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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 02 Sep

false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE Pay panel report: Forces feel cheated
2 Sep 2008, 0403 hrs IST, Rajat Pandit ,TNN

NEW DELHI: Unbridled anger is brewing among the officers of the armed forces against the Centre for notifying the Sixth Pay Commission without taking into account their demands for restoring parity with their civilian and paramilitary counterparts.
With the officers raising their voice against the ‘‘mischievous bureaucratic design to cheat us once again’’, sources said the chiefs of staff committee, comprising General Deepak Kapoor, Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal F H Major, may even take up the issue with the government once more in a last-ditch effort.
The main grouse of the armed forces is that a ‘‘raw deal’’ has been given to Lt-Colonels and their equivalent ranks in IAF (Wing Commander) and Navy (Commander), the ‘‘cutting edge’’ of fighting formations, squadrons and warships.
‘‘The extant parity of Lt-Col rank officers has been lowered by retaining them in Pay Band-3 (Rs 15,600-39,100), while raising similarly placed civilians and paramilitary officers to PB-4 (Rs 37,400-67,000),’’ said an officer.
Lt-Col rank officers, incidentally, constitute the major bulk of the officer cadre in the armed forces. Of the 54,770 officers in the 13-lakh strong armed forces, almost 19,000 are Lt-Cols. These include 11,187 in the Army, 4,216 in IAF and 3,528 in Navy.
‘‘Civilian and paramilitary officers who were in a lower pay bracket and were hitherto drawing lesser pay as compared to Lt-Cols will now draw a higher basic salary in the running pay band,’’ said the officer.
Said another officer, ‘‘Lt-Colonels, for instance, will now be drawing Rs 14,000 less than director-level IAS officers and Rs 11,000 less than directors from other civil services. This is gross injustice.’’
The forces are also aghast at the government notification placing all directors-general of police and their equivalents over Lt-Generals by the creation of a new ‘‘higher administrative grade-plus’’.
‘‘The salary of DGPs has been fixed higher than Lt-Generals to further increase disparity. Till the Fourth Pay Commission, all DGPs were a rung lower than Lt-Generals. The Fifth brought the two on par,’’ said a senior officer.
‘‘The Sixth Pay Commission had maintained them on par but the empowered committee of secretaries that went into its recommendations has quietly placed Lt-Generals below DGPs,’’ he said.
The armed forces are, however, ‘‘satisfied’’ that most of the demands raised in connection with jawans, NCOs and JCOs have been met. There will be a 50% to 60% increase in salaries of PBOR (personnel below officer rank) as per the new notification.

Navy chief raises pay panel report anomaly with Antony Press Trust of India New Delhi, August 30, 2008

As 50-lakh employees eagerly await enhanced pay this September after the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) was notified, the armed forces have raised a dissent, with Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta voicing the anomaly in the pay scales of middle-rung officers to Defence Minister A K Antony.

Mehta, who met Antony to brief on his recent visit to Japan and Korea, raised the issue of Lt Colonels and their equivalents in Navy and IAF placed in Pay Band-3, lowering the extant of parities, while their civilian and paramilitary counterparts were raised to Pay Band-4.

"The Navy chief discussed the matter with the Defence minister in his late evening meeting on Friday and the Ministry is now seized of the matter," top Navy sources told PTI.

Mehta also met Defence secretary Vijay Singh and raised the issue, they said.

The Ministry, sources said, is likely to take up the matter at the highest level in the government to address the grievances of the armed forces, even though the CPC had already been notified late on Friday night.

The anomaly was first articulated by Air chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major in a letter to the Defence Minister on August 25, while acting as Chairman of Chief of Staff Committee as incumbent Mehta was on in Japan and South Korea.

Major said it was "unfortunate" that the Finance Ministry had introduced yet another anomaly, "lowering the extant parities of officer of the Armed Forces of the rank of Lt Colonels (and equivalent) by retaining them in the Pay Band-3, while raising similarly placed civilian and paramilitary officer to Pay Band-4."

