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Friday, February 24, 2017

On Reemployment and Dignity of Labour and an Egalitarian Society

A few days ago, I responded to a tweet wherein a Subedar Major was driving a cab to earn his living. I found the situation odd because of reasons I would articulate in due course, within this write-up.

There were mixed reactions to my response on twitter. Some agreed with me, while some, including a few of my very good friends, stated that we should respect dignity of labour and that there was nothing wrong in driving a cab to earn one’s living.

I fully stand behind the concept of dignity of labour. I also firmly believe in an egalitarian society. I further believe in living a life shorn of redundant ceremonial regalia and working with my own hands. But that is not the point that I wish to make.

My plain and simple argument is that as a society and a nation we have failed to harness the skills of our military veterans, in this case, a Subedar Major of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army who would have served in uniform for at least three decades and who retired from a Group B (Formerly known as Class II) level gazetted appointment. Would a Subedar Major be driving a cab if offered a commensurate post-retirement placement by us as national policy? the answer would probably be in the negative. Would an equivalent gazetted police or civil officer be found driving a cab like him? the answer to that too would probably be in the negative.

Egalitarianism and dignity of labour is one thing, however making use of skills and providing a dignified post-retirement re-settlement to soldiers is a different issue altogether. Our soldiers start retiring in their 30s, while some of us may be happy to see them stand guard at the neighbourhood ATMs, that simply is not what they are worth. All organisations have a certain hierarchy based upon skills and experience, and that hierarchy cannot be merely brushed aside or stretched to absurd levels in the name of ‘dignity of labour’, since if that be so, then there would be no harm in a retired Colonel or a retired DIG of Police taking up the appointment of a security guard after retirement! If that be so, then there should be and would be no reason for holding on to any hierarchy in any organisation or establishment.

Though much effort is going into it today, the state of resettlement of our soldiers is not worth praise. To take an example, the Railways, with much fanfare keep initiating special drives for recruitment of ex-servicemen. But what are the appointments? -the jobs of cleaners and helpers and khalasis at Group D level (junior even to a newly recruited Sepoy) being offered to all ranks, including to Junior Commissioned Officers of the rank of Naib Subedar, Subedar and Subedar Major. Appointing a former senior functionary of the Army as a cleaner or even a driver is not dignity of labour, it is an affront to the dignity and experience of the military rank, it is indignity of skill sets, it is exploitation of human resources. A fauji lives and dies for his izzat but there is no protection of his military status on re-employment on the civil side. This old news-report would also show how such appointments were accepted with heavy hearts by ex-servicemen and not willingly. Our society also is blissfully unaware that if soldiers are unable to find a suitable vocation after their early release from the defence services at the peak of their lives, they at times develop complexes and even psychiatric ailments, which, of course is an area not even documented or researched upon this side of the world.

Of about 60,000 personnel who retire every year, the Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR) is able to adjust only about 4000. Even after the DGR had written to all Defence Public Sector Undertakings on directions of the Defence Minister, just 8 PSUs even cared to reply with only about 9.5% vacancies utilized. If such is the response of the official establishment even to the right intentioned moves of the political executive, one can well imagine the overall state of affairs.

Familial and societal responsibilities are at peak levels when soldiers retire in their 30s and 40s. Their income drops down exactly to half when they are released, unlike their civilian counterparts who continue in guaranteed employment till the age of 60. To thrust upon any kind of job onto such veterans in the name of ‘dignity of labour’ not commensurate to their skills or experience, would thus be a disservice, to say the least, in my humble opinion. 


Unknown said...

Upon retirement I decided to start farming and one evening I was bringing some veges to the local mandi in my car when the Traffic Police stopped me. Since the amount was only about 100 kgs I was transporting them in my car. First the head constable asked me who I was, I told him Iam a farmer, considering my attire and mannerism he was suspicious of my answer, as the conversation continued as to why I was carting veges in my car I apprised him that it is within the permissible load carrying capacity of the car, he continued to insist that I was doing commercial work in my personal car. Finally he told me to continue further I would have to leave 20 kgs for him. I refused and told him that he was dealing with a retired Gp Capt, he laughed and said only you fauzis can do such work, on my questioning look, he continued further and said my SSP will never do such a thing after retirement, he said leave SSP not even an inspector would work the way you guys do and waved me on, stating that there are few honest guys left in the country.

