Monday, December 8, 2014

Capt Amarinder blames bureaucracy for delay in OROP

Blaming the bureaucracy for undue delay in granting 'one rank one pension' to country's 30 lakh ex-servicemen, Congress Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh has sought urgent attention of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the issue.
In a letter to the PM, Capt Amarinder wondered whether it was the bureaucracy or the parliament that was running the country. "I am intrigued over such a situation where the bureaucracy has been trying to overrule parliament. Is it the bureaucracy that is running this country or Parliament?" he asked.
He said, it was strange that despite the decision about OROP having been approved by the Parliament, no headway has been made so far as the vested interests in the bureaucracy are trying to scuttle it.
The former chief minister wondered despite both the UPA and NDA in favour of the decision it was still not being implemented.
He pointed out, it was the previous UPA government which approved the OROP. "The then finance minister P Chidambaram allocated Rs. 500 crore for this purpose in his last budget as the exact figures had not been known at that time", he said, adding "the finance minister Arun Jaitely also approved about Rs.1000 crore for this purpose in this year's budget".
The Congress leader also said that since then the total amount required for the implementation of the scheme has been worked out to be about Rs. 9500 crores, which is a pittance as compared to the expenditure incurred on other schemes like Food Security or MGNREGA which cost lakhs of crores of rupees.
"Despite that the ex-serviceman have not been able to get the benefit just because the bureaucracy do not want to pass on this benefit to them", he regretted.
He said, he was surprised that the matter has been put on the back-burner for an amount of Rs. 9500 crores.

"Should this amount really matter for a country like India and that too when it concerns our 30 lakhs ex-servicemen dedicated their life to the country having served the nation in peace and war", he asked.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Honouring the brilliance behind high speed WiFi and 4G

For developing technology that is at the heart of high speed WiFi and 4G mobile systems Arogyaswami Paulraj receives one of the highest honours in science, the Marconi Prize 2014.

P Rajendran

Image: Professor Arogyaswami Paulraj, left, receives the Marconi Prize from colleague and mentor Dr Thomas Kailath, center, and Robert Lucky, Chairman Emeritus, Marconi Society and former leader, Bell Labs.

Photograph Courtesy: Helen John Photography

For a formal function in Washington, DC, the mood was disarmingly mellow, the settings convivial.

It was where Dr Arogyaswami Paulraj was to be named a Marconi Fellow, the top honour in communications engineering.

Held in the Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington, DC, it had drawn a gathering of Marconi Fellows, Young Scholars and others, most of whom appeared to see the honour as a formality, a fact long accepted, and all but done with.

They were comfortable chatting with each other, their voices reverberating in the cruciform Great Hall and echoing around the dome in the middle, rising nearly 60 feet high.

The building itself grandly celebrates the sciences all over -- depicting the planets, the signs of the zodiac (presumably a bow to astronomy), Egyptian, Green and other motifs about the spirit of inquiry.

The hall, designed in Art Deco style with Byzantine influences, has on one wall, a mural of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods with help from Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.

'He really, really has strived to live a life of integrity'

"Now that we have grown up and we have our careers, I absolutely understand why my dad did what he did. His contribution to humanity, I think, makes it all the more worthwhile in perspective," Professor Arogyawasmi Paulraj's daughter Nirupa says.

She also understands it better now that she has grown up and, along with her husband, has to deal with an unrelenting schedule.

She says her father gave her and her older sister Mallika valuable lessons: 'Work hard, don't give up on whatever it is you are striving to achieve, don't let setbacks hold you back.'

"In the third grade he tried to teach me calculus. I think that's when I realised that my aptitude didn't lie with math," she laughs. "I was not going to be an engineer after that."

She says there are tons of funny stories in the family about Professor Paulraj's absentmindedness.

Her mother Nirmala had told her some interesting ones. One of them described the time her father was carrying Nirupa around when she was but a baby. Forgetting that he had the baby in hand, he suddenly decided she was missing, and went rushing to his wife in a panic, baby still in hand, asking, 'Where's the baby, where's the baby?!'

Speaking of him as a professional, Nirupa says, "I've never met someone more steadfast in his dedication to his goals."

Despite what other engineers described as requirements for success, Professor Paulraj, while steadfast, hardly seemed ruthless.

"I actually never thought of that, because I didn't think ruthlessness is necessary..." she says, "Maybe that's telling. I didn't realise that ruthlessness was necessary because, you know, I see my dad. I didn't even realize it was part of the equation... He puts kindness and service to humanity as huge priorities in his life. He really, really really has strived to live a life of integrity."

She says his family and friends are very proud of him winning the Marconi Prize. "I hope he can finally enjoy from here on out and then take some time to relax," she says.
It is not visible from the floor but in the dome is depicted a host of researchers toiling away at their respective disciplines, and the planets discovered at the time the building came up.

The day's symposium began with a session on the future of MIMO (Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output), the discovery that made Professor Paulraj, winner of the India Abroad Award for Lifetime Achievement 2013, world famous, given its impact on wireless communication and, correspondingly, cell phone technology.

After a speech by Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commission, and a session on keeping the Internet open and evolving, the guests retired to prepare for the award function itself.

As usual, Professor Paulraj was dressed formally -- in a black Nehru jacket with deep aquamarine buttons, the only decoration being the Padma Bhushan he was awarded for his work on India's groundbreaking sonar systems.

He admits he feels a little overwhelmed being considered on par with people like Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, often described as the fathers of the Internet; Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the modern Web; Arthur C Clarke who came up with the idea of geostationary satellites; and a host of other winners, some of whom were right there with him.

After the Young Scholars awards were given to Dr Himanshu Asnani, for his work on better managing information transfer, and Kiseok Song, for his research on wearable biomedical units, and once dinner was done with, N Parthasarathi, then the consul general for India in San Francisco, came up to speak.

A mechanical engineer by training, Parthasarathi described recent amazing advances, including a biomedical patch he wore that measured his blood pressure and other vitals and warned him if any wandered out of the safe zone.

He described the sonar Paulraj developed, the three labs he set up in India, and MIMO, and the idea he developed while sitting at a barber shop and mulling over certain anomalous results his team had collected.

Parthasarathi said he might try the barber shop, too, had it not been for his receding hairline. And the audience laughed appreciatively.

"After achieving so much, (Paulraj) he's such a fine person. He still has the same curiosity, the same commitment to hard work."

Parthasarathi took it further.

"Whenever you present such an award it enhances the stature of the individual," he said.

"But in my view sometimes when you present such awards to individuals and scholars like Dr Paulraj, it also enhances the stature of the award itself."

Image: Professor Paulraj as a young Indian Navy cadet. After developing the Indian Navy's sonar systems -- an achievement he is proudest of -- he retired as a Commodore and then traveled to Stanford University at age 48 to begin another glorious career in invention and science.

He said the Marconi Prize honours not just people who came up with new technologies, but those who made a difference.

Helmut Bolcskei, a professor at ETH Zurich and a former student of Professor Paulraj, described how his adviser had come up with the idea of MIMO soon after observing that a receiver could distinguish between two cell phones close to each other when they were indoors but not in the open.

"I've known Paulraj for 15 years, and have seen him as a person of utmost integrity, always putting the interest of his students, colleagues, co-workers first. His qualities are aptly summarized by Thomas Kailath in the introduction to the book published on Paulraj's 60th birthday... 'Paul has been, at different points in his career, a scientist, engineer, teacher, manager and adviser, sometimes many of these at the same time. And to everything he has brought dedication, vision and humanity which, combined with his scientific and technological abilities, has transformed everything he has worked on'."

As the speakers described him, his wife Nirmala kept looking at him, smiling rather broadly. As Professor Paulraj is given to doing, he kept his attention on the speaker of the moment, and blinking his slow blink, though there was some irritant in his eyes that seemed to have him dabbing at them at intervals.

Given how familiar everyone was with one another, Professor Thomas Kailath, Professor Paulraj's mentor, teacher and champion, was introduced, with all praise being directed not at his work -- or the fact that the next day he would be named as one of the winners of the US Medal of Science -- but for his likability.

Professor Kailath thanked the Marconi Society for letting him give the awards to two students, first John Cioffi and now Professor Paulraj.

He said while he could speak on about Professor Paulraj, two words that described him was "consistently brilliant."

"Paul may easily be the hardest-working person that I know. Students have reported to me that they see him in the lab when they are going home at 2 and 3 am."

And he doesn't come too late in the morning, either. Minor things like a pacemaker or a knee replacement surgery don't slow him down. Maybe a week, and then he's back, travelling to India for four days."

After a few more words of praise, he gave Professor Paulraj the Marconi Prize.

The crowd rose to applaud him, but Professor Paulraj may have missed some of it. There was still something in his eye that he had to dab at.

P Rajendran/Rediff.com in Washington, DC

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Unending wait for OROP

Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (Retd) 
Government’s dilly dallying on the grant of One Rank One Pension (OROP) continues to agitate the veterans.  Koshyari Committee of Parliament has defined what OROP is and  recommended its implementation. Demand for OROP was first raised in mid eighties and a hunger strike by veterans was undertaken at Red Fort.  Thereafter this demand has been raised at every forum including the sit down ‘dharna’ at Jantar Mantar and veterans returning thousands of their war medals to the President of India and signatures in blood.
Defence forces have been persistently wronged by successive Central Pay Commissions, (CPCs.)  99.5 Percent of the defence personnel retire before the age of 60 years: age at which all central government employees retire. Nearly 80 percent of IAS officers manage re-employment for 5 years and the more manipulative can get this extended up to as much as 20 years and more! 
Soldiers retire at 35-37 years age. Early retirement with inadequate monetary compensation shorten the life span of veterans. Life expectancy of civil employees (IARM report) is 77 years, for railway employees 78 years while that of army officers it is 67 years, Junior Commissioned officers, 72.5 years and in the case of soldiers it is 59.5 to 64 years. Early retirement with much less pension, increasing family commitments and financial worries takes it toll. Even though, at retirement they are physically fitter than their counter parts in the civil. 
Truncated careers, extremely limited and delayed promotions, hard living conditions in uncongenial environments, risk to life and limb etc, recognized the world over and termed as ‘X’ factor and fully compensated, is simply over looked in India.
Taking the existing pay etc and assuming there being no increase for the next two and a half decades for civil employees, a soldier retiring at age 36-37 years would get approximately Rs 37 lakhs less compared to his equivalent in the civil, by the time both reach the of 60 years: age at which a civil employee will retire.  Thereafter civil employee gets much more pension than a soldier. In the case of officers the financial loss, due to early retirement, and limited and delayed promotions and subsequently lesser pension, is far greater. When increases by subsequent CPC are taken into account, disparity for defence personnel increases exponentially.
V1 CPC, with an IAS officer on it, ( a permanent feature on every CPC ) granted to IAS officers and all AIS (All India Services) and Group A services (nearly 4 dozen of them) what is called Non Functional  Up-gradation (NFU) a sort of ‘pay promotion’ unrelated to job content and performance parameters etc, but the same was denied to defence services officers thus consigning to the dust bin the traditional pay parity between the commissioned officers and the AIS.
NFU to AIS means that they can circumvent the pyramidal cadre structure and earn pay advancement right up to HAG level.  (Additional secretary  –   Lt–Gen) without going through any selection process or availability of posts etc. This in nutshell resulted in all officers of these civil services rising one level below the Appex (Secretary) level. Whereas 99.5 % armed forces officers (Maj-Gens and below) stagnate in Pay band 3 and 4.  This largesse was to meet the aspirations of civil services. Apparently and by implication the denial of NFU to defence services officers meant that they have no aspirations!  NFU is simply a plunder of the exchequer.
Upto mid fifties, a brigadier drew more pension than a chief secretary of a state and soldiers and others 75 percent of the last pay drawn, as pension. A maj-gen drew more pension than secretary to the government of India. This was to compensate for early retirement and extremely limited and delayed promotions, beside the travils of military service.
The condition of 33 years service to earn full pension works only against defence services personnel because majority of them are compulsorily retired much before completing that length of service. Out of the three career progression benefits available to all central service personnel, nearly 80 percent of defence personnel have to contend with just one, due to retirement, before second and third come into play.
Military service has become so unattractive that few suitable candidates are coming forward to join the officer cadre. (deficiency is around 12000.) Same is the case of soldiers. From the years 2001 to 2004, 2000 army officers applied for release from service, which included 2 lt-Gens, 10 Maj-Gens, 84 brigadiers and the rest colonels and below. This is a glaring case of acute dissatisfaction in the service. How many from the civil services opt to leave!
Since the mid fifties defence services have been relentlessly downgraded. Perhaps the bureaucracy has been frightening the political class, with the mirage of a military take over and thereby creating a bias against the service.
The higher echelon in the defence services are not affected except for delayed promotions, so it has been a silent spectator to this onslaught on their officers. Policy of divide and rule of the government was first applied in the case of King Commissioned Officers (KCIOs) and the rest and later to higher echelon and the remaining officer corps of the defence services. Both, the KCIOs and later higher echelon has been easy prey to these machinations of the politico-babu combine.                
Honb’le PM on more than one occasion has committed that OROP would be granted. While defence services have full faith in the word of the Honb’le PM, the then, part time RM, (Shri Jaitley) let out a missive. To a delegation of veterans he told that they better lower the demand. Obviously Shri Jaitley is not on the same page as his PM! He wanted to refer the case to a tribunal!                
Attempts to flummox the political executive, are afoot in that, for one the implementation of OROP is complicated and two, it will open a ‘Pandora’s box’ because all others will agitate for the same. This argument is totally untenable. Let civil services adopt the same service conditions i.e. same age for retirement and similar scope for promotions with  attendant delay, (leaving aside the X factor) to qualify for adoption of OROP concept.
The great injustice done to defence services needs early correction and the PM would do well to personally and urgently look into this.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A letter from Chairman IESM Maj Gen Satbir Singh to all Veterans

Postponement of Protest Movement (03 To 16 Dec 2014) Due to Positive Feedback

Dear All,

Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha through a letter dated 27 Nov 2014 urged IESM to give some more time to the Govt for the implementation of OROP before recommencing the Protest Movement. He has been in the forefront in getting the due justice to the soldiers. I alongwith Gp Capt VK Gandhi, General Secretary had a meeting with Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar at 0930AM today.

We discussed and understood the view point of each other. He promised to arrange our meeting with the new RM at an early date. He has also suggested, if required he would facilitate meeting with the PM.

We informed him that the decision to recommence the Agitation was taken only when no forward Movement had taken place since Apr 2014 when the DGL prepared by the Service HQs based on approved definition was presented to the then RM. Secondly our numerous requests to PM & RM for a meeting, was not even acknowledged.

Since Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar has stated that he would facilitate our meeting with the RM at an early date, IESM has decided to hold in abeyance the planned Agitation. In view of the foregoing the scheduled Relay Hunger Strike from 03 to 16 Dec 2014, Rally on 07 Dec 2014 and deposit of medals stand postponed. Fresh date will be
intimated later. We will keep you all informed about the progress of negotiations. The bottom line is:-

• There will be no change in the Approved definition of OROP.

• It will be granted w.e.f. 01 April 2014 as sanctioned earlier.

With regards

Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)

Chairman IESM

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A letter to the Prime Minister thru mygov.nic.in on Governance and immediate grant of OROP to the Defence pensioners

Dear Shri Modi ji,

I have been convinced in my mind, time and again that you possess the dynamism as no past prime minister of India ever possessed. Your thought process on various improvements required on the well being of India and your oratory seems to be unparalleled. Your commitments in implementing the various promises made in your speeches before elections and even after formation of the Government seem to be beyond doubt. But pitiably your selected ministers and the bureaucrats do not seem to be properly understanding your ideas and concepts and are indifferent in their approach to them. They do not seem to be heading anywhere towards the aims and directions set by you for implementing your various dreams for this great country India, whose destiny is now within your Government's hands.

You may have given free hand to the bureaucrats and the ministers to ensure proper functioning of their respective ministerial machinery, but old habits developed/acquired during Congress Party's misrule would die hard. I can tell you, that from what has been seen so far, after formation of the Government, situation does not seem to be well and the thinking process and functioning of these important pillars of your Government is not proceeding well and not on the right path at all. The approach is not dedicated towards the aims and targets set by you, but are divergent and may not achieve your dreams in the true spirit as you expect from them. There is rampant lethargy in various 'abhiyans' started by you and most functionaries only try to be-fool the public or yourself by misplaced and misguiding media publicity. Facts actually on ground are totally different and unrealistic.

Let us just take the example of One Rank One Pension (OROP) you had promised for the Defence forces, during your address at the very first rally at Rewari, after your nomination as the BJP's candidate for the post of Prime Minister, which no Ex-Servicemen can ever forget. It can be undoubtedly presumed that the Ex-Servicemen had, very high hopes on you and played effective role in ensuring that BJP gets a comfortable majority to form a powerful Government at the centre and to enable, you to be installed as the Indian Prime Minister. But unfortunately even after nearly six months of formation of BJP Government OROP has remained a dream only, for the Ex-Servicemen, in spite of announcements in the President's address to the Joint session of Parliament and during the Budget speech of the Finance Minister. Pitiably, no headway seems to be in sight so far, on the topic of OROP. The Ex-Servicemen as well as the serving soldiers are totally disheartened and sincerely believe that most elements in the bureaucracy, have been actively working against the interests of the armed forces as has been the practice over the years, and seem to be misguiding the worthy Raksha Mantris on the accepted definition of OROP. As a result of which your past and present Raksha Mantris do not still seem to give any impression or indication that they are serious about your promise on implementation of the OROP in the immediate or even near future and are beating about the bush, even to the press, on the aspect/definition of the term OROP.

Sir, since you are very serious about monitoring of national projects and promises, I personally feel, that, your personal intervention now, in the matter will enable you to adjudge the seriousness and wisdom of the connected ministerial staff, bureaucratic functionaries and financial luminaries in the matter of OROP. Ex-Servicemen sincerely believe, that your personality and dynamism in the matter will not allow your subordinate ministers, the bureaucracy or the finance department, to hoodwink you any more, in delaying the issuance of the Government notification immediately.

Sir, I am writing to you in my personal capacity and with great hope that you would not disappoint the Ex-Servicemen anymore and give the OROP, according to the accepted definition, immediately and definitely before the New Year 2015.

With kindest regards and wishing you a long long life to see India prospering in all respects and in all fields.

Yours Sincerely,

Col LK Anand Retd

Non Implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP): Request for Delegation Meeting

Letter written by Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd) Chairman IESM to RM Shri Manohar Parrikar regarding non implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) and request for delegation meeting is enclosed herewith.

29 Nov 2014

Shri Manohar Parrikar
Hon’ble Raksha Mantri
104, South Block
New Delhi

Dear Shri Manohar Parrikar,

This has reference to IESM letters dated 11 Nov 2014 and 19 Nov 2014.

I am writing to you a little longer letter to express our views on a few issues concerning the Defence Fraternity.

Your track record as former Chief Minister of Goa with your no-nonsense attitude, your penchant for transparency, your practice of simplicity shunning all official perks in everyday life inspires confidence in the common man. We have been accustomed to seeing politicians in power wield authority where as you are quite the opposite. Your travelling as Union Defence Minister to attend a Defence function in Goa in Economy class in civil aircraft when you are authorized an exclusive Air Force Embraer aircraft from Communication Wing, Delhi of IAF, in spite of requests made by your bureaucrats to use it, speaks volumes of your character. We faujis are proud of you.

The Defence ministry has been neglected for the last 10 years during misrule and non-governance of UPA I & II and needed a person as Defence Minister who understands nuances of modern warfare. You fit the bill perfectly and hon’ble PM deserves kudos to spot that talent in you.

You will be interacting with bureaucrats in MoD and CGDA more often than the Service Chiefs. You must have seen the interview of Adm DK Joshi, former CNS who accepted moral responsibility for loss of naval vessels and resigned like a true soldier. He has very candidly stated authority, responsibility and accountability rests in various silos in Govt of India. Though the Services have all the responsibility, he ruefully admits as a CNS he does not have power to purchase indigenously available items for running Indian Navy efficiently.

Bureaucrats all along have been improving their service conditions by lowering defence services. Till 1965, there was no Cabinet Secretary and they have got that post created and made it equal to C-in-C Indian Army who was No 2 in pecking order in 1947 next only to Viceroy. The pension of Cabinet secretary till 1973 was only Rs 415 pm while that of Service Chief was Rs 1,000 pm. The pension of defence personnel was 70% of last pay drawn while that of Civilians was only 33.33%. A Superintendent of Police was equated to Capt of Army and he was called Captain sahib by people. A Deputy Commissioner or District Collector was equal to Major. A DIG was equal to Lt Col. All these Civil – Military equations have been systematically downgraded.

Any benefit proposed for Defence Services is opposed tooth and nail by bureaucrats by waving the threat of military coup to the politicians right from our Independence in 1947. The Kashmir problem we have inherited is caused by Pandit Nehru who referred the matter of occupation of Kashmir by Pakistani Army prematurely to UNO, in spite of pleading by Indian Army that entire Kashmir will be cleared of Pakistani intruders in another two weeks time. Nehru’s contempt for Army resulted in national disgrace in 1962.

Mr Defence Minister, I fear history is being repeated. Our conventional edge over Pakistan has been slowly eroded over the last 10 years and with no induction of any new weapon system into the three services since three decades. China on the other hand has developed infrastructure all along AGLP and they keep intruding in our territory with impunity fully knowing Indians are not capable of taking any strong action. The Service Chiefs are only invitees in meetings of Cabinet Committee on Security. A generalist IAS officer as Defence Secretary is vested with power to safeguard India’s territorial integrity in your Rules of Business. There cannot be anything more foolishness than this. The three services are only attached offices of Ministry of Defence.

Sir, this to any professional soldier is sure recipe for disaster waiting to happen. Either you trust Armed Forces who are most loyal and patriotic to defend our Nation who have no desire to stage coup or trust self-serving bureaucrats who have neither responsibility nor accountability. You have to empower Service Chiefs to run their respective services. IAS officers and IDAS officers who hold purse strings are nowhere to be seen if emergency hits our beloved country. They will never accept any responsibility and authority. They know how to survive and succeed and leave the baby to be taken care of by Armed Forces.

Sir, your interview to The Economic Times on 18 Nov 2014, to my mind appears to be result of briefing you got from your bureaucrats in your ministry. Though you stated that you are worried about families of men who are risking their lives, the second part of your interview on One Rank One Pension (OROP) caused immense pain and anguish to over one crore Ex-Servicemen and their families who made sacrifices while in service. There is disquiet amongst serving fraternity also as they will soon join ranks of veterans.

I wish you had listened to stake holders on OROP ie the Bureaucrats, the Service Chiefs and reputed Ex-Servicemen organizations like IESM and IESL, Air Force Association and War Disabled Association. After hearing all of them, you could have made up your mind.

Sir, One Rank One Pension is a three decades old genuine demand of faujis. We got our pensions lowered from 70% to 50% in 1974. 85% of our soldiers are thrown on to streets just after 15 years when their needs are maximum. No guaranteed employment is given either by Central Govt or State Govts barring minor percentage of reservation. Most of retired soldiers do not own even a single bedroom house. Lateral movement of soldiers into Para Military and other central Govt departments are opposed tooth and nail. Had these soldiers been absorbed, Govt of India could save Rs 7,000 crores per annum on payment of pension, Gratuity, Provident fund etc. You have highly disciplined and motivated employees available who with little bit of reorientation training could prove a great asset to any organization which employs them. He carries his soldierly qualities into departments into which he has been laterally moved into and would have great influence on indisciplined civilians to learn from him and become better citizens and employees. The productivity of such departments would go up.

On the other hand, Sir, you have 5 lakh civilians working in your ministry. On one hand you throw out well trained soldiers at the age of 35 – 37 years, but you spend enormous amounts to train new civilians in various departments under Min of Def. Why cannot our soldiers be absorbed firstly by Ministry of Defence and then tell other ministries the benefit of lateral movement of soldiers on completion of their engagement for 15 years in Armed Forces?

Sir, you are being told extraneous and irrelevant things on OROP by your bureaucrats and accountants. OROP means simply same pension for same rank and for same length of service.

This is the easiest principle any one can understand. It means a soldier who retired in 2005 today draws a pension of Rs 5,196 whereas soldier with same service retiring in Nov 2014 gets pension of Rs 8,349 i.e. Rs 3,153 less. With 107% Dearness Relief the gap in two pensions is Rs     6,306 ie 60%. When needs of 2005 Sepoy and 2014 Sepoy are same do you not think both should get the same pension today?

Sir, You have been misguided to believe that pensions cannot be dynamic. Unless pensions of veterans are enhanced every year, the gap between pensions of old pensioners and new pensioners can never be same. Unless all serving personnel have fixed pay like Army Commanders and Service Chiefs, you cannot have OROP in a sliding scale of pay unless pensions are enhanced. Even in 6th CPC period, a Havildar who retires on 31 Jan 2006 draws pension less than a Naik (one rank lower) who retires on 31 Jul 2014. Can there be more travesty of justice than this?

CGDA who has been tasked to finalise OROP have been dilly-dallying from Apr 2014. They keep putting unconnected conditions like average pension to be taken in a CPC period, length of service in last rank held etc which have no connection with OROP whatsoever.

Government as an employer has the power to either accept or modify or negate demands of employees. If you do not have funds to grant OROP in its accepted form then do not give assurance of grant and implementation of OROP. But do not give a watered down or diluted OROP and call it OROP.

Needless to say veterans have believed promises made by Hon’ble PM during his pre-election meetings on assurance that once his party comes to power OROP will be granted. He repeated his promise wherever he went and the latest one is in Siachin Base Camp on Diwali day. Since no implementation letter has been issued by your ministry, veterans are getting disillusioned with BJP and it may have been the reason of many of them not Voting for BJP in Maharashtra.

The figures of CGDA that it costs Rs 9,000 crores per annum is all hot air. Let them give a copy of their calculations to us and then we will show you how they went wrong in arriving at this figure. The cost of OROP is not going to be more than Rs 5,000 crores per annum. Why cannot CGDA include ESM organizations like IESM in arriving at OROP? If Ministry of Personnel, Pensions and Public Grievances takes Pensioners into confidence while issuing any letter affecting pensioners, why do the Min of Def (ESW) and CGDA never consult Ex Servicemen?

Mr Raksha Mantri, it is a norm in the functioning of the Govt that before any scheme is sanctioned, the financial effect is clearly stated along with the allotment of the required funds.  The requirement of Rs 9000 crores as stated by bureaucrats must have been mentioned  and cleared for by the Govt before OROP was sanctioned on 17 Feb 2014.  Then why now the bureaucrats are raising the issue of requirement of Rs 9000 Crores?

Mr Minister, it is now up to you to have an open mind and not get influenced by one section of stake holders ie bureaucrats, Service Chiefs and ESM organizations. Please consult all stake holders, hear their versions and take the best course as you deem fit. However, it will be a sad day for the Nation if the Govt has to back out from the sanctioned demand of OROP as per the approved definition.  The profession of Arms will take a severe beating.

If you, Sir, are able to spare just 30 mins on any day convenient to you, IESM can brief you on OROP and its implementation.

The credibility of BJP is at stake. I hope you will read this letter with an open mind and take a decision in the interest of veterans and the country.

Wishing you all the very best in your tenure as Raksha Mantri and assuring you of total support of veterans in your pursuit to make India a strong regional power.

With regards

Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)

Chairman IESM
Mob: +919312404269, 0124-4110570
Email ID: satbirsm@gmail.com

Friday, November 28, 2014

OROP - The endless discussion

Dear Veteran Colleagues,

            Notwithstanding acceptance of OROP in principle by both the UPA and NDA Governments and allotment of funds as well, the comments by Mr A Jaitley and Mr M Parrikar and the answer to a question, raised recently in the Rajya Sabha, raise a doubt, if the intention of the present Government is to honor their commitment or to try to get away with another enhancement of pension for pre certain-cut-off-date veterans. Strangely, though quite a few of us are absolutely clear as to what OROP means in terms of quantum of pension to each veteran, there are more number of veterans who have just a vague idea of OROP concept and might be very happy with some enhancement; the enhancement may not even be decent enough.

2          Risking adverse criticism of boring the few well versed veterans, I make an attempt to spell out the issue. Mr Jaitley feels that the issue of OROP is complicated and needs a research by a tribunal. Mr Parrikar, fortunately, feels that it is just dynamic in the sense that the pension needs to be revised every year. Unfortunately, he seems to be unhappy about it. I do not know why. My question is “so what if it is dynamic; let it be revised every year, now that both the Governments have accepted the definition, in principle”. Mr Parrikar is wrong in his assumption that the pension needs to be revised every yearAnd equally wrong is Mr Jaitley in his assumption that OROP is complicated.

3.             The method of calculations Let’s see what are the steps involved in the implementation of OROP

(a)           Existing Pension Order indicates the rank of the veteran and the Qualifying Years of Service, on his retirement.

(b)          It is a fact that veterans retiring during Jul 2015 to Dec 2015 stand to get the highest pension in comparison with those who retire earlier in the same rank and with same or more qualifying years of service.

(c)           The decision has been taken to fix the pension of veterans initially at par with the maximum pension earned by the recently retired veteran as on Apr 01, 2014. The pension calculated as on that date would be lesser than the pension indicated in Para (b), above.

(d)          Thus it warrants that the pension determined as on Apr 01, 2014 has to be suitably incremented as and when the higher pension is sanctioned for those veterans retiring subsequent to the date Apr 01, 2014, to honor the commitment of both the Governments to the definition of OROP.

(e)           This does not mean that the pension needs to be revised every year. It only means that the pension sanctioned as on Apr 01, 2014 needs to be incremented on Jul 01, 2014 by an amount equal to 3% of the amount of the pension as on Apr 01, 2014 minus half the MSP entitlement to that rank, Jul 01, 2014 is the date when increment is granted to serving soldiers of any rank, thereby raising the pension higher than what was on Apr 01, 2014.

(f)           Obviously similar increment has to be granted in the year 2015 as well. Further increment may not be necessary as 7CPC will recommend suitable policy on pension for the future from 01 Jan 2016 onwards.

4.             Now, can anyone see any complication in the implementation or the necessity to carry out yearly revision? If the Accounts people see so, I am afraid that they do not deserve to manage our pension accounts. Some of us may be employed on contract basis, just for a couple of months. We may even opt to serve with no remunerations whatsoever.

5.             What is the Administrative work?

(a)           First, Government letter has to be issued to the effect that the Government has accepted to regulate the pension of all veterans as recommended by the Petition Committee and instruct the Pension authority to implement the pension provisions as per the definition.

(b)          Second, Pension Authority needs to issue to circular stipulating the pension as on 01 Jan 2014.

(c)           Third, Pension Authority must stipulate the maximum possible pension (as given in Para 2(b)) and corresponding minimum QYS applicable.

(d)          Fourth, a clause for incrementing on Jul 01, 2014 and Jul 01, 2015 must be stipulated authorizing the PDA to carry out the incrementing without referring the matter to any or awaiting any instructions, subject to the condition that the maximum possible pension should not exceed the stipulated amount and the QYS must equal or more than the corresponding figure (Ref (c) above).

6.             I have attached three files for those who would be interested in detailed analysis and efforts.

a.             First a paper that covers comprehensively the concept of OROP (Not attached here)

b.             Second a letter to PM explaining the simplicity of implementation of OROP (Not attached here)

c.             Third copy of letter to RM requesting him to rise up to the occasion and improve the concept of OROP by restoring the edge the three Chiefs enjoyed in their pension, to the extent possible. The least that can be done is to ensure that the pension of the three Chiefs is 33.33% more than the highest pension, payable to the civilian for all times to come. And link up the maximum permissible pension for all other ranks to the pension of the Chiefs, again for all time to come, so that there is no need for revision of pension as a independent exercise giving scope for adverse manipulations. (Not attached here)

Maj Gen RN Radhakrishnan