Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Someone needs to blow the whistle on this

Someone needs to blow the whistle on this
By Bee Cee

From emails sent by Bee Cee
                                                         *           *          *         *         * 
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 2011 18:42:26 +0530
Subject: Re: Someone needs to blow the whistle on this

Dear Sir,

The Govt had put the issue of OROP in public domain and invited the stake holders to place their views before the Rajya Sabha Petitions Committee. You should have placed your thoughts before them. It is rather too late to voice now.

However the issue of Majors’ pension has been covered by RDOA adequately well and misgivings of AVS report highlighted.

Let us wait the outcome.

Secy RDOA 
On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 1:58 PM,

Dear Navdeep,

I happened to speak to some long retired Major/ eqvts fighting for an improvement in their pensions, and to some other officers regarding OROP recently. I was surprised by the extent of damage and it is quiet clear that this is not going to be resolved till officers(serving/retired) understand what the real problem is, and  find a permanent solution. I am once again reminded of our friend Pragmatic's quote from Chesterton, "It is not that they don't know what the solution is, what they don't know is the problem". 

I have been generally following such issues since '95 but am not aware of any occasion between 1984 (IV CPC) and 2007 (VI CPC) except the High Level Committee post V CPC [3 Vice-Chiefs, Def Sec & Secy(Def Fin)] when the Service HQ put up a reasoned case for the arrest of the downslide that started at the IV CPC. Ironically, implementation of this was undermined by another Committee comprising of the Chiefs and the Cabinet Secy. Therefore the most important issue is for Service HQ and retired senior officers to come clean and connect the gap between their public posturing and what has been actually sought from the Govt, CPCs etc. Officers react or offer comments based on the 'public posturing' of such worthies while GOI/ MOD/ CPCs respond to what has actually been asked for by the Service HQ. As long as this gap is not bridged, replays alternating between tragedy and farce will go on. Karl Marx may be out of fashion now, but his remark on history is apt for our pay/personnel issues.

OROP and Major's Pension

Despite a reasonable understanding of pay/personnel issues, I cannot comprehend the on-going OROP theatrics. I may be wrong, but Pension rules providing past pensioners 50% of the minimum of the relevant ‘replacement pay’ in the new pay band actually provides something very close to OROP
for all. In any case, the argument that you are progressively getting ‘downgraded in pay' and a demand for old pensioners to get the same pension as new ones do not exactly compliment each other. I hope I am wrong, but I suspect OROP is another red herring and an effort to cover up somebody's monumental incompetence at CPCs and of course at the Bagga/ AVS report. This is starkly evident in the Major's predicament on pensions. 

I have seen some blog commentaries, approach papers etc on OROP. Most of them state that the Lt Col is getting too much as compared to the Major, Lt General gets too much over Maj Gen or arguments on a similar vein, by comparing the pensions of different military ranks after Vth and VIth CPCs. I have not seen any discussion that compares the pensions with similarly placed Civilian, CG or CAPF officers. While I too haven't done a full calculation yet for lack of access to specifics, I am confident that such a comparison will not only show where the problem lies, but also expose the dismal complicity of Service HQ in the denial of dues to their own officers.

Take a look at the pension orders for pre-2006 pensioners. In principle, it is the same for both military and civilian officers. 40% increase above 'existing pension,' subject to 50% of the minimum on the 'replacement pay'. Sounds fair and just. But gets absolutely unjust when you look at the
actual figures!

A long retired Major and a Director/Comdt (SG) had similar pension and would have similar increase in pension when you do a 40% addition to 'existing pension'. But when you take 50% of the minimum of 'replacement pay', the Major gets 14,100/- and the Director/Comdt gets about 26,050 (same as Col). The civilian effectively gets almost twice the pension of his pre-VI CPC military counterpart. Any surprise that the ‘Civilian’ scoffs at OROP and is laughing all the way to the bank!

The Major doesn't know (and doesn't bother to find out) what hit him and as a matter of habit gets in line behind a bunch of guys shouting “OROP,” “OROP” making a spectacle of themselves and the veterans community in general. But how did we come to this pass?

