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Shut down canteens, relieve sahayaks — here’s how the armed forces can really cut costs

The various measures proposed to reduce the manpower and the pension bill are only incremental reforms that shy away from radical measures.

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Given the state of the economy and the proverbial ‘guns versus butter’ dilemma in a developing country, India’s defence budget is unlikely to increase in the near future. To compound the problem, the revenue expenditure and the pension bill have increased manifold, leaving very little for capital expenditure, thus adversely affecting military modernisation.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and the Service chiefs are endeavouring to optimise the utilisation of the defence budget by reducing the revenue expenditure to correspondingly increase the capital expenditure. The focus has been to reduce manpower, pension bill, bring in austerity measures and curtail diversion of personnel for internal non-military duties. The Army has come up with a slew of proposals in this regard in its report — Optimisation of Manpower and Resources: Review of Practices and Facilities in Indian Army. Also, the CDS has proposed an increase in the retirement age to save on pensions as a short-term measure and disincentives for officers seeking premature retirement.

However, what seems to be missing is a top-down holistic long-term approach, based on a strategic review. These are, at best, short-term incremental measures that, in some cases, also tend to impinge on the ethos and functional efficiency of the armed forces. Some of these proposals will also have an adverse effect on the attraction of the armed forces as an elite organisation with in-built perks and privileges financed out of regimental (quasi private) funds. In some cases, the proposals impinge on fundamental issues such as maintaining a young profile and stagnation in promotions.

Apart from the suggestions in the ‘Optimisation’ report, the forces and the government can also look at the following measures to save costs and re-route funds into modernisation.

Also read: Pakistan’s allegations at UN are laughable but India can’t take them lightly

Optimisation of manpower and resources

  • The report proposesto amalgamate the multiple messes, of units permanently located in peace stations, into a station mess. However, units and headquarters that move from peace to field tenures would still be able to retain their officers’ mess. This is an existing policy from the early 1970s, which was not implemented in letter and spirit. However, manpower and cost-saving would be marginal if this proposal is implemented. The proposal runs away from a more radical and egalitarian reform of doing away with officers’ mess altogether and having a common mess for all ranks as has been done by all modern armies. Officers’ mess is a colonial legacy, exclusively focussed to build regimental spirit among officers. They promote an elitist leadership style with social distancing from soldiers when ‘off parade’. These act as a repository for preservation of regimental history and memorabilia. Their existence also led to creation of Sergeant/ JCO messes. Disproportionate regimental funds are spent to maintain them. The combined authorised/diverted manpower in these two categories of messes is nearly 10 personnel per unit. With nearly a thousand units/headquarters across the country, the net savings by doing away with Officer/JCO Messes would be minimum 10,000 personnel. This will also help to bridge the social gap between the leaders and the led.
  • All infantry/mechanised infantry /Assam Rifles units maintain pipes and drums bands with personnel of the medical platoon (1 JCO and 18 OR) whose rolein a battle is to act as stretcher-bearers to evacuate casualties. These personnel are also locally trained as battlefield nursing assistants. The report proposes to optimise the number of bands per station, which in my view is a non-starter due to the turnover of units. Modern first aid in battle is carried out by soldiers/buddies. Casualties are picked up by helicopters right from the front. Nineteen men, authorised in the medical platoon, in mountains can barely carry two/three casualties. In modern armies, there are no authorised medical platoons or bands. During parades, volunteer soldiers act as bandsmen or recorded music is used. Doing away with all such bands and reducing the medical platoon to 8 battlefield nursing assistants will result in saving nearly 5,000 personnel. Bands can still be maintained by volunteers as is done by other armies.
  • The report proposes to discontinue the practice of each unit maintaining its own canteen in peace stations and replace themwith an optimum number of station-run canteens with civilian employees. This measure will certainly prevent the diversion of manpower from military activity. The profit, 1-2 per cent, on sale is the primary source of regimental funds to finance a host of regimental activities, perks and privileges which cannot be covered by official grants. In fact, contrary to popular perception, the glitter and elitism of the armed forces is not financed by the government, but by regimental funds. I am sure the Army will weigh the pros and cons before a final decision.
  • Some of the other proposalslike doing away with Army/Territorial Army Day parades; ceremonial quarter guards; use of outriders; residential guards, will certainly prevent diversion of manpower from military duties. However, these will impact the visible image of the Army.

It may have been beyond the scope of the above-mentioned study, but the Army needs to critically examine its organisations to save on manpower. A case in point is the authorisation of safaimen (1 per 100) washermen (1 per 100) and equipment and boot repairers (1 per 200). The number of such staff in the Army alone must be close to 20,000. There is no such authorisation of such personnel in modern armies. Soldiers share the duties of cleaning, and take care of their own washing and ironing. Personal equipment is replaced, not repaired. Doing away with the concept of sahayaks will save what is spent on another 20,000-25,000 personnel.

