Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Episode III - Have the Bure Din started for ESM, the widows & NoK of ESM?

In Mathura, in the ongoing celebrations of 365 days of Good Governance, No Scams and Speedy Decisions, the PM, has emphasised that "acchhe logon ke acchhe din aagaye aur bure logon ke bure din shure hue."

Are Ex-Servicemen, the widows and Next of kin of Ex-Servicemen "bure log"? Why  should ESM, the widows and NoK be tortured by contradictory statements on OROP by the Finance Minister and the Defence Minister and deafening silence from the PM. Where is the transparency and speedy decision?

Isn't it a scam, depriving the ESM of OROP of a few thousand rupees, just like the UPA Govt is alleged to have deprived the State of thousands and lakhs of crores of rupees.

 Ex-Servicemen guarded the sovereignty of India's borders at the cost of lives, limbs & minds (stress induced disorders) for the 68 years on the next Independence Day. Our Honourable Prime Minister will be only 65 years on his next birthday (17 September 1950).

Prime Ministerial candidate and later Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi promised OROP from many places,  as extracts from the print press below indicate.

Cong playing fraud with armed forces: Modi on 'One Rank One Pension'
Feb 23, 2014 16:20 IST

Source: › Politics News
Ludhiana: Slamming the "delay" by UPA in granting 'one-rank, one-pension' for ex-servicemen, Narendra Modi today accused Congress of playing "fraud" with the armed forces and mocked Rahul Gandhi's pitch on fighting corruption.
Addressing a 'fateh' (victory) rally with leaders from the ally Shiromani Akali Dal on the dais, the Gujarat Chief Minister, who donned a saffron turban, also dismissed as "rumours and a pack of lies" the controversy about migration of Sikh farmers from Kutch region in his state, promising that no Sikh farmer will have to leave Gujarat.
He described the BJP-SAD alliance in Punjab as a symbol of Hindu-Sikh unity which has put to end the "Congress' game of divide and rule".
He hit out Congress on one-rank, one-pension issue. After Rahul Gandhi's push, the government accepted the long-standing demand of ex-servicemen for 'one-rank, one-pension' and allocated Rs 500 crore for the fund a few days back. This decision is expected to benefit around 30 lakh retired personnel of the Armed forces. Modi wondered why the government did not bring this proposal in previous budgets even as it was in power for last ten years.

"The government, which is sitting in Delhi has always been playing a farce with the Armed Forces. Before this also, a number of times, the Finance Minister of Congress had made announcements about One Rank One Pension (OROP) but never fulfilled it.

"Even this time since I am repeatedly talking about it, they have announced it but this is a "fraud" (dhokha) with you. Had Congress party been honest, they had the chance to it in 10 budgets from 2004 to 2014. But they did not do it," Modi said.

Maintaining that had the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee come to power in 2004, this would have been done, the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, "only our government will be able to implement it."

Modi promises 'One rank, One Pension', Stresses on National Security During INS Vikramaditya Launch
June 14, 2014 15:00 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who launched INS Vikramaditya on Saturday, dedicated the warship to the nation, and made promises about 'one rank, one pension' to army personnel.

"My government is committed to One-rank, One-pension. There have been many promises, but no action was taken," Modi said on board the country's largest warship according to PTI.

Modi had earlier slammed the UPA government for its delay in implementing the 'one-rank-one pension' policy. In February this year, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had pushed for the scheme, which the government accepted and allocated 500 crore for the fund that is expected to benefit 30 lakh retired personnel of the Armed forces, according to Firstpost.

Source: › Society › Politics

News » National

Updated: October 23, 2014 19:57 IST

Modi visits Siachen to meet soldiers on Diwali

Says the issue of armed forces is an "emotional subject" for him and his government is committed to built a National War Memorial.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday paid a surprise visit to Siachen to celebrate Diwali with soldiers posted at the world’s highest battlefield and hailed the role of the armed forces in securing the country. 

Before reaching Srinagar, he went to Siachen early in the morning and spent more than an hour with the soldiers at a base camp situated at a height of over 12,000 feet. 

He praised their valour and courage, saying that 125 crore Indians could celebrate Diwali, and go about their lives in comfort, because the jawans stood guard at the borders, prepared to make every sacrifice for the nation.
From the icy heights, he also extended Diwali greetings to President Pranab Mukherjee.
Mr. Modi told the jawans that he had come unannounced, and they may be surprised, but one does not need to announce arrival when coming to one’s own family. 

“I have specially come on the occasion of Diwali to be with you. I am aware how it feels like to spend Diwali with your family. The happiness is different, but you are so involved in the devotion of your motherland that family is spending Diwali somewhere else and you are somewhere else guarding the motherland,” he said. 

“My coming to this place will not fill the void of your family members, but as a representative of 125 crore people... after being with you I feel proud and satisfied,” Mr. Modi told the jawans. 

This is Mr. Modi’s first Diwali as Prime Minister which he decided to spend on the 18,875-foot glacier with soldiers. 

He said the issue of armed forces was an “emotional subject” for him and his government was committed to built a National War Memorial. 

