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Wednesday, 1 October 2008

From Today's Papers - 02 Oct

Govt bends, armed forces win fight for fair salaries

New Delhi: The country’s defence forces have convinced the Government they deserve a better deal in their salaries.

The Government on Wednesday announced it would soon issue a notification on revised pay scales. It has formed a panel to study the demand of defence services and said the revised salaries would be decided and implemented once the calculations are complete.

The Government announced these decisions after the armed forces complained against a Cabinet decision to implement new salary grades recommended in the Sixth Pay Commission. If the Government revises pay scales, Lt Colonels and their civilian counterparts, Lt Generals and Directors General of Police will get salaries and pensions at par.

The defence services resent the difference in pay scales the pay commission has recommended for its officers and their civilian counterparts. Colonels and equivalent would get at least Rs 10,000 less than their counterparts in civil services.

Lt Generals, admirals and air marshals have been kept at a lower status and pay scales, a glaring disparity that could affect operational coordination. It is such discrepancies that the Government wants to remove.

Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday said there were no differences between the government and the armed forces over the pay commission’s report. "There is no difference between the government and the Services, because they are also part of the government. Don't read too much (into the forces complaint)," Antony said in Delhi.

He announced the Union Cabinet had decided to implement the pay commission’s report after amendments—a step which could the exchequer Rs 6,000 crore more.

"After the decision of the Cabinet, Services' chiefs noted some of the problems and anomalies, specifically regarding the defence forces, which is but natural. The government is examining it at the appropriate level. Meanwhile, you are reading too much. It is not correct," he said about reports that the defence services had refused to accept the new pay scales for officers.

Stating that the armed forces had already submitted the details for revised pay scales, the Defence Minister said the government had issued a notification for paying adhoc arrears to the personnel, due to the delay in calculating their revised pay for October.

"Also, the Prime Minister has appointed a committee headed by my senior colleague Pranab Mukherjee. So there is no problem. As far as we are concerned, there is no difference," he said.

Govt meet forces half-way on pay row
10/1/2008 12:31:35 PM

In an attempt to resolve the pay panel row with defence forces, Defence Minister AK Antony today (October 1) said there were no differences between the government and the armed forces over the 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC) report.

His statement comes in the wake of the defence forces' signal to its 1.5 million personnel on the "anomalies" in the CPC, asking them to "be patient in the larger interest of the Services," which was seen as an act of defiance of the Cabinet decision to implement revised pay scales from September 1.

"There is no difference between the government and the Services, because they are also part of the government. Don't read too much (into the forces' signal)," Antony told reporters after the Defence Accounts Day function.

Pointing out that the government had taken a decision in the Cabinet to implement the pay commission report after amendments, Antony said the additional burden on the exchequer due to the changes in the approved CPC is Rs 6,000 crore.

"After the decision of the Cabinet, Services' chiefs noted some of the problems and anomalies, specifically regarding the defence forces, which is but natural. The government is examining it at the appropriate level. Meanwhile, you are reading too much. It is not correct," he said.

Meanwhile, on his return to India from a 10-day trip to the US and France, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that all remaining issues that the armed forces had on the pay hike, would be resolved by the 3-member committee of Defence Minister AK Antony, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

The services chiefs have reiterated their demands and sought an early redressal of the four issues, including placing lieutenant colonels in Pay Band-4, at par with their civilian counterparts.

The three services chiefs are likely to seek a meeting with the Prime Minister. The other issues raised by the armed forces were parity in the grade pay of officers from captains to brigadiers with their civilian counterparts.

Stating that the armed forces had already submitted the details for revised pay scales, the Defence Minister said the government had issued a notification for paying adhoc arrears to the personnel, due to the delay in calculating their revised pay for October.

"Also, the Prime Minister has appointed a committee headed by my senior colleague Pranab Mukherjee. So there is no problem. As far as we are concerned, there is no difference," he added.

After the defence forces' decision not to accept the "discriminatory" CPC, the government had acted swiftly with Antony doing some tough talking to the Services' chiefs, asking them to accept the revised pay scales temporarily.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also set up a high-level ministerial committee headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee last Friday to look into the defence personnel grievances over the CPC.

Antony and Finance Minister P Chidrambaram were named as the other two members of the three-member committee.

Moreover, the government ordered release of an interim amount as part payment of the 40 per cent arrears under the CPC to be given to the defence personnel this week to enable them to celebrate Diwali.

