Indian Army cries out for more

…from the Sixth Pay Commission.

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship. –Omar Bradley

The Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor is on an official tour of South East Asia. The only media coverage emanating from his visit harps on the issue of officer shortage and pay commission in the Indian Army.

India’s army chief said he is hopeful of securing a salary hike for his officers, whose meager wages are blamed for a massive shortage of midlevel commanders in the world’s fourth largest army.

“We are hopeful that we will get a fairly decent package for the military personnel to make the armed forces an attractive career for the youth of the country,” Gen. Deepak Kapoor told The Associated Press Monday during an official visit to Malaysia.

“We have made some recommendations that should make the services fairly attractive. I am quite hopeful,” he said.

Officers are increasingly being drawn to better-paid jobs in the private sector and high school graduates are reluctant to join the National Defense Academy, India’s prestigious military training school, Kapoor said.

“When he (a high school graduate) finds that the armed forces is the least attractive, he is obviously not going to join,” Kapoor said.[TCP]

Considering the problems besetting the organisation, the continuous lobbying and pressure tactics being employed by the army can not be held against the Army Chief. The fact that he chose to proclaim so in a foreign land, to the international media, is certain to make many a patriotic Indian uncomfortable. What about the old adage that domestic politics stops at the water’s edge?

If a similar statement had been made by the Foreign Secretary in a foreign land about the shortage of quality diplomats due to poor compensation, most media outlets would have taken him to task. Army continues to be a holy cow in India and the Army Chief has been emboldened by his successful lobbying with the Indian media. Every media story highlighting the shortage of officers/ cadets or other problems with the Army, ends up blaming it on poor compensation and soliciting greater remuneration from the Sixth pay commission.

Are poor salaries solely responsible for these officer shortages? When did these shortages actually start? Going by a comment on this blog, there were only 90 cadets at the NDA in 1971 –

the jan course at the nda has always been below strength as most of the boys had joined some professional setup. i remember the 47 th course at nda post 71 had just about 90 and not enough to make the appointments.

The shortages have been there for over decades now and going by the Army Chief’s interview on TimesNow last week, the shortages have even been slightly made up in the last couple of years. There were over 2000 officers commissioned in the army in 2006, which is around 98 percent of the target. It is sad that the media has been so gullible and has made no efforts to explain the context and history of the shortages to the public so far.

About the salaries, it is lamentable that they are low. Honestly, can the government really afford to match them with those being earned by top corporate honchos. Can anyone name even one modern, democratic country where the salaries of soldiers are at par with those of top corporate stars? [The recruitment sites of the US Army and the UK Army could be a good starting point for the uninitiated, as should be this Guardian blogpost on the subject. The (high!) salaries in the US are also not that attractive, if this NYT op-ed is any indicator of facts.] The salaries of the army officers can not be viewed in isolation; the salaries of all other government officials, from the IAS and IPS to the paramilitary forces, also have to conform to the same scale. The various state governments have to follow suit while their finances haven’t yet recovered from the damage caused by implementing the fifth pay commission recommendations. Pay the army more, by all means; but can the nation really afford to do so? The combined pensions and salaries budget for the three services has already exceeded Rs. 25,000 35,000 crore this financial year. Yes, 25,000 35,000 crore — with the crumbs on offer to the soldiers currently!

Although the total compensation for an army officer is low, it is not a pittance. While the basic starting salary for a mint-fresh officer is Rs 8200/-, it is not his CTC. Sundry perks and allowances apart, there is a dearness pay and a dearness allowance, which is increased every three months in keeping with the WPI. When the short-service officers attend the six-month certificate programmes from India’s top management institutes after serving for five years, the CTC they mention to corporates in their job interviews is pegged at Rs 8 to 9 lacs. Barring the absolute cream of the country that attend the IITs and IIMs, the compensation in the army is certainly comparable to what the average joe on the street gets. There is an urgent need to have a sense of balance and perspective in this debate over more alms from the sixth pay commission.

You have to admire the army for running a sustained (and ostensibly successful) media campaign over the issue. They seem to winning the propaganda war. The compensation matters a lot, but so do the many other intangibles– organisational culture, job satisfaction, growth prospects, regular relocation and disruption of family life. There are many reasons for an unappealing military career in India today. Focusing exclusively on the salary without tackling the other areas of concern will do no good to the organisation. The “talented” lads, who will join for a plum salary will also quit for greener pastures a couple of years down the line. That is the norm in the corporate world as well. Will the army be able to handle that then or will that be someone else’s baby as the current politico-bureaucratic-military setup would be out of picture by then?

All this raises a larger question about the nature of the Indian army itself, or as is being conveyed by the Army chief and his ilk. Is there no difference between a mercenary and a soldier? They do possess the same technical skills; while the soldier uses those skills for advancing ends that are particularly valued by society, the mercenary uses the same skills to address narrow personal interests. Neither the idealism nor the patriotism of those who serve in uniform is in question here. The profession of arms is a noble calling, and there is no shame in wage labor. However, lure of the lucre has never been and can never be the sole motivation for a soldier. There is a sense of déjà vu when one recollects the numerous media reports in 1998/99 about the poor quality of officer intake in the Indian army, and the fitting reply given to all the naysayers by the young officers in the heights of Kargil.

One sometimes wonder whether the army top brass isn’t intelligent and experienced enough to understand all this. They certainly are. The harping on the unattainable and this false raising of hopes is a populist message to the rank and file via the popular media. Cheap popularity and populist gimmicks are no more the sole preserve of the politicians; our military leaders seem to have caught up.

At the end of the day, when the unfounded hopes of the trooper have been dashed, the generals will turn around and proffer, “We wanted you to get a lot more. The politicians and bureaucrats have schemed against us and prevented you from getting your due. But now we all have to live with it. It is not ours to question why, but to…”. If the top brass genuinely believes that enhanced compensation is the panacea to all ills plaguing the army, let them all resign (or at least threaten to do so) en masse when their “genuine” demands from the Sixth pay commission are not met. That would be the real test of their convictions and a proof that all this hype is not a deceitful trick being pulled up on the gullible soldier. To quote another commenter on this blog

Top Brass — “Do you have it in you”?

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94 Responses to Indian Army cries out for more

  1. Mohan Das February 8, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    Another hit on the bull’s eye! More than the salary hike, the Armed Forces need to focus on some drastic reforms including structural changes. Recently there was an article in Indian Express (An Army for tomorrow), in which the author (Anit Mukherjee) says, “To attract the idealistic and enterprising, the military must change its organisational DNA”. Well said Anit Mukherjee and well said Pragmatic!

  2. Mahesh February 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm #

    A very thought provoking piece, but I guess that one cannot just overlook the problem of shortage of personnl admist the issues of Media (mis)management. Answers must be sought, solutions found fast before the rot sets in. I think Mr Mohan Das has pointed out in the right direction in terms of “—change in organisational DNA” or in other word RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs). Hope we donot miss the proverbial bus and are left with the bullcart.

  3. EIDELON February 8, 2008 at 11:29 pm #

    Dear Pragmatic your views are full of contrasting ideas.They are logical but the reader is left with an after taste which understates your dislike for the army top brass. Is there a pathology or a history responsible for it? The armed forces need an urgent restructuring but the feudal mind set exists in the Indian psyche, including yours and hence it is difficult for even the armed forces to change their thinking drastically.
    But you have rightly brought out that if they don’t change they have a revolution in waiting. But your views can be construed or misconstrued as inflammatory/seditious ramblings of a geriatric.

  4. Pragmatic February 9, 2008 at 8:21 am #

    EIDELON:
    but the reader is left with an after taste which understates your dislike for the army top brass. Is there a pathology or a history responsible for it?
    Army, like all military organisations,is completely top-driven, and the “command structure” ensures that only the absolute top leadership can be the real change-maker. My dislike (if you say so!) is not for an individual, but the system that produces such leaders. There isn’t any history and I can’t think of any reasons for pathological hatred either.
    your views can be construed or misconstrued as inflammatory/seditious ramblings of a geriatric
    They better be understood in the context that they are being said. Someone needs to throw light on what is wrong with the Indian defence structure. There are enough sites eulogising the services. Inflammatory, seditious, geriatric — No! Wrong on all three counts.

  5. Cro February 9, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    I see a contradiction between your previous post and this one. Over there you talked about how the Military and the Media don’t see eye to eye. Here you talk about the Military successfully gaming the media to push forth their point of view. So has the Military managed to trump the Media? Am I missing something?

  6. Pragmatic February 9, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    Cro:

    Let me quote from my post on media –
    The relationship between the media and the military in this country is mostly of ignorance.

    An ignorant media has fallen for the Army story of “all problems driven solely by the poor pay”. They are not doing any contextual or background rigour on the subject.

    My point in the media-military post was about how the relationship can become more meaningful, the underlying factors of the relationship and the way ahead for an active engagement. Else a detached relationship based on the popular fallacies of an “ignorant media” and a “cocky all-brawn, no-brain soldier” is likely to founder on hostility and distrust.

