Ex-servicemen in another combat
Sharan Poovanna Express News Service First Published : 12 Apr 2011 03:01:01 AM
BANGALORE: Defence personnel dedicate themselves to the country. Day and night, they guard the borders and save the people from enemies. They are recognised by the government and the society for their great contribution to the country with awards and medals.
However, once they retire, they face many problems. Undeterred, these retired officials continue to fight like they did on the battlefield. They have, so far, received nothing more than empty assurances.
"We have been fighting for One Rank One Pension," stated Wing Commander (Retd) Ashok Gupta. Terming the decision of the government to deny them their right as the "funniest thing in the world", he said the entire ex servicemen fraternity had voiced its concerns but the government continued to ignore them.
One Rank One Pension
Explaining the concept, he said a Colonel-rank officer in the army today gets more pension than that of a Major General who retired 15-20 years ago.
"We in the army follow hierarchy, but if a junior ranked official gets more pension, then what is the use of a higher rank?" he questioned.
Adding to this, Lt Col Satwant Singh, Secretary of the Delhi based Retired Defence Officers Association (RDOA), expressed his displeasure and said this trend was funny at best and preposterous at worst.
Informing that retired officers from across the nation have even surrendered their gallantry medals, he said: "Defence personnel have put their lives on the line to earn those medals, which acknowledge and appreciate their work. But if the same people are willing to give away this, it only shows how pained they feel about being treated this way."
Grant of Rank Pay
On June 10, 2010, Major General Mrinal Suman wrote: "The growing adversarial relationship between the government and ex servicemen is a matter of grave concern. For the past few years, an impression is gaining ground that the government is becoming increasingly intolerant and biased against ex servicemen and is treating them unfairly. The military is an instrument of the government. How can a government let itself be seen as an adversary of its own constituent?" He added: "They do not seek favour or pity but ask for compassion, understanding and equity. They want their government to acknowledge the severity of their service conditions and their contribution to nation safeguarding." Lt Col Satwant Singh stated that the fourth Pay Commission had granted Rank Pay in addition to basic pay for officers up to the rank of Brigadier. However, he added, while fixing pay in the integrated scale, an amount equal to the Rank Pay was deceitfully deducted by the bureaucrats from the total dues, thereby causing heavy financial loss to the officers.
"It was an act of betrayal of the trust of the armed forces. No other country in the world is known to have conspired and connived so blatantly to deprive its own soldiers of their rightful dues," Major General Suman added.
Lt Col Savant compared an army man's retirement plan with a civilian's. He said civilians can work until their retirement age and hence can avail the full pension. "A Lt Colonel and Colonel retire at 54, Brigadier at 56, Major General at 58 and so on", he said and added: "That's the system which forces them to retire and hence, they would not be able to get the full pension."
He said Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and other such services had the provision of promotions that would guarantee them a minimum post of secretary in their service.
"It takes an officer more than 33 years of service to become a Major General in the Army, which is equivalent to that of Joint Secretary cadre. But any IAS officer will reach a minimum of secretary cadre within 1622 years of service," he said and added that only five per cent of officers in the Army would reach this position as compared with their civilian counterparts.
"We are not even given disability pension on the same lines as the civilian services," Lt Col Savant added.
Even the Supreme Court has directed the government to ensure that the same services are given to defence personnel but it is yet to be implemented by the government.
"There are over 4,000 cases pending in the Armed Forces Tribunal," he said and added that ex-servicemen were still being made to run from pillar to post to claim their rights.
These brave soldiers were given some respite when Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrashekar gave a presentation on 'One Rank One Pension' to the Petitions Committee of the Parliament. The Petition Committee will now meet to discuss the petition and issue advertisements in leading newspapers to seek comments and suggestions from the public. The Committee will then consider all letters and suggestions and take the matter for consideration.
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