The rest of the 40 per cent arrears would be paid to the services in November.

The reason cited for the adhoc arrears was the delay caused due to the late submission of the revised pay vouchers by the armed forces.

Consequently, the 3.5 million civilian government servants would take home their revised pay and the 40 per cent arrears under the CPC, while the defence personnel would have to wait till November for their revised salaries.

Unreasonable demands
(Comments on this article at above link are interesting)
In any democracy, armed forces officers have no business demanding parity with civil servants
Some of the demands put forward by Armed Forces’ chiefs are unreasonable to say the least. The manner in which they chose to highlight this bordered on defiance of civilian authority.
Higher salaries are a constant demand of government employees. For the Armed Forces, these are justified given the harsh and dangerous nature of their job.
What is unreasonable is the demand for parity in status with their civil service “counterparts”. Poor salaries is one issue, but demand for “status” is totally unrelated to that. In any democracy, armed forces officers have no business demanding parity with civil servants. Doing away with such distinctions would also mean doing away with civilian control of these Forces. That is unconscionable in any democracy.
Furthermore, salaries were revised by a cabinet decision based on the Sixth Pay Commission award. By not forwarding salary bills for all ranks, Armed Forces’ chiefs tried to unilaterally alter a cabinet decision. That’s defiance of civilian authority.
The setting up of a ministerial panel to look at their demands is a right step. But in no case should the government countenance any notion of parity in status.


Colonel T N Raman (Retd)

First time in our Military History, in the Sixty years of Free India, the Chiefs of all three Services stood up for a cause , which every sensible Indian has understood to be a

MATTER OF HONOUR, than for picking up of some crumbs, thrown by the Government. The Armed Forces had been at the receiving end of the Raw Deals dished out by the previous five Central Pay Commissions (CPC). Their protests were subdued, on the principles of Discipline and the National Perception that a highly trained, patriotic and motivated force like our Armed Forces would not retaliate and embarrass the Government. After all, as Justice Sri Krishna pointed out, it is one of the two Government Services still functioning efficiently, the other one being the Judiciary(?!)

When the Sixth CPC was constituted, under Justice Sri Krishna, the expectations of the Armed Forces were high, especially after his complementary remark cited above. He being a Justice, his findings & sentence would be based on the evidence produced. Their hopes got further fillip when the Commission invited and met various Ex Servicemen Organisations including the Armed Forces Veteran Officers Association of Chennai and the Indian Ex Services League at New Delhi. The recommendations of the CPC have dampened the spirit of the Armed Forces Personnel. The Government appointed a group of Secretaries to study and suggest improvements. The net result was a lopsided pay structure, which no commander worth his salt could accept, if he really had the concern for the Officers and Men whom he commands. The Chiefs took the best possible courses open to them, ie, to reject the CPC Recommendations and appeal to the Defence Minister, who is their Civilian boss. To be fair, the Defence Minister did appraise the seriousness of the dissatisfaction of the Armed Forces to the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister.

What are the Demands of the Armed Forces? Are they claiming to be treated at par with the Private Sector employees? Or, are they demanding their right to be at par with the Central Government employees? An example will highlight the issue. An Officer of the Army takes 33 years to become a Major General, whereas his civilian counterpart in the IAS Cadre takes only 14 years to become a Joint Secretary, which is equal to a Major General. There are so many anomalies which unfortunately the public is unaware of. As Inder Malhotra himself points out, is it not ridiculous for the Government to degrade the Lieutenant Generals & place them below the Deputy Inspectors General of Police of the States? Or, is it fair to bring down the Lieutenant Colonels to Pay Band -3 and push up their Civilian counterparts, who were earlier drawing lesser salary to Pay Band -4?

Inder Malhotra suggests that the Armed Forces should consider accelerated promotions to their Officers, to beat the pyramidal system, so that a brigadier of 30 years service in the MoD does not have to report to a Civilian Director with 13 years service. It is a valid long term solution. The Armed Forces are working on it. But in the interim period, the anomalies pointed out by the Chiefs have to be resolved by the Government, on a war footing.

