Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba in an exclusive interview with Sainik Samachar's Editor-in-Chief Hasibur Rahman on the eve of Navy Day 2016.
Please share with us your vision of the growth and development of the Indian Navy.
In order to effectively confront the multifarious challenges that are emerging in a complex maritime environment, the Indian Navy will strengthen itself continuously as a formidable, multi-dimensional and networked force that would maintain high readiness at all times to protect India's maritime interests, safeguard her seaward frontiers and effectively counter all maritime threats in our areas of interests. To achieve this, we would optimise every resource, embrace innovation and maximize indigenisation and self-reliance, to generate credible combat power for accomplishing missions across the full spectrum of naval operations. Quality maintenance, timely infrastructure modernisation, and efficient logistics management for achieving optimal performance would enable this process. This would not be possible without development of effective leadership at all levels to generate highly motivated and skilled professionals, who will together make the Navy a taut, efficient and happy service.
How does the IN look after the interest of the retired community?
Directorate of Ex-Serviceman Affairs (DESA) was established in 1988 to address the resettlement and welfare issues of the Ex-Servicemen (ESM), widows of officers/ sailors and their dependants including children with special needs. Towards this end DESA prepares naval personnel for 'Life after Navy' by way of interactive sessions with retiring officers and sailors. In addition, personnel are provided an opportunity to enhance their qualification/ experience by making them undergo courses in reputed institutions pan-India.
In order to reach out to the veterans and disseminate information of relevance to the retired community, DESA provides a single window interface for ESM to establish communication with the Navy, to seek inputs, share views, and for dissemination of latest updates on policy matters and other welfare related issues amongst the ESM. This allows all measures and issues to be addressed at the highest naval levels, and further interface with the Government on policy matters.
It remains our constant endeavour to provide assistance by facilitating interaction between ESM and various agencies dealing with ESM issues and by furthering the aims of the Navy Foundation as also the Veteran Sailors' Forum.
In order to maintain two-way communication, speedily address any issues and harness fresh ideas, veteran issues are covered in the Personnel section of the Indian Navy website and a dedicated blog is also operated by DESA. These are updated regularly with the latest information and updated contact details of relevant offices. Besides email and post, DESA can also be contacted through a toll free helpline telephone number with Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) and 24x7 recording facility. This provides an easy mechanism for retired personnel and widows to reach DESA to resolve their grievances. DESA also publishes an e-newsletter on a quarterly basis, which contains consolidated information on matters of relevance to veterans and widows. The e-newsletter is uploaded both on the Indian Navy website and the DESA blog.
How do you prepare personnel for other career options post retirement?
Our personnel retiring every year comprise a well-disciplined, motivated, and experienced source of manpower. Due to the nature of the naval job profile, our personnel possess an array of skills acquired during various in-service training courses and practical working experience, which can be gainfully utilised when these highly skilled personnel make the shift to their second career.We take it as our moral responsibility to facilitate post retirement transition to second careers for our officers and sailors and we remain fully committed.
With the aim of providing a second career to retiring officers and sailors, Director General Resettlement (DGR), Integrated Headquarters Ministry of Defence (Navy) (IHQ MoD (N))/ DESA and Commodore Bureau of Sailors (CABS) have been facilitating resettlement courses in various disciplines. DESA also interacts regularly with DG Shipping and stake holders of shipping industry for smooth transition of Indian Navy officers to Merchant Navy with appropriate certification in a time bound manner.
As part of the 'Skill India' mission, the navy has taken various initiatives to facilitate skill development of retiring personnel. A project to facilitate certification of skills acquired by naval personnel during their naval service under the concept of 'Recognition of Prior Learning' (RPL) is being progressed with Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). In addition, Navy operates the Indian Naval Placement Agency (INPA) to assist the retired/ retiring personnel to secure suitable placement.
In the event of death of Naval personnel how does IN look after the interests of the NoK?
