We Indians love our Army. We have all these bollywood masala movies which earn crores when the Hero stabs a Pakistani and shouts ” Bharat Mata ki Jai!” And right then the entire movie theatre would burst out with loudest of the applauds. Wow! We Indian Do love our Army! Recently we have just celebrated our 17th ‘Kargil Vijay Diwas’ on 26th of july 2016. PM Narendra Modi tweeted ” On Kargil Vijay Diwas I bow to every valiant soldier who fought for India till the very last breath. Their heroic sacrifices inspire us.India will never forget the fearlessness with which our courageous soldiers gave a befitting & unforgettable reply to the intruders.We recall with pride, the firmness demonstrated by India’s political leadership in 1999, which ensured a decisive victory in Kargil.” Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar along with all the chiefs paid tributes to the martyrs at Amar Jawan Jyoti which lits day and night moaning for those fallen heroes who died nameless and faceless leaving behind a fact that they don’t exist any more…….Just for us!
It reminds me of one more thing that we also lost twenty of our highly trained, motivated, passionate warriors again when An-32 transport aircraft which took off from Chennai base to Port Blair went missing over Bay of Bengal on 22nd of July 2016. What a fateful date just before Vijay Diwas! They could not pay tribute to our forgotten heroes and lay wreath for them and you know why because soon they themselves would be declared to be part of those forgotten heroes. Yeah! That is how this country works!
Is it just me or every common man thinks my way that we honour only those heroes who are not among us anymore and brutally ignore the existence of the living ones? I mean we don’t show that much affinity, raise slogans in their support, observe days just to honour those who equally fought the enemies along with those who martyred but somehow they did not die……. in spite of taking bullets equally on their chests and survived! Does it make them less important? Why do you think I am pissed? And what is the point of talking all this when the entire nation just tweeted about Vijay Diwas, showed support on Facebook and few actually lit candles in their honour on streets? What more? But tell me is it sufficient ? Lit candles, lay wreaths! Really? If you are so passionate about our soldiers then where were you when the veteran had to protest through hunger strikes and fight for OROP yes it stands for One rank, One pension! Because salaries may be different in 1975 and 2016 but value of a life would always have been the same. And do you even know what’s this buzz is all about?
Basically our veterans are fighting over a decade for One rank one pension which means they want same pensions for same ranks for same length of service irrespective of the date of retirement since the past four decade. Yes, Decades! The cost of living has increased but their pension is still the same which supported them well in 90s but are you kidding me? You expect them to die of hunger because the system can’t give them justified pensions today! Now the government argues over this that there is huge difference in salaries of those retired in 1975 and those who retires today and no such system exist today which can unify this. So over a rows of discussions with Mr. Parrikar and the three member delegation of Maj Gen Satbir Singh, Chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, Hon Lt K Pande Member and Wg Cdr CK Sharma who represents veterans they end up forming a one man commission headed by Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, former Chief Justice of Patna High Court with a six month mandate which eventually increased for six more months. And you know what Mr. parrikar has to finally say? He tweeted that “17,29,358 pensioners have benefited from OROP to the tune of Rs. 3,186 crore. Expect to ensure cent per cent compliance by May end. We have resolved the issue to best of our understandings.” But it does not justify anything? There are many issue which are not even spoken for like The 7CPC matrix is based on Grade pay and number of increments earned by the pensioners. Is the PCDA geared with the required data on increments of each and every individual pensioner or family pensioner? If so then how will they count the number of increments where the promotion norms changed over a period of time. Then The MSP of PBOR (Sep – Sub Maj & EQV ranks )is less than MNS noncombatant and the list goes on. Basically the 7CPC dilutes OROP further as claimed by veterans.
