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  • Tuesday, 31 March 2015


    Mail from Lt. Gen. Satish Behri
    Dear Friends,
    Further to my mail below, to which I have not received a response so far, I spoke to the COAS on telephone a while ago and enquired about the question I had raised in the trailing mail  
    The Chief said that everything is on track and the three Chiefs have been meeting the bureaucrats to ensure that the DGL issued in Apr 14 is adhered to and the definition of OROP is in no way diluted. In fact the pension of OR is being enhanced over and above those mentioned in the DGL by about Rs 60 pm. He said the recommendations are with the FM and his clearance will take some time. So be prepared for some delay in announcement due to MoF's detailed vetting, which the Chiefs had accepted provided the principle/definition of OROP is not tampered with.
    As regards the arrears the Chief said that period and mode of payment has to be decided by MoF keeping in mind their financial ability. You may remember that we had suggested that due to financial crunch the govt may the arrears in installments. On a suggestion received from a Coursemate that people over 80 yrs should not be made to wait for installments as they may arrive posthumously(!), he said that this was mentioned but he will reemphasise this requirement.
    The COAS confirmed that I could convey the above to the environment.
    Lt. Gen. Satish Bahri (Retd)

    Thursday, 26 March 2015

     One Rank One Pension to cost exchequer Rs 7,500 crore-10,000 crore
    By PTI | 25 Mar, 2015, 09.04PM ISCHANDIGARH: Implementation of 'One Rank One Pension' scheme, the long-standing demand of Armed Forces veterans, is likely to cost the exchequer Rs 7,500 crore to Rs 10,000 crore, Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh said today.

    The government has already made it clear that One Rank One Pension (OROP) will be implemented with effect from April 1, 2014, the Minister of State for Defence told reporters here.

    He said that the Defence Ministry had recently forwarded to the Finance Ministry the cost which the scheme's implementation would entail.

    "It is likely to cost us somewhere between Rs 7,500 crore to Rs 10,000 crore," he said, adding that the previous UPA government had made a mere announcement with regard to OROP.

    "During the past four to five months, we have gone deep into this. We have calculated the entire cost now," he said.

    Wednesday, 25 March 2015

    CIVIL APPEAL NO.(S). 8875-8876 OF 2011
    UNION OF INDIA & ORS. Appellant(s)
    VINOD KUMAR JAIN & ORS. Respondent(s)
    C.A. No.1998 of 2012,
    C.A.No.3564 of 2012,
    C.A.No.3907 of 2012,
    C.A.No.4581 of 2012,
    C.A.No.4952 of 2012,
    C.A.No.4980 of 2012,
    C.A.No.4599 of 2013,
    C.A.No.1 of 2015
    SLP(C)Nos.36148-36150 of 2013,
    SLP(C)No.16780-16782 of 2014 &
    SLP(C)No......... of 2015 (CC Nos.16903-16904)
    O R D E R
    Delay condoned.
    C.A.Nos.8875-76 of 2011, C.A. No.1998 of 2012, C.A.No.3564 of 2012, C.A.No.3907 of 2012, C.A.No.4581 of 2012, C.A.No.4952 of 2012, C.A.No.4980 of 2012:
    We see no reason to interfere with the orders impugned.
    The civil appeals are accordingly dismissed.
    C.A.No.4599 of 2013, C.A.No.1 of 2015 :
    No substantial question of law of general/public importance arises for our consideration in these applications for leave to appeal. 
    The prayer for leave to appeal is accordingly declined and the applications for leave to appeal dismissed.
    SLP(C)Nos.36148-36150 of 2013 SLP(C)No.16780-16782 of 2014 & SLP(C)Nos...........of 2015 (CC Nos.16903-16904):
    We see no reason to interfere with the orders impugned.
    The special leave petitions are accordingly dismissed.
    Ms. Pinky Anand, learned Additional Solicitor General,
    however submits that in view of the nature of the controversy  as also the extent of financial burden arising out of the implementation of the impugned orders, the petitioners-U.O.I.
    may be given reasonable time to do the needful. That prayer is not opposed by counsel opposite.
    We accordingly grant four months' time from today to the petitioners to comply with the impugned orders failing which the contempt petitions pending before the Tribunal can be revived by the concerned petitioners and taken to their logical conclusion.
    All impleading and intervention applications are also dismissed.

