LIFE EXPECTANCY OF A SOLDIER LESS THAN HIS CIVIL COUNTER PART: A STUDY REVEALS
1. An important and serious issue as above was brought to the notice of the Govt on 28 June 2005. Unfortunately, it has been swept under the carpet and no remedial measures initiated. Is this the way, the Govt treats its Soldiers” who sacrifice their life to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the Nation? On 26 July 1999, when the count was taken, 527 brave soldiers had obtained “Martyrdom” and another 1363 had been seriously war wounded and disabled. This was because the Country’s intelligence Agencies and the Govt failed to read and appreciate correctly the ground realities and intentions of Pakistan. No one responsible for the same had been held accountable and punished but the soldiers unflinchingly laid down their lives to save the Nation’s pride.
2. It is a common knowledge that soldiers retire ahead of their time. What is not so well known, however, is that they also die much younger than their civilian counterparts? It is more than a coincidence that longevity of defence veterans bears a direct relationship with their age at retirement. Thus, officers live longer than JCOs who, in turn, outlive the Other Ranks. The worst hit are the other ranks who bear the main brunt of the battle. However, the fact is that all defence veterans Die much early than personnel from other civil services.
3. Life expectancy of the civil government employees was studied by the Institute of Applied Research in Manpower Analysis (IARM) at the behest of the fifth CPC. After a detailed and thorough investigation, they arrived at 77 Years as the life expectancy of the Civil Servant. Railways conducted a similar exercise for their personnel; they assessed their life span as 78 years. Relevant extracts from those reports are given at Appx ‘A’.
4. No such study was formally conducted for the defence veterans since, it was generally believed that soldiers live longer than civilians. However, Maj Gen (Retd) Surjit Singh, AVSM, VSM who headed the Army Cell of 5th CPC, carried out a detailed study alongwith other experts in 2005 which revealed that the average ages at which our defence veterans die are as under :-
(a) Officers - 72.5 years.
(b) JCOs - 67 years.
(c) Other Ranks - 59.6 to 64 years.
5. The above facts were put down in a Paper which was forwarded to the then COAS JJ Singh by Lt Gen (Retd) MM Lakhera, PVSM, AVSM, VSM then Lieutenant Governor Pondicherry on 07th July 2005 (Copy of covering letter enclosed).
6. The above paper was widely covered by all the National News Papers and a question was raised in the Parliament on this subject. The then RM (and the current Rashtrapati and Supreme Commander of Defence Forces), Sh. Pranab Mukherjee stated that issue would be examined in detail. Mr Defeence Minister, that was the last we heard about the most important aspect of soldiers life expectancy as compared to their Civilian Counterparts. The files still lie buried in the archives of the MoD. Otherwise, there is no reason as to why the Govt should not have executed measures to suitable address all aspects of the profession of Arms.
7. It is pity that the most genuine demand of One Rank One pension (OROP) has not yet been accepted alongwith other measures to give due respect to the soldiers and their sacrifices. How can the Govt downgrade the status of Defeance Forces by 5 notches since 1950? How is it that the pension of highest rank defence officer ie COAS has been increased only 45 times while for the Civilian Counterpart, it has been increased 108 times in the last 40 years ? How is that minimum family pension of a widow of Sepoy is still Rs 3500 per month? How is it that NFU and 3rd career progression have not been granted to Defnece Personnel which have since been granted to the civilian employees? Mr Rakshsha Mantri, it is sad that you are ill-treating the Military? Why are you at war with your own soldiers! It is quite apparent that the Govt is playing into the hands of the bureaucracy who for obvious reasons want to ensure their own supremacy even at the cost of National Security.
8. The above statistics are of 2005 vintage. The environments in 2012-13, reveal that the life expectancy and stress levels have further deteriorated due to continuous apathy by the Govt. 1053suicides by the serving soldiers in the last few years is indicative of high stress levels and low satisfaction levels. Recent cases of fragging and indiscipline is a cause of concern. This indifference of the MoD is adversely affecting not only the veterans but also the future veterans.
9. In view of the foregoing, may we request you to trace out the file which may be catching dust in MoD or Army HQ and Review the management of Defence Personnel in more humane and pragmatic manner? Initiate measures to ensure that the soldiers are given their due status, respect, pay and allowance, pensions and family pensions and measures are put in place where soldiers can live in dignity and respect in our democracy.