Saturday, 22 October 2016

Should this blog also have the Pinocchio Test

Source: -

The Pinocchio Test
Where possible, we will adopt the following standard in fact-checking the claims of a politician, political candidate, diplomat, or interest group.
We do make some allowance for statements made in live interviews, as opposed to a prepared text. We will judge more harshly statements from a prepared text, on the grounds that the politician and staff had time to discuss the statistic. We also make allowances if the politician or interest group acknowledges an error was made. Finally, we also have a feature called “Recidivism Watch,” which highlights claims repeated by politicians even though the claim has been previously debunked.


One Pinocchio

Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods. (You could view this as “mostly true.”)

Two Pinocchios

Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. Can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people. (Similar to “half true.”)

Three Pinocchios


Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions. This gets into the realm of “mostly false.” But it could include statements which are technically correct (such as based on official government data) but are so taken out of context as to be very misleading. The line between Two and Three can be bit fuzzy and we do not award half-Pinocchios. So we strive to explain the factors that tipped us toward a Three.


Four Pinocchios



The Geppetto Checkmark

Statements and claims that contain “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” will be recognized with our prized Geppetto checkmark.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Actions Do Speak More Than Words

Remember a few days ago the PM said that the Raksha Mantri is like the Armed Forces, all action and hardly any words or some such thing?

Well, after the submission of the 7th CPC report an Empowered Committee of Secretaries was convened and should have interacted with all stakeholders, or that is what the Govt’s directive was.

So, the MoD, all action and now words ensured that as this extract from a reply (Ref No. C/7026/VIth CPC/14 dated 06 Oct 16) to a RTI request indicates: -

….2. The applicant has requested for information by way of dates, names, designation of stakeholders in the Army, Navy and Air Force and Veterans Association/Movement/League/Federation etc (met) the Defence Secretary and/or Ministry of Defence has had interactions with which all or any specific persons.

3.      However, all interactions are conducted/organised by MoD and this office is not part of any interactions. Services has requested MoD for inclusion of Services reps in ECoS interaction, even though no reps from Services attended any interaction. It is requested that the query may be asked from CPIO of MoD, as MoD conduct/coordinate all interactions at ECOS….”

Readers may draw their own conclusions.            

Friday, 14 October 2016

Golden Jubilee of the Commissioning of 96th Pilots, 34th & 35th Navigators Courses

This author will be away out-station from 23 Oct 16 to 01 Nov 16 for the above occasion.

Therefore, posts and comments will take a temporary break.

Thank you, in anticipation, for the good wishes. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

In Hot Pursuit of Promises: A Reality Check

In Hot Pursuit of Promises: A Reality Check

          Angst over the state of pay, allowances, pensions, and retirement benefits of serving personnel, Veterans, and widows of deceased personnel of the Armed Forces respectively has become, not unreasonably, in recent times a perennial condition. It appears that the Govt which is also the Competent Authority in bureaucratic language, does not find the restricted fundamental rights, and sacrifices of Armed Forces personnel adequate enough to justify matching by positive action the promises of equality and justice in benefits.

The marginal improvements in compensation often after protracted deliberations on files, some times nudges of the Courts, do not match the glory of those whose lives and limbs were lost or were at stake for the sovereignty of the nation.

The CLASSIFICATION, CONTROL & APPEAL RULES, 1965 definition is as follows: -
In exercise of the powers conferred by proviso to article 309 and clause 5 of article 148 of the Constitution read with Rule 6 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965, and in supersession of paragraph 2 of the notification of the Government of India in the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms number S.O. 5041 dated the 11th November, 1975 as amended by the notification of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training) number S.O. 1752 dated the 30th June, 1987, and after consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in relation to the persons serving in the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, the President hereby directs that with effect from the date of publication  of this order in the Official Gazette, all civil posts under the Union, shall be classified as follows :-
Description of Posts
Classification of posts
A Central Civil post carrying a pay or a scale of pay with a maximum of not less than Rs. 13,500
Group A
A Central Civil post carrying a pay or a scale of pay with a maximum of not less than Rs. 9,000 but less than Rs. 13,500
Group B

