Kasab: A National Hero????????

FOR SOMETIME now, I am really wondering that when wills this case of Ajmal Kasab will end. I don’t see it ending in near future. I was always of a view that we should try him at court and not to hang him without a trial. But the snail pace of judiciary is making mockery of the trial. Seven months have passed and we haven’t been able to bring a terrorist caught on camera killing innocent men/women/children to justice.

What a shame?

The media has gone a long way in making a hero out of Kasab. The number of reports on him in last seven months has made him a well known figure of world. His photograph has been flashed on television and print media umpteen number of times. By now most Indians know where Kasab was born and what his parents did. What made him run away from home and how did he come contact with the LeT. We also know Kasab’s love for mutton and chicken dishes and his sole wish to meet Amitabh Bachchan.

We have up to date information on how Kasab is reacting in court or whether he is repenting his crime or not. Why the hell we need this information? This reporting can be termed as callous behaviour of media towards the one who suffered in the 26/11 attacks.

Imagine what pinch they must be feeling when the news channels show over extended coverage of the culprit. I was just reading the story of Captain Amitendra Kumar Singh, who was part of NSG team carrying operations in Oberoi hotel. Hearing about captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, the 28-year-old braveheart admits, makes his blood boil. “He has become a bigger hero than us.

They should have stoned him to death at some crossroads in Mumbai that time itself.” How true he is when he says that Kasab has become a hero. He is so popular that the producers of reality shows might consider him as a contestant. When Monica Bedi and Rahul Mahajan can become celebrity then so can Kasab!

The money that is being spent on his security and trial could have been efficiently utilised in updating the security infrastructure and helping the kin of the deceased. He must be executed at the earliest. The case should get over now.

This is the apathy and irony that the so called ‘concerned citizens’, who came out in lakhs on December 3, 2008 at Gateway of India forgot the date of election. They preferred spending vacation than doing their duties. The same set of people were crying and shouting on politicians after the attacks. The numerous groups that were formed after the attacks have lost the steam and MA Naqvi’s comments of ‘lipstick wearing socialites’ stands true. The soldiers who risked and laid down their life for us have faded from our memory and media has found a bigger hero in Kasab…

What does the readers of targetgenx think??????

The Challenges ahead for UPA Government

The people of the country have voted United Progressive Alliance to form the government. Dr Manmohan Singh and his new team will be formulated by the end of next week. But the faith and expectations that people have in the abilities of Dr Singh will be the tough task for the alliance. Though Left parties are off the shoulders of the Congress but still they need to deliver on few of the key issues at great pace. There are few areas which need to be looked after with immediate concern and rectify the problems gripping these areas. 

The first and foremost will be to revive the economy. With India’s best economist in the driver’s seat, a lot is being expected from the new government. PM has said in one the election rally that he will revive the economy in 100 days. Well that might be too optimistic approach but definitely a lot needs to be done to bring economy on 9-10% growth. He also needs to tackle the job losses due to current crisis. The stimulus packages need to cover both of the problems together. 

The second challenge will be the internal security and robust foreign policy. There is growing concern with volatile neighbours around. Taliban is barely 500 km away from India and hence it is imperative to revamp the security and intelligence agencies. There should be special law to prosecute the ones caught for waging war against the nation. The Police needs an overhaulment on priority basis and they should be equipped with latest gadgets and weapons. The home growth threat of naxalites should also be taken care off. Without peace all the efforts to make India stronger and leader in economy will be futile.  

The third biggest challenge for the government will be bringing the agricultural growth back on track. Not only the growth rate of agriculture sector is low but also the share of the sector in country’s GDP has come down drastically in past some years. The problem of low rate of capital investment, smaller capital formation and low share in the national income are some of the main problems facing by this sector that needs to be addressed very urgently. There are many reasons for this crisis, which mainly includes absence of adequate social support, uncertainty of agricultural enterprise in India, lack of credit availability etc. Need of the hour is to increase the productivity of the primary sector by ushering in a new green  revolution to raise the annual average growth rate of this sector to about five per cent per annum. 

One of the other major concerns should be the legitimate demand of the forces. Personally i feel this should be top agenda as well. For long time, they have not been deprived of their due by bureaucrats and policy makers. Indian Armed Forces are finding it tough to attract youth and is facing shortage of officers. If the Army cannot get youth just for the sake of low renumeration, then future is really bleak for our country. A nation is as strong as the military of that nation. Hence it will be good in the interest of this nation that the demand of Armed Forces is paid heed and their grievances are solved at the earliest. We cannot show callousness towards our soldiers who sacrifice so much for the safety of the borders and us.  Hopefully, the new government will do something positive on this front as well.  

There is tough task ahead for the new government. The way in which new cabinet will handle these issues remain interesting. Only time will tell whether Dr MMS can deliver in the tough time. I feel that he will be able to as there are no clutches of Left this time.

Have we forgotten Kargil already?

Kargil makes me sad. I served in Ladakh long before Kargil happened and know that terrain very well.
A lot has been written about the conflict which includes the lessons that the Indian Army  should learn and what we should do to avoid another Kargil. Therefore, I am not going to write about matters military, but matters that are more relevant for our countrymen, especially our leadership and people.

For any nation, the soldiers are its assets. You can replace a weapon or buy new weapon systems but it takes years to train a soldier and make him fight as part of a group that is willing to sacrifice its life for protecting the country.

It takes years to train a combat pilot or a sailor. Soldiers, sailors and airmen give ‘their today for your tomorrow,’ which I quote from the graves in Kohima, Nagaland, left behind by the British after World War II, but still taken good care of. They continue to pay their debt of gratitude to those who laid their lives in that war, fought so fiercely for a tennis court in Kohima.

