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Friday, 3 October 2008

From Today's Papers - 03 Oct




















No discrimination

This refers to "Extreme step" (September 30). The editorial contains factual inaccuracies, in as much as para three states that, "The crux of defence forces' grievance has to do with the manner in which they have been downgraded in relation to civil services. A Lt Colonel who drew Rs 800 more than his civilian counterpart now draws Rs 11,000 less. Similarly, other bands have been created which put even higher-level officers at a disadvantage vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts." The factual position is that as per the established equivalence between civilian personnel and the defence forces, a Lt Colonel is equated with a Junior Administrative Grade (Deputy Secretary level) officer in the Civil Services. The Sixth Central Pay Commission had granted identical grade pay to both of them and placed them in pay band PB-3. The government has enhanced the grade pay for both Lt Colonels and JAG officers from Rs 6,600 to Rs 7,600. Both continue in PB-3. Apart from this, in comparison to his civilian counterpart, a Lt Colonel will get Rs 6,000 plus extra DA in the form of Military Service Pay (MSP). Therefore, it is not understood, how a Lt Colonel is getting Rs 11,000 less than his civilian counterpart, that is aJAG officer.

Also, it is incorrect to say that other pay bands that have been created have put higher level officers at a disadvantage vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. As per established equations, a Major General is equated with a Joint Secretary and a Lt. General with an Additional Secretary. The Pay Commission recommended and the government approved identical grade pays for both Joint Secretaries-Major Generals and Additional Secretaries -Lt Generals. In addition, the MSP of Rs 6,000 which is granted upto the level of Brigadier will be added to the basic pay of a Major General on his promotion from the level of Brigadier. Hence, a Major General's basic pay at the start will be Rs 6,000 more than that of his civilian counterpart, that is a Joint Secretary. A Major General will carry this advantage on his promotion as Lt General since both these ranks are in the same running pay band PB-4. An attempt has been made to confuse the issue by saying that "other pay bands have been created". Actually, no new pay bands have been created.

A new replacement pay scale HAG+ has been created by the government for DG (Police), GM (Railways), members of Revenue Boards, etc., who were in a higher pay scale compared to the Lt General and the Additional Secretary even prior to the Sixth Pay Commission. HAG+ is not a new pay scale, it was there under Fifth CPC scale as Rs 24,050-26,000 and under Fourth CPC scale as Rs 7,600-8,000. This scale was applicable for IPS, Indian Forest Service and Group A Services and had never been granted to either IAS or defence forces. Status quo, therefore, continues and it is incorrect to say that defence services have been downgraded.

BS Chauhan, Addl. DG (M&C) Ministry of Finance

(The perception of the armed forces, as represented to the government, is different from what is stated in this letter, and was reflected in our editorial comment. In its representation to the government, the defence services have said that all pay commissions (including the sixth) have equated lieutenant colonels with directors (not deputy secretaries), and that directors have now been put in a higher pay band. The representation also says that armed forces officers at all levels below joint secretary have been lowered by one rung, as compared to civil services. Further, it has been represented that lieutenant generals draw a relativity with director-generals of police, who have been placed in the HAG+ scale, whereas lieutenant generals have not. The issue of Rs 800 more becoming Rs 11,000 less is also as represented by the defence forces. —



Pay Hike
AV Singh panel report before Cabinet today
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, October 2
After agreeing to look into the demands of the armed forces over parity in pay hikes, another bonanza awaits them as the UPA government is all set to put its formal stamp of approval on the A.V. Singh Committee report which has recommended the creation of more senior-level posts in the three services to improve promotional avenues and remove stagnation.

The matter is listed for approval at tomorrow’s weekly meeting of the Union Cabinet. The government had accepted the report some time ago, but it had not been implemented as it was awaiting a formal nod from the Cabinet. Just last month, defence minister A.K. Antony had admitted that senior-level promotions in the armed forces had been “unduly delayed”, but had assured the services that the Centre intended to implement the second part of the A.V. Singh Committee report at the earliest.

