Delhi has been treated to two unseemly sights since June 14. The first, dozens decorated soldiers, Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals squatting on the road during a fast at Jantar Mantar. The Modi government’s delay in implementing the One Rank One Pension has succeeded in uniting more than 30 veteran organisations. The second, is the sheer helplessness of defence minister Manohar Parrikar. The minister, firmly committed to the cause of granting OROP, has been unable to surmount the objections of finance minister Arun Jaitley or his bureaucrats in North Block.
To add to this, the F M is believed to have suggested to Parrikar that the OROP issue be referred to the VII th pay commission, which is to submit its report to the government this October. The ex-servicemen are justifiably upset by the finance minister statement. There is a history of broken promises over the pay commission. After the sixth pay commission in 2006, the Govt agreed to set up a separate pay commission for the armed forces. This promise was not met. An alternative suggested by the service chiefs - a service member, either serving or retired - on the seventh pay commission, was turned down by the Govt. At the end of the day, we have neither.
Ex-servicemen are seething and have now directed their anger towards the bureaucrats. The bureaucrats have two concerns. One, that the proposal is unaffordable, and two that it disturbs the pension equation with the civilians at the upper end of the hierarchy. Neither side is willing to budge. The sun is hot and the air is laden with sickening vehicle emissions. But the veterans are in a do or die state of mind. Talks between the Govt and the ex-servicemen appear to have hit an impasse. The stalemate must be broken. But who is to resolve it? The answer lies in an honest interlocutor, acceptable to both sides.
The interlocutor needs to be an eminent Indian citizen, not attached to the bureaucracy or the armed forces, either from the academia or from the industry. He or she should have managed large numbers of people and should have a sound knowledge of finances. This person should be the moderator of a debate between the government and the ex-servicemen to speedily resolve this ugly impasse.
I can think of several names who fit the bill. But I can’t think of what the government gains from prolonging this stalemate. Time is at a premium. If heat saps up a few protesting veterans, the situation can take an ugly turn
(SOURCE - DAILY O)