Dear Mr. Prime Minister

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

Thank you very much for the greetings on my birthday. It was a surprise and much appreciated.

May I ask for a favour?

Today, I am an 84 yr old officer commissioned in Dec 1952 and belong to the 1st Course of the National Defence Academy.
From Jan 1949, when I joined the NDA, I have only seen a steady decline in the status and financial state of the Armed Forces. If this decline is not arrested we will have an abundance of fine soldiers (due to unemployment) to be lead by mediocre or below par officers.

Field Marshal Carriapa said at our Passing out Parade in 1952 that the Jawans are always good, it is the officers who have to be capable of leading them.
It is sad that due to the neglect by successive governments only mediocre or below par officers are being inducted as the cream of the youth available has been skimmed off by the civil services and the corporate sector due to poor financial and social status.

Till mid 1950s we used to be equated to the British company officers and the civil services were considered nowhere near AF Officers.
Most senior officers in the police were seconded from the Army who were medically unfit for army service, and the senior most officer in the police held an appointment of Inspector General which was junior to a Brigadier.

Unfortunately, the scene has changed completely.
The AFs are being undermined consistently and relentlessly as though the bureaucracy’s only agenda is to belittle the soldiers.
Previously, the governments were least concerned and aim was how to stay in power and milk the Nation.
While the AFs continued protecting the sovereignty, with inadequate equipment due to rampant corruption, the civil services quietly continued up grading themselves vis a vis the soldiers.

After the biggest national victory in 1971 the slogan being chanted was “India Is Indira & Indira is India”.
While the 3rd CPC inflicted the most grievous wound on the AFs, by lifting the pensions of civil servants, reducing the pensions of JCOs and OR and not giving any additional benefit to the officers.
It looked as though it was the civil servants who had created a new country and taken 93,000 POWs.

The cunning and cussedness of the IAS started from the time FM Ayub Khan declared martial law in Pakistan.
They started putting fear in the then government that the Indian Army may also take over the nation. By playing on these fears and the insecurity of inexperienced politicians the IAS ingratiated itself with the ruling party and started eroding the status of the AFs while consistently upgraded themselves.

When I was commissioned an IAS officer felt that he would be happy if he retired as a deputy secretary at age 55.
The AFs aspired to retire as Lt Cols at 48 yrs after commanding their regiments.
The difference was in their pensions.
A Dy Secy took home less than Rs 400 pm while a Lt Col took Rs 675 pm.

Now every civilian entrant, whatever be his performance, retires as an additional secretary at age 60, while the Lt Col retires at 52 and both take home 50% of last drawn pay.

As the IAS had to carry other civil services along, except the AFs, crumbs were thrown at them also.
Now these services have more additional secretary level officers in a cadre strength of about 15,000, than all the AFs together, which have an officer strength of about 60,000.

Something is radically wrong in the cadre management, which is costing the country a pile while providing poor administrative support to the citizens.

I would like to bring to your notice that in the military academies, the Sword of Honour winners among the cadets do not become the Chiefs of the services.
The order of merit (O of M) is decided on the performance during training and then it is revised based on the performance during an individual’s service.
However, in n the civil services the O of M is decided by the performance in the UPSC entrance examination and they carry it through out their service, whatever be their contribution to the nation’s well being.
It is ironical that with NFU the civil services have thrown performance linked promotions out of the window, which is ensuring that we stay at the bottom of the comity of nations despite paying much more than our civil servants deserve.
Ask any HR professional and he will give an adverse report within minutes, on the way the cadre management of civil servants is being done.

The worst part is that to maintain the supremacy of the civil servant this gang will not hesitate to feed wrong data to any committee being set up eg., the 7th CPC.
They have become so confident and brazen that they are not even worried about committing contempt of the Supreme Court by supplying wrong data, just to prove their point.

I had written to the RM a few months ago that the integration of the MOD with the AFs must be done, as recommended by a knowledgeable civil servant, Mr K Subramaniam in his report, post Kargil operations. This will ensure that decisions by the civil servants in MOD are not taken in silos and the RM receives well considered advice.
Otherwise, he will always keep telling the Services, “I will look into the matter” after every biased decision is announced by the MOD.
As it happened after the recent announcement of an unfair revised equation between defence officers and civil servants, in the MOD.

This one sided decision making is not new. In 1975 when I was Military Attache in our Embassy in Paris I was paid Foreign Allowance (dearness allowance abroad) equal to a 1st Secretary, even though I was entitled to FA equal to a Counselor as per a MEA letter, because the MOD had issued a letter giving arbitrary equations.
It is still happening because the MOD is always looking for ways to belittle the armed forces.

May I therefore, please ask as to why the government is ensuring that the soldiers not only have to fight our enemies on the outside, but also the known enemy within?
The latter fight is more debilitating and demoralising.

Your government has its objectives clear, but regretfully a major portion of the bureaucracy is not with you, as it still owes its loyalty to earlier masters.

With warm regards and wishing you and the Nation a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Diwali, under your leadership.

Lt Gen SK Bahri PVSM


4 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Prime Minister

  1. Srinivas Ramajayam

    This is a wonderful note by your father to our Hon. PM. I really hope that the persons concerned take note and initiate the steps to bring back the atmosphere which once existed, where our forces got what was rightfully due to them.

  2. RS Tomar

    Gernail Sahib,

    1. On perusal of ur letter to PM I support u on all points but one regarding the sub material intake of Officer Cadre. Defence Forces enrol less than 1000 young men as officer per year. Do you think in a country of 1.3 bn is it difficult to select such a small numbers of competent persons? Your point is filmsy and based on untruths. Your selectors mind set is biased. They are always in search of sons of officers. Since sons of officers’ enjoy luxurious life in their childhood and teenage, thus becomes awara and cowards. Selectors sitting in SSBs are not ready to take other capable persons due to their biased mind set. So knowingly an artificial deficiency of officer cadre created in Defence.

  3. Lt Gen SK Bahri

    Mr Tomar, regrettably you have a wrong idea about our selection process. Our Selection Boards adhere to very strict norms which have been laid down by psychiatrists. Selection is not based “whom you know” or “whose son are you”. An officer has to be a potential leader, whatever his background. As a CO of a regiment I had youngsters who had been waiters or veterinary assistants, and still performed well in 1971 war. I have seen many officers children rejected ‘awara’ or not. I am afraid you have a more biased mind than the selectors you are complaining about. Otherwise our courses in the Academies would not go under subscribed


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