Friday, 25 November 2016

Dissonance between Words and Deeds

‘Atrocious!’ roared the honourable Minister in his objection to the comparison of deaths of 40 Indian citizens standing in queues to exchange their hard earned old high denomination (OHD) notes with the death of 19 Indian Army’s soldiers, killed by terrorists’ bullets.

There is more atrocity. Alas, the victims are the serving and retired Indian Armed Forces personnel. These are not discussed elsewhere, even in muted voices.

For the first time in the history of 70 years of India’s independence, both serving and retired Central Govt’s civilian employees have enjoyed increased (2.57 times) salaries, pension, and arrears for the past three months. The Finance Minister’s statement that long queues are because the arrears of the Seventh Pay Commission are being exchanged is proof, if one was needed!

But serving Indian Armed Forces personnel and widows of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and retired Veterans have not been paid.

Again, for the first time in 70 years after independence, the Indian Armed Forces have politely declined, in writing, to implement Govt’s orders dated 5th September 2016 in respect of pay and disability benefits. The polite regrets are to a Govt that extols every soldier’s death and sacrifice. The Govt appears to have agreed with the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations put up by the bureaucrats aka Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECoS).                

Once again, for the first time in 70 years after independence, the Govt has approved “the payment of arrears on an ad-hoc basis, @ 10% of existing Basic Pay plus Dearness Allowance@ 125%”  because the Indian Armed Forces have stood firm that the Seventh Pay Commission has adulterated the genuine entitlements of the Indian Armed Forces.

Why the dissonance between what the Govt says about Indian Armed Forces and what the Govt does for them? Here are just 4 instances of many.

1: - Govt’s orders of 2008 on pay for Indian Armed Forces personnel state that Military Service Pay (MSP) is to be added to Pay in the Pay Band (or Basic Pay) and Grade Pay including for calculating pension for all purposes  except for calculating annual increments and determining status. The Seventh Pay Commission decided not to include MSP even for calculating the entry (Basic) pay from Sepoys to Brigadiers.

The Govt, despite praises for the sacrifices of the Indian Armed Forces every time a soldier dies, did not question non-inclusion of MSP for calculating the new Entry (Basic) Pay. Therefore, without MSP being added to calculate the new Entry (Basic) Pay, Govt’s orders of 5th Sep 2016 will result in a loss of approximately Rs 9000/- per month for Sepoys (and equivalents), which increases to a loss of Rs 21000/- per month for Brig (and equivalents).  

2: - Seventh Pay Commission recommended, and the ECoS concurred with lower scales of disability benefits for Indian Armed Forces. The Govt has issued orders without questioning the ECoS. The ECoS, living in the comfortable, air conditioned environs of North and South Blocks, appear unaware of disabilities due to adverse elements - the biting cold of Siachen, injuries due to the misfiring/jamming INSAS rifles, explosions of bombs and ammunition because of faulty design coupled with delays by the Govt in taking remedial action, partial deafness due to the noise levels in the cockpits of An-32 aircraft and helicopters et al.     

3: - Seventh Pay Commission has recommended that Indian Armed Forces officers be paid Rs 31500 per month and JCOs/ORs Rs 21000 as Hazard Allowance of the highest degree for serving in Siachen. On the other hand, the Pay Commission recommended that All India Services officers (which comprise IAS, IFS, IFoS, and IPS officers) be paid an additional 30% of their Basic Pay as an additional incentive to serve in Northeast states, Ladakh!. Aren’t they All India Services? Aren’t North-eastern States and Ladakh in India?  

4: - a One Man Judicial Committee (OMJC) was formed to adjudicate on OROP. MoD asked Veterans to make representations through the MoD, the administrative Ministry for the OMJC. Natural justice is denied because MoD knows the Veterans representation but Veterans know nothing of the MoD’s rationale on the same issues. The results of the OMJC may not surprise 18 lakh ESM and widows.    

The list of woes of Indian Armed Forces personnel are mis-treated is longer, but brevity prevents listing all of them.

A wise old man said, “Every society is judged by how it treats its least fortunate amongst them.” Sadly, the Indian Armed Forces appear to be the least fortunate! 
Pray for Indian Armed Forces that they may continue to defend our country, never mind the mendacity of the bureaucrats, and lip service of the Govts of the day!
Jai Hind 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Back to my seeking information and blogging

The Golden Jubilee Commemoration & Celebration - 2016 of 96th Pilots Course, 34th and 35th Navigators Course was held successfully at the Vivanta by Taj, Begumpet, Hyderabad.