    I don’t see any dichotomy here. The point is slightly nuanced. In this instance, the Army has trumped the media (to use your language). This amply proves the ignorance of the media and the detached relationship, as it exists today.

  7. sujata February 9, 2008 at 5:16 pm #

    I think before writing such articles one should actually go to the borders,the high altitudes,and the deserts to see what the army actually does.And not to forget he also should visit the army accomodations to count the number of leaking ceilings and should eat a meal made out of the army ration.It’s army’s own talent that the organization is good at maintaining it’s old resources and making the best out of the worst.We in the army try to adjust and enjoy in any kind of situation and people outside think that we are having a party through of out the year.Darling,if Media is showing the actual picture now to the public then where is the problem?Why should the Indian govt always pretend in those fancy advertisements about a hypothetical quality of life in army?

  8. kartik February 9, 2008 at 6:13 pm #

    dear sir
    it seem you are totally unaware of the basic facts when you start comparing army officers salary with IAS/IPS.the army officer is nowhere near to them.
    the game played by government after implementing the AV singh report for army was pathetic.
    at present only 22/23 percent of army officer joining can hope to reach upto the pay scale of 16400-22400.
    where as IAS/IPS reaches at this level sure shot 100 percent of them at around 14/16 years of service.

    but sir this is no problem
    the biggest problem is that no body advertises outside in the civil that dear young boys once you join army even if you do the best only 90 percent of you will start getting stagnating just at the service of 22 years(around 43/44 year of age)

  9. kartik February 9, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    as far as pay scale of army officers is concerne it seems that the writer of the blog is not at all aware of the facts. here below a comparison of govt officers is given
    kindly try to read the table by correcting your self
    SHORTAGE OF OFFICERS IN ARMY
    ATLEAST PUT THEM EQUAL TO OTHER CLASS ONE JOBS
    THE TABLE GIVEN BELOW SHOWS THE PAY SCALE OF FEW CLASS ONE JOBS IN INDIAN GOVERNMENT
    IAS
    (years) IPS
    (years) LECTURERS
    (years) ARMY OFFICERS
    (years) including rank pay
    8000-13500 0 0 0 0
    10000-15200 4 4 4 2
    12000-16500 9 9 9 9 (13125-16050)
    14300-18300 Does not exists 13 Does not exists Does not exists
    15100-18300 13 Does not exists Does not exists 13
    16400-20000 Does not exists 16 17 17/18 years (17100-19350)
    only 25 percent hope to reach at this level
    18400-22400 16(now being
    reduced to 14) Just forget this pay scale for army officers
    Because very very few reach at this level

    THE CONCLUSION
    1. the indian army officers are not even equal to any other class one job of indian government.
    2. every xyz who joins any class one job in india is sure shot to reach the pay scale of 16400—22400.
    3. on joining indian army a young boy can not even hope to get the what other class one job officers get.
    4. only 2o percent can hope to go beyond the rank of lt col in army . it means only 20 percent of young boys who join as an army officer can hope to get the pay scale of 16400—22400 or more ( note the point here that in every other class one job all xyz officers who join initially gets this pay scale).
    5. the above point indicates that 80 percent of army officers (who has more than 17 /18 years of service are rejected and dejected
    6. now a request to pay commission
    army officers never hope to get what ias gets. but kindly give them what other class one job officers are getting. that means THE PAY SCALE OF 16400—22400.
    THE SOLUTION
    1. THERE IS A SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR THIS PROBLEM.
    JUST PUT THE LT COL IN THE PAY SCALE OF 15100—22400 INSTEAD OF 15100—18700
    AND THIS WILL ENSURE THAT ARMY OFFICERS GET ATLEAST WHAT OTHER CLASS ONE JOB OFFICERS ARE GETTING

  10. beant parmar February 10, 2008 at 10:09 pm #

    Mr Pragmatic
    You are only good at pen pushing. No one can understand the problems of army unless one puts on the boots and many penpushers in india today who give sermons to soldiers and advise to generals are shit scarred to join the forces. Fools like you will contribute to decay and demoralistion of this wonderful machine created by history. In fact your arguments suck and make me sick. And my suggestion to you : why dont you join the army to have all the fun that people there are having and if you are old do prepare your son for this. I know you will start talking about choices in a democracy- pen pussher you

  11. sujata February 12, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    @beant parmar.

    I am here to back you with your views.

    It’s true that people who have never been close to the army(forget about serving in the army)are commenting even on sensitive issues.Let them cry.They are the lot who does n’t even deserve to be the citizen of this country.They will never do anything for the country and they will never let others serve the country also.They only can write bombastic words that are hollow.

    So,let’s forget them.We have our own problems in the army and and after keeping quiet for years and years if we are just asking to the 6th pay commission for our dues now….then the whole county is crying.They think we are well paid,we have privileges like accomodation,canteen,ration,conveyance etc etc.That every Govt employee gets except the canteen and ration thing.What the hell.

    Why to tell our story to people who are just diplomats and the only thing they know is just sitting in front of their laptops and try hard to size unplesant words against the army.Why to give explanations to even the whole country…..nobody will realise….because they have never put their feet inside our shoes….and they will never do that also…..simply because they don’t have the guts to face the bullets.

  12. Pragmatic February 12, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    Sujata/ Beant:

    Why should a logical stating of facts be held against anyone? And certainly when did it become an offence to correct a misinformation campaign. When I last heard, we were still living in a free, democratic society.
    Why should Army portray itself as moving with a begging bowl seeking pity and sympathy for all its glorious deeds? Isn’t it a noble profession at the end of the day?
    Generally I try not to react to personal insinuations. But I would request you to read my post carefully and let me repeat some extracts to clarify the point.
    1] The compensation matters a lot, but so do the many other intangibles– organisational culture, job satisfaction, growth prospects, regular relocation and disruption of family life. There are many reasons for an unappealing military career in India today. Focusing exclusively on the salary without tackling the other areas of concern will do no good to the organisation.
    2] Is there no difference between a mercenary and a soldier? They do possess the same technical skills; while the soldier uses those skills for advancing ends that are particularly valued by society, the mercenary uses the same skills to address narrow personal interests. Neither the idealism nor the patriotism of those who serve in uniform is in question here. The profession of arms is a noble calling, and there is no shame in wage labor. However, lure of the lucre has never been and can never be the sole motivation for a soldier.
    Finally, attack me personally if you will; but judge me on what I say and not who I am.

  13. sujata February 12, 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    @Pragmatic.

    If you have penned down the things of your own then you have to take the counter attacks personally too.Nobody is questioning you as a person,but I have all the rights to question your views.

    It’s not only you dear,I have been reading all the articles in all the leading newspapers and have been following the blogs of so many of them like you and finally it is bugging me because what you think are statistics,really are not.You do not know the real picture.

    Army is not seeking pity with a begging bowl,it is just asking for its dues.The soldiers are the only citizens in INDIA who are not even granted their constitutional rights.They can not form an union like every tom and harry in the country.If they could have…….they would have been granted their dues long back.And the Govt is taking its undue advantage.

    I am married to an army officer.I don’t want to tell my plights because you will describe them as an act of seeking sympathy.My husband is in his second thoughts about continuing with the organization.There are other problems too as you said(they are there in every organization),but money is the most important one.

    The other problems related to army were there present since long.Prblems like job satisfaction,organizational structure,growth prospects belong to every organization.And army is more discplined in these areas.Most of the organizations follow the army way of management and stucture.Problems like relocation,family separations etc are unaviodable in army. They are a part of army life.And a soldier knows about this before joining.But they were not complaining.His salary and the privileges were sufficient to take care of his family.But the present scenario is different.With Indian economy in the rise,there is inflation which a soldier can’t tackle.When he is guarding the frontiers in some -50 degree high altitute area,he is no more thinking about his survival and safety and of his companions.He is thinking about the scarcity of money for his sisters marriage or kid’s education.He is thinking about the future plight of his parents and his widow wife.If you ask me,these are the real problems behind the incresing number of suicides in the army.If you notice it, most of the soldiers commit suicide after coming back from home (leave).The problems in their own family form a kind of mental trauma and adds to the adverse physical conditions they are expected to stay in.The pressure becomes too much that they can’t survive.Nobody can’t do anything about the adverse weather here….they have to carry on with that,but atleast the Govt can do something to ease out his mental traumas.

    Same with the case of corruptions in army.Why selling the canteen products and liquor outside?Why using the petrol for office jeep for personal car?The same reason.To earn/save some money.Scarcity is the mother of such shameless creative inventions.If they are well paid,this situation will not arise.

    You believe it or not money is an issue.A soldier who spends half of his carrier in tents,bunkers,is now just asking for a comfortable life for the next half.
    Is he asking for too much?

