The value(s) of military booze

In the recent past, the Indian media has had a field day covering the shenanigans of  Booze Brigadiers and Ketchup Colonels (incidentally the Army tried to reinstate him some time back) in gory detail. These kerfuffles, from Tehelka to fake encounters, referred to individual transgressions and were dismissed by many military officers and veterans as mere aberrations and not truly reflective of the organisation.

The military also moved in quickly, delivering justice promptly by awarding punishment to these individual officers. These punishments were aimed to reinforce the impression among the media and the public that everything was hunky dory with the defence services. The favourable comparison with the more corrupt civil setup also helped the military in crafting this message. This is desirable as well, because the military, as the final instrument of the state, needs that aura to implement the state’s will in extreme situations. Imagine the situation when the military is brought out to quell a public disturbance and the larger public treat the military with impunity and contempt.

Notwithstanding this, unlike the common man, it is important for the government to realise that all is not well with the military. Such transgressions by military officers, although acted upon swiftly by the military justice system, are not the end of the story. Little do the government and military realise that these incidents are mere symptoms of a larger malaise, not the disease itself. The real issue is of an organisation suffering from a severe erosion in its values, which no one is willing to seriously address — neither the military hierarchy, nor the civil bureaucracy and the political executive.

Now comes an actus reus where not one single individual, but 43 military units in Delhi have caused a loss of nearly 10 crore to the state exchequer.

The Indian Army has drawn excess liquor in Delhi to the tune of Rs 27 crore, causing the government a loss of over Rs 10 crore in taxes.

The Canteen Stores Department (CSD) depot and the Delhi Area failed to exercise built-in checks and withdrew excess liquor, mostly rum, to the tune of Rs 27 crore in the last one-and-a-half year. This resulted in the loss of over Rs 10 crore in taxes due to the price difference between the Army’s subsidised booze and market rates. “Had the Army not overdrawn and sold liquor, most of which is smuggled out in the civil market, the government could have got Rs 10 crore as taxes. Everyone is looting the system,” said a senior Army official.

Around 43 Army units overdrew about 1.12 lakh cases of liquor, according to top sources in the Army. Sources said that the CSD depot and the Headquarters (HQ) Delhi Area kept issuing liquor to the units without verifying if it was within permissible limits.[Mid Day]

The question is not about the gravity of the offence or the justifications being put forward to explain this loss to the government. Some scapegoats will be found and punishment awarded to them. However this case is not about individuals but the complete military system indulging in financial and ethical impropriety with impunity. When only individuals are discussed and targeted, the larger issue of decay in institutional values slips past unnoticed and unactioned.

At the heart of the problem lies the simple fact that in the defence services today, adherence to values doesn’t matter, only prompt delivery of results does. It would not be incorrect to state that a large share of hierarchy of the Indian defence services (honourable exceptions do exist) is today made of officers, whom Jack Welch had classified as “Type 4s”.

Type 4 is the toughest call of all: the manager who doesn’t share the values, but delivers the numbers. This type is the toughest to part with because organizations always want to deliver and to let someone go who gets the job done is yet another unnatural act. But we have to remove these Type 4s because they have the power, by themselves, to destroy the open, informal, trust-based culture we need to win today and tomorrow.

Jack Welch has a simple prescription for resolving this knotty issue that eventually helped GE become such an admired company under his leadership.

We made our leap forward when we began removing our Type 4 managers and making it clear to the entire company why they were asked to leave — not for the usual “personal reasons” or “to pursue other opportunities,” but for not sharing our values. Until an organization develops the courage to do this, people will never have full confidence that these soft values are truly real.

There are no softer options. A systemic cleansing that demolishes the feudal culture and colonial mindset of the defence services is the only way out. Can the government rise to the occassion and develop “the courage” that Jack Welch speaks of — of initiating a comprehensive military reform process?

38 Responses

  1. It is ” Danda -Culture” in forces. As you push the danda in; you get the results. Morality and ethics are non-military term. Etics and morality are used as tactical tool; rather being a lifeline of an organisation.

    The supreme danda is Act passed by parliament ; which holds and differentiates these organisations different from others.

    But will you not agree that delivery of result is important then caring for someone’s psyche?
    Moreover, those means have to be followed which deliver results?
    In this case , results are much more important then emotional health of organisation?
    What do you think?

  2. .There are quite a lot of guys on this blog who remind me rickshawalas discussing what Kapil Dev should have done. They have no knowledge of the subject but do wish to chip in. They provide good humour.
    Today the Nation is going through an economic down turn but it is surprising to watch TV and watch our people burning buses and destroying property worth hundreds of crores. That the civil bureaucracy is incapable of taking measures to avoid such losses and not being held accountable is of no consequence to our commentators here who are getting CTs trying to pull down the Army. But, they must fabricate something about pilferage of booze even though the Military has taken steps like ‘smart cards’ to rectify the anomaly. I feel these are those slanted persons who have slobbered for military booze and have been given a kick on their posteriors. They are those who cannot function with military ethos and would like to see everyone in their frame of psyche.
    Pragmatic has correctly stated ‘Little do the government and military realise that these incidents are mere symptoms of a larger malaise, not the disease itself. The real issue is of an organisation suffering from severe erosion in its values, which no one is willing to seriously address — neither the military hierarchy, nor the civil bureaucracy and the political executive.’ The military hierarchy has woken up and said ‘This far and no further’ (though even this was maliciously termed as ‘uncalled for defiance’) but the civil bureaucracy is bent upon subversion and continue their broadside of trickery.
    Yesterday I was watching the police firing tear gas and chasing a crowd after the detention of Yasin Malik. The SP in charge was well in the rear while his men were moving forward. A scene we would never have seen in the army despite all this poisonous propaganda about mistreatment of sahayaks

