Why Retired Defence Personnel Should Not Trust Government?
The OROP agitation has clarified to the retired defence personnel of India the role of politicians, bureaucrats and senior defence officers. I will not go into the details of the so called ‘OROP announcement’ by the Defence Minister on 05 Sep 2015, except to state that it is not One Rank One Pension, but an attempt to ‘shut up’ the agitation by giving as little as is possible and create confusion.
Role of Politicians and Bureaucrats
The politician-bureaucrat nexus has always worked to lower the stature and financial status of defence personnel. Let us see some hard facts to support the argument:
- Lowering of Pensions in 1973. Defence personnel received 70% pension of their last drawn salary till 1973. This was lowered to 50% and pension of other government servants was raised from 30% to 50%.
- Consistent Lowering of Status of Defence Personnel. Defence personnel have been consistently lowered in protocol in India.
- OROP for Non Deserving. OROP is received by IAS, IFS, IPS, judiciary, MPs and MLAs since long. It shows that the persons in power and close to power have gifted themselves with OROP. These people have as it is amassed great wealth, often by dubious means. Various committees have recommended grant of OROP to defence personnel, but the recommendations have not been implemented.
- False Promises. Promises by all politicians, including PM Modi have proved to be false.
- Supreme Court Order Defied. Order passed by Supreme Court on the subject has not been obeyed till date.
Senior Defence Commanders- Biggest Culprits
OROP is received by chiefs and senior Lt Generals and their Air Force and Navy equivalents. Being led down consistently by own commanders is the saddest reality for retired defence personnel. The Chetwode motto says:
“The safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time; the safety, honour and welfare of the men you command comes next; your own safety, honour and welfare comes last, always and every time.”
The truth, however, is that the senior defence commanders (I would not use the term leadership, for obvious reasons) have pursued their selfish interests at the expense of the men they commanded. They are receiving OROP and not the ‘men they command’. This is a poor example of leadership. Senior commanders have consistently let down the juniors and have been undeserving of the faith reposed in them. The retired defence personnel have to fight this battle for OROP primarily because of self serving senior officers and less due to the politicians and bureaucrats.
What is the Solution?
Agitation/Mobilization of Public Opinion. The retired defence personnel have adopted this approach. How effective it proves only time will tell. Public opinion is definitely in favour of the retired defence personnel, notwithstanding the recent government sponsored, Times of India editorial written by Chetan Bhagat on the topic.
Unify and Get Into Politics. This is another option being explored by retired defence personnel.
Legal Battle. Legal battle for a just demand is also an option being pursued.
Retired defence personnel will adopt all the above options. OROP demand appears to be a long drawn battle with no quick resolution in sight. The good part is that the retired defence personnel will not be fooled by the politico-bureaucrat nexus, or senior serving defence officers. All actions will be undertaken in the spirit of zero trust!