Indian Navy has been providing support to widows/ Next of Kin (NoK)/ dependents in the best feasible manner. A Naval Regimental System (NRS) was established in January 2011 to institutionalise the support system and provide proactive and extended support to Widows and NoK/ dependents of deceased personnel. Under this system, we have established seven Command Regimental Cells headed by a Command Regimental System Officer (CRSO) with earmarked geographical areas for providing focused attention to the families of deceased naval personnel. In addition, major shore establishments spread across the country have been designated as Regimental State Unit (RSU) and are tasked to physically reach out to each widow/ NoK in their designated areas in consonance with the CRSO. Minor Naval/ NCC units located in various districts function as Regimental Coordinating Unit (RCU) and are the first point of contact with the widows/ NoK residing in the geographical area under their jurisdiction.
This institutional mechanism of CRSOs, RSUs and RCUs function in close coordination and are the prime movers of our NRS. The NRS has enabled us to actively reach out to widows/NoK and provide assistance.
What measures are being taken to resolve difficulties being experienced by retired personnel in their pension related issues?
To make the organisational support for pension related issues more robust and responsive, Indian Navy has set up a Naval Pension Office (NAVPEN) at Mankhurd, Mumbai which handles pension issues of officers and sailors. Digitisation of data in respect of all the pensioners is being actively pursued and considerable progress has been made in this regard. Further, in consonance with the Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) initiative, generation of electronic-Pension Payment Orders (e-PPOs), and seeding of Aadhaar data in the records of retired personnel for rendering of annual life certificate through Jeevan Pramaan portal is underway. You would be aware that the Indian Navy has been authorised to register naval personnel (serving and retired) and their dependents for Aadhaar on behalf of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Aadhaar registration camps are regularly conducted to ensure 100% naval personnel (serving and retired) and their dependents enrol for Aadhaar and be eligible for governmental schemes.
Year 2016 has been declared as 'Year of the Civilian Personnel (YOTC)'. What areas have been identified as part of YOTC?
The IN has a sanctioned strength of 46,000 civilian personnel who form an integral part of the service. Their health, well-being, job satisfaction and morale have direct impact on our combat/ operational readiness. To channelise our efforts to improve the quality of life of our civilian personnel, Year 2016 is being observed as the 'Year of the Civilian Personnel (YOTC)'. A number of focus areas have been identified as part of YOTC and actions are being progressed in a time bound manner.
Some of the initiatives that are being pursued include institutionalising of the 'Divisional System' for all 'Group C' employees, setting up of the Naval Civilian Management Information System for replacing the existing manual record-keeping system, creation of a centralized Naval Civilian Pay Office, policy guidelines for timely conduct of Departmental Promotion Committee, under the Swasth Naukarmik Abhiyaan free medical check-up, yoga camps and lectures on lifestyle diseases are being held to generate awareness. In a bid to develop a sense of adventure, team building, team spirit, positive attitude and self-confidence amongst the naval civilian personnel, we are also conducting dedicated adventure activities which include rafting expedition at Rishikesh, trek to Valley of Flowers, Pindari and Sunderdhunga Glacier and Trans Himalayan Motor Cross Rally, etc.
The civilian manpower in the Indian Navy is highly technical and forms an integral part of the IN. The recruitment process for various cadres is very confusing to an individual planning to join. What measures have been taken to mitigate the same?
The Indian Navy has initiated numerous measures with the primary aim of reducing deficiencies of civilian manpower in the Indian Navy. In the last two years, the overall deficiency has been brought down from 26% to 18%.
The Directorate of Civilian Manpower Planning and Recruitment (DCMPR) was set up in 2014 to exclusively deal with the recruitment of civilian personnel in the Indian Navy and centralise the recruitment of civilian personnel.
To standardise recruitment procedure across the Indian Navy, we have promulgated Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Direct Recruitment for 'Group B (Non-Gazetted) and C' posts and have started promulgating an Annual Calendar for simultaneous recruitment across Commands. In another major milestone towards civilian workforce recruitment, Approval in Principle (AIP) of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for outsourcing civilian recruitment for 'Group B (Non-Gazetted) and C' posts has also been accorded. With this the Indian Navy is the lead Service to progress outsourcing for recruitment for civilian manpower which would enable centralised pan-Navy All India Online Computer Based Exam. I am certain that this initiative would lead to large reduction in lead times and help in making good the shortfall in civilian manpower expeditiously.