5 minute readVeteran writes open letter to Defense Minister

Art: Shruti Pushkarna

Art: Shruti Pushkarna

Dear Shri Manohar Parrikar,

I write to you today after attending Veterans Day celebrations in Washington DC on November 11, 2014, as a former Indian Army Veteran. I would rather prefer calling ex-servicemen as ‘Veterans’ without giving them a feeling of gender bias or being left out as the term ‘ex’ conveys.

Having served the Indian Army, given my youth to the nation and being a third-generation Army officer I am proud to say that the qualities of ‘guts and glory’ run in my blood.

With this open letter, I intend highlighting the fact as to how Veterans are respected and revered in the United States of America, which I never witnessed back home in my own country. This, I say with conviction after having a first-hand experience at various events, which reflect the honor meted out to the Veterans of the Armed Forces. The country and its citizens do not give any differential treatment to non-US Veterans like me. Rather the kind of attention and respect I have received here as a Veteran is applaudable.

The Veterans Day Celebrations made me feel how American citizens (including civilians) were proud of their soldiers who defend their borders. Each person who knew that I had served my nation came to appreciate my role and hugged me. I wonder why our Indian civilian population would not pay attention to the soldiers who have sacrificed their youth for India. The root cause for all this is that we do not glorify the important role of our Armed Forces in the World Wars and respective wars in the annals of history in the curriculum taught at school level.

Are our men and women in uniform only to be remembered for a short attention span? They are called only on occasions such as Republic Day and when in dire straits especially during natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquake for relief work. Not to mention the ‘aid to civil authority’ in times of domestic turmoil just because the local police and administrative authorities (the so called babus) could not handle the situation.

I would like to emphasize that USA has special programs and scholarships (yellow ribbon program) to encourage veterans to continue their higher studies. Please note that this scheme is alike for officers and troops. One such example is yours truly.

I am presently pursuing my Masters of Laws in a top ranking US Law School and the University has awarded me at par scholarship as a foreign veteran. There are various networking events and recruiting workshops that are conducted only for the veterans.

The US Veterans face the same myths of ‘irrelevant experience’ and ‘rigidity in thought and action’ while moving to the civilian world however the US government and its policies make the transition simpler. The US Department of Veterans Affairs and other authorities as well as universities make the Veterans’ ride smooth to move from the battlefield to the boardroom. US Companies receive tax benefits on hiring Veterans. It is pertinent to mention that US troops (not just officers) have been making a mark in the corporate arena by displaying their leadership qualities.

My concern at this point in time is that why our Armed Forces personnel are not glorified for their heroic acts. Our soldiers have been fighting in the toughest terrains possible in this world.

Why are the Veterans treated like a ‘burden’ by the serving officers and the Ministry of Defense? Why does a Veteran have to struggle to get his paltry sum of disability pension by resorting to long drawn and expensive litigation doing rounds of Armed Forces Tribunal and higher Courts? Why are the majority of appeals filed by the Ministry of Defense in the Supreme Court against their own disabled soldiers and old pensioners? Why are you- the decision makers, shielded and insulated from the real problems suffered by the veteran stakeholders and made to sign on the dotted line wherever the military or civilian bureaucracy wants resulting in unilateral decisions which are forcibly imposed?

Why do you not directly get to hear the authentic voice of the Veterans and the problems that they are facing? Why is the status of military personnel on a constant decline in the official pecking order? Why are there not enough continuing legal programs for our soldiers except the antiquated vocational courses of Director General of Resettlement? Why is the Kendriya Sainik Board not being pro-active on policies on Veterans? Is showing an agenda on paper enough?

I say this not as a disgruntled Veteran but as a responsible former officer of Judge Advocate General’s Department who has served in the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defense and worked with these institutions closely.

May I also remind you that your party in its manifesto had promised minimizing appeals against soldiers with respect to the rulings rendered in their favor by judicial bodies, an issue which was also strongly raised by Ms Smriti Irani when she was in opposition, however sadly nothing seems to have moved in that direction, there being not even an iota of change in the attitude of the Ministry in the said regard.

I request you, as the new Defense Minister, to implement progressive policies for all Armed Forces personnel (not just officers but also the troops) and Veterans of the three Forces.

As for the Indian citizens to look up in awe towards the Indian soldier and appreciate the role of Armed Forces at all times, this change in attitude and thought has to be instilled in the minds of the younger generation by highlighting the glory of the Forces. This is also the reason for the low rate of selections in the Armed Forces in the past few years at the Commissioned Officer level.

My country has the third largest Army and an equally capable Air Force and Navy, that craves for attention and respect for the valor it has shown over the ages.

It is for you to take a call on this Raksha Mantri Ji, it is for you to ensure that Indian Military Veterans like me command respect and dignity in my own country too, just as we do, ironically, in other democracies.

Sincerely,

Loveleen Kaur Mann
Former Captain,
Judge Advocate General’s Department
Indian Army

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  34 comments for “5 minute readVeteran writes open letter to Defense Minister

  1. SaibalMajumdar
    January 25, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    I guess Defense Minister or any other Minister in the Indian Government don’t like to listen to the citizens or even troops, retired or active service. Worse are the defense ministry offices in the South Block who act as filters for the Minister. 
    Recently I wrote a letter for sanction of my pension due from 1978.  Indian Supreme Court has given the verdict to authorize payment for the ex-servicemen in my situation who have minimum 13 years and 9 months of service.  A deputy director in the Navy denies me the pension saying that they count 13 years 10 months and a week as 13 years( unique rounding up policy).  These people are not only trying  new ways of rounding up ( redefining maths), they are also  acting directly against the order of nation’s highest court.   I wish I could request the Defense Minister himself to explain to me why a Navy sailor who served the nation during two wars with dangers to his life during the wartime assignments is being denied his rights for a pension.  Now I have to go through a litigation and excessive fees for a Lawyer and delays to get my rights which should have been automatic after the S.C. verdict.  Delays in the courts are also another way of denying  legit pension benefits.  Many of these pension seekers are at the advanced ages and some of them died waiting for a court ruling.  As now we have the court ruling in our favor, they are trying other delay tactics.

