Saturday, July 2, 2016
OROP - Kya Paya Aur Kya Khoya - Cdr Ravindra Pathak
Well articulated mail.
Needs introspection, review discussion and suitable plan to improve the lot of veterans as well as the those still in uniform.
Brig VA Subramanyam (Retd)
----- Forwarded Message -----
OROP - Kya Paya Kya Khoya
The views expressed here are entirely my own and not as a member of any organization.
It has been a long struggle for OROP for the veterans, spread over period of almost 42 yrs. Whilst the demand was languishing in the files of Babudom it is only in 2008 when the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement took up the issue did it resurface and how much it impacted all those involved and associated with it is well known.
Having been associated with the movement for a while I often thought: what have we achieved and what have we lost. I am penning my thoughts at random as they come to mind.
The struggle had many who were affected by it namely the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement (IESM), the Government of India, the two political parties, etc I will cover in a free flow of thoughts.
The IESM over the years was in the acknowledged leadership role for the fight and it was able to achieve at least partly what it had set out to get. Regrettably, ever since the issue of notification by the GOI it has become somewhat of a pariah with no one willing to talk to it due its policy of continued agitation mode.
So what have been the achievements of IESM?
Creation of awareness among the veterans of their rights leading to setting up of grievance mechanisms by Army and Air force while the Navy has just started with tentative steps
A new-found life in the various ESM orgs
Awareness among politicians that united veterans would now be a force to reckon if they are allowed to unite.
The last two parts of IESM achievements have actually to my mind worked against it as first the ESM NGO became very aggressive and started to try and usurp the funds which the movement has managed to collect as voluntary donations and the political parties made is a ESM point to ensure that they do not unite. For this both the ESM org and politicians have tried all tricks known to them.
The IESM has also erred.
The response of IESM to the 5 th September 2015 notification was ill thought out. Acknowledgement was needed then, probably with caveat and keeping room open for further negotiations. But IESM failed there miserably.
Was there a failure on the part of IESM in targeting the bureaucracy? Well that is debatable but surely the empire struck back with the notification, which certainly was not to the RM’s liking and yet read out by him. It’s often said we are our worst enemy. To an extent this has happened in recent times. And who took advantage? The Bureaucrat. Ironically, without working too hard. IESM MADE their own enemies.
IESM, probably in their enthusiasm of the support they got, forgot to look at the tight rope Modi has to walk to get his targets met. He inherited a lethargic bureaucracy unwilling to change and no hold barred highly stung miniscule but effectively disruptive Congress. He has a handful cleaning the muck of last 67 years with very limited talent and true followers of his within the party and the cabinet and it would only have been wise to have acknowledged his positive role in the OROP saga.
In army, and even in Naval manoeuvres, we rely on 'one foot on ground’, a 'pivot' round which we manoeuvre. IESM needed to have retained that 'pivot' - RM to my mind was one? They dislodged him thoughtlessly.
Next is the Veteran himself.
Largely ignorant veterans are happy that something has come through but are not aware of what they should have got. The veteran has been largely charged up with emotions for the failure of the GOI to give true OROP even though one must admit that against odds and substantial opposition from within the cabinet and the bureaucracy the Modi-Parikkar combine has been able to at least accept the need for OROP and have partly delivered.
Modi and the RM are reportedly unhappy with the fact that largely they have not got credit for the OROP that they claim to have given. Even if one accepts getting OROP, even though partly, due to them the fact remains that the undue delay in its implementation, the kind of statements made at various stages by various ministers and the prime minister himself, has led to anger and though some politically correct ESM Orgs have thanked them, at least in one such thanksgiving routine, they were asked if they were really happy. It is learnt that whilst making a presentation to Reddy Committee some ESM organizations started with we are Happy to---. Justice Reddy is reported to have leaned forward, lowered his spectacles and exclaimed- Really?
The BJP has been looked upon as someone who came to power on the large support from ESM, rightly or wrongly. The way the ESM were treated after the elections, forced to sit for Hunger strike, fast unto death, sit on relay hunger strike and hold protest rallies across the country and of course the police action has only added fuel to fire and has forced some of the veterans to look at election interference as a new tool to get their dues.
The Congress knew full well that they would not return to power after the last elections and as one-upmanship, declared OROP knowing well that they would not have to carry the burden of implementing it. Mere tokenism was resorted to in normal Congress style. They did manage to put Modi in a corner but lost all sympathy of veterans except their diehard loyalist much like their political loyalists.
The CGDA organization has been the greatest loser in the entire story, what with their poor drafting of circulars, perceived to be playing a negative role in making the tables and then the errors in the tables where they had to issue clarifications within a month or so, speaks poorly of their ability to deliver. This has been so since the 6 CPC implementation but has been aggravated by issue of poorly drafted circulars during the OROP struggle. This is gone to such an extent now that people are demanding that CGDA is restricted to their basic task of Audit and accounts rather than meddling with policy matters.
The DESW has always been seen not as a welfare agency for the veterans but more as being anti veterans. They have not endeared themselves to veterans any better during the OROP struggle where they even allowed a lower formation working as auditor to check tables and calculations made and approved by the RM. Their penchant for filing appeals in courts has been well known. It is learnt that even after the current RM took control of the Department, things have only marginally improved. Look at the delay in issuing the circular for doing away with 33 yrs rule. No wonder there is a clamour for reorganization of the department with a mix of some veterans and serving being inducted. One only hopes that it does not become a pure defence manned organization.
How have the serving been affected? This is the most dangerous part of the story of the OROP saga.
With the social media and its easy access, more awareness amongst the serving of their rights and realization that they have been let down not only by the Bureaucrat–politico combine but also by their own has had very adverse effect within the services. Through court cases, they have realized that they have been short changed for a long time. The clear indicator of this is the number of cases in AFT and the ultimate being the NFU case by a serving officer. To a large extent it is the failure of Modi and his team of RM+FM (combined) first, then FM and RM that allowed the whole issue to be delayed as usual, thereby causing unwanted heartburn and a feeling of being let down not only of the veterans but also the future veterans. If stories are to be believed, large number of dissatisfied serving are there now in the forces. This is where the security of the country has taken its biggest hit.
The serving senior officers have taken a major hit in all this by not taking a firm stand and with the new found awareness among the veterans and serving and the spread of social media they will have to unlearn old dictates of human behaviour and management and do a complete rethink on the way to handle a more enthused, knowledgeable and active veterans and the serving as well. If things don’t change it will be to the peril of the security of the country.
Let us hope the GOI learns its lesson and also teaches it to the bureaucracy to change their attitude. The Experts committee appointed by the RM has minced no words in regard to the need to change in attitudes all-round.
To summarize I feel ESM may have gained financially from OROP, but in the process there have been large changes in the environment in terms of awareness among Veterans and serving ,hopefully a realization that the HR functions have to undergo change in the armed forces from the past and the finality that ESM will remain disunited and the Bureaucrat-politico combine will continue to exploit us. However the biggest looser is the national security has been the victim and it would take years to mend ways.
It is not a all lost situation and I feel confident that the present PM –RM combo will be able to re-establish the status of armed forces in the country.
(Source- Via Gp e-mail from Brig VA Subramanyam, (Retd)