Much that remains under cover various administrations, by now it is well known that as per the Rules of Business of Government of India, the responsibility of the defence of the country remains officially with the Defence Secretary, not the Defence Minister. While some 100 amendments have been made to the India Constitution, no government has made any effort to amend the Rules of Business, the second major advantage being that the Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters remain as ‘Attached Offices’, which implies that the MoD bureaucracy remains unaccountable and yet supreme because the military has been kept away from higher defence organizations and even the official defence-industrial set up. This system suits the mafia with many successive governments who have used the Defence Minister for boosting the ruling party’s kitty, as well as lining individual pockets.
…MoD bureaucracy remains unaccountable and yet supreme because the military has been kept away from higher defence organizations and even the official defence-industrial set up.
That is why despite scores of defence scams, no bureaucrat or politician has ever been questioned, leave aside prosecuted. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan should actually including cleaning this type of filth but even the more recent scams like Tatra, Eurocopter and VVIP helicopter will perhaps be buried or at best blame restricted to persons outside the MoD. The Tatra scam will be buried deepest because having spanned over number of years, it cuts across party lines.
But while the Defence Minister is NOT responsible for the defence of India, is he responsible for the izzat of the Military? The official responsibility is perhaps ambiguous and guarded more than the files on Netaji Subhash Chander Bose or the mystery of the passing away of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri at Tashkent (both perhaps linking the KGB with the known unknown of India) though successive governments have downgraded the standing, pay and allowances, and pensions of the military right from the time of the 3rd Central Pay Commission, no one can put the finger on who is responsible.
Notwithstanding this, Defence Minister Mohan Parrikar indicates that he possibly is in-charge of the military’s izzat, guessing from his recent Independence Day broadcast to the forces. He has spoken about his constant endeavour to work towards welfare and well-being of serving and military veterans, and also that his thoughts are with near and dear ones of those who laid down their lives for protecting the nation – all of which is extremely heartening. But then something extraordinary and heinous happened on August 14 when Delhi Police and CRPF assaulted the peacefully protesting military veterans and war widows at Jantar Mantar in a bid to evict them, an obvious pre-planned operation by the Home Ministry since both Delhi Police and CRPF are directly under them. The scuffle was covered live on TV channels. Some in the social media called it a mini Jallianwala Bagh action minus Brigadier Dyer.
82 year old veteran Bishamber Singh of 5 Grenadiers who had fought three wars for India had his medals including his Sena Medal (Gallantry) ripped off his chest by a goon of a policeman. The indigenous Brig Dyer (Delhi Police Commissioner Bassi) refused to take any calls by the military veterans at the site who were desperately trying to contact him. The situation would have gone uglier but for MoS General V K Singh who intervened on August 14 against Police action at Jantar Mantar and got the veterans’ agitation restored, with his personal staff running around and securing the permissions for veterans to continue their agitation gracefully. Otherwise the damage would have been much more, as intended by the mafia.
The President, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, addressed the nation on Independence Day eve but also failed to make any reference to the police action at Jantar Mantar the same morning…
What the political hierarchy fails to understand is that when the military fights for the izzat of the country, the izzat of the military personnel cannot be ridiculed and denigrated in such dastardly manner even if they are considered small fry in the vote bank politicking. Images of the police action at Jantar Mantar on August 14 against military veterans have gone viral world over, as also that of the Delhi Police Commissioner reading out his Independence Day address with the national flag upside down behind him.
India has indeed become a laughing stock of the world but one wonders if the political hierarchy understands the tremendous damage it has done to the military psyche in India. The previous government was accused of making the system hollow by pitting the IB against the CBI but this government has surpassed all that by pitting police forces against military veterans. Astonishingly, the Prime Minister famous for his all and sundry tweets has nothing to say about the dastardly action. The Defence Minister’s Independence Day broadcast a day earlier made no mention of the police action just a day prior either.
The President, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, addressed the nation on Independence Day eve but also failed to make any reference to the police action at Jantar Mantar the same morning; a horribly unprecedented action in independent India. So who is responsible for the izzat of the military – surely making bland statements that government respects its defence forces have little meaning?
Yes, the OROP is being granted but not the yearly equalization of pension as was recommended by the Koshyari Committee and approved by the Parliaments of the UPA and the present government. If only a five yearly equalization is to be given then this could have been announced months back because without the presstitutes being used to propagate that five year equalization is acceptable to ‘majority’ – pray which is this majority?
…the Finance Minister not explain why 45 percent of the defence pension outlay is being consumed by 22 percent civilians of the MoD.
Countries like the US and UK and most other advanced democracies, with Armies that are facing conflict, venerate the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces. The UK Parliament has even passed a law called Armed Forces Covenant. An Armed Forces Covenant is the expression of the moral obligation that the Government and the nation owe to the armed forces community. The covenant acknowledges that members of the armed forces sacrifice some freedoms and often face dangerous situations. It recognizes that families play a vital role in supporting the operational effectiveness of the armed forces.
It is only in India where our men and women have to go through the humiliation of a comparison with a discredited bureaucracy. Why does the Finance Minister not explain why 45 percent of the defence pension outlay is being consumed by 22 percent civilians of the MoD. The Koshyari Committee has clearly described why the military veterans cannot be equated with any other government service.
Now if 100 percent of Railways, bureaucrats, judiciary, civilian defence officials and parliamentarians are getting OROP and ‘annual’ equalization of pension, why not the military? As per an FB post, the ‘huge financial outlay running into thousands of crore’ as calculated by the Finance Ministry under Arun Jaitley is grossly inaccurate, a brief explanation of the actual outlay involving: 1 April 2014 – one time financial liability worked out by the Defence Ministry, Defence Accounts and accepted as the base figure is = Rs 8293 crore; 1 Apr 2015- enhanced expenditure to equalise pensions @ 0.85% comes to Rs70.49 crore; 1 Apr 2016 @ 0.62% comes to Rs 51.42 crore; 1 Apr 2017 @ 0.32% comes to Rs 26.54 crore; 1 Apr 2018 @ 0.21% comes to Rs 17.42 crore; 1 Apr 2019 @ 0.0% is nil, and so: total enhanced expenditure for four years subsequent to implementation of OROP thus works out to mere Rs 165.86 crore! But then the mafia remains supreme – who can question the bureaucrat?
But surely the people of India need to know who is responsible for the izzat of the military, and why have they not been granted annual equalization of pensions while granting OROP especially when the four year equalization amount comes to a meager Rs 165.86 crores? Five year equalization defeats the very concept of OROP. Is this how the politico-bureaucratic dispensation honours the military?