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Monday, 23 July 2012

From Today's Papers - 23 Jul 2012
high-powered committee on pay in armed forces
Military grade pay anomalies remain key issue
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, July 22
As the high-powered committee ordered by the Prime Minister sets about to put forth its recommendations to remove a host of anomalies in the pay and allowances of Armed Forces personnel, the issue of wide disparities in grade pay vis-à-vis civilian services that cropped up post implementation of the Sixth Central Pay Commission (SCPC) remains one of the most important issues.

The SCPC has introduced the concept of grade pay, which is the sole criteria for determining the status and seniority of an individual, both within his service as well as in respect to members of other government services or departments. The grievance of armed forces personnel is that the grade pay applicable to them after the SCPC has downgraded their status vis-à-vis central government employees.

The fallout of the disparity brought about by the SCPC also has serious ramifications on the day-to-day operational command and control as well as administrative functioning where multiple agencies like the armed forces, paramilitary organisations and other defence departments are involved.

The high-powered committee was set up earlier this month under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary and includes the defence secretary, principal secretary to the prime minister, secretary, ex-servicemen welfare, secretary, department of expenditure and secretary, department of personnel and training. It is mandated to submit its report by August 8.

Though about 40 perceived anomalies have been brought up by armed forces personnel and ex-servicemen, the committee will look into nine issues, out of which four concern ex-servicemen. Besides the issue of grade pay, the committee’s terms of reference are common pay-scale for in-service JCOs/Ors, initial pay-fixation of Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel and Brigadier/equivalent, review and enhancement of grade pay, placing of all Lieutenant General in HAG+ scale and grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to armed forces personnel.

The issue of NFU is another major bone of contention. While all central services have been granted NFU, the armed forces have been left out. Interestingly, while the Navy and Air Force had agreed to it, the opposition had come from within the a section of the army’s higher leadership.

NFU implies that whenever an IAS officer gets empanelled at a particular appointment at the Centre, all other Group-A service officers are also upgraded to the same level after a period of two years from the date of empanelment, on a “non-functional” basis irrespective of whether they are actually promoted or not. For example, if an IAS officer of 1985 batch is empanelled as an additional secretary, then all other Group-A officers of the 1983 batch shall also be placed in the additional secretary’s pay grade.

the highlights

    Brigadier brought down by two grades
    Major downgraded from Junior Administrative Grade to Senior Time Scale
    Earlier, a lieutenant colonel was equivalent to a director in the Centre, but now a colonel is equivalent to director
    Captain was equivalent to Senior Time Scale, but is now junior
    IPS officers with15-20 years service were equal to major in 1947, but are now equal to brigadier
India eyes Russia to get tank ammunition

New Delhi, July 22
Facing a critical shortage of ammunition for Army's fleet of T-90 and T-72 tanks after the blacklisting of an Israeli firm, the Defence Ministry is now looking to procure these shells from Russia.

Severe shortage of tank ammunition was first highlighted by then Army Chief Gen V K Singh in a top secret letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March this year which later found its way to the media.

After the blacklisting of supplier of the FSAPDS (Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot) used by T-90 and T-72 tanks, Russia has now been approached for supplying these tank shells, Defence Ministry sources told PTI here.

A contract negotiation team under a Joint Secretary-level official had also gone to Moscow recently to discuss the price of the FSAPDS ammunition but further parleys will have to be held to decide on the cost issue, they said.

To avoid such shortages in future, the Defence Ministry is also seeking a transfer of technology from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to produce the ammunition indigenously.

Gen Singh had pointed out in his letter that only three to four days of this particular ammunition was left in the inventory of the armoured regiments.

Later on, the Army had also informed the Standing Committee on Defence about the shortage and how the situation had worsened by the recent blacklisting of its supplier Israeli Military Industry (IMI).

Recently, the Army Headquarters had initiated the process to procure within 12 to 18 months around 75,000 to one lakh rounds of the FSAPDS ammunition from global sources but apparently not much progress has been made so far.

After the issues were brought out by the then Army Chief, Defence Minister A K Antony had taken urgent steps to address them and has held several rounds of meetings with Army and Defence Ministry officials to review preparedness and do away with the stumbling blocks in the modernisation process.

Gen Singh's letter had highlighted the obsolescence of the air defence systems in the Army and to address the issue, the Defence Minister has cleared the procurement of quick reaction surface-to-air missile systems for eight new regiments that are to come up.

Likewise, the procurement for 145 Ultra-Light Howitzers (ULH) from the US has also been cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). — PTI

acute shortage

    Severe shortage of tank ammunition was highlighted by then Army Chief Gen V K Singh in a secret letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March
    Gen Singh had pointed out that only three to four days of this ammunition was left in the inventory of the armoured regiments
Pak defence budget too big
It is rarely debated in Parliament
by Air Marshal R.S.Bedi (retd)

Unlike India, Pakistan announces its federal budget on the first day of the month of June every year. Surprisingly, this year it did not receive much notice in India despite some of its glaring features having security implications for India. Pakistan has allocated a lion’s share of Rs 545.3 billion or one sixth of its federal budget of Rs 2.96 trillion for defence for the fiscal 2013.

