Sunday, August 12, 2012
Karan Kharb's e-mail to Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister
11 Aug 2012
Consequent to the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, the country has witnessed unrest vented by soldiers – serving and retired – in an unprecedented manner. Now, cases of suicide, fratricide and mass insubordination are on the rise in military Units and Formations deployed in sensitive areas. Retired military officers, JCOs and Jawans, on the other hand, have come out on the roads and, as an expression of strong resentment against injustice, returned their medals en-masse along with petitions signed in blood. Fuelled by persistent Government apathy, their simmering unrest is now reaching its bursting point as is evident from the mutinous situations that have started erupting in active military units – a worrisome phenomenon never seen earlier. If examples were needed, Samba in J&K is the latest.
While there is urgency for the Government to sit up and act without delay, the seemingly unconcerned regime has continued its step-motherly treatment of soldiers, ignoring their sacrifices and neglecting their most justified needs. What is it if not wholly ridiculous and illogical that a Pay Commission, unfairly composed only from the Civil Services, should be arbitrarily deciding on the needs, necessities and entitlements of soldiers despite total absence of any military experience and without any military representative on the panel to aid and advise it on peculiarities and unique conditions of military service? The composition of the Committee of Secretaries under the Cabinet Secretary’s chairmanship later ordered to resolve the anomalies has only added insult to the injury because, again bereft of any military representative on it like the Pay Panel, this too would perpetuate the legacy of bureaucratic red tape and negation. Such dispensation surely does not inspire confidence among the soldiers – serving or retired – especially at a time when their morale is low and anger at boiling point.
It hardly needs elaboration that owing to this worsening neglect, military as a career has lost its charm and appeal for the country’s younger generation whereas their fathers and grandfathers drew all their pride and honour from this very profession. Others either marvelled or envied them; and that was not too long ago!
One example of Government apathy is the long outstanding demand of Ex-servicemen – One Rank One Pension (OROP). You are well aware that every Government, every political Party including Congress and several Parliamentary Committees have unequivocally endorsed this justified demand. You and the Hon’ble Prime Minister too have voiced your support to it – but, sorry Madam, all these promises and assurances have remained illusory. No wonder soldiers’ faith in the system is waning.
I am attaching herewith a copy of our letter No 27035/A/OROP(Pet) dated 21 April 2011 submitted to the Chairman, Committee on Petitions, Rajya Sabha Sectt along with its enclosures in which the main problems have been explained in some detail. We regret that since then the situation has only deteriorated further.
Alarm bells are ringing. The Chiefs of the Armed Forces are learnt to have briefed the Committee of Secretaries giving their opinions and recommendations, which deserve to be treated with the respect, concern and urgency that is due to them. Ironically, however, their being at the helm perhaps restrains them from displaying the situation in its real alarming proportions even as they are doing everything within their powers to douse the flames in their backyards. Therefore, any comfort drawn from such dutiful, humble ‘all okay’ reporting should not induce complacence.
As concerned and worried citizens, we bring these facts to your kind notice because we believe that in your capacity as Chairperson of the UPA, you can address this burning issue more effectively before it is too late. Now, in the interest of national security, it is up to you how you choose to act to ensure that the Indian Armed Forces are maintained at the highest morale and spirits to deal with the adversaries who are building up their fighting potential in many ways – across the borders and within. A not-so-friendly neighbourhood with nuclear stockpiles in unsteady hands and the evolving global scenario call for the Indian military to be the world’s best. We hope you will address the burning problem with the urgency it deserves and initiate immediate actions to boost up the sagging morale and spirit of the Armed Forces of India.
With lots of hopes and Best regards,
Col (Retd) Karan Kharb
and Members, Turning Point India, Noida