If the report is implemented without any changes, the Army will get 95 more posts of Major-General and above, the Air Force will have 38 more slots of Air Vice Marshal and above while the Navy’s will get 23 more posts of rear Admirals and Vice-Admirals. The first part of the committee report which dealt with quicker promotions up to the rank of Colonel and equivalent was accepted in 2004 while the second part of the report contains recommendations on the promotion of officers between ranks of Brigadier to Lt-General, and their equivalents in the Navy and Air Force.

According to the report, the Army will see a quantum jump of 222 new posts of Brigadiers while the Navy will get a combined total of 324 posts for Captain and Commodore, and the Air Force around 476 new posts of Air Commodore and Group Captain.

The Centre hopes the implementation of these proposals will help stem the steady exodus of middle-level officers from the armed forces. It is estimated that the three services get as many as 1,000 applications from officers seeking premature retirement while the number of fresh recruits is steadily decreasing. “The idea is to make the services more attractive,” remarked a senior UPA minister.

The Centre’s on promotions comes at a time when it was virtually locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the chiefs of the three services over parity of pay scales of the armed forces. The government quickly set up a three-member panel headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee to look into their grievances after the chiefs decided not to accept the implementation of the sixth pay commission recommendations.

While the service chiefs came in for criticism for their show of defiance, defence minister Antony subsequently admitted that their concerns are genuine and the problems and anomalies pointed out by the armed forces would be looked into by the government.





Pak now has right to seek nuclear deal: PM Gilani
Press Trust of India / Islamabad October 02, 2008, 14:25 IST

With the US Congress giving its nod to the civil nuclear deal with India, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today indicated that the country may seek a similar arrangement with its close ally China.

"Pakistan will now make efforts for a civil nuclear deal and they (the world community) will have to accommodate us," Gilani told reporters in his hometown of Multan, soon after the Indo-US nuclear deal was approved by the US Senate today.

Stressing that there was "no need to worry", Gilani said, "Now that the civil nuclear deal with India has been finalised, Pakistan will have the right to ask for a similar deal because we do not want there to be any discrimination."

Asked if Pakistan would seek nuclear technology and know-how from China, Gilani said Beijing and Islamabad had a "unique relationship" that was a "time-tested and all-weather friendship".

"Very soon the President (Asif Ali Zardari) and myself will be visiting China. Our cooperation is not limited to any one field (and we have) multi-dimensional cooperation. It is not only government-to- government friendship, it is people-to-people friendship with China. Our cooperation in defence will increase," he said.

Commenting on Pakistan's relatios with its immidiate neighbours, India and Afghanistan, Gilani said, "We should have a joint strategy to bring prosperity and progress to this region and to provide security to the people."

"Pakistan is holding talks with India to resolve outstanding issues and there have been several meetings between the top leaders of the two countries," he said.



Pak terror war turns ugly
It was with jihadist zeal that Pakistan's tribal people set out in 1947 to 'liberate' Kashmir, a princely state whose Maharaja refused to join either India or Pakistan during the partition.It was with jihadist zeal that Pakistan's tribal people set out in 1947 to 'liberate' Kashmir, a princely state whose Maharaja refused to join either India or Pakistan during the partition. Since then, their mission has been reviled by the Indians who allege they raped and looted the Kashmiris on their botched march towards Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. But the Pakistanis hold them in high esteem. They recall how the tribals, armed only with an unshakeable faith in God and 303 rifles, helped liberate at least a third of Kashmir. Pakistan's history honours them as heroes.

But in their new jihad (holy war), they are branded as 'terrorists' -- a label made in the USA. The Pakistani government has bought this label wholesale to tag every person whom the George W. Bush administration identifies as an Islamic militant or a jihadist. As a result, Pakistan's tribal people, who defended the country with their lives against the Indians and, later, the Russians, feel dejected, for their government has now turned its guns against them, at the command of the United States. Their crime: they support their Afghan brethren who are fighting an occupation force and with whom they share a common religion, common language, common Pashtoon culture and a common heritage. Since President Bush launched his war on terror in October 2001, Pakistan has been afflicted by crisis after crisis with civilians, especially those living in the tribal areas, suffering the worst consequences.