    • antony July 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      i would agree fully with the good lady because every individual works for a certain amount of comfort level for him and his family. an army officer does not on all occasions have the pleasure of having his spouse working and supporting his income, as it is difficult to find the right kind of work in certain military stations, and not all women are teachers in a KV!!. with the civilian job the husband is supported by his wife as they dont really have to move they can live in a city for life and change 100 jobs and still not disrupt their family life.

      Money my brother is very imp as the saying goes LOVE & CHARITY CAN ONLY GROW GRASS, which you cannot eat.

      and yes, your brothers from the IAS/IPS have beer bars in Bombay to pay for their cell phone bills and holiday airline travel so 6th pay comission does not really move the MAT in their house, sorry that you are unaware of this.
      Lady you go well said.

  14. PS February 12, 2008 at 3:12 pm #

    Here is another look folks.
    The Brits have a problem too:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/02/12/do1202.xml

  15. sujata February 12, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    @PS
    Thanks for that link.Read the comments too.

    Another country.Same problem.

  16. Vivek February 12, 2008 at 6:27 pm #

    Sujata,

    On this thread, you say, “Nobody is questioning you as a person,but I have all the rights to question your views.”

    On another one, you say, “Who the hell are you to decide on such things?”

    And on this very thread, you said, “It’s true that people who have never been close to the army(forget about serving in the army)are commenting even on sensitive issues.Let them cry.They are the lot who does n’t even deserve to be the citizen of this country.They will never do anything for the country and they will never let others serve the country also.They only can write bombastic words that are hollow.”

    All to the same person – author of this blog.

    Why all this hankering for the author’s credentials? Why not just, as you claim, address only his views and leave his rank and serial number out of it?

  17. sujata February 13, 2008 at 9:48 am #

    @Vivek.

    What bugged me is the way the auther of this blog is misguiding people.You can not just write anything without substance especially things related to national interests and sentiments.The auther of this blog only believes in facts and figures digged out from some old book or from the articles of the authers from the same school,without even knowing the truth behind.I have neither the time nor the interest to go for a google search through the whole day to dig out all the facts and figures supporting me…and why should I when I am a part of the organization myself.

    And you seem to feel hurt when I question the auther’s identity,now can you realise how I feel when my husband who out of his 9 years of service tenure has served 7 years in the hilly jungles of Kashmir and the high altitudes,has faced death 4 times and has come out of it,is termed as just an employee who is just doing his duty and will be denied of martydom also when he dies(God forbid).

    If the auther of this blog claims his points to be logical,let him think so,I will call them heartless,worthless,baseless facts that are written to hurt the sentiments of us and to misguide people in general.

  18. PS February 13, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    [1] Perhaps Net Combatants may recall what the Gujarati Lawyer Mr Mohandas s/o Mr Karamchand and Ms Putlibai said re. ‘TRUTH’:

    ‘Whenever you have truth, it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected ‘ { MK Gandhi }

    The views of the other Gujarati lawyer s/o Ms Mithibai and Mr Jinnahbhai Poonja, latter a prosperous Merchant were eventually outsourced. { read India and now chillingly, Bombay Today )

    [2] Actually the other options* available are’nt workable. The conscription Taser may just do it. Thank Light Cooper ji’s hint.
    *(a) Arm not …(y) twisting Chidambaram or Monty Bhai – the only reverse turban tying Sikh in the Universe (check out his photo – it is true)
    (b) Voting with one’s feet.
    (c) Italian style Naval Duumvirate as of The Roman Republic circa 311 BC or definitely not its outrageous 362 BC version.

    [3] Agree that the begging bowl approach totally lacks dignity. Must stop pronto. Company Accountants are anyhow, not stirred or shaken by security guards asking for more because of ‘long and faithful’ service to the crown or other tough intangibles eg chilblains, flat feet, embedded shrapnel, hostiles including mucked out Katherine Mayo style journalists and so on.

  19. sujata February 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    We should thank God that Army is just wandering with a begging bowl.Not demanding.

    Not like the doctors who in order to put their demands deny to see the patients and not like the railway people who go on strikes all the time.(and if they do so they must be having their own reasons)

    And if army has now come out to the street then it is because the country has neglected
    them.

    Anybody and everybody has a right to express when he/she is underpaid and the same with these three forces.What a big deal about that?It is only you who can decide if you are paid right according to your job profile or not,so if army thinks it is underpaid in today’s scenario then nobody else should interfere.

    The truth is that the whole nation want the army to be patriotic and sacrificial.Our country is not comfortable to see these should-be-patriotic-and-giving fellows asking for something.They are bonded labours who are just born to give.They can’t ask for their comfort,that’s a sin of a soldier.

  20. PS February 13, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    Rightly said by Ms Sujata: ‘It is only you who can decide if you are paid right according to your job profile’

    If they cannot Beg, Borrow, Steal or Demand a fair wage, just doesn’t seem to be much of alternative but to take a walk when their contractual terms conclude. Or reintroduce the Silladar system ?

  21. Pragmatic February 13, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    Sujata:

    Misguide people — How? Which point among these is against the army– that the military is poorly paid, they need to be paid better, the media is doing a disservice by portraying them as third-class golems or robots without intelligence?

    Kindly rebut my views pointwise. That would help me in answering your objections better. I am unable to figure them out due to my limited intelligence.

    Please ask your hubby whether he takes pride in being a military professional or not. That should settle the debate for the moment.

    Emotional harangues don’t work; facts and cold logic does. The army can’t beg for pity or sympathy as an institution.

    The whole military- nation- society- image business is a zero-sum game. If the army chooses to highlight on sacrifice and favour to the nation, the other strengths of the organisation will never be focused upon. The choice is with the Army. It is an institutional thing, not a personal one.

    It is only you who can decide if you are paid right according to your job profile or not
    Really… Our MPs in parliament are doing the right thing.

  22. PS February 13, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    Did anyone read David Niven’s book ‘ Bring on the Empty Horses ‘ Even Silladari is knocked out cold.

  23. PS February 13, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    Cash Martyrs: { non fauji }

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/02/13/nbt113.xml

  24. Mohan Das February 13, 2008 at 3:19 pm #

    “Are poor salaries solely responsible for these officer shortages?”
    The topic of debate/discussion is going on a tangent.

  25. Pragmatic February 13, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    PS/ Sujata/ Self :

    Let is all heed Mohan’s advise and restore some sanity and perspective to the subject.

  26. Nitin February 14, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    Sujata/Beant Parmar,

    As others have already said, this is a forum for factual debate, not for personal attacks.

    And I’d say you are wrong to say that this blogger is a penpusher. S/he’s actually a keyboard puncher. Be that as it may, I have no doubt that s/he is eminently qualified to write on this subject.

  27. sujata February 14, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    @ pragmatic.

    Please ask your hubby whether he takes pride in being a military professional or not. That should settle the debate for the moment.

    I asked my hubby about it and in a lighter mood he said ‘yes,of course I do,because I think my uniform is the smartest dress one can ever have,it can even beat Armany and Versace.’

  28. sujata February 14, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    @Pragmatic.

    Emotional harangues don’t work; facts and cold logic does. The army can’t beg for pity or sympathy as an institution.

    Anyway,as I could make out,my views are considered here as emotional harangues only,without fatual contents.Somehow,you can’t keep this organization especially this one, out of emotion.There are joys of victory,there are tears,there are sacrifices connected.And my views will smell of emotions everytime I speak about this organization because I am one of them attached to it very strongly and know it from the root.I don’t see anything wrong here being emotional.

    And secondly about the facts…what according to you are facts can be or can not be facts.If you will start proving them it will eat away all your time.Today you will find thousand quotes supporting a particular view and tomorrow your may find one lakh of counter views,you really will not be able to decide which way to go.I am giving you an example.

    As you have mentioned in your blog…

    Are poor salaries solely responsible for these officer shortages? When did these shortages actually start? Going by a comment on this blog, there were only 90 cadets at the NDA in 1971 –

    the jan course at the nda has always been below strength as most of the boys had joined some professional setup. i remember the 47 th course at nda post 71 had just about 90 and not enough to make the appointments

    NObody really knows how truthful this particular blog is.Just out of curiosity I asked sme officers of the 92/93 course of NDA (1993/94 ENTRY).They said there were 15 squadrons and each of them had around 18-20 cadets.I think that makes close to 300 cadets.Where was the shortage?Now I cannot put these facts across drawing from their blogs because these officers I talked to over phone have not touched the mouse since long.

    This issue reminds me of another incident.This is regarding how political rumours are spread and how people just believe in them without knowing things at the grass-root level.

    It happened when my husband was posted in Kargil.We some of the officer ladies had been to the place for the annual event of the unit.We had an evening get-together at the officer’s mess to welcome four of the journalists (of diff. newspapers and magazines)who were basically the guests of the evening.Everything went smoothly with warm talks and good flow of drinks and snacks.When the patry was almost at its end and we prepared ourselves to bid farewell,we could hear a heated argumant coming from one corner.That was between a journalist and an officer.The issue was regarding the Govt’s query about the head-count of the muslim soldiers in the army.According to the journalist,the jury members sitting at the NDA and IMA don’t qualify the muslim candidates purposefully because of their religion and threat to army.And at the same time the soldiers and officers who exist in the army are looked down uopn and are always neglected.

