India is proud of its veterans who have always stood with the Nation like a rock. These are the soldiers who gave the prime of their life to the cause of the motherland, defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. They are the pride of the Nation. The services of these veterans must be utilized in the present national crisis of fighting the corona pandemic.
The veterans have a very wide spectrum of experience. You name the field, and there are people amongst the veterans who will surprise you with their expertise. The pandemic facing us today, is because of a totally new virus. The antidote or the vaccine for corona (covid19) is still to be found. Therefore, our fight against this virus is going to be long .The resources of the country are limited. It is therefore, imperative that we immediately take measures to requisition the services of our greatest asset, The Ex Servicemen (ESM).
As in war, whenever, the services of ESM are called for, it is through proper Government regulations. The same must be ensured. We are dealing with human beings who need to be made accountable. It should not happen that they are called for at the whims and fancies of the local administrative authorities. That would be suicidal. The type of duties, their charter, command and control, the rules and regulations under which they are requisitioned, pay and allowances, their accountability must all be spelt out in clear terms. This great National resource must not be permitted to be ‘let loose’ otherwise beside causing harm to the national cause, one would have damaged the self-esteem and dignity of this valuable lot of people permanently.
Presently some states and districts at local levels have employed ESM for very rudimentary duties. ESM on their own have started putting uniform also ( as seen from the pictures in newspapers).This is definitely not the right way to employ this valuable resource. The CDS and the three services Chiefs must step in at the earliest to coordinate the employment of this vital asset. The AG (Adjutant General), the COP and AOP in Navy and Air force must immediately take control and issue proper instructions for their employment. Every aspect to include authority under which requisitioned, their insurance, command and control, pay and allowances, medical, wearing of uniform ,logistics, their movement etc. must be implicitly spelt out.
The war against corona is definitely going to be long. The employment of Veterans will not only be welcome but is imperative. The veterans have expertise in medical, paramedical, maintenance of law and order, facility management, supply chain management, driving, establishing control HQ, provision of essential services, disaster management and innumerable other fields. States and local authorities must put in their requisition to local military authority but the allotment must be centralized at the highest levels .As far as possible, the command and control of ESM must remain within the Armed as per their rank and seniority. This will ensure that the acceptability is immediate. The effectiveness thus will definitely be enhanced.
The utilization of this vital asset is an absolute necessity. But a word of caution in this case is ‘to handle with care’. This well trained, experienced and highly motivated resource will positively change the course of history in fighting this long drawn war on Corona.
We will definitely win.
Author: Lt. Gen VK Chaturvedi (Retd)
The Author is Former Director General Manpower Planning and Personal Services of Indian Army. Lt. Gen VK Chaturvedi is PVSM, AVSM, SM and a veteran with 40years in service. He is a gallantry award winner of 1971 Indo-Pak War.