The main issue is, as Inder Malhotra points out, is “the letter that the Army Chief wrote to jawans, and the unclassified signal that the Navy Chief issued to all ranks-(assuring them that in refusing to implement the directive on pay they were watchful of the interests of other ranks)-were uncalled for and unacceptable”. The National media literally went berserk, on catching this correspondence, without appreciating the fact that the Officers and other ranks have been fed with malicious propaganda by the same media to create doubts in their minds as to the credibility of the actions taken by their own Chiefs. It is the responsibility of the Chiefs to assuage their doubts. Does it amount to instigation or clarification? The Chiefs are Officers of great repute, having 40 years of service and experience under their belts. Above all, every Indian Soldier has taken the oath to uphold the constitution of our great Nation, and let us leave it to the Chiefs to exercise their command over their troops the way they deem fit.

The chiefs have come in the ‘Line of Fire’. And a deliberate attempt is being made by vested interests, through a section of inspired media, to call their genuine concern of the men they command, as ‘Beyond the Call of their Duty’. The reason is simple. Inder Malhotra himself points out that “barring a few exceptions, our politicians and bureaucrats or their sons and daughters, have any military service or experience”. They probably want to treat the Armed Forces also, the same way they treat the State Police. Veteran General Shanker Roy Choudry is absolutely right in saying, that there cannot be any equation between an Officer of the Armed Forces and the other Officers, be it IAS or Para Military Forces, since the Officers of the Armed Forces are commissioned by the President of India, whereas all others are only appointed. The award of Commission adds to their responsibility towards the Nation, and their status in the Society. It is a common knowledge that many Army Officers have migrated to the IAS and IPS cadres after some years of service, but the reverse has never happened. That is the pedestal Armed Forces enjoy.

The anomalies pointed out to the Government by the Chiefs led to the appointment of a group of Secretaries to examine the Recommendations of the Sixth CPC. Not a single officer from the Defence Forces was a member of this Committee. Armed Forces Officers form more than 60 percent of the strength of officers in the Centre. But were never given the opportunity to represent in the Central Pay Commissions. As per the request of the Armed Forces, the Government has announced the creation of Ex Servicemen (ESM) Commission. The composition will be two Veteran Officers and three Civilians, and a retired judge of the Supreme Court will be the President. Will any other dedicated Welfare Commission of any other Government or Public Sector Undertaking, allow non members of that fraternity to function as the office bearers of that Association? The Government, it seems has come to the conclusion, that the discipline of the Armed Forces should be taken as their naivety and they cannot even look after their own welfare without the assistance of the civilians.

The time has come, though belatedly, for the Armed Forces to ascertain their status in the Government hierarchy vis a vis the bueareucrats. There is no doubt that they will succeed, in the long run. Because the Nation is watching and beginning to understand.

Jawan arrested with 40 rounds at Jammu railway station
1 Oct 2008, 1732 hrs IST,PTI

JAMMU: A jawan of Rastriya Rifles was arrested on Wednesday with 40 rounds at Jammu railway station.

Ravi Kumar, who is posted in Kashmir valley, was going home in Uttar Pradesh to attend the function concerning with death of his father, police said.

During scanning of his bag, police found 40 live rounds of AK rifle in it, they said adding that jawan was arrested.

Antony backs armed forces over pay hike
NDTV Correspondent
Wednesday, October 01, 2008 (New Delhi)

Nearly a week after the chiefs of the three armed forces decided to delay the implementation of the sixth pay commission recommendations, Defence Minister AK Antony has admitted that their concerns are genuine and the ministry fully supports the armed forces' demands.

Pointing out that the government had taken a decision in the Cabinet to implement the pay commission report after amendments, Antony said the additional burden on the exchequer due to the changes in the approved CPC is Rs 6,000 crore. (Watch)

"After the decision of the Cabinet, Services' chiefs noted some of the problems and anomalies, specifically regarding the defence forces, which is but natural. The government is examining it at the appropriate level," said AK Antony, Defence Minister.

No stand-off with Army, asserts Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 1
Defence Minister A.K. Antony today played down the stand-off between the government and the armed forces over the Sixth Pay Commission.

“Do not read too much into the issue, there are no differences between the government and the services. They are also part of the government. The issue of restoring parity is being examined at the appropriate level,” he said.

Earlier, the three service chiefs — Admiral Sureesh Mehta, General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshall F.H. Major — had noted some problems and anomalies in the government order on pay hike. “Pointing out anomalies was a natural act. As far as we are concerned there are no differences,” said Antony.

