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Wednesday, 3 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 03 Sep

Armed Forces unwilling to accept Sixth Pay Commission report

New Delhi

Tue, 02 Sep 2008:

New Delhi, Sep 2 (ANI): The Armed Forces have communicated to Defence Minister A K Antony that they were "unwilling to implement" the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) report without anomalies being removed to restore their status and parity of pay scales.

"A high level delegation from the Chiefs of Stf Committee (COSC) made a presentation to Antony and top officials on anomalies, as introduced in the notified CPC report for officers, though it expressed satisfaction over the pay hikes for personnel below officer rank," said sources in the Defence Ministry.

After witnessing the presentation, Antony was quoted as assuring the Armed Forces that he would take up the anomalies with the government and get them addressed, sources said.

The presentation comes in the wake of Chairman of COSC Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta's meeting Antony on Friday evening just hours before the CPC report was notified seeking to stop the government order as the anomalies were not removed.

When Mehta was on a visit to Japan and South Korea early last week, then acting Chairman of COSC and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major had written to Antony pointing out that the extant parities of Lieutenant Colonels and their equivalents in the Navy and Air Force were lowered by retaining them in Pay Band-3, while raising similarly placed civilian and paramilitary officers to Pay Band-4.

In their presentation to Antony, the COSC representatives pointed out that the Grade Pay of middle-rung officers from Captain to Colonels was fixed at a lesser amount than that of similarly placed officers from all other services.

Another anomaly presented before the Defence Minister was the new category of 'Higher Administrative Grade Plus' created in all services, except the armed forces, under which the Director General level officers have been placed.

"These HAG Plus officers have been placed in a Pay Band higher than that of even Lieutenant Generals in the Army and their equivalents in the Navy and Air Forces," sources said.

Regarding Colonels, the CPC recommendations of March 24 had suggested that the lowest slab in pay scale S-24 at Rs 14,300 (for group 'A' services) 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 being fixed at Rs 24,280.

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) were be placed in Pay Band-4, whereas the same was not given to the Armed Forces officers (Lt Cols and equivalents), who are already in S-25.

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

In the second "anomaly, the CPC had recommended a lower Grade Pay for lower and middle-rung officers of the Armed Forces from Captain to Colonels in the Army and their equivalents in Navy and Air Force.

While the Armed Forces pointed out the anomaly, the government agreed to the demand that the officers' Grade Pay should be increased.

The Armed Forces demand was to equate their Grade Pay with that of similarly placed officers in the civilian and paramilitary services, as recommended by the Sixth CPC.

Instead of equating, the government granted the Armed Forces demand to increase Grade Pay and simultaneously hiked the Grade Pay of officers in other services too, there by introducing another anomaly in the final CPC report. (ANI)

Navy mulls protection for ships off Somalia

Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 2
The Indian Navy has proposed conducting patrols off the Gulf of Aden and on the Somalian coast following increased incidents of piracy on high seas.

According to sources here, naval officials have put up the proposal before the union government after Somalian pirates captured a ship called Iran Deynat on August 21. The ship had four Indians as a part of its crew.

The Navy’s proposal also envisages Indian defence personnel working under the UN flag on the basis of an agreement signed between the Somalian government and the United Nations Security Council. Only the Canadian Navy is presently operating in this manner while Yemen’s navy is expected to join in the operations shortly, sources here said.

Two months ago, the Indian Navy was called upon to assist in the rescue of the crew of a Jordanian vessel M V Victoria owned by the Five Seas Company of the United Arab Emirates, which was captured by pirates off Somalia. The Indian Navy’s frigate INS Delhi was to have been sent on a rescue mission but the pirates had freed the ship and the crew by then. The ship was on a humanitarian mission to distribute sugar from Mumbai to the war-torn country, when pirates took it. The 21-member crew included 10 Indians.

Naval sources here said the M V Victoria was captured by a Somalian clan of pirates who took the ship to the Hobiyo Port 500 km away from Mogadishu.

Reports say, the owners of the vessel may have paid a huge ransom to free the ship and the crew. According to naval sources, pirates for ransom have captured more than a dozen ships this year. However, ships operating under armed escorts on behalf of multilateral donor agencies haven't faced interference from pirates.

