Oftentimes we overlook the sacrifices made by the families of our soldiers.
In the best case scenario, they stay away from the member who’s off for duty to the border or the forests of Central India or even outside India on peacekeeping missions and meet them a few weeks every year. The worst case, however, is to live only with the memories of the soldier. A child living without his father, a wife without her husband, and parents without their support in old age. Not to mention the financial problems that arise for the families due to the martyrdom of the soldier.
Given this context, it is only appropriate that the ruling governments be sensitive to the families and their needs, no matter how small they may seem. Unfortunately in India, we as a society, are marred with a depressingly acute lack of sensitivity and understanding towards our soldiers and their families. This has been especially prevalent in the ruling governments and the urban elite. In this article, I mention one such grave injustice that was being done to the soldiers and their families for decades, and how the Modi government brought an end to it.
Till now, the families of soldiers belonging to any arm of the forces were allowed to stay in their government accommodations only for three months in case the soldier was killed in action against enemy forces or enemy air attacks. Basically, if a soldier attains martyrdom today, then under the old rule, his family can retain the government accommodation for just three months!
Imagine. A family who’s suddenly had its world turned upside down and is in the deepest grief has to now worry about finding a new place to live. It was almost as if the government said to the families, “Your utility for us is over. Now get out.”
In a much appreciated move Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved a proposal to extend the period of retention of government accommodation by families of battle casualties to one year. This is expected to boost the morale of the forces. When the personnel have confidence that the government and the country will look after their families much better in case something happens to them then it will naturally push them to give their absolute best for the security of the land – not to say that they haven’t done so in the past.
Let me now point out a very sad truth about how our country has functioned for decades.
The family of a soldier who gets killed in action had to leave the government accommodation in three months but an ex-MP or ex-MLA or the many such varieties of exes or an intellectual or a historian or an artist who’s allotted a rich residence in Lutyens’ Delhi can illegally overstay for any number of years simply because either they’re politicians or they are connected to politicians. Essentially, the soldier and his family don’t stand anywhere in terms of importance that this system bestows on politicians who’ve looted the nation or intellectuals and historians who’ve peddled agenda instead of the truth or artists who’ve worked all life for their own comfort. What a sad, sad situation it was.
Thankfully with the coming in of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister both situations have changed. As I wrote, now, families of battle casualties can stay for a year and, illegal occupants of Lutyens’ bungalows are being thrown out. Till now over 1,500 illegal squatters have been kicked out of their Lutyens’ homes. The ones thrown out have then gone on to return their awards and cry intolerance thus abusing and belittling India more than Narendra Modi.
If this were to be described in one line I’d say that our taxes are now being much better utilised for people who actually deserve it.