A closer look at our unit organisations shows that the manpower authorised is 25-30 per cent more than similar units in other modern armies. The logic of our “unique terrain”, “unsettled borders” and commitment to counter-insurgency operations does not withstand ethical scrutiny. More so, when 50 per cent of our Army is committed in the plains.

Also read: Not fair to cut defence pay, pensions and inject funds in airlines, banks

Increase in retirement age

In a major step towards reducing the pension bill, a draft Government Sanction Letter has been prepared by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), proposing to increase the retirement age of JCOs and OR in Logistics, Technical and Medical branches — Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, the Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps and Army Medical Corps — to 57 years. At present the retirement age varies from 42 to 52 years for various ranks. This proposal will certainly make a dent in the pension bill and retain trained manpower for a longer duration, but it will also result in stagnation of promotions for a long time and lead to an ageing logistic support for a young combat Army. While these soldiers are not in frontline combat, they have to be prepared for all combat tasks in the event of enemy raids or terrorist action. I seriously doubt the ability of soldiers above the age of 50 to withstand the rigours of high-altitude and counter-insurgency environment.

In the case of officers, the DMA has proposed increasing the retirement age of Colonels from 54 to 57 years, for Brigadiers from 56 to 58 and for Major Generals from 58 to 59. The same is applicable to equivalent ranks in other Services. In my view, the only adverse impact of this proposal is stagnation that it will bring about stagnation in promotions because the number of vacancies for each rank are fixed.

It has also been proposed that the pension be reduced, which is 50 per cent of the last pay drawn for those seeking premature retirement on completion of pensionable service of 20 or more years. In such cases, the pension would be reduced by 50 per cent for 20-25 years of service, 40 per cent for 26-30 years of service and 25 per cent for 31-35 years of service. Personnel taking premature retirement on completion of 35 years and above service will not face any reduction. In my view, this would be a retrograde step in a pyramidical organisation and vindictive towards officers who have given their best to the Army. More so, when the grant of premature retirement is at the government’s discretion and the saving is marginal.

Also read: Veterans must know that rising defence pension bill needs to be tamed for military’s own good

Need for a holistic approach

While the various measures proposed to reduce manpower and the pension bill are laudable, it seems that these are incremental reforms and the armed forces are shying away from radical reforms. All armed forces have been through similar problems and overcame the same by ruthlessly reviewing their structures and organisations.

It was also concluded by most modern armies that a short service scheme for both soldiers and officers without pension, but with incentives like one time gratuity and preference for civilian jobs, is the best solution to reduce the pension bill and stagnation in promotions. Ironically, such schemes were in vogue in our armed forces for a long time. However, our focus on welfare and obsession with retention of trained manpower, led to their termination/dilution. This has been the main cause of the spiralling of the pension bill.

It is time the CDS and the Service chiefs review the structure and organisations of the armed forces to reduce manpower and also come up with viable incentive-driven short-service scheme for officers and soldiers. Two-thirds of the manpower must be covered by this scheme. The former will reduce the manpower by 25-30 per cent and the latter, the pension, bill by two-thirds.

Lt Gen H S Panag PVSM, AVSM (R) served in the Indian Army for 40 years. He was GOC in C Northern Command and Central Command. Post retirement, he was Member of Armed Forces Tribunal. Views are personal.

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  1. Is there an article : which explains WHY AND HOW and the expenses of elected Reps and Admininstartors should be Reduced ? Regards

  2. CDS deserve a plum posting the like of a Governor of a state for his most valuable proposal for pension cut of soldiers to save on the defence budget. We talk of foreign armies like the developed countries, I think their gap in salary and pension of officers and lower ranks need a study vis a vis ours.

  3. The bloody thing is in a mess, and I don’t mean the officers mess.
    The good general has got it correct again.
    But Amy is just a reflection of civil society. The Indian state is a failed state.
    It controls the civil population by force, no country in the world has so many CAPF
    The army must be reduced to less than 200,000 personnel. True diplomatic means we must ensure that we are in friendly terms with our neighbours and that we will never fight a war.
    You must get up a high horse and settle the border with China.
    We must give people the right of self-determination like in Kashmir. We must prioritise helping the poor in the country and on development.

    • Wow…such an awesome comment.
      Why didn’t it occur to anyone if solutions were so simple or if there could be peace everywhere.
      For sure you must have seen and read everything sitting comfortably in some cozy room and hence this type of comment.