The Air chief said the March 24 CPC recommendations this year had stated that the lowest slab in pay scale S-24 was Rs 14,300 (for group 'A' services) and be fixed at Rs 24,890 by using a multiplication factor of 1.74. Similarly, for pay scale S-25 (IAS), the lowest slab of Rs 15,100 was reviewed to be fixed at Rs 26,280. For service officers in the rank of Lt Col (and equivalent) hitherto in S-25 pay scale, the CPC had recommended their pay also being fixed at Rs 24,280, Major said.

"It is reliably learnt that the civilian and paramilitary officers in the extant pay scale S-24 (Rs 14,300-400-18,300) and S-25 (Rs 15,100-400-18,300) will be placed in Pay Band-4, whereas the same is being denied to the Armed Forces officers (Lt Cols and equivalents) who are already in S-25," he said.

"The civilian officers who were in a lower pay scale (S-24) and drawing lower pay as compared to Lt Cols and equivalent of the Armed Forces would now draw a higher basic salary in the very pay band," Major said.

"This would imply that the extant parity between the Armed Forces and Civilian/Paramilitary forces would be altered to the detriment of the services," he added.

Requesting Antony to take up the matter immediately with the Finance Ministry, the IAF chief said, "this anomaly would lead to demoralisation of the armed forces as a whole, as it altered the extant and established relativities especially against officers in the cutting edge of fighting formations and units."

MiG-29 crashes near Jamnagar Press Trust of India Jamnagar, September 1, 2008

A MiG-29 fighter aircraft crashed near Jamnagar on Monday during a training sortie but the pilot ejected safely.

"The MiG-29 aircraft was on a one-on-one training flight when the pilot lost control and it crashed. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Dheer ejected out safely," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani said in New Delhi.

This is the sixth IAF aircraft to crash this year.

"There is no information as yet about any casualty on the ground when the aircraft crashed about 50 km west of the Jamnagar air base. As far as I know, it is vacant plot of land where the aircraft crashed," Upasani said.

The MiG-29 belonged to the IAF's 28 Squadron and it had taken off from Jamnagar for the training exercise. The crash took place at 11.23 hours, he said.

Five crashes involved a MiG-27, two MiG-21s, a Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer and a Kiran trainer have taken place this year. A pilot was killed in one of the crashes.

In January this year, a MiG-27 crashed near Hashimara in North Bengal, followed by a MiG-21 crash near Bhuj in Gujarat in February.

In April, a Hawk trainer crashed at Bidar, Karnataka and in May a Kiran trainer crashed at Dindigul near Hyderabad, when a lady trainee pilot was killed.

In the fifth incident, also in May, a MiG-21 from Bagdogra air base crashed.

Indian Army to buy 800 light bullet-proof vehicles.....

Indian army to buy 800 light bullet-proof vehicles to strength the army protection. The bullet-proof vehicles plays major role in the low intensity anti-insurgency operations in Jammu Kashmir and North East.

The army has laid down strict parameters for the bullet-proof vehicles. The companies have been told that the vehicle should be able to protect its occupants from direct fire from small arms like 5.56 mm INSAS rifle.

The bullet-proofing needs special layers in the vehicle which increase the weight resulting in reduced speeds the army has specified that it would not accept vehicles weighing over 600kg,including load of driver, passenger and weapons.

The vehicle must perform good in all operations, The army demand that these vehicles should also have protection from mine explosions and grenade blasts. And also adequate tyre protection to ensure mobility in the event of attack.

Guest Post: SCPC - A litany of losses

[BeeCee, who had penned a few guest posts earlier (here, here, here and here), is back with his latest insight into the final results achieved after the SCPC recommendations have been notified. As always, he provides, from his vast repertoire of experience with the earlier pay commissions, some gems on institutionalised thinking of the services.]

Nothing so illustrates the intellectual and moral deficit that is spreading in the Services as the proposal to enhance pay of ‘Lt Gens who missed promotion to Army Cdrs……’ at the expense of key issues like Lt Col’s pay, recognition of training period etc. An irrelevant proposal that may benefit one or two, at the expense of those that benefit all. When someone sent me this initially, I thought it was to have a laugh at the expense of the Services. Looks like I am more out of touch than I thought.