The deliberate killing of civilians or non-combatants in any conflict is an act of terrorism. Definitely, the militants who carry out wanton acts of suicide bombings qualify to be called terrorists as they show little or no regard for civilians.

What about the State which also shows little or no regard for civilians when it takes on "terrorist" targets? One cannot absolve a State of the responsibility for killing civilians and accept its claim that it did not know that civilians could be killed in an attack.

The killing of 90 civilians, including 60 children, in a single US air strike in a highly-populated village in Afghanistan's Herat province in August, and now the almost daily killing of civilians in US air raids on Pakistan's tribal areas are, from the victims' point of view, acts of terror. But for some reason or the other, when civilians try to brand an act by a state as an act of terror, the label does not stick.

Surely, to an impartial judge, an act of terror is an act of terror, whether it is committed by an individual, a militant group or a State. Can one accept the argument that civilian deaths are a price worth paying in the war on terror, which the Bush administration has succeeded in projecting as a greater cause, though it is nothing but an unholy war waged on behalf of the capitalists, the Zionists and the armagaddonists? The Bush administration downplayed the civilian deaths as collateral damage when the United States military dropped all those bunker-busters and Daisy Cutters on Afghanistan and Iraq.

Norman Solomon, a free media commentator, in an article published in the Free and Accurate in Reporting (FAIR) website (www.fair.org/media-beat/980827.html) under the heading "Orwellian Logic 101 -- A Few Simple Lessons," said:

"When people decry civilian deaths caused by the US. government, they're aiding propaganda efforts. In sharp contrast, when civilian deaths are caused by bombers who hate America, the perpetrators are evil and those deaths are tragedies. When they put bombs in cars and kill people, they're uncivilized killers. When we put bombs on missiles and kill people, we're upholding civilized values. When they kill, they're terrorists."

A report compiled in 2002 by New Hampshire University Professor Marc W. Herold on the civilian deaths in Afghanistan says that from October 2001 to March 2002, some 3,400 Afghan civilians died in US attacks - more than the number killed in the 9/11 attacks. The professor in his report, backed by 89 footnotes, has included the following comment made by a US officer aboard the aircraft carrier, Carl Vinson: "A 2,000 lb. bomb, no matter where you drop it, is a significant emotional event for anyone within a square mile."

Another paragraph in the report read: "When U.S. warplanes strafed [with AC-130 gunships] the farming village of Chowkar-Karez, 25 miles north of Kandahar on October 22-23rd, killing at least 93 civilians, a Pentagon official said, 'the people there are dead because we wanted them dead.' The reason: They sympathized with the Taliban. When asked about the Chowkar incident, [US Defence Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld replied, 'I cannot deal with that particular village.'"

Such is the callous disregard shown by so-called civilized nations for civilian deaths. In the light of the remorseless barbarism practised by states, the war on terror has assumed a new definition that this war is nothing but a conflict where both sides engage in acts of terror with impunity.

Delving deeper into state culpability in civilian killings, one also cannot dismiss the role played by state intelligence agencies in planning and executing bomb attacks for propaganda purposes or to destabilize the enemy country. The recent Marriot Hotel bombing in Islamabad is a case in point. To zero in on the culprits, it is worthwhile asking "who would benefit from it?" instead of "whodunnit".

Who stands to benefit from destabilizing Pakistan? Probably the United States, which wants to destabilize Pakistan first and then lay its hands on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, which may be a threat to Isreal. Then there is India, which seeks to destabilize Pakistan and would be the happiest if the US denuclearizes the world's first Muslim nuclear-weapons state. So one cannot rule out RAW in the Marriot bombing.