    • I am attracted to two pronouncements. One is by bhagwati who said to have said that RSS can raise a trained army in few months and CM of UP calling Modi’s it privatisation of army?

  4. Smaller countries like Israel, Japan, South Korea, Italy, UK, Germany etc. spend a disproportionate amount on their military as compared to us.

    Countries like ours have a large geography and troublesome neighbours. It’s not wise to curtail our defence spending. Optimize it to remove unwanted expenditure however it is not going to save much. I think this topic of cost-cutting has emerged because we are unable to grow our economy in the last decade.

    Modi govt will even run into problems in the coming decade for financing social welfare and subsidy schemes if he is not able to grow the economy. Get out of the socialist mentality and don’t look at profit and wealth creation as sinful. Build a business-friendly environment so that jobs can grow and enough taxes can be collected to finance an army that secures our borders..

  5. Gen. Panag’s suggestions are worth consideration. In fact the retirement age should be reduced. In view of CEO in private organisations are found to be in the range of 40 years of age the Defense chief too should retire latest at the age of 55. Other officers pro rata earlier. Pensions are very high as per some retired officers who do admit privately that they do not know what to do with it as other perks like canteen, Medicare, travel subsidies, club facilities are enormous. It can be reduced (after due debate with the personnel concerned) by,say, 40% of present rate. Early retirement gives opportunity for employment to youth. Pensioners taking up govt or private reemployment should forefiet pention for that period. There should be only one pension. Introduction of SS Commission is good idea, pay them PF at the end of 8/10 years service. To top it all modernisation of forces should be the norm by employing drone surveillance on the long porus borders to avoid Fingers like incursions on the sly. This will cut down the size of manpower in all forces incuding para-military. In fact OROP was a policy blunder to start with.
    This is in no way to hurt my soldier brothers and sisters, but the motherland demands budgetary cuts. Same should apply to civilian beaurocrats…

  6. Someone must ask this gentleman, why this sudden wisdom? What did he do when he was Army Commander? Let me not wash dirty linen in public, but please give yourself a kick before you suggest stupid ideas and start following BiRa’s ideas. Both are self serving individuals who do not look beyond their masters.

  7. All conformists have reached the top of the ladder.
    Panag is a coward and liar. I know him personally.
    Bira is known to all.
    Regular Army should retire at 45 and then transferred to TA battalions if they want to serve more.

  8. When will the Government measure the sacrifice s and services with one common Scale?
    All paramilitary and police to serve seven years mandatory in Army role.
    All civilians in Defence budget to be under Army Act and attached to Infantry Battalions. 20 years service in uniform and balance service in civil.
    Brigadier to be the topmost rank in Army and IAS officers to manage growth of cadre as General officers.

  9. Maybe time to stop the hostility with our neighbours and truly think of demilitarization of South Asia. Despite all the macho bravado paraded by our generals and right-wing politicians, it is seriously doubtful what we will decisively achieve in case of more wars with Pakistan or China. Time to take the EU AND NATO way of thinking beyond the colonial and medieval mindset of brutalizing our neighbours and sadly all too often our countrymen. It’s doubtful our chaiwalla is up to this statesman’s calling.

    • Absolutely. Resolving the J&K and Northeast separatism issues takes vision from both Indian and Pakistani leaders.
      If we had visionary leaders in South Asia, we might have had the Karakoram highway terminate at a seaport in Gujarat rather than Gwadar. Or a road/rail network from Tibet/China through Northeast and Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal.

      Imagine – joining the Chinese Belt Initiative may have also helped us reach the landlocked countries of Central Asia. Our trump card is access to the Indian Ocean and trade through Indian Ocean will create economic effects for the peoples of South Asia.

    • How much of our taxpayer money does the Indian government spend on Kashmir? How many solidiers do we maintain in J&K? Any idea of the cost of having the military in J&K? I think our government could save quite a bit if we made efforts to restore true peace in Kashmir.

  10. If you have such generals, you don’t need enemy. Identify the enemy within, you need not fear results of hundred battles.

  11. Should the present dispensation agree to the senseless suggestions put forth by the worthy Generals, it may not be a difficult preposition to forsee a repeat of 1962 not in the distant future, but very soon.

  12. This is what is called improving the “Teeth to Tail Ratio ” ie increasing the numbers of fighting soldiers while reducing the numbers involved in non fighting activities. The Gen. has laid out several useful suggestions which , if implemented can reduce staff equivalent to several DIVISIONS presently being used for other than fighting. I have, on several occasions suggested replacing the staff at peace station canteens by outsourcing them to reputed retailers. Also , the military hospital staff at hospitals far away from the borders can also be outsourced to reputed hospital services.