    I still remember the disbelief in the faces of the officers standing in the room.They looked helpless with their ignorance.Not a single fellow from them could recall an incident where he or anybody else had ever neglected a muslim soldier or had ever looked at his fellow muslim officer as inferior.They all claimed that it is just a rumour that is thrown upon them and there is no truth.Infact they felt so insulted that all the efforts that went into that evening was ruined.

    When I am putting my points across,pls don’t take it as a personal view only,I am representing the mind-set of many of them.I am talking because I know them all through and through…..from the poor soldiers to their families,their issues,problems,the officers,the high ranks,all of them.These high ranked officers have once started from the ground.Don’t take my views otherwise.

    May be it is true that I am not that great in expressing my views.But I am trying.

    Anyway,in your blog,Indian-army,the real problems,you have been able to come very close to the real problems,though I can bet you have left many important ones.I will rebut your views pointwise,as you want.Give me some more time Pls.

  29. Pragmatic February 15, 2008 at 8:51 am #

    Sujata:

    I don’t see anything wrong here being emotional.

    It is not about being wrong or right. You are fully entitled to being emotional. It is just that it doesn’t work all that well in print.

    NObody really knows how truthful this particular blog is.

    Every statistics in my blog has the reference to the link. Even this particular comment was linked to its author. The Government statistics have shown that the shortages have been there for last 30 years. There were over 2000 officers commissioned in 2006. I have sourced that fact from an MOD report as well. That means that the Army as an institution is supplying incorrect information to the media– shortages of officers due to poor salaries and a recent phenomenon. Exactly my point.

    The bottomline is that the Army is distorting facts to suit their convenience. It is a shamelessly brazen act which doesn’t befit such an institution with a glorious past. The act of seeking pity by the Army demotivates the serving officers, makes them look at themselves as someone inferior and discourages other potential candidates from joining. Salaries are low, but not a pittance. Don’t blame everything that is wrong with the army on poor salaries. Have the senior officers honestly tried to accept that and change those other things?

    Please go through my earlier posts for these and other related facts. Reading just a couple of posts in isolation may have prevented you from getting a complete picture.

    http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2008/01/29/india-today-get-your-facts-right/

    http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2008/01/19/a-20th-century-organisation-wont-work/

    http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2008/01/14/the-seats-at-academy-are-always-full/

    http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2008/01/11/media-armys-new-force-multiplier/

    http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2007/12/07/reinforce-military-values-not-colonial-customs/

    About your other story about Muslims, that is where Army needs to counter it. But when the media found out the government directive that no Sikhs will be taken into NSG, what can any individual soldier do about it? There are lies, half-truths and complete truths strewn all around. All of us struggle with them all the time but that should not make us cynical or distrusting.

    I’m also happy that your hubby is proud to be a military professional. That post on Martyrs is for all the guys like him there.

  30. kartik March 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    dear pragmatic

    i pity on you
    you really have no real info of actual conditions in army.
    it is better you stay with some army unit for some time atleast tenure ( 2 years)

    And no doubt this is a shameless and ungreatful nation which is proved by a latest movie made on real facts

    now some advise to army men

    in this country every body is either

    ” taking haraam ka paise or doing haraamkhori”

    if you can not get undertable money just do haraamkhori and country will realise its mistake with in no time

  31. Pragmatic March 2, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    Kartik:

    What exactly is your point? If you could clarify the points or ideas that you are contesting, I can then take them on. My experience, whether in or out of uniform, should have no bearing on your contentions.

    The way you are inciting your comrades, you can be charged for it. The Army Act might have something to say about it.

  32. PS March 2, 2008 at 6:51 pm #

    Post 8pm the Hyde Park S/N ratio may get dicey. in v… v……

  33. Pragmatic March 2, 2008 at 6:58 pm #

    PS:

    ;) Simply love your sense of humour.

  34. Thanga March 2, 2008 at 11:44 pm #

    @Pragmatic.

    Dear Sir, can I ask you a few questions.Q.1. Can the army change its structure overnight? Q.2. Are the army personnels bonded labourer that they should accept whatever paid to them? Q.3. Can the Army itself make assured career growth in parallel to those of IAS/IPS etc.? (*the ultimate policy and decision makers are top bureaucrats and politicians). “The compensation matters a lot, but so do the many other intangibles– organisational culture, job satisfaction, growth prospects, regular relocation and disruption of family life. There are many reasons for an unappealing military career in India today”.(** you are right). Q.4. Without a decent pay in today’s world can there be job satisfaction in any organization? Q.5. Do you mean to say that the army people dont need to have family, dont need much money? Q.6. Now, if the top bureaucrats and politicians dont give assured career growth and dont want to pay decent pays, then who will come to the army by knowing it? Q.7. Is it the fault of Army top brass? Q.8. Due to the above quote many army officers want to leave the army. Will you call them mercinaries? If yes, will you and your children/grand-children join the army? If no, why? Q.9. Can we afford to put the Nation’s security and integrity at risk? Q.10. If yes, how and why? Q.11. If not,for how long can we leglect those who guard the Nation’s security and integrity? Q.12. With this kind of negligence for how long will the Army/Navy/Air Force put in their best effort? (*** For your kind information the 6th pay demand is not only for the army, it is for all the three services,viz,Army, Navy, Air Force). Q.13. Why blaming the army alone for the pay hike demand to the 6th pay commission? Please kindly answer my questions to the best of your knowledge.

  35. Pragmatic March 3, 2008 at 12:30 am #

    Thanga:

    This is the second humongous questionnaire that I have received today. And I thought my days of taking exams were well past. The answers to your questions are there in most of my other posts. Thus I will be brief, even laconic, with my answers.
    A1 — No. But why no efforts are being made or have been made earlier.
    A2 — No. Resign or apply for PMR or go to court. If you are not happy, move out. That is the only legal and sane option that I can think of.
    A3 — No. And why should it. We don’t want to have Lt Colonels and platoon or section commaders and Maj Generals as battalion commanders. Preserve the sanctity of rank. Don’t degrade it. Job content matters more. Have larger base of SS officers, officers from ranks and fewer career officers.
    A4 — What is a decent pay? CTC, anyone.
    A5 — No. Definitely not.
    A6 — Your assumption is wrong, based on popular media reports. There have been 98% targets met last year for officers commissioning. The shortages are at their lowest in last 12 years. I have the facts in another post.
    A7 — Yes. The leadership is responsible for the failures, as it is for the successes. They know the truth but they are indulging in cheap popularity by promising the moon. When the rank and file is disappointed, it is very easy to blame the bureaucrats and the politicians.
    A8 — Leaving or staying is a personal choice. About my kids/ grandkids, it is their choice. Just might help to know that another commenter on this blog [PS] had four previous generations serve since 1840, but told his kids to eschew the services. Not because of the pay but the organisational culture. He left a comment on one of the posts.
    A9– No.
    A10 — NA.
    A11 — No body is neglecting anyone more or less than in any other democratic and modern society. Wrong presumption. Do you think that a soldier is akin to a sheep being fed for slaughter?
    A12 — NA. I know about the Sixth Pay demand and the joint representation of the three services. The stories being fed in the media are solely about the army.
    A13 — see A12. How many stories (based of lies and half truths like the Army) being fed by the Navy and the IAF?

    I have answered these to the best of my knowledge, within the constraints of time. Do go through the blog archives where you should find detailed answers to most of the questions raised by you.

  36. sujata March 3, 2008 at 9:48 am #

    @Pragmatic.

    A2 — No. Resign or apply for PMR or go to court. If you are not happy, move out. That is the only legal and sane option that I can think of.

    Yes,most of the army officers are now going to opt for that sane option,one in every three of them are now waiting to put their papers if not satisfied with the pay commission reports,just wait and watch what happens after April.

    Believe me,I can’t give you the statistics,because I don’t believe in copy-paste journalism,but I can sense it because I am a part of them.

  37. sujata March 3, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    @ Pragmatic

    A8 — Leaving or staying is a personal choice. About my kids/ grandkids, it is their choice. Just might help to know that another commenter on this blog [PS] had four previous generations serve since 1840, but told his kids to eschew the services. Not because of the pay but the organisational culture. He left a comment on one of the posts.

    You can certainly say that there are other problems in the organization,accepted,but at the same time you can’t ignore the importance of money.If Mr PS didn’t sent his children to serve the nation,he must be having his own reasons.He is just a case.There are many cases too who are not interested their kids to join the army because of the money factor.