A conspiracy theorist would not even spare the ISI, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence or at least some pro-Taleban elements in the ISI, as the Bush administration alleges, in the Marriot bombing. The theory goes like this: The Zardari government has allowed the US to set up a command centre on the Marriot Hotel's fourth and fifth floors. The Army, however, had reservations about this. In spite of the Army's objections, American military and communications equipment in steel boxes was unloaded at the Marriot hotel the night before the bombing. A Pakistani government parliamentarian had witnessed the midnight operation that was carried out under tight security and has called for a probe. So one cannot rule out pro-Taleban ISI guys in the Marriot bombing.

The amount of explosives - some 600 to 1,000 kilos - used in the truck bomb leads to two conclusions. One: the terrorists, whoever they are, have enough explosives. Two: they are being supplied by an outside source - possibly RAW, or the CIA, or some elements in the ISI or even another country's intelligence agency.

It is no secret that the ISI and the government of President Asif Zardari have differences of opinion with regard to matters of security. The Army recently resisted moves by the Zardari government to bring the ISI under the Interior Ministry or civilian control. The government backed off when the Army resisted. It is also no secret that the Army and the Zardari government differed over the approaches to the conduct of military operations in Pakistan's tribal areas. While the Army exercises more prudence in fighting Bush's war on terror, which is very unpopular among the Pakistanis, Zardari appears to be a willing-and-bowing partner in doing Bush's bidding, though he made perfunctory remarks condemning US highhandedness. "We don't hunt with the hound and run with the hare, which is what (Pervez) Musharraf was doing," Zardari told the New York Times last week, indicating his willingness to go along with the Bush plan, which includes striking terror targets in Pakistan without the permission of the government of Pakistan. Zardari's statement is also an endorsement of Bush's claim that Pakistan is the third front in the war on terror, the first two being Afghanistan and Iraq. As soon as Zardari returned from the United States after addressing the UN General Assembly and meeting US policymakers, including CIA chief Michael Hayden, the Pakistan Army announced the appointment of a new head for the ISI. Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, formerly head of military operations, has been appointed Director-General of the ISI, replacing Lieutenant-General Nadeem Taj.

Unlike Zardari, the Pakistani military is guarded in its response to the demands of the United States. The Pakistani Army has done a commendable job in the terror hunt. They claimed this week that more than 1,000 Taleban militants had been killed in an ongoing operation in the tribal areas. Yet, the US has been unhappy over the yield. Moreover, the recent exchange of fire involving US and Pakistani troops in tribal areas along the Afghan border showed that the Army was opposed to offering a carte blanche to the US to carry out its military operations within Pakistan. All this shows a deepening divide between Pakistan's political establishment and the military.




Look Across The Border
3 Oct 2008, 0107 hrs IST, K P S Gill
Despite some evidence of a minimal policy response to the crisis generated by the latest spate of terrorist attacks across India — in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi — the reality remains that the reaction is still largely confined to shrill and partisan denunciation of largely symbolic policy proposals. What has been missed is a progressive marginalisation in our calculus of what Pakistan's Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI), the prime mover in all this, is trying to do. The overwhelming discourse has now focused on the supposed 'indigenisation' of so-called jihad, and on a range of measures, including harsher laws and the creation of new agencies for their implementation, which would be directed principally against our own citizens.

An incoherence of ideas continues to advance a false construct of 'Islamic' or 'Islamist' terrorism, while the reality is that, in both Afghanistan and India, what we are experiencing is, quite simply, ISI terrorism. This reality is, in no way, diluted by the fact that some of the perpetrators of terrorism are Indian citizens, with affiliation to extremist organisations created on Indian soil.

It is crucial that this reality be factored into our policy framework. While the improvement of security and intelligence on Indian soil is necessary, it is useful to recall the Irish Republican Army's admonition: "Remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always." Unless the fountainhead of terror is capped, there will always be a module that gets lucky, especially when the targets they seek are the softest and most vulnerable.

The core question, then, is, how does India tackle the ISI and the enduring Pakistani intention of harnessing terrorism to secure its own strategic goals? It is necessary to understand the precise contours of Pakistan's intent and objectives: the ISI and its terrorist proxies in India seek to recruit increasing numbers of Indians to carry out their dictates. To this end, they have created a network for ideological mobilisation and recruitment, both in India and abroad. They have also created networks of exfiltration, training and infiltration that allow recruits to be 'processed' on Bangladeshi or Pakistani soil, and redeployed in India after their 'preparation' has been completed. The ISI provides safe havens within Pakistan and platforms outside the country to terrorist groups.