  13. A person who wants to undermine our defence services can’t be a patriotic one. What peanuts are going to be saved by these petty measures? Who will want to lay down their lives only for a few bucks? Leave army out from your politics.

  14. What I fail to understand is why nobody looks and talks about the ever increasing salary, perks, and privileges of MLA’s and MP’swho actually dont do any good but enjoy a lot at the cost of taxpayers…but all the cost cutting and saving has to be done by Army which actually needs more fund…The way the CDS and others are planning to change the organisationm sure nobody vl volunteer to join d forces in near future

  15. Why to make them ex servicemen. After some period in armed forces absorb them into State Govt and central Govt. departments. For example A clerk in Army/ Navy/ Air force can easily be taken into any State / Central Govt. department. Same goes with Driver, Engineer, Doctor, Dentist and Nurse etc.. Any branch or trade nature of job is available with State or Central govt. departments. Don’t give them pension give some incentives for the tough service rendered in Armed forces. Pension can start as per State / Central govt department rules where he or she was absorbed. Modernize and use technology and optimize man power comparing with other countries Armed forces.

  16. Ever since the BJP – Modi govt came into power they cut the defence budget and the IAS- Manohar Parikkar lobby( late) trying to reduce the self esteem of soldiers is so evident. They are trying to run military / Army like they run a corporate. That’s not the way for an Army which you boast to be one of worlds best army. Lip service is not what keeps the morale up for soldiers . Real care and honour is what they need to be motivated to serve the nation. Other wise why don’t you dismantle all of military and ask the babus and police and paramilitary to take care of nation’s borders and integrity. You will “save” lot of money , if money saving is your problem . Senior officers should retire at the right time , not to increase their retirement age . If old cols and generals stay put that will affect the efficiency of the juniors.

  17. I think the Defence forces are doing fine with the little money they get. Need to look into the expenditures of the ministers and their respective Ministry…

  18. I wish Lt Gen Panag and before that yhe CDS should have been candid and brave enough to suggest that, while whitling down Army’s manpower, perks & facilities, the MoD/GoI should review & reduce multi-term pensions perks facilities enjoyed by CAPFs, ministers, MP, MLAs, bureaucrats, & the other govt servants at the centre & states.

  19. Very pertinent view point especially the call for holistic review.
    However, I think proposals recommended are jaded and not thought through for long term impact given out unique culture. The observation that Indian Army is over manned is again made like an off the cuff remark without serious research analysis which many Indian senior hierarchy is used to. With 30 to 35 percent on leave / courses…what are you left with is just enough for routine training and administrative activities. If we outsource everything like foreign Armies the defense budget will supposedly reduce but will it in actuals? A big NO…instead of soldiers, civilians will be paid for doing same work. In the short term revenue expenditure will increase and in long term some savings at the cost of efficiencies.
    Gen Panag has used the word, holistic exercise; cost cutting exercise should be studied in detail and not left at first order effect – the long term implications or second and third order effect too will have to be looked at; we shouldn’t get carried away by western solutions- we hav unique borders, the societies are different, people mindset is different and hence our solution has to be unique to us Remember US has not won a single war since WW II and Chinese too nothing after 1962..why we lost is not on soldiers but because of politicians and soldier politicians. Yours etc.

  20. The wastage of human talent and resources seems to be prodigous. In every area referred to by the writer, the saving personnel ranges from 5000 to 20,000. All these non-combatants have continued to be hired by a staid top leadership of our armed forces, who have not looked at other modern armies. Our armed forces should learn from corporate world of India. Corporates are tight fisted when it comes to engaging more prople. Besides salary, perks, work space etc, there will also be the probelm of interpersonal conflicts and frictions which slows down an organisation. One is reminded of description of marches of Moghul armies from the history books. For once, the officers and other ranks should raise above selfish consideration and co-operate with the top leadership of armed forces to make the forces trim, lean and mean.

  21. The General is known to be an anti eastablishment man maybe because he was dealt a bad deal while in service. Barring his take on the extension of service all his recommendations seem foolish.
    We have traditions that foster regimental spirit which is a huge factor in a regiments prowess in battles. During Peace times Regimental bands and traditions are the leading factors for a soldiers love and respect for his service.
    A Regtl Mess is not a hotel. It also fosters camaraderie and Regtl spirit.
    Our society is not like the western one. Our regiments have troops who are from specific community or class. The food that they eat are specific to them which will not be available in common messes.
    The very fact that we are a volunteer force who have been doing brilliantly as a fighting force there is no rationale for tampering with a battle tested Army.

