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Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Ex-soldiers demand better pension; anger minister

National
EXSERVICEMEN-PROTESTS

Ex-soldiers demand better pension; anger minister

New Delhi, May 27 (PTI) Retired soldiers protesting for better pension have earned the displeasure of the junior Defence Minister.

Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju on Tuesday said the hunger strike by former soldiers was "unbecoming".

“It is unbecoming on the part of the dignified ex-servicemen to launch hunger strike. I don't think they should do this," he said.

The former soldiers, under the aegis of 'All India Military Veterans Movement (AIMVM), is protesting for a hike announced in their pensions in the 6th Pay Commission recommendations.

The group on Tuesday organised protests in about 300 cities across the country and demanded setting up of a review board to remove the "anomalies" in the Commission report besides other demands.

"We are looking into their grievances," Raju said on the sidelines of a Defence Seminar here and outlined that Defence Minister A K Antony had suo motto taken up their demands with the Pay Commission members.

“They should have waited for Empowered group of secretaries who are looking into the issue,” said Raju.

"The government has formed ex-servicemen welfare department. We are looking into all matters. We will see how to improve their facilities."

AIMVM’s senior vice President Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh criticized Raju’s statement and said the former soldiers were protesting because the Defence Ministry had rejected their demands.

The ex-servicemen are demanding 'one rank one pension' and 30 per cent increase in their pension benefits.

1 comment:

  1. It appears that out of all the section of our society the part constituted by a serving and retired soldier is the most diminutive and subservient. Our last rulers were much more respectful and accommodative of our ilk. In fact they, who once ruled the world one end to other, realized the importance of integrating, this most disciplined and clean community of their society into their governance. The tussle for superiority between the bureaucrats and soldiers has always been there. But it was to the credit to the wisdom of the then politicians to honor and maintain a healthy balance. It is unfortunate that after we gained independence, when the soldier was busy protecting the integrity of our land toiling in the most adverse terrains and circumstances, our bureaucrats were constantly eroding our parities by manipulating the power and vote hungry greedy politicians. It is most unfortunate that after a few post independence principled leaders the others capitulated for their own post retirement glories. Our present day situation has stemmed from there.

    It is now also unfortunate that till today there has not been a single independent platform to which we post retirement soldiers can offer our allegiances. I have seen and been in an utter disunity amongst the ex-servicemen. Some even carry their service days’ grudges against each other and try to differ in every thing, just for being ‘against’. I have also seen and been a victim of ‘regionalism’ and ‘casteism’ which we know is the most subversive attitude for a serving soldier. I some time wonder the capacity of such soldiers to have suppressed this attitude for those many decades of service and now practice it shamefully and openly.

    What do we do now?

    The very first effort should be to have an ‘Ex-servicemen Front’; where by the retired faujis can have a centralized representation in the country. You would have noticed that in the absence of such a platform our ex-servicemen have started joining various political parties of their own. The politicians are a wily lot. They have opened ex-servicemen cells and have entangled these gullible retired faujis to rally their strength behind them. It is obvious that these parties have recognized the potential of retired faujis. This ‘front’ would obviously have to be registered for genuineness and recognition.

    Next effort should be to give this ‘front’ a political tinge by which we can then lean on the established political parties which bids the highest for our support. May be on a ticket of this ‘front’ we may be able to have a member or two win some election and then bargain.

    We have already seen the monetary support which our ex-servicemen are capable of giving to our movement. Perhaps the same ‘movement ‘can be converted into this ‘front’. Once established and recognized as a political force in this democracy the flow of funds would increase.


    We already have certain stalwarts now entrenched in major political parties of our land. Why not entice them and have them spearhead our ‘front’?

    As a last resort and to put the ‘babus’ in their place we may engineer a situation that these ‘babus’ may also start demanding ‘black cat’ protections for themselves. I know this is a dangerous and dirty thought and we the soldiers are extremely reluctant to take such steps. But is there any better solution in the present circumstances where even the groups of civilians have their voices heard only by being a politically motivated ‘Violent unions’.

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