Above are just few examples though volumes can be written on these issues. If mention has been made of senior officers, it is to facilitate readers imagine how the lower rank and file are being treated. Respect related to war is just a small part and of little relevance in a politically bastardized India; when the IPKF in Sri Lanka was fighting, losing lives and limbs on account of IEDs, the Government of Tamil Nadu was officially calling the Indian military traitors. When the IPKF finally returned, not a single representative of the Tamil Nadu government appeared at the port to receive them. The attitude of the J&K politicians (most thick with radicals) is another story. This besides, the Defence Minister would know that conventional wars only occur once in a while but we have been fighting sub-conventional wars over past several decades, and we are going to see more and more of the latter.
To some extent the armed forces themselves are responsible for lowering of respect and intransigence of the hierarchy, simply because they have failed to grasp the dynamics of our democracy, where the power of the vote is supreme.
Forces inimical to India are pulling out all the stops to degrade the armed forces, lower their respect, heighten distrust of the administration against the armed forces, drive a wedge between veterans and the armed forces, break the institutional integrity of the armed forces, as also drive a wedge between the armed forces and the CAPF-Police. With respect of the latter, one solution would be to disband the military and handover the country to the Police, which Nehru initially wanted, committing suicide in the bargain. The saner approach would be to restore the respect of the armed forces. For this, Defence Minister Parrikar will first have to address the rot within his own ministry and the DESW. A net assessment of the issue may also help him arrive at the crying necessity to reorganize the MoD and higher defene organization of the country with support of the Prime Minister, inaction on which has brought India’s defence to the present dire state.
To some extent the armed forces themselves are responsible for lowering of respect and intransigence of the hierarchy, simply because they have failed to grasp the dynamics of our democracy, where the power of the vote is supreme. Isn’t that why we are in this vicious environment of caste, creed, reservations and vote-bank politicking? Mercifully, the armed forces are spared from all such nonsense. But at the same time, if we are not exercising our votes and not letting our soldiers vote, then we are actually committing an offence by not letting your command exercise their franchise. There was a time when a soldier could vote for general and provincial elections at his place of posting provided he had served at that place for six months.
Today that time stipulation has been removed primarily because of the initiative taken by Rajeev Chandershekhar, MP, implying today every soldier can vote from his place of posting even with one day service in that station. Now witness what happened when the Mathura based Strike Corps decided to participate in the 2007 UP State Elections and informed the civil administration that troops at Mathura, Allahabad and Lucknow will so participate:
The veterans votes maybe considered insignificant but they certainly would have contributed to the BJP losing three traditional seats in Jammu regain during the J&K elections; cost of dilly-dallying on the OROP promise.
- When the civil administration was sent the list of eligible voters (that time the rule being minimum six months service) the response was that the number is very large and it would not be possible to provide the voter cards in the short time, elections being just two months away.
- The civil administration was informed that provision of voter cards is their responsibility not of individuals, which it still is. Civil administration confirmed a way out will be found.
- ESM sent RTI’s to the concerned MP and MLAs asking what had they done about the welfare and issues brought to the notice of civil administration about widows and families of serving soldiers in the area of their jurisdiction in past five years and what portion of their area development funds had been used to help improve cantonment areas.
- A politician with the nickname ‘Billa’ arrived at the office of Station Commander, Mathura Cantonment with a bag containing Rs 10 lakhs, saying this is only advance and wanted to know which political party the Corps Commander had ordered to be backed? The money was returned and he was politely told this is not how the military functions, Corps Commander had passed no orders and every soldier would vote as per his own wish.
- The civil administration set up a special cell in the office of DC Mathura to look after problems and issue related to widows, serving soldiers and their families.
- At Allahabad, an illegal colony within the area of the cantonment was removed by the army after formal orders of the civil court but Rita Bahugana Joshi created a terrible ruckus by ringing up Sonia Gandhi, who in turn spoke to Anthony and an inquiry was initiated. But moment Rita Bahugana Joshi discovered that the Division at Allahabad was participating in elections, she withdrew all protests and sought a date when would it be convenient for GOC of the Division to have a meal with her.
All that the military needs to do is make sure that every soldier exercises his franchise. This should happen in the upcoming Bihar and West Bengal Elections and every election thereafter.
- For voting during the 2007 UP elections, military was accorded facility of special booths within the cantonments under Election Commission of India supervisors. Eligible military personnel as per the approved list voted after showing their service identity cards to the election officials.
- Post elections, Station Headquarters of cantonments in UP state were approached by elected MLAs as to what improvements by way of lighting, roads, drainage were needed and how they could help?
Military’s participation in 2007 UP state elections required no sanction, not even from the Army Headquarters. Above has been related simply to show the power of the vote. The veterans votes maybe considered insignificant but they certainly would have contributed to the BJP losing three traditional seats in Jammu regain during the J&K elections; cost of dilly-dallying on the OROP promise. All that the military needs to do is make sure that every soldier exercises his franchise. This should happen in the upcoming Bihar and West Bengal Elections and every election thereafter. Logically, the Service Chiefs should pass such orders and take a feedback after ever election from the concerned commanders. The second alternative for those Service Chiefs who are afraid how the hierarchy will view it, is tell the formation commanders that they can carry on individually. Either way, respect from the hierarchy will come automatically.