    (T.S. THAKUR)
    DATED 17th March, 2015.

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    SC: Pension can’t be less than 50% of pay

     R Sedhuraman, Legal Correspondent, The Tribune, New Delhi, March 17
    In a bonanza to retired employees of the armed forces, the Supreme Court today directed the Centre to pay at least 50 per cent of the pay as pension to all of them as recommended by the 6th Central Pay Commission(CPC).
    A Bench headed by Justice TS Thakur passed the order while dismissing about 50 appeals filed by the Centre challenging the rulings of various high courts and armed forces tribunals (AFTs). The HCs and AFTs had struck down the office memorandums (OMs) assessing the pension amount at less than 50 per cent for some categories of pensioners.

    Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand had pleaded that payment of pension at 50 per cent or more would place an additional burden of Rs 1,500 crore. But the Bench said the pensioners were entitled to the CPC recommendations which had been accepted by the government.
    They could not be denied of their dues just because some officials, who did not even have the authority to issue the OMs, had misinterpreted the recommendations, the Bench explained.
    “We have already affirmed the orders of the HCs and AFTs” in a couple of cases earlier and there was no need for the Centre to come to the SC in each and every such case, the Bench said.
    Today’s order should be implemented within four months extending the benefit to all those who were entitled to pension, irrespective of the fact whether they had gone to the AFT/court or not, the Bench clarified.

    In one such case, the Delhi High Court had delivered its verdict on April 29, 2013, directing the Centre to ensure that pension was re-fixed at not lower than 50 per cent of the minimum of the pay in the band and the grade pay thereon. Arrears should be paid within two months and any delay would entail 9 per cent interest, it had ruled while dismissing a batch of Centre’s petitions. The HC had said it was in complete agreement with the reasoning of the Punjab and Haryana HC in similar cases.

    Wednesday, 18 March 2015


    Dear Veterans
    This refers to arrears paid for increase in pension as per recommendations of 6 CPC to all employees of  of central Government w.e.f. 24 Sep 2012. 
      Government has already paid the arrears to members of the SAG (S-29) Association from 1 Jan 2006. However this was denied to Armed Forces personnel on most stupid ground that the arrears will not be paid to those who had not gone to court. 
      RDOA had gone to court for arrears to be paid to Armed Forces also. The case was won but the Government decided to file SLP against the SC judgment. The SLP came for hearing on 17 March 15, after many extensions. Honorable SC has declined admission of SLP and asked Government to release payment of arrears w.e.f. 1 Jan 2006 within four months. These arrears are for modified parity in pension paid w.e.f 24 Sep 2012.
      Government counsel once again told Honorable SC that the arrears w.e.f 1 Jan 2006 will be paid to only litigants. On this plea Honorable SC had said that this will again increase your and our work load because within few days rest of personnel will soon approach SC for the arrears and Government will have to pay. Therefore it is better that the arrears are paid to all personnel of armed forces. 
    Government counsel appealed that Government does not have money for such large payment. On this plea again Honorable SC ruled that if Government can loose thousands of crore in coal blocks this payment is chickenfeed infront of that. Hence the arrears will have to be paid within four months.
      These were oral discussions in the court, we will have to wait for formal order by the Honorable SC and the reaction of Government on the judgment. IESM will go to court on behalf of all personnel of Armed Forces in case Government refuses to pay arrears to all affected Armed Forces Personnel.
    Please wait for written judgment of Honorable Supreme Court. 
    Gp Capt VK Gandhi VSM
    Gen Sec IESM
    Flat no 801, Tower N5
    Narmada Apartments
    Pocket D6 
    Vasant Kunj
    Nelson Mandela Marg
    New Delhi. 110070
    Mobile   09810541222