It is the Service HQs through Bagga/ AVS report that sought the degradation of the Major to 'minor' (from NFSG/above JAG pay to STS level). This was implemented by the VI CPC. Did they not have the wit to realise that OROP will ensure that retired Majors also would have their pensions reduced to the STS level even though it was earned at a much higher scale?

It is not only Majors, even after the Bagga/AVS instigated downfall, the Lt Col was at par with Director/Comdt (SG), but for some inexplicable reason, Service HQs sought equation of the Col (who was above DIG by pay, service, protocol & pension till the VI CPC) with Director/ Comdt  and of the Brig with DIG. This has led to a fall in the pension for all such pre-2006 pensioners and pay/status of officers post VI CPC. 

To an observer, the whole situation would be comical. You first have a bunch of guys asking for and obtaining a reduction in pay, status and well earned pension. Then you have them again surrendering their hard won medals in protest because the GOI generally agreed to their own demand of reduction in pay and pension through Service HQs. No wonder the political class is confused and others are sniggering at such displays of incompetence laced with threats of emotional blackmail. Are retired officers so semantically and arithmetically challenged that they cannot see matters for themselves and call those responsible to account?

What the pre-2006 Maj/Lt Col/Col/ Brig should seek is not OROP, but Restoration of pre-2006 pension with the same improvement (in percentage terms) over existing pension as has been given (by the VI CPC) to similarly placed civilians. Do this simple extrapolation (which will exclude the AVS/VI CPC interventions from Service HQs) and see the results. Service HQs in any case do not have the mandate to propose a reduction in the pension of those already retired. I would also suggest seeking some penal compensation from those who brought officers to this sorry state.
I used to call these as self-inflicted damages. But that is not really true. These are damages inflicted by selected individuals against their own colleagues. CPCs, MOD, bureaucracy et al may be complicit in the crime. But the instigators are from Service HQ. After retirement, they compound matters by calling for OROP, return medals, hold jamborees at Jantar Mantar and so on to
continue leading the credulous up the garden path. But if they claim to speak for all ESMs it is an insult to my (and many other veterans') intelligence. 
In retrospect, I feel really relieved that the scope of the CPCs and Cadre Reviews did not cover uniforms. Or else, our 'experts' would have proposed 'the Emperor's new clothes' for those serving. May sound funny, but past experience is depressing and indicates that our guys would have not only worn them happily, but strutted about in them like the Emperor in all his glory.

I know these are harsh words. But it is time somebody blew the whistle on these shenanigans that have taken away the financial security and dignity of officers and reduced them to the level of supplicants. Nor does it speak well of the officer corps that the individuals responsible are not shown up for what they have done. Above all, I do not understand the compulsion of Service HQs to be less than forthright with serving and retired officers. This fudging of the factual situation leads to delusional behaviour by some officers, abusing all and sundry and generally making a laughing stock of themselves. What is worse, it is symptomatic of the lack of 'downward accountability' that seems to have become the norm at Service HQs. Service HQ need to merely publish the following data in respect of the VI CPC (include IV & V CPC too if you want to see the full extent of perfidy) to start an informed discussion.

A. Pre VI CPC pay of Defence Services Officers Vs corresponding/ nearest civil pay scales

B. Services proposals to the CPC regarding pay grades and equivalence of officers

C. Post VI CPC pay of Service officers and the corresponding civil scales/grade.

D. Pre and post VI CPC pensions of the above officers.

No one needs to take my word on this and I am willing to have a public conversation on the subject and apologise if I am wrong. Hence I am posting it to many who may have an interest in resolving the matter. You may also post it on your blog if you think it's appropriate.

All the best

Subject: RE: Someone needs to blow the whistle on this
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 15:58:30 +0530

Dear Sir,

At the outset, thank you for giving a prompt response to my mail. I have had no earlier dealings with RDOA and just happened to find the mail id on the net and shall attempt a detailed reply to your mail. The RS Petition Committee route was suggested to me when it was formed. I shall copy verbatim, my response at the time: 

"I don't think OROP will resolve any of the fundamental problems. But it may be an improvement over the present situation. Also I haven't looked at it in detail, but the downside that I now see is that it will be added to a long list of inconsequential concessions given to the armed forces. Of course it would be nice to highlight to Mr. (Rajiv) Chandrasekhar that the problem is in the pay scales and not the pensions. But with no assurance from the Service HQ that they will actually take up the case on pay scales comprehensively, we will just be telling one more person what a lot of dumb guys we are.” 

