Wednesday, June 24, 2015



A lot of angst has been directed at the decision of veterans organisations to boycott the 50th anniversary celebrations of the 1965 Indo-Pak War in protest against the delay in implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme by the Union government.

The barbs have come from expected as well as unexpected quarters. From journalists adversely commenting upon the move to fellow veterans who once wore the uniform and feel that it is improper to boycott the celebrations.

Comments such as "cutting ones nose to spite the face" and "nation first" etc have been directed towards a community which has dedicated its entire youth, if not life, towards the service of the nation and is now forced to adopt such extreme measures in support of their legitimate demand when all modes of redressing a wrong have failed.

A soldier fights for honour. He fights for not only the honour of the nation but for his own personal honour too. Something which can be difficult for a average citizen to grasp and understand. He fights for the flag, a few pieces of ribbon and for the pride of his comrades and unit. And he gives up his life and limb for the nation when the situation so demands. That is what makes him special. And that makes him deserving of a higher honour than any other calling or profession.

But those who question the motives of veterans by suggesting that they are putting their narrow interests first and foremost and the nation last must answer some questions.

Where is that pride which used to exist in an average citizen for a soldier?
What has been done to restore the respect of a soldier across the spectrum of rank?
Why has a soldier's position been allowed to degrade in comparison to the bureaucracy?

And now, after denying him status as well as equal pension and after making false promises before and after the elections, if the soldier feels cheated and betrayed after endless rounds of meeting with the Defence Minister, is he wrong? To term it as if he wants a few Rupees more at the cost of the nation is downright insulting.

Has he been left with any other option but to sit on hunger strikes, return his service medals and boycott government functions? Have the veterans not behaved with impeccable dignity and got nothing but false promises in return?

No one needs to preach to a soldier who has fought in any war or worn the uniform of his defence services on his rights and how he should get them if they are denied. He has done his bit for the nation and a tad bit more than any commentator like me will every do in his entire life. Those who have taken decision of life and death in war like situations can certainly be trusted with making the right decisions when it comes to OROP.

Patriotism sells and uber patriotism sells even more in these days of hyper nationalism.

It is all very simple.

The soldier wants his honour restored. The OROP agitation is, in many ways, a manifestation of the feeling of degradation of honour and dignity over the years.

Give the soldier back his status as first among equals that existed 50 years back.
Let that stripe on a sleeve and pips on an epaulet mean what they did 50 years back.
Then come and talk about the 50 years of the 1965 war.

And till then refer to what a soldier wrote about being under fire 100 years back.
He knew best what it means by 'nation first'.

"If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as cud
Of vile incurable sores on innocent tongues
My friend, you will  not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory
The old lie; Dulce et Decorum Est
Pro Patria Mori"

-Wilfred Owen

(Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori: It is sweet and honourable to die for ones country)

Monday, October 20, 2014


After a gap of nearly two months between the de-classification of promotion board results for the rank of Lt Gen, the Army HQs has finally released the posting orders of some officers along with the posting orders of those whom they are relieving.

It is surprising to note that the number one on the merit list, Maj Gen PS Mehta, armoured corps, has not been posted as a Corps Commander but has been promoted in situ with local rank of Lt Gen.
He is at present posted as MGGS Western Command and this means that he will continue to hold this appointment in the rank of Lt Gen. This also means that for some time the HQs Western Command will have three Lt Generals posted on its strength with a three star General functioning as MGGS. It is not fathomable why the General Officer has been denied a appointment as a Corps Commander in this first lot of postings.

The other postings include that of Maj Gen Amarjit Singh as GOC 2 Corps. He is from the Bihar Regiment and is at present posted in the COAS Secretariat.

Maj Gen Rajeev Tiwari will move as GOC 9 Corps. He is posted at present in Army War College and is from armoured corps.

Maj Gen Sarat Chand moves from the RR directorate as GOC 4 Corps. He is a Garhwal Rifles officer.

Lt Gen P Bakshi, the present GOC 9 Corps, will move as Chief of Staff Northern Command while Lt Gen AK Ahuja, GOC 4 Corps, will move as DCIDS (PP&FD).

Saturday, October 11, 2014


One really must hand it to 61 Cavalry. Their devotion to the game of Polo surpasses anything else. It really does not matter if the morale and discipline in the regiment is in tatters after the alleged brutal beating up of a jawan by some officers. It also does not matter if the Indian and Pakistani troops are engaged in a confrontation on the International Border and the Line of Control which threatens to spiral out of control. For 61 Cavalry, Polo comes first. Which is why perhaps, disregarding the situation within the regiment and on the borders of the country, a contingent of the regiment rushed to China to take part in a Polo match with Pakistan.

It also does not matter that the Indian Polo Association, on whose behalf the 61 Cavalry takes part in Polo tournaments, is not even recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. This amazing fact has been admitted by the Ministry in a RTI reply. However, more of it later.

In the circumstances prevailing on the country’s border, it should be eminently avoidable for any Indian Army contingent to take part in a direct match with Pakistan. Leave aside the fact that such matches have no sanctity in the eyes of the Indian government, the Indian Army itself as well as the Quarter Master General’s Branch should have been seized of the gravity of the situation and should have called off the participation of the Indian Army officers in the team.

The fact of the matter is that India and Pakistan played in the Zone ‘D’ play offs in China where Pakistan today defeated India to qualify for the World Cup to be held in Chile in March 2015. The teams of India and Pakistan arrived in Tianjin city of China on Oct 7 where the match was played Metropolitan Polo Club. Horse draw and team meeting  was held on Oct 8, a practice match was held on Oct 9 and the actual match was played today i.e. October 11.

