Thursday, June 25, 2015

HAWK EYE: Though their cause is just, veterans must put India first By GAURAV C. SAWANT

 23:39 GMT, 23 June 2015

It was with growing despair that I read the letter written by a revered war veteran to a young Major in Indian Army’s Western Command. The Chandimandir-based Western Command has proposed a seminar to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1965 war. And this is just the beginning. India has planned massive month long celebrations from August to mark 50 years of giving Pakistan a bloody nose in the 1965 war. The celebrations include a massive parade and carnival at Rajpath, wreath laying at Amar Jawan, seminars, re-creation of battle field scenarios, taking children to some of the theatres of war, felicitations of those who participated in the war, and discussions on the road ahead. 


In a country where the political leadership and diplomats were often seen as reluctant to scale up celebrations to commemorate victory over Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, or even celebrate defeating Pakistan in Kargil, the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the 1965 war should have enthused soldiers, citizens and veterans alike. 

However, the veterans are on the warpath. For One Rank One Pension. Their relay hunger strike for OROP has entered its tenth day, and the veterans plan to scale up their agitation to target the Central government. The veterans have announced they will neither participate in the 1965 victory celebrations nor march past the saluting Dais on Republic Day or attend any government function on National Days. 

Are the veterans cutting off their nose to spite their face? The 1965 war was not Narendra Modi government’s victory over Pakistan. It was India’s victory over Pakistan. Is OROP more important than remembering and honouring the Supreme Sacrifice of Company Quarter Master Havildar Abdul Hamid, Param Vir Chakra, who knocked down five Pakistani army tanks over two days, Lt Col Ardeshir Tarapore, PVC or remembering the air wars where the Gnats – the world’s smallest fighter jet – earned the title of Pakistani ‘Sabre Slayers.’ What message are the veterans giving to that young major who the nation depends on to safeguard our borders – that, should he not get his due from the government, he should start boycotting the government and resort to hurting national interest? 

Today, has that OROP that the government owes to veterans become more important than wearing their medals and marching past the saluting dais at Rajpath?


For a soldier and a veteran, honour comes first. Always and every time. There is no honour in spiting the nation for pensions. Pakistan, which lost the 1965 war, is also planning to celebrate what it calls its victory over India in 1965. I shudder to compare the headlines – Pakistan celebrates 50 years of victory over India in 1965, and in India veterans fight for their OROP. 

Will the world laugh at the Narendra Modi government, or will the world laugh at India?

Will our veterans who nurtured this country with their blood and sweat be happy to see the scorn the world pours on us? There are over 20 veteran bodies that are campaigning for OROP. They must stand together and fight for a just cause. 

Some veterans say political parties are trying to take advantage of their fight and are egging them on. Veterans, you are soldiers – not politicians. Do remember the parties that are now egging you on to embarrass the government also did not give you OROP when in power.

So would veterans want to lose their honour and become mere puppets in an ugly political battle? After all, the demand for OROP did not arise for the first time after June 2014, so is it unreasonable for the government to seek more time to fulfil a promise it made and should be held accountable for? 


The veterans feel victimised by the bureaucracy and there are murmurs that the government may clear OROP for Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) in phase I and wait for the funds for officers. That will be neither here nor there, but will take the wind out of the sails of protesting veterans. After all, are they not fighting for the rights of jawans and widows?

Hold the government to its promise, but signing petitions in blood or holding a gun to the government’s head could just boomerang. 

Please feel free to boycott any function organised by the BJP. Please feel free to turn down any invitation that comes from the office of the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar or even Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Feel free to campaign against them. 

But for heaven’s sake, don’t equate the BJP government with India. You must attend all national functions, but feel free to wear a thick black arm band to register your protest if there is no firm commitment on OROP. 

Gentlemen, let me remind you of the Chetwode Oath you took at the ‘antim pag’ (Last Step) at the Passing Out Parade at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time the honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.’’ 

Just because you have hung your spurs, don’t forget: India First, Always and Every Time.
Veterans protesting for OROP must remember they are soldiers, the pride of their country, and need to maintain the Forces' dignity
Veterans protesting for OROP must remember they are soldiers, the pride of their country, and need to maintain the Forces' dignity

Read more: 
The writer is Editor (Strategic Affairs) India Today TV

(Source- Mail Onlinen India)


  1. I personally feel that we should not boycott NATIONAL EVENTS viz Independence Day or Republic Day or celebrations associated with armed forces like 1965 war or Kargil or raising days because we belong to them and these are for the nation as such and not for any political party.

  2. If we not boycott govt function then boycott OROP.