The Americans too care for their armed forces personnel. Their leaders show genuine concern and match their promises with action. Their veterans are the blessed lot and, what they get for what they gave is something the veterans in India can only dream of.

America is a land of dreams but they convert their dreams into reality especially, when it comes to taking care of the men and women who fought to protect their freedom in all corners of the world. Love, affection, respect and genuine concern shown for the armed forces personnel in these countries and in many more countries in the world is what we need to study and more importantly, emulate.

In our country, soldiers are remembered only in times of need. When Kargil happened many in our country were unaware of what happened and many did not care since it did not affect their daily lives. Yes, there was some war happening in a far off land beyond Srinagar . In any case, the Valley has seen so much of action, it was assumed that it was one more of such action, may be slightly larger in scale like the Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai  that were attacked by terrorists last November.

The general reaction of the public is: Some soldiers died and in any case, soldiers are meant to die for the country. So what if a body of a soldier who belonged to your city or town is brought for cremation? It is just another dead body and don’t we see so many every day in our towns and cities?

So what if a soldier’s widow and children are struggling for their livelihood after he laid down his life for the country? After all, so many widows are languishing in our country and one more does not matter. The soldier’s widow cannot get a ration card. Many others also do not get one, it hardly matters…

That is the general apathy, even to the family of the soldiers who laid down their lives. If the soldier is disabled in war, people think it is nothing that affects them.

The enormity of the situation, the lessons learnt and the corrective action that were needed after Kargil were discussed and forgotten. Kargil is a blur in our memory, an event of history to be forgotten only to be remembered when reminded that we need to celebrate Kargil Diwas! Sadly, we have even stopped doing that!

It is not selective amnesia but permanent dementia. And as for the soldiers who were disabled or who lost their lives, less said the better.

India and Indians need to change their attitude towards its soldiers, both serving and retired. Indians need to remember the families of those who made their supreme sacrifice in conflicts like Kargil or anywhere while performing their duty. We need to pamper our armed forces personnel not because they wore that uniform for 30 years, suffered deprivation, found it difficult to make both ends meet while running two establishments when separated from family because of service conditions.

We need to because a nation which forgets its soldiers and which lets its bureaucracy dictate terms to the leadership to manage the armed forces in the manner that suits them or prove their supremacy, which ignores their genuine demands, is bound to suffer when the time of need comes again. History strangely repeats itself.

That is what is happening now. Why should the ex-servicemen (ESM) ever need to demand their legitimate rights? Why is the country’s leadership not doing its duty to meet their legitimate demands without them asking for it? Do they not have any duty to perform towards the soldiers and their families as the soldiers have performed in silence, asking for nothing in return? Are the words honour, loyalty, duty applicable only to men and women in uniform?

The current ESM agitation which was characterised by many of them undergoing fasts in many places or returning their medals, including the ones awarded posthumously to the gallant officers and soldiers who died fighting in Kargil does not happen any where but in India.

The ESM have been forced to come out in large numbers onto the streets, shouting slogans to attract attention. The country as a whole has forgotten them and it is a pity that the ESM need to remind our countrymen to remember them by adopting agitation as the means to achieve their end.

Sadly, what they are asking for is One Rank and One Pension — a small price for what they have given to our country for so long.

Why is it that our nation has pushed its veterans to this state of helplessness that today this apolitical force is taking sides with political parties to make their demand met? Does our country’s leadership realise that the armed forces which had remained apolitical so far are now becoming politicised? Surely this is not a healthy trend.

The answers to all the question is known to all of us. Yet we are mute spectators because it does not affect the civil population in any manner. If war is an instrument of State policy, the armed forces are the means to achieve that policy when the time comes. Kargil is one more event in our history. The soldiers in and out of uniform are not. They are the ones who make that history happen.

Can Kargil rekindle the hearts of every Indian to make a pledge to give our soldiers the dignity and respect and give their legitimate demand without them asking for it? Surely that is not asking for much, unless we are a thankless nation.

Wriiten by: Colonel A Sridharan VSM (retd)
Source: Rediff

Why not a separate Armed Forces Pay Board?

Ever since the recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission have not met the requirements of the Defence Chiefs, they are rallying around the ministry of Defence to get their grievances noticed. There are many reasons for the same of which mainly is the shortage of the officers in all the three wings of the Indian Armed Forces. The combined shortage is around 43,000 in army, air force and navy.
Defence was not happy with the recommendations and now the government has fuelled the resentment in the forces even more. Now it is the turn of an unfeeling government to drive the military and its veterans into despondency. Defence minister A K Antony informed the parliament in a written reply that the government has not found acceptable the demand for ’one rank one pension’ (OROP) by the ex-servicemen. OROP is an emotive issue for the men in uniform, and there is deep hurt and resentment at being taken for another ride.
The concept of ’one rank one pension’ says that if two military pensioners who retired in the same rank after rendering equal service should get equal pension irrespective of their dates of retirement. Since the date of retirement also determines the quantum of pension, with each pay commission (with periodicity of 10 years), the military veterans who retired early receive lesser pension compared to those who retired later with the same rank and same service. As military pensioners are subjected to two or three more pay commissions in their lifetime, they have to suffer the disparities bred by it every 10 years. None has ever found it irrational.
One needs to understand the importance of the forces in a country. If the forces are demoralised by the stupid babus then we are heading for some serious trouble in the time ahead. Armed forces have always been discriminated. That is how our bureaucracy plays the stepmother, spoiler and the game of attrition.
Successive pay commissions have succeeded only in elevating the status of civil, police and paramilitary forces. In the 1960s, the Raghuramiah Committee had recommended the army be equated with the IPS. But over the years, the police have been upgrading their senior ranks, so the senior ranks in the army are automatically downgraded. There is wide disparity in pay bands as well. The forces also claim that Committee of Secretaries (CoS) moved the director rank into pay band 4 but retained Lt. Col and its equivalent in other services in pay band 3.
Earlier, they claim, a Lt Col got the same pay as an IAS director and Rs 800 more than a non-IAS director. Now he gets Rs 14000 less than an IAS director and Rs 11000 less than a non-IAS director.
Earlier, persons below officer rank (PBOR) drew 75 per cent of their pay as pension. The Sixth Pay Commission has reduced this to 50 per cent, on the ground that the soldier will be entitled to serve in the paramilitary forces after they leave the army.
It is high time that as a citizen of this nation we support our armed forces. Even the most formidable army needs to be cared for and nurtured by the mother country. The soldiers fight for us and if we show callousness then we as a society have betrayed them. We should force the government to ponder over the legitimate demands of the forces. A much better option will be to have a separate commission for the forces. Currently, there is not even a single representative of the forces in the commission. Many countries have implemented the same and thus we should also think over it.