The file –pushers found it very simple and easy to bestow benefits like the Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (colloquially known as NFU) on themselves quoting the 6th CPC, and smug in the satisfaction that they made the recommendations, they ‘examined’ it, and they found it worthy of selective implementation with a definition of Organised Group ‘A’ services tailored to keep out the officers of the Armed Forces vide OM No. I-11019/12/2008-CRD issued by DOP & T on 20 Nov 2009. The ‘surgical strike’ in this OM was Para 1 (iii) “At least 50% of the vacancies in Junior Time Scale (JTS) in such services are required to be filled by direct recruitment.” JTS is the scale into which newly commissioned officers enter. In other words, does it mean that only 50% of vacancies will have to be set aside for newly commissioned officers and the rest will have to filled by promoting Gp B (JCOs) to JTS? 

Sadly, the Competent Authority (whether UPA-1 or UPA-2 or NDA-2) has not challenged this prejudice against the Armed Forces, the one institution that has defended the Nation’s sovereignty and integrity at the peril of their lives.
The growing disenchantment in now being reflected on the politicians who, though the Competent Authority, are led by the bureaucrats. The disenchantment is reflected in appeals before the Armed Forces Tribunals, High Courts, and the Supreme Court. It is also the reason for fratricide and disobedience of rules, regulations, even misappropriation. Shorn of the aiguillettes, collar tags, and dialectics, an objective analysis on CPC related matters shows that it is some what like the sequel to movies (the box office success ones) or serials on TV (that rely on TRPs), with one difference, the continuity is apathy.

Episode - 1 was the 2008 edition post the 6th CPC. The then Chiefs of the Armed Forces expressed their anguish and sought permission of the Govt not to implement the Govt’s orders (Resolution) on inconsistent recommendations of the CPC pointing out 46 anomalies (some of which are actually demands). The then Raksha Mantri gave assurances of redress and corrective action. The Govt went ahead and implemented the Resolution and left the Armed Forces and Veterans and Widows to approach the AFT and the Courts for redress.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by then External Affairs Minister considered the apprehension and rendered a report. In the face of festering discontent, the UPA constituted two Committees chaired by the Cabinet Secretary (CSC) to consider the issues. Members of CSC 2009 and CSC 2012 quoted the report of the GoM quite extensively to back up their “Not Recommended.” Nothing more could have been expected from two committees of bureaucrats, even if headed by the Cabinet Secretary, for it would be blasphemous to think out of the ‘precedent’ box (that foundation of the bureaucracy) let alone think differently from a GoM.

The RM disappointed the Armed Forces by being too insipid and timid, but things have not improved considerably. His classic was “Wait” when NFU issue was referred to him in minute on MoD file provided in a reply (F No. 35 (11)/2013/D (Pay/Services, received vide ibid reply date 08 Oct 2013).

 The UPA Govt announced approval for One Rank One Pension (OROP) on 17 Feb 2014. OROP was presented, perhaps as a reaction to the pre-election promises which raised hopes and aspirations from September 2013 onwards.

Implementation of OROP is cited as one example of ‘caring for Armed Forces Veterans’ by this Govt and though it was denied for 67 years by the previous governments including NDA–1, (which brings me to that mischievous thought – if OROP was prevalent till 3rd CPC as is bandied about, how is it 67 years!) 

Some Veterans raised aspirations, often coloured in hues of misrepresentation [before 3rd CPC pension was 70%, that OROP was in existence when actually it was Standard Pension i.e One amount (Rs 300) for One rank (Capt) irrespective of the qualifying service above 20 years)], and mis-quoting of Koshyari Committee report’s recommendation on annual equalisation (The Koshyari Report only records the  submission made by Army and Air Force representatives for either a 5 yearly equalisation or Pay Commission to Pay Commission equalisation. Neither of them is in the recommendations of the Koshyari Committee Report at Para 11) and much else.

for information through the RTI Act, 2005 brought out the script, the screenplay and the comments and opinions of various officers up the chain in the decision making apparatus known as MoD. It will, if the pattern of Episode – 1 persists, show that Armed Forces placed a list of anomalies/demands, the Govt/MoD conceded some, the Govt/MoF overruled some of those, and finally a sagacious decision will be taken to pass the responsibility to the 7th Central Pay Commission for a ‘holistic view.’ On reads how ‘holistic’ that view was.

