Monday, 15 June 2015

Are we prepared for our meetings with the Defence Minister & Finance Minister or is it just for publicity?

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.

Dear General,
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 ( 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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  1. Brig Raheja sir, You want me to have faith in services HQ-- who have badly let us down from 3rd pay commission onwards--who kept on filing appeals in Danapalans case (Rank Pay)?? NO SIR.
    Yes courts where we have faith. Hope we are able to undo the damage done by Generals in the past.

  2. Brig Sir in which world and in which century r u Sir, expecting the Service Hqs to take care of our issues? Where was the Service Hqs when our pension was reduced from 70% to 50%? Where was the Service Hqs all these 40 years to expect them to look after OROP demand?

    1. Sir, till the 7th CPC, when the MOD presented the requirements of Defence Forces. This is borne out by the fact as disclosed to Aerial View's RTI elsewhere on this blog, have permitted a direct interaction between Service HQ. As RAdm (retd) O'Leary has written, some Lt Gen from Army HQ decided compromises were the order of the day.

      Appeals in the Dhanapalan case were filed by MoD, at the behest of MoF, which insisted that an appeal be filed even after Army informed the MoD that the then Attorney General had advised against it. The wordings used in the MoF note were "file an appeal and take a chance."

  3. Sir, Some extremely relevant points in the concluding portion.

    MPs have their constituencies, party politics, parliamentary affiliation issues that they need to factor in. Their support for OROP, though, I'm sure, very genuine in parts, must necessarily be tempered by the practical necessities of their role and function.

    Unfortunately, Services HQs have been seen to be rather reticent in sharing their point of view on such ESM related issues. Which, again, is a practical necessity given the restrictions on flow of information which concern Government discussions and decisions.

    That is why "people who are fighting our cases in courts" need to focus, and be seen to focus, more on the litigation aspects, keeping stake holders abreast and keeping their own political affiliations and sense of admiration for and confidence in political personages, or those professed by their legal teams, at a slightly lower key than has been observed.

    The legal route for all issues connected with ESM issues seems the best bet at present. It could be that the legal process could affect, and readers of this blog would be grateful for your views on this, the outcome of the OROP situation.

  4. I wish to substantiate the comment of Taazakhabar for that is the truth as provided in reply to RTI by MoD vide 35(1)/2013-D (Pay/Services) dated 12th May 2015 enclosing Notes 88 to 120 (27 pages) and correspondence (9 pages) from Army HQ file No.B/25511/AKDP/AG/PS-3(a).

    At Note 92 dated 02 Sep 2003, signed by then Director PS-3, it is stated, inter alia,

    2. The matter has been examined in detail in this HQ. Filing of the SLP in the Hon'ble Supreme Court against High Court of Kerala judgment dated 05 Oct 98 in O.P. No. 2448 of not recommended for the following reasons: -------

    4. In view of the considered legal opinion of the Learned Attorney general of India that this is not a fit case for SLP, Army HQ are not in favour of the present suggestion of the Min of Finance :to take a chance for filing an SLP in Hon'ble Supreme Court." MoD are requested to re-examine the matter entirely and obtain approval of the Competent Authority to issue of charge expenditure sanction placed opposite at Flag A. Unquote

    I hope this places the appeal in the Dhanapalan in the correct and truthful perspective.

  5. Let us not segment our targets during our struggle for OROP Brig Raheja . The PM has given unequivocal assurances to ESM on OROP. Now he is trying to shift goal posts presumably merging with 7 CPC and that is subversion of the solemn promise that he made us all . Time window available is narrow to call the bluff . His DM says he made the DGL in full detail , Presumably that would have had the approval of his CGDA and Law officers , Now if PM and FM decide that the proposition is infirm then they should tell two parliaments that they were naive to pass resolution twice giving the unsolvable definition . They should then question their own Koshiary committee for being inept in their recommendations. Intellectually laden finance ministry can not SUBVERT parliamentary resolutions .
    Further despite being Integrated HQ of MOD ,service HQ is permeated by Civ employees , The bureaucrats of all hues and capabilities are still treated as controlling equals . The battle is being fought on rank pay is different from OROP . To garner political weight is not unethical in democracy , will suggest that ESM in various parties ESM cells should remain firm on cause of ESM welfare . So path of agitation resorted to now should not be quit now and we should not generate self doubts . withdrawal will permanently ruin our case . Fragmented we will loose a lot.

