Ex-servicemen’s problems need to be resolved

THIS has reference to the news-item “Ex-servicemen to petition Kalam on demands” (April 3). At present, there are nearby two million defence pensioners in the country, including 40,000 windows of ex-servicemen. Every year, over 3,000 officers, 6,000 JCOs and 55,000 other ranks retire from the three services. However, a number of their problems and grievances have remained unresolved, most of which are the result of default and inertia of the bureaucracy.

Some of the major problems of ex-servicemen are one-rank-one-pension, disability pension, reservation of jobs in civilian life, removal of the clause of compulsory service of 33 years to earn full pension, uniform compensation for martyrs in all states, a highly flawed ex-servicemen’s contributory health scheme and an unfair and skewed “Warrant of precedence”. A nondescript babu considers it below his dignity to greet even an ageing ex-serviceman, much less to offer him a chair to sit.



Sample this to verify just one fact: the entitlement of disability pension of the Chief of Army Staff (should he be disabled while in service) will be @ Rs 2,600 in comparison to his civil counterpart (the Cabinet Secretary), who will get Rs 10,000 (The Tribune, Dec 22, 2003). If such is the disparity at the highest rank of the Army, what does it imply?

In the interest of justice and fairplay, the petition should be considered during the life-time of those who need help immediately.

Brig GOVIND SINGH KHIMTA (retd), Shimla

Of Sonia’s origin

Mr V.I.K. Sharma’s letter regarding Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s origin in its historical prospective was quite interesting (March 27). During the 16th Century, Babar, in Babar Nama, mentioned that Rana Sanghram Singh, the ruler of Mewar and a powerful head of Rajput confederacy, had extended invitation to Babar against Ibrahim Lodi, the ruler of Delhi. Babar not only defeated Ibrahim Lodi but routed and crushed the mighty ruler in the historical battle of Kanwaha (1527). The Rajput catastrophe was due to lack of cohesion among the various clans who had been precariously held together under the leadership of Sanga.

Another shining example is that of Akbar who was not a native of the soil, but hailed as the greatest ruler of India after Chandragupt Maurya. His pursuance of religious policy, relationship with the Rajputs and particularly Hindus and various social reforms initiated by him should act as an eye-opener to the present regime.

It goes to Akbar’s credit that he fought strenuously against the fanatics even at the risk of his throne and life. His endeavour has been to bring about a fusion amongst the various creeds and faiths to which his subjects belonged. So it was rare phenomena to watch how this foreign conqueror begin to lay foundation of a national monarchy over the people alien in race, religion and culture.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi is as much a part and parcel of this country as other citizens are. Her family served the country with great gusto and dedication and made great sacrifices. Such meaningless and unimportant issues should be avoided and emphasis laid on the socio-economic problems.

Dr PRAMOD SANGAR, Professor of History, Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Fans of the Bard

APROPOS of the news-item “Mani to file papers on Bard’s birthday” (April 4), Mani Shanker Aiyer seems to have great respect for Shakespeare, as he has declared to file his nomination papers on April 23, the birthday of the great “Bard of Avon”. At least there is one politician who is interested in paying obeisance to the great dramatist and sonneteer of English in this way.

One of my roommates kept a portrait of Shakespeare in the room. As and when he went to take his papers in English, he always bowed to the great master before stepping out.

The idea of Mr Aiyer reflects the politician’s feelings for the poet.

DEV ROOP, Jawala Mukhi (Kangra)


Quotas must go

Apropos of Justice Rajinder Sachar’s article “Dalit’s place in private sector: Ensure equality of opportunities” (March 12), it is unfortunate that the writer supports the reservation policy. Everytime the reservation issue crops up, it results in a heated debate. Why do we, as citizens, fail to consider the fact that any benefit, which accrues to only a part of the population and is a part of the state policy, is bound to affect the unity and integrity of our great nation?

For a long time, our society has been plagued by caste, class and communal differences which often take a violent turn. The root-cause of all these problems is inequality and injustice. While unemployment is widely prevalent, the privileges enjoyed by some caste labels have damaged the system whereby mediocre students are selected ignoring the meritorious ones.

How can we support the reservation policy as it has perpetuated the caste system? Why are we not ready to give up our narrow-minded mentality in the wider interest of our nation?


In bad taste

One of the poll quotes attributed to Mrs Sushma Swaraj says: “Our brothers sacrificed their lives to defend the nation. But will any of her (Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s) brothers come here to save the country?” (April 4). This is unacceptable. Mrs Swaraj’s statement was in bad taste. The statement has come not from a rabidly communal Mr Narendra Modi but a very seasoned and balanced person like Mrs Swaraj.

Brig H S SANDHU, Panchkula

Kalam makes history

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has made history by visiting Siachin, the world’s highest battlefield in India. He has set a precedent as none of his predecessors has been able to do so. He has enthused the jawans and boosted their morale.

The President has also assured the armed forces that they would be equipped with up-to-date fighting machinery to land and take off from the most advanced airfield. He has not ignored the grit and determination of the common jawan. He has assured him that he would be equipped with the most advanced weapons and reliable uniform to live in the sub-zero temperature.


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