Saturday, May 16, 2015
KIND ATTN OF RM - YOU LEAVE US NO CHOICE
Dear Mr. Parrikar,
Your appointment as the RM late last year came as a breath of fresh air to scores of armed forces personnel both serving and the retired. After ten years of an inert RM followed by an initial make shift arrangement by your government in the form of a dual charge, temporary RM, your appointment was possibly the best thing to have happened to the rather neglected issue of National Security. Your technical past, your administrative excellence and your hands on approach appealed to the uniformed community as it was in sync with our own disciplined & trained mindsets.
The on-going saga of OROP was inherited by you as were the numerous other ills plaguing the armed forces. I must say you have been able to negotiate this minefield rather dexterously, all to the advantage of the country in general and the armed forces in particular. However on the issue of OROP, though I dare say, you have done your bit, you have been outmanoeuvred by the IAS-IDAS-FM combine. So much so that the honourable Prime Minister batting on your side, as conveyed from his statements starting from Rewari in 2013 till date, has also failed to get past this formidable anti OROP proverbial ditch-cum-bund.
I met you onthis year for the first time and was pleasantly surprised at your friendly approach and willingness to listen, unlike a lot of others of your class. I met the honourable PM soon after on the same day. (I have been a lucky citizen to have met three PM’s of this country in person in my lifetime. Pt. Nehru in 1961 when I was ten, Mr. Rajeev Gandhi in 1988 when I was 37 and Mr. Narendra Modi when I am now 64. Interestingly first as a schoolboy, next as a serving officer just returned from combat and after being felicitated by the President and now as a veteran.) I had posed the same question to the PM as to when he would keep his promise of announcing OROP and he said, “Soon”. It was that day that you had desired to meet me and discuss issues of disabled servicemen & women that I had brought up.
I next met you with the IESM delegation at Kotah House while the IESM rally at Jantar Mantar was in progress on 01 Feb 2015. Your message as allowed by you was conveyed to the mass of veterans assembled for the rally. You had mentionedas the final cut off date for implementation of the fiscal award consequent to acceptance of OROP, though you hoped you could wrap it up by the . It was at this meeting that I had presented you a copy of my book, “Better Dead than Disabled.” You would recollect that at this meeting the COAS, a few Vir Nari’s & veterans of all ranks and services were present. Needless to say your message on OROP spread like lightning all across the entire veteran spectrum.
I next met you in your office with other members of the governing body of the IESM on 3 Mar 2015. You were kind enough to share with us the contents of your cabinet note on OROP as also the calculation sheet as prepared for issue in the draft government letter. The date for closure was also once again confirmed asor at best a spill over of 3-4 days. Once again your message was conveyed to the veteran community who accepted it as they have accepted orders all their lives without questioning them. You also gave me an appointment for the to discuss disability issues.
Onwe discussed disability issues in the presence of the COAS. Once again you confirmed the datelines of OROP to be what you had laid down.
Soon after this ascame and went, various news items began appearing purportedly conveying the changing stance of the government on the issue of OROP. We at IESM continued to steadfastly defend you in the face of growing resentment and disappointment amongst veterans. Then came the change of dates pushing closure to end April. 30 April came and went away with no announcement in sight. We still maintained that you were still trying for early closure. Once again the rumour mills got going and this time around the proverbial ditch-cum-bund of the IAS-IDAS-Fin Minister upped the ante by converting the obstacle to the dimensions of the Brahmaputra in flood, by suggesting that the final solution would be passed on to the 7th CPC and a watered down interim relief be announced. We put these aside and continued to abide by your word.
I last met you on the 8th of May at the ZEE conclave. Two statements made by you publicly were, and I quote, “No file remains with me for more than four hours” & “OROP would be announced shortly”. Privately when I asked you pointedly, “WHEN” you categorically said 13th May as also that you would meet the IESM delegation before that. Obediently I conveyed the same to my Chairman and members of the governing body. Your statements were also conveyed to the veteran community as a large number of veterans besides me were present during the function.
As on date Sir, neither have you met the IESM delegation nor have you announced OROP as promised. 13th of May was yesterday. We presume the next date of importance to you is 26th May when your government completes one year in office.
May I humbly submit Sir that dates deadlines or time lines have now become meaningless. The veteran community is distressed and seething with anger as having being let down. It is ironical that in the last one year your government has announced thousands of crores for various schemes ranging from cleaning the Ganga to waiving of taxes to merchants, raked in over 3 Lakh crores in sale of spectrum and coal blocks, but find it difficult to find approximately 10,000 Crores to fulfil the obligation of OROP. It is sad that your finance minister does not want to open his purse strings for the very community that has ensured the security of our country over the last 67 years by sacrificing their lives and limbs. No it is not about money but lack of an attitude of thanksgiving to a soldier.
Sir, you leave us no choice but to once again hit the streets and bring the callous attitude of your colleagues and civil servants who through NFFU have awarded themselves the equivalent of OROP while leaving the soldier, sailor & airman out in the cold to the notice of the people. The consequences, if this community was to replicate what happened on 1st Feb at Jantar Mantar across the country, would augur ill for you, your party and your government, notwithstanding what your advisors from the steel frame or their consorts in Khaki may feed to you otherwise.
I, like any other veteran have felt betrayed, more so because our stoic defence for you has been belied. I reiterate Sir, YOU LEAVE US NO CHOICE!
Col Anil Kaul, VrC Veteran,
Member GB IESM
14 May 2015
(Source- via e-mail IESM Hyd)