Three days back, the veteran Indian born British actor Saeed Jeffrey passed away. I was reminded of this scene in Satyajit Ray’s 1976 movie Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) based on a story by Munshi Premchand. The scene is the last scene of the movie in which two rich noblemen of Awadh kingdom, Mirza Sajjad Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Saeed Jeffrey) continue playing chess, a game they are obsessed with, even when a small boy alarmingly brings the news to them that just next to where they are engaged in their game of chess, British forces are marching to take over Awadh, without opposition.

Shatranj Ke Khilari kept playing chess even when the British Forces marched by to take over Awadd, unopposed
Shatranj Ke Khilari; they kept playing chess even when the British forces marched by to take over Awadh, unopposed

The story by Munshi Premchand and its outstanding portrayal by Satyajit Ray is a true reflection of the attitude of our countrymen in general and noblemen (the elite) in particular about matters concerning national security. They are the modern-day Noahs; the same Noah, who during the deluge, in a lighthearted ditty, was brought out with seemingly unconcerned repose:

“And Noah, he often said to his wife,
Whenever he sat down to dine,
“I don’t care where the water goes,
If it doesn’t get into the wine.”

And what about the government? A report in a national daily brought out that “the government is losing patience with the veterans”. How preposterous can that be? After 42 years of the government having snatched OROP from the veterans, after numerous promises by subsequent governments, after repeated recommendations of several committees including the 2011 Koshiyari Committee, after being passed by two parliaments and upheld by the Supreme Court of India, after five months of continuous agitation by the veterans, the government notifies a much truncated OROP, and – hold your breath – it is the government that is losing patience. The only analogy that comes to mind is that of a rapist complaining to a rape-victim about her crying.

The fact is that the government has already assessed that even after five months of agitation, neither the noblemen nor the countrymen appear to be bothered. Presently, the veterans are fighting a lone battle.

And in the meantime another Colonel (Colonel Mahadik) is killed in the valley bravely fighting the terrorists. But then, as one of the politicians said, “They are paid to die”. Who is really bothered? Also, in the meantime, in PM’s own state, last week, Army had to control even small scale riots that police and para-military forces couldn’t control. Armed forces are the preferred forces for disaster relief and even for law and order situations that someone else is paid to do. But, they do their job and are forgotten and no one is bothered.

We are all Shatranj Ke Khiladi; we don’t care as long as the water doesn’t get into our wine.

Another ludicrous statement attributed to the Raksha Mantri Shri Manohar Parrikar in a national daily was: Let the veterans prove that their agitation is not political. The pot calling the kettle black? As recently as 05 Sep 15, it is you and your government, Mr. Parrikar, who played politics with OROP by announcing it just before the Bihar elections; when there was no need for any such announcement since it was already passed by the parliament. The UPA government played politics with OROP all those four decades and just before the parliamentary elections. And, you, have the temerity to ask veterans to prove that their agitation is not political. Once again, you have assessed that our people are not concerned about the specifics of any issue. Hence, knowing anything about OROP would be beyond the grasp of average Indians. Why only politicians and bureaucrats? Even the Indian justice system works on the principle of delaying justice so long that it becomes fait-accompli.


The present government started off with the promise that it would be a government with a difference in its approach towards all issues concerning the nation and its citizens. So then, what appears to have gone wrong with the promise to implement the full OROP within 100 days of coming to power? Is it so helpless and, more importantly, blinded by the designs of the bureaucracy that it cannot trust its faujis against the same bureaucracy; especially when the Indian faujis have amply proved to be amongst the best in the world and the Indian babus have proved to be amongst the worst?

Or, is it that since the previous governments paid only lip-service to the OROP issue, this government, in a bid to take credit for finally having sanctioned the OROP, is losing patience with the veterans for denying it its carefully crafted moment of glory? If that is the case then hasn’t the government got itself to blame? Shouldn’t it have studied the issue independently rather than through the coloured glasses of the bureaucracy?

It is quite likely that the government must have by now realised that something that should have brought it enormous goodwill and credit seems to have backfired by its playing into the hands of the bureaucracy. In that case, rather than reinforcing an erroneous stand should it not do the honourable thing of exposing these wily babus and let the nation know that it made a mistake? I am sure the government would immediately win back the trust of the faujis. There is no glory in the government being at war with its own armed forces; and, even if the government wins, India and Indians lose though it may not be apparent to them straightway.

© 2015, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.

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  1. Has this govt fulfilled any of their promises in full ? Nothing and that’s the reason of their fall in Bihar and we can expect the same in all coming elections. They don’t have any integrity to our nation, if they really had any, they wouldn’t have let their ESM to go down the streets to fight for their right.

