Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM, who spearheads the UFESM (United Front of Ex Service Men) campaign for OROP (One Rank One Pension), whilst speaking at the OROP Rally at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, on Saturday, 31 Oct 11, exhorted the faujis to observe Black Diwali this year by not lighting any lamps or indulging in any celebration. He said that the unfulfilled promise on OROP by the government has ruled out any joy of Diwali.

Yes, it is true that Narendra Modi’s government reneged on its election promises that it would implement OROP within 100 days of coming to power. Yes, it is true that the attitude of the government towards OROP after coming to power in May 2014 has been substantially different from the promissory attitude before that. Yes, it is true that the PM and his FM have even started questioning the very definition of OROP when Koshiyari Committee 2011 definition of the OROP has been universally accepted “by all stakeholders” including parliament, government, Ex Service Men and their organisations. Yes, it is true that the announcement by Shri Manohar Parrikar, the RM, on 5th Sep 15 has been a slap in the face of agitators since it is a much diluted OROP than what was approved by the two parliaments. Yes, it is true, that even this truncated OROP has not been notified. And yes, it is true that the veterans won’t be in any mood to celebrate Diwali.

OROP Diwali2
दे दी काली दिवाली, बुरा है OROP का हाल, मान गए तुझे मोदी, तूने कर दिया कमाल

The somber mood is also dictated by the fact that it has been 42 long years since OROP was done away by the government in 1973. Curiously, these 42 years are exactly three times the period of exile of Lord Ramchandra. We celebrate Diwali or Deepawali in remembrance of people of Ayodhaya who lit lamps rejoicing the return from exile of our Lord Ram. No such luck for the veterans; they are still exiled from OROP.

But, for the justification for Kaali or Black Diwali, I am not merely thinking of the exiled veterans. I am also thinking of the average countrymen. During the despondent times under the last UPA govt, they voted for a change, strong leadership, developmental agenda and straightforward approach towards significant issues. Now, after 17 months of the new government’s inauguration, we seem to be getting back to despondency. Think of the following:

1. Dithering by Manmohan Singh and party has been replaced by arrogance by NaMo and party especially by Arun Jaitley.

2. Developmental agenda has been replaced by non issues such as beef-ban, equating Shah Rukh Khan with a known terrorist Syed Hafeez, “those who vote against BJP in Bihar should go to Pakistan”, and Hindu chauvinism and relentless justification for ushering in the period of intolerance by going on the offensive with the facts that Hindus have been the most tolerant of people in the world.

3. Strong leadership and straightforward approach have been substituted by guile and chicanery as in the response towards parliament approved OROP.

We appear to be back to square one making the countrymen choose between the devil and the deep sea.

Black Diwali is particularly for us faujis. But, the rest of the countrymen cannot have a reason to rejoice.

All cats are grey in dark; NaMo proved that.

Lets take up some of these issues in slightly greater detail:

  1. PM Manmohan Singh never had the manoeuvring space due to the fact that the entire UPA commanded only 229 seats in a the Lok Sabha with a strength of 545 and the INC had only 206 seats. It was, therefore, easy for the pressure groups to derail the developmental agenda on specious pretexts and because of vested interests. In contrast, BJP by itself in the 16th Lok Sabha constituted on 26 May 2014 has 282 of the 545 seats. Indeed, there is no leader of opposition as the Indian Parliament rules say that a party must have at least 10 percent of seats to be called opposition. Congress has only 44 seats. Instead of arrogance being the style of governance, the NDA could have, by now, put the country firmly on the path of development. Nay, even the black money in Swiss banks to be exposed and brought back to the country, as per the election promise of Modi, has been given a go by; making the people speculate that there is perhaps a quid-pro-qua as perhaps was there in denying the nation the full exposure of Bofors deal when NDA was last in power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  2. Nearly five years back, on our 62nd Republic Day, I wrote a piece titled ‘How Proud Should We Be Of The Indian Republic At 62?’ I had brought out that UN figures show that 80 percent of our population lives below US $ 2 a day. Forty-five percent of our population lives Below Poverty Line (BPL; a term used to describe those who have less than the UN stipulated $1.25 a day). In all human growth indices we are near the bottom, certainly much below the 100 mark. And yet, dividing the people along communal lines has been a priority with almost all of our political parties rather than focusing on developmental issues so as to eradicate poverty. Take this government, which has squarely been given the mandate by the people on the developmental issue. And yet, its focus has been elsewhere: Banning beef and such other issues. Following the tenet of ‘borrowing from Peter to pay Paul’ and conscious of the fact that in the more than one-fourth of its tenure it has done nothing much to address poverty and other developmental issues, it has come up with a ludicrous argument that giving veterans their right of OROP (which has been passed by two parliaments and hence the government having no power to deny it) would rob the poor. All our political parties have learnt from the British the art of Divide and Rule; and the present NDA is no exception.
  3. The Bihar elections are so important and prestigious for BJP that everything else has been made subservient to it including OROP, communal harmony and even principles of ethics and decency. BJP came up with such ridiculous arguments as “those who do not vote for BJP deserve to be ousted to Pakistan” and that Shah Rukh Khan talks like Hafiz Saeed, the terrorist and the mastermind of 26/11 who enjoys covert and overt support from Pakistan state. What arrogance, that voting against BJP is to be considered anti-national!
  4. All right-minded Indians know that the UPA in general and Congress in particular, under its banner of pseudo-secularism, played the communal card rather dangerously (Also read: ‘Is Communal Disharmony A Challenge To India’s March To Greatness?’) However, the NDA under BJP appears to be doing exactly the same in another manner so as to garner votes by dividing communities. This portends ill for the nation; if the nation can very well do without the pseudo-secularism of Congress, it can also do without the other extreme of return to Hindu chauvinism. Two wrongs can never make a right. It is high time we abandon the idea of dividing communities along religious lines and use the unifying force of humanitarianism and developmental agenda.

