Friday, May 28, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Yet again now, the Army has a PRO, who seems to have no inclination in getting about and performing his duties as per the parameters required by them. He has had an honourable career as an infantry officer and he must have been a very good officer and a soldier in the OGs, but he has unfortunately failed to get a grasp on the situation in the South Block.
While this blog is not against an individual, per se, iI would rather keep it that way, but still there are some examples which need to be cited as to how the mismatch between Army PRO and media can create bad vibes. This gentleman, holding the office right now, has been averse to the very presence of the media in his office. The first thing he did was to close the door to his office that remained open like those of PRO-Navy and IAF! I, fortunately, did not have to deal with him for long, but even in my short interaction, I realised that he was distinctly uncomfortable in the surroundings where journalists milled about in his office, which he shares with the APRO and the clerical staff.
Why have such an officer as the PRO in the first place who is uncomfortable with civilians? It is not his fault that he cannot mix-up with them. After spending a lifetime in the uniform, there are very few career soldiers who would be comfortable talking in an unrestricted manner with journalists. But then why did he volunteer for this job? Did he want a last posting in Delhi? Is that the only criteria left for appointing officers as PRO-Army in MoD? That you have got to be on the last leg posting after your career has come to a stand still? Why so? This appointment had officers who were promoted to the rank of Brigadier while holding this appointment, so what's wrong in getting someone who is still in reckoning for his next rank?
This way at least he will have his heart in the job and will not go about halfheartedly handling the media, as if this was the biggest punishment inflicted on him ever since he got commissioned in the Army.
This PRO, now, does not even want journalists to grab a bite in his office. The basic chit chats which take place over such informalities and which breed good relations and foster friendliness have been tossed out of the window. Had it not been for the good humour and affection of the DG (M&C) and the APRO, the Army would have been getting a lot of flak in print just because it is trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
It is hoped that the new COAS will take stock of this problem and do something about it. The Army needs to project its image in a positive mannr in the media and for that it needs a positive individual as the PRO. Not someone who is sour-faced and laced with a dour attitude.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
But what struck me immediately as the fact that the Army Cdr, Lt Gen SR Ghosh, of the Brigade of Guards, had styled a completely new cap badge of General officers. He was wearing a metallic crossed swords and baton with the Ashoka lions on top without the oak leave crossed underneath.
Now, there have been examples of many eccentricities of Generals who wished to wear uniform patterns of their own kind, but Lt Gen Ghosh can certainly not claim to be in the same league as them and therefore take the liberty wich they took many many years ago.
Field Marshal Maneckshaw wore a side cap for the best part of his tenure as the Army Chief but then he was SAM and could do it and get away with it. As he told one officer whom he spotted wearing a sidecap in South Block, "Sweetie, I'm the chief and I can wear this cap, not you".
There is another celebrated General of the armoured corps who refused to wear campaign medals on his uniform (he liked to copy the Israelis) till he came before General Sundarji, the then COAS, who despatched him to wear the ribands before appearing before him again.
Again there was a corps commander from the Corps of Signals, who stopped wearing his corps belt and lanyard after being appointed to the general cadre. This, in any case, was laudable as there was a tradition in the past to do away with regimental symbols after assuming the staff rank of a Colonel.
But Sundarji did away with all that after he became the Chief. But it was Sam who insisted in wearing his badges of rank in the rifle regiment colour of black even after he became a
However, let me come back to the Western Army Commander's fetish for a unique cap badge. He, unfortunately, does not have the depth or the standing of the famous officers who made changes into their uniform, to fashion a cap badge of his own sort. The sooner he loses it the better or the media will have a new issue to come up with once it notices the lapse on a "lean day."
Friday, March 5, 2010
My stand in the entire affair is biased. I was born and brought up in the Army with Sahayaks playing a major role in my upbringing, so try as I might, I cannot be a dispassionate journalist in this debate. And in any case there is no such entity as the unbiased journalist.
I think, the newspapers need to stop putting this news on the front pages. For once, lets thank the television channels for not raking it up on their news bulletins just because the news had hit the front pages of the newspapers.
I am quite sure the Army needs to revamp its PR set-up. The public information guys sitting in the basement of South Block need to be more accountable. Planting news is part of their job, I accept, but so is making sure that inconsequential pieces like the Sahayak one need not hit the front pages too. And all these stories are by those journalists who drink endless cups of tea and smoke unending number of ciggarettes in the offices of the public information wallahs.
I hope the COAS designate revamps this set-up. Sooner than later. There is more to media management than Sainik Samachar and Baatcheet.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I have immense respect for the General with whom I have had the priviledge of interacting many-a-times when I was with Hindustan Times in Chandigarh. But unfortunately, I do not agree with what he has written today in defence of the Army Chief.
