Some disinformation is floating around on the Committee of Experts constituted by the Raksha Mantri. I would like to clear the haze on some issues.
Some myths and their replies:
That the panel has been setup to divert attention from OROP
Totally incorrect. The formation of the panel was first discussed by the Raksha Matri in February, much before the current scenario, and the orders have been issued in July. The two are totally separate issues and do not overlap. The Committee would not be touching upon OROP at all.
That it is an attempt to appease and silence the voices of those who are its Members
Far from the truth. If this is the level of trust expressed for the Members of the Committee, then it is not only unfortunate but it is also clear that persons making such loose statements are not aware of our conviction and sincerity. Also, I think I should make it clear to everyone that all Members are functioning in a purely honorary capacity without any monetary gain and that too after squeezing out time from their respective professions with the aim of service to the society in mind.
The Committee would be handling grievances of soldiers and veterans
Untrue. The Committee is not mandated with such an unwieldy task. The Committee is not supposed to look into individual grievances but is supposed to suggest ways and means to decrease litigation involving the Ministry of Defence as well as the Defence Services and also to increase the level of trust and goodwill amongst the stakeholders in this regard by suggesting broad institutional and progressive changes to the system of redressal of grievances. The Committee would be looking into pending cases related to service matters and pensions and ways to minimize litigation so that the officialdom can focus on areas of core governance.
The panel is recommendatory and its recommendations may never see the light of the day
It is true that the report is recommendatory. All such commissions, expert panels and committees are recommendatory. But keeping in view the fact that it has been constituted by the Raksha Mantri himself and in line with the PM’s focus on governance, it is certainly not going to be an empty formality. Almost all major policy decisions concerning the nation are taken by way of reports of experts and panel inputs. Moreover, it is quite surprising to hear some minority voices of pessimism which say that though it is a good move, it would not be able to achieve its aim. So what should be done? Should such a proactive move taken for the first time since independence be aborted just because a minority feels it would serve no purpose? I would only emphatically like to say that it is much better to have a body of experts viewing these issues with a sharp spotlight so as to iron out the creases than having nothing at all. Also I must place on record that the there has been no pressure on us from any quarter related to our functioning and we are lucky to have such a situation wherein we have been tasked by the apex level of governance to work in a free and independent manner with full support of the political executive without fear or favour.
So naysayers, please relax. The move is in the right direction and a very progressive initiative of the Minister with his full personal involvement under the aegis of the Prime Minister. Let us not spread negativity till the flowers fully bloom.