Dear Sir,

This has reference to the latest ECHS instructions on the new ECHS card, which are both confusing and labouring. This shows great apathy towards the community the ECHS is chartered to ‘look after’. It is quite apparent that those running the ECHS and those manning it, (including MoD, AGs Branch and ECHS hierarchy), unfortunately don’t have experience of the aspirations and the limitations — both physical and mental — of those benefiting from the scheme. For one, the orderly, precise conduct of service life is absent by the time one is 60, if not earlier. Those in seventies and beyond, are far slower, less net savvy, easily bugged over issues that look orderly while in service, particularly in NCR. The limitations multiply in the backwaters of rural India, for everyone; Officers, JCOs and OR. Locomotion lags. Even the act of getting a photostat copy is time consuming. Not everyone has a printer.

The ambitious ‘jetting into’ the cyber world of the veteran community, contemplated in these instructions, monstrous as they are, remind one of the scenario envisaged in Alvin Toffler’s epic “Future Shock”. What the veterans would like to know is the following:

  • Why is a veteran required to run around, spend money, get extensive paper work done every 5 years or so to ‘get a new card’? Why are we scapegoated for ECHS and CSD cards?
  • Why is an ECHS card required at all? Forget more and more data going onto it, let us be content with just one, to identify us, and avail services.
  • If it’s an upgrade, why is it not automatic?

The ECHS has two major functional concerns. One, to ensure there is no misuse of its facilities (I am placing it as One, because unfortunately this, and not the next, is treated as the most important, even at the expense of the beneficiaries). Two, to provide the veterans with efficient, timely and care free medical attention. In our endeavour to weed out the small minority of people who take the system for a ride, let us not inconvenience the larger veteran community.

—A Veteran

Dear Sir,

Group Captain TP Srivastava has provided very valuable statistics in support of his analysis. However, the way we had landed IPKF in mid-1980s, without applying any meaningful strategy, should never be repeated. We should learn from our political blunders of 1962, if we wish to win the future wars against our adversaries. Matured political decisions prove to be the greatest aid to our war machine. Superior diplomacy of Winston Churchill had turned the tables against Axis forces during WW II. Who is the Chief Executive during hostilities, matters a lot. We had a free hand to execute combat operations without any political interference in September 1965, resulting in heavy losses of Star fighters, Sabre Jets and Patton tanks, which were being boasted by Pakistan for many years prior to the war

—Hardip Singh

Dear Sir,

This has reference to the Editorial on pollution levels in Delhi and elsewhere. We know the problem but the permanent solution is a far cry. We have to find one. Population can’t be reduced but can be controlled, factories and vehicles emitting smoke can be controlled but can’t be eliminated. For e.g. Lucknow hardly has any factories or industry and not as many vehicles as compared to Delhi, but still pollution is one of the highest. I feel, apart from these measures, one of the greatest measures our country should take is grow grass every where to reduce dust. This will keep the environment clean. During my visit to the US and other countries, I observed that most barren land had a grassy top. Even the cities as also the sides of highways and expressways were covered by grass. This is not very difficult to do and if they could do it in the US, then we can do it here too as part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

—Col Pradeep Tewari

Dear Sir,

When I come to Delhi in any month (haven’t visited Delhi during Diwali months), one smells and sees the pollution in Delhi all the time and never sees a blue sky. If environment is the issue, along with crackers some other things needs to banned, such as slaughter of animals and polluting vehicles. The civic sense of most Delhi residents also leaves much to be desired. A possible solution could also be to move out some of the larger offices out of Delhi, such as most of the government offices like aviation, agricultural ministry and the like as also the HQ of the BSF and CRPF. A new satellite township will ease the population pressure on Delhi. Delhi also needs better public transport facilities to reduce usage of private cars.

— Capt Ajay Sharma, Canada

Dear Sir,

People need to love and care for their children and grandchildren by deeds not just molly coddling them. The greatest gift one can give them is a clean and healthy environment.

— Brig Vinayak Ramnarayan

Dear Sir,

In his article, Geo-Politics of India, General Sharma has raised some very valid points. My take on two points raised by him are as follows. First, Gen. Sharma brought out the internal security and external security in our context is intertwined. Border guarding in our case, just like our neighbours, needs to be integrated with border defence/ defence against external threat, and should be under MoD. Internal security Division of MHA must work closely with the MoD and Cabinet Secretariat. As regards, CDS, I differ with the writer. Integrated use of combat power in all domains is an imperative for success in war. And that requires a mechanism with requisite organisation and authority. You may call it what you like

—Maj Gen PK Siwach

Dear Sir,

l totally agree with the views of Gen. Sudhir Sharma in his article. Our leaders right from the time of Independence didn’t pursue policies which were absolutely necessary for India as they were totally influenced by the West. It may take some more time for the present leadership to consolidate and act with so many divisive forces inside.

—H.S. Saraswati

Dear Sir,

I will recommend that when we deal with geopolitics in our context of national security we also need to factor in non traditional threats, which may include; natural resources which we share with our neighbours; material issue both in terms of its denial if we don’t have that and if we have that resource but we don’t have technology to exploit it and in both cases we are vulnerable to international pulls and pressures; economic; demographic and sectarian issues, many of which are triggered by international forces which are inimical to our growth into a powerful nation. CDS is definitely a need of the hour for a couple of reasons. Firstly; future battle fields are going to be multi dimensional and if a single point advisor is needed for RM and the CCS, it can only be done by someone who understands the inter-se play of various force multipliers. Secondly, since he would be the first among equals, he will have the stature to hold his own against various forces which, though lacking due understanding of military issues, but due to their positional power are authorised to take decisions which may not be in the best interests of operational effectiveness. But to my understanding, consensus is lacking among the services on the issue.

—Maj Gen Ajay Kumar Chaturvedi

Dear Sir,

This refers to the October-November issue of SALUTE. When we say winning a war, Indian military is not structured even to win a single front war—forget about two fronts. Structure of Indian military is totally defensive in nature to maintain parity with some superiority in a short war. It works on the political calculation that wars will be short due to global political interference. So India merely needs a favourable end state so that some advantage is retained in the talks that will follow.

—Col Ashok Singh

Dear Sir,

PLARF has not been realistically taken into account by Gp Capt Srivastava in his article on ‘Two Front War’. Also, China’s military modernisation, its military R&D, its space warfare capability, cyber warfare capability have also not been taken into account. Perhaps this was because the article had a limited focus on air warfare aspects only. But some good conclusions have been drawn and myths demystified with respect to China’s air capability and effectiveness. However, taking on China is much more than this, whether in one front or two front war. Scenario of Pakistan jumping in, in a war with China has not been discussed. The Chinese threat has been discussed in isolation despite a two front perspective. If the article was just about dispelling two front scenario, it ends at Para 2. The southern threat and surrounding failed states theory has been introduced but not explained. And lastly, while throw away capability has increased 400% due to SU-30s, the drastic reduction in this capability with loss of each of these aircrafts needs consideration as well (Pakistani expertise in air to air combat is well known). And hence the need for a realistic evaluation of number of squadrons and type of platforms we need to maintain.

—Tony Chauhan

Dear Sir,

Gp Capt Srivastava’s article is a cold touch of reality in assessing a scenario heated with alarmist “worst case” projections. Calls for wargaming at the highest level.

—Ranjeet Singh Chordia

Dear Sir,

Defence preparedness needs definite focus. Forget about winning a two front war, we lack the capability to defend ourselves. We are vulnerable from all directions and also face internal chances of sabotage at the time of conflict. Armed Forces are neglected and defence of India is weakened in last three decades except some missile programs and naval ships.

—Mahander Singh

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