It provides finances and other aid to these groups require across India. The ISI helps coordinate relationships and operational collaboration between various terrorist groups.

It also helps create fake human right groups who abuse the legitimate processes available in the country to embarrass security forces and induce paralysis in the intelligence and enforcement apparatus.

It helps build up a political and intellectual constituency in the media, legal and non- governmental fraternities, which will run to the defence of terrorist groups. It assiduously seeks to legitimise terrorist actions internationally by projecting 'Muslim grievances' and 'Indian atrocities' through its diplomatic channels, and through intellectual and non-governmental proxies. In all this, the ISI appears to have a life of its own, independent of the political scenario in Pakistan. Whether a military dictatorship or a supposed democratic dispensation presides in Islamabad, this enterprise continues uninterrupted.

This strategy of the ISI has had, at best, very limited success. Indians have responded in a mature manner, and have not flared up in the aftermath of major terrorist strikes, except on occasion — despite often provocative reportage by the electronic media. It would, however, be a mistake to be complacent on this count. A section of the political spectrum — and the media — has tended to demonise particular communities, and communal attitudes do find acceptance among significant segments of the population. Such attitudes may, at some time, cross the threshold of tolerance — and this would be the saddest day for the country.

Worse, there are many aspects of current policy and practice that worsen the communal situation. After each major incident, there is an expectation of immediate arrests of perpetrators, and this has, on more than one occasion, goaded the police into indiscriminate arrests or detentions.

There is also a proclivity, even among the most secular, to expect Muslims as a community to 'oppose terrorism'. But this is a communal trap that feeds the community's sense of siege, marginalisation and alienation, even as its leaders start apologising or issuing public statements and fatwas. It is no more the duty of Muslims to oppose terrorism and to cooperate with counterterrorism efforts of the authorities than it is of any other community. The Muslims do not have to, and should never be asked to, prove their loyalty and good faith any more than any other citizen of India.

The ISI's strategy of subversion and terror in India has been enormously sophisticated, and our responses will have to be far more sophisticated, if they are to be effective. This is a protracted war, and no quick solutions are available. We have to develop the assets and infrastructure for a war against ISI terror over a time frame of two to three decades. Wherever ISI centres exist, these should be targeted covertly. Tactically, we must make the ISI insecure in Pakistan itself. Through direct policy, diplomacy and collaborative initiatives with other countries, unbearable costs must be imposed on Pakistan, eventually forcing it to abandon terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

The writer is a former DGP, Punjab.




NCC cadets can fill armed forces' officer shortage: Raju

New Delhi, Oct 2 (PTI) With the three armed forces of the country facing a shortage of nearly 15,000 officers, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju today said the National Cadets Corps (NCC) will be able to fill up the vacancies.
"NCC cadets are joining the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and other armed forces training institutions in large numbers. Every year, their numbers are increasing. I think they can be used to fill up the shortage of officers in the Army, Navy and Air Force," Raju said, after attending a 'Sankalp Rally' of over 7,000 cadets near India Gate here.

Terming the NCC cadets as a powerful instrument for spreading awareness in the country, he said NCC cadets have been involved in spreading awareness on issues like AIDS, drug abuse, cancer and anti-female foeticide, and should be used to promote awareness over all social issues.

He said the perfomance of NCC cadets in sports was also commendable in the recent past at various levels. "NCC cadets are doing very well in field of sports. NCC cadets have done very well at the international- and national-level shooting championships," he said.

Looking at the potential of NCC, the government has decided to increase the number of cadets from the current 13 lakh to 15 lakh from this year, the minister added.

The process of recruitment of new cadets was in progress throughout the country, NCC Director General Lt Gen Prakash Chaudhary said.