    • What was that regimental spirit? Burrying left over mess food and making jawns work in homes of officers doing menial jobs as sahayaks?

  22. There are so many other approaches are available to make it effective and economical force. I can tell 1000 things for that for example moving of units in every two years. Supply of eqpt with warranty of 15 years for repairs and replacement directly from OEM to user and doing away with supply and ordinance and EME. User should be able to repair at the level of local workshop. Just looking at mess and other small things shows dirty mindset. I have 100 more things which other armd forces are following.

  23. Infact in times when we are talking of non contact battles we should also be prepared to brainstorm strength of infantry units

  24. First honour and recognise our soldiers when they are in service who have done examplory service.Here one 1971 war hero Flying Officer K.P.Muralidharan MIA whom IAF bileatedly and repeatedly recommended Maha Vir Chakra posthumously but the authorities refused to honour this award due to Time Bar For Bravery. What an absurd and shame.Thr enemy pilot who shot him in an aerial dofight over Peshawar airbase and Pakistani press had eloquently praised this air warrior for the war heroism of the Air battle for Peshawar skies.He made three run over the base and destroyed many military installations.He also saved the life of his flight Comdr K.N.Bajpapae during the dogfight. He went down to enemy fire andto the last drop of his aircraft fuel .The IAF Chief should reconsider this case at the earliest and pay this stupendous air warrior’s pending dues which can motivate the morale of his IAF ‘s men and women in uniforms.

  25. “Eureka” moments and theories about ‘saving manpower and revenue expenditure’ by people (who have vouched for the existing system during their times) look nice on paper. Practically, these measures would not only result in minimal benefits but also would be counter-productive.

    Any radical changes in the system will have to address the steep pyramidical promotion structure and shorter duration of service of servicemen vis-a-vis civilian employees, especially in case of Jawans. More than we care to admit, the cause of several ills in the system is the “Higher rank at all costs” syndrome in most not-yet-superseded Officers. The rot lies in the national culture of self-benefit-above-all-else, that is very much there in the Forces, to say the least.

    Short Service with provisions for a host of concomitant benefits as brought out by the author is definitely a great solution but remains a part solution.
    However, the policy makers must have the vision and the gumption to work out the following solutions ( to name a few):

    ☆ Sidestepping of combatant soldiers (after crossing an age threshold) to Central Armed Police Forces, Non-technical jobs in Defence Civilian ancilliaries like Ordnance factories, Quality Assurance Organisations, DRDO, DGQA etc. What is so technical about a CISF jawan manning a post of a PSU or at an airport that a jawan cannot do. Why should there be a separate entry test for such posts at all when trained jawan are ‘discarded’ from service at an early age and then taunted with the cries of ‘an unmanageably burgeoning pension bill’.

    ☆ Absorbing fighting arm soldiers into the General Duty/non-technical posts of the Services. For instance, an ambulance driver need not be recruited into the Medical Corps. Further, soldiers from the fighting arms can be trained by cross attachments to be absorbed into the supporting services. Selection based on skills and aptitude and further training for the second innings is definitely a can-do. Such a system can also reduce the training establishments of the Services.

    ☆ Instead of cutting down active soldier manpower, avenues to cut down so called “Defence Civilians” manpower must be actively and sincerely explored. If defence pensions is a burden, then this segment accounts for a disproportionate share of it.

    The powers-that-be must have the vision, the gumption and the sincerity to pursue the above solutions instead of coming up with eat-into-your-own-men solutions. These tendencies can perhaps be explained by the poison of the “steep pyramidical structure” that has long since seeped into their thought processes since the training academy days (“Be smart and even unscrupulous, if need be – if you have to survive. Rest of the time you can keep effusing gentlemanliness”).

    What is lacking is the spunk to go beyond the inflict-restrictions-into-your-own-men solutions and insist on expanding the horizon of the “radical” into the realm of other ministries, into the realm of the bureaucracy and essentially into the realm of the “civilian”.

    As I said, that requires spunk which “Yes men” do not have.

  26. It is all very well for the optics to attempt to optimise an insufficient Defence Budget, progressively on the decline in real terms, taken as a percentage of GDP in the fifth largest economy with the longest Borders against belligerent neighbors.

    Two points;

    1. India faces two belligerent neighbors who have designs on our Sovereignty. We have long borders, with both, characterized by hostile terrain to be defended conventionally in adverse weather conditions. No other country in the world is in a military situation of such magnitude. In over more than seven decades the successive Governments of India have failed to resolve border issues with our neighbors through diplomacy. It is naive to expect any solution in the near future. Hence a strong and motivated Military is imperative to safeguard our sovereignty. To the discerning Nation this needs no elaboration.