My information is only from media, mails and blogs and I am willing to be corrected, but can somebody tell me if the following is wrong:

1. Service officers would be the only category of Government of India officers who start, reach full pension (and majority of them retire) in the same pay-band (PB-3) they started at – There is more value addition in a savings bank a/c over 20 years. So much for what the military gives in return to its officers. Anybody still of the view that officers need to be held back for what the service invests on them.
2. The commanding officer (DIG) of a Coast Guard Patrol Vessel (comparable to a ship commanded by a Lt Cdr or utmost, a Commander in the Navy) will be paid higher, and rank above the Commanding Officer (Capt) of an Aircraft Carrier.- True to tradition, this appears to be as per the demand from Service HQs.
3. All officers below Army Commander/equivalent(not forgetting those who missed promotion to Army Commanders), except Major Generals have got a relative reduction in pay/status.
4. ‘Captains’ will now be called ‘Majors’ and Majors will be called ‘Lt Cols’ (in fact with less relative pay than what a Major got earlier). What about the pensions of those who actually earned the pension of erstwhile Major and Lt Col. Will they get the pension due to them or what would be due to the current lot? What compensation is being made for them by AVS/ Bagga/ service HQs or the CPC?
5. Pensions: Hitherto the average Service officer was given an eight year weightage over his civilian counterpart for pension to partially make up for the compulsory early superannuation. Now the Service officer has to serve one year more (Training Period) than his counterpart to get full pension. More importantly, because of the way the pay has been structured, his pension will be substantially lower than that of his counterparts. But early superannuation remains.
6. Progression to NFSG (in 14th year) through ACP, unless found unsuitable, has been a condition of service for officers from 1984/ 1986. Removal of this for those already in service can be legally challenged by those already in service.
7. The upward revision of CPC recommendations by the Cabinet was done to meet the demands of other civil services. What the services got, other than for “Lt Generals…” and MSP of the men, are incidental.

To check out the direction in which the Services have moved from the IV CPC onwards, forget Organised Group A Services, merely compare with the CPOs. Just prior to the IV CPC, the Major (Select Grade) drew pay similar to a Commandant (SG)/ AIG (same pay, different appointments). Now the ‘Major’ draws a Captains pay, the Commandant that of a Colonel and the AIG, that of a Brigadier.

This is the outcome of four much vaunted joint proposals by pay and personnel ‘experts’ of the Services. We must be thankful that we didn’t have one of these ‘experts’ in the CPC itself, somewhat akin to having foxes to watch over chickens because they have more experience in the hen-house.

The CPC dialogue is not about monetisation of the armed forces or any great reform required. It is about putting your money where some of our stalwarts usually put their foot in. At the end of the day every employer pays the employee what is deemed as his worth to the organisation, and the employee measures his self-worth by it.

It is also about recognition of a service rendered and of expectations for the future. It is, in fact, a clear statement of intent that no more is expected from those paid less.

As for the proponents of our ‘we are special’ approach to CPCs and AVS like solutions, let me borrow a phrase from Barrack Obama, who put it so pithily,

…it is not that they want lower pay and status for the officers, it is that they just don’t get it.

More Army men, machines for Bihar
4.75 lakh evacuated

New Delhi, September 1
With floods causing havoc in eastern parts of the country, the Centre today rushed 16 additional Army columns comprising about 2,000 men and 141 Navy divers to Bihar and 400 Army men to Assam to step up relief and rescue operations.

Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is also the chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, announced that the tri-services personnel would contribute their two days’ ration for distribution among the flood victims in the two states.

The government has also decided to send a top-level team headed by cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar and comprising Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and representatives of the Directorate-General of Military Operations to Bihar tomorrow to assess the situation.

“Another 16 columns of about 2,000 men have been sent to areas affected by the floods in River Kosi. Another three columns of about 400 men have been rushed to Assam. Admiral Mehta has announced the contribution of two-day ration towards relief work.

“Lt Gen Panag too is currently on a visit there. A top-level team headed by cabinet secretary is also going to Bihar tomorrow,” Defence Ministry sources said here.

While the Army’s Lucknow-based Central Command chief Lt Gen H S Panag visited some of the flood-hit areas and supervised the operations in Bihar, the 16 additional Army columns reached Madhepura, Supaul and Araria districts of the state this morning, the Army sources said.

The floods caused by the breach in the eastern afflux embankment at upstream Kuaha village in Nepal on August 18 is the worst in the region. The area was considered secure against the possibilities of floods after construction of hundreds of miles of embankments and Bheemnagar barrage more than four decades ago.