  3. dear Menon Learn to appriciate other point of view.Any organisation if can not appriciate its critisism,it can not improve.Please find out what a army jawan feels about his boss.unfortunatly i was listening such conversion in a train to my surprise one of them said we are real fighter the officer move behind us and once mission achieved ready to take credit.There is need iof reform

  4. @ devendra
    Ask any person about his boss and you will be surprised about what you hear. Employees come in different sizes & shapes, but the Army is the only organisation where there is a lot of emphasis on man management. We may not have had an all out war for quite some time but believe me, even in CI ops fratricide will be the order of the day if man mangement was poor.
    These issues are being raked up because the Army dared to oppose bureaucratic tyranny. If this is how the Babus get after an Armed force imagine how they would be preying upon the common man. Ask any person in a Govt. office and you will be surprised at the low sentiments that he has about his boss. Even as a retired Army officer with absolutely no official authority I still get respect when I enter a military unit. This is only because of ethical manmanagement. Civilian gazzetted officers avoid going to their departments after retirement because they are awre of how they will be treated.
    This nit picking is dangerous because maliciously creating a rift for personal gains by the bureaucrats will tear the fabric of faith upon which a man follows the officer in to battle. The Sushma Naths and the Arundhati Ghoses may, for personal egos have created a dangerous situation for the Nation where the Armed forces is being humilited in public. A stage will come when they they military will become immune to this and then they will shamelessly take to the streets. Because either way these bureaucrats will try their stunts to malign them so, why not live up to their expectations.
    Incidentally, have you ever been to a military canteen? All those who come there with Pappu, tony chinky and parivaar are those from the support civil services to the Armed Forces.

  5. @pragmatic

    There are no softer options. A systemic cleansing that demolishes the feudal culture and colonial mindset of the defence services is the only way out. Can the government rise to the occassion and develop “the courage” that Jack Welch speaks of — of initiating a comprehensive military reform process ?

    [1] How Can They:
    A Govt with zero redeeming virtues, with all hands in the till as their over riding take, may not be able to do anything to change any mindset.

    C. Rajagopalachari’s views (noted in 1922) on the GOI to come are a pointer. Then Nirad C. Chaudhuri and Rajiv Gandhi told us about the value systems of our leaders. And MJ Akbar has a list of the virtues of MMS’s cronies. Maybe Gandhi could have netted Moral Re(armament) to the Armed Forces. Not the present lot.

    [2] Minor Offences:
    If remembered correctly the MIML lists being drunk and disorderly as a very minimal crime. There is a huge list of offences more serious. The Brits had the priorities figured out fairly well. Call them back ? Hic transit Gloria.

    BTW the Regimental History of an Infantry Regt has a mention of a unit being subjected to intense enemy fire thru the night in Iraq eighty years + ago. Tragic consequences found next morning: Not a single Officer, JCO, NCO or Jawan casualty. Only a barrel of Rum shot through the bung. Dry days in the desert followed. [For a photocopy of the history book page mail me. ]

    [3] Firangi and Desi G’s:
    General Electric is fine, but personally I think General DK is cuddlier.
    Suits the Fauj better. Agreed, Uncivil of him to (a) Tweak the tail of the Babus and (b) Gift a gender unbalanced team of pale Horses to the Bangladesh Army Chief (c) Talk the walk i.e. comment without much thought – Gems being “We are a part of the Govt’ – giving politicians food for thought or Worrying about threats from Military Nurses.

  6. mr pragmatic.,, you aim to get in topics that belittle the armed forces at every instance in the pretext of improving the system.. ok well taken.. how about posting some of the malpractices of the babus,, or are you focused to improve only the defence forces..12 crores what one single jt secy swindles in one yr..

  7. @PS:

    [1] How Can They:
    Therein lies the tragedy of the services and the nation. :-(

    For a photocopy of the history book page mail me.
    Request upload at Scribd (free account) and paste a link for all to see.

    Talk the walk…
    LOL :-) That’s why everyone from the bureaucrats to the ministers are confused. Thanks for the enlightenment.

  8. mr pragmatic, .. but do post some thing positive about the armed forces once a while… cheers

  9. Dear Pragmatic,
    Please stop this rhetoric of your against defence forces. Look around and you will find tens of thousands of IAS, sucking and swindling this country almost everyday. Rather than continuing your tirade against the nobel profession of arms, pay attention to plaguing macro issues due to BABOOZ of our great nation.
    You aim to get in topics that belittle the armed forces at every instance in the pretext of improving the system. OK…. Well taken…. How about posting some of the malpractices of the BABOOZ, or are you focused to improve only the defence forces. At a liberal estimate, Approximately Rs 12 Crores that’s what one single jt secy swindles in one yr. If you want further case studies about IAS eating away this country, visit this

  10. What is the root of all bad culture in this country. If you do not rectify this, will the tree and branches grow or recover. The root evil is the bureaucratic setup and the destructive mentality. If Rajeev Gandhi said 5 ps out of Re 1 reaches the grass roots then today it is -5 out of Re 1. What reform are you talking of unless this evil mentality is wiped out.
    A real LOL of a piece. We had a great time LOL on this piece.

  11. Dear Pragmatic,

    Every organisation has its share of shortcomings. Nobody ever said that the Armed Forces are devoid of any lacunaes. You have taken pains to highlight the negatives in the Armed Forces ; so much so that due to the bias shown, one is left wondering as to whether this organisation has rubbed you the wrong way? Taking references from Newspapers and media, who themselves are devoid of any morality and are like parasite thriving on anything and everything to sensationalise issues, without going into the veracity of the facts, doesn’t auger well with a forum which propagates increasing public awareness and education.

