Friday, October 12, 2012

OROP: The viral mutates to a damp squib

80th Raising Day of IMA and OROP
The news regarding one-rank-one-pension first emerged on the ticker around 7.30 and by 8.30 pm it went viral, thanks to mobiles.
There is a trust deficit between the veterans and the Government and none was keen to pour out the bubbly even though a neutral press was saying so, every one wanted to see the fine print. The veterans are further divided into the haves and the have-nots, or the ‘we’ and ‘they’ between those that retired before or after the sixth pay commission. The pre-veterans refused to believe it and sure enough they were proved right the moment the fine print was out. The fiasco regarding the one-rank-one pension clearly shows the misleading tendencies both of the Government and a Press which does not verify before broadcasting -- all this shows the establishment in a poor light. This is at best a gap removal exercise -- the OROP is miles away. A jawan has got a paltry increase of four hundred rupees, is that what costs the exchequer Rs 2,300 crores? The farmers got Rs 42,000 crores from UPA-I as loan waiver and the State Government electricity boards got a waiver from UPA-I for transmission losses (means stealing electricity) and the soldier for all his sacrifices gets peanuts. All this clearly shows that the veterans have a long way to go -- as long as there is babudom, we all need to read the fine print. The Tehri area has a large number of ex-servicemen one has not heard the issue of OROP being thumped on the table by any of the Tehri Parliamentary bye poll candidates- wonder if it matters to them.
Closer home, the Indian Military Academy gets ready to celebrate its 80th Raising Day, and it’s been a long journey for the Academy. The Academy has seen a passage that has been eventful and is getting ready to be dressed for the occasion. The event is likely to be a two-day event, needless to say most of us are looking forward to a good round of golf and the celebrations the next day on October 1. Such occasions normally start with a solemn ceremony wreath laying at the war memorial in honour of those who sacrificed their today for our tomorrow, and other events such as the sound and light display in front of the Chetwode building followed by dinner. One has learnt that the CM is attending the sound and light display -- wonder how he finds the time in the middle of electioneering?
The last time one attended the sound and light display it was when my friend Raj Sujlana was the Commandant. Raj is busy now recruiting people in Punjab but the sound and light legacy that he left behind is going to be seen all over again.
Forty years ago when one passed out of the Academy it was producing officers for a victorious army. The mood was different and the Academy was the connoisseur as far as officers’ training was concerned. The Americans were licking their wounds of Vietnam andPakistan was a dismembered state. The seventies and early eighties were iconic years as far as operational thought and plains warfare in the army was concerned
Then came the rebound, by Pakistan burning the Kashmir flame and starting the strategy of death by a thousand cuts, the academy had to modify its curriculum. Counter Insurgency (CI) operations and small unit operations took center stage due to a proactive media, during that stage one was a battalion commander at IMA. The academy responded well with a CI operation capsule and other changes. Suddenly Kargil dawned and the blood and guts story of the academy was highlighted. Its tough physical training had stood the test of high altitude and high endurance, some of the bravest of the brave were just out of the academy our cadets of yesterday are national heroes of today, and the academy had delivered again.
Today in its 80th year the academy again stands at crossroads. The road ahead is difficult and full of challenges. The current requirement is of a soldier scholar whom the academy is trying to nurture and bridge the intellectual gap. There are many challenges that the academy faces, needless to say it can be a separate topic of discussion but the nature of warfare is changing and the academy has done well to take measures to address this change. It becomes difficult to make changes in established mindsets and set norms therefore; one does not grudge the commandant, but he is up to doing the needful.
There is an air of expectancy as a lot of changes have been carried out to the curriculum. The bulk of the Academy has shifted to South Campus and Gentleman Cadets go scurrying about their training. The academy still attracts good material because the academy is over subscribed and there is a marked difference in the body language of a third term GC about to pass out to that of a first termer, but language skills are definitely on the decline.
The challenges for the academy not withstanding most intend to line up our stomach with butter as we wait to see the sound and light display. I know for a fact that all events done on the drill square ground in front of the Chetwode are always nostalgic and memorable; it’s the ambience of the surrounding. No wonder how many passing out parades one may witness, the last one is always the best so also will be the sound and light display. As my wife and I walk down for dinner to the new South campus mess we always miss the old mess, it was so cramped that we met one another out of sheer lack of space.
80th Raising Day of IMA and OROP

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