Stand Up for Our Soldiers

VICTORY IN Kargil was certainly a defining moment in the history of Independent India. It was the outcome of supreme sacrifice by the soldiers of this country, displaying valour with dignity. Kargil was not an easy win. The terrain was tough and the enemy was perched comfortably on high mountain peaks. The task was to regain the occupied peaks. The Kargil victory was an extraordinary achievement for the Indian Armed forces as they conducted the war without violating any international norms. July 26 is celebrated as Vijay Divas, to mark the victory in Kargil. The young officers and soldiers were primarily responsible for India’s victory in Kargil. As a grateful citizen of this nation I pay my homage and salute those brave soldiers who “gave their today for our tomorrow.”
Kargil WarBut nine year on I feel that we as a nation are callous towards our soldiers. A soldier lays down his life to protect the integrity of the nation, which is his duty. The duty to live up to the trust of billions of people, duty to save the motherland from enemy, duty to keep the integrity of the country intact. A soldier fulfills all his duties but can the same be applied to Ministry of Defence (MoD) or for that matter to our bureaucrats and politicians. They earned money on the bodies of the martyrs. They even neglected the intelligence failure. Like the other wars Kargil was also converted to genuine victory. India declared ceasefire when Army was ready for the final assault. Nehru’s mistake in calling a ceasefire too early and taking the issue of Kashmir to the United Nations for resolution are fairly well-chronicled, as a starting point for the modern-day Kashmir issue. Under pressure from Mountbatten and personally committed to peace and non-violence, Nehru opted for a civilised resolution to the conflict. The 1965 war with Pakistan did not end in a decisive victory for any one side. When Pakistan captured the Akhnoor and Chicken’s Neck in Kashmir, Shastri’s aggressive reaction of opening war along the entire western front with Pakistan had resulted in the Indian Army making substantial inroads into Pakistan territory and famously coming within striking distance of Lahore. Shastri, for reasons still not quite clear, decided to play a Prithviraj Chauhan to Ayub Khan’s Mohammed Ghouri. He agreed to withdraw the Indian Army from all captured territories, including some strategic territories in Kashmir. 1971 was probably the best opportunity that India had to resolve the Kashmir issue on terms favourable to it. India had come out of the war not only a decisive but also a magnanimous victor. The ceasefire Indira Gandhi unilaterally declared, against the advice of her armed forces commanders, was driven by realpolitik and economic reasons.
We as a citizen join hands and come forward to extend our support to our brave soldiers. But only when there is a war. We forget them during peace time. Why? Why can’t a nation salute its soldiers when he is alive, not just when he is dead?
Few months ago after the recommendations of Sixth Pay Commission, former servicemen staged protest against the recommendation. They said that the Sixth Pay Commission hasn’t met the expectations of the defence personnels. Minister of State for Defence M Pallam Raju voiced displeasure over the protests by the ex-servicemen, saying it was not dignified on their part. I agree with Raju because India is perhaps the only nation where the politicians are not interested in looking into the grievances of the services. The government must realise that they have taken such a step because their demands are very genuine and they have protested as the last resort. If government hopes to solve the trouble with the laid-back attitude then it is trying to fool itself. A nation is as strong as its armed forces. The words like non-violence and world peace are used these days but one must understand that on the international stage you are identified by your defence forces. Unfortunately, government hasn’t woken from slumber. In India, soldiers are treated shabbily, their prestige is often mocked at and their fate is decided by the IAS babus who have earned notoriety for reasons other than providing a clean administration and efficient governance. Hence joining the forces is no longer a matter of pride and preference, consider the number of vacancies the forces have now. When the ugly politicians look down on patriotism and honour of the soldier, we see heroes laid to rest unsung and soldiers committing suicide.
The defence forces are facing shortage of thousands of officers which has been accentuated by the attrition. This year National Defence Academy (NDA), which has the intake of 300 could get only 192 cadets while Indian Military Academy (IMA) got 86 out of 250 intake capacity. The signs are really disappointing and the government must not take it lightly. After independence, Jawaharlal Nehru neglected the army for years and thus China was able to attack India without any hesitation. He himself later admitted this.
The Indian public and press remain apathetic on defence issues as well. Kargil war was duly covered by media. But when the war was over none of the media houses took the issues of unceremonious treatment meted to the families of martyrs. We forgot that our soldiers are still guarding the frontiers. We as a nation never try to understand the sacrifices, problems and demands of the forces. The problems of the forces is not a priority for our politicians. There has been no solution till date concerning to the Sixth Pay Commission report. It may be seen that initially, an IAS officer and defence service officer start off on an equal footing so far their salary is concerned. But after a year or two, an IAS officer is promoted to the post of under secretary which is equivalent to the rank of a Major or equivalent ranks in other wings of defence forces, where as, the officers in defence services attain the rank of a Major after seven years. As such, a wide gap is created in the salary of an under secretary and an officer of the rank of Major and equivalent ranks in the defence forces.

