The 1971 war with Pakistan, with pre-emptive aerial strikes, naval hostilities and ground operations, was a hair-raising conflict and both sides suffered heavy losses.
Two days after the armed forces won the war, the government announced a scheme according to which it would reimburse of the education expenses of children of soldiers killed in the line of duty. This was a gesture to convey the country’s gratitude and support towards the children and widows of soldiers killed in the war.
However, that is set to change. As part of a decision that was taken by the 7th Pay Commission, the Defence Ministry wants to cap educational expenses, paid to the martyr’s children, at
₹ 10,000 per month. The cap came into effect on July 1, 2017.
However, this decision has been met with some resistance, and rightly so. Undoubtedly, soldiers, in the heat of the moment, will not calculate risks before taking it? Then why do the authorities wish to cap funds that grant their children a secure future?
According to the Asian Age, Naval Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has written to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman requesting the government to withdraw the order. He writes, “This small gesture would assure the families of our brave women and men that the nation cares for them, and their sacrifices are truly appreciated by the government.”
Captain Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab, has also written to the Defence Minister, terming the cap as immoral and unprincipled.
There is a common nerve amongst the two responses. They probably had a flashback to when they were young, and the army assured them, that if anything happened to them, the government would take care of their families.
That faith and assurance are what allows a soldier to go all out, and not care about the consequences. Every soldier is not martyred, but the ones that are, have families that could do with support, from the authorities. The welfare of the armed forces and their kin is a national responsibility, according to Captain Amarinder Singh.
Many of our soldiers continue to lose their lives, on a regular basis, defending our territory. We all see “news-flashes” of an attack, which may have robbed a soldier of his life. What happens after the noise, when the families of martyrs are left to deal with the void?
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The cap needs to be removed before the children of martyrs feel alienated by the country and government. The children of martyrs deserve the educational support, at the very least. It shouldn’t take petitions and rallies to persuade the machinery and concerned authorities to grant them a future.