Armed forces pay hike hits roadblock
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 2
The implementation of the sixth pay commission for the armed forces has hit a roadblock. Senior officials of the Ministry of Defence today heard out the three chiefs of the armed forces, who aired their grievances. The forces have expressed that the anomalies have to be sorted before the pay commission is implemented.

The armed forces have been asked to submit their objections to the defence minister. The Pay Fixation Committee of the ministry of defence will start working to fix the wages and these objections will be taken into account. The sixth pay commission empowers the ministry to submit its own objections to the ministry of finance, which can increase the pay at this juncture also.

The three chiefs have pointed out that the notification issued by the government has lowered the status and salary of defence officers vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts.

The armed forces have expressed their satisfaction over the pay hike of the persons below others ranks (PBORs), but want major changes for the officers and have cited how the status has been lowered. There have been three major objections. As these objections are being sorted out, there is all possibility that the pay commission could be implemented for the PBORs, who will get at least 50-60 per cent hike over their existing salaries.

CBI books retired Brigadier
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 2
The CBI has registered a case against Brig (retd) Samir Barun Roy for possession of disproportionate assets. A CBI spokesperson said tonight that the accused officer who was working with the ordnance wing of the Army had amassed movable and immovable assets in his name as well as in the name of his wife and mother.

These included 18 commercial shops in prime areas of Delhi, Greater Noida, Pune and Secundrabad. He had also acquired a flat as well as agricultural land and farmhouse in Pune, besides a dozen bank accounts with funds running into lakhs of rupees. He owned costly cars and had made heavy investment in shares and FDRs.

These assets were over Rs 1.97 crore against the estimated income from all sources which was substantially lower than the assets held by the accused. Searches were conducted at three premises of the accused officer, one in Pune and two in Delhi. The searches in Delhi so far have yielded Rs.9.15 lakhs in cash, 10 gold biscuits, one Opel Astra and incriminating documents relating to various properties.

