There is anger and dismay among the top brass of the Indian Navy. In what is seen as blatant favouratism, the Naval HQ has ‘bent rules’ to facilitate promotion of a key aide to the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral RK Dhowan, available documents show.
A circular issued a couple of months after Adm. Dhowan took over as Navy Chief allows his long-serving Staff Officer Commander Satpal Singh to be promoted to the rank of Captain without having done the mandatory time at sea.
In other words, the officer would be able to attain the rank of a Captain without having had the experience of commanding a front line ship.
The one-time exception, issued by the Naval HQ last month (see document), also gives officers who have not qualified for the key ‘command examination’ another chance to appear and qualify for the rank of captain.
The circular granting the one-time exception was issued on July 18 by the assistant chief of personnel, Rear Admiral S.N. Ghormade, . The circular said the additional attempt for appearing for the command exam was issued after receiving ‘a number of requests in the recent past’.
Senior officers in Eastern and Western Commands– the Indian Navy’s two operational commands–are appalled and alarmed at the open manipulation and nepotism indulged in by the Naval HQ, allegedly at the behest of the Navy Chief himself.
Commander Satpal Singh has been a Staff Officer to Adm Dhowan for at least five years, an extraordinary feat in itself, Naval officers point out.
“This move will demoralise those who slog their way up in a highly competitive field up by spending long tenures at sea gaining operational experience,” an admiral remarked.
However, the Navy has denied the charges. “As in every progressive organisation, the Indian Navy reviews and revises its personnel policies every four or five years to maintain a high level of motivation of its personnel. Such exceptions have been made in the past too,” a Navy Spokesperson said. Adm Dhowan’s supporters say the ‘canard’ about the ‘one time’ exception being granted only to suit his key aide, is spread by those who don’t make the grade and are therefore disgruntled.
Not satisfied with the Naval HQ’s explanation, some officers are now contemplating legal recourse to arrest what they see as extraordinary nepotism.