    Tuesday, 17 March 2015

    Every month Govt shifts stand on OROP to take to 7th CPC on the pertex of disagreement between SHQ & MOD

    Tribune News Service
    Rewari, March 16
    Union Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit said today that the announcement about implementation of the one-rank,one-pension (OROP) scheme would be made immediately after the conclusion of parliamentery session. Interacting with media persons at his residence in Rampura village here today, he said the BJP government was committed to executing the OROP scheme for ex-servicemen.
     He maintained the financial burden on account of implementing the OROP scheme had been taken care of in the Budget. If needed, additional funds would be transferred for the scheme. “Any monetary problem will not be allowed to come in the way of the OROP scheme,” said Inderjit.
    Dear Friends.
    Please Chalk out the Next strategy to achieve OROP.In this connection I wold like to invite your Kind Attention that Modi Govt is going to celebrate their one year of completion in office in May 4th week.
    If OROP is not declared Till then We have to make a contingency plan now itself to observe that day as a black day with processions all over India.

    Sunday, 15 March 2015


    Attended ESM Rally at jhajar 14/3/15. Highlights:-
    1. OROP stands sanctioned as per our presentation, for all rks and separately for X and Y gps wef 01/4/14. Mtg of RM and FM alongwith COAS with PM scheduled on 16/3 to chalk out timeline. Notification definitely by 30/4 if not by 31/3 after completing all formalities.
    2. Annual incr on pension to maintain parity. Cheers we wont have to go to Jantar mantar again.
    3. 7th CPC:-
       * 5 main anomalies of 6th CPC to b removed first.
    *pensions to b fixed @ 70 % against 50%.
    * Will take up case for toll tax exemption for ESM also.
    *Broad banding of disability pension approved:-
    * Separate Directorate for ESM.
    *6 acre land got for new Sthal Sena Bhavan
    *War memorial and war museum sanctioned
    *One card for all ECHS, CSD, ID etc
    2. Chief Secy Har:
    *Ex gratia for shaheeds 10L.
    *Kanyadan to widows daughter 51000
    * 1 L on passing out fm IMA, OTA, Naval or AF academies.
    3. Finally had lunch with COAS and did 'line tod' happily.

    Colonel  N K Balakrishnan ( Retd ) ,
    " SINHGARH",Pulleppady,
    Chittoor Road,Kochi-682018
    Phone- ( 0484) 2380987

    Friday, 13 March 2015


    Thursday, 12 March 2015


    I had the occasion to meet the RM today for a duration of 45 mins in his South Block Office. The COAS was also present.
    A record of our discussion is appended below.

    1. Disability Issues: The Hon’ble RM wanted a firsthand account of the effects of disability from a person who had undergone such trauma as against hearing it from other sources. Certain facts were conveyed including citing of personal examples which despite over twenty five years of consideration at various levels remain unresolved. A hard copy of all such issues was handed over to the RM.
    2. Non-Implementation of Orders of SC/ Non Issue of Instructions on Disability Related issues of Def Pers including the following: -
    (a) Na-Na Cases
    (b) Less than 20% disability cases
    (c) Disability when on leave
    (d) Broad-banding for those who superannuated
    (e) Broad-banding for those who took voluntary retirement?
    (f) MOD is yet to issue letter for enhanced DP for enhanced pension WEF Sep`12, though case has been taken up by Service HQ.
    Comments of RM: He said that all disability related issues would be taken up appropriately w.e.f. 13 Mar 2015.He assured me that we would soon see the issue of operative letters.
    3. Additional Points: A few additional points regarding disability were also discussed with personal examples that would have an effect on the larger disabled environment of the disabled in the Armed Forces. These are enumerated below: -
    (a) There no system of post disability trauma onset in any of the three services including counselling to enable a disabled soldier to start functioning anew albeit with a few parts missing. This needs immediate implementation.
    (b) There has to be a clear cut divide between those placed in LMC in normal course and BC’s. This must percolate down to their employment and functioning. I suggested that for starters at least in the Army suitable disabled officers be posted in the AG’s & MS branches as only a disabled understands the effects of disability. Moreover such actions do not require any elaborate Govt sanctions.
    (c) I submitted that “Constant Attendance Allowance” should be applicable suo moto to anyone with 50% disability especially as after superannuation all manner of physical support available in service ceases. The RMB should be the final authority with the PCDA (P) not having any say in this.
    (d) Payment of double conveyance allowance, where authorised to disabled personnel should be as matter of course and not based on claims. We are all aware of who is authorised Government tpt is and who is not.
    (e) All service group Insurances are private entities and should offer disability benefits to BC’s retained in service and who superannuate in the normal course.

