Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Slipshod Way to Treat Defence Veterans by Col LK anand

Free Press

Indore, Sunday, October 10, 2010



A Slipshod Way to

treat Defence Veterans

By Col LK Anand (Retd)

It has been seen in the past few months that the defence veterans have been protesting do draw attention of this sleeping Government of India, for seeking justice to their legitimate demands for One Rank One Pension (OROP) agreed a number of times by the past ruling governments, by returning their hard earned gallantry medals, as well as signing the protests in their own blood. The protests in the eyes of all citizens of the country are conducted in a most dignified and peaceful manner.

However, a very small fraction of people who look down upon these gallant soldiers as some sort of rivals, unfortunately have remarked this form of protest by them as a new low in the abominable acts, unconventional methods of dissent for communication with the government and of not conducting these activities in a civilized manner. Could anyone in this country suggest a proper form of protest, better than the one adopted by these veterans? Is it by any chance unlawful or unjustified to hold peaceful protests to seek proper justice from their Supreme Commander and their government whose integrity they have upheld all along?

The Government and its worthless, indifferent, incapable and corrupt machinery down the line, which does not allow even the judiciary to carry out its lawful functions, could not be blind to the dignified ways and means adopted by the defence veterans to seek justice from the government. It is most unfortunate, to bring to the kind notice of one and all, that all the previous governments have forgotten the gallantry and sacrifices of its past soldiers, who have exclusively kept the country together in spite of the malafide intentions of many to disintegrate the country. The indifferent attitude of the present UPA Government towards its gallant and dignified defence veterans is yet another example of ignoring the injustices perpetrated upon them.

Is it not a debatable issue that neither Indias so called Supreme Commander, nor anyone else in the Indian Government, has had the time to spare, for these gallant men to listen to their long pending grievances and understand them, leave alone attend to them in a judicious manner. Their signatures in blood and their surrendering gallantry medals have been blatantly ignored and have failed to move anyone including the Supreme Commander. Instead their feelings of disgust and protest have been considered as lacking in dignity. Perhaps, they have forgotten the actions and sacrifices of their forefathers who fought tooth and nail for earning freedom for this country.

There is no doubt that these gallant men are deeply respected and adored from the bottom of their hearts by majority of Indian citizens, who know their capabilities and achievements in all spheres of national activity. They can well understand their pain and unhappiness upon the cognisable neglect shown by the Indian government towards their problems and failing in their responsibility of undoing the injustices heaped upon them. Incidentally, so far Punjab Government is the only State Government in the country whose, all party MLAs have respected and realised their just demands, and passed a resolution unanimously in the Assembly, for grant of OROP to them. Would some other State Governments take the clue of Punjab Government on similar lines.

Is it not improper by the successive governments, to ungratefully deny the gallant, and dependable defence forces of India and their past soldiers, an equally dignified and honourable existence during their retired lives, in return for their unflinching selfless service rendered to the nation, even at the peril of their life. This unjust precedence seems to have become a part and parcel of the government policies towards the defence veterans, and a clear cut example of false promises, wrong announcements (even in Presidential addresses and budget speeches) hoodwinking and total indifference towards upholding their dignity and fulfilling their just needs. The government seems to be lacking a genuine interest towards solving their justified and genuine problems and have closed their eyes completely to the peaceful protests and demands of these gallant men, at the behest of sycophant, lazy, misguiding, highly irresponsible, incapable, corrupt and self serving bureaucracy.

The same government could not oppose the 300% to 500% increase in the salary of the public representatives in less than a week, majority of whom have already amassed unlimited wealth from the citizens of the country. It seems to be the priority of this government to deny, the deserving defence veterans, who have toiled endlessly and have been struggling for this just demand for nearly 26 years. This would at best help in restoring partially their regularly deteriorating honour and dignity, besides an increase of may be 20% to 30% in their pensions to make their life a bit more liveable in the dusk of their lives. The government has been so liberal to grant 3 to 5 folds increments to their already crorepati MPs.

It would be worth mentioning and appreciating the action of only one MP amongst them ie Mr Rajeev Chandrashekhar, in refusing increment in favour of defence veterans cause. It is not only courageous but highly commendable and it is wished that some more who see the defence forces in higher esteem could follow his example.

The government and the bureaucracy who invariably misguides it, seem to be the only set ups within the country, who do not have genuine interests and feelings towards the grievances of the defence forces at heart, because they do not understand high level of their character and their system of functioning. It is done on the premise, that they will as always, take everything offered to them lying down, in view of their disciplined and un protesting approach to Government actions. Their acts in denying what they deserve give a fair indication of the bureaucracys mindset.

I would like to pose a question, whether the role of the governments is to assist their subjects in solving their problems and to ensure their welfare, or to oppose and obstruct their cause, or to harass them by ignoring their genuine grievances, especially even when the courts have ruled in their favour.

To me it appears that the dispassionate ministerial staff and subordinates in the national capital who are never or dare not be moved out of Delhi, are the main accomplices of the bureaucracy and major villains in such matters. Their aim seems only to get everything what they want and to deny all others what they genuinely deserve. Such is the class of people in whose hands destiny of the defence forces and their veterans is entrusted. Unfortunately, this meanest class of people in the ministries exploits the defence services to the core in a manner treating them as national enemies and not those who defend the nation and uphold its integrity. Is it by chance an indication of good governance?

The Rank Pay Case of the 4th Central Pay Commission (4CPC) is a striking example in point, to prove the unsporting behaviour of the ruling government and the bureaucracy to unduly delay/deny the benefits to the affected lot as a result of this anomaly. The defence personnel who have already earned the benefits of the 4CPC way back since, 1 January 1986, have mischievously been denied the benefits all these years and despite a Supreme Court ruling in their favour on 8 March 2010. Unfortunately, the benefits have still been held up because some smart Babu in the concerned Ministry decided to file a petition against this ruling.

Indian government has certainly not become a pauper, that they are unable to disburse these dues to the affected defence personnel, which should have been given to them years back. Can any right thinking person apprehend the reason or compelling circumstances or the mentality to obstruct and deny the benefits already earned by the affected and deserving soldiers, by filing another petition in the Supreme Court. The Government is not poor and can certainly afford to spend over Rs 70,000 Crores for a gigantic show of 12 days duration. Is it really an indication of good governance?

The bureaucracy has always been making attempts to justify the step motherly treatment being given by the government so far to the cause of the defence veterans. Their attitude gives a strong feeling that it may take years before the just demand would ever be fulfilled. Of course by then the government would feel satisfied, relieved and take pleasure in getting the news that most of its gallant warriors of yester years do not now exist in this world and would not be there to demand OROP, which seems to be pinching its soul like no other demand from any other quarters, as also to save a fraction of their meagre finances from giving to the defence veterans. Government is least concerned about the billions of dollars stashed away in foreign banks by its corrupt citizens.

Finally, I would like to submit to the representatives of the Government that if they have even the slightest of respect and a heart to feel for these gallant and brave ex soldiers of this country, they should instead of ignoring their dignified protests, do something worthwhile for them without making unjustified excuses ie to get them the benefits of OROP and solve the anomaly of Rank Pay, resulting after the 4CPC, so that they remember and respect them as their true representatives and not hate them for their mean mentality till posterity.

Jai Hind to one and all

Col LK Anand (Retd)

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