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Monday, October 4, 2010

OPed in 'The Tribune'

My OPed as it appeared in on the editorial page of 'The Tribune' :

More logic, less rhetoric to strike a better deal

Maj Navdeep Singh

Is atta-dal cheaper for a pensioner who retired in say 1995 than an employee retiring today ? Absolutely not. Then why should an old retiree be paid much lesser pension than an equally placed person retiring today in the same rank and with the same length of service? Legalese apart, this is the question which stares the present system in its face. But then, the logic is equally applicable not only to defence pensioners but to all pensioners irrespective of the service they retired from. And this is where I differ from some veteran organisations which time and again bring in the talk of honour, valour and sacrifice of defence personnel while trivialising the roles of other occupations. OROP, or more precisely ‘Equal pension for the same grade with same length of service’, is definitely an equitable and ideal concept and should be granted, but it should be extended in time to all pensioners irrespective of the service from which they retired. If the defence services deserve it earlier or in a different format than others, it is not because their contribution is more hallowed than civilian employees but because they retire younger, at times 25 years before their civilian counterparts, are at call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and definitely lead a tougher regimented life. Every service or occupation however has a role to perform in sustaining this nation and the thin line between pride and superiority should not be crossed.

The outrage and retort of some members during a recent popular TV talk show, when an economics Professor suggested that there were other professionals too such as firemen who faced occupational risks, again reflected a kind of hollow supremacy which we are unknowingly instilling within the military society and that is taking us further away from the real world. Perhaps, the example of a fireman was not apt, but there are others such as personnel of the Central Police Organisations who face similar risks and probably lead an even tougher life. The only intelligible differentia that can be logically put forth is that defence personnel retire earlier. Of course, fallacious was also the argument of the Professor that defence personnel should be granted higher pay but not greater pension because the nation cannot afford it. Perhaps the Professor did not know that pension, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, is a ‘deferred wage’ and a higher wage therefore has to rationally translate into higher pension. This fight should be won not by comparisons or running down others but by articulating a logical stance that is not easy to defy.

The idea should be to convince the government, the public and the nation as to why pensioners in general and defence pensioners in particular deserve a better deal. Though I do not agree with the conspiracy theory of the bureaucracy being always opposed to what defence personnel deserve, I can say it with conviction that mischievous elements at not-so-high-levels definitely have the ability to deceive the upper echelons of governance with misleading notings on which there is no proper application of mind at the top but only affixing of initials as a mere formality. Or else nobody on earth could justify what has been labelled as ‘modified parity’ or ‘rationalisation of pension structure’. The difference of Rs 1400 in pension between a Captain and a Major as on 31-12-2005 has gone down to Rs 250 on 01-01-2006 after the 6th Pay Commission rather than increasing with the enhancement of scales while the difference of Rs 950 between the pension of a Major and a Time Scale Lieutenant Colonel has gone up to Rs 11,600. As on date, the disability element of pension of a 100% disabled Chief of Army Staff who retired on 31-12-2005 with 40 years of service is Rs 5880 while the disability element of the same officer retiring a day later is Rs 27,000. In fact, a Lieutenant, the lowest commissioned rank, with one day of service released on 01-01-2006 gets a disability element of Rs 8100 which is much more than that of a 100% disabled General, the highest commissioned rank, who retired a day earlier. Probably it has been somehow established on file that an injury sustained on 01-01-2006 is more agonising than the one sustained a day before !

The government may call it anything - modified parity or rationalisation, officialdom may put across a labyrinth of rulings and decisions to defend itself but the net result is that the differentia between pre and post 2006 retirees is something that shakes the conscience. But how do we counter it - by rhetoric and presenting ourselves as ‘holier than thou’ or by logical reasoning?

The writer practises in the Punjab & Haryana High Court

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your views.
Retirement age for all employees
( including defence forces ) should be same.
To keep the army young;after a specified age, defence personnel should be accomodated in peace establishments of defence services and in other departments.
Disabilty pension must be same or at least same rate for one and all ; irrespective of date of retirement.For pre 1-1-06 retirees, it should be 60% of revised basic pension for 100% disability and proprtionately reduced for lower percentages of disability.
Those who happen to lose their life,while performing duties,whether they are fauzi or civilian,they should be kept on honorary roll till their normal age of retirement and their depandants paid ,normal salary and retirement benefits; as if the employee were alive.
In addition ,fauzees dying on the face of enemy ( including internal)
should be paid ex-gratia lumpsum, immediately on death.

