Monday, January 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Must a military commander always obey political orders?

We should emulate the Americans in caring for our soldiers in battle by not unnecessarily exposing them to bodily harm. Take the example of Bosnia and Afghanistan, wherein the USA inflicted maximum casualties on the enemy, but with minimum lives of American men. The Yanks are so afraid of body bags that even a single American life causes ripples and an investigation by the US Congress.

Is a military commander duty bound to obey a political order against his better military judgement? The answer to that is, no military commander can vindicate a failure or success of an operation with heavy casualties by claiming that he was compelled to act against his military conscience, as it happened during Operation Bluestar in Punjab, Op Pawan in Sri Lanka, and Op Vijay in Kargil.

If a Service Chief has to execute a political order which leads to a heavy loss of life, the only course open to him is to resign, or in the extreme case even of disobedience, but for which he must be prepared to pay the price with his head.

It may be recalled that Admiral Fisher reporting on Admiral Jellico’s failure to destroy the German fleet at the battle of Jutland in World War I when ordered to go into action by the Admirality, stated that, “Jellico has all the qualities of a Nelson, except one, he does not know when to disobey”.


We hope that such a situation will not arise in the present pending war with Pakistan. Irrespective of what our politicians are saying of “paying any price to settle the terrorist problem once and for all”, the Service Chief must stand firm and should not allow his military judgement to be clouded by the term “at any price” as that price will be paid only by our soldiers and not by politicians.

Brig N.B. GRANT, Pune

Not for ex-servicemen

This refers to the article “Board that looks after soldiers, ex-servicemen" (Jan 3). Does it? The state government has provided 15 per cent reservation in Class III & IV jobs to absorb ex-servicemen. The waiting period in Punjab & Haryana is from six months to one year. In Himachal it is eight-nine years. What a shame!

Most posts meant for ex-servicemen are filled by daily wagers on the orders of political bosses while ex-servicemen keep waiting. It is not that sufficient vacancies are not there, but to get a job money is required to make the ex-serviceman cell give the deserving ex-serviceman the job due to him.

The gallantry awardees in Punjab are given a pension of Rs 1,500 per month. Not the Himachal board.

For the last 14 months we did not have a regular Director. Even now one has been appointed on an ad hoc basis. Out of 10 Deputy Directors only one is in place, retiring in one month’s time. Two were suspended and seven posts are vacant. Out of 110 staff seven civilians have recently been appointed under political pressure. Another 30 posts are lying vacant.

We have 27 sainik rest houses in the state. Ex-servicemen hardly get accommodation in these. Even if they do, the state of the sainik rest houses is atrocious. There is hardly any running water in many. The local administration uses them as its personnel guest houses.

To widows and war widows the government has given many facilities. But this board has no time for them. Have they even got a list of these brave ladies of our State?

You talk of benefits to 176 beneficiaries amounting to Rs 1.8 lakh. The amount comes to Rs 1,000 per head. Please let the Director tell us what problems can be solved with this princely sum?

The so-called Sainik Welfare Department has not even protected the right of the ex-serviceman to get his seniority of the service rendered in most adverse and deprived circumstances during the best period of his life when he is re-employed in the civil services. The ex-servicemen HAS versus non-ex-servicemen HAS published in your paper a couple of months ago is a case in point. The case of ex-servicemen in the teachers’ cadre is another example.

The Directorate of Sainik Welfare is doing nothing, but drawing handsome salaries and welfare for themselves and fighting a rear-action war for their personnel welfare and not for the welfare of those they need to look after.

Major VICKRAM ANAND (retd), Shimla

Why waste water?

“Water is precious, save it” and similar slogans can be seen on the walls, but practically nothing is done. The government spends crores of rupees to provide potable water to villages and slum areas around big cities, but nothing is done to prevent it from going down the drain unused.

People make a hue and cry for getting a public utility water connection but once it is installed nobody claims responsibility for the maintenance. It is installed often without a proper drainage.

Those using these taps are least concerned about closing them after use. Most of the time users keep a bucket under the tap and go away, thus water keeps overflowing. Similar scenes can be seen at bus stands, railway stations and other public places.

Voluntary organisations should come forward and educate people on water conservation and we individually can help by closing any open tap where water is flowing uselessly. Self-closing taps should be installed.

It is the need of the hour as our water level is receding to the dangerous limits.


Funny BSF drill

The Tribune on January 4 carried a curious photograph of a BSF jawan strutting like a Las Vegas chorus girl during the “Retreat” drill. It is a downright funny form of a military drill. I hope the BSF officers stop their jawans from acting like circus clowns and get them to revert to standard military drill.

Lt Col D.S. DHILLON (retd), Moga

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