I have not seen anything to change the above view. But as I said in my earlier mail, recent discussions with some retd Lt Cdrs showed the extent of loss they are suffering and also a remark by someone who had worked hard to correct many of the past errors that, 'I wish we had fought harder at the time', prompted me to send this out.  Whether it's too late or not, I am not sure. That's for the affected parties to decide. But you are actually the first person whose reaction is other than 'this can't be true' or 'Are you serious? Service HQs can't be this dumb'. So I presume you are already aware that what I have said is true and your gripe is only about the timing.

I have actually been talking about these things for a long time whilst in service and after retirement. Only thing is that I have toned it down after retirement because much of the conversation is in the public domain. You can see some of it as guest posts in the blogs 'Pragmatic Euphony' and Navdeep's 'Indianmilitary info' under the pseudonym BeeCee. But I digress.

I was also not aware that RDOA had sought restoration of the Major's pension or highlighted what a dumb idea the AVS report was. What I do have are some papers the retired officers gave me which included, among other things why the pension gap between Lt Col & Maj should be reduced, what a good guy the Major (retd) is, promotion problems in armed forces etc. Then there is something on a proposal to shift the pension calculation from the bottom of PB3 to the middle or so. There is also a letter from GOI Dept of ESM Welfare that no proposal for revision of Major's pension is under consideration.

With due respect to all those making the cases, none except the last letter is relevant to the Major's pension at this juncture. What is relevant is the Major's pension before and after VI CPC in comparison to others who were on similar pension in the civil sector. If you want greater clarity, the Major/Director/ Comdt/ many others drew X pension pre VI CPC. Post VI CPC, the Major gets (X+Y) just because he is military whereas everybody else gets (X+3Y) or something close to it. I don't have the exact figures but it should be close enough. This is such plain discrimination that even a rookie lawyer would prove in court. So I don't see the difficulty in resolution except of course that the reduction was caused by the Services themselves. That is all.

Anyway as I understand from your mail, RDOA is already doing this and I may be preaching to the already converted. But I'll copy this to those officers who were not aware that RDOA has sought restoration of their pension and some others who may be interested.

Kind regards
On 23 June 2011 12:21,

This is Cmde(Retd) Biji Cheriyan, the 'mysterious BeeCee' that you enquired about in a mail that was forwarded to me.

Evidently, you have seen only the post and not my original mail that was copied to many. My name is in the email id itself. In Navdeep's blog, a pseudonym has been used just as in another blog, 'Pragmatic Euphony' where too I have written on similar issues. The blog owners perhaps agree with me that it is not the messenger, but the message that is important. You evidently disagree. Well it's a point of view. But the original intention of using a pseudonym was precisely to avoid what you are doing, sidetracking of issues at hand with comments about the person raising it. Obviously we haven't succeeded but we'll leave it to others to decide what is more important to focus on.
The Secy RDOA had also responded to me directly, questioning the timing of my mail. Copied below is my response to him (again I know nothing about him except that he wrote to me as Secy RDOA):

“Just so you know, it is not that I had a moment of epiphany after retirement and started shouting 'Eureka, Eureka' on pay matters. These issues have been raised from 1995-96 onwards at various forums including at discussions on the Bagga Committee and in the lead up to the VI CPC. Many of our people who have dealt with these issues are well aware of my views and also my identity. You may have been taken by surprise (if you have read the post that is), they shouldn't be.
I presume I have answered what you wanted to know about me from 'Jaspal Bhinder' (who too is unknown to me). If there's anything more, don't hesitate to ask.

But as I said in my original mail, no one needs to take my word on any of these things. Just work it out for yourselves. And I am willing to have a conversation on it.



On 25 June 2011 11:00, 
Dear Sir,

Thank you for your prompt mail.