His comments, made on the sidelines of the defence accounts department function here today, assume importance as a ministerial committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee is expected to give its report to the Prime Minister in the next two weeks. The committee was formed on Saturday. Antony and finance minister P. Chidambaram were named as the other two members of the three-member committee, which will look into the four core issues.

Separately, the Prime Minister while returning back to India spoke to reporters on the aircraft. “Concerns of the forces have been brought to the attention of the Government. The committee will look into all aspects of the problem,” he said.

Kayani’s generals
Pak army changes were inevitable

Ever since General Pervez Musharraf gave up his uniform, it was inevitable that the Pakistan Army top brass was in for a drastic overhaul. The much-anticipated changes finally came about on Tuesday when seven corps commanders were reshuffled and as many as 14 new senior appointments were made. Needless to say, the beneficiaries of the reshuffle are handpicked men of Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. With his men dominating the new set of commanders, he will be able to run the army with a firmer grip. While all appointments at this level are vital, the most significant is the replacement of Lieut-Gen Nadeem Taj with Lieut-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha as the new ISI chief. General Taj was not only close to Musharraf to whom he is related too, he was also one of those generals the US did not approve of, mainly because of the ISI’s close links with the Taliban extremists and militant groups active along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The US had been pressing for his ouster and reforms in the ISI for quite some time.

Washington had enough evidence that the agency was also linked with the July 7 suicide bombing on the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed 58 persons. To that extent, the ouster of General Taj would be welcome to Indian establishment. But it would be futile to expect any major departure in the ISI’s policy of bleeding India as much as possible. If at all the ISI lessens its involvement with militants, it will be vis-à-vis USA in Pakistan’s North-West.

Earlier, President Asif Ali Zardari had tried to put the shadowy agency under the control of the interior ministry. But the move was withdrawn after a protest by military establishment. General Kayani himself ran the ISI till October last year. General Pasha can be depended on to operate the ISI the way Kayani wants. Another significant factor is the stability of the nuclear-powered Pakistan. The political set-up is very weak today and the military is likely to play an increasingly active role in the days to come, Kayani’s avowed aim to distance it from politics notwithstanding.

Naval Chief’s wasn’t an act of defiance (Letters to Editor - Tribune)

Apropos of the editorial, “Uncalled for defiance” (Sept 30), at the outset the defence community is quite appreciative of the support The Tribune has extended to the Services in their struggle against injustice. However, this time the editorial has missed the mark. It’s precisely because the forces are subject to a strict disciplinary code and their voice muzzled that it is incumbent on the government to ascertain their requirements and address their concerns with alacrity.

Kautilya’s advice to Chandragupta Maurya (Arthashastra) is pertinent. In essence, he stated: “To the Mauryan soldier you owe a debt, O King! It is therefore, your duty to personally ensure that he continually gets all his dues. The day the soldier has to demand his dues…you will have lost all moral sanction to be King!”

The Review Committee’s disturbing parities and other misdemeanours have been duly exposed by The Tribune. When the three Service Chiefs represented to Defence Minister A.K. Antony, he did support them, but the redressal was deliberately delayed and the Services told to go ahead with implementing the report while an “Anomalies Committee” would look into these grave issues.

The stand of the Service Chiefs is entirely justified and enjoys widespread support from the defence personnel, retired and serving as well. Admiral Mehta has only informed his service personnel that their grievances are being addressed at appropriate levels to allay any misapprehensions in their minds. He has thus upheld the highest traditions of a serviceman — nation foremost, welfare of men under your Command next and your own comfort last. This is exactly the reverse of what multifarious scams reveal about the nation at large. The Admiral’s leadership is not only admirable but also admired.

Maj-Gen PUSHPENDRA SINGH (retd), Panchkula


The editorial criticising the Chief of Naval Staff is too harsh and uncalled for. Driven to the wall, he has rightly done his duty in consonance with the Army and Air Force Chiefs. Had the three Chiefs not represented the cause of the brave but faceless officers and jawans of the armed forces, they would have once again got a raw deal at the hands of the super babus sitting smugly in their air-conditioned offices.

Moreover, the Service Chiefs had repeatedly taken up the matter with the Defence Minister but to no avail. Their action was a last resort against the deaf ears of the babus and the politicians.

We in the armed forces, serving and retired, are proud that at last we have a troika of Chiefs, with real spine, who are more concerned about the men they command than themselves and who are not bothered about their post-retirement employment.

