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Achchey Din For Retired Faujis – “वन रैंक, वन पेंशन” की घोषणा अगले सप्ताह

Achchey Din For Retired Faujis: Outlook News

The government is giving final shape to One-Rank One-Pension (OROP)

FEB 17, 2015 Achchey Din seems likely to dawn on the armed forces, or ex-personnel in
particular. The government is giving final shape to their long standing
demand of adopting One-Rank One-Pension (OROP).
Bureaucrats are currently burning midnight oil to pore over the fine
print of at least four options to implement the OROP scheme. A source in
government, aware of the developments, says a decision is expected soon
and a large provision in the Budget, or soon after.
“We are very hopeful that the long overdue injustice to the armed forces
will be reversed in this budget,” says Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd) who
leads the IESM or Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, which lobbied intensely
for OROP since 2008. “Both UPA and NDA have agreed to our OROP so we
see no reason that it will be held back now,” he says.
For 40 years the retirees, now numbering three million, have been
bristling under what they perceive as “neglect and humiliation” by
political parties and successive governments. Its extreme manifestation,
from their perspective, was the denial of OROP. Lack of empirical data
on the cost of this pension, plus political reluctance of the parties
fuelled much of the denial and delay. The former military staff launched
public agitations to make their case, often embarrassing the
Regardless of which of the four options the government decides upon
ultimately, the roughly Rs 8,000 crore likely to be set aside for OROP
should go a long way to calm the angry (wo)men in uniform, besides
providing them a lifestyle befitting the status, say, one that a retired
colonel or brigadier enjoys.
One choice before the government, says the same government source, is to
do exactly as the ex-servicemen want: Give future and past retirees of
the same rank from the Army, Navy and Air Force exactly the same
pension. Essentially, this means that all Brigadiers or, say, Air Vice
Marshals, would get the same pension regardless of when they retired,
taking into account only their years in service and the number of years
they held the rank. This formula, a literal interpretation of the phrase
One-Rank One-Pension, has been accepted by government committees,
including the Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence.
For instance, a colonel with 30-32 years of service, whose basic pay was
around Rs. 26,000 before 2004 would have earned around Rs. 37,000 in
2014. OROP is expected to bridge the pension gap that arises due to this
pay discrepancy. “Our demand is very simple: Today’s pension for all
previous retirees,” says Singh.
But the government’s estimates of cost of this pension have it pedalling
back a little. Taking 2012 as the cut-off date, giving past retirees
hikes that bring them on par with the highest pension paid to that rank
in 2012, would cost a whopping Rs 16,000 crore, they argue. This has
prompted a hunt for other options, meant to “balance” the exchequer with
meeting armed force expectations.
A second option involves fixing the pension for pre-2006 retirees
according to the 6th Pay Commission. Then, the government may pull a
trick out of its hat and select the lowest pension paid since 2006 as
the norm for older retirees. A version of this formula is already under
implementation for Junior Commissioned Officers, Non-Commissioned
Officers, and other ranks. It’s possible this formula, with some tweaks,
will be accepted, and result in the roughly Rs 8,000 crore allocation.
“It’s obvious OROP is going to happen,” says this government official.
The discussions, this person says, is now in its final stage. There was a
third choice, which involved bringing all ex-servicemen on par with the
basic pay of the 6th Pay Commission, then calculate each retiree’s
pension individually, taking into account each one’s years in service
and length of time spent in the rank. This option is an “administrative
nightmare” dogged, reportedly, by unavailable past data with the
Controller of Defence Accounts, a wing of the ministry of defence. The
lack of data is also a clear sign that the OROP debate has been based on
weak databases and much groping in the dark.
A fourth and final option is where pension is to be fixed on the basis
of an average or median. Separate groups of retirees who superannuated
in bands of years, say, between 1990 and 2000, would be made. Those
earning a pension below the average would get an enhanced pension, while
the rest would be protected. This option, apparently easy to implement,
is technically not OROP at all as it implies a different pension for
retirees in the same rank, if they retired at different points of time.
The defence forces are mounting tremendous pressure on the government to
ensure OROP isn’t watered down. Earlier this month, they questioned
defence minister Manohar Parrikar for saying that OROP would satisfy
them “80 per cent.” Their vociferous protest had the government assure
full satisfaction. In 2009, angry retired armed personnel signed a
petition in their own blood for then President Pratibha Patil. Reeling
under such tough tactics, the UPA finally accepted OROP in 2012. But the
Rs. 500 crore for it in last year’s interim budget presented by finance
minister P Chidambaram was seen as woefully inadequate. The veterans
switched sides, now pinning their hopes on to the BJP’s then prime
minister-aspirant, Narendra Modi.
Five lakh ex-servicemen had assembled last spring at Rewari, on the
outskirts of Delhi, to hear Modi promise OROP, should his party form the
government. Behind the scenes, the ex-servicemen had already got an
assurance from the party to consider their demand and publicly announce
it, as a precondition for pulling in the spectacular crowd in Rewari.
“For years we had requested, protested and demanded OROP. In 2014 we
realised what would make a difference to politicians—votes. With our
strength and influence over the village population, we could swing
elections in many places,” Gen (retd) Singh says.
OROP is an issue which could trip the BJP. It considers and projects
itself as a fiercely nationalist party, a narrative meaningless without a
robust national defence policy. It can scarcely afford to disappoint
the defence forces. Nevertheless, the different versions of OROP
indicate just how conflicted the issue is. The ex-servicemen never
agreed that OROP will cost the Rs. 16000 predicted by the bureaucracy.
They still hope for a Rs. 9000-12000 crore allocation for full OROP. The
usually docile military retirees started getting heated up only after
2006. That year, the Sixth Pay Commission hiked central government pay
significantly, to counter the private sector’s fantastic offers to the
similarly educated. As pension is always a proportion of salary, after
this hike, the gap between pensions of ex-servicemen who retired before
and after 2006 grew wider. Most jawans retire in their mid-thirties, and
only an eighth of officers rise beyond the rank of colonel. The belief
that the army would never catch up with the civil services’ benefits
also grew.
“There has been an obvious and clear neglect of our concerns vis a vis
civil services,” says Col. Karan Kharb (Retd.), who recently wrote in
several journals about rising expressions of discontent within the Army.
“One of the biggest reasons for discontent is not implementing OROP.”
He says that the promotion pyramid, even after reforms since the
mid-2000s, is so narrow that officers promoted to higher ranks often
don’t get deployed in that rank’s position. “We need a motivator. The
government must see to it that the armed forces are looked after
exceptionally well, not just in comparison with the civil servants,” he
Since 1951, the army argues, it has clambered down five steps in rank
status, compared with the police and civil services. For instance, an SP
was equivalent of a Captain in the army at the time, a joint secretary a
major. Now, a joint secretary matches a major general and an SP a
colonel. “We are not asking for money, the pension is simply a corollary
to our pride being restored,” says Cdr SS Ahuja, (Retd) from the Indian
Other than the three million already-retired personnel, some 60,000
retire from military service every year fuelling speculation in the
bureaucracy of an unmanageable financial liability, and that OROP will
encourage other para-military formations to raise similar demands.
“There is a perception among the armed forces that India is not treating
them with due respect. Given the parallel perception that the forces
are critical to India’s security, this debate has arrived at a juncture
where some concrete step will have to be taken,” says Prof Mukul Asher, a
professor specialising in social security issues in Asia at the Lee
Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore.
Asher says pension appears to be taken as a separate item, with nobody
examining the total cost of an employee in the armed forces, including
after retirement. The “peculiarity” of adjusting pensions against pay
commissions makes the system even more complex, he says.
Indeed, Gen Singh (Retd) and his IESM colleagues trace their
mistreatment back to the 3rd Pay Commission in 1973. That year, for the
first time, civilian and military salaries were “clubbed”. Until 1973,
civilian pension was 33 per cent of last salary drawn. Officers, at the
time, drew 50 per cent of their last salary as pension while Jawans or
Junior Commissioned Officers got 70 per cent. After 1973, civilian
pension grew to 50 per cent of last pay drawn, while retired jawans and
JCOs pension was cut to 50 per cent.
To illustrate, the pension of the highest civilian authority was Rs.
416.50 in 1973 and increased to Rs. 45000 in 2006. The army chief in
1973 was entitled to Rs. 1000 pension, which is now Rs. 45000. “So, the
civil services have given themselves a 108 per cent hike over these
years and given us only 45 per cent. Why? Who gave them this authority?”
says Gen. Singh.
Since 2004, most new government employees, though not armed forces,
moved to a new system where pension contributions are defined and not
benefits. “Pensions to existing retirees cannot be changed but this does
not mean that in future some new employment contract cannot be drawn
up. This is the kind of decision that needs to be taken,” says Asher.
For now, nobody really seems to know what OROP should, or will, cost and
the call seems to depend on immediate affordability rather than long
term considerations. As the government official says, the payout in the
budget will be a political decision for the Modi government.

