Dear Sir,

This refers to your article “Arrest of A veteran: Gross Misuse Of Authority”. The article is factual. It is truth that not only civil even few other including “paramilitary officers with S.C. background” have animosity towards army, especially the officers corps. After retirement, I was surprised to hear a commandant of an ITBP battalion criticising a former Army Chief, for contesting the state assembly elections in Punjab. I had to tell him that this was a Constitutional right of any individual and also of all service personnel who have retired. I later found out that even his seniors at Delhi were aware about his other sectarian, divisive attitude, especially towards general caste officers and personnel. But they could not take action against him, because it would be construed as bias. I think the MHA must step in and take action where there is blatant misuse of authority, even if the person belongs to the SC/ST category. That is no ground for hiding wrongdoings. Lastly, SALUTE is a good informative military magazine. Thank you.

—Col(retd) C C Diwan, Raipur(Chhattisgarh).

Dear Sir,

Fundamental precepts of governance are normally associated with positive actions. Negative actions such as denials/discontinuance of age old practice rarely contribute towards improved performance, continued quality improvement and enhanced production. But the recent decision of keeping Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the only aviation behemoth of the nation, away from ongoing Rafale deal has been one of the most remarkable and highly desirable decision.

For defence equipment our nation has been and continues to be dependent on moth-eaten and union controlled Ordnance Factories and HAL. It would be enormous waste of time to list out their individual and cumulative failures over the last five decades. The time is ripe to take stringent remedial measures in form of closure of non-profit making ordnance factories. Enough time and opportunities have been given to these establishments to prove their worth. Their continued and consistent accomplishment has been ‘Losses and more losses’ with every passing year.

We are not in a position to arm our soldiers with basic weapons viz. small arms and world class rifles. In fact I wonder if our ordnance factories can even produce and manufacture a ‘spring’ needed for basic weapons. These establishments, barring few, have done greatest disservice to the nation over the years gone by.

All ordnance factories put together do not produce any military hardware of international standards. Manned by nearly quarter million personnel (inclusive of casual employees), the industry fares poorly when compared with French Airbus industry and Marcelle Dassault, which employ a mere 25% manpower as compared with Indian Ordnance
Factories. They produce Airbus 380, the largest commercial airliner of the world and Rafale, a world class fourth generation fighter.

Nation can ill afford to waste any more funds on maintaining these self-serving behemoths capable of producing nothing with which our soldier can face the adversary with confidence. If ISRO and SSM development programmes can meet world standards, why the same cannot be emulated by HAL and Ordnance Factories?

Our dependence on export of defence equipment continues to increase with every passing year. In foreseeable future, we are unlikely to see any change. Shutting down loss making ordnance factories would be one small but extremely prudent step towards improving the performance of defence industry in India.

I am quite conscious of the fact that Department of Defence Production would oppose any such measure because their ‘empire’ would be threatened. But in larger national interest, loss making ordnance factories must be shut down. We do not have shortage of capable and competent persons having great intellectual wisdom. We lack character. In the words of Albert Einstein:“Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist; They are wrong: it is the character”.

The present government has shown it can take tough decisions. I hence appeal to the Prime Minister that before the term of the present government ends, the mess in the Ordnance Factories may please be cleaned up.

—Gp Capt TP Srivastava

Dear Sir,

I am a veteran and I have some suggestions for the ECHS. It would be nice if the ECHS and other organisations too could adopt a service industry approach of customer being king or at least important enough to be paramount while framing rules. Sadly, such organisations are more driven by ‘Process’ derived from paranoia of user ‘misuse’ than by taking into account user comfort, and user limitations mainly due to age. Veterans complain not because of lack of knowledge, but because the SYSTEM instead of ‘listening,’ closets itself and responds with deafness, and defensive explanations. Veterans have a great deal of knowledge and skill sets and their inputs can greatly benefit the system. Too much stress is being laid on making SOPs which are then put up on websites as if every single veteran will automatically become a very knowledgeable soul. This is at best a rather unimaginative approach. Many senior veterans are not computer savvy and it is too late in the day to try to train them in computer usage. In any case, that is not the charter of the ECHS. Why not focus instead on modelling the ‘process’ to the underlings- the illiterate veterans, poor souls.

—A Concerned Veteran

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