We need you, my dear veterans

Indian Army needs you. I know a lot of you are very disenchanted and disappointed by what is happening around especially in the armed forces for the past few years. I talk to you, I read your posts on social media, your articles in various publications, we discuss and it breaks my heart to see you fighting for your basic rights. Most of you have been very vocal about the issues which need utmost importance and attention but that has hardly worked, has it? The top brass is well aware of what’s happening but they prefer to look the other way, or so it seems. A simple change in tactics of talking to each other one-on-one, the army top brass, and the veterans, can have significant results. Direct communication is the key. I am sure none of our top men, be it the CDS, COAS, or VCOAS will ever refuse a meeting with you.

The issues that you are dealing with, are grave. The ECHS has now become more or less defunct, rather it is now a cash cow for private hospitals. OROP and NFU are stuck in the legal mess, Cantonment related issues are not heartening, AFTs the less said the better. Out of 17 AFTs 14 of them are non-functional and due to COVID-19 situation, only the one at Delhi is semi-functional with reduced staff. Hundreds of soldiers are awaiting timely and just decisions on various matters. Denial of justice to our men in uniform has left so many of our men disappointed and disgruntled. Modernization of the Indian army is stuck because sadly our top brass started focussing more on their post-retirement agendas, rather than on the roles and responsibilities at hand. The list is getting longer & longer. 

But you can’t give up. You never have so why should you give up now. My recommendation is to join hands, keep our differences aside, and list out what is best for the forces & the nation. Then ask for a meeting with the top brass of our very own organization, before we head to blame others. The blame game has gone on for far too long, practically on every single media. I suggest, let there be a meeting with our top men starting from the CDS and the COAS. Share your concerns, give ideas for better implementation, offer your suggestions across the table. One to one. This is one important battle you have to fight for what is right. You cannot let our beautiful organization go down in the dumps. 

You are the hope, the backbone of our Indian Army. You are precious and I can’t see an organisation you and many before you, build with your sweat and blood crumble like this.  You can rekindle the fire and get things back on track. I am sure a little dose of wisdom from our veterans is all it would need to set things right. If our house is on fire, shouldn’t we make an all-out effort to extinguish it, instead of fuming and fretting about who did it? 

I have lived more than half of my life amongst you. Walking with my bravest of the brave, with my head held high. From the day you don that uniform, till your last breath, there is a belief, a call to serve the nation in every possible manner. The ethics ingrained in your soul make you lend a helping hand to anyone in distress, irrespective of the circumstances. Your inner compass always leads to the direction of doing what is right and this is the time when your organization needs you. 

It is my humble appeal to each one of you to bridge the divide. Let’s take steps forward in the larger interest of our organization and do our bit. We may not get the response we expect but I am sure it will help us get a better understanding of why they do, what they do…..

As for the military leadership, I will just say, that the mark of a great leader is not what you can do with a team of your chosen ones but what you can do with the treasure trove of veterans who can contribute constructively towards the nation-building. The proof of the pudding lies in acknowledging their experience and appreciate what they have to offer and put it to good use. 

Jai Hind.

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