Vijay Divas: Tribute to Kargil War Heroes

Victory in Kargil is certainly a defining moment in the history of Independent India. It was the outcome of supreme sacrifice by the soldiers of this country, displaying valor with dignity. Kargil was not an easy win. The terrain was tough and the enemy was perched comfortably on high mountain peaks. The task was to regain the occupied peaks. The Kargil victory was a tarvel for the Indian Armed forces as they conducted the war without violating any international norms.

In memory of Vijay Divas,26th July, Let us bow our heads to the great heroes of India who laid down their lives so that we are safe today. FOR THEIR SAKES AND OURS LET US PLEDGE TO GIVE INDIA OUR VERY BEST. EACH TIME AND EVERY TIME.

Lt Saurabh Kalia

Lt Saurabh Kalia was the first martyr in Kargil War. On May 15, 1999, after a continuous cross fire with Pakistan armed forces from across the LoC, he and his troops ran out of ammunition. It is also believed that their signal instrument was out of order, or not working in those conditions. They were finally encircled by a platoon of Pakistan rangers and captured alive before any Indian reinforcement could reach for their help. No trace of this entire patrol was left and Skardu Radio of Pakistan reported that Lt. Saurabh Kalia and five of his men were captured alive.

They were in their captivity for over twenty-two (May 15, 1999 – June 7, 1999) days and subjected to unprecedented brutal torture as evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999. The postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had indulged in the most heinous acts; of burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, chopping off various limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures before shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple.

Yogender Yadav Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, an Indian Army soldier instrumental in capturing the strategic Tiger Hill during the Kargil War. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra – the country’s highest gallantry award.

Rifleman Sanjay Kumar Killing five enemy personnel, lifting a machine gun while hit by a bullet in thigh muscle, lobbying a grenade and clearing a important army post. It is not a narration of any popular bollywood film but a real life scene enacted by Rifleman Sanjay Kumar of the 13 JAK Rif in “Operation Vijay” while capturing army post in the Mushkoh Valley. He was awarded Param Vir Chakara and only one of handfull of personnel to be conferred this highest military award. Little did the PVC awardee know that his act would bring this laurel, for him it was a part of the duty which was executed with perfection.

Cap Vikram BatraI’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it.
– Shaheed Captain Vikram Batra, PVC
Captain Vikram Batra fought with exceptional bravery and magnitude, which is rarely seen. He has set an example before the youth of our nation, which shall inspire generations to come. In recognition of his gallant act, Point 4875 has now been renamed as Captain Vikram Batra Top and has received all credit to capturing this vital peak by his Commanding Officer, Colonel Y.K. Joshi, 13 JAK Rifles. For his sustained display of the most conspicuous personal bravery and junior leadership of the highest order in the face of the enemy, Captain Vikram Batra was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest medal for gallantry, posthumously.

Cap Manoj PandeyLieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, forced back the intruders from the Batalik sector on 11 June 1999. He led his men to recapture the Jubar Top, a feature of great operational importance. But his finest hour was in the capture of Khalubar in the early morning hours of 3 July 1999. On the night of 2/3 July 1999 the battalion’s progress on to its final objective, was halted by a determined enemy firmly entrenched on commanding heights. Clearing it was critical as the battalion faced the prospect of being day lighted in a vulnerable area. Lieutenant Pandey stepped forward to take on the mission. Quickly sizing up the situation, the young officer led his platoon along a narrow, treacherous ridge that led to the enemy position. While still short of the objective, the enemy fired upon the Indian soldiers effectively stalling the Indian attack. Displaying great courage, he surged ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy with a full throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.

Lt Anuj NayyarOn 06 July 1999, Charlie Company was tasked to capture an objective which was part of the Pimple Complex on the western slopes of Point 4875, at a height of 16,250 feet. At the beginning of the attack, the Company Commander got injured and the command of the company fell on Captain Anuj Nayyar, 17 Jat. Captain Nayyar continued to command his leading platoon into the attack under heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. As the platoon advanced, the leading section reported location of 3 to 4 enemy bunkers. Captain Nayyar moved forward towards the first bunker and fired the rocket launcher and lobbed grenades into it. Thereafter, the section along with Captain Nayyar physically assaulted and cleared the bunker. The enemy, which was well entrenched, brought heavy volume of automatic fire. Captain Nayyar, unmindful of his personal safety, motivated his men and cleared two more bunkers. While clearing the fourth bunker, an enemy RPG shell killed him on the spot. In this action, Captain Nayyar killed nine enemy soldiers and destroyed three medium machine gun bunkers of the enemy. The success of this operation, after a brief setback, was largely due to the outstanding personal bravery and exemplary junior leadership of Captain Nayyar. He displayed indomitable resolve, grit and determination and motivated his command by personal example, acting beyond the call of duty. For conspicuous gallantry and supreme sacrifice, Captain Anuj Nayyar was honoured with the Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.

Lt Vijayant ThaparThe death of Maj. Vivek Gupta, Saurav Kalia and the recovery of Maj Adhikari body had a deep impact on Robin. The killings , the hand to hand fighting in which heads rolled was tough on a young man just 22 years.

