraint on the reemergence of the Taliban and its attempts to both attack NATO Forces and also destabilize the Karzai regime by taking over the rural areas in Southern Afghanistan. The Pakistan Army was double-timing the United States all along for the last seven years or so.
Kandahar was the closest to the Pakistani city of Quetta in Baluchistan Province and had emerged as the main operational and logistics base for the Taliban on their being militarily ejected from Afghanistan by the United States in 2002. The Pakistan Army provided the sanctuaries to the Taliban in the Quetta area from where they ran their attacks on Afghanistan targeting US & NATO Forces.
The United States at long last has realized the double-game that the Pakistan Army Generals was playing with them and one could now expect that the earlier restraint that the United States would employ to restrain their military commanders in Afghanistan for all out military operations against the Taliban would no longer be a binding factor.
In the past US & NATO Forces military operations against the Taliban were small scale operations though heavily supported by aerial combat firepower. This seems to be the first time that a sizeable ground forces offensive has been undertaken and that too with a sizeable Afghan Army component. This could be a trend setter for future offensives against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The United States and the West cannot afford to lose Afghanistan once again to the Taliban. The Taliban is no military dinosaur which is not beatable. All that is required are swift military offensives against them and not letting them get a sizeable geographical foothold in the Kandahar area courtesy Pakistani military and logistics support.
June 21, 2008

LoC officer cleared

New Delhi, June 21 (PTI): The defence ministry has given a clean chit to its Jammu public relations officer who had briefed the media about Pakistan intimating India about movement of militants along the LoC.

Army chief General Deepak Kapur had complained to the ministry against the officer, Lt Col. S.D. Goswami, claiming that he had wrongly informed journalists about Pakistan sharing information on militants’ plan to infiltrate into India.

But today, a senior ministry official said: “We will not initiate action against Lt Col S.D. Goswami, as he has given a satisfactory explanation on the source of his information and how the confusion occurred.”

The armed forces have taken a step towards transparency, it is finalising new rules to allow its officers to write and publish without having to ask for permission.

Ironically, this comes at a time when intelligence officers have been gagged under the new pension rules.

According to the rule, officers risk losing their pension if they reveal anything on security issues even after their retirement.

But the Defence Ministry believes that secrecy will do more harm than good.

''I think we are in democracy it is healthy for people to express their views,'' said Pallam Raju, Minister of State for Defence.

But the new rules state that officers need not take permission if they want to write books and articles.

The rule is being relaxed to raise awareness about national and military security and defence planning.

Only requirement is that there must be a disclaimer stating that the views are personal.

The books and articles have to be authentic and based on officially declassified records when it comes to military history and officers can also account about how battles were fought in the past.

Sources in the Ministry say that the old policy was too restrictive and a changing security scenario calls for inputs from current and former officers.

The defence ministry in an uncharacteristic move wants more transparency and wants its officers to write and discuss military and national security.

Clearly, it is a strong comment on the other security and intelligence agency's, which wants its officers to shut out in the name of national security in.

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