Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Primer on One Rank - One Pension

This is primer on One Rank One Pension written by Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, who is the Chairman of Indian Ex Servicemen Movement.

The original document is available here....... I have taken and posted the primer here and added some emphasis to highlight some issues.

Please comment and join us to take this forward. This is not just for soldiers - it is for India.

One Rank One Pension

Most readers would be familiar with the term ‘one rank one pension’ or OROP, which has been in the news of late. Disillusioned by the government rejection of this long-pending demand, the military veterans recently returned their medals to the President. Some may not have fully comprehended the issue of OROP. A primer is in order.

What is pension?

The Supreme Court in 1983 {D.S.Nakra and others vs UOI. (AIR 1983, SC 130)} has said, “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.

It is a social welfare measure, rendering socio-economic justice to those who in the hey days of their life, ceaselessly toiled for their employers on an assurance that in their old age, they would not be left in the lurch." Going by pension being ‘a payment for past services rendered’, logic demands that ‘equal service’ must get ‘equal payment’.

The ‘equal service’ in military parlance has two parameters, the quantity, in the form of total years in uniform, and the quality, implying the level of responsibility or the rank held. In other words, ‘Equal service’ and ‘equal rank’ should get ‘equal pension’. Over the years, this has been sloganised as OROP.

At present, military veterans are denied OROP. Whenever successive pay commissions enhance the salaries and consequently the pensions, these are effected only prospectively. The gap between past pensioners and their younger equivalents keeps widening with every successive pay commission. The disparity has become uncomfortably stark after the Sixth Pay Commission. Let me quote two examples, one among the officers and the other among the ‘personnel below officer rank’ (PBOR).

For equal service, a Sepoy, who retired prior to 01. 01. 1996, gets 82% lower pension than a Sepoy who retires after 1.1.2006? There are also inter-rank disparities. A pre - 01. 01. 1996 Havildar gets 37% lower pension than a Sepoy, who retired after 1.1.2006, despite the latter being two rungs lower in the military hierarchy.

Among officers, a pre 1996 Major gets 53% lower pension than his post 2006 counterpart. As far as inter-rank disparity is concerned, a pre 1996 Lt General gets 10 % lower pension than a ‘Time Scale’ Colonel who retired after 1.1.2006. (Gap is even wider for a Brigadier and a Major General vis-a-vis a Colonel).

Be it known that less than 1% officers reach the Lt General’s rank through a tight sieve of five selection boards, they command a Corps of nearly 70,000 troops, and serve for 40 plus years. In contrast, a Time Scale Colonel does not make it through a single selection board, commands only a Company of just over 100 men and retires after 26 years. One does not need to be an expert to perceive that something is wrong.

Why is the government hesitant to meet the OROP demand?

As per media reports they have cited administrative, financial and legal difficulties. The administrative reason is hard to understand; every veteran’s full record is available with the military establishments as well as with the banks.

The financial and legal worry must arise from the government concern that it might generate a similar demand from the civilian employees, who might even move the courts. While the concern is well taken, the comparison between defence and civilian employees has little rationale.

While all civilian employees retire by age, the defence personnel retire by rank. As a result, while all civilian employees serve up to their maximum permissible age of retirement, the PBOR start retiring at the age of 35 years and by the age of 42, nearly 85% have gone home. In the case of officers, nearly 92% retire as Colonels at 54 years. Therefore, comparing defence personnel with civilians is a comparison between unequals, which can never give valid results.

Let us consider the reverse scenario.

Up to the time of the Sixth Pay Commission, one had to have minimum 33 years service to become eligible for the optimum pension, which is 50% of last salary.

Since the PBOR start retiring at 17 years service, and all are compulsorily retired on reaching a maximum of 32 years, none of them got their optimum pension. Over the years, the government introduced a scheme of compensatory weightages for the PBOR by adding notional years to their actual service for pension purposes.

However, this too was capped at a maximum total of 30 years. As a result, all PBOR received lower pension than optimum while every civilian received the optimum. If comparison and equity between the two were indeed a relevant factor, why was this disparity never set right?

When in 1992, the government sanctioned a ‘one time increase’ exclusively for the defence personnel, there was not even a whimper of protest from any civilian employee. Again, the Sixth Pay Commission has sanctioned a ‘Military Service Pay’ only for defence employees. This is not an allowance but a ‘pay’.

No civilian employee has demanded this or moved the courts against this provision. On the same logic, why cannot the government sanction OROP and call it ‘military service pension’? It seems denial of OROP to defence personnel, because it might generate a similar demand from civilian employees, is more likely a pretext than a reason.

There is reason why the civilians would not seek OROP or ‘military service pension’ if the same is sanctioned to the defence pensioners.

