Sunday, January 31, 2010

There are Many Chatwals in Military too

It is interesting to see the furore in the media over the Padma Bhushan awarded to the controversial hotelier, Sant Singh Chatwal. And this brings to mind the military system of dispensing distinguished service medals and commendation cards. Why the media does not question these, is beyond my comprehension. One of my former Editors, Kanwar Sandhu had once written about the "yellow fever'" (given the yellow colour of the distinguished service awards) that afflicts officers once they reach a certain rank. He remained the object of hate amongst the "yellow fever biradari" for quite some time.
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.


  1. Hi Aman,
    What a surprise? Awards only for favourites but dont you think it is a MANIPULATIONS BY ARMY CHIEF AND HIS AIDE IN SENIOR OFFICERS PROMOTIONS

    Close on the heels of the Sukhna land scam, another potentially dangerous issue with grave implications for national security is brewing up in the Army. This pertains to the promotion of senior officers. The Ministry of Defence has been reportedly informed that this scandal also involves Lt General Avdesh Prakash the Military Secretary who is also the principal staff officer to the Chief of Army Staff. Both these officers amongst themselves manipulated to impose a new promotion policy to ensure that their ‘favourite’ sycophants get promoted over otherwise professional officers. This has become a major source of disgruntlement amongst the entire officer cardre.
    It may be mentioned that the Military Secretary is responsible for the conduct of all promotion boards as the Secretary of the Board and conferring of all awards to officers. This tainted officer even after facing the CoI in the Sukhna land was the secretary of the latest promotion board of 1974 commissioned Maj Generals for consideration to the rank of Lt Generals held in Dec 2009. These young Maj Generals are up in arms and are writing to their superiors and the COAS to supercede this board since they do not want to be disgraced for having a tainted officer sit on their board to decide their future. The other members of the Board (Army Commanders) had also reportedly expressed the same sentiments during the conduct but were overruled by the Chief in favour of his aide. The issues that are now surfacing pertaining to the promotions and awards are again indicative of his explicit involvement in connivance with the Chief in delivering undue favors to few selected officers who otherwise do not meet the grade.
    In violations of all norms and policies, two officers Maj General JP Nehra and Maj General AK Chaudhri, who were serving as Inspector Generals in Assam Rifles were recommended for high awards of AVSM within a span of three to four months of assuming their appointments and were also later conferred with these awards on 26 January 2009. However their batch mates will only be considered for similar awards only on 26 January 2010, much after the promotion board. The entire environment was shocked at this brazen and blatant favoritism by the Military Secretary which was overlooked by his superiors as well. These awards have given a distinct and unfair advantage to these two officers whose mediocre career profile and manipulation of key appointments is otherwise well known.
    Similarly awards have been given to officers who had failed to make it in the last promotion board so that they are also given undue advantage. Maj General RK Hooda , Area Commander Bombay and Maj General PS Bhalla in Army Hq both belong to to the same school as the Chief of Army Staff and were overlooked last year. What is the compulsion behind such misuse of awards is not difficult to gauge. However, it has led to promotion of mediocrity and sycophancy at cost of national security. In fact, the new policy has been deliberately framed in a manner where the entire career profile of an officer can be manipulated by inflated reporting and bestowing awards, which are well within the power of influence of the Mil Secretary while in the chair.
    This new element of corruption that is now creeping in the Army is causing severe discontentment in the officers and needs to be addressed urgently by the Defence Minister.


  2. Absolutely sir. you have hit the nail on the head.

  3. I agree. It is not difficult to see why officers are often a disgruntled lot. Being an army wife- I ve been surprised by the sycophancy- Some senior officers are genuinely good chaps but those that encourage sycophancy are commonplace too- Noone seems to be discouraging it too. However, it reflects our society in general. A system has to be put in place which is more democratic, I guess, for giving awards and promotions.

  4. Gutsy Chhina. I wud have loved to read it Page 1......or seen it on TV....

  5. Aman, We are worried about Chatwals/Atwals. Why not look into Defence Froces.
    Can you imagine a person who is not a regular officer and has been given COAS more than seven times and Army Commander Commendation Card, I think n number of times. Further, he has been bestowed with Chief of Air staff and Cheif of Naval Staff Commendation Card also. The basis of all these awards is same. ahow can Army justify giving such awards to one individual, who is not even a complete soldier? can we compare him to the soliders giving tough fights at the borders.
    WAKE UP, the time has come to stop this creeping sycophancy in forces.