Are you with the Armed Forces?

Dear Modiji,

While you are bringing in a lot of positive changes and transforming India, I and many others like me, want you to focus on one major constituency of our population. Its the backbone of our country, its this constituent that ensures you and I remain Indians and its a neglected constituent. You would have guessed by now that I am speaking about the armed forces and the paramilitary forces.

The Indian armed forces are amongst the world’s greatest armed forces, not just because of their valour and capability but also because of their non-political, truly secular outlook. For all that unfortunately, they have been given the shaft from the time we gained independence. From the way Mr. Menon spied on the greatest general that India has known, Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw, because he refused to comment on his army chief to Mrs. Indira Gandhi and the civil servants of that time, reducing the pay for our Military as a gift for the stupendous 1971 victory to one of your predecessors wanting to give away the highest battleground in the world, in the hopes of winning a Nobel peace prize for himself – the armed forces have been treated shoddily.

For the first time since independence you have the mandate to change all of that but we don’t see you taking the steps towards that. The person you appointed as the first Defense Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, for whatever reasons, was not effective and seemed to dislike the armed forces. The second person, Mr. Manohar Parikkar was well intentioned and very interested, but couldn’t push through much, once again courtesy, Mr. Jaitley being responsible for the finance ministry. The One Rank One Pension was stretched out so far that it lost its value when it got implemented…. and why didn’t you meet the protesting veterans at Jantar Mantar? You have never feared a different point of view – so why not hear them out? It was an opportunity lost to mend fences with the armed forces. It is unacceptable that soldiers who protect us have to come begging for their pension – it is their right and our moral obligation. No tax payer will feel bad if his money is spent on the armed forces, but every tax payer is certainly pissed off with his money being siphoned off by your predecessors and the esteemed members of parliament getting fat pay checks. Now, Mr. Jaitley is back as the Defense Minister and its a sad day for the armed forces :(.

Please read the following articles for background – I feel you have been isolated from the reality of the Defence and paramilitary forces.

Punished for a war victory

Why defence ministry hasn’t seen any reform

Remembering those who give up their Diwali so we can celebrate ours

A surprisingly good article by a Congress man – Ensure pay parity for the armed forces

Its great that you celebrate every Diwali with the armed forces but their true Diwali will come when their services are recognised and their pay package reflects it. Why don’t we have any army chief as part of the pay commission? It can be a couple of retired army chiefs. Similarly the paramilitary chiefs and the police force chiefs have to be part of the decision making process of their pay. This was the practise till the infamous 3rd pay commission and the babus took over. My suggestion is to get every civil servant to spend one month at Siachen and other forward posts as part of their training and every five years after that – they need to understand the true meaning of a hardship allowance!!. In the same way, get every MP to spend a week per year, at the forward posts living like the Jawans do – till that change happens, the armed forces will not get their due.

While we continue to send condolences to the families of martyrs, we need to put a stop to the Maoist killings and the terror export from Pakistan. Again – you have the mandate and no one will say a word if you take a tough stance with Pakistan and the internal terror outfits. Why the soft pedalling of article 370 and Kashmir ? Any citizen of this country cannot kick or ridicule a soldier and the stone pelters have managed to do just that and get away!! Send the stone pelters to Pakistan, their homeland. Return the Pandits to their homeland, the state of Jammu & Kashmir, a part of “akhand” Bharat. If the Abdullahs feel bad, they can. Anyway the father as the Chief Minister of the state, was far away cooling his heels when the Pandits were hounded out ! The saddest part is he continues to enjoy the privileges of his various homes while the Pandits suffer after losing their homes. Declare the stone pelters as terrorists…. for that is what they are. My blood boils when I see that video of these lowlife stone pelters pushing and kicking a soldier. How dare they?? They dare because the Indian soldier has been asked to treat him as a civilian, not a terrorist.

The armed forces today need to know that we as a nation stand behind them, are grateful and proud of them. Yes, it will help if we stand up and cheer when a soldier goes by, but that does little to make them feel special. To truly show our respect, we must walk the talk – those who guard our nation must be paid well and treated fairly. Just as the civil servants have a say in their pay, the military needs to have a say in their pay – its unfair to have a civil servant decide what a soldier should be paid. Every citizen is important but every soldier is priceless because he helps to keep the country together – without that soldier guarding the border post, which country will you and I belong to??.

Please focus on the armed forces and the paramilitary forces and ensure that the much needed reforms are implemented. We cannot have armed forces that are demoralized …and while you bring focus, bring a new defence minister too. Mr. Jaitley can serve the nation in a different capacity.

Looking forward to the reforms getting implemented and at lightning speed.

Jai Hind. Jai Hind ki Sena.

A patriot and a fan of your patriotism,

Bindu Krishnan

p.s – while I have mentioned about paramilitary forces, I don’t have much insight into their working so haven’t quoted any article related to them. Am sure there are many people knowledgeable about them who can share their insights on the reforms needed. It is deeply disturbing to see our CRPF jawans being killed by Maoists. As an outsider, I can only think of why they didn’t get intelligence inputs about the Maoists ?

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