VIJAY OBEROI | 3 NOVEMBER, 2016

Political Blunders Snowball: Did We Join the Military for Jumlas?


CHANDIGARH: In the series of blunders committed by the nations’ first Prime Minister (PM) - Jawaharlal Nehru, the one relating to the amalgamation of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) stands out clearly. It was the first and over the years it gained traction and momentum, as all blunders do.

It is unlikely to help if we go sequentially and list the blunders he made relating to J&K, for that may take the better part of a couple of pages. However, the biggest was going to the United Nations Security Council and asking for a ceasefire when the Indian Military was in full tempo of chasing the Pakistani Army out of the whole of the state.

Historically, this stupendous blunder hardly has its rivals, as it is the losing side that requests for a ceasefire and not the side that is not just victorious, but all it needed was a month or two more to completely liberate J&K from the Pakistani troops.

Nearly 70 years later, the albatross of J&K continues to linger around our necks, with no solution in sight.

Let us now fast forward to the present government headed by PM Narendra Modi, who despite pre-poll solemn promises made to the Indian Military at Rewari in Haryana, reneged on them as soon as he won the General Elections and his party- BJP and its associates elected him as the PM.

He, along with his Parliamentary colleagues and high ranking party functionaries converted the solemn promise of granting One Rank One Pension (OROP) to an election ‘Jumla’ and thereby earned the sobriquet of “Jumla Sarkar” by grossly and grievously hurting the sentiments of all military personnel, both serving and veterans, as well as their families, by firstly not granting OROP and. much later, after earning the ire of the people (who have great regard for the Indian Military), granting a ‘moth-eaten’ one, much in consonance with the utterance of Jinnah of the Muslim League, using the phrase for his new country – Pakistan!

Blunders then followed, contrived and conceived by the combined might of the politico-bureaucratic dispensation of the present government. That is what the arrogance of power does to you and hence the oft-repeated phrase – “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”!

Once again, little will be achieved by sequentially listing the blunders of the Modi Sarkar, in the same vein as that of the blunders of the first PM of our nation, except that the Nehru blunders were over a period of nearly two decades, but the present PM seems to have done so in just three years.

Is it because he is a man in a hurry or because he has unfortunately surrounded himself with advisers and colleagues who may be loyal but are obviously incompetent?

The political drama being played since the much bandied about ‘surgical strikes’, after the attack at Uri by Pakistani marauders, saw its dénouement yesterday- on November 2, 2016 with the suicide of a veteran JCO of the army, a Subedar Saab, much respected for his professional acumen.

All political parties first used the apolitical Indian Military to gain brownie points for the forthcoming state elections. Now, without any thought about the grievous harm they are causing to the security of the nation, they have found yet another platform or so called ‘cause’ to bring more harm to both the nation and our military.

Not content with giving all types of labels to the ‘surgical strikes’ and trying to ride on the shoulders of the Indian Military for their so-called electoral problems, they are now trying to shed crocodile tears for the deceased and his family members, again for garnering votes for the same purposes. The military has stated unambiguously on many occasions that it has a hands-off policy on all political actions, be they dramas or ‘tamashas’! Yet, either their understanding is poor or they are living in a make-believe world of their own making, where sense is passé but nonsense takes the cake.

Let me now revert to the blunders of the Modi Sarkar and the arrogance it has displayed towards the military, whether relating to OROP; the disastrous Seventh Pay Commission awards and implementation; the plethora of anomalies; the grant of Non Functional Upgradation (NFU) to everyone but the military; the lowering of the status of the military by first issuing formal instructions and then denying that they were issued at their behest.

I am referring to the recent letter issued under the signature of a joint secretary of Chief Administrative Office (CAO), which states that it has been issued with the concurrence of the Defence Minister, but Defence Minister Parrikar denies it!! Who should one believe? Or is it another case of the actions of a ‘Jumla Sarkar’?

My last request to the Sarkar is that since you have already committed more than your quota of blunders in less than three years in power, it is time to ‘cease and desist’ and not add your name to the already long list of blunders of previous governments that have ruled our country.

The suicide of Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal is not just a sad and tragic event but one that starkly brings out the callousness of the government towards the Indian Military. A brave veteran, in the twilight of his life deliberately giving up his life for his comrades; the army; and for the nation; has a major adverse impact on the morale of all ranks and their kin. That a professional with nearly 32 years of honouable soldiering under his belt throws it all away in the fading years of his life is a monumental shame. Mere “tweets” on the internet and symbolic and pithy meaningless utterances from the same leaders he helped to get elected, adds to the sense of disillusionment and despair amongst the armed forces and their families.

Was it for this that we the soldiers’, sailors’ and airmen of this nation had joined the armed forces and made innumerable sacrifices for its security and sovereignty? Or is it the end state for us all, only because a penny-pinching government under advice of self-serving political leaders; crafty bureaucratic advisers; and a Finance Minister with scanty knowledge of “affairs’ financial” can come up with? We are all bewildered and shaken.

All right thinking citizens of my country should bow their heads in shame, while the Sarkar thinks out excuses and the pliable media follows suit by publishing or airing it, like Door Darshan and its counterparts!

(The writer is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff).

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