Sunday, 20 September 2015

Dear Mr Chetan Bhagat





                                                           
Courtesy  Times Of India




    Dear Mr Chetan Bhagat,

        Every morning when I turn the pages of the newspaper, I expect to be enlightened and informed by grey matter way above on the ladder, of those who wield the pen. And this bright  sultry Sunday, as I turned the pages, TOI column  Underage Optimist’s  headlines screaming of OROP grabbed my attention. Being a fauji wife, but naturally you had my attention for those full five minutes till  I finished reading it. That’s how long it took. Then I went back to  it again. And again. Just to understand and swallow the fact that a national daily that boasts of being the best in terms of number of copies being circulated, actually published your opinion on a matter over which you have no expertise whatsoever.

  On that matter, we are at the same level. I mean, the matter of subject knowledge. So, could I just deconstruct your column so as to understand the informed pearls of  wisdom spewing from  the black  print.If I had been  a teacher or even a customer service trainer, you would have scored a perfect CGPA 10 for  beginning on a positive note with melodrama laced at the edges. You have talked of sacrifice and how the Defence is the only sector that is shown in a positive light by our beloved Bollywood. And I shall come to this later, I promise.

    1.     How is OROP a misnomer? That the veterans are fighting for one pension for the respective ranks irrespective of the year of retirement, has never been under the cloak. Or is it that you realized the core issue when you decided to write this article? When you say that the general perception  on the issue is driven by sentiments  such as, “ They guard our borders so they must get it”, are you trying to throw alms into a begging bowl?
No one is holding a bowl here, Mr Bhagat. The veterans are only asking to revert to a practice that was already in place. Why and how this practice ceased, maybe you could research a bit (for a change) and enlighten us on it in your next column.


      2.   You claim “ …After all those who protect our borders must be treated well. OROP was seen as something that meant soldiers were treated well. Hence, you better give OROP,  and now!”
( Did you seriously conjure up this sentence!)
This agitation did not happen one fine day  when the veterans decided to sit for a picnic at Jantar Mantar during the oppressively sultry days. It was borne out of false promises and hopes raised over the last forty years ever since this bone of contention has been represented  in various capacities. The picture that you see today is that of frustration raising its head.


       3.    “ People who wanted to do an objective analysis had to scurry and hide in a corner….”
No, they did not have to, Chetan Bhagat! Objective analysis has always been welcomed by the Forces. But armed with facts and figures and no skeletons hiding in the cupboard. There should be no space for objective analysis without all the facts on the table. How else do you think wars are fought? Or strategies formulated in the war games ? It is objective analysis. They think with their heads and not with the hearts. However, these very forces when they are called upon for humanitarian missions perform extremely well. They think with their head and the heart, Mr Bhagat.


    4.        Do you think it worries the Forces personnel whether the status “ Army good, politician bad” will be maintained after this? That soldier at the border will continue to trudge cross country at more than 10000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh and sleep in the open so he can set up a post for your security; or stand at 23000 feet surrounded by snowfields in Siachen and come down with medical issues that would be a reminder of the tenure for his entire lifetime (for your information Mt Everest is at 29000feet) ;  or sit inside an armoured tank without an AC when the outside temperature is above fifty degrees Celsius. Was that the AC humming when you wrote this article?


     5.      “ …we have OROP for defence why not for our paramilitary and police?”

You have been a bad boy, Mr Bhagat! I will tell  your mamma that you don’t do your homework well. The OROP issue has its basis on the retirement age of defence personnel.  The paramilitary and police personnel retire at the age of 57 to 60 years while a soldier’s retirement age is 35 years.

6.       And since you have defaulted on research, how about telling the world through your column that exactly how the defence pension of  Rs 60000 crores per year gets divided between the actual defence personnel and the civilian defence officials. Please add to it that how the Rs 12000 crores that you tout the exchequer will be burdened with every year will actually be mitigated in five years time. The latter figure, by the way, is a backlog of the payment due for non-implementation of OROP for the last so many years.


   7.   These funds are given out with no output obtained in return?“, “ …to pay the officers more or the jawans more?”, “ …more money be spent on veterans or more hospitals for veterans? “

There speaks a true investment  banker! Looking for the best horse to bet on. Thank you, but the soldier had already put aside a part of his money into the ECHS scheme (Ex Servicemen Health Scheme) at the time of retirement so he could do the rounds of Military Hospital in his old age. The doubts you think aloud are best kept under  wraps till  you understand the whole system and the complex web woven for years.”…many sectors don’t even have pensions” -  Where do you live Mr Chetan Bhagat? We are talking of Government services here. Incidentally, many of these services  also have a Provident Fund scheme where the organization also  contributes to the employees  fund. On the other hand, a soldier maintains a EPF/DSOP where he is the sole contributor.


