Why have our Armed Forces degraded over the years?
I am 71 years old and have no ambitions left. I have been lucky to retire as a Brigadier with total service of 32 years. I am convinced my own course mates who were better than me as GCs in IMA Dehradun did not become Brigs, not because of anything lacking in them, it is only luck which I had and which they did not. I was lucky to serve under very kind and magnanimous COs who over rated me and I ended up my career fairly well.
Let us analyse the state of Armed Forces with an open mind. We are all quite fast in blaming politicians, IAS lobby and Service HQ for all the ills we are suffering. Let us look inwards and see when and how the rot began in Armed Forces and why so? You will realise you cannot apportion blame for this on any one group - i.e. Politicians or Bureaucrats or Service HQ. All of us – You and Me including - are responsible for why we are in this pathetic situation!
I am of the view that the Armed Forces right from Nehru days have been harmed. The political parties hate Armed Forces as they will not do their bidding like the Police do. Therefore, the political parties use and throw Armed Forces. The modus operandi by any political party is to give less to Armed Forces and make them beg for their legitimate dues.
Few senior officers of 1950s told us that when India became independent on 15 Aug 1947 and when Gen Cariappa was appointed as the first COAS, Pandit Nehru appealed to COAS to reduce pay of Army Officers as our Nation is poor and cannot afford British pay scales. Good soldier he is, Gen Cariappa immediately agreed for reduction of pay of Army Officers. Like a good Coorgi, he intelligently applied this reduction to Indian Commissioned officers like then Lt Col Sam Manekshaw MC who got commissioned as British Indian Army Officer and passed out from IMA, Dehradun in Dec 1934. All seniors to Lt Col Manekshaw who passed out from Sandhurst, UK and known as Kings Commissioned Indian Army Officers (KCIOs) were spared of this reduction of pay. Therefore one rule for me and another rule for you was introduced by Gen Cariappa. None of KCIOs got reduced pay but only Indian commissioned officers (ICOs) saw steep reduction in their pay. None of the ICS or other Central Govt officers accepted reduction in pay.
So this hypocrisy is there right from days of Field Marshal Cariappa. We do not see how these famous generals whose portraits and statues adorn all over the country damaged the interests of their subordinates yet safeguarding their own interests. I am told that KCIOs were paid salary in British pound sterlings and on their retirement these KCIOs were paid pension in British pound sterlings. Somebody can correct me if I am wrong.
Everyone is proud of Gen KS Thimmayya, DSO who was the only Indian brigadier who commanded a brigade in World War II. But do you know he superseded two seniors to become COAS? The lure of high office did not spare even that great general.
Lt Gen Nathu Singh Rathore when offered the post of COAS by none other than Pandit Nehru, refused saying Gen Cariappa, his senior is more qualified than him to be COAS. That is how Gen Cariappa became first COAS of Indian Army. Knowing one should not supersede his seniors, Lt Gen Thimmayya had no such qualms and accepted the post of COAS happily when offered. Since then the supersession is being used as a tool to keep the Service Chiefs in their place i.e. lower than Desk officer of Min of Def.
Smt Indira Gandhi wanted to see back of Lt Gen PS Bhagat, PVSM, VC so she gave extension of service to Gen GG Bewoor. Should Gen Bewoor accept that extension and deprive first Indian Victoria cross winner the honour to become COAS in his turn?
We are hero worshippers. For us those whom we admire have no blemishes. They are all pure white. You cannot point a finger at them as they are not like you and me.
When the two seniors to Gen Bipin Rawat were superseded why did not these generals put up their papers and redeemed their honour. No they will not do because they expected some goodies to be given if they do not resign. Therefore, the ills affecting Armed Forces is our own making and is not of recent origin. The rot set in 1950s. The rot is only growing big like cancer. I have no personal vendetta against these seniors. But they who should be our role models only looked after their own interests and left their subordinates to fend for themselves.
The loyalty to your subordinates is over once you finish command of your battalion or regt. Thereafter, the only question you and I ask is 'Mujhe kya milega aur kab milega aur kitna milega?'
700 officers are forced to knock the doors of Hon’ble Supreme Court to permit them to do their solemn duty to defend our country and not to involve them in legal cases citing violation of human rights for action taken against the terrorists. Whose jobs is it to protect interests of their subordinates? If you send them to hunt terrorists then don’t you give them protection against false allegation of human rights violations?
Lt Gen Deepak Hooda, former Army Cdr Northern Command accepted that security guards made a mistake in challenging car borne three youths who did not stop at two previous check posts even after being told to stop for checks in J & K and the third check post fired at them. Doing your duty is a mistake. The security guards are rotting in Tihar Jail since then. PM Modi wanted to gain votes for BJP in Kashmir and he forced Army to accept their so called mistake for doing their duty. He proudly announced this in Srinagar . 'Pahle Dafa Army ne Apna Galti Manliya. Yeh Hai Modi Sarkar ka Kamal. Isliye Kamal ko vote doh!'. Then Pulwama happens. Pradhan Chowkidhar, then COAS (Gen Suhag if I am not wrong) and Lt Gen DS Hooda, Army Cdr Northern Command are mum when questions are asked . 'Had you not court martialled those security guards who did their duty, Pulwama would not have happened'. I am happy Gen Suhag got rewarded for his loyalty to Pradhan Chowkidhar and making security personnel as sacrificial lambs to be appointed as High Commissioner of Seychells, post held by an IFS officer of Jt Secy whose ground service is only 16 years.