And sothe 7th pay commision doesn’t implement the complete OROP demands. And people are reciprocating their agitation over the issue through various forums like Tejwant Chahal posted on his facebook “Fifty years ago, on 22nd Sep at about 4o’clock, I was wounded while fighting the enemy in Poonchh….”,says my 71 year old father this morning, proudly showing us the gunshot wound on his shoulder (that he proudly carries on his old chest). “Half an inch lower and I would be history…” said this old man who on that day half a century ago, carried the body of his best friend on his wounded shoulders as he walked through forests n nallahs with shots being fired all around. All this at an age when boys can barely make a cup of tea….and 35 years later when he felt it was all in the past, he lost his only son in the very same place, to a similar shot on the chest, just half an inch lower…..
This is not the story of one man, but many like him who are fighting an ungrateful nation and an unsympathetic govt for their right to live with dignity #OROP. The strength and character of these giants among lilliputians can be understood only by those who breathe in the same OG life. Do these so called scholars and wise men even know the life a soldier and his family lives? Those that talk of all the “perks” enjoyed by the army? And of the ” lack of consideration for the poor of this nation”? Do they, even in their wildest dreams, know what they owe to these heroes of our country??? The price cannot even be calculated in monetary terms….
Now everybody knows that 7CPC has not been drafted as per the recommendations of all the three chiefs and how our veterans feel about it but serving officers are concerned too. Major Lakshay who is currently serving in Indian Army said ” We don’t look after their veterans. We are the only one in the world to ignore our veterans. Prior to 1971 war. Pension was 70%. Indian Army got rewarded by PM indira for winning 1971 war and pensions were reduced to 50% of the pay. Now when a Subedar get retired say on Dec 2015. His pension is fixed as per sixth pay commission… With in 1 year a JCO junior to him will get pension as per 7th pay commission. Inflation is same for everyone. It is unfair to fix the pension as per date. OROP shall be granted without opposition. That’s the best we can do for them.”
One more serving Lt. Colonel on conditions of being anonymous said “I am bound to not participate into those protests by our veterans but my heart goes out with them. They are the ones who have shaped modern India and Government now says it increases too much loads on economy but I don’t expect the govt to make military the supreme power for starters but then how do you justify the lines drawn by the govt which run deep into the military. The govt must be worried about a large number of issues before it rolled out the OROP like a similar demand by the CAPF. But then I guess they have ironed that issue out by equating one of the largest armies to its police force in the 7th pay commission and by providing no NFU for the Army. How does this effect OROP? As the pension will always be a percentage of the last drawn salary.
Now the defense min promise to sort out the anomalies in the OROP has lead to setup of one more committee which shall visit many ex ser cells all over India as brought out in the notification dated 02 08 16. but then the repair is superficial as the problem is deep rooted since 3 pay commission. Unless they equate the military at least at par to the bureaucrats in terms of present pay these anomalies will never be addressed and all the military gets is the lip service.they need to bring in the pay at par to the bureaucrats and the NFU to ensure real OROP. rest are just mathematical corrections which the committee may or may not do. Also the beneficiaries are not just the soldiers there is a large strength of civilian defense employees who eat up a large part of the Finances as shown time and again by the Govt. They are the real non combatants and not the soldiers of any arm or service!”
Gosh! All these voices? The voices of warriors and our protectors who stand on LOC proudly are not suppose to be unheard. What’s the mess about? How can we be so insensitive? The protectors don’t deserve to be treated like this? I am quoting US senator Bernie Sanders ” If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans then don’t send them to the wars!” Please acknowledge their dissatisfaction and approve of their demands without any delay. They are the backbones which makes this country stand proud before the world and flaunting ‘Hey we have the third largest army in the world, our troops are the best in the world,we are invincibles!’ We all enjoy the luxuries of freedom,debates and ruling this country until our forces are standing day and night there at the borders. Trust me it’s not wise to not to listen to your own troops. And what kind of message we are putting forward for our next generations? They have all the reasons to not to join the army and defend this nation rather fly away and serve foreign countries with pride and dignity. Please rise up before it’s too late!
“Watan pe mar mitne walo ka naam hota hai’
Jo na mar sake unka bhi Makam hota hai,
Qurbani itni choti nahi hoti ki chand sikko me tali jaye,
Ae mere watan tu kuch ku nahi keh paye.”
image credits : publicly available images on google and Maj. Lakshay!