      1. The comparison is lop sided – Faujis with P&Ns??? Please they are worlds, or shud i say Universes, apart!!! One revels in honour code, the other considers honour to be a stigma.

  2. We have corrupt congress , lalu , Mulayam in waiting like vultures to tear every Indian and leave with sacam after scam, modi atleast is making army strong and equipping them well and given a OROP and shame to previous govt who gave nothing, If we still shame this great laeder we have lalu and Kejriwal type leaders who have monsters to harm the values of majority population and appeasing the minorities and giving reservations to failures and giving the deserving a back seat, Gos save my country and thats why we have extreme poverty and corruption in india .

    1. Thank you Rambir Singh. The countrymen have been voting for ‘the lesser of the evils’ election after election. Indeed, that’s been the refrain of debates on the television too, “We are bad but not as bad as your government”. I hope sometime or the other Indians would vote positively too and not just on the basis of “anti- incumbency”. Lets see if Modi would change the cycle. So far there is not much indication of that.

  3. Fall of BJP in Bihar is symbolic – One fact that Fauji’s can’t air their grievances in open because the system. But you can always Vote them out. This what has happened.
    May be in time to come Army should have an organisation where people can express their view & grievances openly – like a workers union where every one can speak out. It will be a bad thing still better than word M…..

    I am a very patriotic pers but seeing the attitude of BJP leadership I think our values that we keep in the Army has no taker in Civil life.

    A change in thinking is required.

    1. I tend to agree with you on the dismal scenario Col Dutta. Hoever, in another post I had brought out how in states like Punjab, Himachal and Haryana, wherein every family has someone or the other in the armed forces, it would start occurring to them electorally too that faujis do matter. Lets wait and watch.

  4. Every culture has a method of dealing with its internal madness. In India unless one makes a spectacle of oneself and threaten the political survivability of the outfit in power, nothing ever moves. Unfortunately, the Armed Forces teach individuals to believe in the fact that all organisations will discharge their responsibilities with equal commitment and to be patient. This somehow does not resonate with the political/bureaucratic outfits. OROP will come but after an arduous battle by the Veterans, which for some may prove to be a Pyrrhic one. Unless a more innovative approach is taken up it shall continue to be a distasteful and an almost endless struggle.

    1. Agree Naren Kashib. Right now the two things that I can think of are: One, making it into a mass movement by exposing the designs of babus and netas without any political leanings from our side. Two, start making a dent electorally too by influencing public opinion. Thanks for your well thought of comments.

  5. A well written narrative.

    However, it is easy to make a statement that the Govt has not delivered but how about expressing, how much has been given

    In my view a lot has been said about the Koshiyari Committee, but how many have actually read it with an open mind and understood the functioning of the GoI.

    My queries
    – Who has defined OROP?
    – Is it binding on the GoI in totality?
    – Appointing a one judge Judicial Commission by the Govt – Is it conformal with the practice?

    We ALL need to be “Fair n Just’ and not follow the Pide Piper

    1. Ad – seriatim:
      – OROP was defined by the Koshiyari committee in Dec 2011. It has three distinct elements: 1. All veterans with same rank and same length of service would have the same pension irrespective of date of retirement. 2. Benefits would be automatically passed to all past pensioners. 3. Any increase in pension to future pensioners will be automatically passed to all.
      – After it has been approved by parliament, which in this case is correct, it is binding on GoI totally since the government is not above the parliament.
      – Appointing a one judge judicial commission and giving it 6 months time is totally suspect since the plan of the government is somehow to link it with the 7th CPC. When the babus gave themselves OROP at the highest pay grade they gave in perpetuity. Why should ours be linked yo CPC.

      1. Sir

        – I beg to differ. The Koshiyari Committee did not define OROP, Para 3 refers
        – please read again especially Para 6.2 to 6.6
        – Further the Committee in its recommendations did not negate the contents of Para 6.2 to 6.6, hence the GoI was at liberty to accept or disagree.
        – I will once again reiterate – No Committee Report is binding on the GoI. Only the Orders passed by Courts are binding.
        – Lastly anything approved by the 14th Lok Sabha has no binding on the 15th Lok Sabha

        Kindly follow me on most Yahoo Groups – Air Force Association, TSEWA, TriServices etc

        1. I have approved your comment for publication because of three issues:

          1. You can do everything but you cannot go back in time. Koshiyari Committee report (a ten member committee under BJP MP Bhagat Singh Koshiyari), was accepted by the government and the parliament and ESMs. Hence, your point #3 above is preposterous to say the least.