The effect of non-grant of OROP is felt only during the pay commissions, that is, once in ten years. A person retiring at 35 years may see upto six pay commissions, whereas a civilian pensioner, apart from having received extra salary for some 25 years of service, may see maximum two or three pay commissions. The former, therefore, have much more at stake. That is why, while the defence pensioners have been raising the issue of OROP for nearly 25 years, and have gone to the extent of returning their medals on this account, no civilian has ever asked for it.

Demand for OROP is not extraordinary. The Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assemblies and judges are already enjoying this benefit. OROP is also extended to all IAS Secetaries, Special Secretaries, police DGsP and senior posts in other government departments under the provision of ‘fixed salaries’.

Interestingly, the Congress election manifesto for the last Lok Sabha elections had said,
‘The long-pending issue of one-rank, one-pension will once again be re-examined and the satisfactory solution arrived at expeditiously’.
An important document like the manifesto is prepared after due deliberation on all ‘difficulties’ involved in implementing it. Going back on the pledges can only cast doubts on the credibility of the Party.

It needs reiterating that the demand for OROP is a demand for equity and justice and not merely for more money. Extra money will not change a military veteran’s life significantly. However, in his evening years he will have the satisfaction that he has justice.

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan
Chairman Indian Ex Servicemen Movement

One Rank - One Pay

When two people retire from the same position, it is assumed that the pension that they will draw shall be same, irrespective of when a person retired.

And this is true for most positions in India like the President, Judges, IAS officers and so on.

However, it is not true for the retired soldiers of the Indian Forces.

For the people retired from same rank, the Indian Govt. has many slabs of pension. In some cases, it is as much as 14 slabs. This is patently unfair.

This blog is an effort to get all the resources at one place. And create a civil movement to get the just demand of One Rank One Pension

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi commits in 2002 rally

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi commits in 2002 rally, changes tack during 5 years of rule

CHANDIGARH: During her 40-minute stay at the rally, Sonia Gandhi endorsed the demand for one-rank-one-pension, which was earlier stressed upon by Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh at the North Zone Ex-servicemen rally addressed by the Congress president at the Sector 46 sports complex.

Ex-servicemen have been demanding change in criteria for pension, as laid out by the fifth Pay Commission about seven years ago.

All India Congress Committee Ex-servicemen cell chairman Lt Gen MM Lakhera, who was Adjutant General when the pay commission proposals were being firmed up, highlighted the long pending demand for waiving the 33 years service criterion for earning full pension, since ex-servicemen below the rank of Subedar cannot fulfil this condition.

Lakhera also protested against the 'meagre monthly allowance' of Rs 600 to attendants of handicapped exservicemen. Both Amarinder Singh and Lakhera demanded that ex-servicemen be granted entitlement of free medical services in civil hospitals in areas where military hospitals are not available.

They also pointed out that the present monthly entitlement of Rs 100 was far too meagre in case of ex-servicemen opting for medical allowance in lieu of facilities.

This amount, they said, should be enhanced to Rs 250 per month, at par with civilian employees. Gallantry award winners honoured: Sonia Gandhi honoured relatives of four Param Vir Chakra (PVC) and four Victoria Cross (VC) gallantry award winners— all from Punjab who laid down their lives during various wars, including World War-II.

While the PVC is the highest Indian gallantry award, VC was the highest gallantry award awarded by the British during WW-II.

The first to be honoured was Amarjeet Kaur, wife of Lt Karamjeet Singh, who laid down his life during WW-II, in 1945, for which he was posthumously awarded the VC. She was followed by Gurdial Kaur, wife of Captain Joginder Singh, who was awarded PVC for bravery during the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

Gurdial Kaur, wife of Lance Naik (honorary captain) Karam Singh, who was awarded PVC for his valiant acts in the 1948 Indo-Pak war, was presented a shawl. Karam Singh, who was commanding a section, was severely wounded.

He forced the eviction of the enemy who had made a bid to recapture Tithuwal in Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, Sukhdev Singh, brother of Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, who was killed in the line of duty while on a UN mission to Congo, was also honoured by Sonia Gandhi.

She also honoured Sukhwinder Singh, brother of flying officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, the solitary PVC awardee of Indian Air Force. Sekhon was killed while defending Srinagar airfield during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, during which he shot down two USmade Pakistan Air Force Sabre jets with his Britishmade Gnat on December 14, 1971.

The remaining three VC winners, whose family members were honoured, were Jamandar (Subedar Major and Honorary Captain) Gian Singh, Naib Subedar Nand Singh and Havaldar Prakash Singh— all of whom died during WW-II.

Let-down: A slip of tongue by Amarinder Singh left Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Hanspal somewhat red faced. The CM inadvertently called the state president 'district president' during his introductory speech.

Curiosity value: Dressed in a grey suit and white shawl, Sonia Gandhi charmed the large number of people who had come from all parts of Punjab to listen to this 'vilaiti' woman.

Waving occasionally in her typical style, Sonia presented an image of her late mother-in-law Indira Gandhi towards the end of the speech as she urged the audience to say Jai Hind thrice -- each time in a more sonorous voice than before.