Chandigarh, December 1: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has written to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, seeking reversal of the ministry’s decision to cap educational expenses paid to children of martyrs of those disabled in action.
Perturbed by the decision, which would reportedly impact around 32000 students in various institutions while saving the central government a mere Rs 4 crore per annum, the Chief Minister has called for an immediate review and revocation of the decision, which he said was “immoral” and “unprincipled”.
The move to cap the expenses at Rs 10000 per month would make a mockery of the objective behind the scheme, announced in the Lok Sabha in 1971 and introduced next year, said Captain Amarinder, adding that this would amount to undermining the sacrifice of the defence personnel.
The fee being paid to the children of martyrs and disabled soldiers was a small price in exchange for what they had given, and continued to give, to the nation, said the Chief Minister, dubbing the cap on the expenses as a “shameful disregard’ for the contribution of the armed personnel to the country and its citizens.
Captain Amarinder, who had recently reacted strongly to the Defence Ministry’s decision to allow the services of Army personnel to be used in the construction of bridges for the Indian Railways in Maharashtra, said the nation could ill-afford to show such disrespect to its soldiers. The latest decision, he said, was not only unethical and immoral but also against the interest of the nation, which needed to keep the morale of its armed forces high at all times, especially at the present juncture when India was facing all kinds of internal and external threats to its peace and stability.
The welfare of the armed forces and their kin was a national responsibility, which the Central Government, through the Ministry of Defence, was duty-bound to fulfill, Captain Amarinder said. The move to cut down on the reimbursement of the educational expenses of such kids was, in fact, a sign of the gradual erosion being witnessed in the government’s respect for the defence forces, according to the Chief Minister, himself an ex-Army man.
Further, said the Chief Minister, the progressive dilution of the welfare initiatives undertaken for our brave jawans was discreditable and completely lacking in sensitivity. Quite apart from the humanitarian aspect involved, it was also in national interest to ensure that the defence personnel and their families are provided with all the necessary facilities and support to enable them to discharge their duty without any anxiety or stress.
As a nation, we need to show to our armed forces our indebtedness and gratitude for all their sacrifices and not indulge in such unnecessary penny pinching, which would serve no purpose except to lower their morale, Captain Amarinder said.