Why did not the CO of the Battalion, Sector Commander, Force Cdr and Corps Commander raise their voice and tell them our security guards did the right thing. None will be court-martialled. Everybody proved to be an accomplice in this drama and innocent security guards paid a price. Will any Security guard in future open fire?
Then Pulwamas Happen.
Whose job is it to protect the interests of subordinates?
Today a feeling is growing slowly in Armed Forces 'Hame koyi nahi bachayega kal kuch hogaya tho'. This is the faith troops have in their seniors. I am not against seniors but when they do wrong and justify it then only I get upset.
If we are ill-treated shabbily, do not blame Min of Def and IAS lobby. Look inward and then you will find we are responsible for what we are today. 1000 Cdrs (TS) with more than 26 years commissioned service are not granted rank of Capt IN (TS) even though AVS committee and Govt of India approved such promotions. These officers say 'CNS and COP are responsible for this grave injustice'.
Veteran CDRS (TS)
In stead of wailing 'Hamein nyay nahi mila. Hum lut gaye. CNS chor hai, COP badmash hain' they could have easily gone to AFT and prayed for justice and by now they would have got justice. No, I will not do it. Let someone else do it. Then I will enjoy higher pension of Capt IN (TS). Do you sympathise with such veterans?
60,000 serving officers in Armed Forces crib daily 'Hamein NFU nahi mil raha hain'. They will not take the trouble to do anything to see this injustice does not go far but expect one Col Mukul Dev to do the dirty work. Our Serving Officers happily accept crumbs thrown at them as Hard Area Allowance but do not realise a Constable of CRPF gets higher HAA than an Army Officer. If an Army martyr goes to his heavenly abode his wife is told to vacate government quarter after three months and then live under nearest tree. Whereas widow of CRPF martyr can stay in Govt quarter till her husband would have reached his age of superannuation.
Maj Gens / RAdms / AVMs. I respect them for their professional competence, hard work and all soldierly qualities. They write excellent articles on all subjects under the Sun. They are simply brilliant. I envy them for their solider – scholar qualities. They do know that their pension w.e.f. Jan 2016 is less than that of a Brigadier. The reason Maj Gen does not get MSP of Rs 15,500 whereas Brigadier gets MSP. Therefore pension of Brig of Rs 1,10,300 higher than Maj Gen of Rs 1,09,100. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Maj Gen SPS Vains Vs UOI (2018) (4) (SCT 453) ruled that Maj Gens should get higher pension than Brig.
Yet when you ask such Maj Gens 'Kam Pension araha hain. Kuch karte kyu nahi'
Answer we get from these soldier-scholars 'Main kyun karu? Main to pagal nahi huan. Haina sadda Maj Gen SPS Vains jo karna woh karega. Mein Ghar me bhaitke sham ko Teachers High lander with Kinley Soda peeunga aur Maje karunga'. What is your answer to them?
Capt is a commissioned rank where as Hony Capt is not. Today Capts who are SL officers, SCOs and RCOs retire as Capt because of their age. They are commissioned officers. They wail and sob 'Hamein JCOs ka pension milta hain'.
When you know Hony Capt is a JCO who is inferior in rank to Capt, could you not go to AFT and pray for higher pension and not pension of Hony Capt? No. I will not go. Let someone else go and till then I will keep cribbing.
Therefore, I strongly feel we the wretched lot of Armed Forces officers do not deserve anything. We need to be kicked by Desk Officers who show us what is our place. We believe in 'Me, myself and my family. Rest can go to Hell'.
Why do we deserve any better treatment?
I am sure, you know, out of all Central Govt services, Defence Forces are at the rock bottom of the ladder for pay, allowances and pension. Even CAPFs of Min of Home Affairs get a better deal than us.
Unless we analyse every issue with an open mind, we will never understand why we are in such a pathetic condition. Compare the number of Army Cdrs, Lt Gens and Maj Gens in any Central Govt services based on their cadre strength and see how many are there in Armed Forces. Our Armed Forces officers get the least compensation compared to any other Govt officers whether in States or in Central Govt. UP has 26 DGPs who draw pay of Army Cdrs. How many Army Cdrs and equivalent are there in 60,000 officer cadre of Armed Forces? When I see an injustice, I bring it to notice of all our veterans. Some listen to me and some criticise me labelling me as Anti-Establishment man.
About The Author
Brig. CS Vidyasagar has served the Indian Army for 32 Years in Corps of Engineers and retired in Mar 2004. He has served as Director Sainik Welfare, Andhra Pradesh for six years rendering help.