Col J.P. SINGH (retd), Chandigarh


Where is the defiance, What the three Service Chiefs did was absolutely correct. What kind of a country are we living in where neither the government nor the media understands the frustrations and anger of all ranks of the military as well as the military veterans. Do they have no rights?

Should they accept peanuts being doled out to them without protest just because they are disciplined in a sea of indiscipline and have borne all the ignominy heaped on them over decades by callous bureaucrats and political leaders? What the Service Chiefs did and correctly was to inform their commands, whose morale and welfare is their sacred responsibility, about the delay in implementation and the reasons thereof. Such actions have been taken on innumerable occasions in the past.

Lt-Gen VIJAY OBEROI (retd), Panchkula


The nation must understand that an Indian loses his/her fundamental rights under the Constitution on joining the defence forces in that they cannot form associations or unions (unlike the IAS and other civil services) to represent their points of view. It is, therefore. obligatory on the nation through the government to ensure that the defence forces get their due izzat which is measured in terms of money in India. If the government had done it earlier what they propose to do now, the present situation could have been avoided.

The three Service Chiefs head and represent one of the largest defence forces of the world. They are responsible for their welfare and morale. There is no parallel to this. Hence, the actions of the three Service Chiefs, of Admiral Mehta in particular, is absolutely correct and in order.

Col SHIVRAJ, New Delhi

The debt we owe the Gurkhas

Visiting the veterans of Britain's wars in their Nepali homes brings home how ungracious and ungrateful our government has been.

Joanna Lumley with Gurkhas outside the Hight Court: The debt we owe the Gurkhas
The Gurkhas have been supported in their campaigns in Britain by actress Joanna Lumley Photo: REUTERS

Lance Corporal Ram Bahadur Limbu won his Victoria Cross in a mostly forgotten war, the Indonesian Confrontation, in Borneo in 1965.

First, he charged a machine-gun nest, knocking it out with a hand grenade. Then he made two forays into open ground to rescue wounded comrades, and another to retrieve a Bren gun. He used it to charge down and kill what was left of the enemy.

When I decided to look up Lance Corporal Limbu a few years ago, it was a simple matter to find him – I just went to his hometown in eastern Nepal and asked for "VC".

Although his simple little cross, forged from a cannon captured at Sevastopol in 1855 and hung on a plain red ribbon, had been stolen with the rest of his luggage while he took the train home across India after leaving British service, he had been given a replacement. It was not his only connection to Britain: in his concrete house, off a narrow alley, he showed me the invitations he has received every 10 years for dinner at Buckingham Palace, as well as a photograph of himself and other VC holders with the Queen.

Many of the thousands of Gurkhas who served in the Second World War and in every British conflict since have never been to Britain. But the hills and plains of Nepal are scattered with men who have been steeped in our country's traditions for decades, and to whom we owe a profound debt.

A few miles down the road from Lance Corporal Limbu's house, I found a veteran of an earlier generation, living in a bamboo hut in a refugee camp. Lal Bahadur Rai was at Singapore when Lord Mountbatten received the Japanese surrender in 1945. He had a treasured bundle of press cuttings that included a photograph of Mountbatten and another of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen's mother. He uttered their names and repeated them with gravity and emphasis.

Like all of his colleagues who retired before 1997, when the Brigade of Gurkhas moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to Britain, Lal Bahadur's connection to the UK was deemed too tenuous for him to be allowed to live here – a judgment overturned this week by Mr Justice Blake. But Lal Bahadur voiced no sense of grievance. He was simply happy to be hosting a young Englishman in his hut.

In Nepal, the Gurkhas are a caste apart. Their numbers are drawn from several ethnic groups who live in the Himalayan foothills, making up much of the country's population. To other Nepalis, the families who serve in the British Army are known as "Lahures", after the city of Lahore, in modern Pakistan, where Nepali men went to join the British Indian Army in the 19th century.

The British started recruiting Gurkhas after they fought the East India Company to a standstill in the Anglo-Nepal war of 1814-16. In the 20th century, they fought almost everywhere the British Army went.

They were in the trenches of the First World War in France and Gallipoli, and with Lawrence of Arabia in the desert. In the Second World War they fought in North Africa, Europe and most famously in the horrific campaigns in the Burmese jungle, where they excelled at guerrilla warfare. Nine thousand of them died, and more than 2,700 were decorated for bravery. Their officers believed that their hardiness, discipline and courage made them among the finest infantry in the world.