Thanks to the Vivanta staff, managers, General Manager and, Director (Revenue) we had 4 enjoyable and flawless days and nights of catching up and reminiscing about that day (29 Oct 1966) 50 years ago.

We had a video address by the Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh, DFC to start the proceedings, a video on today's IAF followed by the Commemoration (a silent presentation).

Now, to resume that quest.

MoD - D(Pay/Services) has requested payment of Rs 70/- to provide 35 photocopied pages leading to the Resolution 01 (E) and 02 (E) dated 05 Sep 2016. I will be sending that off soon and then, we await the revelations!

So, cheer up and provide me with support and encouragement to obtain and share information, for after all Being Informed is the Best Weapon.

P.S: Amendment to last message:-  I am off to Mhow to share information with the Higher Command Wing on 23 or 24 Nov 16. 

An Open Letter to PM from a Naval Veteran (published at his request)

                                           AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PM
                                                    by a veteran
Dear Prime Minister,

 The OROP which you managed to get underway a year back, would certainly not have been possible without you at the helm of power. I congratulate you on this single most ground breaking policy decision taken since Independence. The recent suicide by a veteran over his pension, brings to the fore, how poorly and inefficiently pension matters of veterans are handled. The defence minister was quick to deflect the blame, by publicly announcing that the blame was with the paying bank. Later he said only about 5% veterans were not happy with OROP. In the numerous issues where this defence minister after studying files and records comes up with the worst conceivable answers, all against the interests of the armed forces, such unsubstantiated statements was but expected. I have had privilege of being of some help to many veterans over their pension issues, and some of the cases make very interesting reading on where the blame actually lies, and what corrective actions are required by the concerned department, probably,the same department that is giving the minister his figures and percentages.

Example 1: - Maj A.N.T retired (prematurely) in 1989. He called me up from Warud(MH) to tell me he was hardly getting any pension. I asked him to send me his PPO. The PPO was so badly prepared that it resulted in his getting a very low pension right from day one, and through the 4th, 5th and 6th CPCs. In 2014,his basic was just Rs12400.He had written a number of times to PCDA Allahabad,
but as he could not fathom the reason, he could not explain what the exact problem was.

He was getting the pension of a major with QS=20 yrs (not mentioned in the original PPO), whereas he had 20 yrs commissioned service + 6.5 yrs pre-commissioned service. A due drawn statement finally was made from 1989 to 2014 (14 pages) giving him the minimum pension in the rank of Lt Col(TS) through all pay commissions, and his pension restored to Rs 18205 in the 6th CPC (from a paltry 12000+). This resulted in PCDA making a fresh retiring PPO stating his QS, giving
him additional CVC on retirement+gratuity and in addition payment of arrears till 2014, a total of over Rs 4.5 lakhs. SBI was the bank in question which just kept forwarding his letters to PCDA, with no result. He could have bought a good 2 BHK home in Pune(the city of his choice), had he been given his correct dues in 1989.

Example 2: - Maj M.A. Z sought premature retirement in 1999. One look at his PPO was enough to make a letter to CDA(O) to revise his LPC. We went to CDA(O) with the letter, and found his name
missing from their database! Based on his letter he finally got arrears.

Example 3: - Lt Col SK T, retired in 2002.Similar case as example 1. His retirement benefits were revised, and he got a good sum in 2016.

Example 4: - Col S. U retired in 2002 (again premature) and a poorly prepared PPO again did him in. His retirement benefits were revised and he got a new retirement PPO with a handsome amount.

Example 5 Capt S K (IN) prematurely retired in 2004. A poorly and hastily prepared PPO resulted in a largely depressed retiring pension in 2004 and the following years. His PPO underwent a complete overhaul in end 2013 resulting in huge amount of arrears, including CVC and pension arrears as on 2004.

So what must the above reveal to the Defence Minister?

1. It must reveal at whose door the blame must lie. The CDA has always been inefficient in its functioning, but has successfully protected this fact from successive Defence Ministers. In fact
if a suicide has occurred over pension, why has he not asked for the PPO , to be publicised, to shame the real perpetrators? Why hide them.

