While discussing step motherly treatment being given to soldiers by Govt, once I told a serving army commander "Those who beg get chillar (Coins) only". I was from his unit and regiment and in his personal staff. He knew my habit of being blunt but somehow he always liked my arguments, so he discussed it further.
He asked, what is the solution? I said in our democracy military has a constitutional role, play it and communicate with govt as mother conveys with her child with firm eyes.
In 1994 when Gen VP Malik was commandant staff college, he created a very positive environment for intellectual discussions and learning. I am his big fan. Being from Madras Regt and coming for staff college from my center co-located at same location, I was not given accommodation by the college as I was told to retain station accommodation. My house was close to house of Gen Malik and some times in evening we used to cross each others path while walking with our families. Gen Malik is rare breed of General who is honest, intellectually very strong, humble and visionary. Sometimes, we used to stop for a while for a small chit chat. General and Mrs Malik liked children and they used to play with my elder daughter; Ankita.
This General has towering sweet personality which can melt biggest of ego. I could feel his pain when he made his famous statement as army chief during Kargil War " We will fight with whatever we have". he is a true nationalist but he could also not make any dent on corrupt and arrogant political establishment.
So during staff college, when Gen Malik was commandant, a 3 days seminar on "Higher Poltical Management of War" was conducted. Many known personalities from civil attended it. We students were allowed to participate. We were lucky to have late Inder Mehrotra participating with us but for first two and half days he kept quite. Rightly so all key issues related to subject were flagged and discussed highlighting gaps in political directions. At last late Inder Mahrotra spoke. As my tribute to this true Indian I put his words on records here as I remember and recreate.
He said and I quote; "Gentlemen I am fortunate to have attended this seminar. Rarely we civilians find an opportunity to discuss such subjects of national importance with military leadership and that also in such open and frank environment. I have never seen it happening at least in military environment so far and I compliment Gen Malik for same. I have been hearing various speakers from military and civil both and the discussions therein. I am impressed with the young military officers who have participated in these discussions so openly and some of the arguments which they have made has touched my intellectual reasoning also. At least now I know our democracy is in safe hands.
With that confidence , let me share my observation on the subject with you? Why shall you blame political leadership of the country? If you say they do not have required expertise in matter of management of war then isn't your constitutional duty to educate political leadership? Why shall you blame babus? Is it their job? I have seen military chiefs walking in office of the PM and talking to him directly on urgent matters of national importance and I have also seen chiefs pleading with defense secretory to get a favor from defense minister? Well if their are gaps in higher political management of war then whom should you blame? I blame senior leadership of military in having failed in their constitutional duty to effectively communicate with political leadership? Why shall you go through a babu? If there are no military war doctrines or political strategy of war, my question to you is, have you drafted one and put it up to political leadership for their approval? If there were no clear written orders of govt for war in 62, 65 or 71 wars, why shall you accept such unwritten orders? Did you insist for it? Gentleman I stop here and leave it for your judgement for further discussion on what I have said. ". Unquote.
There was pin drop silence but after few moment few young officers got up to discuss it further to sheer discomfort to some Generals attending the seminar. As usual with his cheering smile, Gen Malik at last intervened positively petting the young officers with a word of caution to leave it to senior leadership of the military and have trust. The seminar had a positive impact when Army Navy and Airforce drafted their war doctrines and submitted for approval of Govt. ( I will request Gen Malik to correct me if I have misquoted).
I am quoting this story to ask present senior military leadership, the same question? Have you on military reward and compensation submitted any comprehensive professional model to the Govt for their considerations?
As I know, joint pay commission cell of the military has been only submitting recommendations and then trying to build argument to plead with babus. There have never been any attempt by military to submit a comprehensive proposal separately to bring structural changes in reward system of military keeping in line with the best practices followed by best of functioning democracies.
Military leadership has the authority and space to conduct such study and submit a proposal for the approval of Govt. The same proposal can also be then circulated to standing committee of Parliament for their assessment and recommendations. The proposal shall analyse issues like standing military commission, resettlement of the ex servicemen etc in detail. Please note that by law it is the command responsibility of every military commander to look after the welfare of his men under his command? The Chetwood motto also says so.
Military commanders therefore can not shed their responsibilities showing their helplessness quoting various letters written by them to govt and babus ignoring them. Can babus be Bhagya Vidhtata of constitutional Military Authority? Why should military leadership or veterans beg for justice bringing Izzat in between? First do your homework and your job? Put it on record and its serious repercussion on military fighting capabilities. After all quality of compensation packages have direct bearing on status and performance out put of any organisation.
In a democracy like India, where justice system has collapsed and taking decades to deliver whatever it may be called but surely not justice, where the kinds of scams which are unearthed on almost daily basis, where corruption rules in govt offices, where babus behave like gods, where arrogance and egos have blinded wisdom, where crony capitalist give an impression of owning govts, where farmers are committing suicide and soldiers being harassed and their properties being grabbed by criminal mafia, will reasoning for justice or Izzat work? It wont and that is what is happening when babus are declining recommendations of military citing no reasons or justifications. Why waste time sitting on Jantar Mantar and get humiliated? Will such corrupt, blind and arrogant minds ever understand the reason?
Let military leadership do what they are supposed to do in any democracy and as authorized by constitution? Military is well within its rights with out any reference to Govt, to order a study to make a comprehensive proposal to restructure entire reward and compensation system keeping in lines with best HR practices as relevant to military and followed in functioning democracies. The proposed structure shall also be affordable, should cut down the cost and improve efficiency. It shall in its terms of reference include giving proposals on subjects like "Standing Military Commission" and Resettlement of Ex Servicemen, bringing any amendments in constitution like placing welfare and resettlement of soldiers as a subject in concurrent list, making laws under article 309-313 of the constitution and any other.
Why shall military only wake up when Govt orders Pay Commission? or unending fooling system of various committees start?
I don't think Izzat can be earned by begging. Do your job as envisaged in constitution and what you are suppose to do as per your oath and your commitment to democracy. No Govt or political leadership or babu is above constitution. Let good sense prevail.