    The funds available are adequate and if necessary and additional levy on premium can cater for this aspect.
    To deny this to one segment is a violation of the principle of equality. Notwithstanding what the Govt provides in such cases as that is a part of a service obligation whereas group insurances are private funds meant for this. The RM was appreciative of this logic and even suggested a methodology for the COAS to consider. The RM even mentioned that shortfalls if any could be made up by the MoD.
    (f) As per AO 17/89 Battle Casualties have the option of taking disability pension as a capitalized value in service. However there is no provision of restoration of such commuted value as in the case of normal pension. Disability is for life and there needs to be a reconsideration of restoring the capitalized value after 15 years, for those who took this option, as in the case of normal pension. A detailed case study is as given below:
    1. Reference AO 17/89.
    2. On Superannuation every service personnel is entitled to service pension. This consists of the service element and the disability element. As a battle casualty I come under the purview of the AO ibid.
    3. Personal Illustrative Case: I am 80% disabled due to battle injuries for life. As per AO 17/ 89 I was, entitled to, as were other BC’s, “War Injury Pay”. As per awards of the 4CPC, this was specified as “percentage of disability equivalent of percentage of pay drawn at the time of injury”. My pay at that point was approximately Rs 4200/- therefore I should have been entitled to 80% of which came to Rs 3360/- pm. This was later amended to “Not more than Rs 1500/- per month allowed for 100% disability due to normal service conditions”. This was to be proportionately reduced for lower percentages. Accordingly I was entitled to Rs 1200/- pm. A loss of 3360- 1200 = 2160/- As a result BC’s lost out on higher emoluments due to some change that was not noticed by those dealing with such cases.
    4. A second provision of the AO was that one could take the capitalized value of this amount in service or await superannuation to get a disability pension. This was to be calculated for a time period of service to an age and service in the same rank that is in my case a Major. As can be seen I lost out on the following counts: -
    (a) Reduction in overall authorized amount.
    (b) No consideration for promotion beyond the rank of Major.
    (c) No consideration for age applicable beyond the rank of Major.
    5. I was paid such compensation after ten years of my injury. A request for interest on delayed payments was initially rejected till the Delhi High Court gave a ruling in my favour on which CDA (O) paid me the interest in the year 2000, i.e. after thirteen years of my injury and a court case lasting over two years.
    6. The acerbic language of Army HQ, as a measure of no respect to battle casualties, stated, “ That the case stands closed and no further discussions would be appreciated” So much for winning a gallantry award and losing your limbs.

    7. Appeal: Notwithstanding the above as in the case of commuted value of service element of pension that is restored after a finite period of 13/15 years, similarly the capitalized value of disability pension needs restoration after a suitable period of time. In my case, the capitalized value has been taken for the rank of “Major” superannuation was 50 years that I crossed in Jul 2001 a full four years before superannuating in 2005 in the rank of “Colonel”. Considering that the capitalized value was applicable from 12 Oct 1987 but paid to me in 1996, a total of 25 years have passed and therefore the disability element of pension paid as capitalized value in service now needs restoration, keeping in mind that the disability is for life and as one ages the effects become more debilitating.
    (g) A staff check would show that there would be a handful of such personnel in such a predicament.

