In the column, “An unequal position for soldiers” (November 6), Karan Thapar notes how the armed forces have been discriminated against by the government. The reasons are neither far to seek nor difficult to appreciate.
Their salaries, protocol and status are decided by bureaucrats, who have little first-hand knowledge of their onerous responsibilities and adverse work conditions. It is impossible for bureaucrats to imagine the rigour of vigilance duty at Siachen.Second, the practice of the chief of the forces reporting to the defence secretary has created a notion of superiority in the latter although the relationship should be one of parity at least. Third, as the government is accustomed to changing its mind after noisy protests, it is complacent to the needs of the forces. The government does not fear being taken over by the armed forces. The result is the armed forces are called upon to do more civilian duties, which is often against their ethics, and are paid less than those who are supposed to do the job. The solution is to make the bureaucracy more sensitive and politicians more sincere towards the armed forces. How about requiring the defence secretary to spend at least a month in difficult terrain, including Siachen? Ministers need not indulge in lip service if they are not going to make serious efforts to reduce injustice to soldiers. Y G Chouksey Pune
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