Referring to the reach and role of NCC, Chuadhary said: "NCC cadets are present in almost each and every district of the country. With nationalistic values in our cadets, they can play a big role in spreading communal harmony." Nearly 7,000 NCC cadets took the pledge to maintain and promote communal harmony at the "Sankalp Rally." PTI





Defence forces wage war for wages
CNN-IBN
MILITARY MIGHT: The Army says the issue is not about money, but about the Armed Forces' honour.

It's perhaps the biggest victory for the Indian military in the recent times. An almost embarrassing eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the defence forces and the Government over parity in pay hikes ended with the soldiers claiming victory.

But at what cost?

The Government, which is accused of being soft on terror, would be loathe to be seen as opposing the interests of soldiers, making it vulnerable in the military agitation.

The brass hats first welcomed the Pay Commission deal before doing an about turn.

The impression that the forces were defying the Government and using ex-servicemen in political-style campaigns made the establishment distinctly uncomfortable.

So are the soldiers arm-twisting the Government? Following is a look at the disparity between the pay of a soldier and a bureaucrat. (All salaries calculated on per month basis.)

A Cabinet secretary is paid Rs 1,03,000 while the service chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force are paid Rs 90,000. A secretary gets Rs 90,000 as salary and a commander in the armed forces get Rs 80,000. Rs 70,000 is the salary for an additional secretary when a colonel has to be satisfied with just Rs 52,700. A joint secretary is paid Rs 60,000 while a lieutenant colonel is just paid Rs 25,200

To debate the issue on Face the Nation were Former chief of navy staff Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat; ex-Army officer, now the CEO of Fireball Group of Companies Capt Ravee and former secretary to Government India, U C Agarwal.

Does the protest by the Forces indicate that civilian control over military – a basic tenet of democracy – is under threat?

Bhagwat said it was an interesting question given that the definition of civilian control had been distorted by vested interests. "Civilian control is the accountability of Cabinet to Parliament which is supreme. It pertains to issues of war and peace and not to matters of administration which are vested to Parliament by the Defence Services Regulation 1957. So this term has been bandied about so loosely that we've got stories of defiance and of control heads of service. This amounts to disservice to nation," he said.

It's all about the money?

However, the fact remains there was a Cabinet directive that three chiefs decided to not obey. It was the first time in Indian history that service chiefs decided to refuse an order taken by the Government of the day.

Was there no solution to the stand-off? Could this eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation have been avoided? When asked, Bhagwat sounded another warning and reminded how Vajpayee government lost its vote of confidence on a similar issue. "Cabinet is not the final body in this country. Parliament is," he said.

Looking at the turn of events, it seems the issue has become more of a battle of egos between bureaucrats and the military. The logic looks simple: If a chief secretary gets a salary benefit why not an Army officer, who's a part of the highest-paid government service. However, Captain Ravee countered the argument with an interesting logic.

"I don't visualise that officers join the military for money. They join Army for its charm and pride. Because of this disparity, the levels and protocol is going down. I am proud to say I did not know my first salary, I did not know majorly about my last either," he said, saying the manner in which the Forces were agitating was right.

U C Agarwal responded to that argument. He said the Pay Commission had decided on the comparative salary status after having looked into all details. "It is not one service that runs the country. It's various services," he said. Agarwal said while what the Forces got was right, the way they got it wasn't "proper".

Admiral Bhagwat responded by arguing the Pay Commission was supposed to include a member of the Force. "After the report was presented there was a 40 members anomalies committee and while all services were represented, not a single uniformed officer was part of it," he complained.

But Agarwal said every service could not be represented in the Pay Commission. This led to a war of words between Agarwal and Bhagwat who argued the Forces were the largest paid service of the Government and merited the representation. "When the smallest services could be represented, the armed forces deserved to be there," he said, pointing the Government got it wrong all along – be it the constitution of the Pay Commission or the Anomalies Commission. "Defence is a national institution that shouldn't be trifled," he said.

Pay more, get more

Bhagwat insisted the service chiefs weren't protesting and that they had taken the step in good discipline, to keep up the morale.

