Monday November 19, 2018
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Govt to announce one-man commission to address OROP shortcomings

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New Delhi: In a bid to mollify striking Army veterans, the government has decided to form a one-man commission to address remaining issues in the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme it announced earlier.

According to reports, the commission would be announced in December by Defence minister Manohar Parrikar and would look into the shortcoming of the OROP.

Retired military personnel say the government has betrayed them in the name of making changes in the OROP scheme.

“OROP scheme was cleared by parliament. Then why were the changes made in the scheme? Why did they put conditions?” former Group Captain V K Gandhi, general secretary of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement said.

“We returned 20,000 medals during 2009, 2010 and 2011. But at that time the then government had said they were working on the OROP scheme. But the present government is cheating us. They reduced the scheme to ‘One Rank Five Pension’ scheme,” Gandhi added.

The veterans have listed seven changes made by the government which include annual equalisation, 2013-14 financial years as the base year for calculating pension, and taking the highest pension scale of 2013 as the base for calculation and not the average as announced by the government.

The new scheme also states that it will be reviewed once in five years and not annually.

Gandhi said the veterans demanded reconsideration on the changes made by the government in the implementation of the OROP scheme.

Earlier, Parrikar had taken a dim view of the attempts by war veterans to burn their medals as a protest to the OROP scheme calling an insult to the nation and the armed forces.

Parrikar had said medals were recognition for the sacrifice made by the armed forces and not connected with the service conditions.

He said those aggrieved by the scheme notified by the government can put their demands before the judicial commission, which has been formed to review the OROP scheme’s shortfalls.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Return to Jammu- A Novel About a Journey

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother's struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

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JAmmu and Kashmir
Sanasar, Jammu and Kasmir- wikimedia commons

This is the engrossing tale of Balan, a kid from South India who grows up in the towns of Punjab, Jammu and Haryana. It captures the eventful journey of Balan’s childhood, his schooling, and the friends he makes and loses due to transfers of his father, serving in the Indian Army.

“Return to Jammu” is a first-person narration and with the timelines, places and real-life personalities and events, the reader gets a feeling that it is an autobiographical novel. The author clarifies that all characters and the story per se are fictional but confesses to borrowing liberally from many episodes of his childhood in telling the story.

“If you happen to be acquainted with me enough to perceive a passing resemblance of me in Balan, you would be right; and yet if you find the resemblance rather tenuous and liberally adulterated, you will be equally right too,” says the author in a preliminary note.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college.
V. Raghunathan-Author of the book Return to Jammu, wikimedia commons

Balan, son of a junior commissioned officer hailing from Kerala and having Tamilian roots, is born in the Ambala cantonment in 1954. He narrates his story even before his birth, relying on family tellings.

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother’s struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father’s transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college. Because of his diminutive size, he is saddled with sobriquets like pocket edition, Lilliputian and Madrasi, and sees his self-esteem falling dangerously.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Jammu and Kashmir Map, wikimedia commons

It’s at Satwari near Jammu that he develops childhood friendship with many, most importantly with Jeevan Asha or Jeesha, who was two years older and also taller than him. Soon, however, Balan’s father is again transferred to Ambala and he is separated from his friends, especially Jeesha. He writes letters to his friends and receives responses from all, except Jeesha.

Overcoming all odds and with hard work, Balan completes his studies and joins the State Bank of India. Now a confident young man, he works hard and finally makes it to the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. (It was at IIM, Ahmedabad, that the author taught finance.)

Also Read: 70 years after Independence power reaches Elephanta Isle near Mumbai 

There he comes across a girl called Jasmine Pundith. He believes she is his good old buddy Jeesha. Bu she shows no sign of recognition and when he tries to remind her about their childhood friendship, Jasmine tells him that she is a citizen of the US and has no link with Jammu.

Convinced that she is none other than Jeesha, Balan travels to Delhi to find out more about her family. He even returns to Jammu, where he meets her brother Niranjan. What Balan comes to know from him forms the climax of the story.

The book is worth a read also for the author’s eye for detail, whether it is canal system of Jammu, the picturesque Kashmir valley, especially Uri, the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi, or a visit by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (IANS)