Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Poor Bloody Indian Soldier-A letter from Lt Gen SK Bahri (Retd) to the Indian Defence Minister,

Dear Mr Defence Minister,

I have given the above subject heading because it is ironic that while he is lauded everywhere else in the world, he is is not valued in his own country by the government. I think it is a pity that you have to head such a bunch.

Recently, all the European countries praised the Indian soldiers who fought in the 1914-18 WWI on their soil, to liberate them and not to subjugate them. Our reputation as soldiers in WW II and keeping peace on behalf of the United Nations, is second to none. Even the PM showed appreciation for them, during his recent visit to Bangladesh. Even the Bangladesh Government gave awards to our retired officers during 2014 for their services during their liberation. We have given a good account of ourselves in all the confrontations with Pakistan, since Independence, despite handicaps.

In our own country we appear to be seen as a burden on the Nation's economy so while everyone else, from Legislators to government servants and their hangers on are making hay, the soldier has been termed "an appendage", not even a Class A government servant, who has no access to the country's prosperity, like others. Not realising that it is because the soldier is guarding the borders that the termites can continue to gnaw at the vitals of the nation. I was at the ESM meeting at the Constitution Club on 6 Jun 15 and could feel their palpable anger. I wish you had come and felt the vibrations.

As I mentioned in my previous letter that the new government has still not been able to get a control on the 'babu lok' of Delhi. They can give themselves a raise any time, but when it comes to the soldiers dues sanctioned by the 6th CPC or by the Apex Court, they have a hundred precedents and excuses as to why it cannot be done. In 1969-70 no CPC had been ordered, the civil servants got a raise approved by the political masters and deliberately left the soldiers out. It took us over a year to get it rectified, once we came to know about it. But when OROP is due the same gets stuck in the gullet. Why don't these financial wizards raise issues when early, time scale and ad lib promotions, without regard to merit are gotten approved, for themselves?

Mr Minister, you must be realising by now that you have been deliberately made to face embarrassment. You were giving various dates of implementation, obviously on the assurance of some one, which you could not adhere to. With the result that you are unable to give an assurance to the ESM delegation you met twice on 6 Jun 15. The bureaucracy has made you the fall guy, while they will keep on feeding everyone that they are doing a massive job which cannot be done in the immediate future. You with you logical thinking could work out the required funds to the nearest crore within a month of taking on your portfolio, but our 'muneems' are still working with their pencils and papers to calculate the amount required. Most people who can handle a computer say that they can work out the amount for 95 % of the people in 3 days and for the remaining 5% (who have special conditions) in one week. I indicated to you an additional 2 weeks so that it does seem plausible. You can confirm this from Rear Adm BR Vasanth (Retd) Mobile No 09845027004. Actually, if the Service HQ had been involved they would have not taken so many months that the financial experts of MOD & MOF have taken, because like you, they work with a sense of purpose and not the idea of delaying matters.

On a tangent, may I apprise you that the government which has ruled us for the maximum period since independence seemed to have an agenda to firstly, weaken the military equipment wise, by taking ages to induct new weapons and secondly, to ensure that it's manpower is demoralised. No wonder many soldiers ask, "does this nation deserve this Army". No weapon works on its own, Sir, it is the man behind the gun that matters. And, if his heart is not in it, no weapon can win a war by itself. Even the most sophisticated fighter plane, like Rafale needs a motivated pilot to go single handed and seek out his enemy and destroy him. Do these pen pushers recognise this or do they only keep planning as how to cut down the calories in a pilot's breakfast and save a few pennies. Our quality of officer intake has suffered, because who wants to serve in a service which is second class and does not get compensated for the dangers it faces. It is better to serve as a peon, serve till 60 yrs, close to home and no one dares sack you for dereliction of duty. You can always form a union and beat the government with a judicial stick.

Mr Minister, please think of the soldier who faces a bullet and not a pen pusher who only thinks how not to make mistakes so that he can get his next promotion and raise. No army wants to come runners up in a war. It will take generations to rebuild a dented edifice,  as it happened in Germany and Japan.

Think of the POOR BLOODY INDIAN SOLDIER. The babus are replaceable but not dedicated solders. I hope you can convey these thoughts to the PM as I cannot reach him except on Twitter or Facebook, which are beyond me.

With warm regards

Lt Gen SK Bahri (Retd)

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