    The other factors like hardships,separations,unsetteled life style can’t be changed,they are going to be there for ever,that’s the charm of army life I would say.And nobody minds that…they have tuned themselves to that kind of a life.But in money matters it really pinches.

  38. Pragmatic March 3, 2008 at 10:04 am #

    @Sujata:

    Putting the papers is not good enough. Where is the exit policy of the Indian Army? Mind you, the bureaucrats and the politicians have no say in that. It is totally up to the services to frame their HR policies. Despite their best intentions, most of them will not be able to leave.
    I can’t give you the statistics,because I don’t believe in copy-paste journalism
    What kind of statement is that? When did ferreting out authorised data and quoting it to provide basis to views become “cut-paste” journalism? Why this kind of snide remark and insinuation?
    Btw, I wouldn’t have asked you for the source of your data. I do understand the “sensing the mood” bit. However, for a 1.13 million strong army, your sample size may be too small to arrive at a concrete figure.

  39. sujata March 3, 2008 at 10:10 am #

    @ Pragmatic

    Your caption ‘ARMY CRIES OUT FOR MORE’itself sounds so degrading.It seems like Indian Army is an alien organization that serves for India but it’s people doesn’t care about the organization.

    May be I am wrong and others may not feel the same,but the first time I read the caption I just hated the blogger.I think every true fauji will feel the same.

  40. Pragmatic March 3, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    @Sujata:

    You can certainly say that there are other problems in the organization,accepted,but at the same time you can’t ignore the importance of money.If Mr PS didn’t sent his children to serve the nation,he must be having his own reasons.He is just a case.There are many cases too who are not interested their kids to join the army because of the money factor.
    My personal belief is that it is not solely about pay. If some people think otherwise, good luck to them. It is a personal choice that has to be willingly made by the individuals.

  41. Pragmatic March 3, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    @Sujata:
    the first time I read the caption I just hated the blogger.I think every true fauji will feel the same.
    I am critical of the institutional response of the Army. It is indeed degrading and demeaning the way the top brass (Chief included) have been moving with a begging bowl– Seeking pity and money at the cost of long-term damage to the army.
    It is not about individuals, as I had mentioned to you in an earlier remark as well. You are free to hate me but the hate should be directed against the army as an institution.
    We must keep the emotions away from facts. Who decides who is a true “fauji”? Every fauji would like to believe that he is the most authentic and true sample.

  42. EIDELON March 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    PRAGMATIC WHICH WORLD AND COUNTRY DO YOU LIVE.”Putting the papers is not good enough. Where is the exit policy of the Indian Army? Mind you, the bureaucrats and the politicians have no say in that. It is totally up to the services to frame their HR policies. Despite their best intentions, most of them will not be able to leave.
    ” DO YOU REALLY WANT THE COAS TO TELL THE MoD”I’LL ALLOW MY CHAPS TO LEAVE” TO THEIR DIRECTIONS “HR POLICY OR EXIT POLICY IS UPTO YOU BUT SECURITY OF THE NATION IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY”. IS THE COUNTRY READY TO PAY A 2% CESS AS ‘DEFENCE SALARY CESS’?

  43. Pragmatic March 3, 2008 at 1:06 pm #

    @Eidelon:

    Come on! The security of the nation is as much the responsibility of the government as it is of the three services. The usual tendency of the service officers (to kick the guys below and lick the ones above) is applicable in their dealings with the government. How else do you become a governor or a chairman of the NDMA or an ambassador to a nondescript nation or nominated to the USI/ IDSA and the like?

    Do check this comment by Vinod Sharma. He has put the answer to your question rather aptly.
    http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2008/02/24/a-metro-model-for-indian-military/#comment-1920

    The fear of mass exodus due to lowering of exit barriers is the precise excuse for treating the uniformed as bonded labour. It enables the military and civil top brass to continue to avoid putting in the extra effort and thought required to make the guys want to stay on voluntarily. This amounts to almost criminal neglect. This bit about the job being a calling is a lot of crap to mostof those whose top floors have not been lost to the drill square!

    What about this cocooned talk of ‘recovering’ training costs? Look at other institutions of excellence, IITs, AIIMs etc. No minimum compulsory service, no ‘recovering’ of training costs; the precise reasons why the best go there. Let officers leave on day one after completion of training if they want to. The challenge should be to keep them interested and excited enough to want to stay on.

    That is the challenge which every one has conveniently avoided till now. National security has actually become a four letter word!

  44. sujata March 3, 2008 at 1:46 pm #

    @Pragmatic

    However, for a 1.13 million strong army, your sample size may be too small to arrive at a concrete figure.

    I was talking about only the officer lot.Certainly their strength is not 1.13 million.

  45. sujata March 3, 2008 at 1:55 pm #

    @Pragmatic

    I am critical of the institutional response of the Army. It is indeed degrading and demeaning the way the top brass (Chief included) have been moving with a begging bowl– Seeking pity and money at the cost of long-term damage to the army.

    What is the top brass going to get if the salaries are raised?Anyway the top brass is going to retire very soon.

    It’s not about the top brass only,it’s about every officer.Everybody feels that the quality of rations should be improved,the accomodations should be renovated and the salary should be sized.I just wonder why till now the top brass was silent.Why didn’t they speak their mind before?May be because they knew about the economical status of the country.Now since it the economy is booming,why should every body be benefitted except the Army?

    We all feel the same about this issue,I don’t know why are you having so much of negative emotions for this organization?

  46. NotReallyAnonymous March 3, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    Sujata:
    I dont think Pragmatic’s views can be called negative. He is simply coming in from a different direction, one that has a higher aim than just providing the right compensation to military personnnel. Sure, in these times Army should benefit from the economic progress we’re making but the real issues about the systemic deficiencies in the Army are being blanketed by the recent statements of senior officers and that is what Pragmatic is trying to highlight.

  47. Thanga March 3, 2008 at 5:44 pm #

    @Pragmatic

    Thanks for your answers. Btw, whose army is it anyway? Do you think the army personnels are third class people, that they can be treated like use-and-throw goods? Today India’s economy is booming. Why? Because there is peace and security in the country. How is it possible? Because of the Armed Forces guarding the country from external and internal threats. Do you think there will be economic booming, if the country is always fighting war with its neighbour? While every tom, dick and harry is enjoying the country’s booming economy, why should not the army? The people who put their life at risk infront of the enemies, viz, terrorist,militants, insurgents, naxals,the cruel nature- rajasthan desert heat, siachen cold (-50 degree c)torrential monsoon of the NE jungle, for 24×7. I think they deserve their due. They are not asking for the moon or the stars. They just ask for what is their due.That set. Please remember this,”Soldiers and God are remembered in War and they are forgotten in Peace.They dont have God father”. So sad.

  48. Pragmatic March 3, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    @Sujata:
    What is the top brass going to get if the salaries are raised?Anyway the top brass is going to retire very soon.
    Exactly, that is why they are not interested in any real changes. What they are projecting (all this while knowing the realities) is to fool the rank and file? Earn some brownie points with them or what some would call cheap popularity. They aren’t serious at all.

    Everybody feels that the quality of rations should be improved,the accomodations should be renovated and the salary should be sized.I just wonder why till now the top brass was silent.
    What stops the services from doing that? Have you seen the so called Flag houses and the number of ACs/ other electrical fittings on government expense. This is when the authorisation is same for everyone above a particular rank. The rations and accommodation have nothing to do with the government. It has more to do with the ineptness and corrupt nature of military leadership.

    Now since it the economy is booming,why should every body be benefitted except the Army?
    By all means. No one is grudging that. But what is the CTC of an army officer and comparable salaries for similar qulaifications in the civvy street. Don’t compare these salaries to the astronomical figures strewn in the media for a few graduates of the IIMs or IITs. There is not much difference in the compensation, if you calculate the CTC corporate style. Just check the CTC figures flashed by officers attending 6-month programmes at various B-schools.

    Now, do a back of the envelope calculations. What is the new salary of a governor? The Cabinet secretary’s salary is around 10% less and accordingly the scales for the Chief downwards work out. The average increase (over the basic + DA + DP) can at best be 15- 20%.

    Look at it another way. What is the leeway for fiscal deficit available to the finance minister in the FRBM? 0.5% of GDP or around 25,000 crore for all the increase in salary, allowances and pensions of all central government employees and pensioners. This also includes the arrears, if any. This will get you to the same figure.

    If I can do this calculation, the army can also do it. They are not telling their own employees this facts, but keeping them in a state of ignorance.

    Moreover, by their public solicitation of pity and sympathy and image of a poorly paid force, they are leading to reduced self-esteem among their own officers. They are also dissuading the prospective employees. This is my grouse.

    I don’t know why are you having so much of negative emotions for this organization?
    I am rather positive about the organisation, if it is willing to reform and restructure. The current situation doesn’t inspire much hope. While you are looking at the symptoms, I am looking at the root of the malaise. We need a major reform, not some minor tinkering. The current efforts by the services are the equivalent of shifting chairs on the decks of the Titanic.