I gave him 1 kg of colored capsicum on my return journey as my gratitude for his feelings for servicemen.

madhukar said...

I fully appreciate the concerns expressed and the intend is agreed with, however, its disgrace to the respective services for not having prepared our men retiring to be ready for a life by upgrading their skills or at-least attempting to provide them with marketable skills information. DG resettlement must not be with services the services of top HR recruitment agency be engaged for up gradation of skills and getting the retires a new lease of respectable and fruitful career

Cdr Madhukar Nikam(Rtd)

karunakaran a ex havildar said...

my dear major sahib,

have we ever seen any MLA or MP working like sub maj to earn one's post retirement livelihood I do not say it is degrading work, dignity of labour where the place for a sub maj who worked more than 30 years for the country. it is pathetic to see a man of good integrity is seen working as a labourer. the law and convention of india is not in favour of ex army personnel, when they come to understand this, only when martial law is imposed

Anonymous said...

Truly said. Our society does allow people to play with 'izzat' of retired faojies. God only knows when will the system change and accord faujis the respect that they deserve,which is the case in most other nations. May be once again the nation will have to be ruled by others, who will than give armed forces thier rightful place in society. Jai Hind and yes Jai Jawan and Jai Kisan also.

Sahana R said...

This is the exact reason why the OROP was demanded though it is not the correct solution.
Right and optimum solution would be lateral absorption into CPAF & Public Sectors but the bogey of military tag and its internal alienation coupled with inter departmental/ ministerial politics has not allowed it to happen.
Volumes have been written and thus need no elaboration. In a society where job are scarce and only those with proximity to masters/ givers are valued and desired.
Coloured services have nothing to give back to their political masters and bureaucracy and all the emotive & jingoism have no takers in our society.
It has first to degrade and disintegrate and who cares what are the consequential losses.




Unknown said...

At least there is one person who lauds the cause.

Unknown said...

i know of a Sub Major employed in Railways who is working as a gate keeper at a railway crossing. There are innumerable JCOs working in minimal jobs some out of necessity and others just to pass time.

Chibsky said...

Maj Navdep hits the nail on the head. We do not have national policy on utilisation of Military Veterans who are highly trained. It is a misconception that a soldier knows only how to kill in a war or war like situation. The soldiers skills are highly developed and he could be utilised in many areas where there is an overlap of application of skills.

Adv.. Jagadish D. Paranjape said...

The society seems to believe that non technical trade ex. defence personnel are fit only for employment as security guard.In one Pvt. limited company there was vacancy of clerk.The required minimum qualification was S.S.C.Out of the applicants one was ex. sailor,who was S.S.C.,but he was not selected. The reason was that there was also vacancy of security guard and it was offered to him.Thus he was compelled to salute at gate every tom dick and Harry holding managerial post.
The reason appears to be that the capabilities of Ex. servicemen are not sufficiently publicized by defence establishment.

Anonymous said...

My only point is regarding the lack of training given to the retiring personnel so as to enable them to make the switch to a corporate/post-retirement job. No training in HR, accounts, logistics etc. Even the DGR sponsored resettlement courses do not have any credibility in the corporate world.

Commander said...

Navdeep it really pains me to see the state of ex- servicemen. Nothing else but it shows extreme callousness on the part of the government.The government has failed the servicemen and ex- servicemen. In US as part of government policy all the military contractor ex Amazon etc have preferential appointments for veterans but nothing of that sort in a immature democracy like India. We call ourself biggest democracy but we have to learn a lot from the largest democracy.

Chandra said...

It's high time we employ veterans in place of defence civilian employees in depots! Let's start at home.

Unknown said...

very hard hitting and relevant article. congrats for the thought. however, it is unlikely to impress any one who has the power to change things today, including PM Modi, if I may say so.you may however, pursue this relentlessly as it may see fruition in the next tenure of PM Modi. all the best.

