Let’s acknowledge Pensioners’ Sacrifices
By Zaheerul Hassan
Irrespective of country, pensioners and veterans are part of that community who use to scarify their past for ours today and tomorrow. From the outset we must acknowledge that none of the country can pay back for the services, which they normally deliver in the best interests of their respective nations. However, in turn from the society almost every veteran and pensioner do expect that they should be treated with respect, dignity and honor.
Of course, living in dignified manners now days it is only possible if someone has sufficient finances or amount to meet his routine requirements. It is a common principle that at the verge of retirement or post retirement the veteran’s and pensioners normally face a lot of problems since liabilities increase and facilities decrease. However, welfare states do care for them and fix some amount in the shape of pension, gratuity, old age benefits or benevolent fund etc. Pakistan is among those countries that has elaborate pension system. However, in this regard more need to be done but present and previous Pakistani governments almost every year make some increase in the pay and pension packages.
Although in Partisan, pensioners also do protest for an increase and timely crediting of pensions in their accounts. But governments here despite economic strains never compromised over pay and pension issues and in almost every budget always accommodated veteran’s legitimate and reasonable demands. Nevertheless, retiring officers,Junior commissioned officers and soldiers received generous benefits, sometimes including land allocations and often found lucrative positions in government services or in private enterprises.
Unfortunately, in neighbouring countries pensioners and veterans are on roads and fighting for their survival since a couple of years. India is the most populous country of over 1.2 billion people and known as the second largest democratic state. She is also maintaining the 4th largest standing military where defense spending is increasing day by day. According to Indian media reports, over 22 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows are on agitation on the platform of ‘One Rank One Pension’, or OROP, movements for the last 20 years or so. Point of major concern here is that bulk of None of Indian government paid any heed to the demands of veterans or their dependents. Indian governments only busy in piling up of armaments instead of resolving the outstanding issues of poor pensioners.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi prior to his election has promised with OROP movement that problems of pension will be solved in the light of six years old Supreme Court decision. At that time Supreme Court had again directed the government to implement the scheme but in February, the court gave three more months to the government, saying non implementation by the end of it will amount to contempt of court. But government instead of implementing the court decision has humiliated the Ex-Servicemen on the issue of ‘One Rank, One Pension’. In this regard, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar revealed in a press conference that pensions will be revised every five years, and premature retirees will be excluded from the scheme. Both these conditions were rejected by the protesting veterans.
In fact Modi and other governments never had been interested in looking after their war veterans and even serving soldiers. There is a mark difference of salaries and facilities in comparison to the neighbouring Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Most of Indian soldiers are even deployed against Naxalite–Maoist freedom fighters and Kashmiris. They normally are being deprived from the routine leaves too. Long time deployments all along China, Siachen , Kashmir , Bangladesh , Tamils and Sri Lanka is being taken as curse by the Indian soldiers and their families. Due to continue stay and border, hardships of weather and poor living conditions, many soldiers went for suicide. According to Indian Express Newspaper total of 99 suicide cases have been reported from the armed forces in 2014 this year besides three cases of fratricide. In this regard data had been submitted by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Lok Sabha show that Army reported the highest number suicides with 76 cases in 2014 followed by Air Force with 23 of its personnel committing suicide. Similar cases have been increased considerably in 2015 which crossed the century. From 2009 to 2015 more than 1415 cases of suicides were reported. The probable reasons of increase in suicide cases are; poor interpersonal relationship, poor leadership, the poor quality of intake of military officers, slow promotion as compare to civilians, humiliating remarks resulted into fragging (killing of superiors, denial of Leave at the required time-the existing leave policy is being constantly monitored to ensure that everyone gets his due without compromising operational requirements, acute shortage of man power. Due to low or uncertainty of pensions they feel vulnerability in handling family responsibilities. Thus, most soldiers and Para military and police personnel’s find themselves in helpless situation when they are not able to fulfill family responsibilities which ultimately slowly and gradually increase stress and poor soldiers attempt suicides or fratricide.
In short, Indian government did not care for the veterans that affect the performance of military and Para forces. Actually, every government irrespective of country should look after their pensioners and acknowledge their services. The pay and pensions should be increased in accordance with annual inflation and price hike.
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