I flew in from abroad ( Singapore) to attend the OROP sammelan of Ex –Servicemen at Azad Maidan on 31 October 2015 at Mumbai. I am well ensconced, but at the same time very concerned about implementation of OROP. I have a case that haunts me. One of my Squadron Commanders now a ripe old 90+ veteran had retired at the age of 48. People will recollect this was the retirement age of Pilots of the Flying Branch of the Air Force earlier on.
The man was honored by a CAS Commendation and logged thousands of hours as a pilot, but today he living a hand to mouth existence on a pension sanctioned decades back. This is heart rending that a veteran is forsaken by his own nation. It’s like using a man as a guinea pig and finally killing him. I am concerned for such men like him and whenever possible, I try my bit by giving work and meaning to such men. OROP is for such veterans , who have donned the mantle of the swordsmen of the Indian state.
Coming to the sammelan, it was an impressive turnout. I found there was a sense of dedication and genuine anger at the governments all these years. Speakers spoke with “josh” and General Satbir Singh gave a fiery speech, which went down well with the visitors who had come from all over Maharashtra to attend. It was indeed a heartwarming sight and one was convinced that Ex Servicemen were well representing their cause. Slogans rent the air and this enthused the participants.
After listening to all the speeches and comments, I was at a loss on one point. There seemed to be total disconnect between the serving men and the ex-servicemen. I had expected a few of the serving officers to attend as it was not a political meeting, but no one from the serving fraternity turned up: it was as if they were not concerned. There is a HQ of the Western Naval Command and umpteen Generals in Mumbai, but not one showed his face. What does it mean?
Some stray thoughts:The Black Sheep in our Ranks
Another point I observed that speaker after speaker castigated the “babus”. Yes, the Babus are to blame, but in a limited way. Let’s be frank the Babus would not have got a field day in case the top hierarchy of the Armed forces led by the COAS, CNS and CAS had not connived with them. I have many friends in the IAS fraternity and I am convinced that had the top brass put their foot down this downgradation would not have happened. However no speaker seemed to touch on this aspect: the enemy within and all round speeches castigated just the Babus. Even the political leaders were not touched: perhaps there was an inherent fear that they may not like it and as such very little criticism was done of these black sheep. So by ignoring the political leaders and the army top brass as culprits, was itself a pointier that the agitation is working like an ostrich.
What next ?. Writing long articles as rebuttals in the national media and holding these meetings will not bring OROP or the restoration of the Armed forces pride, so badly eroded by Nehru and party since 1947. What is the road ahead? I am convinced this agitation which has gone on for months will perhaps go on and the GOI will sanction a diluted OROP. Forget about restoration of the armed forces status as it existed in 1947. The need of the hour is to set course for two major points
a) Involve the serving personnel in this stir. Unless the serving chiefs put their foot down the restoration of the 1947 status and OROP will remain a pipe dream
b) All agitations are political and General Satbir (for who I have great respect) seems to not be aware how a civil government works. It does not work on conscious and good will, but on political clout. Hence not sharing political platform is a blunder. I have on authority from a very prominent political leader that unless the movement is given political support, don’t expect anyting.\
These are just a few stray thoughts and of course I am not the last word on this subject, but the way I see it the restoration of the status of 1947 and OROP in classical sense will remain a pipe dream. The COAS and other chiefs of Staff must be made to realise that they are the dust bin of history.