    4. OROP The RM gave out the status of OROP as on date. The salient features of which are as follows: -
    (a) The final document duly cleared by the FA (Def) and signed by him is being fwd to the FM today. I.e. 11 Mar 2015.
    (b) The amount worked out remains at Rs 8298 Cr.
    (c) He is scheduled to meet the PM & FM on 16 Mar 2015 on the issue.
    (d) He is adhering to the time schedule as indicated on 2 Mar 2015 to the IESM delegation. I.e implementation instructions by 31/3 15. At worst case 30/4/15.
    (e) 86% of beneficiaries are JCO’s & NCO’s, The balance 14% divided between Officers and family pensioners i.e. Vir Naris.
    There being no other points the meeting was closed.

    Anil Kaul
    Col Anil Kaul, VrC
    11 Mar 2015


    Tuesday, 10 March 2015


    Government of India
    Ministry of Personnel Public Grievances and Pensions
    Department of Pension and Pensioners Welfare
    Lok Nayak Bhawan,
    Khan Market, New Delhi-ll0 003
    Dated the 5th March, 2015

    Office Memorandum
    Sub:- Revision of pension ofpre-2006 pensioners - reg.

    The orders for implementation of the decision taken by the Government on the recommendations of 6th CPC for revision for pension of past pensioners were issued vide Department of Pension & Pensioners' Welfare's OM dated 1.9.2008. The provisions of Para 4.2 of this OM were clarified vide this Department's letter dated 3.10.2008.

    2. The Hon'ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi in its common order dated 1.11.2011 in four petitions [OA No.655/2010, 306/2010, 50712010 and 3079/2009] directed that the past pensioners may be granted, w.e.f. 1.1.2006, a minimum pension with reference to the fitment table applicable for revision of pay of serving employees.

    3. A large number of representations from pre-2006 pensioners are being received by the Department of Pension & Pensioners' Welfare for extension of benefits similar to what had been
    allowed in case ofOA NO.655/2010 by CAT, Principal Bench, New Delhi.

    4. In this context, it is informed that four Writ Petitions were filed in the High Court of Delhi challenging the order dated 1.11.2011 of Hon'ble CAT in four OAs. These petitions were dismissed on 29.4.2013. Subsequently, four SLPs were filed in the Hon'ble Supreme Court over a period of time against the said order of the Hon'ble High Court. Of the four SLPs, the one pertaining to Central Government SAG (S-29) Pensioners' Association which was first in the series of said SLPs, has since been dismissed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 29.7.2013. As the Reviewl Curative Petition against the said order dated 29.7.2013 also failed, the Government of India decided to comply with the order by extending the requisite benefits to the parties involved in the said SLP. As regards the other three SLPs (Nos.36148-50/2013), Hon'ble Supreme Court in its order dated 19.11.2013 issued notice and made the following observation: .
    "Learned Counsel for the respondent submits that during the pendency of these petitions the respondent-writ petitioners shall not precipitate the matter by filing contempt proceedings either before the High Court or before the Tribunal. That statement is recorded. "

    5. Thus the issue of revision of pension of pre-2006 pensioners w.e.f. 1.1.2006 as covered under SLP Nos. 36148-50/2013 in the Apex Court which have been tagged with Civil Appeal
    No.887S-76/20 11 filed by Ministry of Defence in a similar matter is subjudice.

    6. This is for information.
    ~ ~\
    (S.K. Makkar)
    Under Secretary to the Government of India

    7. The outcome of SLPs under reference in Para (4) would be brought to the Ministries/Departments.

    All Ministries/Departments.
    v6py to NIC for uploading the above OM on the website of the Department.