    You have mentioned the propmt Justice delivery system in the services and that too in negative vein. What do you want? Do you ever question the eficacy of the justice delivery system in the civil set up? Afer all no where in your forum’s introduction have you mentioned that this is a Armed Forces bashing forum. So how about some plainspeak about the rest of governance in the country!!!! You have to remove this bias, unless it is intentional.

    Yes, being concerned about the malaise in a system is correct. But have you ever tried to analyse the issues. It is very easy to point a finger but very difficult to pin point issues and suggest remedial measures . Broad brush superlatives like “nipping in the bud” and “systemic cleansing that demolishes the feudal culture and colonial mindset of the defence services” are very fancy but only go to prove shallowness of knowledge about the issues and concerns. Let the Govt.of the day appoint a commission (Balanced in its composition) for reforming the Armed Forces. At least the issues pinching the services will also come to the fore and bureaucratic accountability and high handedness will also be put in correct perspective. But till then please stop your biased analysis about an organisation where the level of accountability is the highest in the country and I challenge your forum to bring about any other organisation which has the same level of accountability and justice delivery system. Your mention about scapegoats being chosen to punish, if true, should have resulted in the Armed Forces losing appeals against all these decisions in civil courts. That is not the case.
    The police reforms which are supposed to find ways and means to bring about order in the Police system in the country still find mention only when Parliament is in session and the police of this country is marauding people and creating new records of atrocities and human rights violations. The civil services who are responsible for governance in the country have taken us to the abyss of misgovernance and we proudly find mention in the elite list of the most corrupt countries. Why don’t you say something about that? May be you do not want to raise issues against those who can take you all to cleaners.

    One would love to join issues with your forum of everything that you have written against the Armed Forces. But the blatant bias and misrepresentation of facts in your forum does not exude confidence about it being neutral discussion board. But, one is sanguine that within your heart you know the facts as well as the public.

  12. Every organisation develops its own set of values , culture and systems over a period of time. Does have “good” and “bad” as perceived by visitor. Important is delivery of results.
    Would you not like to fight for nation, irrespective of means?
    Would you not like to have delivery of result in war at any cost?
    Or will you still be giving a lesson in Management?
    Choice is yours!

  13. 1 This over withdrawal of liquor in a unit is no issue for a vast Army and its soldiers. Units withdraw for raising days/ parties/ barakhana and many other functions. This is also no new phenomena with many retd Ex Servicemen as major visitors to CSD canteen. They are sure of withdrawing their full quota as thier own realtives in villages are also depenedent . The units are running far flung CSD dets in remote areas for welfare of such Ex Servicemen. The units are thus wasting lot of unnecessary manpower and resources. To compensate for it they are employing retd servicemen only to manage these canteens. The payments for salaries are generated from these funds. The units are also generating regtl fund profit.

    (a) There are enough instructions to transparency functioning in CSD sale and purchase. In Liquor issues, Formation HQ veto the allotment of liquor depending upon strength of the unit and Ex servicemen and their auth quota. Hence to say that Indian Army is indulging in corrupt practices of liquor is like saying the whole country is corrupt for many scandal we keep hearing. Why do we blame the org for act of a few individuals. Why do we also presume that a man in uniform cannot be corrupt, why this aspect is unthinkable by media or all those so called babaus (IAS). We all are manifestation and product of same society. Being in services does not guarantee that a man cannot be corrupt. It is same as any other organization like Corporate world, Police, Politics etc.

    (b) However just one act of same society product gives enough banter material to all interested ones to condemn Indian Army forgetting that same Indian Army is doing yeomen service for the country.

    (c) While we appreciate the media bringing out these anomalies but what we don’t appreciate is condemning the whole Defence service for a few when the system is in place and is followed in majority of the units like in this case CSD Liquor withdrawal.

    (d) The truth of the matter is these issues are routine lapses which have to happen in some units or the other being a vast organization but as a whole these issues are used to divert attention of local media from 6 PSC or to sell their newspaper.

    2 Lets us see the bigger picture of how to streamline the issues with more checks and balances and not use these issues to allow anti services people to have their agendas of tarnishing the image of the country Elite Forces for their own selfish interest. I again request take on the culprits and not the system as system over all does not agree to such issues.

  14. Dear Pragmatic,

    First i would thrash the issue of liquor. since u spread misinformation, u may not have taken pains to find out that the Army on the whole has drawn less than fifty percent of the authorisation for this period, and is generally the trend every year. so the fact of overdrawing is absolutely incorrect. u can ring up the CSD Board and get the details.[link] put in an RTI on the issue at 10/- and come back on this blog only after receiving the reply.

    it is quite possible that the delhi CSDs would have overdrawn. HOW??

    Army has issued smart cards for troops to draw liquor anywhere in the country instead of carrying it from far flung places like DImapur, Ukhrool etc.
    1. quite a few officers and troops come on leave and collected the same from delhi.
    2. units moving for UN mission generally collect it from delhi before going out.
    3. the author of the story as well as u have failed to even check that the total is plausibly correct. 1.12 lac cases @ approx 800 per case would come to max of 9 crores not 27 crores. similarly the quantity has also been suitably inflated by the author of the story, MK Tayal.

    as u mention at the end question ideas not intentions. where is the idea?? what u have propogated is all false and hearsay. u have not even taken the pains to check the truthfulness of the report.

    even in your earlier feeds u have picked up the issue of disobedience by chiefs; when both the defence minister and the chiefs have negated any such differences publicly. still u say it is an idea??

    the issue if MNS officers. i had asked u to do a survey in delhi, and let the readers of the blog know of any hospital in delhi or anywhere which pays the medical attendents more than the doctors. still u say it is an idea???

