Here's Why Indian Government is Not in Solidarity with #OROP
Ex-servicemen of the army who are also One Rank One Pension campaigners explain why the Indian government is not in total solidarity with their promises for the defense sector
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
February 1 is a momentous year for Indians and this year it held special significance. First-because the budget marked a pre-election preparation for the current ruling party and second, curiosity pans were high because it was being presented by the interim finance minister, the finance minister being away to mend his ailing health.
Now, coming to the defense budget, those who saw Piyush Goyal having a breathless but exciting time addressing the house also must have seen and heard the ear-deafening thumbing and the chants of "Modi" that erupted in the parliament when the defense budget was announced. A sum of INR 3 lakh crore seems like a big amount but will it suffice the need of the 12 lakh defense personnel and the capital requirements of an army whose neighbours are hell-bent on showing disdain in incidents one after another?
A Fleeting Hype
Former Major Rajneesh Pawar spoke to Entrepreneur India in a telephonic interview and doesn't feel too happy about the budget allocation. He thinks that the budget allocation for the defense sector is "just hype created." He feels that the sector is still ill-equipped. "According to the requirements we have, this is peanuts." Pawar asks a very question, "We need to ask if the budget is enough looking the 12 lakh defense personnel?"
Squadron Leader Krishan Mitroo (Rtd) again points out with the index so high and cost of military hardware sky-rocketing, INR 3 lakh crore appears peanuts; particularly in view of perpetual security threat, not from within but from immediate neighbourhood too.
Inconsistency in Numbers
The budget and the interim finance minister also conveyed solidarity with the One Rank One Pension Campaign. Entrepreneur India reached out to Major General Satbir Singh, ex-serviceman in the army who is in the forefront of the OROP campaign. Singh did not mince words and pointed out, "As a soldier who has served the country for 40 years, this budget is the worst allocation by far." Singh highlighted that the government is talking in numbers and not percentages. While INR 3 lakh crores sound a big number, it is just 1.50 per cent of the GDP.
"China does 5 per cent of the GDP. India needs a minimum allocation of 3 per cent. How can this budget be enough?" he argues.
Singh also brings a vital point to light. In the announcement, it was said that 3500 crores have been dispersed. But they have been dispersed for what and for how many years is an empty abyss feels Singh. "No new purchase of tanks and weapons has happened."
Rewarding the Soldiers of the Nation
Wing Commander Vinod Neb feels the same and even adds that the government has somewhere misled people. "They must talk in percentage. The capital investment is lopsided and the pension of average army personnel is awful." Neb gives the analogy of a guard who is given money to safeguard the house. The same is true for the country. A soldier who guards the nation should be given a decent compensation.
So there are three types of compensation which a soldier should be provided with- remuneration of defense personnel, investment in equipment and compensation to the people who have retired or died in the noble cause of serving the nation.
Mitroo clarifies how the space for the defense budget should be made, "If the government desires to cut corners, sincere efforts could be made on expenditure control in government sector, for instance, fat salaries, perks and maintenance of ministers and politicians; cut on bail-out packages to mismanaged PSUs including Air India and the likes.
Defense personnel is definitely not happy but now it is up to the government to respond in solidarity because according to the people who know the sector too well, clearly, the words don't match with actions.