In reality, this amount would be much more. Pakistan, like China, is known to hide its defence spending by devious means. For example, the overt budget does not include the pensions of the retired defence personnel which amount to Rs 98 billion. The budget also does not reflect the financial assistance received from outside sources. It’s been reported by ‘The Express Tribune’ of Washington that Pakistan may actually be spending around Rs 913 billion or 31 percent of Rs 2.96 trillion of the national budget. This is almost double the amount of budget officially declared.

Over and above the declared amount, the military appropriates to itself 60 per cent of the Coalition Support Fund received from the US every year. Of the Rs 150 billion under this head, Rs 90 billion goes to the armed forces this year. This fund was established in 2001 to compensate Pakistan in fighting terrorism in support of the Americans. The armed forces also extract their pound of flesh from the service fees given by the UN on account of military personnel involved in peace-keeping missions around the world. This works out to another Rs 30 billion approximately. It is interesting to note that these allocations, when combined with the country’s interest payments, amount to Rs 1.1 trillion or 35 per cent of the total budget. Not even one-third of the total federal budget is left for national development and running the government.

Interestingly, the budget allotted to the armed forces in Pakistan is rarely debated in Parliament. It is exclusively controlled by the armed forces and is not even allowed to be audited. The nation has no idea as to where and how the money is spent by the forces in Pakistan. In total contrast, the defence budget in India is not only debated and passed in Parliament but is also thoroughly audited at the end of the year. The budget, though allotted to the armed forces, remains under the tight control of the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence.

It’s amazing how Pakistan can afford to spend so heavily on defence when the country’s economy is in doldrums and its internal security scenario anything but normal. Its internal debt is fast reaching 65 per cent of its GDP. The external debt has already exceeded $60 billion. Pakistan has recently defaulted on payments to foreign power producers. Under the circumstances, Pakistan’s grandiose plans of military modernisation and nuclear build-up to match India seem rather illogical. But as long as the military controls the national purse and continues to get assistance from outside, it is likely to maintain the offensive posture.

Pakistan has been over-spending on defence all these years in trying to match with India, not realising that India has to additionally counter to China’s rapid military build-up. India thus has to deal with two nuclear armed adversaries at the same time. The way Pakistan has test-fired a wide array of missiles only indicates the feverish pace of its nuclear build-up. The first launch of Hatf-IV with a range of 1,000 km came on April 25; just six days after India tested its 5,000-km range Agni-V. On June 5 Pakistan test-fired the Hatf-VII cruise missile. This was the fifth missile test by Pakistan in little over a month.

Pakistan has thus shown that it is ever ready to strike as deep inside India as it desires. In this tit-for-tat approach Pakistan has also highlighted its tactical as well as strategic deterrence capabilities. It may be mentioned here that in keeping with its ‘first-use’ option, Pakistan has lately developed tactical nuclear weapons for battlefield use against India’s overwhelming conventional forces. This in fact was the NATO strategy to overcome overwhelming Warsaw Pact conventional forces during the cold war era.

However, it is to be seen how Pakistan stays on such a course of incessant military build-up once the US Congress tightens the control over assistance to it, as it seems very likely now. China is not likely to fill the gap as far as the financial assistance is concerned. However, material help as is suspected even in the current series of quick response to India’s Agni-V cannot be perhaps ruled out.

All these years, Pakistan has remained reticent about what the Americans do there as long as they pay for it, periodic statements for public consumption against the US violating Pakistan’s sovereignty notwithstanding. However, one incident in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a NATO air strike led to the face-off between the two. During the subsequent negotiations for reopening the supply routes for foreign troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan insisted on an apology from the Americans and demanded $2,000 for every NATO truck passing through against $200 earlier. In fact, Pakistan initially bargained for $5,000 per vehicle which the US promptly turned down. Pakistan has little or no hesitation in demanding money for everything, for that is what it needs urgently in pursuance of its long-term objectives.

. India cannot afford to lower its guard against Pakistan, overtures from the Pakistan Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, notwithstanding. The trust deficit is inhibiting, to say the least. Also, the continued collusion with China against India casts doubts on Pakistan’s sincerity. With China flexing its muscles in and around India’s neighbourhood, time has now come for India to reassess its strategic options with the US and deepen defence cooperation sooner than later.
Indian Army’s ex-chief granted bail in bribery, defamation case
NEW DELHI: Former Army chief General (retd) V K Singh and four serving Army officers on Friday appeared before a magistrate’s court here in response to summonses against them in a criminal complaint by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh, who was accused of offering bribe and spreading misinformation in an Army press release in March. All five were granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 each, Indian media reported.

General (retd) Singh, who is the first former Army chief to be summoned by a court in such a case, was joined by Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh, Lt Gen B S Thakur (Director General of Military Intelligence), Major General S L Narshiman (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney.

“All the accused have entered their appearance. Since they are retired and serving Army officers, they are admitted to bail on furnishing of personnel bond of Rs 20,000 each,” Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja said.

