25 April 2015
Here are just a handful of stories that will make you realise that the men and women who volunteer their lives in exchange for serving India are also endangering their dignity.
1. Jobs for ex-servicemen are limited
That’s not an ordinary taxi driver – it’s former Havaldar Gurmukh Singh Sahanu.
There’s a reason you see ex-servicemen in careers that offer much less than a shadow of the glory and discipline of their former roles – the government isn’t pushing corporate India to hire them.
Instead, you find ex-army men working in blue collar jobs like security and gyms. There’s 50,000 men who retire from the armed forces every year, and most are still capable and willing to work. These men have a discipline and mental agility forged in life or death situations.
India can learn from America, which offers tax benefits to companies hiring veterans (ex-servicemen). For a US corporate employer, the tax credit can be as high as $9,600 for every qualified veteran hired. These tax credit rules applied to all veterans hired before January 1, 2014.
Since then, unfortunately, the US Congress has been in a bit of turmoil and the extension of the tax credit remains in abeyance.
Last year, on Memorial Day, Wal-Mart, one of the largest retail chains, announced its commitment to hiring veterans. It set a target of 1,00,000 over a five-year span.
2. Army authorities don’t care about disabled soldiers
Army authorities faced flak from the Supreme Court in a recent judgment ruled in favor of Sukhvinder Singh, who was discharged from the army in 2002, a year after he joined, because he lost his hearing.
The court found that not only did the army 'NOT' give him a disability pension for 12 years, but also didn’t even consider if he should be retained in service in any other category.
In fact, the Supreme Court has pulled up the army for fighting against giving ex-army soldiers a slight raise in disability pension.
“So what? The government can have at least this much of budget for its soldiers who are dying for the people of this country every day. What is the point of having these memorials and placards saluting our defence personnel if you litigate against the disabled soldiers till the Supreme Court. You should pay them,” said the Supreme Court bench.
3. The horrors of war and the poor living condition scars them with mental issues
Here’re some facts:
In the last 5 years, 597 military personnel have committed suicide. Out of these, 108 personn suicides are just from last year.
In 2012, it was noted that over four times more soldiers die battling their internal demons rather than fighting militants in Kashmir or north-east.
Stress-related deaths in the shape of suicides and "fragging" (killing fellow soldiers) show no sign of flagging in the Army, with the toll alarmingly crossing the 100 mark year after year.
Those who live long enough to retire aren’t safe either.
Mental hospitals and military hospitals don’t have enough beds or staff to manage the inflow of ex-military men who report anxiety, frustration, and depression. Many are pushed into disorder due to the combination of low pay, the stress of family, and inability to adjust to civilian life. And the army doesn’t seem to have the concern to do something about it.
4. If they are injured in the line of duty, Indian soldiers might not get war injury pension
After ex-Major DP Singh lost his leg to Pakistani mortar fire, the army refused to recognise him as a war-wounded soldier. He receives only 14,000 Rupees a month, because the army refused to pay him the dues that a war injured soldier gets (matching the salary he was receiving when hurt in the line of duty), and instead scheduled him for a disabled pension. Then, the army reduced his 100% disability pension to 90 percent.
Today, he is a famous marathoner, and also engaged in legal 7 year marathon with the army for a dignified life.
More recently, former NSG commando Surender Singh, who risked life and limb while saving Mumbai from the 26/11 attacks didn’t receive his pension for almost 2 years.
He is today an AAP MLA, and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had to intervene to get his pension.
5. They legally are not allowed to file High court cases against the army
The Armed Forces Tribunal Act kills the right of army people to file High Court cases against the army. This week, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM),one of India’s largest ex-servicemen bodies has written to PM Modi asking to amend the act.
(Inputs from Economic Times | TOI)
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