By Santosh Bhartiya
Sometimes a heart-wrenching news comes to the fore. If that news results from government’s deed, the pain becomes manifold. Like television channels and newspapers we could have also kept mum and put a lid on such news, but we are necessitated by journalistic ethics to seek stories and make them available to you. In fact a few news warrants immediate attention. One such news is related to Army personnel, the personnel whose valor we eulogize and use during the elections. And the spokespersons of ruling dispensation never tired of chest thumping and invoking their name to prove their patriotism and render the opposition as anti-nationals. We are about to lift the lid from this heart-wrenching news.
In 1965 and 1971 war many of our brave solders attained martyrdom, many got wounded and many disappeared. After the 1971 victory the Government of India had decided to take the responsibility of the children of all such solders. The government decided to bear their expenses of education, including hostel fees, clothes etc. But now the Government of India is all set to cut that expenditure and fix the limit to Rs. 10,000. This is the decision of a government, which invokes army to prove its patriotism and wants to win the elections in the name of the army. This decision also makes it evident that the government is unaware of the cost of education in our expensive education system. Nowadays, sending children to the public schools is in vogue, and clearing competitive examination is everybody’s dream. But with the limited fund technical education, higher education, and staying in hostels will become unaffordable to these children, and diminish their chances of becoming part of the country’s decision making. This decision would have been taken by our previous Defense Minister or the current Defense Minister in consultation with the finance ministry.
Now the question bobs up: does the government see the opportunity of saving money or cutting expenditure only in the educational fund meant for the martyred soldiers’ kids? If the government is serious about cutting expenditure, it should cut its own expenditure, like salaries, foreign trips, stay in five star hotels and business class flight tickets of ministers? But they are bent on saving money by cutting education fund meant for the children of martyrs, wounded and missing soldiers, otherwise government will go bankrupt. The number of beneficiary under this fund is 3400, who now would not be able to study. Can an MP or an IAS officer dreamt of educating his children spending Rs. 10,000? The incumbent Chief of Air Staff has written a letter to the current Defense Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, and perhaps he has written that the decision to cut the fund is indicative of insensitivity towards the servicemen. As of now the government has not paid attention to this. Both the Defense Minister and the Finance Minister are tight-lipped, and they are all engaged in Gujarat. They may win Gujarat, but the children of martyrs will not be able to study. There is no response from the government on this. Not only the BJP leaders but all other political leaders have become insensitive. No opposition leader has questioned the government’s decision.
Now I will show you another side of the story. When a soldier returns to his village after retirement he neither gets help from district administration nor from the police. Whenever he goes to police station, he is taught a lesson by an SHO who ask, “Ok, you’re in the Army!” This is the attitude of the local police. The district administration does not take any action on their complaint. A serviceman upon visiting his village he finds that someone has occupied part of his land. His family does not have food and clothes, schooling of his children is getting difficult. This is the story of the current soldiers. But why such apathy and shamelessness towards the kith and kin of those who become martyrs, or disappear or got wounded on the line of duty? This is the work of a government, which claimed to bring ten heads of the enemies in exchange for one. How many heads you brought as of now is unknown, but it has become known that the children of martyred would not receive more than Rs. 10,000 as government assistance. The government is indifferent to their education.
The government has opened up a flood gate of corruption through TV channels. Owners of every television channel have opened an account, appealing people to donate wholeheartedly on flag’s day or on armed forces day. There is no detail of what happened to the donations given before? This is nothing but corruption in the name of Army! Owners of the all leading TV channels and the newspapers have registered their own NGOs. There is no account of the money they received? A renewed effort of robbing the money in the name of the army has started. But that is a different question. The main question is who prevented the government from fulfilling its responsibilities? Has the government run out of money that it cannot bear the burden of 3400 children? It is not the responsibility of the government to make them capable of shouldering the responsibility of their families? What are we doing? We who have been raising slogan that “nationalist” government will remain in power for 50 years? Has the opposition become so shameless and coward that it did not take note of this news?
I appeal the government to immediately reconsider its decision. I also appeal my journalist friends to raise this question. This is not the question of either an individual or a party; this is the question of martyrs’ kids. They are the responsibility of the country. The solders laid their lives and endured all kinds of hardship for the country. Cannot we force the government to reconsider its decision? When the letters by Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff falls on the deaf ear, what should be done to make the government listen? You yourself deliberate over it otherwise who will fight for the country? Perhaps this is the reason why there is a shortage of soldiers and officers in the army today. Perhaps he knows how bad his family will suffer after their death. Will the government pay hid to this appeal?