Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Letter from Chairman IESM to Cabinet Secretary
From: Raj Kadyan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The recent announcement about constitution of the Committee of Secretaries to look into the anomalies of pay and pension of Defence Personnel, has evoked mixed reaction among those who have aired their views. After strong pro OROP recommendations made the Rajya Sabha Petitions Committee headed by Shri BS Koshyari, this may be seen as a mere delaying tactic by the government. However, as I had said earlier in a sitrep, we need to stay optimistic. The new Committee can only bring some benefits.
A letter written by me to the Cabinet Secretary, with copies endorsed to the Defence Minister and to the Secretary ESW is reproduced below:
I write this as a stakeholder and in the capacity of Chairman Indian Ex Servicemen Movement that has been spearheading the campaign for one rank one pension (OROP).
We have read about the constitution of the Committee under your chairmanship that is tasked to look into the anomalies of pay and pension of Defence Forces personnel. It is rather disheartening that the composition does not include any serving or retired member from the affected community, a recommendation I had personally made to the Hon’ble Defence Minister. Such inclusion is relevant keeping in view the highly specialized nature of the subject under consideration. In fact a similar Committee of the Secretaries in 2010 had left out the Defence family pensions from the ambit of enhancement; subsequently accepted as an error even by senior officials in the MoD.
While interacting with MoD officials I was surprised to learn of their contention that the definition/parameters of OROP remain ambiguous. This does not fit facts on record as evidenced by reports of various related committees in the past. Following examples are cited:
1. In 2003 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence headed by Shri Madan Lal Khurana had computed the annual cost of OROP to be Rs 613.78 Crores. The Committee could arrive at such an accurate figure only because they had a definite yardstick to work on.
2. In 2011 the Rajya Sabha Petitions Committee headed by Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari worked out Rs 1300 Crore to be annual outlay for OROP. As given in their report, the figure was based on submissions made by the Secretary Expenditure. Admittedly, the Secretary gave the figures to the committee of that stature based on a definite parameter.
The Secretary Expenditure is now a member on your Committee. He should be able to clarify doubts if any, on this score. If OROP is again rejected by your Committee based on any assumed ambiguity of the basis/formula for its calculation, it can only be taken as a mere pretext and not a cogent reason for rejection.
Just to reiterate, OROP is equal pension for all Defence pensioners who retire from the same rank and after equal length of total service, irrespective of the date of their retirement. As underscored by the Koshyari Committee report, this equality/parity among all pensioners is to be maintained in perpetuity.
Formation of a new Committee is taken as a positive sign that the government is reconsidering grant of OROP. It is also happily noted that OROP tops the Committee’s agenda for the Ex Servicemen. To avoid an impression that a Committee of bureaucrats can override a Committee of the Parliament, it would be prudent to use the supportive arguments and conclusions arrived at by the recent Koshyari Committee as the basis for your deliberations.
It is sincerely hoped your Committee will recommend grant of OROP instead of repeating the old ‘narrowing the gap between the old and new pensions’ theme; the gap needs to be removed and not merely narrowed. Any enhancement in pensions that falls short of OROP, while being welcome, will fail to satisfy those affected. It may be known that in such an unfortunate event, the over two million Ex Servicemen will be left with no choice but to continue their struggle.
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan
From Toronto (Canada)