Tuesday 16 July 2019, 07:30 AM
ARMY PROMOTIONS IN A MESS
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 2/25/2012 12:00:00 AM

New Delhi: The delay in clearance of recommendations forwarded by Army Headquarters to the Ministry of Defence for promotion to the higher ranks has led to considerable anxiety and discussions within the officers cadre.  It is understood that the Ministry of Defence has referred the matter to the Ministry of Law & Justice for their legal scrutiny and opinion.
 
The issue relates to promotion of officers of various arms and services in the Army to the rank of Major General and Lieutenant General.  Obviously, the senior rank officers are apprehensive at the likely delay in clearance of the selection board proceedings. The large time gap may result in some officers reaching the age of superannuation and thus being deprived of picking up the next rank.
 
On its part, the Defence Ministry is said to have been suspicious at the frequent changes in the policy governing manner in which selection boards promotion are held and also the procedure followed thereat.  The Army''s recent decision to give 5% weightage to the members of the special selection board, holding the status of Army Commanders, has apparently not been found acceptable by the Government.
 
Presently there are no statutory rules relating to the procedure to be followed by the selection boards.  Army Headquarters alone decides the weightage to be assigned by the boards to the relevant factors like annual confidential reports, war reports, courses attended, key appointments held, decorations & award won and performance in military operations.  The value to be attached to each of these parameters has been changing over the years, and in some cases widely.   Policy in this regard has been amended each time during the tenure of different Army Chiefs.  Such a yardstick is not fair and reasonable.

It is noteworthy that an officer has no control over his posting as these are considered to be the sole prerogative of the organization.  Another major anomaly is with regard to the distribution of vacancies to various combat arms and support arms.  There is a quota laid down with regard to total number of posts available for command and staff. 

This system of allocation of vacancies has seen large and frequent changes in the numbers of senior ranks available in the ranks of Major General and Lieutenant General. Of course, some reasons are advanced every time to support the changes.  However, the very fact of variations in the figures indicate lack of consistency and uniform approach. 
 
Yet another drawback is strong affiliation to one''s owned regiment and also to the previous institutions whether be it a Sainik School, Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) etc.  There have been numerous instances where an officer, previously overlooked for further promotion by the selection board was taken on the personal staff of a senior commander.  

Thereafter such an officer got his low profiled assessment in his career profile suitably expunged to be soon considered afresh by a selection board on the improved profile.  His name was then found in the list of those approved for promotion.  In this manner those who have "god fathers" are duly taken care of and manage to climb the hierarchical ladder of the senior ranks. 
 
Why would the Government want to step in the area of management of higher ranks?  There are numerous reasons  which have led to the Government''s initiative.  A large number of complaints to the Government are based on such flaws in the system and subjective application of rules due to which the Ministry of Defence may have found it necessary to examine the entire promotion policy with a view to institute requisite changes.   

To begin with, the statutory right to provide remedy to the officers who feel themselves wronged vests in the Government.    Therefore, it is the executive''s function to lay down a transparent and fair policy.  For any flaws or subjective application of rules it would be the government as ultimate employer who would face the criticism.

Union of India is invariably cited as the primary respondent in all litigations on service matters brought before the higher judiciary.  Further, it is obligatory for the Government to enforce a uniform approach in the matter of cadre management for all the three wings of Armed Forces.  There is little logic in the system and procedure for wide disparities in the rules for selection of higher ranks in the Army as compared to the Navy and Air Force.
 
How serious can be the consequences of poor governance of the military?  It may be recalled that the primary cause in the matter that led to the removal of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat was the discord with regard to the posting of a particular officer of the flag rank. 

The controversy with regard to the legal battle between Lieutenant Generals Kalkat and Kadyan involving the selection to the post of an Army Commander had also brought to surface the simmering discontentment amongst the senior commanders.  The policy for selection of officers in the Air Force continues to attract a lot of criticism for its heavy tilt in favour of fighter pilots. 
 
It is no secret that the Army as also the other two services have hardly any in services training facilities or scheme to sensitize senior commanders in the field of management of appraisal system and career advancement of senior officers. This task requires specialists and can hardly be undertaken by generalists, howsoever high may be they in integrity or professional qualities contents. 

It may be advisable in this regard to seek opinion and guidance from management experts.  It is, therefore, time that a pragmatic view is taken and disseminated with regard to the system of promotion of officers in the Armed Forces. 

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ARMY PROMOTIONS IN A MESS

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