History will, however, record a first to the credit of this Govt. It is the setting up of the One Man Judicial Commission (OMJC) to adjudicate on Govt order on OROP. The OMJC is an improvement on the Cabinet Secretary Committees (CSCs).

So, other than OROP (or its diluted or adulterated version, depending on the opinion of reticent or vociferous critics) what are the other promises that this Govt has fulfilled? Pension fixation w.e.f 1.1.2006 instead of 24.9.2012? No, that was a consequence of a Supreme Court ruling in S-29 pensioners’ case. What about deletion of the pro-rata deduction for pre 1.1.2006 pensioners as it was applicable to post 1.1.2006 pensioners? No again, it was the Supreme Court’s order in the MO Inasu case. 

Episode – 2 is the 2016 edition, with one change in the script. The present Chiefs of the Armed Forces express their anguish and have sought permission of the Govt not to implement the Govt’s orders (resolution) on inconsistent recommendations of the CPC pointing out another list of anomalies (some of which may again actually be demands). The Raksha Mantri gives assurances of redress and speedy corrective action. The Govt goes ahead and issues the Resolution and leaves the Veterans and Widows to approach the AFT and the Courts for redress. The one change in the script is that a serving officer has approached a High Court for redress.    

          Future requests for information through the RTI Act, 2005 will bring out the script, the screenplay and the comments and opinions of various officers up the chain in the decision making apparatus known as MoD. It will, if the pattern of Episode – 1 persists, show that Armed Forces placed a list of anomalies/demands, the Govt/MoD conceded some, the Govt/MoF overruled some of those, and finally a sagacious decision will be taken to pass the responsibility to the 8th Central Pay Commission for a ‘holistic view.’

          It will need the Govt’s decision, like the strike on terrorist launch pads, to achieve any effect on the bureaucracy. In the strike on the terrorists’ launch pads, the Govt trusted the capability, the ability, and the intelligence of the Armed Forces to deliver the desired results, befitting a Govt that means what it says and is ready to take a hard, deliberate, and well thought of decision, including using the perfect tools (the Armed Forces in this case). The Armed Forces vindicated the confidence of this Govt.

Will this Govt issue orders for another ‘surgical strike’ on the anomalies/issues by engaging directly with the Armed Forces and leaving implementation to the bureaucracy. 

Will the Govt to live up to the promises made to the Armed Forces by another ‘surgical’ decision? 

Hold your breath & watch this space.

Jai Hind, Jai Jawan

*        *        *        *        *        *

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Baat hain Maan, Samman, aur Maryada ki

          The Hon’ble Raksha Mantri said a few weeks ago about going to Pakistan is like going to hell.

          In his monthly broadcast Mann ki Baat on 25 Sep 16, the Hon’ble Prime Minister is quoted, (in The Hindu, 26 Sep 16) as saying, “I pay tributes to our 18 soldiers who lost their lives in the Uri attack. This cowardly act was enough to shake the country. It has not only left the people mourning but has also infuriated them. The loss of our soldiers is a national loss…..”


The substance of the Hon’ble PM’s speech and the Hon’ble RM’s comment is in sharp contrast with emptiness of the actual situation now brought to the headlines by Chiefs requesting MoD to delay in implementation of  7th CPC recommendations (as amended).