I have brought out only some of the significant issues. There is thus no reason for the the countrymen in general and faujis in particular to celebrate Diwali. There is nothing to rejoice about. It is indeed, return to despondency, which we saw during the last UPA regime. But, at that time, at least there was a hope that a Narendra Modi, in shining armour, would emerge to take us out of the morass. Most of such hopes have been shattered.

As if to add to the mood, yesterday, the country was witness to a most horrible video of police brutally beating up a boy and girl inside a police station. Whilst the police beat up the boy mercilessly, the girl’s screams could be heard for miles and yet they continued. The country must now quickly contemplate whether the citizens should permit the authorities to control everything from food habits to religion to socializing to morality. Should the average Indian citizen live under terror not from across the border but from our own people whom we voted to improve our lot?

I don’t know about you; but, this Diwali, many of us shall sit with bowed head in darkness, to match the somber mood of the country, and pray to our Lord Ram, to ensure that our leaders return to the agendas they promised and were voted to power for.

Lets see if our prayers are answered.

© 2015, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.

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  1. Happy Diwali to you. My simple question is this: Do we now have Service Chiefs who are totally spineless and are unable or incapable of making the political leadership understand the chicanery on the part of the bureaucracy? Are they not aware of the effects on the serving soldiers? A terrible shame, because exactly like some of their predecessors, they are also looking forward to their post retirement sinecures. They will even go as chaprassis to Argentina!

    1. I can understand the angst Air Cmde KR Radhakrishnan. We all can. OROP agitation has had another curious fallout in that there is actual crisis of leadership. This is exactly what the three former chiefs mentioned in their open letter to the PM. I hope we come out of all this with our heads held high. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Explanation and demand running parallel through out the article and Writer tried his best by equating with Rama’s exile, return to his kingdom and celebration of Diwali “the festival of light.”

    Good equation.

    1. Thank you Jugbir. The parallel was actually readily available in that both Lord Ram and we are fighting for the right. Lord Ram took the help of monkeys in his fight against an evil empire. We are fighting against the evil monkeys.

  3. At this time, we should focus on OROP only without bringing up any political issues or non issues. Politicians whether from UPA (controlled by Congress) or NDA (controlled by BJP) are all the same. If we allow ourselves to be sucked into the dirty politics, the issue of OROP would get lost. All political content should be weeded out from the OROP movement. There are many political crocodiles waiting to fish in the troubled waters and would jump in at the first available opportunity to divert the movement to serve their own interest. If that happens, all the efforts put in by IESM/ UFESM would evaporate in no time.

    1. Entirely and without any reservation agree with you. We have always been apolitical and that has been our moral strength. Even in the defence colony that I stay in, I notice so many of ex faujis aligning themselves with politicians and political parties. This is a sad trend.

      1. Thank you. This quote is not mine. I learnt this in school and it became my nature that character we have is the biggest asset in life. Today is Friend world hug day and I have just posted a small video on my FB. let us focus on OROP but at the same time we should know how to overcome the media gag and spread awareness to all. WIsh you good luck and hope to meet you some time

  4. Excellent article, you have narrated helplessness of common Indian in the right way. But I wonder these these thick skinned politicians will take note of your article. They are shameless selfish. We need revolution by common citizenry

    1. Thank you Kalawat. As advised by you I am sending both the articles to MP Rajiv Chandrashekhar to see if these can reach our otherwise unapproachable Prime Minister and others.

  5. I agree with every word that you wrote.Most of it applies to my style of thinking ,doing and living.I am doing my bit along with other friends and trying to bring about change in the system.Alas ! nothing has changed at grass root level since this Govt has come to power.