    Like I promised in the beginning, Mr Chetan Bhagat, I shall come  back to your opening lines. The defence fraternity humbly accepts and is grateful to Bollywood for  showing us in such  glowing light, receiving the hoots and whistles in a dark hall and making money out of it. Taking note of your condescending tone ( for I did get a stink of it), when a soldier dies he oozes blood and not ketchup. Do you send out  a prayer when there is a cas evac ( casualty evacuation) so the injured soldiers are flown to the nearest MH in time for  medical attention? Do you fight snow storms to reach out to the grievously injured in the glacier so his life can be saved? Do you fly choppers at altitudes where they were  never meant to be flown? However these machines are employed beyond their stated limits because there is no other way and there is no other battlefield higher than the Siachen glacier. Do you stand by the widows when these choppers crash? Have you seen a burning bus load  of bloodied soldiers rushed back to the MH while they were on their way home for Diwali holidays after a year? Be a part of this and then adopt a tone for your article.

   And next time I shall hope to read an informed article in your column about the three hundred percent hike that  our esteemed members of the parliament have gifted themselves with,  as also a hundred percent hike in the pipeline this year.

37 comments:

  1. Well written and sound advice to someone who doesn't deserve it. Why are we waiting our breath on a 4 novel nobody? Have seen lots of rebuttals to his articles and this one is great. But we are giving too much importance to this guy. His poor works of trash mix of writing would not have been published anywhere but India. PS Why doesn't his dad rebut?

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    1. Not published in India. But only in that national tabloid called Times of India. I wonder why people buy that tabloid. They are taking you for a massive ride. I once read it only for RK Layman's daily 'you said it" cartoon. With RK dead there is nothing I find worthwhile in that newspaper but slapstick columns by opinionated fly by night columnists

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  2. Perfect reply to a guy who thinks is capable of everything. .........Mr Bhagat u r not even proficient in ur own profession of writing. ..........kindly do ur homework before wring on the national newspaper next time.......its not a dance show where u can get away with any comment u make😊😊

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  3. Ma'm, you have covered all the points very well and written very forcefully too. Unfortunately, Mr. Bhagat is only a front man for the people who wish to muddy the waters and show the OROP movement in bad light without any factual data. This is an old trick and I would not be surprised if you find more such pieces appearing in the days to come from other 'eminent' columnists and commentators. The establishment actually encourages this and at times even provides them with selective inputs and statistics. I hope Mr. Bhagat now realises that he has been led up the garden path by someone very clever indeed who chooses to remain in the shadows and has used Mr. Bhagat's rather puny shoulder to fire from.

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  4. Gr8 reply to guy who doesn't deserve it!
    4 books and he thinks he can comment on any issue. It's one way to disregard such immature and naive voices, but it's important to educate/ shut these voices so that this attitude of anyone getting up and commenting on any issue because they carry some name and fame is discouraged.
    Very few understand " why OROP ". Modi, the true gujju he is, has made so much issue of the financial burden. Why doesn't he answer for the dismal representation of gujjus in fauj.
    Ilakshee, what comes from the heart and is made to pass through the head is always worth a read! Hope Mr Chetan Bhagat understands....

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  5. Rahul Monga, agreed we are wasting our breath over ignorant people but it is they who help form public opinion and sway mass sentiments. I really appreciate your visit to this space and sharing your views here.

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  7. You are right, Anna. TOI has been reduced to being a tabloid and sadly it is they who help to form public opinion. Thank you for being here.

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  9. Thank you ColdSteel for being here and sharing your views. It is but understood that Bhagat is more of a stooge here than an 'expert'. Raised voices also need to be heard against the perpretator.

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  10. Thanks Vijay for being here :) I am ready to listen to a difference in opinion but only from people of merit and research. And this guy had definitely not even read the text. Voices have to come out in every space.

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  11. Great reply to irrelevant writer, of a paper that exists to sell itself. Honestly I had not understood the grouse of OROP until I read your reply.

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  12. Very well replied Ilakshee! This guy has been a overrated character. It was clearly a planted article under his name or specially commissioned to write this crap! Either way he is shining example of a Presstitute!

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  13. Madam,

    Just to remind you everybody works for living as great manekshaw would have said.

    talking about working condition, a army personnel wouldn't have to face difficulty of a BSF life; or inhuman condition faced by a coal miner.