  15. @Yash:

    About the liquor issue, you must have seen the statement by the Army headquarters and Defence ministry that pilferage of liquor in Delhi is happening and they are trying to institute stricter measures to curb it. So much for your “spirited” defence of the transgression. I do not wish to nitpick because the liquor is not only cheap rum, and the question of other units and people on leave was valid even earlier. But to focus on the myriad details is to again miss the larger picture.

    Now to the idea of the post. The idea was of decaying values in the organisation — Type 4s, as Jack Welch called them. And how can it be solved? Remember there are four to five stories every week in the media, pointing out individual transgressions by militarymen. This blog doesn’t talk about them because they do not lead to any substantive debate on policy issues.

    The issue of civil-military relations and the violation of orders of the Union Cabinet has been explained repeatedly in my various comments/ blog posts. It is not about what the minister or the Chiefs say. While they may try and underplay the issue (for obvious reasons), there are graver issues meriting attention out of this debate.

    What was the idea in the post about MNS? That this talk has “unwittingly taken the debate over the SCPC in an unwarranted direction” and “can even mar the prospects of other serious demands of the services being considered sympathetically”. I wish you had read the posts carefully.

    Oh, yes. You forgot to write about the way army kept its reports on stress management as secret and didn’t provide a copy of five reports to the parliamentary committee (are they bureaucrats?). And the fact that the parliamentary committee (not bureaucrats) has asked the army to do away with sahayaks.

    Let me rephrase your rhetorical question. Do a survey and tell me of any other modern army in the world that employs professional soldiers as sahayaks? We all know the answer.

    If you really love the military, do not be blind to its follies. Point them out, seek correction as that is the way you’d do for someone you really care — for eg, your kid. That should make the idea of this blog clearer to you.

  16. Dear Pragmatic,

    The decaying values cannot be tackled by misinformation. it is agreed that pilferage of liquor takes place, but to blame the entire organisation for it, well it leaves much to be thought about. my reply was not related t any specific issue, but your motive of picking up all the negative issues in the media and highlighting them here adding a bit of mirch masala. u did not seem to have read that “Army as a whole has underdrawn nearly 50 percent of its liquor quota”. so it proves the supposed fact of overdrawal wrong and resorts to framing that is keep the background out of the picture and focus only on the issue you want to highlight.

    the issue of MNS was raised by me but by you along with the letter by the chief. i just tried to put your thoughts in the correct perspective.

    perspective and the background are very important issues when discussing. for a foreigner an arranged marriage would seem as violation of human rights but for an indian it is the norm and he does not see anything wrong. similarly for us a female in bikini may seem vulgar, but for an australian it is common.

    similarly the issue of sahayak, (i don’t deny some of the officers do misuse the institution of sahayak) should be taken in the right perspective. for this u may have to live in an infantry battalion for a few years to understand. a sahayak is the officers only buddy in the unit. how much ever he tries to be friendly with the jawans they will always have a reserve. so a sahayak can make the officer feel the pulse of his unit or the subunit. no one would use a sahayak to wash his clothes (this proves u have no knowledge of the army) as every unit is authorised a washerman, moreover all the officers have washing machine so as such no one would use it in peace station. in field since the officer is staying alone the washerman as such washes the clothes of all personnel.

    your insinuations could bereft the organisation of an excellent institution which has kept the officer man relationship at a steady keel. most of the suicides are because of the situations at home and his feeling of helplessness in correcting them. a jawan has his land encroached by his neighbors, and when he goes to police he is kicked out ignonimously. all the while he kept telling his children and wife “I defend the Nation” and when they look at him in this state he cannot bear it. yes army can be blamed for not paying attention and detecting the problem well in time (though even if detected army is unable to do anything, because of the lack of any mechanism with the army).

    the issues of four to five stories in the media every week. how much is lalu accused of siphoning, well it is much much higher than the loss made to delhi government by due to overdrawal of liquor (though it is not so as i explained earlier). but how come he still roams around with his head held high. it is because a black spot on a white cloth is visible from miles while one on a black cloth is not visible. if u have guts do walk into any government secretaries house and see the number of peons and gardners working there doing all the things(it willl put your sahayak theory to shame). similarly read a website called whispers in the corridor. i was amused when it added adjectives for some IAS officers posted or appointed saying, “he is an honest officer”. in the army no one has even thought of such an adjective because it is the norm for them ( i know u will point out the .001% corruption cases in the army)

    as far as the civil military relations are concerned (the alleged defiance by the chiefs). i had asked u to read the qualities of a leader and write about it on the blog in light of the indian army. what u call as defiance is actually leadership. i donot think you would like the soldiers giving dharna in front of india gate, so what do they do, just feel helpless and lump it. the CRPF and BSF have given a memorandum, imagine the commotion in the media world if the army had done such a thing ON BEHALF OF ITS OFFICERS AND MEN.

    i think the air chief gave an answer to your sahayak question (how many professional armies have sahayaks). but still let me tell you british army, french army, russian army, chinese army, and many more lesser ones have them. the US army i agree does not have them. it is because they are willing to spend money to make sure all their officers and troops have the facilities which would have been done by the sahayak. TAJ PALACE in india does not have the lavish spread that is laid out for the US army and chinese army for b’fast, lunch and dinner. their countries do not think twice before spending for the soldier.

    another reason for the sahayak is the simple fact, that the officer shud not be bothered for his personal needs and devote his time wholeheartedly towards his men. read menakshaw’s biography and analyse actions of his sahayak. (and don’t start it again “misuse”).

    as far as the last para “do not be blind to the follies of the army, point them out”, i would like u to read the dook “Da Vinchi Code” and anlyse why the hero though confirmed that the hier of Jesus was a woman (the holy Grail) still keeps quite. why do you think there is clause for contempt for court? it is because if the faith people is lifted from these institutions there may not be much to salvage in any country. so respect the organisation which has held your country together, some of the officials are trying to malign it for their personal reasons, do not join them because these ppl will fly away to switzerland, with only u and me left here cursing our fate. (i seem to have laid it a bit thick??)

    whenever u see a soldier respect him for he is part of an organisation which has held on its basic values till now (i am not sure of it in future, b’cause i find the youngsters saying, when every one believes we do it, why not do it and prove them right.

