Steady Decline in the Status of the Armed Forces

 As Fwd by Col Veeramani
An Interesting Letter from Gen Bahri to PM after he was greeted by PM on his birthday.

Dear Mr Prime Minister,
Thank you very much for the greetings on my birthday. They were a surprise and are much appreciated. 

May I ask for a favour?

Today, I am an 84 yr old officer commissioned in Dec 1952 and belong to the 1st Course of the National Defence Academy. From Jan 1949, when I joined the NDA,  I have only seen a steady decline in the status and financial state of the Armed Forces. If this decline is not arrested we will have an abundance of soldiers (due to unemployment) to be lead by mediocre or below par officers. Field Marshal Carriapa said at our Passing out Parade in 1952 that the Jawans are always good, it is the officers  who have to be capable of leading them. It is sad that due to the neglect by successive governments only mediocre or below par officers are being inducted as the cream of the youth available has been skimmed off by the civil services and the corporate sector. Till mid ’50s we used to be equated to the British company officers and the civil services were considered nowhere near AF Officers. Most senior officers in the police were seconded from the Army who were medically unfit for army service, and the senior most officer in the police held an appointment of Inspector General which was junior to a Brigadier.

 Unfortunately, the scene has changed completely. The AFs are being undermined consistently and relentlessly as though the bureaucracy’s only agenda is to belittle the soldiers. Previously, the governments were least concerned and aim was how to stay in power and milk the Nation. While the AFs continued protecting the sovereignty, with inadequate equipment due to rampant corruption, the civil services quietly continued up grading themselves vis a vis the soldiers. After the biggest national victory in ’71 the slogan being chanted was “India Is Indira & Indira is India”. While the 3rd CPC inflicted the most grievous wound on the AFs, by lifting the pensions of civil servants, reducing the pensions of JCOs and OR and not giving any additional benefit to the officers. It looked as though the civil servants had created a new country and taken 93,000 POWs. The cunning and cussedness of the IAS started from the time FM Ayub Khan declared martial law in Pakistan. They started putting fear in the then govt that the Indian Army may also take over the nation. By playing on these fears and the insecurity of inexperienced politicians the IAS ingratiated themselves with the ruling party and started eroding the status of the AFs while consistently upgraded themselves. 
When I was commissioned an IAS officer felt that he would be happy if he retired as a deputy secretary at age 55. The AFs aimed to retire as Lt Cols at 48 yrs. The difference was in their pensions. A Dy Secy took home less than Rs 400 pm while a Lt Col took Rs 675 pm. Now every civilian entrant, whatever be his performance, retires as an additional secretary at age 60, while the Lt Col retires at 52 and takes home 50% of last drawn pay. As this service had to carry other services along, except the AFs, crumbs were thrown at them also. Now these services have more additional secretary level officers in a total cadre strength of about 15,000, than all the AFs together, which have an officer strength of about 60,000. Something is radically wrong in the cadre management, which is costing the country a pile while providing poor administrative support to the citizens. 
I would like to bring to your notice that in the military academies, the Sword of Honour winners among the cadets do not become the Chiefs of the services. The order of merit (O of M) is decided on the performance during training and then it is revised based on the performance during an individual’s service. In the civil services the O of M is decided by the performance in the UPSC entrance examination and they carry it through out their service, whatever be their contribution to the nation’s well being. It is ironical that with NFU the civil services have thrown performance linked promotions out of the window, which is ensuring that we stay at the bottom of the comity of nations despite paying much more than our civil servants deserve. Ask any HR professional and he will give an adverse report within minutes, on the way the cadre management of civil servants is being done.
The worst part is that to maintain the supremacy of the civil servant this gang will not hesitate to feed wrong data to any committee being set up eg., the 7th CPC. They have become so confident and brazen that they are not even worried about committing contempt of the Supreme Court by supplying wrong data, to prove their point. I had written to the RM a few months ago that the integration of the MOD with the AFs must be done, as recommended by a knowledgeable civil servant, Mr K Subramaniam in his report, post Kargil operations. This will ensure that decisions by the civil servants in MOD are not taken in silos and the RM receives well considered advice. Otherwise, he will always keep telling the Services, “I will look into the matter” after every biased decision is announced by the MOD. As it happened after the recent announcement of a revised equation between defence officers and civil servants in the MOD. This one sided decision making is not new. In 1975 when I was Military Attache in our Embassy in Paris I was paid Foreign Allowance (dearness allowance abroad) equal to a 1st Secretary, even though I was entitled to FA equal to a Counsellor as per a MEA letter, because the MOD had issued a letter giving an arbitrary equations. It is still happening because the MOD is always looking for ways to belittle the armed forces.
May I therefore, please ask as to why the government is ensuring that the soldiers not only have to fight our enemies on the outside, but also the known enemy within? The latter fight is more debilitating and demoralising. Your government has its objectives clear but regret to say that the bureaucracy is not entirely with you.
With warm regards and wishing you and the Nation a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Diwali under your leadership.

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