From: ramantn sarma
Sent: 10 August 2010 08:18
Subject: DISCUSSION ON TV REGARDING VETERANS
The programme on the DD Channel telecast at 10.30 pm, well past the prime time, ensured that only a few dedicated Veterans watched the show. How ever, the discussion was engrossing. Maj Gen Satbir Singh, was fully primed & was well prepared. So was Maj Gen Ashok Mehta, who appeared to have been well tutored by the MOD. He politely put across some views from the Govt side, ie, Returning of Medals, signing of memorandum in blood etc, which may be construed by the public as unbecoming of military behaviour.
Brig Gulia, President IESL, did not voice either his consent or dissent to such acts. Let us not conclude that the IESM, therefore, has the tacit approval for such forms of demonstrations from the IESL. Far from it.
The reason is, as brought out by Gen Satbir Singh himself, that IESL is the Govt recognised body & their Patrons are the President of India & the RM. Hence it has its own limitation in fighting for a cause & IESM does not have such inhibitions. Both the heads of these ESM Organisations, were in full agreement with each other that the ESM Committee must be tailored on the pattern of Minority Commission, fully manned by the Veterans themselves ( though Brig Gulia said maximum members from ESM), ESMW Directorate must be revamped with Serving Soldiers & the Veterans, the entire chain of Veterans Welfare must be revised, so that right up to the Districts level, we have some dedicated Serving Officers to look after the Veterans affairs.
On a question from Ashok Mehta, Gen Satbir explained that there are more than 300 recognised ESM Associations in the country, since the ESM feel that they require a forum, to take up the issues affecting them locally.
Air Marshal Kuldip Rai, was in complete control of his subject of ECHS. He admitted that the ECHS is still growing & there is a lot of distance to cover, to provide consumer satisfaction. Therefore, we can depend on him to implement some valid suggestions made by Brig Muthu Lashmi & Maj Gen RN Radhakrishnan, in this regard (kindly refer to their mails).
This was the first time that the two stalwarts from IESL & IESM faced each other in a discussion, not to fight each other, but to lay a path of coexistence. Brig Gulia was there, as a matter of right. He has the numbers & the recognition by the Govt. Whereas, Maj Gen Satbir Singh was there, due to the psychological impact the IESM had made with much smaller membership base. In a span of couple of years, IESM has become the "Voice of the Veterans". The result is obvious. The Govt cannot ignore its presence. Do the numbers really matter?
Our complements to Maj Gen Satbir Singh, Brig Gulia & AM Rai. Of course to Maj Gen Ashok Mehta. He performed his role of anchor to perfection, because the participants in the discussion were well disciplined Veterans. Never exceeded the time & never seriously contradicted the differing views of the establishment. But, I could watch the anguish on the face of Satbir Singh, when he was cut short by the Anchor, immediately when the subject of Rank Pay came up. This is a solid case where the Supreme Court had ctegorically up held the contention of the ESM, but the Govt prefered an appeal. After all, the Anchor has his role to play, to save the Govt from some humiliation. Especially on a Govt TV Cahnnel. The discussion was terminated due to time up.
There are certain points made by Maj Gen Satbir Singh, which require some serious deliberations. He has stated that at present, the ESM Welfare in the States is funded by the respective States & the Centre on 50/ 50 basis. His suggestion was to have it entirely funded by the Centre, with States having no responsibility in funding. Is it feasible, practical or advisable, since all our Veterans belong to one State or the other & are in receipt of some concessions from their own States?
Other point is that the Supreme Court had upheld the concept of OROP, in a few of its verdicts. I feel that this view requires to be backed up by legal experts. Our own interpretation of various rulings may not suffice.
(Col TN Raman, Convener IESM Tamil Nadu)