  17. @Yash:

    We are all entitled to our opinions, but not to our facts. I prefer to avoid this kind of argument, which do nothing to add to the substantive issues meriting attention.

    Liquor — whether 20 crore or 20 lac is not the issue, the decay in values is.
    50% less drawal — siachen , valley, LoC, NE (no liquor consumption by troops — get the perspective right, my dear).

    MNS — not the issue of MNS pay but the context and effect of raising it.

    Sahayaks — british army, french army, russian army, chinese army, and many more lesser ones have them. Check the facts [Link], Sir. All European armies eliminated batmen as recruitment patterns changed after the second world war, the Indian army continued it after its 1947 independence from Britain.Even Bangladesh and Pak army don’t have them anymore. Any justification for having sahayaks is like spitting against the wind.

    Suicides — Sir, you are again wrong. If you go by army’s own reports, which they had to mark secret and keep away from the parliamentary committee, it is due to the perceived humiliation at the hands of the officers.

    Enough said. Please do not miss the woods for the trees, Sir. I can only respond if you raise substantive issues in a logical and coherent manner, not rants based of lies, misrepresentations and ignorance.

    Thanks for your comments and you may like to check out the archives (over 370 posts) that cover a whole host of issues about the Indian military and national defence before reverting with any question of ulterior motives. Only one — Indian National Interest.

  18. Prag, they had to keep the reports secret because it had moved into the government realms, and the army cannot be seen criticising the government.

  19. Kargil, Kargil , Kargil – my dear devender ,have you ever heard of a war of this nature in last 70 years besides II nd WW & Viet Nam which come close to but not equal to .Hand to hand , puri & aaloo ( not laloo ) at 15000 feet bare rocks temperature in minus , short of breath with leaders in position ,leave alone fighting stay itself is miserable & that too with kind of clothing that the so called poor country provides & against The adversary well entrenched .Any atishyokti is less for the men & officers .

  20. Pilferage from CSDs is an ongoing racket. It happens in as many cantonments as there are there in the Armed Forces. Not only the CSDs but the Naval and Airforce canteens also have similar problems where there is a blatant misuse of official resources including manpower, transport, electricity etc to produce private profit (namely regimental funds). Unit run canteens, to be run in field areas, ideally should restrict themselves to provision of essentials like toilet requisites, eatables and other such mundane items which cost a fortune for the soldiers if they take it from the Unit bania. Selling of cars, scooters, electronic items, air conditioners through the CSD are a travesty of this system and many of us, if we have the integrity, would admit that the leakages are phenomenal.

    It is not correct to shoot the messenger for the bad news. Nor is it ethical to say that “X, Y or Z are doing it so I can also do it. If you want me to stop it, stop X, Y or Z before coming to me”. By the same yardstick a thief can also tell a policeman, “Catch all robbers before you come to me. Catch criminals who have committed more serious crimes like murders before you catch petty criminals”.

    16 bottles of Rum consumed every month for a period of even one year can give us the cirrhosis of liver for a life time. The physical quota is simply too much for any one officer to have month after month, parties or no parties. It is a known fact that rum bottles are being used for payment in exchange of services. There was a notorious case of one officer trying to buy a Maruti Car in exchange for about 120 cases of rum in a famous hill station cantonment in Southern India and another trying to buy a washing machine by paying for in liquor. So let us not pretend that pilferage does not exist. Let us also not point fingers at wrong doings elsewhere to justify the black sheep within. There are a number of things that need a serious rethink – namely

    The vast sums of money that have been stashed by various units and regimental centres as regimental and private funds which are simply not required.

    Frills like Army, AF or Naval canteens (including those dubious ones run by ships supplying foreign scents, cigarettes, chocolates etc)

    A racket called as guest rooms in every station/unit when there is a distinct shortage of single officer accomodation.

    Spartan and frugal armies have won wars since times immemorial. A well equipped, well fed, well trained army which can live in minimum comfort can perform much better than an army which has developed a soft under belly and thus becomes vulnerable to pain. Having said that, let me also add one more thought. Whether it is a private colony, a mini city or township, a State or a Country – every one will get the quality of security one has paid for. If a perception develops that the nation is short changing the soldier the damage that will happen is to the nation itself. There are a number of soft skills that would need to be passed on from generation to generation physically. Sadly, from what I have seen and heard, the rot has already set in. I am afraid that the seeds for the destruction of a fine military machine have already been planted. Is there time to reverse it or are we too late??

