God and soldiers, men adore
In times of crisis and not before;
Crisis over, God is forgotten
And, soldier slighted...
And so goes a rhyme. Nowhere is it more true than in our own mahan Bharath. It is a fact of history that had it not been for the raiders in Kashmir immediately after independence India's first Prime Minsiter would have reduced the army to a constabulary. Still the debacle of 1962 followed. Fortunately with the change of guard at South Block, another debacle was averted in 1965. But Lal Bahadur Sastriji paid for it wth his life. Thanks to Sam Bahadur Manekshaw we had a decisive victory in 1971. But lessons were being forgotten, possibly deliberately by a useless political leadership guided by a scheming bureaucracy.
The efforts to marginalise the armed forces picked up momentum and now we have a situation that with the latest pay commission recommendations, which is touted as 'for the IAS, by the IAS, of the IAS', the serving chiefs of the armed forces were literally forced to take a stand fearing real revolt in the ranks. It had happened in the Air Force, post 5th pay commission. A former chief of army staff has admitted that of almost 57 anomalies pointed out in the 5th pay commission report, only 9 has been resolved. For that matter, even issues of 4th Central Pay Commission are pending to be resolved.
A glaring example is that of rank pay for officers which had been introduced then in a deliberate effort to split the basic pay scale so that when comparing equivalent offices, the armed forces officers were at a scale lower than their civilian counterparts. Worse, even then while finally fixing the pay, the Rank Pay was actually denied and it was left to one Major Dhanapalan to get a favourable verdict from the Kerala High Court and get his rightful dues. The rest of the officers, in fact the whole lot of them, both serving and retired, are still waiting for the government to accept the court verdict in its right spirit and do justice to them. Some retired officers have formed groups and taken up the matter with the courts again. The apex court had directed all these cases to be transferred to itself so that a single judgement could be issued. Even after a year of this consolidation nothing has happened thereafter!
And now with the 6th Pay Commission recommendations the matter has literally boiled over. While the chiefs have done their duty perfunctorily and taken up the matter with the concerned authorities, retired personnel have actually been forced to take to the streets to protest against the patent injustices. These unfortunately have met with negative reactions from vested interests and even the media has been roped in by them to malign the chiefs and the veterans. Veterans, unused as they are to the kind of protests which only get due attention from the people in government, have persisted in their own dignified way and the latest was a five day relay fast from 20 Oct to 24 Oct. Typically, the media did not even report it what with Raj Thackery ruling the roost during all those days!
With the chiefs having refused to implement the report as it is and the Defence Minister having ordered payment of adhoc arrears to serving personnel before Divali, the armed forces veterans alone have been dumped as a lot who have not yet received any benefits of the new pay commission recommendations till now. Forget Divali, is there light even at the end of the tunnel for the soldiers and veterans of this country?
Maj (Retd) P M Ravindran
The news item on "Fresh row over pay orders" in the Tribune of 24/10/08 (link given below) is realy shocking display of vindictiveness against service officers. So many court cases are already going on this issue and here they come with another one.
It appears that some bureaucrats in MOD are real psychic cases who are suffering from some sort of fear psychosis of the services who are the loyal and patriotic protectors of the nation both in peace & war. Otherwise, how can they manage to rake up controversy after controversy in the pay matters of the armed forces? 6th pay commission problems so vindictively created by them have not been sorted out as yet and here they come with another goofy order de- linking rank pay from basic pay of the officers which was positively linked at least with effect from 01 Jan 1996. Why are they trying to sow dissatisfaction amongst the loyal service personnel and wrecking their fighting morale? Their actions are creating disastrous situations for the national security. If the officers of such doubtful mental health were there in the armed forces they would have long been sent home. Can something be done about them?
Brig Charan Singh (Retd)
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