Though disaster management additional secretary Pratayaya Amrit said while over 4.75 lakh people have been evacuated, lakhs more were in dire need of being shifted to safer places. Amrit said about two lakh people were taking shelter in 17 relief camps set up by the state governments and many more being run by non-government organisations.

Amrit said Nepal government had agreed to help India in taming the river which causes huge damage to infrastructure in Bihar.

He said the situation was fast improving and trapped people were being evacuated with the help of army and NGOs. Railway minister Lalu Prasad held the state government responsible for the catastrophe and the plight of the flood affected people of north Bihar.

Lalu has announced a slew of measures for the flood affected people and has appealed to railwaymen to donate a day’s salary to the Railway Minister’s welfare and relief fund.

Lalu is to reach Saharsa by his special train to take stock of the situation. He would be meeting the victims taking shelter in the relief camps one of which is being run by the railways.

Samajwadi party state president and former Bihar minister Ashok Kmar Singh said there was no relief worth the name in the flood-hit areas.

State BSP general secretary Ganganath claimed that he had supplied 500 readymade food packets, besides 500 saris and clothes to the victims. NGOs and other organisations are also chipping in with relief.

Meanwhile, the Kataiya hydel project producing 18 mw of power has been shut down after flood waters entered premises. — Agencies

Army Made to Wait for Six Days Before Deployment in Bihar
New Delhi
The Indian Army could have moved in much earlier in flood-ravaged Bihar to join in the relief and rescue operations, but were made to wait for six crucial days before being given the formal order on Aug 26, a senior army official has said.
Army troops had begun to move in to Patna on Aug 20, but were not given the orders to join in the rescue operations for six days - when all the while the waters of the Kosi continued to rise inexorably and swamp more villages in the state.
"The troops were waiting in Patna for the government's order for six days. But in those six days a lot of damage was caused," the army official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"The Bihar government ordered the army deployment after its resident commissioner in Delhi met the cabinet secretary," the official added.
Currently 21 columns of the army, consisting of more than 2,000 personnel, are involved in relief operations and 16 more columns are waiting to be moved. The army has set up three nodal centres under the supervision of three Brigadiers at Danapur, Katihar and Khagaria in Bihar to man the operations.
"By tomorrow morning (Tuesday), the number of columns engaged in rescue and relief operations will be 37 - that is around 4,500 army personnel. Around 21 army medical teams have been pressed into service," army spokesman Lt. Col. A.K. Mathur said.
"The army has restored 14 points for people to get potable water and has ferried 130 potable water tankers. Ten important local roads and tracks have been repaired to help in rescue and relief operations," said Mathur.
The Indian Navy has deployed 141 divers and a specialized team comprising 46 personnel of all the three Commands - Western Naval Command at Mumbai, Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam and Southern Naval Command at Kochi.
It has positioned two AN-32 aircraft each at the three places to help the diving teams. Six Indian Air Force helicopters have been engaged in air-dropping of food packets.
The Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta has announced that two days ration of the armed forces will be given to the flood-hit people of Bihar.

According to government figures, nearly 467,000 marooned people have been evacuated and over 150,000 were sheltered in 172 relief camps.
Over 2.5 million people in 1,598 villages spread over 15 districts have been affected by the floods triggered by the Kosi. The floods have claimed 35 lives so far.
The Kosi river, sometimes called the 'Sorrow of Bihar', changed its course after almost two centuries following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal. Unlike annual floods, there is little hope that the waters of the Kosi will recede soon.
The Central Reserve Police Force officers and personnel Monday announced they would donate a day's salary amounting to Rs.31 million for relief operations.

MiG-29 crashes, pilot bails out

Jamnagar, September 1
A MiG-29 jet fighter of the Indian Air Force crashed in the Arabian Sea, about 50 km off Jamnagar coast, during a training mission around noon today but the pilot ejected safely.

Flight Lieutenant, Dheer, was rescued after he bailed out of the aircraft which crashed at 11:53 am. The IAF's all-weather air superiority aircraft was on a one-on-one training sortie when the pilot lost control of the MiG-29.

