MEMORANDUM FROM THE INDIAN EXSERVICES LEAGUE AND SOLDIER’S WIDOWS TO HER EXCELLENCY PRATIBHA DEVI SINGH PATIL, PRESIDENT OF INDIA AND SUPREME COMMANDER OF THE ARMED FORCES
1. Over the years the Indian Ex-Services League, an apex body to articulate concerns of all Ex-Servicemen and widows of country duly recognised by Govt of India, has been highlighting the continuous lowering of their status vis-à-vis equivalent Central Govt Officials. Due to the neglect of successive Pay Commissions, service in the Armed Forces has become unattractive and the right talent is no longer being attracted for a career in the military. Unfortunately, we have not achieved success in our endeavours. The 6th Central Pay Commission has also failed to address this issue and has ignored demand of “One Rank One Pension” alongwith other related issues, causing despondency amongst the ex-servicemen community. Due to this indifferent attitude of the authorities this massive Rally on 7th May 08 is being held.
2. One Rank One Pension. This demand by the Ex-Servicemen has been raised over and over again since the 1980s. It implies that all retirees get the same pension irrespective of their date of retirement. Increase in pension should be applicable to all pensioners. A soldier and an officer gives his entire life, suffering hardships and domestic life disturbance, facing danger to life and limb expects that he would be paid adequate pension to enable him to lead a life of dignity. In the volatile economic scenario, he expects that his pension would be enhanced periodically to meet inflation. Two defence employees retiring in the same rank, after same length of service should get equal pension irrespective of their date of retirement. Inspite of solemn declarations in and outside Parliament by United Front Government on 05 Sep 91 and NDA Government on 14 Apr 99 and the successive Governments, they have not implemented their promises. The Central Pay Commission has again ignored this demand. The demand of “One Rank One Pension” is the core grievance which is agitating the veterans.
3. Ex-Servicemen Welfare to be a part of the Concurrent List. There is a vide disparity between the facilities/ concessions accorded to the Defence Pensioners in various States. They are on Concurrent list while in service but disparity starts after retirement e.g. exemption of VAT, House Tax (applicable only in some States) and wide variance of monetary grant for Gallantry Awards winners from State to State. There is a need to enact an Act of parliament whereby the laid down quota of vacancies reserved for the defence pensioners is constitutionally enforced on the Central and State Governments. Equally, there is a need to constitute an Ex-Servicemen Commission on the lines of similar commissions to have constitutional authority. The existing Department of Welfare in the Ministry of Defence is ill equipped to meet the aspirations of the Ex-Servicemen as it has no statutory powers.
4. Guaranteed Second Lateral Employment upto 60 Years. Imperative of keeping the armed forces young, necessitates that a soldier retires at the age of 35 years, Junior Commission Officer at 45 years and bulk of Officers at 54-56 years. There is no effective system whereby they can work till the age of 60 years like other Government employees. The Directorate General of Resettlement, a Ministry of Defence Organization can secure employment to only a miniscule numbers of retirees. There has to be a Central Govt provision to ensure that all retirees from the Armed Forces are compulsorily absorbed in PMFs/PSUs/Other such agencies for an assured career upto 60 years of age.
5. Separate Pay Commission for the Armed Forces. This a long outstanding issue has been accepted by the Government.
6. All Concessions including MSP/ Pension to be with Retrospective with effect from 01 Jan 2006. Existing pensioners should also be entitled to get all benefits that accrue to pensioners who retire now. When all other government employees are getting their pay and pension arrears from 1.1.2006, to deny it to the defence personnel by recommending that the MSP be paid only prospectively is discriminatory. The arrears should be paid from 1.1.2006.
7. Only macro issues have been raised which affect 4.5 million Ex-Servicemen and widows. As Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and our Grand Patron-in-Chief we appeal to you to please ensure justice for the selfless spirit and sacrifices of the veterans who have devoted prime of their lives in the service of their motherland. The nation and the government are morally bound to take care of its soldiers while they are in service and after retirement.
Brig RKS Gulia (Retd)
Indian Ex-Service League
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