When walking in the hills, signs of the Gurkhas' pride in this tradition – which has continued in recent years in Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan – are everywhere. In villages and towns, old soldiers decorate their houses with crossed khukuris – the common household tool they have made famous as "Gurkha knives" – with their regiment number beneath.

Once, on a hilltop facing the Himalayas, two days' walk from the nearest road, I came on a monument to a man who had died in the village below. It was decorated with two crossed khukuris and the figure II, for the 2nd Gurkha Rifles. Perhaps, if he was old enough, the man was among those captured by the Japanese when both battalions of the regiment were trapped as Singapore fell in 1942.

Not long before I met Lance Corporal Limbu, another man known as "VC" had died in the nearby town of Dharan, which was built around an old British army depot. He, too, was a local celebrity, and the townspeople filled the streets for his funeral.

Naik (the equivalent of "corporal") Agansing Rai won his VC fighting the Japanese near the India-Burma border in 1944. "Under withering fire the naik and his party charged a machine gun, he himself killing three of the crew," his citation reads." The first position having been taken, he then led a dash on a machine-gun firing from the jungle, where he killed three of the crew, his men accounting for the rest. He subsequently tackled an isolated bunker single-handed, killing all four occupants. The enemy were now so demoralised that they fled and the second post was recaptured."

Such tales of valour have spawned a whole genre of military histories, often written by retired British officers. They have also been used as propaganda: during the Falklands War, a photo of Gurkhas queuing at a grindstone to sharpen their khukuris was released to the Chilean media. As hoped, it found its way to Argentina.

But the Gurkhas pay a price for such a reputation. So strong is their bond with Britain that they often fail to reintegrate into Nepalese life. Although they are admired within their own communities, many Nepalis regard them as half-foreign. Most have learnt useful skills, but rarely find employment in Nepal. Many set up their own businesses, or take work in shipping or in troublespots abroad.

In view of all this, the ungenerous policy of the British government became increasingly unpopular and embarrassing. As the Gurkha rights movement developed over the last decade, the Ministry of Defence quibbled. Retired servicemen formed organisations to press claims for better pensions, terms of service that matched other soldiers, and the right to settle in Britain when they retired. They took the MoD to court again and again, and in most cases they won.

The MoD repeatedly offered limited concessions that were rejected by veterans. In 2006, it was said that Gurkhas could settle in Britain, but only if they had retired after 1997. Under public pressure, the Home Office began allowing "pre-1997" Gurkhas to settle in Britain, but only if they could get here first. As the farce continued, the British embassy in Kathmandu started refusing even tourist visas to veterans, because they knew the Home Office would let them stay.

As Gurkhas typically retire at 35, most of the men who take advantage of the new ruling will still be of working age. But it will be of little help to those living in the greatest hardship. During the Second World War, tens of thousands were recruited, then discharged when peace came. Those who are still alive, well into their eighties, live in villages across the hills, often without access to roads, water or electricity.

I met one such man at the Hindu temple in Dharan. His wife was sick, and he could not afford medicine to treat her. In his ragged clothes, he had come to sacrifice a chicken and pray for her recovery instead.

There are around 10,500 old men like him who were honourably discharged, but did not serve long enough to qualify for a full pension. They receive a "welfare pension" of £24 a month from the Gurkha Welfare Trust, which relies on private donations. This goes further in Nepal than it would in Britain – but it is not enough. For these men, even a bus to town can be a crippling expense. Flying to Britain would be out of the question, even if they wanted to.

There are also longer-term problems. Some British officers complain that if the Gurkhas keep suing the MoD and winning better pay and conditions, they will price themselves out of the market.

For its part, Nepal's Maoist government has said it would like to stop foreign military recruitment, but only once Nepal's economy can support its own people. Yet while young British men continue to shun the army, leaving it perpetually below-strength, and while Nepal remains mired in crippling poverty, neither outcome seems likely.

Indeed, this year, as every year, at least 14,000 young men will be starting their training up in the hills, hoping to win one of the 230 jobs available each recruitment season. Despite its complications, the relationship between the British and the Gurkhas looks set to last well into its third century.