    In fact to set the fact right, the death rate of coal miner is higher than arm forces.

    I work for a private job. MY family future is not secure like wives and children of army personnel. Neither I will get pension when I will turn 60. In fact I will stop getting any money the day I stop working.


    Moreover Let me just tell you I too work 12-14 hrs every day; and FYI has been paying taxes since I was 19yr old. EVERY JOB Is difficult and being in army is not different being another 100 jobs which are equally difficult.

    A army personnel retires at 45 (not 35 as you are saying it's 28yrs; get your fact right) and he have his pension, his experience and govt promoted diploma (from IIMs if you may please), and special option in govt job. He can start his second life. Most IT people who just crossed 42 and are thrown out of job from TCS does not have same luxury or option.

    Mam I appreciate your thoughts; but enough is done by BJP govt for army veterans. Asking more is being greedy and not rational.

    Be informed, and dont write for sake of making your article top 100 in india blogging list.

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    1. Mr shantanu
      Firstly you and other like you work for a living I as a army man live to serve my country . No matter how many thankless people like you are sitting back there I am going to continue doing so. You are working for 12-14 hrs a day I am on duty 24x7 with no Sunday and holiday grauding the nation away from our families. When I go for my duty I don't know if I will be back and this I don't do for my pay package I do it for the love for my nation . Talking of army job not being different I will pay you your ten years of your salary if only you have the guts to run through a live minefield for assaulting on to the enemy firing upon you.

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  14. Very well written Ma'am n thankfully devoid of emotional junk one invariably reads in such rebuttals.

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  15. Thank you Parwati Singari., and you are right about the paper. Tabloid is what I would term it as.

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  16. Col Srinivas, good to see you here . Planted or not he has definitely revealed his shallowness. He must have lost quite a bit of fan following.

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  17. Shantanu Sir, welcome to my space here. I believe in dignity of labour whether it is in the mines, borders, fields, roads, factories and other places. What suggested that OROP is a disregard for other hard workers? Get your facts right about retirement age, about which forces personnel and how they get to go for IIM bridge course, and other things mentioned by you here. By the way my space is not to eulogise or lambast political parties. I kindly request you to use your blog space , which has been languishing in the virtual void since 2011, to voice your concerns and rants.

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  18. Thank you Col Puneet Khanna for your kind words.

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  19. Miki ba I read your blogs till now for enriching myself about your experiences. But this blog clarified many of my doubts and information about OROP as I had read Mr.Bhagat's article in TOI to understand his views about OROP and was not very sure which side he was on or was he just writing to show his writing prowess by articulating his views like some fictional stories he writes. I hope to read his clarification in TOI very soon else I will be really disappointed. Keep writing :)

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  20. Very well said ilakshee.You have nailed it well and proper.

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  21. You see, my friend, I am biased.

    For one, I enjoy what you write. Further, I hate people when they shoot from the hip, a la Mr Chetan Bhagat. But in a society where seemingly the most popular idol is a hit-and-run criminal who used to beat his girlfriends black and blue and chase them down alleyways in the middle of the nights and was in cahoots with the underworld east and west of the borders, in a country where certain Yadav clans determine the fate of the rest of the populace and still claim to be downtrodden and cling to reservations, in a country where imbeciles who cheat their way right up to 10+2 levels or pay someone else to write their exams are running amok grabbing the coveted jobs, and I must stop somewhere, anything is possible.

    You have taken up your case well with Mr CB and I naturally agree with you. But for myopia I might well have chosen the army as a career, and that says a lot about how I feel about it, although rather than writing this I'd have been dead longer than this, felled by hostile bullets of an enemy or a terrorist.

    Thank you, for those points. But like someone said above, each job is important, unless you are an outlaw or a poilitician. I keep getting transferred from place to place and I have always been amazed by the porters who load and unload my belongings hauling them up and down the buildings and in and out of the lorries. And these guys are under no one's employment, earn paltry sums for their blood and sweat, earn no pension. And they die much before they are old because you cannot sustain the toil for long. They are dead even when they are alive.

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  22. Animesh, thanks but I suggest you read up more informed pieces doing the rounds.For one, google Brig Mahalingam's piece and also an IITian, Mohit Sinha's article on Linkedin to get the essence of it.

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  23. Thank you Indu Chibber.Ill informed pieces, not representing the correct facts is what bothers me.