    Monday, 9 March 2015


    By: Express News Service | Published on:March 9, 2015 12:00 am
    There is an urgent need to debate the rising defence pension bill. In 2004, a debate over the mounting civilian pension bill led to the New Pension System for government employees, where pension contributions were defined and not benefits. But the armed forces were excluded from that system. Now, a beginning can be made by including pensions in the official defence budget.
    In 1985, when Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister, defence pensions were removed from India’s overall defence expenditure, presumably to assuage global concerns about India’s defence bill, which was linked to its regional ambitions. The defence expenditure was then 3.6 per cent of India’s GDP. When that ratio has now come down to 1.75 per cent, the lowest in the post-1962 era, defence pensions still continue to be excluded from the defence bill. Over the years, defence pensions have grown exponentially — from Rs 1,670 crore in 1990-91 to Rs 15,244 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 50,000 crore in the current year — at a much faster pace than the defence budget. Next year, defence pensions are budgeted at Rs 54,500 crore, placed outside the official defence budget of Rs 2,46,727 crore. The pension bill is likely to rise by another Rs 8,400 crore with the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for military veterans. Every successive Pay Commission has raised the pension burden exponentially and the Seventh Pay Commission, coupled with the effect of OROP, will hit the exchequer even harder.
    Approximately 60,000 soldiers retire from the 1.3 million-strong armed forces every year but early recruitment and retirement age, coupled with increased life expectancy, means that military veterans get pensions for a longer period than their civilian counterparts. Thus India now has 1.7 defence pensioners on its rolls for every serving soldier, compared to civilian employees where the ratio is 0.56 pensioners per employee, and defence pensions will soon exceed defence salaries. Even if military veterans and soldiers can’t be moved to a New Pension System, there is a need to look at other measures, such as reducing the minimum military service period, pushing for early retirement with lateral absorption schemes and identifying a new model of defence pensions for new recruits. These are desirable not only on the grounds of fiscal prudence, but also to keep the military lean and young.