Vijayant moved under the command of his CO Col. M.B. Ravindernath, VrC and his company commander Major P. Acharya. The battalion was then given the task of capturing Tololing. This was a God sent opportunity for Vijayant as he was an officer always looking for action. After the initial assault by Major Mohit Saxena was held up, on the night of 12th June’99 Capt. Vijayant Thapar led his platoon to capture Barbad Bunker.

After the successful capture of Tololing he was given the task of capturing Three Pimples, Knoll and Lone Hill area. The attack started with Vijyant’s platoon leading on a full moon night along a razor sharp ridge wih no cover to offer. There was intense and accurate artillery shelling and heavy enemy fire. He lost some of his dear men and some more were injured causing the attack to be disrupted. However with his indominable spirit and tremendous urge to capture Knoll he got together, the remenants of his men and moved through a ravine to face the enemy. It was a full moon night . Moreover this was an impossible position to capture. The troops of 6 Northern Light Infantry had all the advantages. Strongly prepared positions one narrow knife edge ridge, with precipitous slopes on both side, ravines thousands of feet deep, devoid of cover and almost vertical climbs at places.

While the exchange of fire was going on, full of excitement Vijayant reached his company which had already secured a foothold on Knoll. By this time his company commander Major P. Achrya had been killed. At this news Vijayant’s anger was explosive. He surged ahead with his colleague Naik Tilak Singh. Both of them started engaging the enemy merely 15 mts. away. There were two enemy machine guns firing towards them. After about an hour and a half of fierceful exchange of bullets and abuses Vijayant decided that he had to end the enemy. As he moved up to do so a burst of fire struck him on his head. He fell in the arms of his comrade Naik Tilak Singh. A brave son of India had fallen. It was after that the men of his company charged and fully captured Knoll. The victory at Knoll on 29 June 1999, is a saga of bravery unmatched, and unbounded grit and determination. Courage alone and unflinching faith in almighty God alone turned a tactically impossible situation into a victory

For this act of bravery and his ultimate sacrifice, Capt. Vijayant Thapar was awarded the Vir Chakra.

Lieutenant Keishing Clifford NangrumOn the night of 30 June/01 July 1999, in the operations to capture Point 4812, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was tasked to assault the feature from South-Eastern direction. Lieutenant Nongrum led his column over the near impossible vertical feature. On reaching the top, his column encountered strong enemy opposition. The enemy was well entrenched in interconnected bunkers, carved out of boulders, and remained invulnerable to even artillery fire. The enemy pinned the column of Lieutenant Nongrum down with heavy and accurate automatic fire for about two hours. On seeing the futility of own fire against the fortified bunkers, Lieutenant Nongrum with utter disregard to personal safety charged through the fire zone. Closing in with the first bunker he threw grenades into it and killed six enemy soldiers. He then tried to snatch the universal machine gun of the enemy from the bunker and received a volley of bullets. The audacious action of Lieutenant Nongrum stunned the enemy giving valuable reaction time to his troops to close in and finally clear the position. Though severely wounded, Lieutenant Nongrum refused to be evacuated and fought valiantly till he succumbed to his injuries. This act resulted in the ultimate capture of Point 4812. For conspicuous gallantry and supreme sacrifice, Lieutenant Keishing Clifford Nongrum was honoured with the Maha Vir Chakra, posthumously.

Major Sonam WangchukOn one of the world’s most brutal battlefields, his colleagues and officers say, Wangchuk has captured a vital mountain ridge in the Chorbat La sub-sector near Batalik, giving the army a foothold that it desperately needed. They’ve gone over the mountain tops and now directly face the Pakistani side of the loc. “Thanks to his heroic action, we are sitting bang on the LoC in Chorbat La,” says a Ladakh Scouts officer. On May 26, when Wangchuk got his orders, he promised his son he would return for his birthday on June 11. Given his battle experience in the Siachen glacier, Wangchuk was the obvious choice for the assault. Two days later he was asked to capture an 18,000-ft high ridge just inside the Indian side of the loc. Glacial and rocky, with days warming to minus 6 degrees Celsius, the mountain with its 80 degree gradient was a test even for skilled mountaineers. Information filtering in over wireless dispatches from the LoC describe how while leading a platoon (36 men) and supported by artillery fire from the rear positions, Wangchuk was negotiating an ice wall in the dead of night on May 31 when he heard sounds of picks and hammers on the other side of the ridge facing Pakistan. He quickly flashed a wireless message to the rear. Wangchuk and his men made it to the ridge top in three hours under heavy fire by Pakistani troops from the flanks. The mountains rang with the Ladakh Scouts’ war cry, “Ki Ki So So Lhargyalo” (The gods will triumph), as the superbly fit Wangchuk — he was a top athlete at Delhi’s Modern School — led his men towards the brutal enemy-held cliffs. From there they spotted a group of intruders trying to scale the ridge from the Pakistan side. Wangchuk told his men to hold on till the enemy came within firing range. Four intruders were killed in the gun-battle. Wangchuk and his column had foiled a major infiltration attempt. The soldiers then retrieved the bodies of the intruders who turned out to be Pakistani Army regulars.

A grateful Nation remembers all the Kargil Heroes and pay their homage to those brave men. Jai Hind. Jai Bharat. Indian Armed Forces Rock.

Homage

Retired Officers Protest against raw deal for Armed Forces in 6th Pay Commission

Retired officers of the Indian armed forces took out a rally in Gurgaon, Haryana, on Sunday to protest against the sixth Pay Commission report. The rally was held in Gurgaon as the Central government refused to allow it to be held in New Delhi and didn’t even allow them to lay a wreath on India Gate to pay homage to soldiers who gave their lives for the country.