The questions which begs to be asked is....who brought things to this pass? Certainly not the media. It was not the media which prompted a cold war between the Army Chief and the Eastern Army Commander with the Military Secretary acting as a catalyst for the former. And it was certainly not the bureaucracy which asked the GOC 33 Corps to get influenced by the MS and agree to sign the NOC.
And aren't we....the horrible journalists sick and tired of the oft repeated assertions..... look how much money the politicians make, look how the IAS and IPS officers amass ill-gotten gains and look at our poor little scams which pale in comparision to Satyam, Harshad Mehta etc etc.
My take is.....either do not act like holy cows or accept the veneration and the consequent fall from grace which comes after being put on a pedestal by the nation. The simple fact is the Army, or rather, the defence services are the last bastions of propriety left in the mind of the citizens of this country....and that includes irresponsible journalists too. But with the Army officers increasingly falling prey to pleasures of easy money, especially the General cadre, alas, this gloss is fading.
As any informed person who has intimate knowledge of the Sukna affair knows, it is a war of the Generals. The one who was hunted earlier has now become the hunter...and he has struck back with a vengeance. Lt Gen Oberoi is right when he questions the monetary cost of the scam....virtually nil. No one would have bothered whether the NOC was given under duress from the MS or if a private builder was setting up a school based on fake papers had there not been icy relations between the Army Chief and the now COAS-designate.
And because of this, the actions of Army Chief, in recommending administrative action against the MS instead of the outright dismissal recommended by the Army Commander, must have seemed as a step to save the accused.
Frankly, I would love to read an equally voluminous piece by a retired three-star General, any General, on why the Army has not had a DG Ordnance Services for the past nearly two years. Why is it that scores of Major Generals of Ordnance are mired in one scam after another resulting in their non-empanellment for futher promotion? Why the ASC was emboilled in a similar situation in a couple of years earlier resulting in no officer occupying the appointment of DGST?
And lastly, in defence of the defence minister. Is he not the same person who stood by the Army Chief when he moved out the Northen Army Commander to Central Command despite the fact that there were very distrubing allegations levelled against the COAS? Wasn't he the one who turned a blind eye when virually all officers indicted in the tent and egg scam in Northern Command were given lesser punishments than what had been recommended?
I cannot and will not accuse the Army Chief of not telling the complete truth in this entire affair. But, to quote 'Yes Prime Minister'......"There's a lot of difference between not telling lies and not telling the truth".
Sunday, January 31, 2010
The fact of the matter is that PVSMs and AVSMs are doled out in ample quantities as per a well laid out system and of course the likes and dislikes of the chain of command. Very few of AVSMs and VSMs are truly deserved. Now, SM (D) is also being doled out to all and sundry who have nothing to show by way of actually doing anything distinguished. So what is the SOP for awarding these medals? Is there any policy at all? Why are PVSMs doled out to every head of arm or service regardless of any good he may have done at all? Who has ordained that each head of arm and service will be given a PVSM? All Army Commanders too get it once the reach that coveted rank. And now UYSMs are being handed over for counter-insurgency ops. Lt Gen RK Swamy, Chief of Staff Southern Command has got it for some good that he did as GOC 16 Corps. These UYSMs, SYSMs and YSMs were put in place for regular ops and not CI ops. But maybe someone was able to convince the Army HQs that since there is no likelihood of a war taking place in near future why waste these perfectly good awards which will fetch the awardees much needed extra points when the selection board takes place. Again no one raises a question, no one puts in an RTI application.
And then there are those ubiqutous commendation cards. With the COAS and VCOAS commendation cards being handed about like toffees, the less said the better abou the GOC-inC commandation cards. I know of officers who have nearly a dozen such awards. A dozen, no less. And for what? For playing golf, for sucking up to the bosses and for running around for the memsahib, perhaps? And all this at the cost of hundreds of deserving officers, JCOs and ORs who have really done something to get these cards.
This is a bigger scam than the civilian awards. The common man takes it for granted that the civilian awards are manipulated. but he does not yet know that so is the case with military awards too. And very soon, this misconception of his will be cleared. And the military may end up with more egg on its face.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Guys, I'm back. sorry for the immense gap between the posts. I am now better placed to update the blog and articulate what is happening in the defence establishment. From now on there will be regular updates on this blog. I do not intend to "break news" on this blog (because if I have anything of that sort it will go to the organisation I work for), but I would like to bring out an analysis of the developments which may differ from what appears in the mainstream media.
So the journey begins anew.....