“How many decades have passed without One Rank One Pension. It was in my destiny that One rank One pension has been fulfilled, and preparations were being made for a National War Memorial, that we could all be proud of. The government is committed to the cause,” he said. 

Talking about the hardships faced by the armed forces, especially in the tough terrain of Siachen, Mr. Modi said he was himself able to witness the precarious conditions the soldiers were working in while making his journey to the icy glacier.

Why the One Rank One Pension scheme is so terribly important for the Indian military

The scheme implies payment of a uniform pension to personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

Shivani Sharma Dasmahapatra  · 26 May 2015 · 12:30 pm


There’s talk once again of the One Rank One Pension scheme for the armed forces in the country’s news pages. Once again, political parties are wrangling over it as more than 2.5 million veterans who have been waiting for the scheme for three decades watch from the sidelines.

One Rank One Pension, or OROP, implies payment of a uniform pension to personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. At present, pensioners who retired before 2006 draw a lower pension than their counterparts and juniors who retired afterwards.

The disparity between past and present pensioners has grown with every successive Pay Commission. It became most visible after the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations in 2000s. A sepoy who retired before 1996 gets 82% less pension than a sepoy who retired after 2006. Among officers, a major who retired pre-1996 gets 53% less pension than a major who retired post-2006.

Predictably, this situation has left the ex-servicemen community extremely unhappy.
Why military pensions are different

Until 1973, officers drew 50% of their last drawn salary as pension every month and jawans/junior commissioned officers drew 70%. But this changed after the Third Pay Commission’s suggestions came in that year: military pensions were reduced and aligned with civilian pensions.

Many of those who resist One Rank One Pension argue that, given the alignment in military and civilian pensions, the scheme for the military may prompt similar calls from others. Their argument is, however, misplaced. Notwithstanding the pensions, the military is distinct from other government services.

To start with, armed forces personnel do not get to serve as long as those in the civil services. While the retirement age for civil servants is 60 years, 85% soldiers are compulsorily retired between 35 and 37 years of age and another 12% to 13% soldiers between 40 and 54 years.

Further, civil servants are protected under Section 47 of the Disability Act and cannot be discharged by the government on account of disability until they reach the retirement age. This section doesn’t apply to the defence forces and they can be discharged anytime on account of disability.

The Legal Position

In 1983, the Supreme Court had ruled in the case of DS Nakra and others vs Union of India that “pension is not a bounty nor a matter of grace depending upon the sweet will of the employer. It is not an ex-gratia payment, but a payment for past services rendered."

The apex court spoke again on this issue in the case of Union of India vs Maj Gen SPS Vains & Others in 2009. It ruled then that no defence personnel senior in rank could get a lower pension than his junior irrespective of the date of retirement, and that similarly placed officers of the same rank should be given the same pension irrespective of the date of retirement.

On February 17 this year, the court, while hearing a contempt petition filed by Maj Gen (Retd) SPS Vains, directed the Centre to implement its six-year-old verdict and follow the OROP principle for retired armed forces personnel. It reminded the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government that the party had promised to do so in the run-up to last year’s Lok Sabha elections.

The bench, comprising Justices TS Thakur and AK Goel, warned the government of contempt if it failed to abide by the order within three months. “We make it clear that no further time will be granted for the purpose of [the] implementation of the judgement,” it told additional solicitor general Pinky Anand.

Long overdue

The OROP scheme has been on an endless journey for the past three decades. Successive governments have ignored it or pushed it to the backburner, suggesting that armed forces veterans are secondary to political expediency and politics. Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered new hope when he said his government would implement it “as soon as possible.”

While the euphoria generated by Modi’s statements pre- and post-election has died down, the military veterans are still cautious. They have heard statements before declaring that OROP has been “cleared,” “finalised”, “signed.” They now want a government order that confirms the scheme, putting an end to the pension disparity that has hurt so many veterans across ranks.

The decades-long governmental apathy towards ex-servicemen’s demands has put a financial squeeze  on veterans who retired years ago and now can’t meet the rising costs of living with their low pensions. It has also projected the armed forces as an unattractive career option for the youth. Lured by the far more lucrative salaries in the corporate sector, hundreds of officers opt out of the services for better financial prospects. This has led to an acute shortage of manpower in the armed forces.

While the armed forces are called upon to help in every major emergency – be it the Yemen evacuations, the Uttarakhand flood rescue operation, or Operation Maitri in earthquake-hit Nepal – there is nobody heeding the call when these men are in need. The Indian government must fulfil its much-repeated promise if it wants to keep the country’s armed forces motivated.

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1 comment:

  1. Sir, the 26th May damp squib episode must speak for itself.

    There can be no end to speculative analysis; whether the misfire occurred due to some internal dynamics of the political structures within the current Government, some manner of stand off between the bureaucracy and the elected representatives, some form of interplay vis a vis the opposition or just a wish on part of the executive to be seen prevailing on the armed forces.

    One could go on and on.

    There can be no denying the fact, that whatever be the reason, if a promise can't be kept by a Government, or it exhibits some difficulty in implementing a measure it has sought to put in place, then it certainly is a "performance" issue.