Indian Military Veterans
ARMY IS THERE FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS
Army is on the Front page of newspapers these days, upgraded from Page 11 and one doesn’t know whether to rejoice or to feel sad on this elevation. The old soldiers always believed that there was nothing that Army couldn’t do, manage, fix, run or innovate alone without having to run to bureaucrats and political bosses to seek needless and uncalled for help. We are talking about the unseemly controversy about DISABILITY PENSIONS.
The facts of the case are pretty simple. Top Army Boss/Bosses felt that the cases of disability are on the rise disproportionalty to the troop strength. Fair enough. An internal survey and study should have been initiated to find out :-
(a) The rise in disability cases in last ten years.
(b) Year wise rise by rank, age and Arm /Service profile.
Next we should have gone over the procedure of Medical Boards to know how the Disability was arrived at and fixed. Excess numbers could only have come from the recommendations of Medical Boards. Did any one go over these aspects. DGAFMS exists to study and sort out such issues. Were they ever, over the years, asked by any Chief to submit a report on HOW and WHY of the Medical Boards when they were declaring more number of soldiers as medically unfit.
No Chief should stand up one day and make an announcement that disproportionate number of men are feigning disability. May be the number is higher than it used to be. But where is any internal study to back up the presumptions that this is being done on purpose and both Medical Boards and Soldiers are conniving with each other. If such was the case, the solution was pretty smple. Show the Law and haul up the Medical Boards and those Soldiers who feigned disability in absence of any viable reasons.
It is sad to say but the Army Command is simply going by its hunches. Yes, there are more low category retirees today than before. Instead of presuming that they are fake, why not tighten up the Medical Boards who evaluate these cases.This may have been a sane and correct way to deal with this presumed problem.
The worst fall out of this controversy is that we ran to the MoD with our sob story and asked them to fix the problem by denying Disability Tax sops to Veterans through involvement of Finance Ministry and CBDT circular. Army bosses forget that MoD bureaucracy is nobody’s friend, least of all of the Forces, and must have been too happy to oblige the Army’s request post haste, which it has done. Innumerable number of Veterans will now be pushed to the doors of Judiciary to get this wrong done right, with a very heavy mental and monetary costs.
As the facts stand today, the Rules provide for every thing that has been going on so far. To take the frustration out on Veterans, it simply amounts to saying to an ordinary tax payer to only show Rs 10000 as Standard Deduction because his expenses were not Rs 50,000, as provide for by the rules, or asking a civil servant to forego Rs 60,000 PM as hardship allowance while he serves in Shillong or Gauhati on moving from Delhi as hardly any element of such hardship was involved. A soldier is entitled to ask for medical evaluation, if he feels it was due to or aggravated by Service conditions. It is upto the Medical Boards to justify or deny such requests. So no where it is the fault of the soldier. If a loop hole existed, it was at the level of Medical Boards and should have been fixed there. The falacious argument that Medical Boards towed the line of senior officers doesn’t hold much water because that puts the entire Medical Corps in the dock.
The Veterans will now knock at the doors of the RM to undo this wrong, in the hope of that it might be set right there. But at what cost to their self respect. The Army, instead of fighting for its modernisation and shortages of weapons, which it has been needing since long, is wasting its time in fighting with hapless veterans.
Long Live The Indian Army
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