Battle between security forces and militants

Asif Haroon Raja

Fierce clashes are taking place between security forces and militants in Bajaur and Swat. While the former is resorting to gunship helicopters, artillery and mortar fire and causing colossal collateral damage, the militants are attacking police stations and military targets and making use of suicide bombers and bomb attacks. After suicide attack in Wah on August 21, another attack took place in Swat on August 23 killing 70. Bomb blasts in Attock on August 24 destroyed a market selling CDs and another blast occurred in a hotel in Sihala. About 22 suicide attacks took place from January-July 2008 killing 332 people. Nearly 60 cases had taken place in 2007 killing 770. Baitullah Mehsud is hounded and despite reports of his poor health he is not giving up and has reportedly nominated his three successors to carry forward the agenda of Tehrik-i-Taliban. He claims to have 1,000 suicide bombers lined up; besides ANP ministers and Sherpao, certain federal ministers, including the Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari have been put on the hit list. Sectarian frenzy in Kurram Agency continues and death toll climbs each day. Matani and Badhber townships near Peshawar are still restive. People rendered homeless are living under appalling conditions and relief measures are inadequate.
Announcement of policy of dialogue by the PPP government soon after taking over power was a ruse to segregate non-militants from militants within the tribal belt and after winning over the former pitching them against the latter. Policy of selective use of force was abandoned and several fronts opened up at a time. Excessive force has been purposely used in Swat and Bajaur to force the local residents to leave their homes and move elsewhere to deny the shield provided by them to the militants. Latter’s hideouts are now being pounded more vigorously to force them to surrender. Anti-Taliban lashkars have also been formed to combat the Taliban in each Agency.
Taking a cue from military strategy, that offence is the best defence, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani used military language, saying that war on terror cannot be won defensively but the battle had to be taken to the doorsteps of extremists. He naively added that “We are not attacked from outside military but from within”. While the US sent its forces across seven seas to save its most secured homeland from terrorism, our rulers instead of keeping the flames of war outside and gaining perimeter of security have chosen to apply this strategy on its own soil. He is either totally clueless or deliberately chooses to be ignorant about the nefarious activities of RAW-RAM-CIA-Mossad nexus based in Kabul working as a close-knit team to destabilise Pakistan. His pearls of wisdom to confront the faceless enemy through public support must have been music for our adversaries. His three pronged strategy resembles Musharraf’s two-pronged strategy except that in latter’s concept, one prong was to be implemented by the US to address root causes of terrorism. Gillani has chosen to free the US of its responsibility and has taken the entire load on his shoulders. Bad policies of rulers compel extremists to resort to suicide attacks. Instead of policy-makers, the poor suffer as has happened in each suicide or bomb attack. In Wah attacks, 70 poor labourers died while the same number got injured. Rulers as usual spoke in harsh tones describing the act as despicable and cowardly and vowing that they would never bow before extremists and that they will be brought to justice. Rehman Malik threatened that Bajaur operation would continue till the elimination of all anti-state elements. While conveying their concerns in strongest words they ignored what atrocities were being perpetrated on the people of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). About 300,000 people have been uprooted from Bajaur alone and all told 700,000 are living under open sky in miserable conditions.
What if the 0.7 million displaced persons had crossed over to Afghanistan? In 1971, one of the chief excuses behind Indian invasion was refugee issue. Instead of condemning the illegal occupation of Afghanistan and exerting moral pressure on the US to withdraw its forces to end extremism and terrorism in the region, they are callously strengthening their hands and inadvertently allowing them to destabilise Pakistan. To befool the people they keep singing US tutored song that the war on terror is not America’s war but Pakistan’s own war. Some English newspapers are dutifully promoting this theme.
It must not be forgotten that the militants charged with ideological motivation have much greater war stamina than the army. They can afford to keep fighting for years under adverse conditions. They had kept fighting the Soviet forces for 10 years till they were defeated and withdrew in humiliation. Can our army afford to fight the so-called faceless enemy that long and waste so much of its war munitions purchased at an exorbitant price meant for actual war. We had run short of ammunition and spare parts in both wars with India and we still do not have more than one month war stamina. Untrustworthy the US is known for closing the tap when its support is needed the most.
In a 10-year Iran-Iraq war instigated by the US, the two neighbouring Muslim countries kept fighting relentlessly without achieving any results. The bloodiest battles were fought in Fao Peninsula where the US imagery satellite would pass on information to each side to ensure that none could achieve a breakthrough. The idea was to kill two birds with one stone by bleeding both and making them lose their warrior elements and munitions and make Israel the unchallenged power of Middle East. Taking advantage of the war, Israeli planes destroyed Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirik. The US is playing the same strategy in Pakistan to weaken Pakistan army and best fighters of tribal belt by pitching the two against each other and having bled the two sufficiently, quietly extract nuclear teeth and make India the dominant power of South Asia.
The US leadership having ditched Musharraf after making best use of him for nine years has now expressed its full confidence in the PPP government and assured them to work in close collaboration. Nearly $ 1.5 billion annual aid has already been promised and few F-16s have been handed over to use them against the militants if required. Having enflamed Fata and frontier regions the stage is gradually being prepared for a civil war. Our rulers at the behest of their so-called mentors are prodding the pro-government tribal elders to battle the militants and eliminate them. Once the civil war breaks out it would give a good reason to the international peacekeeping forces to step in to provide security and relief and rehabilitate the devastated areas. They have resorted to this gory drama in several countries in Africa to extract gold, oil and other mineral resources and to keep Horn of Africa under US influence. Probe of Benazir Bhutto’s death by the United Nations (UN) is yet another ruse to force their entry and stay put for a long time till the achievement of all their objectives.
Our rulers are worried about the stability of Afghanistan and security of occupation forces and are not bothered about the stability of Pakistan. They are least concerned about hundreds of Pakistanis handed over by Musharraf regime to the US languishing in Baghram and Guantanamo Bay prisons without access to justice. Dr Aafia is one case of cruelty and high-handedness of Americans which has come to light. While forcing the Pashtun and Baloch to turn their guns towards own army, they refuse to free themselves of the tight embrace of enemies of Pakistan that are relentlessly stabbing us in the back and consider them genuine friends. They have bought friendship of untrustworthy US and India and enmity of own people who have remained loyal and patriotic towards Pakistan.
The PPP leadership is too willing to play US game and turn Pakistan into an Indian satellite in return for power and monetary benefits. If the nation is to be blessed with Zardari as the president what was so wrong with his predecessor? Having sold their souls to grab power and pelf these soulless rulers are mere puppets dancing to the tunes of their mentors. We just celebrated our 61st independence day with fervour not realising that charlatans have quietly bartered away our sovereignty.
The writer is a defence and political analyst

God only knows!