My point all along has been that almost the entire reduction in pay, perks, status, pension etc has been the consequence of acts of commission (had it been omission some excuse could be considered) by the Service HQ:

1. The seeking of lower pay and perks by the Service HQs as opposed to a very liberal one that is available for the Organised Gp A Services and would have been automatically available to us if we had not sought to be 'different' for the sake of being different. 15 years after raising this issue in the lead up to the V CPC, no one has been able to answer this or indicate even a small benefit that we have got by being 'different'. 

2. The issue of poor pensions in this case is a consequence of the poor pay structure.  As long as this is not corrected, the pension problem will remain. 

3. There is definitely a case for Mil. Pensions as existed before III CPC. Some good justification was given by Lt Gen Chibber in his book many years ago. But it is not for OROP, but a higher rate of pension that can be justified.

It is not really for me to say what the IESM, RDOA or anybody else must do. But I can say with conviction that the primary error is at the Service HQs and not the bureaucracy, CPC or MoD. So the actions taken so far are misdirected, shall we say?

As I have said elsewhere, there is nothing very complex about these matters and you don't need Karmarkar's algorithm to work it out. All that is needed is for Service HQs to re-examine their proposals and admit that there has been a mistake and they need to get back to civil norms.

If the veterans can convince the Service HQs to mend their ways, half the battle is won the other half is to lend their weight to the revised stance of Service HQs. At the moment I would say you are effectively working at cross-purposes.
I don't think this requires any calls to battle. Just a rational (not emotional) proposal that a few guys can sit down and write!

And I am willing to continue the conversation if you need my support for a rational proposal. In the meantime, I would still say that for pre-2006 pensioners (officers only, I haven't looked at others) restoration of pension is the way to go and not OROP.


Dear Veteran

Thanks for writing in clearing the haze -- even if just a bit!

My BASIC objection that I had voiced to Veteran Bhinder was that I was unhappy to have an opinion posted to the Indian Veterans Group that was 'anonymous'. IndVet Group is a fairly small Group of less than 150 members and we have made an effort to an ensure that the members of it get as diverse opinions on any subject as is possible -- but, in all fairness, SIGNED ones.

Having said that, if you were to go back to my a/m response, my questions are just as valid, still. I will just repeat one of them here: It is quite within your rights to disagree with the actions of IESM -- after all, IESM consists of (fallible) humans! BUT, to make your objections count, you need to be specific about what you think IESM ought to have done till date and what exactly should it do henceforth. And, not just that, tell us at which point in time are YOU willing to join the battle lines yourself. You see, we have had a lot of armchair strategists advising that we should take to the streets Bhainsla-style -- and yet, when we asked them how many volunteers would they be bringing with them when they come -- there was solemn silence (bliss?) from them!!

As i said, discussion can only be welcome in all situations -- but, obviously, between recognisable entities who have a stake in the action as well as the result.



From: Biji Cheriyan <>
Date: 31 October 2011 11:46
Subject: FW: [IESM_GovBody] Fwd: Someone needs to blow the whistle on this

Dear Sir,

I suspect Navdeep had been holding back for so long out of sheer politeness and respect for those in uniform.
But now that he has decided to spill some of the beans in his latest post, I think it is time for those interested to revisit the previous mails and see the connection.

And for those really interested in finding a solution, a look at my very first post on the subject, 'Not so Pragmatic" in May 2008(Guest post in the blog Pragmatic Euphony and also in Navdeep's blog) will put the developments in perspective.



Dear Sir,
When Bagga Committe proposals were under consideration, I did some skulduggery at NHQ and made a presentation to the CNS, PSOs and APSOs countering the official Personnel Branch recommendations. I thought the issue was important enough to take the risk and was also sure I was right. The post VI CPC situation is generally what I had predicted would happen if we did not mend our ways. Interestingly, none of those present said I was wrong, but did nothing about it.

Service officers have lost out much more than they themselves realise and are clutching at straws like the Rank Pay case for succour. But look at it this way. The Col (TS) now gets that 26 years (earlier if he makes it to Col) what was available to him as a Major in 14 years if we had just let things be. Anyone's got a formula to calculate the cumulative loss to all officers since 1984? One person in the know told me in 2006 that the main reason MoD backed out from accepting the Rank Pay judgement was that the pay out to army officers alone was to the tune of Rs.200 Cr in 2006. This is only a fraction of the actual loss in pay. What about the perks and other concessions based on pay?

