Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Army and sahayaks

There is a problem with Indian Army. Many soldiers resent being sahayaks. Sahayak means assistant or helper. Soldiers say they join the army to fight for the country, not to do menial jobs of officers. Officers say sahayaks are buddies; it is voluntary to be a sahayak. Officers are busy. There are four officers where there should be eighteen. They have no time to clean their rifles, polish their shoes. Navy and Air Force officers do not have sahayaks. There is a demand to end use of soldiers as sahayaks.
All is not well with army or paramilitary troops. Videos of complaints by soldiers and others have come out. There are allegations of corruption and swindling by officers. It started with a BSF jawan posting a video about the food. Then a soldier posted a video of being used as a servant by officer. The matter became serious when Roy Mathew, a soldier who was used as a sahayak at Deolali Cantonment, was videographed by a news web site and found dead after some days.
There is another video of Sindhav Jogidas accusing some officers treating sahayaks as slaves. Army has rejected the accusations and claimed Sindhav Jogidas was never employed as a sahayak.
The problem was there for a long time. There was no redressal. Soldiers could complain to higher authorities as per chain of command but nothing good will come out of it. Officers continue to use sahayaks as servants. The difference now is that there are social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Sahayaks can post their complaints there. That gets publicity. Army responds by saying the sahayak was not a good fellow, he was insubordinate and so on. Army has told soldiers to take their complaints or demands as per chain of command and not to go public with their complaints or demands but some will go public anyway.
From time to time we hear of a soldier shooting his officer or other soldiers. We don’t get to know why. Once there was a mutiny. Problems in the army have been hushed up for a long time.
Soldiers are not for doing jobs of officers like washing utensils and cars, sweeping and mopping floor, taking out dogs, dropping children to school and bringing back, doing the works of guests and so on. It does not take long to polish shoes or clean a rifle. If necessary, civilians should be employed to help officers.
In 2008 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had asked the Ministry of Defence to issue instructions to stop forthwith the shameful practice of sahayaks which lowers the self-esteem of jawans. Nine years later the shameful practice continues.

Bank charges

Three banks have decided to charge customers a minimum of 150 rupees for cash transactions exceeding four per month. Every fifth and subsequent transaction will be charged 150 rupees or 5 rupees per 1,000 rupees, whichever is higher. The banks are Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank. The transactions include both deposits and withdrawals. The decision is atrocious, illogical, immoral, unfair, and unjust. Besides this, Axis Bank charges 5 rupees per 1,000 rupees a minimum of 150 rupees if the amount exceeds 1 lakh rupees per month, and HDFC Axis Bank charges 5 rupees per 1,000 rupees a minimum of 150 rupees if the amount exceeds 2 lakh rupees per month. The banks are private banks but I am sure Modi government is behind the move to see the reaction and ask public sector banks to charge customers similarly. Already there are charges on ATM withdrawals exceeding a certain number and this decision of banks makes banking unpopular.
People should not have to pay for depositing or withdrawing their money from banks. If a person deposits or withdraws 1 rupee in fifth transaction he or she will lose 150 rupees. This is atrocious.
Including cash deposits in cash transactions for charging customers discourages customers from depositing money in bank. People are likely to keep money in bank or open accounts in other banks.
Banks charge customers when there is no minimum balance in customer’s account. Banks should pay to customer when they are unable to give customer the amount required. If a customer wants to withdraw 24,000 rupees and bank can give him only 2,000 rupees, bank should pay to customer amount proportionate to charge below minimum balance.
After remonetisation banks lowered interest rates on savings accounts and fixed deposits and borrowings. This has resulted in loss for most people while corporates have benefitted. Some workers get their wages in their bank accounts on weekly basis. They withdraw cash once a week. Every third month they will have to withdraw fifth time and they will be losers.
It is strange that honest people who deposit their money in bank are made to suffer and crooks and dishonest people who borrow thousands of crores of rupees from banks and do not repay loans get away. Banks lose principal and interest. The identity of crooks and dishonest people is kept secret. Sometimes they are favoured with corporate debt restructuring or strategic debt restructuring or simply default and nobody takes action. The debts are written off.

Instability in Tamil Nadu

There is many a slip between the cup and the lip.
So it was for V. K. Sasikala, also known as Sasikala Natarajan, who was close to becoming Chief Minister and missed.
On 5/2/2017 AIADMK MLAs elected Sasikala their leader and she was expected to become CM on 7 or 9 of February. O. Panneerselvam resigned as CM of Tamil Nadu and Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao accepted his resignation on 6 February. Tamil Nadu does not have a full Governor. C. Vidyasagar Rao is Governor of Maharashtra who holds additional charge of Tamil Nadu. He was in Maharashtra. His presence was needed for swearing-in of Sasikala. Meanwhile Panneerselvam continued as caretaker CM.
Many in Tamil Nadu were not happy on Sasikala becoming CM. They expressed their displeasure in social media. Supreme Court said it will announce the judgment in Disproportionate Assets case involving Sasikala next week. On the night of 7/2/2017 Panneerselvam went to the tomb of Jayalalitha and meditated there for some time. After that he said his resignation was coerced. Some MPs and MLAs switched sides. On 8/2/2017 Sasikala took majority of MLAs to a resort.
Vidyasagar Rao came to Madras on 9/2/2017. He met Panneerselvam and Sasikala. He consulted lawyers.
On 14/2/2017 Supreme Court delivered its judgment. There was talk of two separate judgments from Supreme Court judges in DA case. There was possibility of one judge acquitting and another judge convicting Sasikala. That did not happen. Sasikala was guilty. She has to go to prison. After prison term she cannot contest elections for six years. Supreme Court did not grant Sasikala’s wish for more time to surrender.
Many have questioned the role of Governor. Some wanted him to swear in Sasikala. Some said he should wait for Supreme Court judgment. After the Supreme Court judgment Sasikala was out of the equation. She made Edappadi K. Palanisami leader of her faction. Some see BJP hand in Governor’s action. Some are unhappy that Tamil Nadu does not have a full Governor. Since Modi became PM many Governors have held additional charges. It seems BJP does not have enough persons who can be Governors. Every state in India should have a full Governor.
In January Tamil Nadu was in news because of jallikattu. This month it was because of uncertainty about CM.
Panneerselvam wants to turn Jayalalitha’s residence into a memorial. That will prevent Sasikala’s family from occupying it. Sasikala has lived there for many years.
Sasikala going to jail did not result in MLAs with her switching to Panneerselvam. There is uncertainty about his future as CM. If Palanisami becomes CM he too may not last long. It seems Tamil Nadu will have President’s Rule followed by fresh elections. It is sad if a government falls within a year. We need to have Presidential System to have stable governments and avoid dissolution of Legislative Assemblies and House of People.

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