Monday, October 26, 2015

The 'scarlet letter' by the OROP vets is high drama, but will it do the trick? by Bikram Vohra Oct 26, 2015 07:56 IST

Over 100 officers of the rank of general and 100 junior commissioned officers (JCOs) got together at Jantar Mantar on Sunday afternoon to sign a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating their dismay over the non-implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) initiative and the shards of what the vets call 'broken promises'.

All the signatures were signed with the blood of the signatories.

According to an OROP spokesperson, “If we can shed our lifeblood for our land, why cannot we shed a few drops for the sake of righting a wrong?”
File image of veterans calling for the implementation of OROP earlier this year. PTI
File image of veterans calling for the implementation of OROP earlier this year. PTI
Adding to the pathos was a retired colonel — the father of Captain Vijayant Thapar who died in Kargil. “There are many who have lost their limbs in the battlefield. It's the same blood here that lies scattered on the battlefield," the colonel was quoted as saying.

Much emotion, but what next?

The OROP drama has moved from scene to scene since June and has had its own share of controversy. After the accusation that the media had walked away under pressure from the government, the media boycott is being rescinded by the veterans because they have individually invited media representatives to the Monday event at 1 pm. Their message was sent to specific media outlets, more as a challenge of their integrity as media men and women.

The scarlet letter, so to speak, is supposed to re-ignite a spark and galvanise what is a sluggish and almost ignored movement, its merits notwithstanding. To a point, it has succeeded with the mildly macabre exercise bringing in the media and the subsequent coverage.

The time has come now to end this rather tawdry impasse and get on with the pledge as given by the prime minister in the presence of the three service chiefs. If we just put aside those merits (or lack thereof) in the untiring OROP protesters,  the harsh fact is that we are giving comfort to those who do not wish us well. Within our borders and outside. No government can afford to be seen to be antagonising its men in uniform even if they hung them up.

The blood sacrifice is also a bit tacky and it has to be said, not particularly edifying. It's also clearly an act of those who are hurt, mystified and angered as well as totally frustrated. The government has to grab this nettle and either keep its promise or unequivocally state its position.

The OROP frontline has stated theirs.

Is the OROP implemented?

If the answer is to the question is ‘yes’, then why is the government shying away from facing the veterans? Why are their ministers and party members making ill-informed statements? Why are a large number of ex-servicemen (ESM) attending the rallies being organised all over the country? Who are the nameless veterans with whom the government claims to have discussed the matter?

By having the three service chiefs flanking the minister of defence when the announcement was made, the government is trying to spread the false impression that its announcement had legitimacy. The government is conspicuously opaque on the fact that the service chiefs have no say at all in policy formulation, and are duty-bound to agree to any policy of the government.

The impression being permeated by the government in society that it has the support of the chiefs and veteran organisation for the OROP that it has implemented is pure perfidy, and this has been proved by the response of the ESMs within the country and abroad by pointing out the glaring flaws.

The ball is in the Centre's court. Time to return the service.

(Source- via gp e-mail)

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