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Why did Congress govt led by Indira Gandhi demoralise Armed Forces after splendid win of 1971 Indo-Pak war by cutting their pension in 1973?

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Indira Gandhi government went against Army with vengeance, even if Army had won 1971 Indo-Pak war splendidly, because political power took the jokes of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw very seriously. He had a habit of joking. Indira Gandhi government cut the pension of soldiers and increased the pension of bureaucrats. This is how she gifted the Army, who had offered victory of 1971 Indo-Pak war on platter to Mrs. Gandhi,” Major General Gagan Deep Bakshi, known as GD Bakshi expressed his pain of Army during an interview with Trunicle. 

Why did the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi punish entire Army by reducing the percentage of pension of the Armed Forces in 1973, if she was offended with jokes of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw? Why such disrespect to Armed Forces, who had emerged victorious in 1971 Indo Pakistan War or Bangladesh Liberation War? 

There was a countrywide wide jubilation of victory in 1971. Nation was applauding Indian Armed Forces for their spectacular victory, which had brought Pakistan to their knee with surrender of more than 90 thousand Pakistani soldiers kept in India’s Prisoners of War Camps. Pakistan was divided into two parts, and Bangladesh was liberated. However, India lost around 4000 brave soldiers on battlefield, while 10,000 were wounded and maimed for life.

When wounded soldiers and families of martyrs were picking up the lost threads of life to continue their journey, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister decreased the percentage of pension for the Armed Forces by implementing Third Pay Commission in 1973. 

Before Third Pay Commission was implemented by Indira Gandhi, there was an earlier form of the OROP or separate Pay Commission structure existing for the Armed forces. 

In 1973, Congress government led by Indira Gandhi terminated earlier version of One Rank One Pension (OROP) or Separate Pay Commission, which had been applicable for armed forces for last 26 years since independence. Until 1973, after retirement, officers received 50% of their last salary as pension, while Junior Commissioned Officers drew 70% of their last salary. This is how the compulsory early retirement of the armed forces as compared to the civilians was compensated. 

It is important to note that 85% of soldiers are retired at the age of 35 and 37 years age. Another 12% to 13% soldiers retire between 40 and 54 years. Since country needs a young armed forces, the armed forces give the prime of their youth to safeguard the nation. Hence, it is nation’ s duty to take care of armed forces, when they leave the job. 

The final recommendation of Third Pay Commission was made public two months after Field Marshal Manekshaw retired from active service on 15 January 1973. Was it a cleaver move by Indira Gandhi government to avoid agitation by a stalwart, as Sam Manekshaw, who didn’t see eye to eye with Indira Gandhi? When late Indira Gandhi implemented Third Pay Commission, it brought armed forces and civilians under the same ambit. Armed forces were equated with civilian personnel. 

After Third Pay Commission in 1973, both soldiers and civilians began to receive 50% of their last pay. Civilian pension was hiked from 30-33% to 50%. Pension for soldiers was reduced from 70% to 50%. What is to be highlighted is that civilians served till they reached 58 years of age (now 60 years), while soldiers retired almost 25 earlier. 

Also civil servants can not be discharged of their duties in case of accidental or any kind of disability under Section 47 of the Disability Act. This section doesn’t protect defence forces. They can be discharged any time due to disability. 

Ex service men had been protesting and agitating for OROP to be implemented since last 45 years. But, no government heard their plight until Modi government took historic decision to implement One Rank One Pension. Late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar approved OROP by issuing order on 7 November 2015 effective from 1 July 2014 despite huge financial burden displaying its commitment to the welfare of ex-servicemen.

GD Bakshi further expresses his anguish that the longest serving Defence Minister for 8 years, didn’t buy a single weapon for Army apart from 12 VVIP helicopters for comforts of leaders. He says, “10 years of UPA tenure from 2004-2014 were waisted without buying weapons. This is the reason that encourage Pakistan and China to get tough with India 

Why such step motherly treatment to Army? Why does Congress always play with security of nation? Would Congress Party answer these disturbing questions? 

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