Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Support from an unexpected quarter - after the barbs from Chetan Bhagat and MJ Akbar - An Ambassador's Plea to the Govt on OROP

20 September 2015

Dear Prime Minister of India, 

All the governments of world have accepted their veterans a "Class of Probity" but it is totally reverse in India.
I am regularly watching and reading about long ongoing agitation of Indian veterans demanding One Rank-One Pension (OROP) for the last three months.

Shockingly, the government of India never planned to keep its promises till to date. 
I urge the government of India and its parliamentarians to have a look with opened eyes on the lines....Engraved on the walls of Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun :

"The safety, honour & welfare of your country come first, always and every time. 

The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. 
Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time." 

Quite a contrast with the ways of the world outside! 

For a life of extraordinary hardship, in Battle and in peace, all 25 million veterans of India deserve one rank one pension. 

There's honour in service of these men but no honour in the broken promises made to them.

I being an Ambassador at Large of International Human Rights Commission for India & SAARC would like to request you to accept all the genuine demand of your veterans and remember that you can never pay back a soldier enough.
Better give it gracefully! 

Don't try bargaining with veterans...They are upright and honest people of great India; They talk straight and prefer same thing in return. 

So, for a change in the portfolios of armed forces personnel with the civilian counterparts on 'as is at it' basis for couple of years

And let civilian brethren enjoy all the amenities, facilities including bullets on the chest during enemy aggression, natural calamities, internal disturbances and all other nuisances the nation has to face for its safety , honor, dignity and unity etc and let them do it without urging for OROP for themselves at any stage to keep your nation fighting fit and well dignified in world arena.

Dr. Prithvi Singh Ravish
Ambassador at Large for India & SAARC
International Human Rights Commission
OROP: Stop misleading the people and come out with the arithmeticBrig. V. Mahalingam (retd)

21 September 2015

reveals the myopic view of some, born out of ignorance and lack of understanding which needs to be corrected lest the country falls prey to such distortions. In some cases such views are motivated and prompted.


[ In the Business Standard of 22 Sep 2015 ]
=========================================After 100 days of agitation, ex-servicemen ready for long haul
Ajai Shukla

22 September 2015

Mrs SP Singh, a tiny, rounded woman with laugh lines at the corners of her eyes, seems an ordinary housewife, on her way to buy groceries from a middle-class marketplace. But this wife of a retired lieutenant colonel from the Sikh regiment has found a new routine, travelling to New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar every morning to join hundreds of others like her, from disparate ex-servicemen’s groups, agitating for “one rank one pension” (OROP).

On Tuesday, the public agitation launched on 6th June by the United Front of Ex-Servicemen,completes 100 days.

On September 5, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had announced government’s acceptance of the basic principle of OROP: “that uniform pension be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement”. But key ex-servicemen’s demands remained unaddressed, and the agitation continues.

Nor are ex-servicemen taking solace from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurances the day after Parrikar accepted OROP. There was little clarity in Modi’s statement, say ex-servicemen, and no official notification has followed.

“We will go on for 1,000 days if needed. The government has tried to create a rift between ex-servicemen by announcing an award that pleases some sections. But we have a culture of fighting together and we will remain united”, says Mrs Singh.

Since Parrikar announced OROP, the mood has only become feistier. Initially spearheaded by officers, the movement has become more broad-based, with even village-based ex-servicemen associations --- composed mainly of rank-and-file former soldiers --- pledging support and sending representatives to Jantar Mantar.

Major General Satbir Singh, the Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Movement (IESM) chief, who has emerged as the face of the agitation, says the IESM has over 50,000 members and is now supported by over 160 ex-servicemen organisations.

According to General Satbir, the government’s acceptance of OROP, which will cost Rs 18,000-22,000 crore to implement this year, has seven key shortfalls.

These include the government’s exclusion from OROP of servicemen who opt for premature retirement (PMR),before reaching the age of superannuation. On the evening of September 5, Parrikar had done a U-turn, assuring ex-servicemen that those who took PMR would be entitled to OROP. However, this has not yet been officially notified.

Second, ex-servicemen have rejected the government’s offer to “equalise”, or adjust old and new pensions, every five years. Instead, they demand annual “equalisation”.

“The government says annual equalisation will be too complicated. Yet, last week, Mr Parrikar was shown software in Bengaluru, developed by an ex-navy admiral [Rear Admiral B.R.Vasant], which takes just seven seconds to calculate an individual’s adjusted pension”, says General Satbir.

Third, ex-servicemen had negotiated that pensions as on March 31, 2014 would be passed on to all pensioners.Yet, Parrikar announced the average pension paid in calendar year 2013 would be paid, holding back one full annual increment.

Fourth, Parrikar announced that OROP would be effective from July 1, 2014, not April 1, as had been agreed in negotiations. With each month’s additional pension amounting to Rs 700 crore, the government was looking to save Rs 2,100 crore.

Fifth, Parrikar wants the average of each pay grade to form the basis for calculating pension of that grade. The ex-servicemen are demanding the top of the scale.

Sixth, ex-servicemen demand that OROP be “implemented in perpetuity”, with successive pay commissions “integrating”, not “adjudicating” pensions. 

Finally, Parrikar announced a one-person judicial commission to adjust pension anomalies over the next six months. 

Ex-servicemen’s groups, however are demanding a five-member commission, with three of their representatives and one each from the serving military and the defence ministry. This would be disbanded after one month.

Contacted for a comment, defence ministry spokesperson, Sitanshu Kar, responded, “The PM has provided assurances and the ministry is working very hard to produce a notification that will reconcile expectations. This should be out very soon".

(Source- via gp e-mail from Carl Gomes Veteran)

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