    2. In addition, repeatedly, successive Governments of India have expressed a desire to make India a world power. In order to become a World power, any Nation should have a very strong and modern military and a robust domestic defence production base. We can’t achieve anything if the defence expenditure is progressively reduced with each passing year.
    In the circumstance the role of the Military, including the soldier, in India is predominant. India will do well not to overlook this situational facts while formulating Defence policies and planning Defence expenditure. I wonder whether plucking the low hanging fruits will help.

    You can’t expect to make progress by progressively reducing Defence expenditures to balance the budget. All large developed (and aspirational) countries maintain a strong and well equipped and motivated Military. The mater is more serious than soaps, shampoos and Sahayaks.

  27. Tell this retired general to write something on closing few defunct ord factories, DRDO labs. I think more money will be saved in one go.

  28. Shut down armed forces… let’s stone pelting.. armed forces ka culture u guys should really know it before writing any article…. the British period reputation of armed forces and maneksha sir time armed forces were the golden ages….now alarmed forces are being treated as second class ppl…. I am really feeling bad….. what’s the point of searching and selecting officers with OLQ where they don’t have any chance to showcase them and its if no use as politics and bureaucracy has taken main role…… Modi ji… please be careful before u challenge any country…. I love my country bug truth is truth

  29. The bungalows in which Senior Officers living should be done away with & the should be shifted in type 4 or 5 flats. Sahayaks/Adminstration party defacto deployed at MAJ & LT Gen be removed with immediate effect. Defence transport like staff cars be used by officer only n not by his wife n children. No generator be installed at command houses. Sahayaks be strictly used as per army order n certainly not for their pets. Appointment like Colonel Commandant, CDS & Colonel of the Regiment be abolished. Cut down the Civilian posts at MoD by 60%.

  30. General Saab after enjoying all the perks of fauj (free accommodation for friends and family with weight of the rank, over-utilising
    sahayaks by pulling out from units and so many other shameless deeds which he thought was his privilege or right) is now giving gyaan because his time is gone. And people like them have gone after putting people like themselves, eating the organisation from inside like termites, while the organisation stands like shiny teakwood from outside.

  31. The defence forces are the only organization whose training period is not counted towards service ,gratuity and pension.
    Nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room that is amount of pension bill of civilian employees paid out of defense estimates vis a vis their combatant counterparts and the causes thereof for the disparity.
    The time,paperwork and effort used for calculating different pension as per rank would have been better utilized by making uniform pensionable service upto 60yrs removing those above 50 years who are medically unable to cope up similar to provisions available to civilian counterparts.

  32. My views are that Gen Panag should not open his mouth. Just one Question – Did je pratice what he is preaching now – The ANSWER is NO.

  33. Any restructuring of military organisations to reduce manpower should be based on necessities of its operational efficiencies. This requires the military to have a physically fitter and youthful profile.

    Among the viable incentive-driven short-service scheme for officers and soldiers could be an entry qualification for civil services is determined by obligatory short service in the military for five years, at least half of which, should be in military’s field areas.

    Certain percentage of military manpower should be retrained till mid-levels (14-16 years) and converted to second career in the country’s developmental sector to serve till the age of superannuation of Government service. What percentage would that be will need to be determined by military’s organisational efficiency criteria. This requires whoje of Government approach rather than leaving it to the Dept. of Military Affairs.

    By delaying the qualifying age of retirement for military pension is not only short sighted proposal, counter efficient, but will create a cadre of flabby geriatrics on the battlefield.

  34. I as a veteran will not like to advice the young generation to be part of an organisation wherein one can feel helpless at every stage, during service or after service…

  35. Sir

    Your point of cutting down the manpower and that 50% army is committed in plains doesn’t make sense. If you want to reduce the no in army, why not start with paramilitary forces. Which other country has so many different types of paramilitary forces under home ministry? No body talks about their pensions!

    Also no one is talking about civilian defence employee and their pension? Employees of MoD?. Why is that our general rank cadre doesn’t care to fight more for our NFU which civil servants enjoy along with paramilitary officers now, OROP etc. I believe we are always let down by our generals in peace and war whom we as a organization help in reaching those ranks where they forget their duty towards the soldiers. They also convienently forget the hardship is soldiers and play at the tunes of MoD babus and RM. Its just that no one has the guts to stand and say no these ppl. Litigation in courts by soldiers to get their own dues is more of a trend now days. We should hang out heads in shame when we let ourselves be degraded so much so early. No where else in other countries in world the military is so treated be it Pakistan or US or UK.

    We have let the men down and we continue to do so sir.

