Sunday, November 30, 2014
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
NON IMPLEMENTATION OF
ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP):
REQUEST FOR DELEGATION MEETING
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.
Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)
Mob: +919312404269, 0124-4110570
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