Naval divers from the INS Valsura base are being pressed into service to fish out the aircraft's cockpit voice-recorder and the flight data-recorder (black-box), the spokesman said. The MiG-29 belonged to the IAF's 28 Squadron and it had taken off from Jamnagar for the training exercise. — PTI

Defence cooperation is the real issue: Karat

Staff Reporter

Kozhikode: Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat has said there is more to the India-U.S. nuclear agreement than meets the eye.

He was delivering a talk on the ‘Indo-U.S. nuclear deal: after effects’, organised by the DC Books in connection with its fifth international book festival here on Monday.

Mr. Karat said that a few weeks before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh committed himself to U.S. President George W. Bush to signing the nuclear deal in July 2005, New Delhi had entered into a defence framework with Washington. The U.S. administration offered nuclear cooperation only after India signed the defence deal. This was the real issue and the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal was a sweetener, he said.

Four components

The CPI(M) leader pointed out that there were four components to the statement signed between Dr. Singh and Mr. Bush then. One of them was that India and the U.S. would have a political collaboration to spread democracy around the world. The second feature was that both countries would enter into strategic economic partnership that was unfolded a year later during Mr. Bush’s visit to India.

A joint forum of 10 chief executive officers of India and the U.S. agreed to a common structure of cooperation. The blueprint for the agreement was now being implemented by way of increasing foreign direct investment in the insurance and banking sectors. The joint forum had put forth 30 recommendations, Mr. Karat said.

Joint military exercises

The third part was defence cooperation, which was dealt with the utmost care by the Pentagon and the U.S. administration. A salient feature was that of India agreeing to joint military exercises. The fourth component was both countries going for defence production collaboration.

Mr. Karat said Dr. Singh did not want to retract his commitment to the Bush administration he made three years ago. Though the Prime Minister would deny that India was a defence ally, the Pentagon had posted on its website this agreement. In this case, the U.S. administration was more honest than the Manmohan Singh government, he said.

Regional allies

Even with its military powers, the U.S. could not maintain its hegemony over the globe until it had regional allies. India would be a balancing power in the 21st century. That was why the U.S. was desperate to push ahead with the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. At the same time, the Hyde Act would be dangerously binding on India if the country signed and put into operation the nuclear deal, he said.

The provisions in the Hyde Act and 123 Agreement empowered the U.S. to take back all nuclear supplies if India conducted a nuclear test again, Mr. Karat said.

He released “Aanavakarar: Kenikalum Charadukalum” by Ninan Koshy, handing over a copy to A. Pradeepkumar MLA.

China concerned about India’s defence measures: Experts

Monday, 01 September , 2008, 16:08

New Delhi: Experts have said that China is concerned, if not annoyed with India’s plans to have a fleet of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines in the next decade and recently tested nuclear-capable missiles that put China's major cities well within range.

New Delhi’s decision to reopen air force bases near the Chinese border has also invited negative reactions from officials in Beijing, they claim.

Encouraging India's role as a counter to China, the US too has stepped up exercises with the Indian navy and last year sold it an American warship for the first time, the 17,000-ton amphibious transport dock Trenton.

American defence contractors have also been offering India's military everything from advanced fighter jets to anti-ship missiles.

"It is in our interest to develop this relationship," US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said during a visit to New Delhi in February. "Just as it is in the Indians'' interest."

Officially, China says it's not worried about India's military buildup or its closer ties with the US.

However, foreign analysts believe China is deeply concerned by the possibility of a US-Indian military alliance.

Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore said China sent strong diplomatic messages expressing opposition to a massive naval exercise India held last year with the US, Japan, Singapore and Australia.

Rahul Bedi, the Jane's analyst, added "those exercises rattled the Chinese."

India's 2007 defence budget was about $21.7 billion, up 7.8 per cent from 2006.

China said its 2008 military budget would jump 17.6 per cent to about $59 billion, following a similar increase last year.

The US estimates China's actual defence spending may be much higher.

Like India, China is focusing on its navy, building an increasingly sophisticated submarine fleet that could become one of the world's largest.

Though analysts believe China's military buildup is mostly focused on preventing US intervention in any conflict with Taiwan, India is still likely to persist in efforts to catch up as China expands its influence in what is essentially India's backyard.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankans -- who have looked warily for centuries at vast India to the north -- welcome the Chinese investment in their country.

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