    Monday, 2 March 2015


    Dear Members
    IESM delegation of five members met RM Sh Manohar Parrikar today at 1400 h. The salient points of the issues discussed in the meeting are given below and are attached. I am sure this will satisfy most of the queries of veterans arising out of budget speech given on 28 Feb 15. This is now clear that one needs to be optimistic and OROP will be out soon. However hold your celebrations till Notification of OROP is out as there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. 
    Meeting of IESM Delegation with RM Sh Manohar Parrikar on 2 Mar 2015
    IESM contacted Sh Manohar Parrikar Raksha Mantri at the end of the budget presented on 28 Feb 15 and communicated to him that ESM in general are disappointed because OROP has not been mentioned in the budget speech of Finance Minister and allocation of funds for OROP has not been announced. RM explained on telephone that OROP has been approved in two budgets and hence it is considered approved and therefore there was no need to mention in the budget speech. He was kind enough to invite the IESM delegation at 1400h on 2 March 15 to clear any doubts if we had any.
    Following five members of IESM met Sh Manohar Parrikar RM at 1400h on Monday 2 March 2015.   
    1. Maj Gen Satbir Singh SM
    2. Col Kirit Joshipura
    3. Col Anil kaul VrC
    4. Wg Cdr CK Sharma
    5. Gp Capt VK Gandhi VSM
    6. Major DP Singh was also invited by RM for discussion on disability pension issue.
    RM made everyone comfortable in the beginning itself that OROP for Armed Forces and Ex-servicemen is NDA Government’s commitment and he has worked out the expenditure for the OROP. He advised that there was no need to cover this issue in budget presented by NDA Government on 28 Feb 15  as it already stands approved by Parliament as part of budget for financial year 14-15. He confirmed that he had discussed the issue with officers of MOD and ironed out all issues of OROP. He also confirmed that OROP is genuine demand of Armed Forces and must be met in full; hence there is no difference in thinking of Armed Forces and MOD. Accordingly file has been prepared and is in process for approval from Ministry of Finance. After approval of the file from Finance Minister, it will be put up for approval of CCPA (Cabinet Committee for Political Affairs). RM has confirmed that MOD has recommended giving OROP for X group and Y group separately. He also confirmed that all ranks including widows have been included in the OROP. He further confirmed that he is attempting to meet the date line for issuance of Government letter (OROP Notification) given by him on 1 Feb 15 meeting with IESM delegation.
    There was no doubt left in our minds after such a clear statement by RM and IESM delegation was convinced that OROP is now in safe hands will see the day light soon. General Satbir Singh thanked him and told him that it is first time that the demands of ESM are being given proper consideration and attention. IESM delegation then discussed following issues with RM.
    1. Increase in Widow’s pension w.e.f 24 Sep 12; General Satbir Singh informed him that widow’s pension was not increased in 2012 when pension for all ranks was increased as per recommendations of 6 CPC. Widows must be given that increase in pension. RM expressed concerned on this issue and asked the delegation to give him the note for his consideration.
    2. Major’s Pension Retired pre 1996; It was brought to RM’s attention that MOD is not paying Lt Col pension to Major rank officers who retired pre 1996 on completion of 21 years of service. Major Thomas of pre 1996 retirement had gone won the case in AFT and had been paid enhanced pension. It should be applicable for all Majors who had retired pre 1996 and had completed 21 years of service. RM asked for a detailed note on the issue for his consideration.
    3. Major’s Pension who had retired on completion of 20 yrs but with less than 21 yrs of service; RM was informed that there will be only few hundred Majors who will fall in that category and MOD must consider giving them Lt Col Pension with Major’s grade pay as a special case. RM demanded a paper on this issue also for his consideration.
    IESM will be sending the detailed paper on above issues to RM at the earliest.
    IESM delegation was encouraged with the response and encouragement given by RM. One can now say that OROP is in safe hands will soon be approved.
    Gp Capt VK Gandhi VSM
    Gen Sec IESM
    Flat no 801, Tower N5
    Narmada Apartments
    Pocket D6 
    Vasant Kunj
    Nelson Mandela Marg
    New Delhi. 110070
    Mobile   09810541222

    Defence budget hike not for OROP, veterans cry foul

    CHANDIGARH: A day after Union finance minister Arun Jaitley presented the Budget in the Parliament, defence veterans' hopes for 'achhe din' turned into sheer ache. Hoping for an announcement from the FM on the one rank one pension (OROP) scheme, they were an anguished lot on Sunday as they realized that the increase in defence allocation was just good enough to take care of the inflation factor.
    Those who had pinned their hopes on minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajya Vardhan Singh Rathore's tweet on Saturday that Rs 8,300 crore for OROP was included in the Rs 22,000-crore increase in the defence allocation were also disappointed to know that the hike would only defuse the inflation element.
    Experts in defence accounts department said the Budget announced 10.95% hike in the defence allocation as compared to the previous year, which would be spent on ration, salaries, allowances and procurement of equipments and weaponry. They claimed that the hike has nothing to do with the implementation of OROP, which requires around Rs 8,000 crore.

    Also, in 2014-15 Budget, the increase in allocation was 12.75% more than 2013-14.
    "It seems the politicians are doing a 'double speak' to hoodwink the gullible faujis," said defence veterans.
    The statement made by the finance minister after the Budget that the issue of OROP is pending as the method of calculating pension is stuck between the armed services and the defence ministry has added to the retired personnel's woes.

    Brig K S Kahlon (retd), President of All India Defence Brotherhood (Punjab), said the "entire drama" since Saturday shows that the government has not taken OROP issue seriously and it is making another attempt to delay it. "Pulse of the veterans is that they should unite together again and protest on the roads against the government till the OROP is not implemented," he said.

    "I have never seen such ambiguity on an issue even the Prime Minister had promised. If they don't have any funds, they can issue bonds but maintaining silence frustrates and demoralizes the veterans," said Air Marshal Randhir Singh (retd). 

    The great betrayal on OROP front

    During his interview after the Budget speech, the Union finance minister, when asked about the fate of “one rank, one pension” (OROP) for the defence personnel, remarked that modalities were being worked out between the defence services and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). He went on to say that he had given an additional 12.5% to the defence budget, giving the impression that he had done great personnel favour to the defence services. He does not appear to know how far removed are the Indian defence forces from the state-of-the-art weapon systems and how long has it been crying for modernisation.
    Surely he would know that this additional amount for the defence budget, as such, has no link with OROP, because pensions for the defence personnel do not flow out of the defence budget. This additional allocation barely covers inflation in the cost of defence equipment. In the remaining Budget, there is no allocation of funds for OROP.
    Soldiers at disadvantageThe demand for OROP has been pending for well over two decades. The rationale for this demand has been articulated umpteen times. More than 80% of the soldiers retire between the age of 34 and 36, and the remaining 20% at varying ages, with only 0.2% retiring at 60, when all the central services employees retire. Early retirement and extremely limited avenues for career advancement (promotions) place the defence personnel at great disadvantage vis-à-vis their counterparts in the civil services.
    This early retirement places defence personnel at great financial disadvantage and takes its toll on them in way of shortening their lives: of both officers and soldiers, notwithstanding the fact that on retirement, they are physically much fitter in every respect compared with their civilian counterparts. The average life expectancy of the officers is 72.5, of the JCOs is 67, and of the soldiers is 64. These are figures from the Institute of Applied Research and Manpower (IARM). The life expectancy figure for civil servants is 77 years. The Railways, in their study, arrived at a figure of 78.
    This issue of the shortening life of soldiers was raised in Parliament and the-then defence minister (the present President and supreme commander of the Indian forces) had stated that it would be examined in detail. Those were his famous words!
    Babus flummox defence ministerThe demand for OROP became all the more strident when the civilian counterparts granted to themselves what is called non-functional upgrade (NFU). Simply stated, it implies that that their pay and allowances will have no relation to their job content but only to the length of the service; and that their advancement in career will have no bearing on the availability of higher posts and performance.
    Political parties have repeatedly been promising the grant of OROP. Narendra Modi, as prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), during his election rally at Rewari had promised that on coming to power, his party would announce OROP. Later, speaking to the troops in Siachen as Prime Minister, he said he had granted them this benefit.
    More recently, the defence minister has been giving all manner of assurances to veterans, assurances which include specific dates when the case would be finalised and forwarded to the Finance Ministry: well before the Budget date.
    Now it appears that the MoD has not been able to resolve the modalities for working out the details. Obliviously, the babus in the MoD have flummoxed the defence minister successfully and made him cut a sorry figure before the nation’s veterans.
    Today’s soldiers tomorrow’s veteransNeither the PM and nor the DM appears to realise that there exists a very strong bond between the veterans and the serving troops. Today’s soldiers are tomorrow’s veterans, and this betrayal on part of the government cannot go unnoticed by them, and will impact their morale surely.
    The government’s general lack of sensitivity to the disadvantages of military service and the consequent disinterest of suitable youth in joining the defence services has led to both fall in standards on one part and a huge shortage in the officer cadre. The nations that do not send the better lot to the defence services will one day suffer the consequences.
    Finally, a quote from Phillip Mason, ICS, would be appropriate in the present setting. While commenting on India’s dismal war record, he notes in his book, “A Matter of Honour”, that: “Indian disadvantage lay in the nature of organisations of armies and, in the end, in politics and the kind of governments that had grown up in India.” One may venture to ask, if the state of affairs are any different today?gen_harwant@hotmail.com
    (The writer is a former deputy chief of the army staff and an expert on defence matters. The views expressed are personal)

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