We have seen, heard, and read about sacrifices by serving members of our Army, Navy and Air Force and proof provided by Veterans who have lost limbs, and Widows of soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have served India and sacrificed their lives. It will be in the headlines of newspapers for a couple of days. The deaths will earn more TRPs proportionate to the loudness and harshness of the language of the anchor on prime time news programmes and Veterans who sputter with rage and far less coherence etc. Then they will move onto some other ‘breaking news.’ The deaths and sacrifices will be forgotten till the next lot of deaths.  

But hell for Armed Forces personnel and Veterans and widows of Armed Forces personnel is closer home. How and what will the families of 18 live on, henceforth? It will be a pittance when compared to the fact that the 18 made the supreme sacrifice and the 19 nearly made that supreme sacrifice.

Did the deaths of many  Armed Forces personnel shake up the officials in MoD and Def (Fin) in South Block, and in ‘B’ Wing of Sena Bhawan, and in the office of CGDA on Ulan Bator Marg, and the office of PCDA (P) in Draupadi Ghat etc to stop them creating hell for Armed Forces personnel, Veterans and Widows? Will these 18 deaths shake them up now?

Let us take the case of those 18 (and other) deceased personnel. Their families will get 60% (of the deceased Armed Forces personnel’s) last pay drawn as Special Family Pensions (SFP), if the above named officials do not write on files that the soldiers were sleeping in temporary accommodation and hence should not get full benefit, after the papers are processed and crawl through the labyrinths of the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) and various departments, and then cross the Raj path (avoiding traffic or being stopped for a VVIP/VIP convoy) to the North Block for the Ministry of (MOF) to give its concurrence. So, the life of the Armed Forces personnel who died fighting terrorists has been devalued by 40%!

As for those injured, depending on the extent of their injuries and medical consequences, they will be sanctioned disability benefits of varying percentages, but only if some one in the above mentioned offices does NOT decide that his personal medical knowledge is better than that of the Armed Forces doctors and lowers the disability benefits. And again ironically, the Disability Act 1995 does not apply to Armed Forces personnel because they retire before that hallowed age of 60 years!

The hell that Armed Forces personnel face from ‘friendly fire’ (what else can it be termed as?) is not known to Bharatvasis because serving members of the Armed Forces NEVER complain about the long hours of duty required to ensure the integrity of this Nation. They NEVER complain that they have to fight with poor weapons produced by our Ordnance Factories or when rifles misfire when they face terrorists. They NEVER complain about the heavy but less effective bullet proof jackets because some one sitting in the air-conditioned rooms in the above named buildings take their time ‘processing’ files. They NEVER complain that they are working in submarines where the poor quality of batteries has led to fires and deaths due to poisonous fumes. They NEVER complain that they have to fly aeroplanes which have many components that do not work (and placed on the Concessions list!) and other aeroplanes that lack the basic search and rescue equipment which the recent case of the missing An-32 has brought out. They NEVER complained that slow or lack of decisions by the civilians employed in MoD led to the Pulgaon blasts that killed Armed Forces personnel and civilian fire-fighters. 

Bharatvasis should know, unlike what the learned Chairman of the 7th CPC said that canteen facilities, entitled (not free) rations are given even to the Central Armed Police Forces. Bharatvasis and Chairman of 7th CPC might have read of the Sanskriti School run by wives of the All India Services Officers (IAS, IFS, IPS and IFoS) for their children. Bharatvasis may not know, like the Chairman 7th CPC may not too, that Sanskriti is funded by the profits of the Armed Forces Canteens but not from the CAPF canteens.

Personnel of the Armed Forces are not permitted to have unions to represent them to ask the Ministry of Defence what more should they sacrifice over and above their lives to be treated with dignity by the Govt of India? They cannot walk into the office of the Raksha Mantri to register their anguish, like 16 Joint Secretaries did in the Home Ministry to place their grievances before the Home Minister.