    1. Thank you Col Rangi. Like-minded people like us should network together. Cdr Kalawat, our convener of IESM in Mumbai has been suggesting that for sometime now. Lets do it either on email or whatsapp. Please conract me on email: rpsravi@gmail.com


  6. hi am jayashree baxi a retd nursing officer and great read. I would like to be in touch and will read ur blogs. It is said when wealth is lost, nothing is lost, when health is lost something is lost but when character is lost everything is lost but in the present day context even the soul is lost. We now need a newer soul all together.

    1. Thank you Jayashree. That’s an outstanding quote. I must use it sometime in the context of our people and leaders, with your permission of course. You can subscribe to the blog simply by pressing ‘Follow’ link at the bottom right. It is totally free and it will always be.

  7. It is absolute shame that the IESM is trying to blow hot and cold at the same time.We are becoming cowards and even though a number of Veterans opposed Gandhian style of expression of our demand.This is the country where nearly 40 % of elected representatives are past criminals of sort and had fought election only to avoid jail.You all know the way these representatives enjoy % Star treatment even in Jail.90 % of these criminals with the support of scam money of sort keep the arms of justice at bay and Lalloo is the living example.Same money and power entitles them to parole or admission in private hospitals where they enjoy at their will.

    In India the family of juvenile rapist is doled cash to settle in life and am sure will soon be a MP like a dacoit turned MP.Another rapist though awarded life term in jail is also to be paid in cash for heinous crime to ensure a decent living to his wife ,2 daughters,1 son and his aged parents.The leaders in our organisation fail to understand the psyche of our courts and country.To day our country respects rapists,their families but not the Veterans.What is the idea behind sending your medals,signatures in blood,black deevali,hunger strike,RHS and wasting hard earned money donated by Veterans.These criminals will have no effect.They are immune to decent methods.Remember Gandhi was shot dead and so were his methods.Change as I had suggested .If you treat your members with disdain your blow hot and cold methods will fail . Change is the spice of life and torturing yourself will boost the morale of politicians.They understand only one language called VOTE. you missed golden opportunity in Bihar and will repent for ever if they win.You got us man handled by Police and the gain is shame of the Veterans.Please have courage and publish all my suggestions.

    I pray you wait for elections in Punjab but if BJP wins in Bihar we as well as our OROP will be doomed for ever.

    Sqn Ldr M L Bhargava

    1. Sqn Ldr Bhargava, your views and suggestions have been published. In the UFESM we need and value all suggestions to make the movement go forward and reach its desired conclusion.

      Yes, we need to talk to them in the language they understand. We are trying that already. We would and should try harder.

      Wait and watch. Please remember we are not used to these ways. It would take us time to ger everyone on board.

  8. the greedy business lobby are generally ruling the nation /world; the jawan and kisan will continue to be used by them as means to become rich and remain in power; the jawan and kisan both have DNA of sacrifice,care and share;; both come from same family ; the need of the hour is for jawan and kisan to come together and provide and alternative for governance of this nation ; provide social and financial justice which is the main function of govt;

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more Sudhir. We must evoke this response nation wide. You cannot continue suppressing people all the while especially those who feed you and keep you safe and secure.

  9. I have read your blog with great interest as the subject is very close to my heart, nay, the heart of every soldier, serving or retired. That said, the comments give an indication of a divided thought process, which is not only fully justified, but also welcome in the larger interest of the movement. Yes, we, the service veterans are absolutely new to this methodology of protesting, and I earnestly hope and pray that we are never called upon to take to the streets in the interest of our own soldiers, who have, willy-nilly, been driven to this method to seek our own rights. Yes, there are bound to be differences of opinion in the method of conducting this protest, but the reasons for this protest cannot and do not have any differences of opinion, across the spectrum of the service veterans. The beneficiaries of the protest are also likely to be our serving soldiers who cannot voice their views or concerns owing to rigorous rules and regulations. Therefore, the service veterans have to very carefully factor in their concerns in conjunction with the concerns and demands of retired service veterans. This is an onerous responsibility, and I daresay, it has been exercised with due diligence by the IESM / UFESM. There are some glitches which need to be ironed out to achieve our ultimate goal of undiluted OROP. It has been an interminable and long struggle and those at the helm, deserve our respect for their unflinching efforts to make a success of our mission. For those who have differing views, please do reach out to the convenors and make your suggestions so that greater impetus can be given to the protest.

    1. I must straightway congratulate you for the clear headedness and balanced approach that is apparent from your comment. I have a lot of trust in our leadership and I feel that even when things are new and untried, faujis learn very fast.

      I have commented elsewhere that I concluded my speech at OROP Rally at Mumbai with a couplet from the finest scholar warrior this nation has seen: Guru Gobind Singh:

      Sura so pehchaaniye jo lade deem ke het
      Purja purja lay mare kabhun naa chhade khet.

      Officers in the armed forces are true warriors only if they fight for the rights of the poor jawan.