    I was talking about only the officer lot.Certainly their strength is not 1.13 million.
    I am certain the PBOR are equally poorly affected. Anyways,even the officer strength of 30 odd thousand would be too large a sample size for your instinctive judgment.

  49. Pragmatic March 3, 2008 at 7:07 pm #

    @Thanga:
    They just ask for what is their due.
    No problems with that at all. The question is about the way the institution is going about it. It is “pulling a fast one” on its officers and soldiers. See my detailed reply to Sujata above.
    But the systemic failures are what I am targeting. They can’t be wished away by these harangues laced in emotion and veneration.

  50. sujata March 4, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    @ NOT REALLY ANONYMOUS

    What Pragmatic is talking about is a totally different issue.It can not be combined with the issue of the need for salary hike.

    It’s not only the top brass who wants a salary hike but the general Fauji badly needs it.

    The other issues that pragmatic is talking about were prevailing since the starting of the organization and I know there are things that badly need amendments,but why to overlap things?It’s a totally different issue.

  51. San March 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    Dear All,
    Nice to read the views. Joined the Fauj a long time back due to a misplaced sense of patriotism. (Misplaced since I have over the years seen we are the only idiots practicing it) Army is an institution which has has been built over the past 150 odd years. Its on the verge of collapse thanks to the ostrich like attitude and step motherly treatment of successive govts. A bland pay will only create a corrupt army which will in near future compete with IAS and IPS counterparts in adding to the chaos. As brought out it is not just pay which matters. Lets analyse what matters – for a solving a problem at home the corrupt breaucratic has to be paid…can he???. The nation sings paeans to the soldier but does not have even a war memorial, leaves his children and widow uncared for the day he gives his life for the country and does even bother for its POWs. Frequent transfers affect the education of kids….can he afford good schools-of course not the fees cant be paid!!! What about the cantonment schools-the teachers are not of standard as they are poorly paid. Family life is a big zero as he is almost always away on the call of duty!!!!what with so many insurgencies and naxalbaries being created by the busy body politicians and breaucrats. Last but not the least when he retires the stamp he gets is bechara fauji…. naturally bechara since he lives frugually, has hardly any money and is a misfit since he has been roaming god forsaken places so long and now cant get used to bewildering society. SO much for the problem part neither complaining nor asking, am beyond all that it only hurts when people with half baked ideas and ill conceived notions give sermons. A few weeks from now the pay commission will be out. No complains if the Govt cant pay, I for one am quitting either way (most of my course mates are following suit-actually the current mode of greeting amongst us is WHEN R U QUITTING?).
    San

  52. sujata March 4, 2008 at 5:59 pm #

    @Pragmatic

    comparable salaries for similar qulaifications in the civvy street. Don’t compare these salaries to the astronomical figures strewn in the media for a few graduates of the IIMs or IITs. There is not much difference in the compensation, if you calculate the CTC corporate style. Just check the CTC figures flashed by officers attending 6-month programmes at various B-schools.

    I am not interested to know what the IIM and IIT people are getting.I am not green in envy also,they should get what they deserve.I am more concerned about my husband’s monthly pay since I have to run the house within that limit.If the officers are showing a lucrative CTC in the b-schools then they are just playing double standards.They know that they have to show good figures to catch even better.

    Let me tell you the true story.May be to tell you the true story I have to rip off my cupboards and open my treasury,but I have no regreats telling people about it.

    When I left my job I was earning more than my would-be-husband.I got married to him because I was in love since 12 years.I knew that I have got no scope to pursue my carrier,but it was ok with me because I was more keen to have a family life.

    My first year in the cant.was horrible.I just hated the British traditions and worthless protocols.And I was the only one to protest.All the other ladies were so used to it.The organization said that it has its own discipline and traditions and they liked it that way(though nobody liked it anyway).It was hard for me to accept that army works that way and one-man-leadership-policy has to be accepted in the battlefield.If everybody think and act in their own ways then the organization can not work.Fighting in the war is a team work.You have to follow a leader(even when is wrong also).Army does not work in the corporate way.It has got different demands.

    I kept quiet because I had never faught in the battlefield and I didn’t know about its demands.But it was still not accepted to me the way the unwritten protocols were followed and applied blindly.It was ok with me till the time it was applied within the organization.Atleast not on the ladies and families.But unfortunately those protocols were forced on everybody and there was a huge mix of proffessional and personal life,which for me(who had worked in the corporate world for 7 years)was totally unacceptable.

    This was one aspect.I was mending my ways in army’s way.But was never successful.
    I had my own lonely days and nights of tears,that even my husband doesn’t know about.

    But I swear the thought of asking my husband to leave the army had never flashed my mind because of this reason.

    There was another aspect.I had never ever imagined that I will cofront this one.The monetary aspect.The first 1 year was too much.I had never asked my husband about his pay package before.The salary slip gave me a big jerk.The only saving was the DSOP fund which we couldn’t even touch because my husband had drew almost everything for his bro’s studies and his own wedding.And the rest of the amount was a kind of security for us.For the first 8 months we couldn’t even buy a T.V.We took a loan to buy a bike for which we still are paying after four years,because my husband’s unit was in a mood for cost cutting,four of the officers used one gypsy for office-dropping,and most of the time it wasted his time.There were problems even when we were having almost free accomodation and furnitures and other facilities.There were times when I had to manage the house in Rs 3000 a month,had to buy the chepest vegetables available and had to even stitch my own cloths to save money.We most of the time prefered the second-class train even when we had our form-d’s with us,And there were many related monetary problems that if I start then I won’t stop,and then pls don’t blame me.

    But again this was not a reason that could force me to ask him to leave the army.I knew how much he loved his organization,and for that I couldn’t blame him.

    I started freelancing(thank God my proffession had that scope).And I swear I could earn more than my husband gets in his hand.Then things started changing.We were far comfortable in two years financially.

    Life was just shaping up And then my husband got a field posting.I thought of taking up a job.But again a problem.Nobody wanted to give me a job because they knew that I am going to leave them in two years or so.I was badly off answering the same kind of questions in the interviews.It was very demoralising because I had that record of catching a job on every interview before marriage.They all talked as if I have done a sin by marrying a fauji.Anyway,they are into serious bussiness,let’s not blame them.

    So,I moved to a metro and started freelancing again.But staying without my husband was such a pain.Now sometimes I realise that I had left my job to stay with my husband and now neither he nor my job is with me.

    I still not blame anybody.There is a kind of satisfaction that keeps me going.

    I knew this was going to happen when I got married.I knew that I will not get a job in those interior places.I knew that I have to bear the separation.I knew that I have to manage things of my own most of the times.I knew that these things are a part of marring a fauji and these can not be changed.

    But I did not know about that poor salary slip.If I had I swear I would have never dared to leave my job.And I thank God that he helped me in choosing a right profession in right time that allows freelancing.

    I still see other fauji families who drag themselves to fit to their budget.It’s a pain to see doctors,engg,and professionals from other industies sitting idle just because they want to spend some days with their husbands.They know they can earn more than their husbands but….

  53. Pragmatic March 4, 2008 at 7:26 pm #

    @Sujata:

    It is indeed a touching story where you have bared your heart out. Unfortunately, the government can not afford to pay enough to compensate for all the vagaries of military life. That is all I am trying to say. Moreover, the major issues, as you yourself bring out, are within the organisation. The government has a limited role to play in all this and the senior leadership has to take the major share of the blame.

    Would you mind if I put this comment of yours as a separate post on my blog? It will indeed be educative for many non-military personnel. I need your concurrence to do so.

  54. EIDELON March 4, 2008 at 7:37 pm #

    Sujata
    I fully agree with your tale of woes.
    But that is the reason Pragmatic wants the Armed Forces to change. The change in all the spheres as demanded by Pragmatic would encompass even the low salary by improving the esteem of th armed forces.
    He is also one of you and knows that the Top Brass does not bother about anything other than their own perks. If the required far reaching changes are incorporated by the Govt on the strong recommendations of the Chiefs, then the armed forces would become much better organisations bothered as much about the people within as about the eqpt.So lets hope that these changes are brought in quickly and not due to a revolution.

  55. sujata March 5, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    @ Pragmatic

    Would you mind if I put this comment of yours as a separate post on my blog? It will indeed be educative for many non-military personnel. I need your concurrence to do so.

    I won’t mind,pls go ahead.

  56. sujata March 5, 2008 at 9:31 am #

    @Pragmatic

    the government can not afford to pay enough to compensate for all the vagaries of military life.

    What kind of a sentence is this?

    See,India can pay to it’s cricket team,but not to the Jawans.Fine.This is certainly a step-motherly attitute.Is this because Army is a non-profit giving organization?

    How can you say that the Govt can’t afford?If it is one of the biggest army of the world,the expenditure is also going to be big enough.You want to eat the cake and at the same time you want your cake to be intact?