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  24. Your words are always held in high esteem, Uma. While each of us are free to form our opinion from our experiences, information gathered and knowledge acquired, 'columnists' need to maintain responsible writing as their basic tenet when on an assignment that help form public opinion. This, only after perusal of facts alone. Alas, that is fast diminishing in this nation where, allow me to use the cliche', everything sells. Like I pointed out in my post, CB and i are at the same level of understanding of the OROP issue. Having read a couple of links on the subject, the nebulous ideas in my mind have taken some shape, that has convinced me to understand the 'game'within the Government services. And that is what the OROP is all about. The links that helped me were

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fellow-iitians-humble-request-chetan-bhagat-mohit-sinha

    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/In-search-of-propriety/orop-stop-misleading-the-people-and-come-out-with-the-arithmetic/


    And thank you for your thoughts, Uma. It is always good to engage with different perspectives that brings clarity to a picture.

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  25. Since i last night i have been going through different replies that people had sent to Chetan Bhagat on writing nuisance. And now after reading your article, I can definitely say that this is the apt reply to Chetan bhagat. Hats off to you mam! You clearly showed him the door and your detailed explanation on everything is awesome. Chetan Bhagat- See, A Fauji wife knows a way more than you about real issues. Please stop writing books about making India Better! First question your own integrity towards India. I believe that your thoughts in OROP article clearly depicts how much you are committed to your country and its people.
    Chetan bhagat- you write cheap stories that are read by 16 yr old boys and girls and since they sell quite well among college students, this doesn’t mean that you are mature enough to comment on serious issues such as OROP.
    My Sincere advice to you Mr. Bhagat is that Please accept the fact that you are not a journalist. You don’t even write proper intellectual fiction. Just because you got famous because of 2/3 books , and you judged a dance reality show(Still I could not figure out why you were chosen as judge on a dance reality show, when you don’t know anything of dance) and you have got a platform to write, you cannot write anything that crosses your mind.

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  26. Many of us do not understand the OROP issue because we do not have complete knowledge of it. It doesn't help that there are so many opinions clouding our judgement.

    All I can say is, may justice prevail.

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  27. I don't have the right informations or knowledge to extend a comment on OROP. My perception on this issue is limited to one or two articles that I have come across. My comment on it would be as good as those of Chetan's in a reality dance show.
    OROP is to Chetan is equal to a toothpaste or a toilet soap to a Amitabh or a Sachin. They hold it in public because they get money from it.
    What I want to say here doesn't involve much knowledge on the subject but only needs true respect for these war veterans. In all the articles on OROP that I had gone through, the writers never forget to reiterate about the hardships, the sacrifices and the risks involved in their job.They perform these acts of valour and supreme sacrifice with a deep sense of pride and dignity. They never perform these to draw sympathy from the policy makers who fix their salary or pension.
    OROP is their rightful demand. Do they need to go on showing their injuries like a street beggar to get what they rightfully deserve ?. They are real fighters. They won't take it if it is thrown to them as a consolation.
    writers, please don't do it. It may be humiliating for them. These sacrifices and injuries are their precious possessions.

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  28. Deepak Sharma, thank you for visiting my blog. While each of us are free to form opinion, a columnist needs to be careful in factual presentation on any issue. If only CB had placed an unbiased article...

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  29. Responsible writing seems to be hurling down the abyss, Purba

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  30. A celebrity aligning with a product also has a sense of responsibility towards the public as does a columnist in presenting an article. Dipak Gogoi, my only woe is he should have thoroughly researched on the issue before chiding the veterans.

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  31. You are right ilakshee. Let me try to explain what happens to the sense of responsibility to the people like Chetan Bhagat.

    Instant popularity is like a storm. It blows away whatever little efficiency left within him, if he is not deeply rooted into the ground of knowledge and honesty. He is lifted to such a height that he starts feeling like a god. What can you expect from a person devoid of knowledge and responsibility who assumes himself to be the almighty. At this stage he becomes dangerous for the society. He starts driving his car on people , carry unauthorised weapons, kill endangered animals and write irresponsible things... and what not...
    After the storm subsides he is thrown into oblivion
    On the other hand the same popularity storm when touches a matured , wise and deep rooted honest person it strengthens and purifies him by blowing away the whatever rotten and harmful qualities were within him..He is never uprooted but his seeds of knowledge are flown into far away places to germinate . He than becomes a real hero who brings revolutionary changes to the civilization. He is never thrown into oblivion , but remains as a icon for the generations to come.

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  32. Dipak Gogoi, you have pretty much hit it as far as CB is concerned.

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  33. I switched to HT only because TOI was publishing his articles on its edit page ..wtf?

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Your words keep me going :)