Commodore Uday Bhaskar told rediff.com, “The Sixth pay commission’s recommendation, if implemented, will not help raise the morale of the armed forces. The Indian fauj (forces), once the noble ‘profession of arms’, will be reduced to a ignoble ‘profession of alms’ by a callous politico-bureaucratic elite.”

General Nirmal Chander Vij, former Chief of Army Staff, wrote a letter in anguish to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against the adverse implications of the sixth pay commission on the armed forces.

The army’s foremost strategist and a Kargil war-decorated soldier, General Vij was country’s 21st Chief of Army Staff. The letter written on April 17, 2008, speaks volumes about the armed forces’ dissatisfaction, which no government can ignore.

The copy of the letter written by N C Vij to Dr Singh is reproduced below.

Adverse implications of sixth Pay Commission report on the armed forces

Last week I had gone to Amritsar to attend a regimental function. I was surprised to note the intense disappointment and despondency in all the jawans, officers and their families as they spoke vociferously about how let down they felt with the sixth Pay Commission report. The services chiefs have already met the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri (defence minister) and expressed their deep concern.

As a former chief, I feel morally duty-bound to bring this fact to the notice of the Hon’ble Prime Minister in my personal capacity. I take heart from the fact, that it is under your leadership, that, in my tenure, the government went for a major improvement in the ‘operational posture by sanctioning South Western Command and 9 Corps HQs with full complements and also for some restoration of self esteem of the young officers through addressing their delayed promotions-cum-service conditions, by approving Part 1 of Ajay Vikram Singh Committee report’.

If this had been followed up, through a balanced PCR and implementation of Part II of the ‘AVS Report’, things would have reasonably improved, but unfortunately the very opposite has happened.

The PCR has hurt the Armed Forces on the following major accounts:

* Military Service Pay – (X Factor): The Military Service Pay, which has now been introduced, is intended to compensate service personnel for intangible difficulties and risks, which they experience during their service careers. While this is a welcome step, the jawans who face the greatest privations, have been given a paltry amount of Rs 1000/-.

As recommended by the three services to the Ministry of Defence, this compensation be fixed in the following manner; (i) for jawans and Junior Commissioned Officers (below Lt rank), MSP should be 62.5 per cent of their basic pay (ii) for officers, MSP be fixed at 56.5 per cent of basic pay (iii) since there is no justification for excluding Maj Generals and Lt Generals from this pay (just 300 in number), they should also be included. (iv)Lastly, as these difficult service conditions have been existing all along, the arrears must be paid wef Jan 1, 2006, as in the case of other recommendations of the Pay Commission. All these recommendations have already been made by the Defence Services.
* Depressed Pay Scales and Lowering of Status of Officers: (i) In determining the grade pay of officers of the rank of Brigadiers and below, the Pay Commission has excluded the rank pay, from the scale of officers, on the ground that rank pay is an element of Military Service Pay now proposed. The exclusion of the rank pay from the pay scale has led to depressed grades of pay and lowering ‘Services’ status in different ranks by one rung below the extant position. This will cause immense functional problems not only for inter-se functioning vis-a-vis the civilian/police counterparts etc but also within the Armed Forces, wherein a large number of civilians are working.

The Pay Commission has upgraded the DsG of certain police forces and certain specific posts in other civil services. It is important to note that (i) Lt Generals and equivalent comprise just 0.13% of the Services Officer Cadre as against at least fifteen-twenty times more posts at that level in civil/police services and more than a hundred times in the IAS. Furthermore, the creation of posts of Special Secretaries like the earlier Additional DGP will further upset the entire status equation. The promotions in the Services are achieved (if one escapes the most extraordinary degree of supercessions) with much longer service. For example at the lower level, a Brigadier is promoted after 28 years service and a Major General with 33 years service, whereas their counterparts (in non-military services) get these promotions with 14-16 and 20 years service resulting in huge disparities. The service officers thus suffer both on account of status and total take home salary to the tune of 30-40 lakh and more.

