Sunday, December 28, 2014

Armed forces: They defend us but there’s no one to defend their rights

Fifteen months after Mr Modi demanded One Rank One Pension, 10 months after the UPA granted it, five months after Arun Jaitley reconfirmed it and two months after the PM boasted in Siachen that “One Rank One Pension has been fulfilled,” why is this promise still not implemented? And why are ex-servicemen still in doubt about when and even whether it will happen?

The truth is this is a promise Mr Modi’s government intends to break. It’s already late in fulfilling it but now it’s indicated it will also renege.
At a recent Aaj Tak conclave, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said ex-servicemen would get 80% of OROP and then added “100% satisfaction to everyone is never given in real life”. Why then did Messrs Modi and Jaitley promise the full whack and on what basis did the former claim it had been fulfilled?
Were they misleading the armed forces with pre-election promises that were beguiling and likely to win support, but which they had not thought through? Today, doesn’t it seem like that? And if approximately two million ex-servicemen and 400,000 widows feel cheated aren’t they justified?
I’m told it’s the cost of OROP that’s made the government reconsider. The Comptroller of Defence Accounts has estimated it could be Rs. 9,300 crore. But three years ago the Cabinet Secretary estimated the cost at Rs. 8,000-9,000 crore. So if it’s gone up to Rs. 9,300 crore, surely inflation accounts for the increase?
More importantly, did Mr Chidambaram in February, when he made the commitment, and Mr Jaitley in July, when he reconfirmed it, not take this into account? If they didn’t it would amount to more than negligence; it would be rank irresponsibility.
Now consider what Mr Parrikar’s reduction of OROP to 80% would save. A paltry Rs. 1,860 crore. As Defence Minister is he seriously saying this is too much to give the armed forces, who are prepared to lay down their lives for our security?
There are good reasons why the armed forces deserve OROP. First, the majority of officers retire at 54 whilst 85% of jawans before they are 40. Civil servants continue till they are 60. Politicians, frequently, into their 80s.
In fact, the disparity is worse. An IAS officer becomes a joint secretary after only 19 years of service. The equivalent grade in the army is major general, but it takes an officer 30 years to attain that rank. Also, all IAS officers retire at least with joint secretary pensions. Only 0.8% of army officers become major generals.
However, it’s not the government alone that I blame for this unprincipled behaviour. The Congress’s lack of concern about a commitment it first made is no less deplorable. They’ve gone out of their way to place obstacles in the path of coal and insurance — where cooperation would have been preferable — but they’re unconcerned about OROP, which is crying out for attention.
In fact, OROP is a genuine instance of a BJP U-turn but it doesn’t feature in the list Congress released a few weeks ago. That proves it wasn’t following the issue. And that’s because it doesn’t matter to the Congress.
The truth is Indian politicians have let down the armed forces. As far back as 2003, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence recommended OROP, calling it “a debt”. Both parties promised to deliver. But now the government is scaling down its promise whilst the opposition is either unconcerned or silent.
If this is not betrayal, what else would you call it?
The views expressed by the author are personal

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  1. Dear Veterans,

    Clearly there is something we are missing!

    Is it really possible for the lower bureaucracy in MOD to hold up what is so unequivocally committed to us time & time again by all who matter, for so long!!

    Na Mo, Jaitly Parikker et al, are NOT fools by any stretch of imagination to be so nose led.

    A measly few hundred crores too cannot be the reason!

    UPA had written off 52K Crores Farm loan a few yrs ago!! Karunanidhi & Jayalalitha between them'd written off so many hundred crores in T N alone.

    Madhu Koda alone purportedly swallowed 6K Crores!

    About 16-17 yrs ago when Telephone connections were such a prized thing, the First action of Ram Vilas Paswan on taking over as Commn Min was to allot, across the board, free tele connections to all in his ministry! That also cost the nation in K Crores!

    When Bank employees want some thing they need to go on strike for just one(1) Day & 1 day's loss run in to Thousands of crores!

    Depending on the levels, Rly gives Platinum/Gold/ Free passes & also discounted passes to ALL its employees incl Ex.

    IAS had resisted promotion of Fin Min Offrs beyond the level of 'Addl Secy' equivalent for so long on the pretext of their belonging to Allied Services! Yet! Chidu finally allowed Scores of them in one sweep to rise to Secy level! (Read Army Cdr level).

    Stae IG of Police who were below Maj gen at one time NOT too long ago, are now at Army Cdr equivalent level and they run in to Hundreds! Chennai alone has 6 or 7 of them!

    Central Para Mil Police Forces under Home Min are progressively getting what they need, without demur!

    The list can go on! The long & short is every ministry looks after its employees. The whole world knows & ack the need for- the sacrifices of- The Forces! Then how come we continue to lose out on a limb. How & Why the down Grading PC after PC?! How come then, every RM & also the MOD act inimical to its very own?!

    That is what is begging an answer! As Veterans with Generals and other articulate Veterans at the helm, it appears, we have NOT analysed & appreciated the Napoleonic Fourth Option!

    YES!! Clearly there is something we are missing!

    Veteran K V C Nair

  2. The Military traditionally shunned financial wizardry resulting now the great betrayal that calls for a great rally on 26 or 1 feb. the tradition of outsourcing of finance coupled with the tradition of cantonment syndrome wherein super hot club only move up the command channel at tha cost of welfare of jawans needs no elaboration . We should understand that the military is entirely responsible for the disdain disregard and disrespect displayed in the corridors of power. OROP for the military will be followed by better OROP for CPOs without any hitch. That is when finances will be made available in a jiffy because of sudden better finances. The great betrayers are within the military

  3. he problem lies neither with the politicians nor the babus - it lies with the Indian people. The people you and I die for, are not ready to pressurize the government even one bit for us. They'd do it if the prices of their onions are raised, but not for any of our genuine concerns. They take us too lightly. Read more at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/do-soldiers-have-right-even-ponder-all-worth-dying-alok-asthana