Fraud On Veterans And Con On Those In Service : Culprits Need To Be Exposed
(This article was first published in mid 2017. Reproduced)
By Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces Veteran
To eat or not to eat that remains the question. Firstly lets categorically state that no FREE RATION has ever been given to anyone in the Defence Services till date. In case anyone is in disagreement then he must accept that till date only FREE SALARY has been paid to everyone in the Govt of India from President down to a peon.
All ranks in the Forces have always been getting their entitled rations when deployed in Field areas. In peace areas only JCOs and Jawans were getting their entitled rations. However since 1983 this facility was extended to the officers too.
This was done after it became very clear that keeping the Forces Fighting fit was not just a phrase but a responsibility of the Govt of India and it included the officers too. The entitled ration scales have been worked out for high altitude areas down to the plains, on ship and submarines, for flying, for Cadets and recruits, for extra strenuous training / exercises with all the nutritional and calorie requirement worked out to the minutest details.
For Siachen types of places it is a totally different scale. So that is the reason of giving the rations in kind to officers and all those JCOs and men living in married quarters too. Next merely giving an allowance for buying rations even at the market rates would imply that Govt has simply absolved itself of the responsibility towards the Forces.
In that case it may also extend allowances for private purchase of defence vehicles and finally even for purchase of individual weapons and ammunition and its upkeep, certainly not a bad idea.
After all, in the days of yore this used to be the standard practice by many Kings and Emperors. What has further rubbed salt into wound inflicted has been the ridiculous rate of daily allowance of Rs 96. Whereas the daily ration scales for officers include
Mutton……260 gms (or 4 eggs or 500 ml of milk + 25 cheese + 9 gms maltova)
Eggs………02 (or 250 ml of milk)
Milk…….. 250 ml
Onion……… 60 gms
Fruit…… 230 gms
Other items like ham/ sausages/etc…..7gms,
Cornflakes/ custard etc……7gms
As it is now a days less 20 % of the officers are posted in the peace areas and by depriving them of the entitled rations is Govt of India saving millions or billions and what about the trillions lost in…..morale of the Officers, moral of the Sovereign promise, goodwill etc.
Further all talks of ration management and even the talk of CORRUPTION is all rubbish. Even if there is some malpractice there, then instead of eradicating it with all the administrative powers vested together with all pervasive Army Act why this easy way out of abolishing ration in kind? Then why criticize poor Anthony as Raksha Mantri after all he ensured NO PURCHASE of Defence Equipment for 10 long years because of the prevailing foreign slush funds being offered. Let’s hope the Railway Minister does not start following this after the next rail accident……jai Prabhu.So Colonel Mukul Deva, kudos to you. Well done. You have done what the QMG should have done on his own without even waiting for a nod from the Chief.
Now let’s come to another subject that is a Plot hatched somewhere in Lutyen Zone to deprive the Veterans of the ECHS Scheme. As per the plot, someone raised observations on the ECHS cards with electronic chips being issued to the Ex Service men and their dependents.
Today we have nearly 25 lacs ESM with another 1crore as their dependents and this number rising every month.With unveiling of ECHS for Veterans……a category of Govt servants who actually give their sweat and blood during service and are even ready to give their life voluntarily in case required, ECHS cards began to be issued from 2004.
Then as has been observed by Commander Ravindra Waman Pathak, Veteran the cards came under scrutiny of CAG and subsequently the parliament. There were serious insinuations of malpractice in 2013 and. 2014 by people manning the highest levels of the Ministry of Defence. Dhoti shivering Antony did nothing as usual and permitted the plotters to beat down the Forces and the Veterans once again.
The contract of card making was to finish on 31 May 2015. Not wanting to proceed on accusations of corruption Army HQ refused to renew the cards till Govt which controls the finances and CAG which does the audit, approved the card as part of ECHS. At least someone in the Adjutant Generals Branch took a stand and kept the flag flying and kept giving membership on a paper as Temporary Membership Card.
Finally now the MoD and Finance Ministry have accepted the contention to issue card with a RFP tendering TEC and PNC procedure. A firm has now been finally contracted to produce the ECHS cards, Kiosks with card readers and guidance modules. Old chips are not usable as the previous firm hurt by loss of a lucrative contract refuse to provide computer record backup.
In time all 50 lakh card will have to be changed. Presently first those without any formal card that is retirees after 01 Jun 2015 will be issued with new cards followed by replacement of older lots. The portion in red/underlined is a cause of concern for all existing Veterans and their dependents. How can data submitted by a serving soldier / Veterans to Army HQ in true faith for making ECHS Cards made available to a Firm (A private entity) become its property for life time.
There must have been a clause in the contract on the propriety of the database. But since the firm is reportedly refusing to give back the data there a doubt arises of such a clause was indeed there. Further what was the obligation of the security and safety of the data and its misuse by the Firm at any stage either during or after the contract was over? Being peeved at loss of contract is no excuse for the Firm even if it is owned by an influential person, for the data not being handed over to the army (MD ECHS) personal data submitted by the veterans include Name, Personnel Identification Number, Rank, Regiment
2. Spouse and Children Name
3. Telephone and / or mobile number
4. Bank details5. Aadhar card details etc
In view of the above, firstly the AG Branch must file a case against the firm and ask the Raksha Mantri to apply Defence of India Rule (still existing) against the Firm SITL (Score Information Technology Limited) and have it closed down after confiscating all its records.Secondlyall ESMs and their dependents should be ready to file cases against the culprits for theft of personal data.
Raksha Mantri also needs to probe and fix the responsibility on those responsible for this fiasco even if it was the Defence Secretary of that period. In case found guilty then action to be initiated against all those found responsible for this.
The PM and his Cabinet must also take responsibility for all decisions pertaining to Defence Forces, it cannot be treated merely like another department of the Govt. Let not Babus, Munims and even Scientists drive agendas affecting the Defence Forces.
There has to be direct interaction between the elected political authority and the Defence Forces Commander on matters military. So instead of losing trillions by removal of rations in kind, spend a few millions on restoring it as a first step.
After all who is a Veteran? As sent by Commander R W Pathak, a Veteran is one who
AT SOME VERY EARLY POINT IN HIS LIFE HANDED OVER A BLANK CHEQUE TO THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA AND PAYABLE TO MOTHER INDIA, FOR AN AMOUNT “UPTO AND INCLUDING HIS LIFE “ TO BE ENCASHED AT ANY TIME.
This simple fact is not being understood by many in this Country today.