Lt Gen Satish Kumar Bahri (retd) sent me an email on 13 Jun 2015. I share the contents with you: -
Quote “The other day at the FM's office he happened to say that Rs 8,300 is a large amount. As we were talking about pension for Cols, I said that he should check the pension amounts being paid to IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS and other class A services in comparison to the 40,000 officers of the defence services. Though they must be much less than in numbers us they are collecting much more. I wonder, with your RTI skills if you can get the comparative figs. The people below officer rank of course, can never be comparable.
It may be worthwhile (edited) if the occasion arose again.Thanks” Unquote (emphasis supplied)
After vacillating between ignoring the email (a rank discourtesy that I have never practiced) and writing a factual reply, I decided to bite the bullet.
With due respect to your seniority and unlimited interest in the welfare of ESM as Chairman of the Alliance of ESM Organisations (hope I have that correctly), I find that a panoply of retired Generals and Colonels with impressive designations are reduced to spluttering with indignation and rage on the OROP issue. Maybe we, self included, are so used to being fed data by an entourage of staff that it is difficult, nay, impossible to be armed with facts and figures (implied is by ourselves before we attend such meetings). It is like going into battle sans weapons!
I am sure that some bit of home-work by someone in the delegation going to meet the Finance Minister would have helped to counter him with facts and figures, a few examples of which are as follows: -
1. He has, in his 105 interventions/participation in debates in the Rajya Sabha since 2009, mentioned OROP only once before he was appointed Defence-cum-Finance Minister. That may be the level of his interest in Defence Forces in general and ESM in particular. Please see the Rajya Sabha website for authentication.
2. He has given a written reply in the Rajya Sabha (Economic Times of 05 May 2015) that in the FY 2014-15, Corporates were given Rs 62,398 crore as tax exemptions/incentives. You may wish to verify from the figures available on the websites of the Central Statistical Organisation and Ministry of Company Affairs as to how the corporates have fared in FY 2014-15.
Where did the Rs 62,398 crore come? It came from the same National Exchequer from which Rs 8,300 crore cannot be spared!
There is no need to resort to RTI to ascertain pension amounts paid. There is the Central Pension Accounting Office (www.cpao.nic.in) and in the drop down menu of Budget, the amount allotted to each Ministry as well as CGDA towards pensions is readily available. For you convenience I have downloaded and attached the 5mb of details.
In the only debate I was requested to participate on CNN-IBN on 01 Jun 15, I was told that Defence Minister is reported to have said that Rs 8300 crore now and Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 22, 000 crore next year is a huge amount (towards OROP). My retort was this - if the Defence Minister says Rs 8300 crore in FY 2014-15 and Rs 20, 000 crore or Rs 22, 000 crore in FY 2015-16, he has been misinformed unless someone wanted to scare the Government because at 3% increment, my calculator does not gives me Rs 20,000 crore or Rs 22, 000 crore. Due to time constraints, I could not drive home the point that it is like a tenant not paying his monthly rent of Rs 800 and complaining at the end of the year that Rs 9600 is too big an amount to pay from his budget.
My objective of writing this piece is to express chagrin at the lack of preparation for such meetings. I am sure we all (Chairman, Convener or whatever) have as much egg on our faces as the PM now has when he says it has taken him one year to find that OROP is much more complex.
With Best Wishes
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Some Thoughts: With Malice to NONE (From Brig Vijay Raheja 22:03 on 14th June 2015)
Was at the Maha Sangram Rally; today.
Officially Jantar Mantar has a capacity of 5000 – I reckon we exceeded that capacity; as place was bursting at seams. Best Part of it is that proceedings were conducted in an orderly and disciplined manner. For a change officers were there in large numbers.
Petitions to PM and President were signed by number of ESMs in blood. In this melee let us not forget that apart from fact that all ESMs organisations had come together and we had young brigade of “Citizens for Forces” led by Ankit; large number of ESMs and Veer Naries were brought in by Indian Ex Servicemen League (IESL) – there were organised buses from Rajasthan, UP, Jammu, Haryana, Himachal, and Punjab; besides there were representations from several states who reached under own arrangements by trains/buses. For those who were there and saw maroon, black and green caps (some more too – i could not register) all over the place; they were from various state units of IESL – thank you Lt General Balbir Singh for the extraordinary support.
And now some thoughts.
In response to a mail almost a year ago (to be precise 14 June 2014) I had written a mail (partly reproduced) as under:
I have been reading euphoric comments on the President’s address, in so far as ESM go, as also own goal scored in (the) meeting on 12th June (2014). But friends let me be the devil’s advocate and say that we are far from reaching our goal so early......
So friends ‘ do not count your chicken before they are hatched.’ Let me repeat what I wrote while responding to a BJP MP on Facebook when he went gaga over ESMs being mentioned in the Presidential Address:
Have been and continue to be an AVID supporter and admirer of Shri Modi. The President’s address is a testimony of his resolve to usher in Achhe Din – to that extent I fully endorse what you have said about welfare measures for Ex-Servicemen which have found their place in the address; it reiterates Shri Modi’s resolve to start with his first promise made during the Rewari Rally – his maiden rally after being declared BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. But let me also be the devil’s advocate and bring to the fore........
And today we feel let down.
My own take is that since PM had started his election campaign by addressing ESM he should have ensured that promise made to ESM be fulfilled on priority. (A) year down the line some of us are meeting Defence Minister and Finance Minister trying to give correct definition of OROP. My moot question is “Have we gone wrong somewhere?” This has given rise to some further questions
· A delegation to the Defence Minister, to register our protest may be in order, but why do we go to the Finance Minister. We have no financial data to back us or counter what FM says.
· Why are ESM, particularly in OG, jumping the gun?
· Do we need an MP’s shoulder to fight for our cause?
· Why not keep faith in Service HQs – they know what is best for us.
· Have faith in people who are fighting our cases in courts.
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