Army officers: pitfalls of cadre review

Thanks to the initiative of Gen N.C. Vij, who has just retired as the Chief of Army Staff, the Army officers can boast of an effective system of promotions now. In this context, I refer to Brig H.S. Sodhi’s article, “More Colonels – at what cost?” (The Tribune, Dec 22, 2004) in which he has offered many worthy suggestions on the cadre review of officers. His suggestion to absorb middle rung officers in the paramilitary forces may apply equally to brigadiers and above.

Except for regimentally commissioned officers, all officers are products of the same mill — SSB, NDA, IMA and Officers Training Academy. They have the same officer-like qualities and the same training. Brigadier Sodhi’s comment on superseded officers was in bad taste. Supersession occurs not for lack of character, but for lack of opportunities. If a Lieutenant-Colonel becomes Colonel after 25 years of service, he is good but if it is after 26 years, he is bad. Isn’t it ridiculous?

Despite its pitfalls, ours is the most foolproof promotion system in the country, perhaps in the world. Brigadier Sodhi was lucky enough to reach that rank, but it does not mean that ours was a bunch of buffoons.

Lt-Col B.K. SHUKLA (retd), Chimbalhar (Palampur)




The Union Government’s decision to upgrade 750 posts of Lieutenant Colonels is welcome. This would definitely provide more promotional avenues to the Army officers, besides reducing the combating level age of their commanding officers, which had become necessary after the Kargil war. But no adequate relief has been provided to the time-scale Colonels as they would have to wait for 26 years for becoming a Colonel, as compared to the selection grade Colonels who get promoted after 18 or 19 years of service.

To remove stagnation among time-scale Colonels, their period of promotion should be reduced to 23 instead of 26 years as has been recommended by the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee. It is heartening to note that the intake of the short service commission officers is also being increased. It would help bridge the shortfall of about 11,000 officers.


President’s gesture

We should be proud to have a President like A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Recently, there were media reports that a nurse in a Lucknow hospital managed to break the President’s security cordon. She proceeded straight to the dais to give him a memorandum alleging that her family’s land had been usurped and her father faced death threat from the village headman. The President was attending a function at Rudahi village near Lucknow.

However, she was promptly whisked away and later sacked from her job for having breached the President’s security cordon. The Collector and District Magistrate of Lucknow, Ms Aradhana Shukla, tackled the poor nurse for her guts to break the cordon.

When the President read about it in newspapers, he was extremely upset. He intervened personally and asked the District Magistrate to look into the matter and provide all help to the girl. This was a great gesture worthy of the President of the world’s largest democracy.


UPA directionless

I do not know what is the United Progressive Alliance government actually doing. It seems to be working without direction. It has not implemented its own policy of liberalisation as prices are rising day by day.

It appears the old days of inflation, price rise, ration card, queues, blackmarket, permit system and Inspector Raj are returning. Only two governments at the Centre — the one led by the late Morarji Desai and the other by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee — checked price rise as also brought revolutionary changes in the economic life of the common man. If the present government cannot bring revolutionary and dynamic changes in the common man’s domestic life, it should quit.

P.C. PURI, Chandigarh

Wise decision

The Punjab government’s decision not to construct the Shahpurkandi Dam at the department level but to hand over the work to the NHPC is wise. The Ranjit Sagar Dam (RSD), constructed by the government, is a national monument of wastage of public funds, corruption and inefficiency. This experiment should not be repeated. Enough is enough.

The RSD employees’ demand to the government to get the Shahpurkandi Dam constructed by them should be firmly brushed aside in the national interest. The RSD’s surplus employees should be retrenched to save crores of rupees every month.

HOSHIAR SINGH,  Shahpurkandi

Ill-equipped hospitals

It is time to critically analyse the utility and productivity of many departments of the Punjab government. During a visit to the Civil Hospital at Doraha in Ludhiana district recently, I noticed that though two qualified doctors were posted in the hospital, along with the supporting staff, no patients visited them for treatment. The reason: the hospital is ill-equipped for proper diagnosis and treatment.

This is surprising because private hospitals are flourishing and well-equipped with modern gadgets. The government should set up a few modern civil hospitals with latest amenities for the doctors and assured facilities for the patients. As the size of the districts is quite small with good transport and communication facilities, serious patients can even be picked up by ambulance vans. The services rendered by a few modern hospitals with limited doctors and paramedical staff would be far superior to the existing arrangements. It would also reduce the burden on the government and provide proper treatment to the poor and the needy.

BALVINDER SINGH, IFS (retd) Malhipur (Ludhiana)

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |