After the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, which told the Army to give the same pay and perks to MNS officers as regular officers, the AFT too has spoken in their defence. The order giving them the same priviledges of rank as regular officers must have pleased the MNS officers and driven a stake in the heart of the AMC officers who were behind the entire unsavoury episode which forced an MNS General officer to go to court.These same AMC officers were behind the move to change the uniform of MNS officers from OG to the creamish coloured stuff they wear now, and they were behind the hideous 'safari suit' design of uniform which the MNS officers now wear. They could not bear the sight of MNS officers going around as equals.
A bunch of them said that wearing the OG uniform had given a superiority complex to the nurses and that they were not "behaving" properly. There may well have been some instances of such behaviour. But this view was propogated privately. Officially, a ridiculous explanation was forwarded that the patients were confused with the same colour uniform of doctors and nurses and that there was a a lack of empathy while dealing with patients. There were ways of dealing with these "facts" instead of treating MNS cadre like second grade citizens.
The superiority complex of AMC officers stems from a societal problem and is an affliction gathered from the civvy street. They cannot accept the changing dynamics of the society; nursing is no longer the kind of profession that they associate with through the years. They are better trained, better motivated and better paid all over the world. And they volunteer to serve in the Army in the most difficult areas as do the AMC doctors. So why deny them the perks and priveledges of the rank once it has been bestowed on them?
I have also heard the argument that the MNS officers have been going around getting married to PBORs and therefore lower the dignity of rank. This happened because often they came from the same social strata. And for this the Army has to think out a policy. You cannot stop any legal marriage. If you wish to put some restrictions for men and women in uniform getting married to ORs, then spell it out clearly in the regulations. Whisper campaigns are not a substitute for law.
Ultimately, it is all about being aware of your rights and asking for them. Maj Gen Usha Sikdar did not give up when she was not allowed to fly a flag and display a star plate on her car by a zealous Rear Admiral. She is an educated lady and an officer so she did so. Let us not forget that more and more well educated men are joining the Army as PBORs. Very soon they will be asserting for their rights too. It is better that the Army evolves with the time and comes out of its second-world-war-administrative-mindset and wakes up to the reality of the day. As Lt Gen Arjun Ray used to quote Bob Dylan when he was GOC 14 Corps, "The times, they are a changin".