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