Will the Armed Force Ever Get Their Dues?

By: Pathikrit Payne
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After the Uttarakhand flood last year and the massive crisis in J&K this year, as a result of one of the worst floods that the state is witnessing in several decades, the thing that has been vindicated is the sheer dependence of the nation on the Armed Forces and Central Police Forces like BSF or NDRF.

Be it in Uttarakhand or in J&K now, it has been the Armed Forces of India led by the Indian Army and Indian Air Force and assisted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) along with BSF which have been doing the most commendable job of rescuing the hapless people of J&K, left in the lurch in difficult times by their own state administrations and political leaders.

Armed Forces : The Only Resort of the Nation

In the hindsight one is forced to conclude that there is no point trying to rake up the debate as to whether this is what the Armed Forces are supposed to do, even though such acts of rescue are supposed to be of the state administrations and not of the Army. But fact remains that in a country where state level administrations and State level police forces in most cases are completely defunct and collapse in the face of challenging situations, the Armed Forces as well as the Central Police Forces ( of which NDRF is part of ) are the last resorts of the nation.

Probably nowhere else in the world rescue operations are done with rescuers (Indian Armyand BSF soldiers in this case) having assault rifles slung in their shoulder even while rescuing people because they never know from which angle and from which side the next fidayen attack would be launched on them even when they are there to merely help the Kashmiris.

Probably nowhere else in the world rescuers are greeted with stone pelting as well by certain vested interests even when the Armed Forces have been doing the most impossible job of rescuing, and often airlifting people marooned in distant and unreachable villages cut off by flood water. And yet, the Armed Forces continue to do their job with much elan and composure.

It has become a norm than an exception n India now that Army would always be called as the first resort and not as the last resort. The situation is such in India and such is the ineptitude of India's civil administrations that even when a kid falls in a borewell in some distant village, even for that rescue act the Army is called.

But Do the Armed Forces Get their Dues?

Therefore, be it war like scenario or guarding hostile borders or natural disasters, time and again it is the Armed Forces which have come to the rescue of the nation when others have failed and given up. And yet when it comes to giving the due honor or the timely promotion or equipping the Armed Forces with the right kind of equipment and weapon systems, is it done?

When it comes to giving the Armed Forces their due share of say in matters related to policy affairs in defence and internal security matters, does anyone pay heed to them? When it comes to increasing the budget of the defence forces, is it ever a done without a frown and without caustic comments that defence expenditures are unnecessary?

The reality of the utter disregard, disdain and insecurity that the civilian bureaucracy has for the Armed Forces is nothing new and needs no specific elaboration. Civilian control of Armed Forces in India has been reduced to civilian mismanagement of Armed Forces.

The Lack of Resources that Armed Forces Suffer From....

For decades now the Indian Armed Forces have been grappling with severe shortages of critical equipment which has almost crippled the ability of the Armed Forces to defend the nation in times of external aggression or a war like scenario.

The level of ammunition reserve of the Army is just of a shocking 20 days and there is severe shortage of practice ammunition. For decades now, the Army is in dire need of new generation of artilleries, air defence, machine guns, helicopters and even a new standard issue rifle.

All thanks to the inability of the civilian bureaucracy and polity to take firm decisions and stand by them. They cave in the moment any company who fails to get a contract spreads some rumor about unfair dealings and such hearsays and gossips become good enough to cancel entire tenders, national security be damned.

Severe Shortage of Aircrafts in Air Force...

The same is the case with Indian Air Force which desperately needs new generation of combat aircrafts, transport aircrafts as well as helicopters. In each of the cases, the inability of Indian political governments coupled with sheer ineptitude and risk averse tendency of the Civilian bureaucracy to push through critical deals in the interest of national security, have put the Armed Forces in a tight spot.

With increasing military modernization of neighboring Pakistan and Chinese Armed Forces, the laid back attitude of civilian bureaucracy and their indifference towards Armed Forces is costing the Armed Forces much.

Assured Promotions for Bureaucracy- Stagnation for Army

The issue does not end here only. The Armed Forces face severe stagnation in terms of promotional avenues. Most Army Officers retire at the level of Lt Colonel because of the stiff pyramidal structure that still exists in the Indian Army. Only few Army officer reach the level of Brigadier and above whereas most IAS officers are assured of time bound promotions to the level of Additional Secretary and even more. In many cases IAS officers simply become Managing Directors of PSUs irrespective of whether they have expertise in that particular industry or not.

Assured Promotion for IPS Officers- Stagnation for Central Police Officers

The same is the case with Central Police Officers. One would rarely find an IPS officer who has not risen to the rank of an Additional Director General of Police or a Director General of Police. In all the Central and State Police Forces, most of the top positions have high level of reservation for the IPS officers.

A commissioned Central Police Forces like BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB or CISF who joins at the rank of Assistant Commandant, is the one who leads his men from the front in combat situations and in borders. Yet one would rarely see them get promoted beyond the level of DIG in the Central Police Forces even when they do all that hard work. From DIG and above, IPS have their preeminence even when they have seldom been into grassroots level leading of the Central Police Forces

Such is the level of stagnation and disgruntlement among the commissioned officers of Central Police Forces that often they have filed cases in courts to have them recognized as an organized cadre and give the same promotional avenues like IPS officers. [Read...]

The situation of the jawans of Central Police Forces jawans is even worse. It takes 18 to 20 years for a Constable to get promoted to the level of a mere Head Constable .Worse, some bureaucrat thought it was a great idea to abolish the intermediary ranks of Lance Naik (one stripe) and Corporal (two stripes on shoulder).

Thus the Constables languish in the rank of a Constable for almost 20 years and equated at par with a newly joined constable at the same rank. Both the top level IPS and IAS policy makers fail to realise the improtance of more promotional avenues for the constabulary to increase their motivation level. High level of stagnation and little peacetime posting leads to large number of Central Police personnel quitting jobs or resorting to suicide or fratricide. [Read...]

Once Emergency Situation Gets Over...No One Remembers the Armed Forces..

One can be rest assured that once the floods are over, everyone would forget about the Armed Forces and Central Police Forces once again. Both the Army and the Central Police Forces would again be object of allegations of human rights violations and their plea for higher allocation of funds or better equipment would fall to deaf ears.

While the Bureaucrats and the IPS officers would continue with their assured promotions and would continue to be missing in action during tough times such as floods or utterly fail in situations like 26/11, it would be hapless Jawans of Army and the Central Police Forces who would continue to slog tirelessly for their love of nation and honor of discipline without any reward in return except for more brickbats.. It is time that this culture is changed.

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