    I hope I haven’t touched any wrong lines.

    Warm regards and best wishes

    Ashish Tiwari

  36. Really? I mean you really wrote this out yourself and you really were a general in Army? Incredible india. I hope you know in war every man will fight whether a cook, safaiwala or band master. God forgive him he doesn’t know what he is doing

  37. How come our Generals become not only wise but also muster courage after retirement to speak about bringing changes in system which in their hey days they never even proposed or bothered to do.

  38. With due respect to his service why didn’t he think of this when he headed two commands, it’s very easy to say ti curb on the so called privileges of the armed forces sitting from the outside or when you’re not at the receiving end. And living in the hardships and remote areas when there’s not even a vegetable vendor for miles then you realise these privileges become a necessity for survival. And the media should focus more on other issues happening in the country than what is being spent on armed forces. Focus on corrupt politicians and the 1000s of crores of property and assets they have

  39. I remember this General had a few buddies or sahayaks when I had a brief interaction with him! This article reminds me of the famous saying “hazar chuhe khakar billi Haj ko chali “

  40. Radical Views… but why the 20×20 hindsight?
    1. Lets disband offr messes in Mechinf as a pilot project
    2. Why nothing on ceremonial gds and adm staff with flag officers?
    3. No canteens??

  41. Even better still, let’s Wind up the Army, after all a Nation like ours who follow on foot steps of the Mahatma, who won Independence from an Empire which never sleeps, with pure non violence, they require only the police for their protection as the present day Mahatma’s have no enemies except their own vagabond Citizens?

    Why have an Army itself, when the only land they have to defend are Vast pieces of Land where even a blade of grass does not grow, or high mountains which we cannot climb?!?!🤔😁😨

    • This man has no understanding of the working of the minds of soldiers who spend most of their life serving in border areas which have poor living facilities, of necessity and that too separated from their families.
      The letter writer also has poor understanding of administrative paradimes and pros/cons esp. aftereffects of various measures he suggests.
      This damned CDS General Rawat has opened a Pandora’s box. Criticism can exist for every single system present in the Government machinery. Changing them doesn’t necessarily bring about win-win situation improvements. It creates different problems in different dimensions. Bringing about basic changes in the army is full of risks: 1. The majority has to suffer silently whatever is given by the Government or the higher HQs. The sufferings will never receive any publicity. Even if some scrutiny is done by some officers and mistakes & I’ll effects are pointed out, it will be impossible to reverse the changes or bring about a different system/changes, such as our administrative situation. 2. Silent sufferings are easy to underestimate. One doesn’t understand what goes on in the mind of the sufferers. A risk of sudden mutiny with dire consequences must never be overlooked. 3. Stopping Canteen privileges is an utterly stupid idea. The soldiers and the ex-serviceman have nothing else in their hand to enjoy some status in society. They have no power like the administrative services that gives them status and also permits them a lot of unseen income through corruption. Soldiers can see all this. If they entertain others with liquor at low cost, it is still from their own money. Most civil Govt. employees enjoy all this free at some one else’s cost. They don’t need to entertain anyone. Compare the two and then think of denying privileges to soldiers. Also, think about a swift violent reaction against injustice or what the soldiers may take as gross injustice in their anger.
      Our country faces a lot of border trouble at unlivable places. In peace time and peace area there are a number of insurgencies. Army is our last dependable refuse for us to face these. Hence avoid interference with set systems. They are time proven.
      Ask the CDS & all his Generals to forgo half their pay & pension instead. They are the ones getting the maximum benefits and can afford to let go a part thereof.
      – Wing Commander Ravindra Parasnis (Retd)

  42. As a veteran, I share Gen Panag’s views, because I have seen the waste of manpower firsthand. As a young officer, I remember holding 19 portfolios in the squadron, including running the golf club finances, handling the officers institute liquor account, looking into food quality in the command mess, and even implementing the use of hindi as an official language in our communications. I’ve painted walls in preparation for the annual inspection, and maintained ledger after ledger on various mundane subjects such as junior officers’ attendance for morse code and semaphore sessions, both of which had been long rendered obsolete by the advent of radio communications. I’ve organised parties by the dozen, stood in ceremonial uniforms for obscure reasons too innumerable to mention and spent hours drafting and re-drafting letters on trivial issues that the CO wanted ‘just so’.
    In all this, we had lost sight of the basic objective, that was to be effective warfighting units at sea and in the air. No wonder then, that our squadron of two aircraft had 35 pilots. Or that I left the navy after 22 years having flown a mere 2500 hours, a figure which I surpassed as an airline pilot in 3.5 years. Or that even today, Commanding Officers routinely ask for 110 sailors to man a ship that was designed to be run with 70. Because those sailors are often pulled out for tasks that continue to be handled manually, where technology has transformed and automated those same tasks in the civil world decades ago.
    Yet, we cling onto the notion that the government is perpetually hounding us, trying to take away our ‘privileges’. Having seen both sides, I can confirm that these so-called ‘privileges’ are too trivial to matter a whit, and can be gotten around with some out-of-the-box thinking.

