Saturday, March 19, 2011

Apathy towards the war-disabled must end

Disabled soldiers at the Paraplegic Rehabilitaion Centre in Mohali. Several issues need to be redressed to ensure that disabled soldiers get due benefits that compensate them for the substantially reduced capacity for employment.

The number of war-disabled soldiers is increasing on account of casualties being incurred in prolonged counter-insurgency operations. But they are gradually fading away from the radar screen of the government and the Service headquarters. The plight of disabled soldiers needs to be appreciated and action should be taken to ameliorate their multifarious problems

There is certainly a need for regular dialogue between the ESW department, army headquarters and the NGO's. Getting them on board will result in a two-way passage of information between the authorities and the war-disabled. Both NGO's exist on donations that are meagre, but their request for funds has been summarily dismissed by the ESW department!

Over the last few decades, the war-disabled as a group have been gradually fading away from the radar screens of service headquarters as well as the government, despite the fact that their number is increasing practically on a daily basis on account of casualties incurred in counter-insurgency operations. The plight of war-disabled soldiers, especially in rural areas needs to be appreciated and actions need to be taken to ameliorate their multifarious problems. This situation of apathy to the war-disabled must be corrected lest it leads to grave adverse repercussions in the long term.
The writer is a former Vice Chief of Army and President of the War Wounded Foundation.
Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd)
Apathy towards the war-disabled must end

The above article “Apathy towards the war-disabled must end” (Feb 18) by Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd) was a touching description of the plight of the war-disabled. The writer has rightly pleaded for the benefits/maintaining records of the disabled and need for a positive attitude towards them. Even the NGO’s can play a better role with the help of the media. India must treat the war-disabled with respect.
A.S. ANAND, Ludhiana

ESW is a Cosmetic Bureaucratic Appendage
Over six years ago, a Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (ESW) was created to give focused attention to welfare programmes for ex-servicemen and their dependants. In reality it was a cosmetic exercise as three existing entities of the Ministry of Defence merely started reporting to another set of bureaucrats. Even after six years, except for garnering additional vacancies for their cadre, the department is yet to come out with a single programme for the welfare of veterans. They also commenced looking after the pensions of veterans and the mess they have made post--Sixth Pay Commission is too well known.

Here is a department tailor-made to make much of the soldiers' sacrifices by conceiving a comprehensive and long-term plan to commemorate their valiant deeds, not only on Vijay Diwas, but also on other such occasions. The need is for vision, empathy and dedication, which requires staffing this department by military personnel. They know what soldiers want and how best to meet their needs. The incongruity of welfare of soldiers by the bureaucracy needs immediate burial. Let us do so without delay and start honouring our soldiers.
Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd)
The writer is a former Vice Chief of the Indian Army
When will we honour our soldiers?

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