By Wg Cdr G Baruah ( Retd)
While scribbling on paper on the subject, I remember Bob Dylan’s immortal ballad: How many times must a man walk down before you call him a man! The answer my friend is blowing in the wind”!
It is ironical.
It is ironical because we as a tion have a habit of eulogizing the heroes; call him our tiol heroes like Lachit Borphukon or Bir Chilarai; we are never short of words of appreciation for their valour and sacrifices! But as a tion we have a habit of falling short in maintaining the high standard of appreciation bestowed on these worthies. If you have any doubt, please visit Lahdoigarh of Jorhat to see the Maidam of Lachit Borphukon! It is shabbily kept, I am ashamed to report.
Yes; we as tion keep the mes of Mahara Pratap, Queen of Jhansi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in high pedestal, once upon a time the royalties of India took pride in donning a pair of Uniform, and the valour of Shivaji Maharaj will never fade in the minds of Indian.
After we got independence in 1947, we have been troubled by our hostile neighbours and we fought a few wars with Chi and Pakistan. Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka being too small have not declared their enmity to India openly but covertly all these countries are also adding to our security problems by joining hands with our enemy countries and harbouring terrorists who sporadically intrude into our territories.
But we have been able to hold our head high till now.
We have been able to show others that we are a country not to be taken lightly not only because we had statesmen like Gandhi/Nehru/Patel with us, but partly; because we have been able to thwart the evil designs of the enemies through our mighty Military Force!
The Military in turn have been ready to help the administration at the hour of need. The needs come in the guise of earthquake and flood, landslides and cyclones. Services are also requisitioned for maintaining law and orders as in J&K and North Eastern States. The help is requisitioned for fishing out a small child med Prince who fell down in an open bore well!
But what do they get in return?
Yes, the soldiers martyred are awarded medals of gallantry. And that’s about all. We have a habit of forgetting these people whom we call tiol heroes!
The entire imbroglio of OROP is based on the assumption that the pension for the soldiers should be uniform, that is, all individual retiring at a particular rank should get the same pension. Currently, the pensioners get pensions at variable rates in the same rank.
But why are we asking for one rank one pension?
Let us study this first:
A soldier retires at an age of 35 to 50. He retires from the forces at such an age that he is not eligible to apply for a Government job. When the soldier is in the age group of 35-50, his children would be either in the Secondary School or pursuing professiol studies. So, he requires the money to look after the children’s education. Till 1973, a soldier used to get 65% of the last pay as military pension. The 3rd pay commission brought in a lot of changes in the pattern of pension. The military pension got reduced to 50 % of the last pay drawn. The justification given was, the central government employees who used to get 33% of their last pay drawn as pension were brought at par with the military services and their pension was also hiked to 50%.
Now think of a scerio: A central Government employee in a Delhi office and military personnel at Siachin. How can you equate them? Also think of an IAS officer who becomes a Joint Secretary after about 18 years and a Military Officer becomes a Major General after 30 years. As per the 3rd pay commission, a joint secretary is equivalent to a Major General
I for myself had to change seven schools for my son before he could go for his professiol studies and MBA; because I had six transfers from1982 to1993 (all legitimate postings)! An IAS officer in the other hand remains static in one place.
Another relevant point to ponder is the comparison of the military and civilian officers’ career graph. Even if we take only the NDA graduates, out of 250 cadets who get commission, not more than 20 ( less than 10%) will rise to become a major general whereas, 85% of the boys and girls who join Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration become Joint Secretaries.
80% of the 250 NDA cadets who became officers retire before they are 50 years old, whereas all IAS probationers are guaranteed service up to 60 years. If a Deputy Secretary cannot become a Joint Secretary due to some reason he remains a Deputy Secretary till he is 60 years old, that luxury is not available with the armed forces.
I have no intention of antagonizing the authorities. What I would like to request that, the one rank one pension policy agreed to by various dispensations earlier since Mrs Indira Gandhi’s Government be implemented.
I have no intention of antagonizing my civilian friends either, but over the years, the service sector has been ignored to such an extent by keeping them out of the ambit of decision making process by the Government of all hues and colours; that; like the people in the civilian street, the veterans have been compelled to come out on to the road to show their displeasure. Currently, relay hunger strike is going on in 20 different places all over the country.
A dear friend of mine quipped the other day “Are we any different than the members of AAP or the followers of Akhil Gogoi in relation to the Dhar culture?”
I smiled a wry smile and told him, “We are not! If the people at the helm of affairs think that we would be following the proverbial carrot; they are mistaken. They just cannot treat us like beggars anymore! We shall demand our right and we shall ensure that we get it. I suppose this is the language that the authorities understand!!”
I am ashamed.
I am ashamed because like any other guys I have also joined the rat race of sloganeering to demand a legitimate pension which I think is the is the acknowledgement demanded from the Government; this is like a receipt of my youth which I spent for the country!