  6. Sir, there are disturbing news reports that a former COAS facilitated the present COAS, the Chairman Army Pay Commission Cell and Maj Gen Satbir Singh amongst other plenipotentiaries of ESM to the FM to discuss OROP, leaving out the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee & CAS as well as the CNS - both senior to the present COAS. If this report is true then Army HQ must inform the ESM what the contents of the discussions with FM were all about because it affects 25 lakh ESM and 6 lakh widows. Will COAS refute this news or will he brazen it out?

    1. @Taaza Khabar : Let us view it from a different perspective.

      No matter what the confabulations, if any, had sought to address, there exists a defined concept of OROP.

      The DGL from Services HQs has further clearly defined all the requirements that need to be met.

      No discussions, manner of implementation or 'agreements' reached, if any were reached, can re-define what OROP is or to introduce some basis for discrimination by going against principles clearly defined in Services DGL.

      If it does, then there is always the legal avenue. Hopefully, it will not come to that.

      But these "plenipotentiaries" that have been mentioned would, I hope, not muddy the water and try to convince ESM that a diluted version ought to be acceptable at present and that they would continue to strive for improvements over the following decades.

  7. As per this (Karan Thapar ) debate ,the main issue seem to be number of years of total service vs number of years of service in the rank ( & the outgo of about 5000 vs 8000 crores based on the criteria selected).The 5000 crores option seem to affect the JCOs & ORs more than the officers.
    Surprisingly there is no other news item about this issue & even Gen Satbir who attended the meeting with FM has not revealed any thing
    There was also a post by Col Kaul that only JCOs & ORs will get OROP
    I think rumors will kill OROP success & ESM (& Yama can go on a long holiday )

    1. Now there is a new organisation with Col Kaul as Media Adviser - some United Front of ESM organisations!

      The more we have of these self-appointed guardians of OROP, the lesser the chances of a quick resolution.

    2. @Venkatesh VT : "..rumors will kill OROP success & ESM.."
      Let us not write off OROP in that pessimistic fashion.

      But as "rumors" were mentioned, is there any link to the statement or post by "Media Adviser" to IESM to the effect that "only JCOs & ORs will get OROP"?

      In the absence of authentic links and web-pages, all these issues become hearsay and unreliable.

    3. @Corona8 OROP Success and OROP are two different things,the way i meant them i.e even if one ones gets OROP one may not be enamored by it since the rumors preceding it are a spoil sport
      Secondly See

    4. @Venkatesh VT: "...Secondly See...";

      There are a lot of paras in different colors to be seen there and lots of different sizes of fonts and text-formatting issues.

      And vague, unauthenticated rumors.

      Best to wait and see what actually transpires, if anything does.

    5. As for OROP is concerned every thing till now seems to me a mirage only.How ever one needs to be ever alert & analyse various news items (rumor or otherwise) for what they are worth.There is certainly a battle being fought in the minds of all stakeholders & even rumors (& waiting) are also part of that battle

  8. @Tmes of India
    parrikar says he is not going to speak to media for six months. Has the PM reigned him in or is he indirectly hinting that nothing is going to happen about OROP for the next six months and it is going to be 7th pay commission's baby to deal with it.

  9. @corona8 & Abe, Suggest we wait to see what happens in the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 1st July 2015 in CA No. 2966/2011 in Contempt Petition No. 64 of 2009.

    If the Media Adviser is really speaking the truth & not putting the fear of OROP so more ESM join the relay hunger strike, this will the first time in the history of Armed Forces anywhere in the world and definitely in India, that Armed Forces will be split between ORs& JCOs on the one hand & Officers on the other. It will be the saddest day in the lives of ESM, at least for me, to be unfortunate enough to live to see that day, and made worse that IESM does not oppose it.

    Please remember the UPA implemented the Cab Secy Committee Report for both ORs & JCOs as well as Officers on the same day i.e 17 Jan 2013.

    There aren't any funds lacking - please see the MoF website ( under Budget in the left panel and Statement of Revenue Foregone - for year 2014-15 it was Rs 62, 398.6 crores and for 2015-16 it is projected to be Rs 589,285.2 crore or US $ 96 billion (link:

    1. Sir thank you for your observation on the contempt petition hearing on 01 July as this also answers my doubt as expressed in previous comment of 16 June.

  10. Sir, would you be kind enough to publish the total financial impact of OROP for entitled babus in civil services and for NFU for 2014-2015

    1. In a reply to RTI, the MoF has stated that there isn't a separate budget for OROP for "entitled" babus nor is there a separate budget for NFU. The reply goes on to state that administrative ministries are allocated the funds which are disbursed by them.
      The Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO) has on its website indicated the amounts allocated for pensions of different ministries and CGDA (!) for MoD.