  21. @ K_ram

    Sadly, from what I have seen and heard, the rot has already set in. I am afraid that the seeds for the destruction of a fine military machine have already been planted. Is there time to reverse it or are we too late??
    You are right. The rot has already set in and the cause is the apathy of the government (elected bodies) catalysed by the crafty bureaucrats.
    Every fighting man needs to be respected and not brought out into the streets. The — army which has developed a soft under belly and thus becomes vulnerable to pain.— happens when you have a shortage of officers and demotivated officers and NOT when you pay them well. In fact if an Army leader was well paid and respected he will train with more zeal and pride for the Organisation and Nation. Today unit commanders do not have enough officers to train leave alone completing routine administration (which is also important). Young officers no longer have the time for involvement with the men. That is where you get a soft belly. We are not like the PMF/CPOs where our units will only hold ground beefed up by the army. We have to move forward to capture ground where by conventional norms a superiority of 1: 3 is required which translates into a higher casualty rate in ops.
    Pilferage, misappropriation has been going on for centuries and the Armed forces is the only organisation where remedial measures are taken, but these bogeys are being raised at this juncture to deflect from the main issues and that being the Armed Forces are rotting and the bureaucracy is aiding this rot. The thrust on these is akin to the election campaign. Remember when the last general elections were held. The IE brought out reports of the RAW & IB being maneuvered by Sonia’s henchmen. Now the Saffron card to prove that the BJP is a fanatical outfit. The Babus incite this game and the Netas love it.
    The bogey of an all powerful armed forces is thrust upon Politicians by crafty didactics of the bureaucracy. The Armed forces in India are so structured that they can never take over but our Babus have implanted that in to the minds of the politicians for their own designs. If this continues, you will soon have an Army where you have pan chewing, chappal wearing officers who would not hesitate to maintain links with all militant outfits they come across. And, the next time you have such an expression of dissent, it won’t be so docile. Don’t blame the Armed forces and retrospect then.
    You pushed them.

    For all those who have never served in the unique organisation called the Military and can never get to fathom its bedrock of values but, would contemplate on ‘Free(?) rations’ this

  22. @ Menon

    Dear Sir,

    In violation of my self imposed restrictions on repartees, let me invite you to share a few thoughts;

    1 It is the weakness of a meek mind to seek refuge in emotion when unable to refute reason. If, for a moment, let us accept the noble nature of the profession of arms, will the same sentiment be extended to the rule of the uniform in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar etc etc. The damage the gentlemen in uniform have inflicted in these countries and many more should also be weighed in before we become all mushy eyed about the ‘bed rock of values’ and those one off articles which appear periodically in the media which are more of an effort by an ungrateful nation that awakens from its reverie and remembers its noble soldiers. Why go so far to England to find the yeoman services rendered by the Services – you have enough examples in India of the services rising up to every occasion – Bhuj, Uri, Uttaranchal, Orissa, Prince episodes, Assam – and every such natural and man made disasters where the uniformed fraternity sprung to provide succour to their civil community, without expecting anything in return. But the questions remain – Is there a problem in managing the CSDs in the Forces? Should we ignore the mismanagement in CSDs in view of the sacrifices made by the Forces? Are those who are benefiting by this mismanagement the authorised beneficiaries or legatees of the goodwill generated by the myriad civic actions done by the larger body? Is it alright if they go unpunished?

    2. Abusing the mirror does not add to my beauty (nor subtract it either). It just does not do to hurl abuse at those who are pointing fingers. Two wrongs do not make one right. Identification of the problem will be the first step towards rectification. Is there a forum available in the Services where wrong doing can be brought to notice? Black sheep including senior brass put up for punishment for their malfeasance? Does the institution permit whistle blowing? Does moral courage pay? Do the Armed Forces wish to be judged by the so called civilians for higher standards or for the same standards as applicable for the so called civilians?

    3. Pygmies can sire giants – genetics permits such variations. Can intellectual pygmies sire intellectual giants? Unlikely. It is a known fact that discussions in the Armed Forces preclude women and politics. Are discussions on policies forbidden? The quality of internal intellectual debate within the Armed Forces is not all that great to inspire others. What has been the contribution to strategic thought by the myriad directorates and training commands? We even came across an attempt to pass off basic Counter Insurgency tactics as some sort of a doctrine. Enough wool was there to pull over the eyes of the hoi polloi, but was the intellectual community impressed? I fear not.

    There are a number of issues that need to be grasped and tackled. Being a cloistered community, the Armed Forces do not brook discussion. We atleast have a forum here to do that. Intellectual sparring is an enjoyable sport as long as it happens between intellectuals. So let us maintain the quality of discussion and refute arguments with reason. After all, it is never worth the while fighting a pig because, firstly we get dirty and then the pig loves it too!

  23. @ K-ram
    The cause is staring at you in the face and you refuse to acknowledge it. Quite understandable since you have to wear the uniform to understand the psyche of the Armed forces.
    Right from inception the Army man lives on emotions which make him do something a civilian would call crazy. It is the whipping up of emotions which makes the army man cross the line. He needs to be kept on the emotional pedestal or else you will get another civil servant who will manipulate things.
    Incidentally when Bangladeshi officers come to India for courses they don’t even pay their Officers Mess dues since they are badly paid. If you want to know what is wrong with Pak army read Stephen Cohen’s, ‘Red coats to Olive Greens’. Results are seen.
    Incidentally you are exactly like a Civil Servant. You set the rule, want others to play by it and then violate it to your advantage.
    It is not correct to shoot the messenger for the bad news. Nor is it ethical to say that “X, Y or Z is doing it so I can also do it.
    Now If, for a moment, let us accept the noble nature of the profession of arms, will the same sentiment be extended to the rule of the uniform in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar etc. No problems here in comparing the Army to X, Y or Z?????????
    We even came across an attempt to pass off basic Counter Insurgency tactics as some sort of a doctrine. Maybe you could read the US Army War college ‘Doctrine’ on CI. Of course the ‘doctrine’ also involves the civil governance system.
    With the inception os smart cards the Armed forces has taken a step to negate malpractices. That the will to stop such practices exists warrants that we stop such criticism
    Lastly Army men don’t fight pigs, they just skewer them and have a good barbeque – with of course our favourite chotta RAUM. (envious?)