This is the time when armed forces are being utilised for not just protecting and taking care of the borders but also in insurgencies and law and order situations. Hence, representatives of the Forces feel they should be paid extra. But Agarwal said oranges shouldn't be compared with apples. "No one is questioning the services of the Defence personnel. They are doing a great service to the nation – be it in Himalayas or in deserts. But other services like the Railways too are important," he said.

There is a perpetual fear that the exodus from the ranks would continue – and perhaps even escalate – if corrective measures aren't taken. Capt Ravee said the problem of attrition was already big enough. "There are 15,000-18,000 officers short. If no one joins, who will defend the country?" he asked, stating a lieutenant in the Army knows he won't make it easily to the next rank as the parameters for selection were narrow.

But at a time when the Government is struggling to deal with terrorism, have Armed forces exploited a weak spot and brought them to accepting their demands? Admiral Bhagwat had the last word on the show. He said the issue was not of money. "It's about honour of the Forces, parity, justice and non-discrimination. The Armed forces have been called out 1,200 times for civilian purposes," he said.

Results of SMS/Web poll:

So are the soldiers arm-twisting the Government?

Yes: 26 per cent

No: 74 per cent




Russia to Deliver MIG 29K Fighter Jets to India in 2009
Dated 1/10/2008

Russia will start deliveries of MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier fighters to India in the spring of 2009. Russia and India signed a contract on January 20, 2004, stipulating the delivery of 12 single-seater MiG-29K and four two-seater MiG-29KUB by 2009, to be deployed on the Admiral Gorshkov, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy.

"The first four MiG-29K aircraft will be delivered to India in the spring of 2009," said Mikhail Globenko, marketing director of MiG. The MiG official said that there was an option in the contract to supply an additional 30 fighters by 2015 and the company was in talks with the Indian Navy on exercising this option.

"We are ready to exercise this option and it all now depends on the Indian side," Globenko said. He also said that Indian pilots started on Monday a five-month training course for MiG-29K in Russia and technical personnel had already been training in Russia for two months. "By the time the first aircraft arrive in India, their pilots and technicians will be ready," the Russian official said.




Prompt Pension Dispersal to Two Million Ex-Servicemen
Dated 1/10/2008

Defence Minister Shri AK Antony has urged the Defence Accounts Department to render prompt and efficient pensionary services to over 2 million ex-servicemen and their dependents. Addressing the Annual Day Celebrations of Defence Accounts Department in New Delhi today, Shri Antony said that during the last couple of years the Government has introduced several measures towards the welfare of Defence Pensioners.

He said the Defence Accounts Department (DAD) has to ensure that the benefits introduced for the Defence Pensioners from time to time by the Government are delivered to the intended beneficiaries promptly, efficiently and in the right measure. The Defence Minister said the Department must continue to exhibit high degree of responsiveness to redress the grievances of its valued customers and ensure that a complaint redressal apparatus is fully functional for providing optimal satisfaction to them.

Complimenting DAD for its comprehensive computerization, integration of its assigned functions across the Defence Services and integrated systems audit, the Defence Minister said all out efforts should be made to develop and implement all the modules initiated under 'Mission Excel IT' with utmost urgency. Shri Antony said General useful Management Information System reports and rendering correct financial advice are other key areas of importance of DAD. While reiterating the relevance of traditional method of audit, the Defence Minister said the Department will also need to explore emerging challenges such as audit through computers. Not only should the DAD be professional, fair, honest and efficient but also it should be seen to be so, and endeavouring to be so, the Minister added.

The Minister of State for Defence Shri MM Pallam Raju commended that DAD is holding pension Adalats regularly in different parts of the country to reach out the pensioners and resolve their grievances. He asked the officials to increase professionalism in the core functions of the Department. "Benchmarking your services to the international standard is no longer an option but has become an administrative imperative", Shri Pallam Raju said.

Earlier, Shri Antony gave away All India Defence Accounts Department Awards for Excellence Under the Motivation Scheme for the year 2008. The office of Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions), Allahabad, Office of Principal Controller of Defence Accounts, Kolkata and the Office of the Controller General of Defence Accounts (Administration Section), New Delhi were the three winners under the all India category.