The widows of officers, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who gave their youth for India, and for us, ask what more should they sacrifice than the lives of their husbands to get more than 30% of the last pay drawn as an Ordinary Family Pension (OFP) being granted now. They ask how do we ensure the future of our children who have to be brought up and educated to stand on their feet on a smaller percentage of the last pay drawn of their late husbands? The late husband may have dropped his children by scooter (and saved school bus fares), while earning 20% more than the widow’s pension, besides other things including earning an additional income, working as Security guard (Rs 5000-7000 per month) or a Security supervisor (Rs 7000-10,000 per month).  How is the widow expected to supplement her income? By stitching clothes on the sewing machine provided by welfare organisations when it is cheaper to buy the similar clothes online?  

The Veterans who lead disabled lives ask how do we fight legal battles in Courts (RM's Committee of Experts report has not been heard of after it was submitted) when they cannot afford even the travel expenditure while the MoD uses services of Govt’s law officers even if the Armed Forces Tribunal awards a benefit of Rs 300/ p.m to the disabled? The Veterans, many are with one leg, one hand, one eye, and some with bullets inside their bodies because surgeons say they will die if they operate because the bullet(s) is/are too close to a vital organ like the heart or lungs, even the brain ask, “What else should we sacrifice for this Nation so that we get a reasonable quality of life, medical aid of a reasonable standard, and assistance for our families?” This, Honourable Citizens of India, is the hell that is closer at home.

Lest this is construed as another Veteran’s sentimental rant, please peruse a few examples from Court orders, and from file notings.

Case of One Widow

          In 2010, Smt Pushpavanti approached the Honourable Supreme Court (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 291 of 2010) praying for better pension than the pittance she was being paid. The MoD fielded then Attorney General for India (May his soul rest in peace) and then Solicitor General of India to defend itself. After a stinging rebuke by the Honourable Bench who also gave a temporary relief of constituting an Armed Forces Grievance Redress Commission and to take instructions from the Govt for setting up a separate Pay Commission for Armed Forces. It was a fleeting hope of “achhe din,” because the Hon’ble Court recalled its order.

          So, the Armed Forces personnel and Veterans, and widows were back at where they started – at the not so tender mercies of the MoD.  

Delay and Aborted Denial of Court granted Benefits

          On 04 Jul 2003, a Division Bench of the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala dismissed the Writ Appeal (No. 518 of 1998) in UoI vs Maj A K Dhanapalan and upheld the order of a Single Judge restoring amount Rank Pay deducted by the MoD in refixation of Pay. Instead of paying Maj Dhanapalan, the Deptt of Expenditure advised MoD “to take a chance for filing a Special Leave Petition” on 06 Aug 2004 in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The SLP (No. 5908 of 2005) was dismissed at the first hearing by the Hon’ble Court on 12 Jul 2005. The advice of MoF was inspite of the Addl Solicitor General advising against filing the SLP.    


          On 04 Sep 2012, the Honourable Supreme Court awarded restoration of rank pay which was deducted in 1986 onwards for re-fixation of the pay of officers of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Hon’ble Court also directed that the benefit of its order be extended to all eligible officers whether or not they had approached the Hon’ble Courts, Armed Forces Tribunals etc (Interlocutory Application No. 9 of 2010 in Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 56 of 2007). The Solicitor General (now a Hon’ble Judge of the Supreme Court) opined on 31 Oct 2012 that the Govt should comply with the order in letter and spirit.

But Deptt of Exp, MoF’s habit die hard. Then Deputy Secretary in the Department of Expenditure, MoF, asked why the Court’s order should not be implemented only for Army officers because the majority of the litigants were from the Army. Obviously, contrary to the opinion of the Solicitor General, the Dy Secy had his own interpretation of the order of the Hon’ble Court and his intent to deny benefits to the Armed Forces personnel was proved beyond doubt [MoD File No. 34 (6)/2012 – D (Pay/Services) Note no. 18 Para 3 (c) dated 9 Nov 2012].        

Delay in Pension Orders for Armed Forces Veterans and Widows

Before 1.1.2006, if you served for 33 years you were given full pension. If you served less than 33 years, your pension was divided by number of year of service divided by 33 years. For example if pension for 33 years was Rs 33000 and the Govt employee worked for 22 years he would get Rs 22000. The Supreme Court upheld the appeal of a retired civilian employee that he should get full pension which is 50% of his last drawn pay.  

