A Fresh Look at OROP and the Army in the Prevailing atmosphere
An army veteran has committed suicide and this has brought into focus the great divide that exists between reality and rhetoric. this was something bound to happen after what we saw when the Police in 2015 stormed the Jantar Mantar and manhandled ex-servicemen who were conducting a peaceful agitation for sanction of OROP as per the Koshiyari commission appointed by parliament. Without a doubt, this issue was bound to snowball later as the army men had been peacefully representing to the government for 40 years for restoration of their perks and privileges, snatched from them by a misguided Nehru and his defense Minister Krishna Menon. Now a veteran has committed suicide and I am afraid this was bound to happen.
The above is well documented in the biography of General KS Thimmiyya the army Chief who stood up to Nehru and sent in his resignation on the question of promotion of a cousin of Nehru, LT Gen BM Kaul. Unfortunately, Thimmiya was an exception and sadly most of the top brass that includes big names like Maneckshaw, Cariappa, and Sunderjee failed the common soldier as they NEVER represented with force to stop the downward revision of pay and perks and reduction in pension. One cannot be charitable and condone the lapses of the general staff and they also have a hand in this sorry state of affairs.
Times have changed and earlier socio-economic status of the soldier and his background is not relevant today. Earlier most of the soldiers were from a rural background and hence not assertive but the present soldier is from more aware strata of society and he will not take what the earlier soldiers took. He wants his right and that is the reason the OROP agitation at Jantar Mantar has got steam even after a year of its inception.
Soldiers now will not accept that their lot will be inferior to the man in the street and the civil worker. A soldier retires early and many retired at 35-37 and with the meager pension given to them it is not possible for him to make two ends meet. This leads to a level of frustration as he has more and more rresponsibility and less of means. Such people have links with serving personnel and to say that a serving soldier won't be affected by the financial woes of his elder is a fallacy.
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