  57. sujata March 5, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    @ EIDELON

    This was not only my tale of woes,it is the story of most of them,only those with parential wealth are the saved ones.

    I think I could not put my point well.

    What I wanted to tell is that army’s within -the-organization issues and the officer’s monetary issues are two different aspects.

    I would be the first one if you ask somebody to raise hands who would like changes in army.And at the same time I would be the first one to stand for the cause of salary-hike-demand.Don’t try to join these two different lines.

    It’s not that I am money minded,But I certainly don’t want my family to suffer.I am lucky to help my husband in monetary matters,but there are 90% of them who can not.

  58. Pragmatic March 5, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    @Sujata:

    How can you say that the Govt can’t afford?If it is one of the biggest army of the world,the expenditure is also going to be big enough.You want to eat the cake and at the same time you want your cake to be intact?

    Unfortunate but true. Life is not fair. For the more serious reasons, check out my post today on the sixth pay commission guesswork for service officers.
    http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2008/03/05/sixth-pay-commission-guesswork-for-military-officers/

  59. Thanga March 5, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    @Pragmatic

    I understand and agree with you that the army needs reform and changes within, as pointed out by sujata. At the same time, I will still question, can we afford to neglect our nation’s security? While we can pay cricket players and others. If we cant pay the army that indicate we are not serious about the nation’s security.We cant pay the army its a lame excuse. Negligence of the highest order. With all the hardships and separations and so on… the army perform its duty upto expectation till date. But the recent trend and the economic growth demand more for the army to run their family too. With the domestic stress mainly due to financial problem and the organizational stress for how long the army will keep moving like this? It is like mercy killing. If the financial hardship is addressed properly, half of the problem will be solved. *If there is mass exodus after 6th pay, we should not be surprised. If the babus and netas are not interested in the nation’s security why should the army? Whose army is it anyway???

  60. sujata March 5, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    @ PRAGMATIC

    Unfortunate but true. Life is not fair.

    That’s something well said.

    When they die in the battle field you say,it is unfortunate but true,after all life is not fair.

    When they are under-paid you say it is unfortune but true,after all life is not fair.

    You want to make the Jawans keep doing the sacrifice part,I think that’s the only way the country likes them.

    Raising their voices for their dues is something like a sin that the country had never expected,and so now how can it digest the same?

  61. Vivek March 5, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    Finally, a disagreement (sort of) with Pragmatic :)

    “Unfortunately, the government can not afford to pay enough to compensate for all the vagaries of military life.”

    I disagree. Without going into what constitutes “enough” or “all the vagaries”, it suffices to say that, in general, there is a good rationale for increasing the pay packets of officers (of Armed forces, and civilians) in a substantial manner. By current indications, it looks like we’re in for a small hike only, which will leave everyone’s monetary disillusionment exactly where it was.

    But before I come to why I disagree with the ‘affordable’ bit of it, lets all keep the sportsmen out of it. They are paid by private organizations, not GoI. And lets not get into the rhetoric of everyone being paid by the “nation”. That’s not how things work.

    Now, the GoI can indeed afford to pay its officers well, but only if it is willing to get its act together and cut down on the unnecessary expenditure. That kind of expenditure happens under all kinds of heads: on paying employees who are either not needed or are not competent to the job assigned to them, on Ministries that shouldn’t exist, on outdated office procedures, on needless pomp and show, on continuing feudal practices.. the list is endless. You know it just as well as I do.

    Now, the GoI may not be willing to do all or any of this, but it can’t be said that GoI can’t “afford” the increase. It totally can, and yet, it won’t.

    So yes, life in unfair and our disagreement is perhaps only semantic.. but I thought it was important to take “afford” out of it because it indicates an actual lack of money, which is just not true.

  62. Sujata March 5, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    Mr Pragmatic,
    I would be very glad if you could please give the readers some information about your own association with the Army Navy or the Airforce. It will really help the readers to judge if you have any understanding of the Services and still you choose to have the views that you have or if you are just a pen pusher(as some one has called you)sitting in your house infront of a laptop and writing things.

    Sujata

  63. Vivek March 5, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    Sujata,

    Not that it should matter in any way, but why don’t you just make suitable assumptions? That would work out much better for everyone concerned.

  64. Pragmatic March 5, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    @Vivek:

    Now, the GoI may not be willing to do all or any of this, but it can’t be said that GoI can’t “afford” the increase. It totally can, and yet, it won’t.

    So yes, life in unfair and our disagreement is perhaps only semantic.. but I thought it was important to take “afford” out of it because it indicates an actual lack of money, which is just not true.

    Thanks for pointing this out. And your observation is well taken. I should have been more careful with my words and ought to have added the caveat– with the prevalent culture and wastages in government functioning.

    Vivek, that is my basic point. Most of us are confusing externalities with real issues. Reform and restructuring is the need of the hour. The rest will follow from there.

    It gets difficult to keep track of a discussion at the blog. I admire you for doing that so well on your blog. Moreover, I didn’t want to get sucked into the pay commission debate, but the overwhelming number of comments have got me into this sensitive territory. This pay commission debate shifts the focus away from the real issues that bug the military and other government organisations.

    @Sujata:

    My identity shouldn’t matter at all. I certainly hope my views do!

  65. Thanga March 5, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    @Pragmatic

    I have seen most of your views and I appreciate your practical approach for the solution of the main problem. May I request you to tell the GOI to apply some of the solution you suggest in your blog? Can we expect the Indian masses,including the babus and the netas, to give the same attention, respect and honour to the army which they give during war, during peace time also? The answer will indicate how much we love our motherland.

  66. sujata March 6, 2008 at 9:19 am #

    the above comment in my name is not sent by me,and I will be glad to know who is wearing my mask.

  67. Pragmatic March 6, 2008 at 10:55 am #

    @ Sujata (real):

    Do you have an alter ego that goes by the name of Sandeep Deshmukh? He is the one keen for a name (and presumably gender) change.

  68. EIDELON March 6, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    PRAGMATIC
    THE BLOG IS BECOMING MORE HUMOUROUS AND IT TAKES ME THROUGH MY DAY IN THIS DREARY PLACE WHERE I AM.

  69. sujata March 6, 2008 at 5:42 pm #

    @Pragmatic

    I don’t care who Sandeep Deshmukh is,but I just want to let you all know that the following paragraph is not written by me.

    Mr Pragmatic,
    I would be very glad if you could please give the readers some information about your own association with the Army Navy or the Airforce. It will really help the readers to judge if you have any understanding of the Services and still you choose to have the views that you have or if you are just a pen pusher(as some one has called you)sitting in your house infront of a laptop and writing things.

    Sujata

  70. Pragmatic March 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm #

    @Eidelon:

    Is it a backhanded compliment? I hope the unintended humour is from the views of the commenters, not from the posts.

    The many nationalities in your “dreary place” should even otherwise provide you with a lot of humour;)

  71. EIDELON March 7, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    PRAGMATIC
    IT IS A ‘COMPLIMENT’. I CHECK YOUR BLOG BEFORE CHECKING MY EMAIL.
    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.
    ALL THE ‘NATIONALITIES’ ARE HUMOURLESS LIKE ALL THINGS MILITARY.
    I KNOW YOU.

  72. Vinod March 7, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

    @ Sujata Mar 4, 2008

    Touching story, but no individual sympathy. Your story is a real life story from the life of each and every middle class and lower middle class family irrespective of being from the Armed Forces background or civilian background.

    The increased awareness and urgency to jump a few notches up in the social ladder is here to stay. One member from a family achieves that and he/ she is under pressure to pull the entire ‘Khandaan’ at par. The ‘flop’ side is that he/ she has to make tremendous sacrifices. However the ‘flip’ side is that the entire generation moves ahead unlike earlier days when it was normal to see one sibling successful, the other sibling being less successful, the other sibling being lesser successful and so on.

    • Veselina December 10, 2012 at 3:50 am #

      Vermicompost is the result of fiedeng organic waste to a type of worm called red wigglers (Eisenia fetida). They are a surface dwelling worm. As the worms digest microbes from the decomposing food ( paper, kitchen scraps, manure) they leave behind a nutrient rich soil amendment. All made from garbage. I have 25 lbs. of worms eating 400 lbs. of garbage in my garage right now. There is no smell, no bugs. Mark from Kansas

  73. sujata March 7, 2008 at 4:28 pm #

    @ vinod

    I did not weave(?) that story to gain sympathy.I had different intentions.To let everybody know about the helplessness of the working-class fauji wives.

    It’s not a normal life story from each and every middle class and lower middle class.It’s different because may be in other civilian stories,they try to climb the ladder,try hard and sometimes they reach and sometimes they don’t.

    But in my case and in some other fauji-wife cases,we have got the zest for it and got all the talent to make our life better but we are helpless.We are not even given the chance to try.

    Sometimes you can realise how others feel if you put your feet into their shoes.That’s another world.