Comptroller and Auditor General of India Shri Vinod Rai, Minister of State for Defence Shri MM Pallam Raju, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor, Vice Admiral RF Contractor, DG Coast Guard, Mrs Bulbul Ghosh, Controller General of Defence Accounts, Mrs HK Pannu, Financial Advisor Defence Services and several other senior civil and military officials also attended the Annual Day programme.



Letters to the Editor - Tribune

What the Naval Chief did was correct

This is in response to the editorial, “Uncalled for defiance” (Sept 30). The three Service Chiefs took this step only after exhausting all other means. But for the action of Service Chiefs, do you seriously believe the Committee of Ministers to look into grievances would have come into existence? The answer is a big No. The editorial criticises the three Service Chiefs for their actions (which is not defiance but only a hint).

That they have put their own careers at stake shows the difficult situations they are in. They cannot let down this country which can be a possibility if simmering discontent in the defence forces is not addressed. They could have very well meekly agreed to the government’s proposals and gone on to become Governors and Ambassadors after retirement.

Wg-Cdr P.P.S. BAINS (retd), Jalandhar

II

Half-hearted assurances and broken promises tantamount to deceit. And deceit ultimately breeds defiance. The Tribune editorial (Sept 30) brings to mind a case of collective defiance by the US Armed Forces Veterans (that is how the pensioned soldiers are called in the US) sometime in 1930s.

The Veterans felt generally neglected by the country and deceived by the bureaucracy. It led to what came to be called the Veterans March. They gathered in Washington in very large numbers. They decided to march to the White House to personally confront their Commander-in-Chief of the broken promises.

The considered assessment of the situation was that even Veterans could turn into a mob. In a meeting at the Pentagon, General Douglas McArthur was sounded that he should be prepared to resort to firing as the last option.

General McArthur’s unequivocal response was that “no serving soldier of the US Armed Forces would ever point the gun leave aside pull the trigger at the Veterans” or words to that effect.

There is a lesson here to learn from. Let us please not deceive the armed forces any more. For, they are the best, they are loyal, they are the most disciplined body anywhere, and they are highly motivated to fight even foes with superior state-of-the-art weaponry.

Lt-Gen BALJIT SINGH (retd), Chandigarh

III

It is very rare that the three Service Chiefs make requests to the government so repeatedly on any issue as in the case of constituting and recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission. This is due to the deliberate downgrading of the defence services over a period of 30-40 years, time and again, whenever a pay commission was constituted.

The Chiefs are duty-bound to stand up to the blatant discrimination by the bureaucracy to see through its game in case they have to maintain the morale and the fighting spirit of the forces.

As you are fully aware, the defence services personnel cannot form trade unions or agitate collectively. Hence, it is the Service Chiefs who have to take up cudgels on their behalf with all
determination.

The signal by the Naval Chief is very aptly worded and was intended to reassure all ranks and as a prevent measure against any unrest, that all possible steps were being taken with the government.

The Prime Minister should set up a commission immediately to investigate how the bureaucracy misguided the ministers and injected new disparities in the inter se seniority of Lieutenant-Colonels and Lieutenant-Generals which has resulted in feeling of so much despondency amongst the defence services.

Lt-Gen HARBHAJAN SINGH (retd), Chandigarh




2 comments:

  1. Great job done and do ask the dissenters that if my service cheifs dont stand up for me what do yu want - a union or a mob which yu are so common with and by yu I mean all those who say that the chirfs were wrong in standing up for their men.

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  2. The three picks for Obama, are two pols and a leader from organized labor: Dick Gephardt, former House Majority Leader; Jennifer Granholm, the current Michigan Governor; and Linda Chavez-Thompson, before her retirement the number two person at the AFL-CIO.If anyone has any links to other mentioned candidates for this or other labor and employment related slots in the next administration, or your own picks, please be sure and pass them on.
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    geovani

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