As regular readers would be aware, we have been pointing out that the single biggest impediment in resolution and rationalisation of problems related to military veterans was that the stakeholders did not have a say in decision-making and that senior bureaucrats and the highest of political executive were isolated and insulated from the voice of the veteran community by a regressive coterie of junior level bureaucracy that had grown a tangle of roots within the Ministry of Defence as also the Army HQ. Most problems emanated from this situation since veterans did not have the ear of the decision-makers and decisions were taken behind curtains unilaterally and based on incorrect and sometimes fabricated inputs. This was in sharp contrast to the civil side wherein the Department of Pension and Pensioners’’ Welfare (DoPPW) played a proactive and sensitive role for the welfare of their pensioners in conjunction with the system of the Standing Committee on Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA).
In the last SCOVA meeting under the DoPPW, attended by their Minister of State, Dr Jitendra Singh, this problem was emphatically pointed out, especially by Col Hari Handa, the President of Disabled War Veterans, India (DIWAVE) as was also placed on this blog on 14 September 2014.
Those efforts and Dr Jitendra Singh’s strong directions to the Ministry of Defence have borne fruit and a Standing Committee on Welfare of Ex-Servicemen has been constituted which would hold meetings every quarter. The Committee would be chaired by the Rajya Raksha Mantri (RRM) and would also have on it non-official members comprising veteran organisations and official members such as Secretary, Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, CGDA, DGR, MD ECHS and Secretary KSB. There shall be scope for special invitees too, including representatives of Veterans’ Cells of the three services.
A great and welcome new step by the new Government. Hopefully the momentum shall continue.