  43. Janab jaab aap General sahab the to kyun nahi laya ye changes. Ab ghar ke bahar khade hoke ghar walon ko gali de rahe ho. Aagar itna hi dard hai to apna pension lena band kar do. Utne paise me Army me teen char logon ko salary mil jayegi.

  44. Look like excellent suggestions to a non-army man like me. A lot of the wasteful, and non-democratic practices are most likely colonial holdovers. However, what makes sense does not necessarily mean it will be smoothly implemented. It will be good to know from someone on the inside how to manage such changes.

  45. Dear Sir
    Every one is after Army and its budget. No other ministry has givem even single proposal for autirity where as it is a well known fact that if followed austerity and sincere expenditure of funds there will be huge corpus saved. A MLA when files his nomination declares his assets worth crores on top of that he has got hefty allowances and pension life long which he may never look at as he has enough and all you people think that pension of soldier is a burdern on nation. It is really painful. My father fought three wars today my mother is alone. He could not succeed in world outside as Army never gave him any skill whoch can be used outside. He kept on with struggle till he left us and today at the age of 70 it is this meager pension which is taking care of her. I joined armed forces to keep the tradition on but now i feel it was my biggest mistake ever. As now when i tend to retire I will be deprived of my worth for serving the nation. I dnt have any skills If i retire whatever corpus i get will be utilised for construction of house and children education. After that ill be high and dry. Mr Rawat is a son of Gen and he himself is a Gen he never spent a single penny from his pocket and so dont understand the sufferings of lower level had he been understanding he had never thought of this. The 40% of budget givem to other ministries goes into corruption try and kerb that not the pension of soldiers

  46. The author does not know army pr defence forces working . Every soldier is trained to fight in first place then to be bands men or medical attendants.

  47. Lt.Gen Prakash Menon’s proposal to make three years military service voluntary for youth will make a big difference in man power saving , pension bills, efficency in armed forces etc. Those coming out after service should be given preference in civillian jobs , educations etc. But to have a good efficient defence force ,we should honour and recognise brave soldiers who had stupendpus war heroism feats. like 1971 war hero Flying Officer K.P.Muralidharan MIA who still have to get his dues. His heroism was convinced by IAF whom bileatedly and repeatedly recommended Maha Vir Chakra posthumously for the Air battle for Peshawar skies. His award is refused on account of Time bar for bravery.But Sqn Ldr A.B.Devayya was given MVC posthumously after 23 yrs for 1965 war
    in 1988. Flyingg Officer K.P.Muralidharan MIA was shot down by wing comdr Salim Mirza Beig in an aerial dofight for a long time after he made three run over the airbase and destroying many vital military installations. He also saved his flight Comdr Sqn Ldr K.N.Bajpaye’s life. The enemy pilot and the Pakistani press had eloquently praised Fg.Offr K.P.Muralidharan MIA bravery and courage exhibited in that war.Hope the IAF Chief and the CDS will relook into this case and honour him How we can have a smart and efficient force when our war heroes are not honoured. In our country sportsman, film celebrities are treated with rich gifts, awards military ranks and many concessions etc. This is India.

  48. Lateral entry into MOD can save upto 20000 jobs. Similarly absorption in various police services can save many more

  49. Shut down CSD itself. In any case manufacturers supply sub standard stuff to CSD. Let a monthly Canteen Subsidy be paid only to combatants and not to civilians., and let them buy from the open market. Also examine how much liquor is the entitlement? Cut it. Most of it is used to oblige civilian friends and relatives. An officer does not need more than 3 litres per month for own consumption. It is not necessary for the country and tax payers to subsidise his entertainment activities.

  50. For ORs & JCOs of support service & non combatants wings , tenure b upto 52 years of age. Disability pension only for incapacitated soldiers below 45 years of age having bn caused by professional duties & life style & ageing disease.

  51. Valid suggestions. Why not shut down RR and handover functions to CPFs. Situation in Kashmir Valley has improved and CPFs are competent to handle situation.

  52. After enjoying all privileges, and actually ( and distinctly ) cut off from the realities this piece of bull XOXO has been written. Why he is silent on the pension of civilians paid out of Defense estimates?

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