As far as the 'Civil' set up is concerned, I think I have had more interaction than most with IAS, IFS (in my ‘diplomatic’ years) and IDAS. Some of them still stay in touch. While there is a 'cultural' divide between them and the Services in the approach to life and issues, I don't see them actively working to undermine Service officers. Barring exceptions, they too just have the normal human affliction of keeping what is best  for themselves. That should in any case be a given, when we take up matters with them. If you want to see where the greater problem lies, look at the mismatch between the advertisements from Service Hqs to join 'the great career in the armed forces' and our posturing after each CPC. The public tend to believe the ads and those in MoD probably see through this posturing which is at variance with our actions and look at it for entertainment value. That is all. 

Let me quote an example. The other day I saw on TV, the widow of an IPS officer saying that families of policemen who die in the course of their duty must get the same rewards as available to army personnel. I found it humorous but some in the army would have been preening themselves to quote this at some forum. If he just checked the records, he would find that the original GOI order says, "the facilities and concessions available to the CPOs etc would now be extended to the armed forces" or something to that effect. Rarely are we ahead of the 'civilians' in these matters, but we like to pretend otherwise.

And it is not just officers, look at the attempts NHQ has made to remove the 'Gazetted' status of MCPOs. Had stymied it for some time. But why doesn't it at least occur to those who propose such stupid ideas that NHQ may not even have the authority to do it.


Dear HS,

My last mail yesterday and your mail below crossed each other and some aspects you have raised in this may have already been addressed. All the same, I'll reply to these one by one. In my first post on these issues (still available on Navdeep's blog) I had said that if we put all our proposals to the GOI/CPC together, we would generally get what the VI CPC recommended. Do have a look at it.
I still have not seen our proposals to the VI CPC and when someone send me a copy of the presentation for 'correction of anomalies', I really thought (as I said at the time) that it must be a spoof by some prankster. Then I was told that it was the real thing. I hold no brief for the CPCs, bureaucracy or MoD. They may also have no sympathy for the armed forces. But that is usually irrelevant to the issue at hand. What you get out of the CPC or GOI/MoD is a response to the proposals from Service HQs, not a unilateral decision. If it is a unilateral decision it can be challenged, logically. If it is what you asked for or better, you are stuck with it. Hence my stand that Service HQs must publicise what they asked for and what was given.
I have also said on the blog in another post that the CPC were "less than honest brokers". That is true, but it could be rather embarrassing if it is revealed that the manipulation was necessary to accede to demands from Service HQs. More often than not, skulduggery by CPCs, ill-intentions of bureaucracy etc seem to be in the nature of 'anticipatory bail'  by our own guys.

Coming to your specifics: 

(a) - I can understand wanting to be different. But I can't understand wanting to be different just for the sake of reducing the dignity and well being of 'your own'. Are you aware of any gains of being 'different' in pay matters? I am not. And as far as the approach to VI CPC is concerned, they were specifically cautioned on the drawbacks of this approach. So what is the excuse?

(b),(c) - The basic norm for pay determination since the IV CPC was that upto 14 years, pay progression will be similar for all Organised Gp A Services, incl Armed Forces, which is why the Lt was given 2/Lt's pay when the 2/Lt rank was abolished at V CPC(projected as an achievement at the time) and Major's pay got reduced to the Captain's(6th year level/STS) at VIth. If Bagga/AVS had reduced him to 9th year, he would have JAG/Dy Secy level (which incidentally was what I had suggested during 'Bagga' committee discussions) to minimise cadre disruption.

