(Transcript of Statesman Editorial of 28 Sep 2015)


(This Editorial appeared in the Statesman on 28 Sep 2015. It accurately analyses the adverse impact, on Veterans and the Armed Forces personnel, of the Government's pathetic distortion of the Parliament approved definition of the OROP formula. - Editor)

New Delhi, 03 October 2015

The Prime Minister was honest when confessing that the OROP promise was made before its full financial implications had been calculated. The defence minister appears to have been “clever”. When shortcomings in his 5 September announcement were immediately pointed out he claimed all residual problems would be resolved when the detailed order was issued after 20 days - that time-frame has expired, now defence ministry sources say it could take another two to four weeks for the formulation to be declared. Two immediate conclusions are that “military efficiency” continues to elude the bureaucrats in Manohar Parrikar’s squad, and that the highly-publicised statement the minister had made with the three Service chiefs in tow had been essentially to comply with an extra-Constitutional diktat. When the RSS put members of the ministerial council through the wringer it ordered that the OROP announcement be made ahead of the Bihar polls, it was alive to the political implications. The ministry now asserts that since the initial announcement has already been made the Model Code of Conduct does not preclude releasing details - further confirmation that the tamasha of 5 September was a cheap political ploy. A diversionary tactic plotted by the dirty-tricks department. While not everybody applauds the tactics of the Jantar Mantar agitators, there must be some appreciation of their refusing to be misled by ministerial assertions and sustaining a protest that many expected to fizzle out some three weeks ago. The veterans have displayed a brand of “staying power” that is rooted in their rigorous professional training.

The inevitable casualty of the little-explained delay is the credibility of the NDA government, the defence minister in particular. The suspicion would be that the BJP’s much-stated backing of the armed services was mere lip-service, political jingoism. For the serving personnel would see no difference between the government’s attitude towards their senior citizens and themselves. With the Pay Commission award likely to throw up several pinpricks - or worse - the dawdling on OROP is ominous.

Manohar Parrikar appears unaware of the impact on morale right down the line. Henceforth his word will be taken with the proverbial pinch of salt: with a major difference, it is while placing a finger on a bowl of salt that the fauji swears allegiance to “king and country”. The continuing agitation could have another negative impact too: after seeing their “officer sahibs” raising slogans, making politically-loaded statements and even snubbing the President (the Supreme Commander) the “men” might see nothing wrong in resorting to similar kinds of protest. The military ethos is wilting, and commanding officers ought to be “alive” to the potential spread of the cancer of indiscipline. Everybody is playing with fire.



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