Expressing concern over recent incidents of friction between officers and jawans, Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Saturday said he was confident of the capability of the armed forces to handle such incidents on their own.
“Each incident is a matter of concern to me, but armed forces are better trained to handle such situations. They are handling it in their own way. Today also I had a brief discussion with the Army Chief General Bikram Singh,” he said on the sidelines of a function after dedicating the Navy’s Financial Information System (FIS) to the nation.
Mr. Antony was replying to queries about face-offs between officers and jawans, the latest being in the 16 Cavalry unit in Samba (Jammu and Kashmir) where a jawan committed suicide. Two other incidents involving jawans and officers occurred in Ladakh and in Punjab. A Court of Inquiry (CoI) was on into all the three incidents.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said in the Rajya Sabha that the Samba incident was being “blown out of proportion,” Mr. Antony sought a report from the Army Chief.
Asked about suicides, Mr. Antony said: “Even if there is one suicide in the armed forces, I am always pained. Compared to the past, the number of suicides and fratricides in the armed forces has slightly reduced. Over the years, we have been able to reduce the numbers gradually.”
On the high-level committee formed by the Prime Minister to look into pay and pension anomalies of the armed forces, Mr. Antony said, “Our government is sensitive and sympathetic to the welfare of the armed forces. The committee under the Cabinet Secretary is discussing the matter. The committee has twice invited the chiefs of armed forces for consultation.”
Earlier, lauding the Navy’s initiative of designing the FIS as a major initiative in financial management, the Defence Minister expressed the hope that the other two Services and all the other departments of the government would follow this timely and useful initiative.
Speaking about the need for judicious utilisation of the fiscal resources, he said: “Now our defence budget is touching nearly Rs. 2 lakh crore; in actual terms it is Rs. 1,93,000 crores, and in the years to come this will step up every year. But even then, considering the security scenario around us, we will not be able to find resources as per the aspirations of the armed forces fully.”
Emphasising the importance of laying out proper priorities, he said the government had prepared a long-term plan of up to 2027. Every rupee that the government got from the taxpayer must be utilised effectively and as per the priority.
The FIS, a comprehensive financial information system designed with assistance from Wipro over the past two years at a total cost of Rs. 32 crore, will facilitate effective planning, allotment, expenditure and monitoring of the Naval budget. The online system links the New Delhi-based Naval Headquarters with the three Command Headquarters and various ships and establishments located far and wide across the country.