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Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

IS THE AGITATION BY RETIRED SOLDIERS IN INDIA A GANDHIAN ACT ?

Today, many people and associations call their agitations as Gandhian method of satyagraha. The present agitation launched by retired soldiers may also be called as a Gandhian act. However, Mahatma Gandhi never advocated satyagraha as a method of coersion  to achieve narrow objectives. 

It is extremely doubtful as to whether Gandhiji would have approved the present agitation by retired soldiers in India, demanding  one rank one pension.

Soldiers and farmers  -  Two eyes of the nation :

There is no doubt that farmers  and soldiers represent the two eyes of the nation . While the farmers toil hard on the soil to supply food to the nation, soldiers toil hard on the borders to provide security for the nation. It is the duty of the country men and the government  to appreciate the lofty role played by farmers and soldiers and  ensure that they are rewarded suitably and are kept satisfied.

However,Small farmers  who live on the verge of poverty  belong to unorganised class and   retired soldiers who  have sort of muscle power to demand their rights and privileges belong to organised class...

There is ocean of difference in the living conditions between  the organised and unorganised class.   Soldiers do sacrifice their lives while discharging their duties and this is the greatest service that anyone can do for the motherland.  However, unlike most of the farmers in India, soldiers are not impoverished  lot.   Whereas the small farmers largely  remain unorganised and are vulnerable   to various conditions confronting them , soldiers are certainly better placed in the society compared to an average farmer.

Farmers  are seen  to commit suicides  frequently all over India  due to poverty conditions and the  government as well as the society  have not done enough for them to protect their interests. 

Lack of concern of organised class towards unorganised , poor fellow citizens :

Several concerned economists and activists are now veering to the view that  the organised class  exert huge pressure on the government and the employers by their collective bargaining  strength,  in the name of trade union movement.  Most of them now have reasonably comfortable life style and certainly are not poverty stricken.  Too frequently,  we see strike and agitations by well paid organised class like bank staff , transport workers etc. who  agitate and get their demands met .

When the government   and employers spend chunk of their income  to pay the organised class, to that extent money will not be available to help the  unorganised section of the people  such as  farmers, domestic workers etc. who need the  support from the government much more than the organised class. What is necessary to note is that such organised class have no consideration or thought about the plight of the unorganised people ,while demanding  wage rise for themselves.

Retired soldiers are not impoverished lot :

While the country men always viewed the serving and retired soldiers with high respect and sense of gratitude , the present agitation launched by  retired soldiers demanding one rank one pension have surprised many people.  Many  have not openly come out to criticise  the agitation launched by the retired soldiers due to the  respect that they have  for their services rendered to the nation. Nevertheless, the agitation launched   by the retired soldiers look   more like the behaviour  of the politically oriented trade unions rather than that of army personnel, known for discipline and decorum..

 

One   would be justified  in resorting to such agitations , if they would be impoverished lot, particularly in a country like India where more than 300 million people live below poverty line ,  not knowing where the next meal would come from.

Prime Minister has greater responsibility towards downtrodden :

It is particularly shocking that even after the Prime Minister announced  in his Independence Day speech that the government of India is committed to one rank one pension for the retired army personnel, the retired  soldiers appear to have decided to intensify their agitation.  Obviously, the issue before Prime Minister is to how to  find money to implement the scheme, particularly when  money is desperately needed  to implement development schemes  to promote growth  and  create better conditions for the millions of downtrodden people in India.

Obviously, another worry for the Prime Minister should be  that every other section of government employees like bank staff and others would start making similar demands that will open the pandora box.

Prime Minister is not accountable to the retired soldiers and organised class in the country alone. He has even  greater responsibility towards the oppressed and suppressed  people living in villages even without basic amenities like toilets and living in extremely difficult conditions.

Retired soldiers should set example for other organised class :

The retired soldiers , reputedly known for discipline, patriotism and commitment to national cause ,should set an example to other  organised  class in the country by giving up the agitational  approach and finding a common ground with the government to find a solution for the problem  in the best manner possible , keeping the interests of not only the retired soldiers but also the millions of poor Indians.

N.S.Venkataraman

Nandinivoice for the Deprived

nandinivoice.com

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Comment by Balamurali Balaji on August 18, 2015 at 18:30
Retired army men protesting for resolving their issues highly justifiable. It is of no significance as to whether they are protesting through Gandhian means or not. Like any other sect of the deprived or victims, they've got their own concerns. After all, they too are senior citizens. Today's government should think over this.

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