If someone is too clever by half it often means they are irritatingly devious and manipulating, rather than actually very clever and most of us see through the trickery. This exactly is happening on the National governance stage! It possibly is rampant universally too! We are witnessing nothing new but repeat of an age old malaise which our elected leaders are inflicting on us with impunity and unabashedly. It is rather surprising that we so often succumb to them; there could be many reasons but that is another story that could be unfolded separately.

War’s bills do not stop coming when the guns fall silent. A Harvard University study last year projected the final bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would hit $4 trillion to $6 trillion in the coming decades. That is the price the US is paying to retain its Superpower status. Ever heard of the Bradley tanks used during the Gulf war?  For those who have not read the book  “ Pentagon Wars” or have seen the movie the startling revelations are that it took over eight years and nine billion dollars to design the tank for combat safety and readiness, before the tank was finally sent for production! Looks like our DRDO, HAL, ISRO and the lot have taken a leaf out of the leaked “Pentagon Papers”!

Comparisons are odious and statistics often misleading, but  as an aside which may appear odd and a bit confusing; An American Veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period  to qualify for  Pension. In addition to meeting minimum service requirements, the Veteran must be age 65 or older. For Soldiers who entered military service between September 8, 1980 and July 31, 1986, retired pay is computed using 50 percent of the average of the “high-three” years (36 months) of basic pay after 20 years of service, plus an additional 2.5 percent for each additional year. The example for a “high-three” participant with 24 years of service will be the same as the Final Pay Plan (50% +10% (2.5% x 4 years), however the multiplier (60%) is applied to the average basic pay for the highest 36 months rather than the final basic pay. As with the Final Pay Plan, the High-Three Plan includes a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) – usually annually. For those interested the internet will guide and enlighten you further.

How much does a grateful nation feel it owes to the less than one percent of the population that volunteers to fight our wars? We are an all-volunteer force, the bottom line is that the Nation has to to take care of us as we are willing to do what the bulk of people are not willing to do.

It is said skills used by soldiers, sailors, airmen and are now transferable to the civilian world and that many people find second careers after retiring in their forty’s. That means they collect the pension as well as income from second careers. It is laughable to imagine that the average military retiree becomes enriched by the system; even a qualified top ranking officer is often kept by corporate in their showcase  window dresser, a lower rank soldiers is often seen on watch at the construction sites, banks and the likes.

India has the fourth most powerful military in the world,  its military expenditure is ranked ninth approximately around 2.5 of its GDP. Without getting into the natty and the gritty we do require to sit back and examine whether the survival of the integrity and safety of our country should take precedence or we continue with status qua, ignoring and sidelining our armed forces. I am certain that any right thinking Indian would always want to live in free India without fear and oppression and they would always desire that the armed forces are strong and vibrant.  They would understand that the best of weaponry and hardware would remain a museum piece  if the men using them are to be ignored and belittled.  They would want their political leaders to ensure the best for the brethren who have volunteered to lay their lives for their tomorrow!

I leave you with the truth “I wonder if our political masters who have been put in charge of  the defense of the country can distinguish between mortar and motor, a gun from a howitzer, a guerrilla from gorilla although a great many resemble the latter.”  Sam Manekshaw