Bagga/ AVS had already reduced the Lt Col to NFSG level, so the logical approach at VI CPC(withot looking foolish) would have been to ask for Lt Col to get Comdt(SG)/ Director scale though it was less than his existing relative pay. This could not have been denied by the CPC.
 But Service HQs wanted the Col to be at Director's level (Ask whoever made the proposal why he/she did it). The only way the CPC could accept it was by lowering the Lt Col from his perch. Of course, the CPC could have overruled Service HQs to give Lt Cols, Cols and Brigs their actual due. But realistically, it would be expecting too much of them. If you think your own officers are not worth much, why would others intercede on their behalf. I know that there was a lot of heartburn (and rightly so) for Lt Cols. But aren't the above, the facts of the case?
Incidentally, a decade earlier, the Joint Proposals to V CPC had also asked the CPC to reduce the Lt Col's pay and status to that of a Dy Secy. This was even before Gen. Bagga reduced them to NFSG level. So to answer the question in your next mail, Lt Cols were shafted by CPC not on their own but as officially requested for by the Service HQs. The 'Trishanku' position they now find themselves in, may have been arrived at to cover the duplicity, when many officers started asking awkward questions. So who are we fooling but ourselves?

(c) - I have never been a votary of separate Pay Commission. You can imagine what would happen if our 'experts' who brought us to this state are given a free run. I suspect the GOI agreed to it as anybody who deals with our pay issues gets completely confused by our ridiculous demands, followed by a blame game involving all and sundry except those actually responsible for the mess. The aim should be to have similar norms. Is this so difficult to understand?. 

(d) - This is another favourite red herring of ours. Nobody says that you need to have a rank for rank pay equation at every level. All that is required is that after 14 years the percentage of officers in each grade were laid down - SAG (17%), HAG (3%). That is all. Have we tried asking for this at all? When I contested 'Bagga recommendations' at NHQ, not quietly but fully out in the open (because I thought the issue was important enough), I had suggested the following:

Lt Col-DIG; Col/ Brig - SAG/JS; Maj Gen -AS/Addl DG; Lt Gen – DGP; CinC - Secy. (This was after restoring pre IV CPC Maj (SG) to Dir/(Comdt(SG). Below that you could have Maj-DS, Capt-STS and Lt -JTS/Entry level.

By the time of the VI CPC, the Bagga/AVS damage was already done and then I suggested to our guys to have Lt Col - Dir/ Comdt (SG) and Col-DIG(need to check this). Others remaining the same.

The above is possible if we just accept the civil norms and CPCs would be hard put to deny the logic already accepted for everyone else. Instead I don't know what we came up with. My own feeling is that some at Service HQs do not want the majority of officers to be paid their due but are not honest enough to say so. Hence all this contradiction between words and action.

The bureaucracy, CPC etc may not be that well disposed to the Services. But that is irrelevant to the debate when the problem lies within the Services itself. They probably go along with this duplicity because it saves the GOI some money and keep the Services off balance. And why should they expose this duplicity if it is to their advantage.

Dear Sir,

1.   I have gone through your email and as also the series of other mails which was appended to it.

2.   My observations are as below:-

 (a)    I accept that Service HQ committed harakiri by asking for 'different' treatment from CPCs and in the bargain getting treated (in)differently!

 (b)   Even if we said in the past that pls give the Maj same Pay (and hence pension) as his civ counterpart (NFSG/Comdt(SG)/Dir) would it have been easily accepted? Because the real ill-intention was always to push our ranks down and simultaneously compare our higher ranks (with more No of years behind) with junior AIS Cadre (or even Organised Gp A for that matter).

 (c)   The above meanness was abundantly clear when, after 6th CPC, Govt refused to ramp up our Grade Pay for all officers Capt upwards even after strong protests by Chairman COSC. They simply constituted a High Level Committee (God only knows if it actually deliberated on the issue or not as it simply appears to have vanished in thin air with no outcome in sight)) to look into Grade Pay issue. Lt Cols were mollified by increasing their Grade Pay from Rs 7600 to Rs 8000 with combat-ready rider. So now Lt Cols' Grade Pay is unique in GoI with no one getting the same amount. And also those opting for deputation were retained in PB-3 (how funny can it get really?). So now a civ says Lt Cols are equivalent to DS only when working in civ set up because on deputation they are in PB-3!

 (d)   Earlier I was upbeat about it but now I dare say that by getting separate pay commission for ourselves, we may have shot ourselves in the foot! Hope I'm proved wrong!

 (e)   How do you equate 10 Mil ranks (Lt to Gen) with 6 of Central Civ Service (viz. US, DS, Dir, JS, AS, Spl Secy, Secy)?

Hope my points made some sense.

Thanks and warm regards,

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