  24. @menon
    That the will to stop such practices exists

    Agreed Sir. The Fauj has a serviceable* and a real time functional mechanism to deal with anyone say:

    [1] Stealing the affections of a sister officer’s husband.
    [2] Stealing a Cow ( A VC winner who stole a cow was punished – see list )
    [3] NOT drinking his Rum (Shot, his grave in Agram cemetery, Bangalore)

    Will a Babu get shot for not drinking / demanding his ‘ chai pani’ or the Supreme Court Judge who illegally ran a Cowji dairy in his residence in Delhi get hauled up ? No way. [ That is another story - the cows came home to roost for the judge since an Editor was annoyed for being sentenced for contempt of Court.]

    *Okay, okay there is a case for improvement in military law. There is other room for improvement. Bring down the cost of Black Label and stop manufacture of IMFL which is just industrial alcohol with caramel and permissive added stuff. Shoot the distillers. Begin with Dyer Meakins.

  25. @Menon

    I am not able to understand where have u got this venom for all things civilian. I think u r no less than raj thakeray. Atleast this guy is doing for votes and building mass base, what are u doing this for.

    I have followed lots of ur comments in all the blogs, and I did not find even one thing gud abt civil setup. There is so much hatred filled up in ur comments.
    The issue is of declining value system in military. It is one of the most important thing, because things are coming out in open, unlike past when u could atleast assume that these were indl transgressions. These are not. The reality is that everyone is assumed to be honest, till they are caught. Why even noting and minute sheets are produced so that there is collective responsibility and if the boss goes down, he takes atleast 3-4 more ppl down with him. Why do u think Army tried its best to be excluded from RTI.
    One recent example is AWHO defining to CIC that it is not a public authority and therefore will not come under RTI. And lo and behold, even AG says that is a society set up in 1961 by serving officers in their personal capacity.
    For your information, even comes under RTI. What is there to hide in AWHO.
    I am sure in ur opinion, this must also be devious trick of civil bureaucracy. I would love to read ur take on this one.

  26. Oh, my blind men of Hindoostan.

    So six blind men of Hindustan
    disputed loud and long,
    Each in his own opinion
    exceeding stiff and strong;
    Though each was partly in the right,
    they all were in the wrong!

    So oft in theologic wars,
    The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance
    Of what each other mean,
    And prate about an Elephant
    Not one of them has seen!

    John Godfrey Saxe

    @K_ram and Pragmatic.

    You begin a discussion well and one seems to sway to your logic. However, as repeatedly observed from topic to topic, as the discussion progresses, its focus narrows down on an issue so tangential that one loses interest in the debate and then motivated comments (from IDSE/ GREF/ Paramilitary officers) get introduced and finally we miss the woods for the trees.

    Bringing in the liquor, rations, sahayaks and MNS issues into the forefront at this point of time and trying to portray the community of officers as petty pilferers, uncouth, abusive and sexist is a myopic and prejudiced viewpoint. This raises a doubt, whether you really are interested in improving the system here or in running down the officers. We do get married to ladies from respectable civilian families, don’t we?

    There is no denying, that like any body of persons, the Indian Armed Forces are not perfect. There are issues of corruption (monetary/ ideological) at a certain level which definitely need to be addressed on priority and as far as we know, people are dealt with seriously when caught. However, in doing so, if you generalize us, where most have not even seen a corrupted currency note, you are putting the officers’ community down in the eyes of their subordinates.

    We have toiled blood and sweat to bring ourselves to this standing in the eyes of our men and such universalisation is not acceptable.

    The sentiment of this observation may not be understood by many, may be because one needs to have served in the armed forces but suffice to state, a Life Insurance policy cannot be entered into after death of the principal.

  27. @sham

    What is there to hide in AWHO.

    So right Sir. May your tribe increase. Thank you.

    The Army Wealth Harnessing Organisation must not speak with a forked tongue ( if any, of course ) Haul ‘em up. I never liked their arrogance.

    A minor point – could we have MMS convey this grave “Sense of his (kitchen) Cabinet” not only to the Maharashtra Govt or “Shared Power” a well known Bombay Real Estate Broker but also to all those hardworking, zero infrastructure builders littering India ? Presumably this Assam MP had a good builder for his Gauhati Ghar. Recommend him please.

  28. @sham
    I am not able to understand where have u got this venom for all things civilian. I think u r no less than raj thakeray. At least this guy is doing for votes and building mass base, what are u doing this for.
    I’m doing this to save the last bastion of support of the Indian democracy from decay. I do not have venom for all things civilian. In fact I have been a civilian for the past 8 years now and like all Indians I too abhor the civil servants who rape the people and the State of India. Be it a movie, a conversation and if the topic does get to civil governance there will be 9.9 people out of 10 who will spew venom on the civil servants and their political puppets.
    On many posts I have said that the Armed forces need reforms. Even bets practices become worst practices over time and need to be revisited. However at this juncture the issues of booze, sahayaks, MNS, CPO/PMF, UN scandals reek of conniving. Take out news paper archives and you will see such allegations posted before elections whereas during the term no one even bothered to raise an objection. These issues are raised to taint the military and divert attention from hearing their genuine demands. By all means bring them up at the right time and I will be there to suggest reforms but at this stage, I feel it is malicious with a hidden agenda .

