Monday, June 29, 2015

Important Caution to Military Veterans and Service HQ handling OROP with Government

A letter from Brig Mahalingam and further followed by a letter from Lt Gen SK Bahri PVSM to the Defence Minister,

Dear All,

Military Pension is a concept devised by the bureaucracy with some intent. The concept must be viewed with caution by the leaders of the Veteran’s community presently engaged with the Government on the issue of OROP. 

As it seems, the nomenclature of the proposal suggests that the Government is likely to lay down a Pension Band like the present Pay Band. The point that is likely to be missed out is, equating the pension of the Veterans of the past with the pensions of soldiers retiring from service today with equivalent rank and service. As a result the Pension Band is likely to be much below the Pension applicable to personnel of the same rank and length of service retiring today.  The implication would be, even if the pension band, say for a Brigadier retiring with 25 years of service is Rs 2000 per month with an increase of Rs 25 for every 6 months increase in service, it would fit in with the definition of OROP. In other words, the Pension Bands may be delinked from Last Pay Drawn. 

The bureaucracy may be banking on cashing on this interpretation to circumvent OROP. Once announced the Government will go whole hog to mislead the general public to claim that the Veteran’s demands have been fully met as the pension from then on would be same for persons of the same rank with same service irrespective of their date of retirement. .
It appears to me that instigated claims of CAPFs demanding OROP, the JCOs and OR getting less increase due to OROP etc. are being generated to create friction amongst ranks and files of the army as well as the Veteran’s community. It would also enable the Government to create a belief amongst the civil population that OROP indeed is a complicated process. On this very pretext of allegedly being able to examine the issue of OROP comprehensively to include CAPF and other Police Forces, the issue may be palmed off to 7th CPC. The larger aims and approach of the Government (read bureaucracy) explains the delay in implementing OROP. 

If you study this carefully, it may be a sinister plan something similar to the 3rd CPC. This will reduce the pension of the present retirees delinked from their Last Pay Drawn. In the long run, the pensions of the Defence Community will be hit very hard. 

The purpose of writing this mail is to caution those handling the issue including the Service HQ of the likely pit falls. Even after the Government makes the announcements, the experts from the Veteran’s community and the Service Headquarters need to study the letter carefully before claiming success or expressing happiness over the issue. We should remember how the Rank Pay was skirted even after the Government letter was issued. 

Incidentally, along with OROP, we need to insist that a rep from each service and the Veteran’s community need to be included in the committee working out the details of the scheme. It is time the Service HQ and the Veteran’s community also insists that similar representation is accepted in the 7th CPC before it is too late to mend things.

I sincerely hope and pray that my assessment is totally wrong and misconceived. I would be happy if the Government proves me wrong by implementing OROP, the way it was conceived and perceived.

Brigadier V Mahalingam (Retired)

Dear Mr Defence Minister,

Reference the trailing mail from Brig Mahalingam.

A few days ago a team, including me, from IESM met the FM due to the kind courtesy of Gen VK Singh. Col Rajyavardhan Rathore was also present. During this meeting the FM came up with the suggestion of a base pension for each rank and an additional amount for each year of service, in lieu of OROP. We asked him as to how and who will fix the base pensions, to which he said that the 7th CPC could do it. He also offered that he would accept a retd Lt Gen as a member in the CPC. We insisted that this should not be done, as firstly, pensions as per the Koshyari Committee be paid from 1/4/14 till the award of 7th CPC is announced. Thereafter, the salaries of the serving personnel may be fixed by the 7th CPC and consequently our pensions will follow as per rules. We would however, like that the 7th CPC restores the differential of pension as existing prior to 3rd CPC, which affects the largest number of ESM. The increase of civilian pensions without a corresponding increase in our pensions was patently unjustified and against all norms of justice.

Secondly, as the FM had offered to include an officer from the Services, I feel we should push for it even though it is late. The advantage would be that we could be warned by him of any underhand deals being done by the bureaucrats, to our disadvantage. We should also insist that we be not classified as shudras and be equated with the Class A services. You being the appointed guardian of the Defence Forces have a duty towards them, which you have been executing very well so far. So please continue.

Thirdly, the demand of CAPF is a red herring intended to muddy the waters, so that the government can put hurdles in resolving the issue of OROP.

With warm regards.

Satish Bahri

Lt Gen SK Bahri PVSM

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