Jeff Miller’s quote “The willingness of American veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude” also applies to India, whose veterans have sacrificed many a limb and life unshakably to defend the nation, whether in is a war or an operation against insurrection.
The Sixth Pay Commission, in its report submitted to the Government of India on March 24, 2008, recommended that upon completion of tenure in the Indian Armed Forces comprising the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, the personnel would be transferred to a similar position in one of the Central Police Organizations or in the Civil Defense Organizations.
The Sixth Pay Commission was introduced on August 29, 2008. Since then, the lateral introduction of Armed Forces personnel has been dismal and many veterans (Indian Armed Forces personnel who are retiring/prematurely retired) struggle on the civilian streets trying to earn a decent living.
Indian armed forces personnel are retiring at a relatively younger age compared to their counterparts in the other central and state governments and businesses. The main reason for early retirement is to maintain the younger age profile in the armed forces, which is essential for decisive combat potential.
A soldier retires at age 36 and an officer at age 54, unless they move up the armed forces pyramidal promotion ladder.
It is at this age that one’s social and financial obligations are at their peak as children grow up and hence, he needs a job to fulfill these obligations.
At the officer level, a veteran rarely finds a job financially comparable to the one he did while on duty, except for the few who fly fixed-wing aircraft on commercial airlines. A quick Google search will reveal that no major company has a veteran CEO. Veterans are only placed in jobs in administration and security that pay much less than jobs in operations and marketing.
Except for Capt GR Gopinath of Deccan Airways and Major KP who founded the brokerage firm DLF, no other veteran has made a valuable name as an entrepreneur.
Veterans failing in business or in business after retirement is not due to their inability, but they have been trained and have lived a different life within the armed forces and so when they are on the civilian street they find things completely different and end up in low paying administration and security jobs because they don’t have the special skills needed to succeed in the company or in the business field.
A veteran may be physically fit when he retires, but the tremendous mental and psychological effects on him from serving in inhospitable climates, treacherous terrains, and seeing peers and seniors in surgery leave an ever lasting impact that has a major impact. has on his work in the corporate sector which has an entirely different role and charter.
Aware of all these factors of the hardships a veteran faces after retirement, were the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission listed above.
However, a look at the veterans resettled on June 30, 2021 is bleak and disheartening.
In the para-forces in Group A, only 1,687 were resettled at the sanctioned strength of 76,681, which is just 2.2%, while in Group B, only 539 were resettled at a strength of 61,650, which is a shocking 0.87% and in group C only 4146 were resettled against a sanctioned strength of 8.81.397, which is only 0.47%.
The numbers of veterans resettled in the PSUs are also not encouraging. In Group B, only 31 were resettled at a sanctioned strength of 664, which is just 4.67%, while for Group C, only 3,138 were resettled against 2,72,848.
The Directorate-General for Resettlement, abbreviated as DGR, is the focal point for the Indian Armed Forces that ensures the resettlement of the veterans after their retirement.
DGR’s previous experience with veterans’ resettlement has not been encouraging, as several resettlement schemes have virtually collapsed due to PSUs withdrawing despite being required to do so, leaving many veterans abandoned and struggling after retirement, apart from the fact that only a minuscule Veterans have been indirectly absorbed into various government organizations after their retirement.
DGR will now play a vital role to ensure that the Agniveer not retained after the 4 year period are included in various government organizations where vacancies have been announced by various union ministries and state governments. No Agniveer can be left high and dry, otherwise the rural youth’s first preference will be the paramilitary forces and other government jobs, where they are guaranteed long-term service up to the age of 60 and the armed forces a second option. will be for them. So far, a job in the military is the first option for the country’s rural youth, who make up about 70% of India’s armed forces.
DGR will play a vital role in the success of the Agnipath scheme, as after 4 years i.e. from 2027, when the first batch of Agniveer goes to the civilian streets, their placements will determine the quality of the young people who sign up for the Agnipath scheme.
The DGR, along with the Minister of Welfare of Ex-Servicemen (ESW) in the Ministry of Defense (MoD), should now aggressively prosecute the PSUs and other governmental organizations that have withdrawn from the various resettlement programs. They now have to ensure that they strictly adhere to the previous mandates, even if the issue needs to be brought to the attention of the highest officials in the country.
Just as the crème de la crème of Indian Army officers is seconded to the General Directorate of Military Operations (DGMO) and to the Military Secretariat Department (MS Br), so too should the best and brightest officers be seconded to DGR, as the Agnipath scheme must succeed.
The nation owes it to the Veterans and also to the Agniveer, 75% of whom would not be retained beyond the 4-year term of service listed in the Agnipath Scheme.
US Senator Bernie Sanders aptly quoted: “If you think it’s too expensive to care for veterans, don’t send them to war.”