OROP struggle could be nearing end

  • Mandeep Singh Bajwa, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2015 10:26 IST

The Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Movement (IESM) spearheading the veterans’ one rank, one pension (OROP) demand has correctly applied three of the principles of war albeit in a peaceful struggle, namely maintenance of aim and momentum and concentration of force to set themselves on the road to what could be a victory. The timing of their rally in New Delhi pushed all the right buttons forcing the govt to act. It’s now up to politicians to show some decisive will. The rally itself was attended by 10,000 determined veterans and included war widows. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar invited a delegation of the IESM for discussions even as the rally was underway. He assured them that the proposal to implement OROP would be despatched to the finance ministry by February 17 (it has been delayed till the 23rd). In the proposal, there would be no dilution of the OROP, which would be as per the definition approved by Parliament. This is welcome news considering all the confusion created by ministers’ ill-considered statements. General Satbir Singh, chairman and members of the IESM, can rightly claim this as a victory.

In addition, the military pension would be treated as a special pension, different from others, because of the hardships innate in a career in the defence services. Another decision communicated to the veterans was that in cases of personnel of the same seniority being promoted at different times, the highest pension of that year of that rank would be granted. Also, OROP equalisation will be done annually. Lastly, the OROP would be applicable with effect from April 1, 2014, irrespective of the date the government letter is issued. Now, we await budgetary provisions. This is not the end, however, and veterans need to keep their powder dry.

‘The creed of Follow Me’

Colonel MN Rai, CO, 42 RR was killed leading his unit’s QRT in action against Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorists on January 27 in Tral. The braveheart is the latest in a long series of commanding officers (COs) killed at the head of their troops. The tone was set when the army went to defend the country for the first time after Independence. Colonel Ranjit Rai, commanding 1st Sikh landed at Srinagar and moved to Baramula to meet the tribal invaders and was killed bravely fighting along with his battalion. His bold action caused delay to the enemy and enabled the army to use the Srinagar airport to rapidly fly in more troops and defeat the aggressors. Then there was Colonel Narinder Khanna commanding 2nd Sikh in the attack on the strategic Raja picquet on September 6, 1965. At a crucial stage in the assault, the battalion was pinned down by very heavy fire, unable to move forward. Leading from the front, Khanna motivated his men to make a superhuman effort to overcome the Pakistani defences and gain victory but at the cost of his own life. This was the military principle of ‘Follow Me!’ and leading by example at its best. Contrary to what people think, casualties to COs are not defeats but a reaffirmation of the best leadership qualities — something which has stood the army in good stead always. In this context, the name of Colonel Basant Kumar, CO, 9 Maratha LI, who was killed fighting a group of infiltrating terrorists on the LOC in 2007, comes to mind. Soldiers will follow such leaders anywhere. msbajwa@gmail.com

(Please write in with your narratives of war and soldiering to msbajwa@gmail.com or call on 093161-35343.)

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