Read at Outlook

“वन रैंक, वन पेंशन” की घोषणा अगले सप्ताह 
“One Rank One Pension” announcement next week

2/17/2015 12:26:39 AM बेंगलूरू। केंद्र सरकार अगले सप्ताह तक सशस्त्र बलों के लिए “वन रैंक, वन पेंशन” योजना लागू करने की घोषणा कर देगी। यहां सोमवार को एयरो इंडिया सेमिनार के दौरान संवाददाताओं से बातचीत करते हुए रक्षा राज्य मंत्री राव इंद्रजीत सिंह ने कहा कि रक्षा मंत्रालय इस बारे में पूरा ब्योरा तैयार करने में जुटा है।

उन्होंने कहा कि बजट से पहले रक्षा मंत्री मनोहर पार्रिकर इस बारे में सरकार के फैसले की घोषणा करेंगे। उन्होंने कहा कि इस योजना को लागू करने के बाद राजस्व पर बोझ बढ़ना तय है। लिहाजा उसके वित्तीय प्रभावों का आकलन किया जा रहा है। पूर्व में 6 हजार करोड़ अतिरिक्त बोझ बढ़ने का अनुमान लगाया गया था जो वर्तमान में बढ़कर 14 हजार करोड़ तक हो सकता है। योजना का खाका तैयार करने के बाद ही इसका ब्यौरा उपलब्ध हो सकेगा। उन्होंने कहा कि अगर यह योजना सौ फीसदी लागू नहीं हो सकी तो कम से कम 90 फीसदी लागू किया जाएगा।

उम्मीद है कि यह रक्षाकर्मियों के सभी परिवारों को स्वीकार्य होगा। गौरतलब है कि पिछले बजट में इस योजना को लागू करने की घोषणा की गई थी। “वन रैंक, वन पेंशन” योजना के तहत समान रैंक व समान सेवा अवधि वाले जवानों को एक समान पेंशन का लाभ दिया जाएगा। सेवानिवृत्ति की तिथि से इसका कोई लेना-देना नहीं होगा। 

Read at: http://www.patrika.com

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