Archive for August, 2015

OROP; Shame of 2015 ‘I’ Day — Police n peaceable Veterans!

Posted on August 20, 2015. Filed under: From a Services Career |

This abysmally deplorable incident has been covered with indignation in the Social Media. But wherefore? Indeed it is an event in the continuing decline in the status of the Defense Forces of India. The root cause of which is the lack of moral fiber in its leadership beginning 1947. Alas those were the days when London backed the Indian C-in-C and sent the Viceroy packing in the early 1900s

Here is a letter from the widow of a Veteran.

I am Charu Sheela, proud widow of Lt Col Balbir Singh, 4 Grenadiers. Sprightly at 96, I am good at arithmetic, managing on my meagre pension and endless optimism for ACHHE DIN.

I know Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw died at 94; that Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh is 96. I do hope, though, that he and I can benefit from OROP while we are alive because OROP isn’t admissible for the brave dead.

I dream I could buy something nice for my great-grandchildren if only Arun Jaitley gets his maths right. Mr Finance Minister, I can help! Women are genetically wired for budget balancing!

When that pleasant and respectful boy Vishnu Som, who reminds me of my favourite great-grandson, recorded my sound byte at Jantar Mantar on August 14, he graciously noted I was protesting with dignity and equipoise as retired veterans and dependants across gender do.

I was in widow-white and told him that the police had not been so nice in roughing up some of my late husband’s military colleagues. Grenadier Bishamber Singh took part in the 1962, 1965 and 1971 Wars – just like my late husband. He was awarded a Sena Medal for gallantry and was wearing his hard-earned medals on his nice white kurta, when a rude policeman ripped them off.

I planned to stitch a new kurta for him but his niece has beaten me to it; stitching him two!

What really troubles me though, isn’t the kurtas, but Bishamber’s psyche: frail at 82, he and several other old soldiers were manhandled, one of whom bravely held back his tears from his weathered, proud face – men don’t cry. “It’s not done,” my husband would cryptically say.

As a military lady, however, I do feel that this disrespectful rough handling was avoidable – wasn’t par for the course! May be the police need some lady imparted emotional intelligence training along with their baton training.

This’ll educate them to approach a peaceful agitation by disciplined soldiers with empathy, as opposed to rough housing those who have willingly chosen Naam-Namak-Nishan (honour-integrity-nation) as their work ethic unto death.

Their emotional hurt will eventually heal but maybe the Veterans who are now politicians can help. One is a proud Grenadier, just like my husband and Bishamber. They know that soldiers across uniform and services need to be treated with dignity, respect and restraint.

There are many of us at Jantar Mantar (I keep visiting my colleagues there for expressing solidarity) who passionately feel that our Ministers should convert their skill of straight shooting into straight talk.

They can do that by requesting our dear Prime Minister to show regard for the armed forces by sanctioning this long-promised right that my dear husband couldn’t avail, but I and Arjan Singh might because we are all part of your Team India, Dear Mr MODI!​​

What indeed is OROP? It implies the same pension for persons retiring in the same rank with the same service. Fact is that it was already in vogue pre 1973 when a sly bureaucracy ended it in a Pay Commission without the Army -under the pedestrian GG Bewoor – even knowing what was happening.

Again in 1985 when the flamboyant Sundarji was Chief, the bureaucracy added a thing called ‘Rank Pay’. How ever a sharp lowly Captain Dhangopalan caught on what was happening and this is his story –
“It was 1987 and General K. Sundarji was in Pune, briefing senior officers on the Fourth Pay Commission, when a lowly captain, who was there only as a computer operator, asked an uncomfortable question. I wanted to know why my basic pay had actually gone down, after the rank pay was introduced.

That year, the Pay Commission had introduced rank pay for defense officers between the ranks of captain to brigadier but what it actually did was deduct the amount from the basic pay and give it as rank pay. Since all emoluments are linked to basic, not only was there no net gain, officers were actually losing out.

When posted to Kochi in 1995 I went to the Kerala High Court which understood and ruled that the Union of India should pay the rank pay arrears and an interest of 6 per cent. This judgement was upheld all the way to and by the Supreme Court.

Sadly all governments and Defense Ministers instead of conceding gracefully tried repeatedly to stonewall and delayed paying for over two decades”.

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Stuff to make one Cheer ….

Posted on August 4, 2015. Filed under: Guide Posts |

Today, after a 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said, “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”

Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.

Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work. At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too. A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.

Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save
the planet?” Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said.

Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me. He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said, “I hope you feel better soon”.

Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe. He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating. The first thing the man said was, “We can share it”.

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