Posting the matter for August 8, the court directed Tejinder Singh’s counsels S M Pandey and Anil Aggarwal to provide copies of documents filed by him on record to the accused. The judge also sought Tejinder Singh’s reply on an application filed by the four serving officers to drop proceedings against them for want of proper sanction from a competent authority for their prosecution.

“Without prejudice to the other rights and contentions available to the applicant under law, it is submitted that no cognizance or further proceedings in this case ought to have been conducted in view of the fact that no sanction under section 197 of CrPC had been obtained,” the application stated.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had refused to stay the trial court’s summonses to three serving Army officers, including the Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh. The High Court said the three officers could raise the objection after appearing before the magistrate.

All five accused also moved an application under section 259 CrPC to convert the case from a summons to a warrant case, arguing that the case merited a more “complex procedure”.“What the interest of justice demands is the fact that this case involved intricate details of the functioning of the Army. This is not a normal defamation case and requires a more complex procedure,” counsel for the four serving officers said. They argued that a limited cross-examination of the complainant (Tejinder) needed to be conducted to establish the charge against them.

The judge, however, said that if the case was made a warrant case the trial could go on for a very long time. Further, he observed that V K Singh’s reply to the notice sen to him by Tejinder gave the impression that he had clear foundations about the allegations against him. “So, trial will take very short time if your client comes straight away with the foundation of allegation,” the court told the ex-Army chief’s counsel, Mohit Mathur. The court directed Tejinder Singh to file his reply to this application too on August 8.

The case against the General (retd) V K Singh and the four others relates to a Army press release on March 5 which accused Tejinder Singh of offering bribes on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Ltd, which supply trucks to BEM.
Ex-Army officer jailed for 3 years for cheating, forgery
New Delhi: A sacked Army personnel has been sentenced to three years in jail by a Delhi court for trying to take seven persons to Germany in guise of members of an official band participating in the 2007 Berlin Music Festival.

Special CBI Judge Manoj Jain awarded jail term to Lance Naik Suresh Babu after holding him guilty of hatching a criminal conspiracy and committing cheating and forgery by furnishing incorrect particulars to the Ministry of External Affairs to obtain passports for them.

The court also held him guilty of committing various offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, saying "he tried to smash and smear the image of Army."
The court also awarded three-year jail term to Suresh's accomplices David A Johnson and Nagarajan Israel Raja with whom he had conspired to get fake passport in violation of Section 12 of Indian Passport Act for five Punjab natives.

"As far as convict Suresh Babu is concerned, he has tried to smash and smear the good image of Army. He was the one who had got the official passports prepared and received such official passports from MEA and therefore, it was his primary duty to hand over these official passports to the Army authority.

"However, his intention was other than bonafide and he wanted to send private persons abroad through such official passports," the court said, while imposing a fine of Rs 56,000 on Suresh Babu, David and Nagarajan. The court, however, let off Rajender Singh, Gurdev Singh, Varinder Singh and Gurjant Singh on the period of sentence they have already undergone during the trial. But a fine of Rs 21,000 was imposed on all the four, who were also convicted for cheating, forgery and under section 12 of Indian Passport Act.

The case against Suresh Babu was lodged after five other accused - Nagarajan, Rajender, Gurdev, Varinder and Gurjant were apprehended by immigration authorities at the IGI Airport here on November 1, 2007, when they were allegedly trying to fly abroad on basis of forged official passports.

They were carrying official white passports issued to the Army Headquarters Band for a performance in Germany.

The court, however, acquitted Navneet Singh who had given Suresh Babu Rs 11.50 lakhs for making arrangement for sending three persons to Germany, after it could not find any evidence against him.

"However, as far as convict Nagarajan is concerned, not only did he try to travel on forged official passport but was also a key player in the larger conspiracy.

"Convict David is found to be the apparent beneficiary as the money had been transferred in his bank account and he was also instrumental in booking accommodation," the court said.

The agency had alleged that Babu, entrusted with the task to deal with official passports in respect of the scheduled visit of Indian Army Band to Germany, had hatched a criminal conspiracy with accused during his posting as lance naik in Directorate of Ceremonial and Welfare, New Delhi.

A total 52 Army officials were nominated to participate in the 13th Berlin Music Festival in Germany. The CBI had alleged in the charge sheet that Babu affixed passports of some private persons and forged signatures of Colonel Satinder Singh to obtain the passports.
India should have friendly relationship with China : General Singh
Amroha. Former Army Chief General V K Singh on Sunday said India should extend its friendship with China and there is no threat from such a move. “It would be good for India to have friendship with China for the better interest of the country. The United States is also trying very hard to have a friendly relationship with China for its own vested interests,”  Singh said.

The retired Army General was speaking in the Kissan mahapanchayat held at Gajraula in Jyoti-ba-Phule Nagar district here. On the last friendship with China which led to the 1962 war, he said the situation was far different now after 50 years as India was not far behind in the defence capabilities compared to China.

Recently, Ratan Tata of the Tata group of Industries, have also suggested friendship with China. General Singh, however, said media should be restrictive in publishing or telecasting those news items which could demoralise the moral of the Indian Army.” Countrymen should know the activities of the Indian Army but the secrets of the defence should not be leaked or the morale of our soldiers should not be lowered,” he further added. UNI

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