Govt of India issued orders on 6th April 2016 for restoration of pension for retired civilian employees deleting the pro-rata deduction of pension of those who have served more than 20 years but less than 33 years and Ministry of Defence issued similar on 8th April 2016 for restoration of pension for retired Defence civilian employees.

But till the date of this paper, the orders for retired Armed Forces soldiers, sailors, airmen, and officers deleting the pro-rata deduction of pension of those who have served more than 20 years but less than 33 years have not been issued because “the matter is under inter-ministerial consultation” replies the Joint Secretary in the Deptt of Ex-Servicemen Welfare.

Convoluted Logic on Disability Benefits for Veterans


7th Central Pay Commission (7th CPC) has decided and recommended to the Govt that disability benefits for 100% disability should be restricted to Rs 27000 for disabled officers, Rs 17000 for disabled Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and Rs 12000 for disabled soldiers/sailors/airmen of the ranks of Havildars, Naiks and Lance Naiks (called Other Ranks or ORs).

The reasons given by the 7th CPC, perhaps on the advice of an IDAS officer who was member of the Pay Commission’s Secretariat, is that about 20% of the officers awarded disability benefits are senior officers like Colonels, Brigadiers, Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals who continue to serve till their ages of retirement whereas only 7.2% of JCOs and ORs awarded disability benefits continue to serve till their retirement ages.

The country will be unhappy to note that the 20% are actually about 2000 senior officers who are in strategic, tactical planning and decision making roles or have had expertise from specialised training paid by the State, whereas the 7.2% are 95000 JCOs and ORs who have faced bullets and improvised explosive devices of terrorists, anti-nationals and insurgents. Due to those stresses they may be suffering from hypertension, diabetes, partial loss of hearing (being too close to artillery guns without ear defenders whose purchase awaits concurrence of Def (Fin) and much more – all attributable and/or aggravated due to military service.   

The 7th CPC did not consider it fit to consider how the Army, Navy, and Air Force can invalided out 2000 officers or 95000 JCOs and ORs, in addition to about 800 officers who superannuate and 55000 JCOs/ORs who retire or complete their terms of engagement every year.

The 7th CPC did not ask the Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services reasons for such large number of officers, JCOs and ORs continuing in Armed Forces with disabilities but relied on the statistic supplied by Controller General of Defence Accounts to punish the Armed Forces by lowering the amount of disability benefits. After stating that it is being done for equity and justice!

Irrationality of an Incentive to Serve Govt of India anywhere in India

The unfairness will become evident to Honourable Members when we read in the 7th CPC Report the recommendation that IAS, IFS, IPS and Indian Forest Services Officers [All India Services – (AIS)] are to be paid 30% of their Basic Pay as incentive for volunteering to serve in Ladakh or in Assam and other north-eastern States of the Union of India. The basic pay of these officers will be between Rs 56, 100 and Rs 2, 25, 000 and the incentive could range from Rs 15, 480 to Rs 67, 500.

On the other hand, Armed Forces officers serving in the Siachen glacier are recommended to be paid Rs 31, 500 and JCOs/ORs will be paid Rs 21, 000 per month. They will get no incentive to serve in Ladakh, Assam or the north-eastern States of the Union of India! Ironically, an AIS officer will be rewarded 30% of his pay for agreeing to the serve his employer, the Govt of India, in Ladakh, Assam etc where the danger of dying from terrorist attacks is lesser!

In Conclusion

The Government of India is the true and actual Civil Authority. The Armed Forces personnel as well as civilian government employees, whether from the IAS or IPS or Organised Group A services like the Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS) are accountable to the Govt. The honourable Govt must demand that the IAS, IDAS etc do not usurp authority, and sanction for themselves some benefits and concessions while denying the Armed Forces personnel, Veterans and Widows the same set of benefits and concessions misquoting it as supremacy of Civilian Authority.

Baat hain Maan, Samman, aur Maryada ki

Jai Hind