In order to restore parity, I, therefore, strongly recommend that:- (i) ideally, the rank pay should be restored or in the very least, grade pay be linked to the length of service equivalent to that of the IAS, since the promotions in services are much slower and;(ii) For protecting the status equation of ‘Lieutenant Generals’ it is recommended that they must remain above DsG of Police forces and equivalent to five DsG of the PMF. It may be mentioned that in the Warrant of Precedence, all ‘Lt Generals’ have been placed in Article 24, whereas, DsGP are in Article 25. Hence, any disparity in pay structure will lead to an anomalous situation.  Similarly, the status equations finalized in the Fifth Pay Commission for all levels must be maintained. Any further erosion of status will undermine the military leadership in the eyes of their own subordinates.
* Introduction of Running Pay Band and Adverse Impact on Junior and Middle Piece (Majors to Colonels) and Brigadiers level Officers: The new scales now introduced have hurt officers of these levels very badly and are resulting in virtually negligible benefits amounting to just 10 percent or so. This aberration is likely to start a trend of resignations of large number of officers, in these ranks soon on completion of the mandatory minimum 20 years service. I gather that already more than approx 650 officers have been waitlisted for premature release. The Services, which are already heavily undersubscribed, cannot sustain this exodus. One additional pay band is required to be introduced here to ensure suitable benefits to officers at all levels. There is, thus, a need to have two pay bands, one between Lt to Lt Colonels and the other between Colonels to Brigadiers with suitable raise linked to the length of service.
* Lateral Shift and Assured Second Career for Men-‘A Myth’: The Pay Commission recommendations for the Services hinge, largely, on the successful implementation of the lateral transfer of the service personnel, into the PMFs/Central Police Organizations (CPOs). Thus, these recommendations have been ‘based on and got eroded’ in the garb of a possible future lateral shift and assured second career. The scheme of lateral transfer, if not implemented or delayed, would negate the most core underlying concept/assumption of these recommendations. I may submit here, that this particular recommendation has been attempted for implementation for decades (included in the Fifth Pay Commission Report also) but with no success earlier. Nor will it succeed in future for the obvious reasons. All Pay Commission recommendations thus need to be re-examined in the absence of this basic assumption of lateral transfer. The lateral transfer was also considered earlier actively and dropped, when I was the Vice Chief.
* Safeguarding of Interest of the Pensioners: Over the past two decades, the government has been able to achieve some parity in the pensions of the current and past retirees. ‘One rank one pension’ was more or less achieved for the men, and in the case of officers, some minimum parity was brought in by grant of pension at the bottom of scale of the rank in which they retired. However, with introduction of running pay bands and the absence of top and bottom of the scales for any rank, the parity with specific bands, achieved over some time now, will be lost. There is, thus, a need to protect the interests of the past retirees by suitable modifications and thereby ensuring enhanced pensionary benefits to the tune of minimum 30%.
* ‘Anomalies Committee’ is Unlikely to Succeed in Addressing the Grievances of the Armed Forces: I have read in the media that an Anomalies Committee has been set up to look into the issues raised by everyone.  This will not solve the problems of the Armed Forces for two reasons: (a) The Lack of Sensitivity/ Understanding — This committee, which does not even have representatives of the armed forces as their members, will never be able to achieve a deep understanding or be sensitive enough to their problems. It is for this reason of lack of sensitivity, that the status of the Indian Armed Forces has undergone constant erosion with every Pay Commission Report.  (b) Problems are of Basic Principles and Not Mere Technicalities — The anomalies committees can address the technicalities but our problems are on account of the core concepts and approach and not merely of technicalities. The problems of the Services can be solved, only with the involvement of the leadership of the country. Therefore, a ‘Group of Ministers’ alone will be able to address these issues.
*  Summary of Recommendations:
(a) Lateral Shift and Assured Second Careers for Men: Since all recommendations for the men are based on an assured second career, which is likely to be a non starter, a time limit of one year be fixed for implementation of the proposal of ‘lateral shift’.  In the interim, all related recommendations for men be reviewed and made applicable as suggested in this paper based on the existing scenario.
(b) Military Service Pay: As recommended by the three services to the Ministry of Defence, this compensation be fixed in the following manner (i) for jawans and Junior Commissioned Officers, MSP should be 62.5 per cent of their basic pay (ii) for officers at all levels, it should be fixed at 56.5 per cent of their basic pay (iii) since, there is no justification for excluding Major Generals and Lt Generals from this pay (just 300 in number), they should also be included for benefits as all other officers. (iv)Lastly, as these difficult service conditions have been existing all along, the arrears must be paid wef January 1 2006, as in case of other recommendations of the Pay Commission.
(c) Depressed Pay Scales and Restoration of Status of Officers:  In order to restore parity, the recommendations are (i) ideally, the rank pay should be restored or alternatively the grade pay be linked to the length of service equivalent to that of the IAS, since the promotions in the services are much slower and fewer. (ii) with a view to protect the status equations of Lt Generals, they should be above DsG of Police forces and be equivalent to that of the five DsG of the PMFs and remain in Article 24 of the Warrant of Precedence and lastly (iii) the status equations finalized in the Fifth Pay Commission report must be maintained in all the ranks.
(d) Introduction of Running Pay Band and Adverse Impact on Junior and Middle Piece Officers: To offset the disadvantages of virtually no benefits to junior and middle level officers and also the factor of much delayed-cum-fewer promotions, an additional pay band be introduced. There should, thus, be two pay bands; one for Lt to Lt Cols and second for Colonels to Brigadiers with suitable raise linked to the length of service.
(e) Protection of Pension for Past Retirees: Fixation of pension scale for the past retirees be done in a manner that their interests are protected and they get raise in their pensions to the tune of minimum 30 percent.
(f) Group of Ministers: It is recommended that a GOM be appointed to examine the grievances of the Services. Till the time, their recommendations are finalized, the Pay Commission Report for the Services be held up.

Conclusion
Sir, you yourself hail from a state, which has traditionally produced soldiers. You would have often wondered, as to why a supremely fit jawan/JCO who retires at the young age of 42-48, ages and grows old so fast. It is because he has no resources to fall back upon to ensure a decent living for his family after his early retirement. This problem gets further accentuated with the constraints of even poor farming conditions. Why should a soldier retire at this early age (other services serve upto 60 years) and why this man who has served the Nation so valiantly not be given a second career by way of ‘lateral transfer’, which alas will never come about.

The service conditions have become even tougher and more risk prone today than what they were when we joined the service in 1962, because of the pressures of ‘insurgency’. Insurgency poses nearly as much physical danger as a war. A soldier is thus exposed to constant risks and yet he retains the motivation to build a ‘fence of 650 km length at varying altitudes upto 14000 ft’ in six to nine months flat, to successfully defeat the infiltration. The foreign armies are studying the underlying reasons of such a high level of motivation and dedication.

In the Indian Armed Forces, a jawan/officer serves almost every alternate tenure of three years in the insurgency environment, whereas all other armies in the world are not being able to sustain even one ‘nine months’ tenure. Officers and their jawans do it for the izzat (honour) but this raison d’etre is now getting deflated with such Pay Commission reports, and all their expectations are being shattered.

