In the first month of 2014, only this blog entry, ‘INS Vikramaditya comes home…'(http://nitinagokhale.blogspot.in/2014/01/ins-vikramaditya-comes-home-escorted-by.html) has evoked more page views than my latest piece,
‘Should the military brass get so many awards?’ (http://nitinagokhale.blogspot.in/2014/01/should-military-brass-get-so-many-awards.html). But the latter article has also triggered heated and passionate debate over the practice of granting awards in the Indian military.
Some of the responses are already posted in the comments section of the piece on awards. But many serving and retired officers and remarkably, one retired JCO, have written in with their views. I can’t name most of them.
In any case, individuals are not important in policy issues. So here’s a sampling of the views.
THE FIRST RESPONSE
I am of the opinion that distinguished service awards should be scrapped for ‘peacetime’. Earlier, the Sena Medal used to be only for gallantry. I was actually galled when a Sena Medal (Distinguished) was introduced, which makes no sense. Perhaps distinguished service awards in field could be retained.
To that end, I am dead against the prevailing quota system for gallantry awards. Why should there be a quota? With this quota, lot many deserving cases miss out and to my mind the axe falls more on below officer rank though I may be wrong. Concurrent is the idiocy of linking the award to number of kills. I have attended Honours and Awards Committee where officials from MS (X), who represent MoD, were arguing things like that a recommendation for Ashok Chakra must have proof of the individual having had minimum five kills – some weird concept of bravery !
Serious re-look is also required to review the quota of Honoray Commissions to JCOs and NCOs and accompanying perks. Here again, a quota should be lifted with focus on deserving cases. then, many other ranks get conferred with a Honorary Havaldar rank after he has retired, which in any case does not have any financial benefit – so why this crap?
Thank you very much for the “Thought Provoking” paper on the subject which will attract both positive, negative and and neutral reactions; Unfortunately these awards have been linked to ranks;I am touring for the present. Will send you my “honest” views for what ever they are worth soon.
While serving in a Corps HQ a decade back I had analysed and brought to the notice that 60 percent of the CCs had gone to the personal staff/clks, peons and various categories of gladiators. The same year during command a GOC, Cdr and myself the CO were awarded GOC-in-C’s CC. I had echoed my views that it is a shame for awarding CCs to offrs above Cols. It is better not to award if not found suitable for the award recommended than to dish out CCs as a consolation.
The Army is permitted 19 PVSMs, 32 AVSMs, 40 SM(Distinguished) and 75 VSMs every year. The Navy and IAF get commensurately less but the quota is fixed and in fact the all three Services have asked for more because of the increase in senior ranks in recent years as the full implementation of the AVSC has been completed. The Chakra series and Sena Medal (Gallantry) do not have any limit. The Yudh series (SYSM, UYSM, YSM) also do not have any limit; which is why you find the scope being expanded for the recipients; earlier only officers from the CI areas were the recipients of this and that too based upon performance; now these are being dished out to create scope for officers from the peace stations to get the VSM series from the quota thus effectively diluting the Yudh series.
And before I close, this debate is not limited to India alone. Read this (sent to me by another General) about an American debate
January 30, 2014 -
The debate over giving awards has to be linked to the benefits these awards bring with them. The day benefits attached to each award get detached from the awards the clamor for the same will automatically disappear.
January 30, 2014 -
I think a lot has been written about the awards. But hardly anyone talked about the honorary ranks given to JCOs and NCOs. That is also a reward for distinguished service and these are also awarded on Republic Day and Independence Day. I think given a chance to choose, JCOs and NCOs will choose honorary commissions in place of distinguished medals because of monetary benefits. Hence it is wrong to say that only officers are awarded. As for as distinguished medals for senior officers are concerned, in my opinion they should not be given to army commanders and PSOs at Army HQ.
January 31, 2014 -
The problem of giving the distinguished medals not only lies with Army but also with other two services i.e Air force and Navy . The so called top brass literary gives these to each other at highest level i.e if you scratch my back , I scratch yours. Also, there is monopoly of certain branches in claiming. If you analyse the awards given in 2014 for Air Force for Instance, you will notice that the top brass from Fighter stream has taken almost 90% of awards. Technical branch is give remaining 8% and rest to Admn branch. The officers given these awards same not seen back of a ac since decades & employed in Administrative tasks. Certain branches as choppers, transport, logistics, accounts, Met , Education totally ignored.. Though there is a Committee of top brass for naming these awards, but mostly they look after their own people by branch, arm or race. So it is high time that these awards be banned for top brasses and be given maximum up to Col and equivalent level.Further, some corps or branch should not make a 'loot' of these award just because they are from elite branch i.e infantry or artillary, Fighters or executive branch of a particular service.
January 31, 2014 -
There are two issues here1. Awards being related to rank – Why should PBOR be limited to commendation cards and hony commissions. Also why should an act of exceptional service in peace time by say a Maj not be considered for an AVSM? The 3 examples quoted by Col Prakash are the exceptions rather than the rule. If wartime decorations are open to all ranks then shouldnt also peace time decorations ?2. If 63% of serving Lt Gens were awarded the PVSM/AVSM/UYSM, that means they delivered service of a “most exceptional/exceptional order”. Either the qualifying criteria for these awards is too low if over 60% were the exceptions (sic) or these awards are just being distributed as “retirement gongs” -the latter being the most likely. In fact today if by the time you retire as a Lt Gen and you don’t have a PVSM behind your name ,you in all probability would have rubbed up the COAS /Army Commander the wrong way somewhere down the line.We need a review of the whole system of peacetime decorations for all ranks.
February 10, 2014 -
Nitin,There is a prevailing view among professional militaries that the “banana ness” of a country can be judged by the amount of useless paraphernalia on the uniforms of its armies. The US is a notable exception, although they do wear most of their crap only on their Class As, and the BDUs are normally unadorned.With the amount of zari based poorly embroidered muck on our uniforms growing by the day, we seem to be heading into monkey land at a rapid rate. The malaise is not confined to the Army, but the Air Force seems to be following suit with collar dogs and the recent folly of silver buttons on summer uniform. The Navy, bless them, seems relatively unscathed so far.A point to ponder, both the AF and the Army field uniforms (combats) also are being enhanced by more and more bling, which is probably an indicator that our senior brass are getting more and more averse to getting anywhere near visual range of the enemy. Not a good thing….