Friday, September 28, 2012

OROP a minuscule compared to Rs 42,000 crores of Power Loss

MoD slams criticism of pension hike
Ajay Banerjee/TNS
New Delhi, September 27, 2012
A day after groups of ex-servicemen termed the government hike in pension for armed forces personnel as ‘misleading’, authorities in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday retorted by saying this was the third hike in pension in the past four years.
A detailed chart of the financial benefits given to ex-servicemen since October 2008 is being calculated and will be released soon, said sources.
“Our aim is to cover the gap in pensions in a phased manner. This is the third increase in pension of ex-servicemen after the Sixth Central Pay Commission award was announced in October 2008,” authoritative sources said.
MoD slams criticism of pension hike

Ex-servicemen’s just demand
Government gets close to the goal by Inder Malhotra
OF late the media, especially newspapers and social networks, have been full of articles on the armed forces and their “discontents”. Since the authors of most of these are retired generals, air marshals and, occasionally, admirals, they refer more to the complaints and disgruntlements of highest military officers rather than of Other Ranks. Yet rare is any writing on the subject that hasn’t lamented the government’s heartless and over long failure to attend to the just demand of ex-servicemen for equal rank, equal pension, or OROP, for short.
Over this period one has had to witness not just virulent agitation on the issue but also such heart rending scenes as the nation’s defenders marching to Rashtrapati Bhavan to return their gallantry medals to the Supreme Commander, the President.
Thank God, this ordeal is now over. The government has at long last done justice to two and a half million ex-servicemen whose number increases by 70,000 every year. The key point is that these men retire an early age and have to exist on meagre pensions while other retirees of the same rank get higher or lower pensions depending on their dates of retirement.
A good proportion of the retirees could have been absorbed in the paramilitary forces, to great advantage both to them and the country. But this has not been possible, despite the best attempts of several defence ministers and others, because the monster of corruption has taken over the recruitment to not only the police forces in various states but also the Centre’s paramilitary organisations. Even the sleaziest of recruiters find it hard to ask retiring Army men for bribes, and so they are ineligible.
Lest the Army should start assuming superior airs on this score, let me hasten to add that on the admission of the best and the brightest within its own higher ranks, corruption in recruitment has contaminated the Army, too. As for other form of graft and malfeasance in the uniformed world, the evidence is littered across the country’s law courts or is stacked on the desks of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
On the merits of the government’s decision on OROP, there are two views. Some say that having gone thus far, the government could have gone a little farther and met the demand for one-rank-one-pension in full. They argue that this would not have added very much to the present package of Rs 2,300 crore which is a pittance compared with Rs 42,000 crore the government has generously offered the State Electricity Boards than which it is difficult to think of institutions more inefficient and corrupt. Having bankrupted themselves, they have run into debts amounting to the staggering figure of nearly Rs 2 lakh crore.
The debt recasting, even if it is achieved — the states have yet to agree to bear half the burden — would not solve the problem. For, no chief minister would stop the overuse and misuse of free power guaranteed to the farmers. Moreover, nobody would dare say boo to the crooks with clout that are stealing a huge quantity of power with impunity. It is, of course, written off as part of “distribution and transmission losses”.
Even so, there is a perfectly valid counter-argument to justify what the government has done. It has, it seems, gone as far as it could have or should have. After all, the amount of pension depends not only on the rank but also the last pay drawn. The salaries of the two men of the same rank and superannuating on the same day often differ because of the length of service in the last rank reached.
The Cabinet on Monday could have decided also on several issues concerning the pay, perks and pensions of lt-colonels, colonels, brigadiers and even lt-generals that have also been pending. But evidently, the committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary that examined the entire issue has not been able to complete its recommendations on these points.
What the government has got out of the way is very important, no doubt, but it was essentially a sideshow. The real problem, on which the armed forces’ resentment is perfectly legitimate, is the composition of the successive Pay Commissions appointed to fix the salaries and concomitant allowances of both the civilians and the military.
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