I strongly urge you Sir, to appoint a ‘GOM’ for the armed forces and withhold the implementation of this report, for the defence services, till the justice is given to them. The armed forces cannot sustain any continuation of poor intake of officers and also current wave of resignation requests. Already, the Indian Military Academy and OTA, Chennai are reporting a drop in the intake by over 70 per cent. In case of jawans, this recruitment trend will continue yet for a few more years, but their level of motivation will drop. The country cannot afford either of these situations.

N C Vij

Source: rediff.com

6th Pay Commission: PM Wants civil, defence services rewarded!

Maintaining that he wanted the civil and defence services to be “properly rewarded”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said his government was committed to redressing grievances and concerns expressed over some parts of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.“I would like our civil and defence services to be properly rewarded. I also believe that the tax payers will not grudge anyone of us better remuneration as long as we are serving the best interests of our people, our country most efficiently,” Singh said while addressing senior officers on Civil Services Day here today.

The pay panel’s recommendations have invited criticism from defence officers and members of the Indian Police Service (IPS). While defence officers had approached Defence Minister A K Antony with their grievances and suggestions, IPS officers have been urging Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to have anomalies in the recommendations removed.

Pointing out that the Pay Commission was part of efforts to “redress systemic deficiencies”, the Prime Minister said that a mechanism had already been set in motion for hearing and redressing grievances. Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar is heading a high-level committee to look into the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.

The Prime Minister, however, maintained that improved conditions of work “must go hand in hand with improvement in work on the ground”. He seemed to make an indirect reference to sections of officers going public with their disappointment with the pay commission report. While the government was committed to the welfare of the services, he also expected the “highest standards of discipline and decorum from our civil servants”.

He used the occasion to deliver a message to the bureaucracy — that the civil services had to be fair, honest and efficient so that public perception about the government could be changed. The poor and the under privileged complained that the government was biased against them; the business class complained that the government was “excessively intrusive and slow to act” while the middle class complained that it was “corrupt and unresponsive”, he said.

“We must introspect and recognise that there is a great deal of public dissatisfaction with the functioning of government, at all levels of government. This challenge the civil service must endeavour to address as a collective entity,” he said. He added that the government also needed to improve its “human face” as it moved away from running industries and controlling economic activity to managing public services delivery.

Calling for special attention must be paid to the needs of the poor, particularly the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities, women and children, the Prime Minister sought a “renewed commitment to placing oneself on the side of the disadvantaged in society.”

He sought the bureaucracy’s help to improve the performance of the government’s flagship programmes. The initial feedback on schemes like Bharat Nirman, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, National Rural Health Mission and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan were “generally positive though not uniform across states”, he pointed out.

There were areas like food distribution, nutrition and basic health services where a lot more needed to be done. “We have increased outlays, so the financial constraint has eased, but it is your managerial challenge to ensure that the outcomes are also now better than ever before,” he told the gathering.

Indian Express: Dated 22/04/08

Battle of Longewala: Truth must be told

THE BATTLE of Longewala is part of army folklore. This is a fairy tale of 100 odd soldiers and their steely resolve, which forced an entire Pakistani brigade, backed by an armoured regiment of 45 tanks, to retreat in the 1971 war. This fascinating story was also captured on celluloid in the film ‘Border’, directed by JP Dutta. The battle of Longewala has been told and retold in military journals and is held out as a shining example to students graduating from the military academies. The sheer valour displayed by Major Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri and his alpha team is just an unmatched feat.
Longewala TankBut some war veterans have challenged this story after 37 years. Major General (retd), Atma Singh Hansara, told Hindustan Times in an interview, “I dispute the ground battle completely. It is mockery of army ethos. No ground battle was fought and the army had merely rehearsed it on a sand model after the ceasefire to cover up the incompetence of senior military commanders.”

Air marshal, MS Bawa, who was directly involved in the war, also agrees with Hansara. He says, “This is a challenge. There was no contact between the enemy and the army.” He further said that the Pakistani thrust was blunted entirely by air action alone.
Atma SinghThis controversy made me go through some facts related to the battle. It is very hard for me to believe, as the story of Longewala has motivated several youngsters to join the forces. I tried to read the available journals, articles, magazines and accounts of war heroes to know the truth.
The Air Force War diary says that this turned out to be a clean battle, one of its kinds. This is the most decisive battle fought between Indian Air Force (IAF) and armour. Even Major General, RF Khambatta, GOC, 12 Infantry Division, lends credence to the Air Force’s claim. Pakistan General, Muqeem, in his book ‘Crisis of Leadership in Pakistan’, mentions that large number of vehicles, tanks and guns got bogged in sand. The enemy was the master of skies and destroyed 18 tanks and other vehicles at his leisure. The army documents related to war seems to nail the controversy. It only gives credit to Chanpuri’s men for ‘holding out’ a lonely post. The document says, “ At Longewala that day, IAF added a glorious new chapter. This was the straight battle between the Pakistan armour and IAF hunters. The bulk of Pak armoured regiment was destroyed by air action alone.”
Truth, it is said, is often the first casualty in the war. The controversy has raised several questions that need to be answered. If this is the truth, then why the army is keeping the lie still alive? Is the army taking more credit than it deserves? What incompetence military commanders are trying to hide? If former officers are correct, then what has propelled them to speak now? They should have protested before or even when the film Border was released?
The Indian army has been in news for wrong reasons, and it is time more facts were opened to put an end to this (de)famed battle. But let’s not make any conclusions unless we hear from both the forces. It is better not to conclude with half knowledge. This is something related to the dignified and respected Indian armed forces, and thus, it is in the interest of services that the truth about the Longewala battle be told to the citizens.

Clarification: I have taken the quotes from magazines, journals, war veteran accounts and websites.