I am reproducing a letter written by wife of a retired army officer's wife to Shri Manohar Parrikar. She makes some imminently fair observations and demands.
Mrs Kanta Singh C/O Smt. Shakuntala Devi,
V.PO Bhadani, Dist. Jhajjar,
Haryana - 124104
Shri Manohar Parrikar,
Minister of Defence, Government of India
Delhi - 110011
Respected Shri Parrikarji,
The Indian youth join Army for many reasons. Some are romantics filled with patriotism and altruistic concern for the welfare of country. Some are looking for a job to support their poverty ridden family and some just blunder in. But they serve unto death for a higher reason, that is, `Guardian Attitude’. The Guardian Attitude is generated through a regime of tough training and strict discipline and strengthened by camaraderie between soldiers and officers and shared sense of glorious past which are hallmark of Military.
Very idea of Guardianship has to be rooted in the concepts of honour, higher purpose, and belief that the soldier-citizen is a standard bearer, who embodies the superior virtues of men’ but are loath to self-publicise. Consequently `the military elite, like other leadership groups is inhibited in proclaiming its special virtues’. Resultantly Indian military leader ship has, perceptibly not, been able to match up the shenanigans of a bureaucracy steeped in traditions of Delhi Durbar and unable to safeguard organisational interests of the military. This leaves elected leaders with responsibility to ensure that fiscal pedantry and bureaucratic skulduggery do not kill Guardian Attitude of military by depriving or stealing the special affections showered on it by a grateful society through special pay and perks given to soldiers and officers.
Examples which highlight progressive degradation of military since 1947, denial of fair wages and reduction in pension and recent recommendation for mass punishment by 7th CPC on military because some senior officers allegedly abused provisions of disability pension are matters of history and enough is available in public domain hence not repeated here. However I am keen to know your response to the following issues:-
• One hears a common refrain from `interested’ elements, especially bureaucracy that Armed Forces are manpower happy. But it would come as surprise to you that while three services spend 37 per cent of their budget on `Revenue’ account while the figure for `Revenue’ expenditure of Civil Wing is massive 63 per cent! Do you have any plans to review the `Outcomes’ from this huge expenditure?
• As per Report of 7th CPC the MoD has sanctioned posts of 5,85,000 civilians, which is nearly half the strength of three Services. In view of increased mechanisation and IT enabled offices has a review of their efficacy and efficient been undertaken with a view to right-size it?
• Civil element of the MoD has higher ratio of Group A services at 4 per cent and Group B at 15 percent as against the Army, which has 3.79 per cent officer and 12 percent JCOs against 86 per cent Other Rank. Resultantly not only less hands are available for actual work on site by average expenditure on a civilian employee of MoD is higher.
• Please glance at page 28 of 7th CPC report and you will find that MoD grossly understated expenditure on its civilian staff. It will be worthwhile to know whether it was done intentionally.
• You may also wish to check as to how the MoD is spending more than Rs. 1000 Crore per annum on pay, allowances and establishment of Ministry of Finance personnel! Do you genuinely need such a large number of finance guys to manage MoD budget or is it a case of freeloading at the cost of soldiers?
• No wonder MoD spent Rs. 1883 on itself Crores in last fiscal (Refer demand No. 21 of Union Budget 2015-16). This amount is more than combined total budget of MHA, MHRD, MEA and a few other ministries combined. Do you plan to undertake any measure to reduce this expenditure?
• There are 62 Cantonments in India. Each of these has a CEO and DEO. These two IDES officials, who are equal to Major/ Colonel, occupy large lavishly appointed bunglows which are maintained by a retinue of staff! Do you have any plans to find out as to how are these facilities funded?
• Military Engineering Service (MES) spends 60 per cent of its budget on Revenue account! Is that fair for an organisation which it only meant to supervise works to spend Rs. 7200 Crores on pay and allowances to supervise works worth Rs. 4800 Crores executed by contractors?
• DRDO, purportedly a `Research’ organisation spends 61 per cent of its budget on revenue account. Thus leaving only 39 per cent for `Research’!
• The Defence Minister and other ministers of MoD are entitled to civilian staff including civilian staff cars and civilian drivers. Do you plan to relieve Army drivers and any other combatants attached to your office to let them perform their primary duties in Army?
• As a CM you must have enjoyed facilities of having a Camp Office at home. Are there any plans to do away with this archaic concept which allows ministers and civil officials to garner staff and other resources like electricity for personal purpose at cost to public exchequer?
• Are there any plans to remove/ reduce MTS and telephone attendants from residences and offices of government officials and ministers of MoD?
I close with a fervent hope for a reply and positive reaction to issues raised.