The Indian team comprised Lt Col Ravi Rathore (61 Cav), Maj Vishal Chauhan (61 Cav), Simran Shergill, Abhimanyu Singh, Naveen Singh, Kuldeep Singh, Team Manager Lokendra Singh.

Interestingly, the Commandant of 61 Cavalry, Col R Pattu was the manager of this team and had very nearly left for China but for the unfortunate happenings in his unit and he was dissuaded from leaving at such a crucial juncture. A Court of Inquiry is taking place into the incidents in the unit and as per media reports an FIR has also been filed by the wife of the affected jawan, naming four officers for assaulting her husband brutally.

While there can be an elaborate discussion on the command and control situation in 61 Cavalry over the years and the manner in which the image of the regiment is being affected, but that should be the subject of another post. This regiment has no other person that the Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh as its Colonel of Regiment by virtue of his appointment as the Army Chief. Therefore, all steps taken by the regiment must be keeping in regard the high office that the Army Chief holds.

Again, it is a matter of a long discussion as to why the Indian Polo Association is not affiliated to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. I have elaborated on this earlier in my blog too. However, to put it in a nutshell, the IPA did not appoint any Public Information Officer under the RTI ACT, as demanded by the Ministry, therefore it seized to be affiliated to it and does not get any funds from it.

This reluctance to be a part of the RTI Act is also exhibited by the Army Polo and Riding Club which has successfully stonewalled all attempts to gather information about its activities despite the fact that it uses all assets and personnel of the Army and comes within the definition of a public authority.

It can be nobody’s case that when it comes to encouraging sports activities, the Indian Army is doing a great service to the nation. It also cannot be denied that if not for the Army, the nation would be nowhere in the game of Polo. However, it is quite clear that the higher echelons of the Army are being kept in dark about the actual position of the IPA vis-à-vis the government.

The lack of transparency is a bane and since 61 Cavalry is deeply involved in all Polo affairs of the Army it is only correct that all facts should be out in the open and nothing should be concealed or hidden.

It is, perhaps, also time to debate the relevance of a horsed cavalry unit in the Indian Army. 61 Cavalry needs to be better utilized. For purposes of tradition the President’s Body Guards are enough as they too are horsed. The 61 Cavalry Regiment should be mechanized so that its traditions and history are not lost, but it certainly should do more than just parading down the Rajpath once a year and its officers taking part in Polo matches under the auspices of a association which is not even recognised.  

Lekin ye qissa phir kabhi.


Thursday, September 4, 2014


It was a simple RTI query filed by me on the process of the system of procurement for the Bi-Modular Charge (BMC) System for the Bofors 155 mm Guns of the Artillery which went unanswered. It went unanswered by the Public Information Officer as well as the Appellate Authority who declined to answer it citing secrecy rules. It was quite inexplicable why the Army was stonewalling my query and so I decided to up the ante and file a appeal with the Central Information Commission which was kind enough to hear my appeal on July 18 this year and ordered the Army to provide the information regarding the process of procurement of BMC within 4 weeks of the receipt of the order.

The Army was present in full strength to defend its case and was represented by a Brigadier, a Lt Col as well as a Major. The Lt Col was from the tender committee which was dealing with the procurement of the BMC and it fell upon him to brief the CIC on the reason why a veil of secrecy was being thrown on the procurement process.

The very first line of defence adopted that the information could be misused by the enemy could jnot convince the CIC who said that it was not a cogent reason. Thereafter, there was no real defence left for the representatives of the Army but to admit that the reason why they were unable to give out precise information was because the procurement process had not yet been completed! Now this was an amazing fact accepted by them given the fact that several years have lapsed since the procurement process of BMC started and it is inexplicable why the tender has not yet been finalised.

On one hand the Indian Army has not been able to upgrade its artillery by purchasing new guns due to bureaucratic red-tapism and other assorted factors and on top of that comes this shocking admission that we are also unable to procure charges for our artillery shells of 155 calibre due to unknown reasons.

Now I do not know how this might affect the operations capability of the Army and I do not want to hazard a guess but I do feel that something is amiss somewhere and someone must be held accountable for this lapse.

Meanwhile six weeks have elapsed since the order was passed by the CIC and I am yet to receive the information that was ordered to be provided to me by the Indian Army. There has not even been a single line written to me to assure that the information is on its way or that it might be delayed.

I will of course, resort to filing another application before the CIC, but that is not the issue on hand. It is high time that antiquated procurement procedures are amended as well as transparency is brought into the entire system so that those responsible for delays on procurements are taken to task.

And hiding everything behind a fictitious veil of of secrecy is also ill-advised. We are all working in national interest. A holier than thou attitude while dealing with RTI applications and first appeals must be shed.

The sooner the better.

(Pic courtesy

Friday, August 29, 2014


Well, there is not much to say. The letter says it all. Ignore the first part of it. That makes perfect sense and is in accordance with sanity.

Concentrate on Para No. 3.

Look at the dichotomy of the serious security need guideline in the preceding para and this succeeding para .
While there is nothing wrong with the intention of getting a ladies meet photographed by a lady, it is the suggestion of the use of a Lady officer for the same which is stupid.

Suggests a mentality of a particular kind.

In my view it means: "You may be an officer. But your being a lady changes it all".

But it's just my view. If you readers feel otherwise, do let me know.