THE COMMONER AMONG COMMONERS
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Manohar Parrikar is his name. Presently he is the Raksha Mantri in the Government of India looking after defence of Bharat. Before assuing the present appointment, he was the Mukhya Mantri of Goa. All along he has been dressing like a commoner and goes all over in a half sleeve bush shirt, a pair of trousers and a pair of simple chappals sans frills. Many a time the burly Durban of a hi fi place makes a fuss before letting him in. Of course, it is his staff officer or the accompanying security personnel who facilitate his entry in a high security zone. Manoha Parrikar does not mind not being recognized because he loves to be a commoner that he actually is.
Manohar Parrikar’s easy going habits make him a high achiever because he wastes no time in buying or ordering a designer suit or selecting an outlandish make up or an expensive French perfume. Wearing what an average Goan wears helps him mix with tom dick and harry and converse informally. No wonder the top notch journalist are shocked when they find him sipping a cup of tea at a road side dhaba and chatting comfortably with Goans about the weather and crops, fish and fowl with a little bit of current political gossip thrown in spontaneously.
He made a candid statement in an interview on a TV channel of high standing that it is over a cup of tea with commoners that the commoner politician gathers news and views not only about the weather and its effects on crops but also about fish market on catches big and small wherein a wee bit of current political situation makes a way in willy-nilly. What the commoner of commoners comes to know in this manner is worth its weight in gold. The government media advisors may take time in fathoming the depth of the Arabian Sea to catch big fish but not Manohar Parrikar with his round the clock accessibility to commoners.
Of course, he is butt of jokes cracked by some political opponents. As the world knows our dear old Manohar loves to spend a few days in Goa every month, he is invited by one and all to share achievements of the common man in the coastal state with a Portuguese beginning. Fish plays an important role in the daily life of a Goan and, of course, in the economy of Goa, not ignoring iron ore that China loves to buy for a pittance. Once it so happened that Manohar Parrikar was invited to inaugurate a big fish catch scene where he held a big catch aloft and its picture found its way to the national press. Digvijai Singh of the Congress party lost no time in making a caustic comment that when Pradhan Mantri was buying Rafale jet fighters in Paris, the Raksha Mantri Manohar Parrikar was buying fish in Goa. When the comment was brought to the notice of Raksha Mantri, he clarified that he was encouraging the fishing community of Goa where fish eating is believed to sharpen intellect and strengthen memory bank in brain. He sincerely advised Digvijay Singh to eat fish, perhaps to boost brain power.
Why does Manohar Parrikar goes to Goa almost every month? Well he has his roots there. It is sad that he lost his wife a decade and a half ago but the rest of the immediate family are there in Goa. Goa loves Manohar and Manohar loves Goa. He believes that if one’s roots are deep in the earth, he or she is bound to be big like a big banyan tree with long and strong routes in the ground.
Professionally speaking, Manohar Parrikar holds an ace of efficiency. He is all set to improve the fighting capability of the three services – Army, Navy and Air Force. His aim is the let the world, not only neighbouring countries, realize that Bharat has come up as a strategic power and is now a force to reckon with. He is all out to buy the latest and most effective weapon system from every nook and corner of the globe. USA, Israel and Russia, now France, are being tapped for the best deal of the best systems in defence. He also encourages our own DRDO to come out with the best and cheapest to save on foreign exchange. An oblique criticism is made that in pursuance of making a favourable deal with honesty, he loses sight of the main goal; that is acquisition of the relevant weapon system, a ship or sub-marine or an aircraft, not forgetting making an aircraft carrier in Bharat. However, coming to the defence of Honesty, one cannot but say that squandering hard earned money of common man will never find favour with a hard working commoner heading the defence ministry.
Honesty is the best policy – an age old saying still finds favour with our Raksha Mantri. He comes down with a heavy hand on those whose policy is Dishonesty. He cares not what the rank or station in life is of the one at whom the needle of suspicion points, he goes all out to have such cases of corruption investigated so that the guilty is brought to book. Recently a Major General of the Ordnance Corps and another senior officer of the same rank belonging to the Army Service Corps were found to be indulging in corrupt practices. The money involved was in millions. Raksha Mantri made discreet enquiries and found credibility in the whispers doing rounds of the South Block corridors, and he did not have second thoughts in asking the CBI to pursue such cases of corruption.
Manohar Parrikar is following the policy of Pradhan Mantri Modi “ Na khaonga, Na khane doonga” that means neither I shall make money under the table not let anyone else do that.
Of course there is a lot of work to be done in the ministry of defence to root out corruption. There is a strong rumour that the Canteen Stores Department controlled by the Defence Ministry and Army Headquarters is a place where easy money comes easily into pockets of supervising persons. There is a keen competition among the Major General rank officers of the ASC to become the boss of CSD. The writing is on the wall for everyone to read. Of course, alcohol, its sale and purchase, plays a major role therein. The less said the better it would be.
Of late the OROP ( one rank one pension) has been engaging the attention of Raksha Mantri and his team. It is heartening to note that the decision made by the Government of India in this regard has been quite satisfying to the rank and file. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Defence have shown to the world how unitedly they worked to ameliorate the hardships faced by the Veterans of the three Services. Indeed one cannot please all but if the majority of the people are satisfied with the decision made, the aim is achieved.
It is the Commoner among Commoners who worked patiently and honestly to deliver the goods. Manohar Parrikar has been successful in most of missions and nothing succeeds like success.
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