A FEW TIPS TO GEN SHEKATKAR COMMITTEE AND FEW KICKS TO THOSE TRYING TO DROP PEARLS OF FINANCIAL WISDOM AGAINST OUR DEFENCE FORCES
Army Supply Corps functions on a brick system which is well suited for Army needs. Yes it does need modernisation ,with latest storage and transportation system for fresh vegetables, fruits, milk , meat. There should be better packaging of goods . Purchasing of fresh items have to be decentralised and prices offered to the Seller has to be as per the Market, linked to an inflation index. Also purchase system to be made online and as transparent as possible. Indian Citizens must be told the ridiculous rates offered by financial pundits for say a kg of meat just about 50/- and similarly for other items for the Defence Forces !!!!!!! And pray who is responsible for advocating such rates…….is there any need to spell it out.
Dinesh ji also writes about EME with a heading “ Blunt teeth & body flab take huge toll” . Has he ever witnessed these EME boys repairing a broken down vehicle in middle of nowhere in Arunachal, Sikkim, Ladakh and Siachen. He himself then declares that one key reason for long time taken for repairs by EME is the complicated procurement system and non availability of spares ….and again who is responsible for this shoddy procurement system? None other than these Accountants in the first place. Yes EME needs modernization in its organisation, in purchasing of spares, inventory control, storage and distribution system. Army Base workshops need to be affiliated with manufacturers and major overhauls may be done by the company itself . However at Corps and below level we need a modernised EME and over the years its importance will grow further . There is mention of soaring fuel demand too. Well Army must try to make its vehicles as “ Green “ as feasible. However at the end of the day they are meant for a dirty business of fighting a war. They move on broken roads, cross country , in first gear and not on Expressways . Hence mileage of a fauji vehicle and a civil vehicle will always differ vastly. Saxena ji wants to reduce the number of Combatant drivers in the Army by 50%…………… GOD SAVE THE KING or should there be a more democratic word.
I was very very happy to read that “ IAF has outright dismissed the allegations (raised by CGDA and may be others too on SANTUSHTI complex) as baseless . The Spokesperson of IAF has given a terse reply. Let the Accountants rant and rave about the Defence Forces Regimental Funds. There should be no doubts to anyone that this is a no go area for them. Forces carry out their own accounting and auditing for these and records are better than what is done in the other branches of the Govt and business world.
In the article there is ranting on Army Commander’ Special Financial Powers too . These funds are for special purposes to be purchased under special circumstances. There is time pressure. Here instead of modifying the rules , Accountants want to stick to old rules only . Then also they have temerity to label minor procedural lapses as major irregularities. They also forget that they have no business to ask why an item was purchased, they must restrict themselves to how it was purchased.
Finally we come to the point which causes maximum envy, heartburn and what not ……the Batman or Sahayak. Just as man is more important than the machine , the Army is effective only if led by effective Officers from the front. In our Regimental system for the men to blindly follow his officer , there are many things which an officer must do . In war Men are on duty 24 h a day ,the officer is for 48 h a day. To be able to do this, the Sahayak is the most important ingredient. He just cannot be wished away . He is his Personal Bodyguard, Personal Assistant, Private Secretary, ADC, Messenger, Radio Operator and finally his buddy. There is no need for further explanation.
Armed Forces are dynamic organisation where CHANGE is constant. However all changes must have one and only one AIM….to make the organisation more effective as as a fighting machine . Please, this organisation is not meant for generating employment, not meant to usher social changes, not an old age home, not a labour force ……it should strive to be a first rate fighting machine to defend our way of life. I am sure General Shekatkar will do a fine job and may even recommend the creation of a Logistics Command under the CDS . He must also look into all the TAILS of the forces…….DGQA, MES, DG DEFENCE ESTATE, IDAS , DRDO and all other organisations ment to support the Forces but now instead try to wag the dog itself. He must prepare a report and submit it whether asked for or not.
For the Accountants ,Aim is to be achieved by least expenditure.For the
Military Aim must be achieved , cost is secondary as there are no prizes for the runner up in war. Where the twain shall meet in the FinanciaL World is the job of the elected Political Leadership and NOT TO BE HANDED OVER TO THE BUREAUCRATS or ACCOUNTANTS . Regarding this , the Military Leadership has to stand up and be firm and get the issues resolved directly with the elected leadership……with no ifs and buts and Mr Humphery in between . At Formation level also all Formation Commanders must remember that their Financial Advisor is an Advisor only. The relationship is unlike that between the President and the Union Cabinet, it is like the Commander and the Staff. The Staff advises various courses of Action based on facts, rules and reasonings. Thereafter the final decision is that of the Commander .
To resolve any Financial Logjams there should be a two tiered system. The matter should be first referred to a Committee of Secretaries Comprising……the three Vice Chiefs, the CISC , Defence Secretary , Finance Secretary , Foreign Secretary and the Expenditure Secretary. In case the problem still persists then it must go the next tier comprising Home, Defence, External Affairs , Finance and HRD Ministers along with the three Service Chiefs. For this the people of India will have to demand Constitutional provisions and not leave it to the whims and fancies of any Political Party or any Political leader . One word on the press itself. On contacting certain personalities in the Media, on condition of anonymity, they said that nowadays there are a considerably large number of paid news in the media instead of researched news. Many of the Editors too are not above board and they too indulge in such paid activities.
Col Awadhesh Kumar , Retd