  29. @ Menon

    Thank you so much to save the last bastion. We do not require such hardline approaches ,almost bordering on hysterical.. to espouse any body’s demands.
    These issues like booze, MNS, etc are regular issues and because of SCPC fiasco, they have acquired life of their own. People earn respect for their own work, you can not earn respect by characterizing entire civil system as malicious, corrupt, inept, etc, etc and projecting an entire service as God’s own men who can deliver justice.
    This kind of rant earlier used to invite sympathy, now a days ppl just ignore them.

    BTW, you have cleverly avoided my question. If you want I can send you the link where CIC has expressed his considered opinion based on inputs from serving army officers that AWHO is a private society (much like Niyati builders, etc, etc) and defence officers are working in a private society, but getting paid from govt of India ….

  30. @ sham
    CIC has expressed his considered opinion based on inputs from serving army officers that AWHO is a private society (much like Niyati builders, etc, etc)
    Fine. Let it be categorised like a private builder. Pay the officers working there like private builders of that magnitude pay. Will you agree to that? Even the Cabinet Secretary does not get the salary paid by Real Estates Developers with that magnitude of Projects. Give me your ID and I can send you salary details to prove it.
    Inputs from serving officers Is this like the SCPC study reports with inputs from ghost officers? Is it documented or a shot in the dark?

    We do not require such hardline approaches ,almost bordering on hysterical.. to espouse any body’s demands. This is not anybodys demands> It is the demands of the organisation that has taught me values which are difficult to understand by all and sundry. And, they are not hysterical, just strong & to the point. Not being able to face reality is your problem.

  31. @Menon,
    first point. I do not think u know what u r defending (abt AWHO). If only you had known and they would not have required this protection of society registration act, they would have come clean on RTI.
    Incidentally, they did not and I do know why did not.
    Don’t try to defend ppl just because they wear olive green. Rest of ur arguments are worthless abt real estate develoers. Because I know that u don’t know, what u r tailkng abt./ If u have it, ask me…. I will tell you and I will put it in public.
    There is no demand of organisation. I fully understand since I am a part o ppl of the same value system. There is no point, except hysterics and motivation for other ppl to do wrong based on ur inputs.
    Tell me specifics… Don’t talk generalisation like what u have been doing.
    U said u are civilian since last 8 years. Why no try to be the same now. I do not think that we require u, or vijay oberoi or raj kadian or any one else.
    Thank you. Please mind ur own business.

  32. @ sham
    Maybe the values couldn’t get into you? If you send me your ID I could send you my experience with the real estate sector. So your general plea of pseudo intellectualism is off the mark.
    Anyway, if you were what you claim i would not like to belittle your insufficiency on a piublic forum. Lets say, its a part of what I learn’t in OGs. JTB it didn’t wear off on to you.
    Incidentally, I do what I believe is my business and don’t need any half baked Johnny telling me what to do. If you find it not on your turf – stay of. Chill. Your typescript indicates hypertensive replies.

  33. @pragmatic

    Can the government rise to the occasion and develop “the courage” that Jack Welch speaks of — of initiating a comprehensive military reform process ?

    Maybe the re=form process that they have thought out is the oldest subcontinental method ie D & R:

    For PBMilR Cantonments and UAV allotments:


    Trivially, Catch / Establishment 22.

  34. @Menon
    I don’t know what your experience in real estate is. But I do know that our housing organisation has been defined as a private party, with interest in real estate. This private party puts the name “Army” right is front.
    It operates from Govt buildings. It has serving officers on its board.
    It has central govt employees (both defence and civilians) directly working for it.
    And yet it claims it is not a public body. Incidentally, there is one another body like this .That is . With similar existence. But it is giving out all the information and is trying to be transparent.

    So which means the benefit of the intent and spirit of govt with RTI act, has been denied.This affects us. That is sevice man, his family, and every one who has invested his life’s savings in Real Estate.
    When the govt has made right to information a fundamental right, and serving officers of the army are themselves violating this right, then what do you say.
    You are not giving us the benefits of your views on this particular aspect.

  35. @ sham
    I totally agree with your views on the RTI part but where I disagree is bringing it up at this juncture. The subject heading is booze and there are people who want to flog the Army by even ommissions of a couple of crores whereas in one example about 180 Crores of IAF hardware was scrapped due to inaction by a Ministry. This exercise of nitpicking is malafide at this juncture.
    There is a nice Harvard Business review article which talks about even the best practices becomeing the worst practices with time. Therefore I am a firm believer that reforms are a must in the Armed Forces but only after they the Armed Forces have been placed with dignity. If you erode their values reforms are of no use.
    I have personally advised the pulling out of an AFNHB project because of procedural hassles and did put in a project report on how counterproductive the venture would be. Being in the real estate sector I have personally met civil officials down from the panchayats to the Ministers. Bloody corrupt lot. Our Generals are Angels.
    Maybe reforms, RTI etc. can be taken up after some time?

  36. @ Menon.
    RTI is enacted by parliament with the intention of creating transparency. Only very limited exceptions are given, where the information may not be given.

    Can you think of any other branch within army/navy/af, where information is more critical for functioning than these housing organisations. But the submission of the senior most ranking ppl is that awho is a private company, which is no profit, no loss. That means these ppl are doing charity. And GoI is paying for this work of charity.
    Here is one link.

  37. @ sham
    Maybe you have a problem with the AWHO and having done a project report for an AFNHB project I think I can give you some solution – but later.

  38. @menon

    See this is the root cause of all problems whether defence or civil.
    My submission is only one. When there is a law passed by parliament, and all deptts are supposed to actively adopt RTI, then why is some exception being sought to be made.
    Even when sister organisation like cgewho., etc can put themselves under RTI, then why not AFNHB or any other organisation.

    And as far as some solution goes, I think u are also having some problem with civil set up. If u can tell me ur specific problem, I can also give u a solution.