Wow! The battle for more from the SCPC for the services is again being fought by the mainstream media. There is a report in the TOI, one at NDTV and there is also a front page story in the Indian Express. A look at the headlines for each of these stories:

TOI — Pay panel report: Armed Forces feel cheated

NDTV– Unhappy with pay hike, Army wants review

Indian Express — We have objections, put pay hike on hold: 3 service chiefs again

The headlines are suggestive of a perpetual cribber and greedy kind of behaviour by the services and clearly aimed at sensationalising the issue. One cannot expect anything better from the Indian media. What is more intriguing is that the three stories contain contradictory details.

While the NDTV claims that “over the last couple of days, all three service chiefs have met the Defence Minister to ask for a review“, the TOI asserts that “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“. Indian Express goes a step ahead and states that “the three chiefs of the Armed Forces, in an unprecedented move, have written to Defence Minister A K Antony that implementation for officer ranks be “held in abeyance” until their objections are addressed“.

Where does the truth lie? GOK (God only knows).

However, it is more or less certain that the three service chiefs, either individually or as the COSC, will represent to the Defence Minister. The defence minister in turn will approach the finance ministry, which will “examine” the proposal. The finance ministry may even ask the services to approach the anomalies committee. The outcome of this fight will only be known then. How long will it take? GOK!

The major crib against the SCPC notification has been the lowering of status of Lt Colonels and equivalent vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. The grouse sounds genuine but an email from an army veteran from Engineers raised a few questions about the whole status thing.

…this talk of status of a Lt Col has got to me. Other than sapper officers, who gets to serve in the civil organisations where equivalence matters. I am not sure if Navy still deputes its officers to the Coast Guard. Maybe, a few officers in the NSG or Assam Rifles may be serving with officers from para military officers.

Till the mid-80s (before the cadre review and pre-IV pay commission), a Lt Col used to be the CWE and ranked higher than the SE of MES cadre, who also serve as a CWE. The same was true of Border Roads organisation. I’m reliably told that Lt Cols now serve as GEs, where MES officers of Asst Executive Engineer ranks are placed. How can there be an equiavlence between the Lt Col and SE in this case? Can a senior (by pay and status) serve under a junior? That would be ridiculous. The options are simple. Ask for old status parity but pull out from all these joint organisations like the MES and BRO. It will give you more number of officers in the engineer regiments as well. Second way out is to restore the pre-80s rank structure of the army that has led to this degradation. Let Lt Cols command units and Colonel be only a ceremonial rank like in my time. This may be difficult to do as the damage has already been done and may not be palatable to most serving officers.

…as most of the officers of the IAF and navy and other arms & services of the army are not affected, there is a failure to understand the functioning of orgs where civilian and military officers serve side by side.

Another interesting input on the status comes from Contrived. His comment is self-explanatory.

Government of India [National Commission for Backward Classes] has made it clear that person below the Colonel or equivalents in navy and Air Force are not even equivalent to Direct recruit Class 1 officers and not even Class 2 officers who become class 1 before 40 years.

The latter are all “creamy layer” but person below Colonel is not even equivalent to a Class 1 officer! Don’t believe it, see here for the equivalence.

The same is true for attesting the documents for issue of a passport. While all Class 1 officers of the government of India can do so, only Colonels and above and their equivalents can do it for the defence services. Who started and tolerated this discrimination among defence officers and why? Shouldn’t they be held accountable for the present state of affairs?

If you know Latin, then this quote says it all.

Utque in corporibus, sic in imperio, gravissimus est morbus qui a capite diffunditur. ~Caius Caecilius Secundus

Here is the translation in the Queen’s language for mere mortals–

And as in men’s bodies, so in government, that disease is most serious which proceeds from the head. ~Pliny the Younger

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