  2. himlynx
    June 30, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Loveleen Kaur Mann appears to be a Short Service Commission (SSC) officer.  We need more SSM who will transition to civil life after 5/10 years service in the armed forces.  The problem with India is that almost everybody is given a Permanent Commission.  There is no exit policy and officers serve for life, even if they are superseded.  India is caste ridden and the armed force is a caste by themselves.

  3. VinodSagar
    November 23, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Straight forward and very apt article. This is the prime reason why Armed Forces do not attract the youth to join and huge shortages continue
    Our politicians only remember the Armed Forces when faced with natural calamities. Gallant efforts of our Armed Forces are soon forgotten. Let us hope the new Raksha Mantra realises this and takes appropriate steps to ensure proper recognition of the Veterans

  4. FRENZIRAJ
    November 23, 2014 at 8:46 am

    StratPost SinghNavdeep manoharparrikar 2. for any Army. Treatment of Veterans percolates dn 2 d last soldier which they c as their future

  5. FRENZIRAJ
    November 23, 2014 at 8:39 am

    StratPost SinghNavdeep manoharparrikar 1. Def Min if not BABUS must understand that wars r won by men not machines. Morale is critical..

  6. shaels
    November 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    SinghNavdeep 😉

  7. SinghNavdeep
    November 22, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    MediaPsyOps Not written by me. It has been authored by luciole_tweets 🙂 I’ve just retweeted it. shaels manoharparrikar

  8. MediaPsyOps
    November 22, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    shaels SinghNavdeep manoharparrikar very well written navdeep. Shabash.

  9. S2013Sanjay
    November 22, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    KatochPrakash SSCOs get the most raw deal – a highly capable but unrecognised potential workforce.

  10. KatochPrakash
    November 22, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    SinghNavdeep KatochPrakash luciole_tweets God bless her !

  11. Kumbha
    November 22, 2014 at 9:44 am

    KatochPrakash Easy availability of soldiers is one reason of poor respect but main reason is the colonial structure.

  12. SinghNavdeep
    November 22, 2014 at 9:35 am

    KatochPrakash Sir this strong letter was written by luciole_tweets, a brave third generation army officer.

  13. MishraPm93
    November 21, 2014 at 11:47 am

    SinghNavdeep rwac48 luciole_tweets

  14. LtGen_SampathK
    November 21, 2014 at 7:41 am

    SinghNavdeep luciole_tweets rwac48 Request read my Tweet in reply to her tweet.

  15. SinghNavdeep
    November 21, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Nirban140 With all due respect Sir, seeking sensitivity & recognition for the armed forces is not “asking for the moon” as you say. rwac48

  16. bkkullolli
    November 20, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    rwac48 SinghNavdeep, a mature nation knows how to treat it’s service personnel & veterans alike.

  17. gulgusha
    November 20, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    well done LOVELEEN. This was required

  18. sanjeev1927
    November 20, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    rwac48 thks for sharing

  19. vijaygkg
    November 20, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    StratMan001 rwac48 among other things us vetarans serve for 5 years only

  20. rsts97
    November 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    SinghNavdeep what wud d RM’s reaction b ? Or has he read it at all ?

  21. kj64india
    November 20, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    rwac48
    I recommend we watch an excellent movie related to this issue…..
    Taking Chance

  22. shreekm
    November 20, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    SinghNavdeep narendramodi manoharparrikar And if they dont then like MMS they may have to lower eyes with guilt when they meet Armymen

  23. shreekm
    November 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    SinghNavdeep narendramodi manoharparrikar I hope the RM&PM reads this & May God give them the courage to break free of babu machinations

  24. bvsparmar
    November 20, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    StratMan001 rwac48 Sainik Samaj party Zindabad.

  25. StratMan001
    November 20, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    rwac48 This is the only country where a man is made to retire at his prime and his skills not made use of elsewhere like paramilitary.

  26. StratMan001
    November 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    rwac48 In Indian democracy only votes matter not your past performance.

  27. StratMan001
    November 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    rwac48 Sir if u think one more appeal is going to make a difference….!
    The answer lies in organising veterans as 1 solid voice 2 b heard.

  28. singh7sins
    November 20, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    YusufDFI wats ur tak on russian visit to pak n its implication on #putin-#modi meeting

  29. SethiVed
    November 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    rwac48
    I support fully d view expressed in d letter.Hope our Defence Minister will give due consideration to all d issues raised herein.

  30. colkt
    November 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    rwac48 : V hope Parrikar will not allow to be manipulated by babus. Soldiers’ elan must b restored. Pay Promotion Prestige (Gen SK Sinha)

  31. DKCooper2
    November 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    SaurabhJoshi A great dream, just that. Our system seems threatened by uniform; police, para mil, mil. ArchisMohan manoharparrikar

  32. kanpatz
    November 20, 2014 at 9:58 am

    StratPost manoharparrikar luciole_tweets much awaited.. much longed .. d respect for veterans. hope d new era brings in d desired change.

  33. shreekm
    November 20, 2014 at 9:54 am

    SinghNavdeep manoharparrikar SaurabhJoshi StratPost Well expressed.But will r Netas b able 2 act since de r busy dancing 2 d babus tunes

So what do you think?