Anonymous said...

Only solution is to retire all military personnel at the age of 60 ( at par with
central civil employees ).
To keep the Armed Forces young ; they may be transferred ( with the pay and perks )
to any central civil departments at a fixed age , be it 40 or so..
What is the fault of a young person , who choose to join the Armed Forces. ?????

Mohan said...

Should the solution be a PULL MODEL where Govt directives are issued to ensure dignity of rank OR a PUSH MODEL where the as an organization we enhance the knowledge and skills of the JCOs/OR to a level where in they are much in demand and don't have to seek jobs which are not comensurate to their rank.

I find no reason a JCO/OR would not be absorbed at a level which may be far superior to what he has ever worked in. At the end of it, it is all about the competence.

As an organization we do not train JCOs and OR as we seek perfection and rather do their job ourselves. At the end of it all they do not evolve.

Anonymous said...

....your point makes sense

vivek yadav said...

please ask Subedar Major to contact me for employment as Junior engineer if he is well versed in engineering work .There is huge demand for skilled JEs /AEs .may contact at 9616895276

Anonymous said...

driving cab is profitable business .
Even many tranport agency owner drives cabs when needed simultaneously keep other drivers on pay roll.

Unknown said...

I think if our concious allows to do a job than we must do it. All feelings come from within. We Indians have still feelings of Angrez who use to get everything done through us. Today we are independent. We must do our jobs on own if can do. Corrupt people do always wrong things are laugh at honest person. See the peace with corrupt which is hardly seen. We must not talk about IAS /IPS and allied services where corruption is taken as there right till date. Dignity lost means everything is lost. Rest depends on our self assessment. Do it for yourself and feel proud of it. Try to seggregate these corrupt people.

Anonymous said...

Dear sir,
been a vivid follower of the blog. Request you to permit to differ.
Why do we ex-servicemen need the reservation?
If we strive for izzat, then why the sympathy of getting reservations. Why shouldn't the JCO or the lower ranks be trained in the field of Entrepreneurship, Management, Engineering, etc for atleast one year by the IIMs / IITs' faculties during the last year of discharge.
I once took up an issue of 'reservations in Rajyasabha for ORs' through change.org and could garner meagre support, and then realized that each and every groups, systems starts seeking reservations, then where shall the common man go.
We in the name of 'serving the nation' always get a good share in all the avenues and yet seeking reservations may not be appropriate. Lets live in IZZAT.
Ex-Sgt M Swamy
Bangalore, 8277372770


Major sir you are right I absolutely agree with you

Raghupal Singh Tomar said...

Personnel below officer ranks are mostly retired in early ages say btw 38 to 45. In civil service an employee retires at the age of 60. So Armd foces pers are needed reservation to get the job to enable them to support their family.

Anonymous said...

While our own Ministry discriminates our own Ex-servicemen, what best can be expected from civil side , as regards to re-employment. In Ministry of Defence, Department of ex-serviceman Welfare, in ECHS, every time the advertisement for the position of OIC Polyclinics are made in Regional/National dailies. As per existing policy any ex-serviceman can apply for the position of OIC ECHS Polyclinics,echs also advertises in the same line, however they never allows JCOs/OR to apply for the same post,ECHS authorities always allows only officers to serve the position of OIC ECHS politics.They maintains that there is no rule to deny JCOs/OR to apply for OIC Polyclinic, however they will reject them in interview process. We will not find any single JCO/OR serving as OIC ECHS Polyclinic elsewhere in our country. There are many highly qualified JCOs/OR Ex-serviceman available, inspite of policy for reservation for OIC ECHS Polyclinic, why this discriminations? In this context would like to say, before we expect something excellent from civil side, let's filter irregularities from our own home. Inside out approach theory of life really a great inspiration.

Unknown said...

I think post retirement plan is as much the responsibility of govt/army ,it is as much responsibility of individual retiring .One must make post retirement plan .I know so many Fauzis doing so well in civil Street ,some of them are low rankers .What matters in civil is how you project your self .