  74. sujata March 7, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    @Vinod.

    The increased awareness and urgency to jump a few notches up in the social ladder is here to stay. One member from a family achieves that and he/ she is under pressure to pull the entire ‘Khandaan’ at par. The ‘flop’ side is that he/ she has to make tremendous sacrifices. However the ‘flip’ side is that the entire generation moves ahead unlike earlier days when it was normal to see one sibling successful, the other sibling being less successful, the other sibling being lesser successful and so on.

    I couldn’t relate this paragraph to my story.Anyway what I also want to say is that,I myself have worked as a civilian employee and I have seen my husband working as a Army professional and when I compare both,I feel he deserves 10 times of what he actually gets.And here,’10 times’ is not just a slip of tounge.Anyway,in this current situation we are not even expecting 10% hike.
    Thank you very much.

  75. Vinod March 7, 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    @ Sujata

    There are two factors – one that is within the control of the Armed Forces and the other that is beyond the control of the Armed Forces (unfortunately 450% hike is one of them). Should the Armed Forces bring life to a stand still and organise a ‘mass puja’ to appease Goddess Lakshmi so that 450% hike is met or should they go ahead regardless to bring about a change to issues that are within their control?

    Qualified wives wasting their skills is one issue that can be addressed by the organisation. Incidentally attempts by individual leaders have been made in the past (protection of seniority of teachers (wives) of Army School, free training and recruitment by Oberoi hotel chain (?) for housekeeping and front office jobs in star hotels, etc . Unfortunately they failed because they lacked institutional support. With growth in knowledge skills of Armed Forces Officers wives, is it too difficult to tie up with employers at an institutional level to give preference to the qualified lot? It is just a question of – “Is the appropriate level of Armed Forces really bothered?????????”

  76. sujata March 8, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    @ vinod

    I don’t know wheather that was lacked institutional support or lack of planning.If you ask a x-doctor fauji wife to join a school as a teacher or as a front office assistant,then for very obvious reasons that will be a failure.She should be given a chance that gives a definition to her own potentials and interests.

    Have you heard of a word called ‘under-unemployment?’It’s another kind of unemployment only.

  77. Vinod March 8, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    @ Sujata

    ‘School teacher’ was just an example. Your posts are good, but probably you seem to be in a tearing hurry to hit the keyboard. Quite often I find you ‘strongly disagreeing to agree’ (just kidding!) Extract reproduced: –

    “With growth in knowledge skills of Armed Forces Officers wives, is it too difficult to tie up with employers at an institutional level to give preference to the qualified lot? It is just a question of – “Is the appropriate level of Armed Forces really bothered?????????”

  78. kartik March 11, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    1. Would you like to join an organisation which you join at the age of 21-24 yrs and it tells you at your age of 38/41 years that now you are now unwanted in this org.
    Not only this the org also tell you at your age of 44/45 that now you will notget any increase in your pay
    then when you are 54 years of age it just throws you out.
    and this treatment is given to atleast 75 percent of you who join together.

    At the age of 45 why should be forced to start looking for a new career. at the age of 22 only why do’nt you join an org which looks you after till your age of 60 years
    2. AND ON THE TOP OF ALL THIS YOU ARE NEVER TOLD ABOUT THE FACTS ABOVE. BECAUSE ORG DOES NOT CONSIDER IT IMPORTANT

  79. kartik March 11, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    DO YOU HAVE IT IN YOU?
    1. Would you like to join an organisation which you join at the age of 21-24 yrs and it tells you at your age of 38/41 years that now you are now unwanted in this org.(IT MEANS NO PROMOTION FOR 75-80 PERCENT of officers AFTER THIS )
    Not only this the org also tells you at your age of 44/45 that now you will not get any increase in your pay( PAY SCALE FOR Lt Col is 15100-400-18300 and it starts at the service of 13 years and reaches to its max at 21 years of service)
    then when you are 54 years of age it just throws you out.
    and this treatment is given to atleast 75 percent of you who join together.

    At the age of 45 why should you be forced to start looking for a new career. at the age of 22 only why do’nt you join an org which looks you after till your age of 60 years
    2. AND ON THE TOP OF ALL THIS YOU ARE NEVER TOLD ABOUT THE FACTS ABOVE before joining the org . BECAUSE ORG knows the repercussions
    3. In other services all the officers reach to the so called supertimescale after 16/17 years of service(18400—22400) In army the individual is finished at the service of 16/17 years(at least 70-75 percent of those who join)
    4. Now if army officer is not a class one officer why the fact is being hidden from the young boys they must be told about all these facts before joining. In fact it should be advertised properly so that all those who join inspite of knowing the fact they never leave army.

  80. sujata March 13, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    @Vinod

    “With growth in knowledge skills of Armed Forces Officers wives, is it too difficult to tie up with employers at an institutional level to give preference to the qualified lot? It is just a question of – “Is the appropriate level of Armed Forces really bothered?????????”

    I think nothing can be done in this area.Army life is nomadic type and hence even if something is planned with the employers at institutional levels,that can’t help it.Because most of the times the officers get their postings in interior places where getting a job oppurtunity of any type except teachership is difficult.And luckyly if they get a good city posting also,the wives face other problems.Sometimes they are quesioned about why they had left their jobs and how long they can stay and even if they get a job,they start again from the scrach.Their salary remains stagnant.

    I would say,it would certainly help if the officer’s salaries are hiked,atleast the financial problems can be tackled that way.About the job satisfaction of the army wives….that can not be helped like the other unavoidable issues the armed forces face, in my case in such a situation I give consolation to myself saying it my bit of contribution to the country.

  81. sujata March 13, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    @Vinod

    Your posts are good, but probably you seem to be in a tearing hurry to hit the keyboard. Quite often I find you ’strongly disagreeing to agree’ (just kidding!)

    I can not agree to things just for the sake of it,when I am really not convinced.

  82. koman March 20, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    i heard the army authorities are getting flooded with pre mature retirement applications. but unfortunately due to the bonds army makes its officers sign, they can hold these officers back for upto 20 yeras..its virtually a jail for them.they cannot retire or resign and if they walk home they will be arrested and jailed. thats what is probably keeping army strength under check. but holding someone back is HUMAN RIGHT AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT VIOLATION

  83. Veeru March 20, 2008 at 10:29 pm #

    @ koman

    Hard fact, but true. Even the Delhi High Court has given a ruling in favour of slavery!

  84. Peter March 28, 2008 at 6:49 pm #

    Dear Sujata

    Please dont waste your time on discussing things with someone who can make NO difference to your husbands pay or your life !

  85. JOSE October 21, 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    THE ALLEGED SHORTAGE OF OFFICERS IN THE ARMY IS A TOOL TO EXTRACT UNDUE BENEFITS. HAS ANY BODY ANALYSED AS TO WHY THERE IS NO SHORTAGE IN THE PBORs? THE MAIN REASON FOR THE ALLEGED SHORTAGE APPAERS TO PART OF GAME PLAN TO ACHIEVE THE VESTED GOALS. WHEN 01 OUT OF 100 ASPIRING CANDIDATES IS SELECTED IN SSBs, IN THE NAME OF SO CALLED STANDARDS, THERE APPEARS TO BE SOME THING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH THE SYSTEM. THE WHOLE PROCESS IS TAILOR MADE TO ENSURE THE RECRUITMENT OF nalayak WARDS OF THE fauzis. A THROUGH ANALYSIS AND PROBE IS CALLED FOR TO ASCERTAIN AS TO WHY THE CANDIDATES WITHOUT ANY BACKGROUND FROM SERVICES ARE NOT BEING SELECTED. WE HAVE TO INDIANISE FORCES AND START RECRUITING SUITABLE NON-ENGLISH-SPEAKING CANDIDATES FROM OUR VILLAGES IN A FAIR AND TRANSPARENT SYSTEM. LET THERE BE NO BIAS IN FAVOUR OF WARDS OF THE SONS/DAUGHTERS OF FATHRES/UNCLES FROM SERVICES. THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF RECRUITMENT IN SERVICES NEEDS TO BE REVISED THOROUGHLY .

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  90. prakash September 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    hey nice blog
    and nice contribution from everyone I too the whole evening to read out every single post.
    @ JOSE I am sure u failed in all your attempts to enroll in army..
    PBOR for sure as what hallucination you have would surely make you unsuitable for any decent job leave alone army where they require sane people.
    Till now all post leave aside some caustic were just fine and educating. @ pragmatic
    you post is filled with rhetorics and unjustified remarks about a good organisation which a has served the nation post independence. I agree your credentials shouldn’t matter but surely it would help to clear doubts about the Genesis of ur dislike for the Army. And surely its a noble profession and army man should demand money for the sacrifices they make which will belittle the sacrifice itself. And rightly so a martyr ask for n compensation its the family left behind who needs it, and no amount of it would bring back the dead. I am no good with words but will like to quote an add …Money can’t buy happiness but everything else.

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