2. The Defence Minister must know that with the plethora of computer systems and manpower available with them, manual records (ledgers) are still seen in rows of tables in CDA(O), Pune. Why? The reason being that they cheated the armed forces ,and then to undo the damage done, they had to issue thousands of fresh LPCs. But their basic nature is to short change the armed forces at every possible stage. Had they concentrated their efforts in preparing an iron tight pensioners’ data base, it would have served us better. This data base is not available for 100% defence pensioners.

3. The Defence Minister must know that if a pensioner who retired in 1999 is not on their data base, then it must raise serous questions of accountability, and must immediately lead to a data audit to understand where veteran’s records actually stand. The Defence minister stated that only ‘in about one lakh cases, the OROP had not been resolved’. Who gave him that figure, or how did he arrive at it? The same organisation which has not computerised the full data and which also told the earlier UPA govt that OROP was neither  'administratively or financially possible’ ?

4. An organisation that denies a pensioner the right to pension, by writing to banks to stop pension to a family pensioner (unless his/her date of birth is mentioned in thePPO), is assuming extra constitutional
powers.The same organisation issued a circular (to banks)10 yrs ago stating that `any of the following documents’ were okay for proof of birth-PAN, AADHAR, driving license etc etc. Yet when the PAN card copy was provided, they still insisted that AHQ/AG verify the date of birth. A letter had to be written to the PM by the pensioner, and immediately action was taken by SBI on that letter! In that I must congratulate the PM.

5. Another point of importance, to be understood by the Defence Minister, is that the initial commutation is the `capitalised’ value of commutation. There is a purpose for its release. Most veterans
use it for purchase of a roof over their heads. If any part of this is wrongly withheld and gets released
at a later date, the amount wrongly withheld should be scaled up using the CPI index figures, so that the amount released years later , meets the `capital’ requirements of the individual indexed at the time of its payment. Capital gains tax is computed in much the same way. This if enforced will mean that Rs 2 lacs, not given in 1989, would amount to over Rs 65 lacs today, and not Rs 3 or 4 lacs, as was actually paid in 2015!

6. The last and most important point is regarding CGDA’s data base of pensioners. Please release it in parliament and make it available to the ESM organisations. Each Parliament MP must also be given the responsibility to check district wise correctness of pensioners in the CGDA database to clean it up for correctness within 12 months, so that all defence and other pensioners’ problems
are ironed out. 

SA Kanetkar

The writer is a retired Naval Officer

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Should this blog also have the Pinocchio Test

Source: -

The Pinocchio Test
Where possible, we will adopt the following standard in fact-checking the claims of a politician, political candidate, diplomat, or interest group.
We do make some allowance for statements made in live interviews, as opposed to a prepared text. We will judge more harshly statements from a prepared text, on the grounds that the politician and staff had time to discuss the statistic. We also make allowances if the politician or interest group acknowledges an error was made. Finally, we also have a feature called “Recidivism Watch,” which highlights claims repeated by politicians even though the claim has been previously debunked.


One Pinocchio

Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods. (You could view this as “mostly true.”)

Two Pinocchios

Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. Can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people. (Similar to “half true.”)

Three Pinocchios


Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions. This gets into the realm of “mostly false.” But it could include statements which are technically correct (such as based on official government data) but are so taken out of context as to be very misleading. The line between Two and Three can be bit fuzzy and we do not award half-Pinocchios. So we strive to explain the factors that tipped us toward a Three.


Four Pinocchios



The Geppetto Checkmark

Statements and claims that contain “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” will be recognized with our prized Geppetto checkmark.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Actions Do Speak More Than Words

Remember a few days ago the PM said that the Raksha Mantri is like the Armed Forces, all action and hardly any words or some such thing?

Well, after the submission of the 7th CPC report an Empowered Committee of Secretaries was convened and should have interacted with all stakeholders, or that is what the Govt’s directive was.

So, the MoD, all action and now words ensured that as this extract from a reply (Ref No. C/7026/VIth CPC/14 dated 06 Oct 16) to a RTI request indicates: -

….2. The applicant has requested for information by way of dates, names, designation of stakeholders in the Army, Navy and Air Force and Veterans Association/Movement/League/Federation etc (met) the Defence Secretary and/or Ministry of Defence has had interactions with which all or any specific persons.

3.      However, all interactions are conducted/organised by MoD and this office is not part of any interactions. Services has requested MoD for inclusion of Services reps in ECoS interaction, even though no reps from Services attended any interaction. It is requested that the query may be asked from CPIO of MoD, as MoD conduct/coordinate all interactions at ECOS….”

Readers may draw their own conclusions.