Antony urges prompt disbursement of pension to veterans

New Delhi, Oct 1 (PTI) Defence Minister A K Antony today called for prompt disbursal of pension to two million ex-servicemen in the country and redressal of their grievances to ensure high satisfaction levels.
"The Defence Accounts Department (DAD) has to ensure that the benefits introduced for pensioners from time to time by the government are delivered to them promptly, efficiently and in right measure," Antony said at the annual day celebrations of DAD here today.

The aim of the DAD should be 100 per cent satisfaction levels of pensioners in all services provided by it, Antony said and added that it was a difficult feat, but could be achieved with focus and hard work.

Urging DAD officials to continue exhibiting high degree of responsiveness to redress grievances of its valued customers, Antony wanted them to ensure that a complaint redressal apparatus was fully functional for providing optimal satisfaction.

He also asked the DAD officials to introduce accrual accounting system for efficient assets management of the defence services.

Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju, in his speech, asked the DAD officials to increase their professionalism, while complimenting them for holding "pension adalats" across the country to reach out to pensioners.

Controller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, Coast Guard Director General Vice Admiral R F Contractor, Financial Advisor (Defence Services) H K Pannu and Controller General of Defence Accounts Bulbul Gosh were present on the occasion. PTI

India targets defence industry
By Shilpa Kannan
India Business Report, BBC World

On the outskirts of Delhi, construction is in full swing at the Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS) manufacturing plant.

The tall, glass and steel structure will soon produce armoured vehicles for the country's defence forces, making it India's first private sector plant dedicated to making military vehicles.

MDS, a division of tractor and utility firm Mahindra & Mahindra, is one of a number of local and foreign firms that hope to benefit as India takes steps to develop its fledgling defence industry.

Currently the bulk of Indian military hardware is sourced from overseas and a handful of state firms, but by 2020 the Ministry of Defence hopes to acquire 70% of defence equipment from indigenous sources.

The drive comes as India is increasing its defence budget to modernise its armed forces. Defence spending totalled $19bn (£10.6bn) in the last financial year and is expected to exceed $30bn by 2012.

Attracting investors

India began opening up its defence industry in 2001 when the government first allowed private sector participation and some foreign investment.

Indian companies really have to pull their socks up
MM Pallam Raju, India's defence minister

But private firms largely stayed away, with the exception of a few companies like L&T, Kirloskar and MDS.

In October, laws came into effect which will make it easier for Indian and foreign companies to invest in the country's defence industry

The 2008 Defence Procurement Act aims to make the industry more transparent and means companies will no longer need a license from the government to manufacture defence-related goods.

Overseas interest

Overseas companies are keen to invest in the sector even though current rules state they cannot take more than a 26% stake in an Indian defence firm.

India has an army of 1.1 million, a navy of 47,000 and the world's fourth largest air force of 120,000.

BAE Systems, the UK's largest defence firm, has applied to India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board for permission to set up a joint venture with MDS to produce vehicles and artillery equipment.

MDS would have a controlling 51% stake, with BAE holding the remainder.

Brigadier Khutub Hai, of the Mahindra group that controls MDS, says that the joint venture would allow it to bid for major multi-billion dollar defence projects, which would then be built in Mahindra facilities in India.

The plant currently being built by the firm could also become part of BAE's global supply chain, he adds.

Buyer to maker

India's Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju says that India is in the process of switching from being almost exclusively a buyer of military equipment to becoming a manufacturer in its own right.

He adds that Indian defence firms should benefit from a new "offset" policy that requires foreign suppliers of defence equipment to source components and other goods from Indian companies.

However, he said that the 26% ceiling on foreign direct investment will likely remain in place.

"Indian companies really have to pull their socks up, pick up on their capabilities and get their partnerships together," he said.

New business

InfoTech Enterprises, which provides engineering design, is another company that hopes to benefit as India opens up its defence industry.

About 97% of the firm's revenues come from orders from big aerospace firms like Boeing, Dassault, Pratt & Whitney and Bombardier.

Existing clients have promised the firm more work once they start to fulfil the offset policy requirements and must source more components in India, says BVR Mohan Reddy, chairman and managing director of InfoTech.

The company, which has nearly 8000 employees, is opening two more facilities outside Delhi as they expect their business to boom.

With the modernisation of India's armed forces expected to present defence companies with opportunities exceeding $100bn in the coming decades, it's clear that Indian firms are preparing to claim their fair share.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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