          2. Your points #1 and #2 follow from #3 and hence not even worthy of response.

          3. I respectfully disagree with your #4. Legislation is the process of making laws. Anything approved by the parliament will be in force unless amended by the next parliament. An OROP definition once accepted and approved will have to be amended (and not merely re-interpreted) in order to be materially different from the one earlier accepted and approved.

          It is apparent that the government has taken into account people like you who are well versed at creating controversies and ambiguities where none exist. I used to wonder how the government is so confident that it would be able to hoodwink so many people in the face of its past stand. Now I know.

  6. Indiands have to reduce PDI(Power Distance Index ).Given are some PDIs. Malaysia-104,India-77, Austria-11, Israel-13, Denmark-18, U.K.-35, Germany-35.There is no need to please any politician.

  7. On the face of it,the political, administrative and judicial machinery in our country are in very bad shape. As long as people feel helpless, there is hope of better days.Once these helpless people get the required motive force like, say Modi Factor and leaders with sufficient energy to consolidate such people and do some thing to wake them up, there is bound to be some sudden effect to rise above the slumber. We Indians by nature, are a happy go lucky type, wait for things to happen, low on patriotism, even less in military thinking and suffer in the name of tolerance for ever. OROP struggle is an outstanding example. Issue of OROP embraces almost all issues troubling our Nation and We People. OROP is on Wikipedia, The amount of info now available on the web unimaginable. Any revolution or some big change to occur there is an inescapable need for an organisation and a ladder of selfless leadership. Need of the day is to gather sufficient people of suitable leaders and creation of an organisation, which has to be apolitical and that consists men of integrity. I am one of those millions waiting for such an organisation and such leaders. Good luck India.

    1. How well you have summed it up Sreedhar Chandan. Indeed, it should now occur to the veterans that since, against their desire, they have been now forced to go on the street, perhaps they can take the lead in exposing the designs of the politicians and bureaucrats in dividing and ruling and placing their personal or party interests before that of the nation. For that, they must stay totally apolitical and entirely secular. I can proudly say that I am. In my articles whenever I bring out a problem, rather than merely bemoaning, I suggest solutions.

  8. The present Govt has ignited the ire of the ESM. People like Parrikar our honourable Defence Minister, has time and again proved that, being a representative of the elite force (Indian Army ) he as shown little love for the Armed Forces. Its pathetic that instead of building the morale of our forces during these troubled times, he has been instrumental in belittling the most disciplined Army in the world. Reminds me of Napoleon Bonaparte’s words…

    ” If you build an army of 100 lions and their leader is a dog,in any fight,the lions will die like a dog. But if you build an army of 100 dogs and their leader is a lion,all dogs will fight like a lion”

    Seeing the pathetic state of the govt, totally misguided by the Babu’s, the pride of the Nation is at stake . A fine line needs to be drawn by the PM personally to restore this disintegrating situation. Its never to late to put things in their right prospective and earn some goodwill from not only the men in uniform, but a large majority of the civil populace who have been supporting the cause of OROP.

    1. Whole – heartedly agree with you Col Sahi. This is one occasion when the PM, for example, raise himself above the level of a politician and become a respected statesman. I strongly recommend that he should have the issue examined independently, have a dialogue with the ESMs, and then address the nation to restore trust and values. He should consider it a grave matter of concern as suggested to him in an open letter by former services chiefs.

  9. Very well put across . Let us only hope that this has widest readership amongst
    I had written on this to our local paper , The Hitavada , with a request to bublish it in either letter to editor or being too long as contribution in their Guest Coloumn . Never saw the light of the day . Of course the language was abresasive and not as polite or refined as used by you . Here is the link .

    1. You have explained it very well in your blog Group Captain Velankar. Thankful to you for that. What surprises me is that all this is readily available at several places (including Wikipedia itself) and it is safe to guess that it is also available to the government. And yet, the government chose to side with the babus and not with the faujis. We must try to find out what was the government’s compulsion in doing so.

      Compulsions are understood like this. When the BJP last came into power, they did nothing about finding the truth about Bofors Scam. On a BBC debate, I heard a question being asked from BJP spokesperson, “People are really asking if there is a quid pro qua between the BJP and the Congress?”

      Similarly, there appears to be some compulsion about fulfilling the promise of exposing all those whose black money is stashed in Swiss banks and bringing it home.

      Lets go out of our way to find out this compulsion of listening to babus more than veterans on the issue of OROP.

    1. Thank you Sir. Yes, I am on Twitter. Sunbyanyname or Ravinder Ravi, both will get you there. You will see a bloke with dark glasses in Shimla (my homeplace). That’s me! Presently, I am in Mumbai.