Anonymous said...

OROP shoulde implemented for all Central Govt organisation, as a matter of fact implementation of OROP will be much easier if it is implemented for ALL.

Anonymous said...

Navdeep,

An eloquent, articulate and brilliantly incisive argument for OROP for all pensioners.

I am an avid follower of your blog as it is a pleasure to read your intelligent and focused views.

Regards,
Aesclepius

Prakash said...

sir,
very nicely brought out. logical and convincing. i hope and pray that OROP is implemented at the earliest. Our leaders are actually enjoying the disciplined struggle of veterans...yet there is mighty Lord Almighty...and i appreciate our veterans who not only have done a great service in uniform but continuing with much vigour out of it...

PiedPiper said...

I have always wondered how reduced retirement age had contributed to a younger army implying better physical fitness and hence enhanced its operational efficiency!

No officer beyond 18 years would require to put in physical effort during war. As such, physical fitness is a serious issue only till an officer is 45 yrs of age.

The issues with PBORs are different.

Anonymous said...

I want to know that once the pension is fixed on retirement, then why is it not taken as starting pension pay and regular increments are given as given while in service. I think this will take care of OROP up to some extent

Sgt.S.Kanthiah said...

A very good and facts of the situation explained in plain language Sir. Every officials should read this article and understand the facts , why the veterans are fighting for OROP. We have to bring such facts to light and the public through the blogs and medias. Kindly accept my sincere thanks for the wonderful article.
Sgt.S.Kanthiah,
Chief Liaison Officer, Exwel Trust,Tirunelveli-Dist, Tamil Nadu.

Rajababu said...

Somethings i feel will repeatedly hit the nail on the head in ur article:-

(a) They retire younger, at times 25 years before their civilian counterparts, are at call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and definitely lead a tougher regimented life.

(b) The only intelligible differentia that can be logically put forth is that defence personnel retire earlier.

(c) logical reasoning which i find nobody uses it in the Fauj other than Pompous Chest beating!!!(read supremacy factor). Thats where we should ensure " Thin line between pride and superiority should not be crossed and the fight should be won not by comparisons or running down others but by articulating a logical stance that is not easy to defy".

(e) It has been somehow established on file that an injury sustained on 01-01-2006 is more agonising than the one sustained a day before!. This smacks of arrogance and Ignorance which I feel can always tackled by service HQs provided the file is routed to them. If not we should ensure that the file is routed thru the service HQs for all service related welfare previleges and Benefits. If the file is routed thro SHqs and still this is Happening then God Save Us

Anonymous said...

1.What is the minimum disability in percentage to be given in a RMB in order to get a disability pension?
2.How is it calculated for a Major with 7 yrs service?

PRESIDENT OF A PENSIONERS GROUP said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,

As expected, your wrire-up had been realistic and brought out an in-depth analysis.

On the lighter side, I would like to remark only about a planted (?) expert- who by now must have lost the grace and dignity among his own colleagues- for his way of projecting an equation in terms of better compensation or for his feiry imagination to compare firemen with soldiers!. One ahould at least "appear" to be well-informed or even qualified to preach and profess!

AS you are aware there is no REAL "divide" in so far as the OROP issue is concerned between the "CIVIL" and "MILITARY" pensioners and the "bogey" that is being raised by the AUTHORITIES that the "CIVILIAN" pensioners will also raise demands and compare with "MILITARY" pensioners is BASELESS and ridiculous!.If any CIVILIAN Pensioner of their PENSIONERS' ASSOCIATION oppose the "realistic' aspects of the issue, it is sheer ignorance and not out of conviction!

AND ALL THE MILTARY AND CIVIL PENSIONERS MUST KNOW IT IS THE "THIRD COLUMN VIZ ELITE " WHICH IS MOST BOTHERED ABOUT SUCH COMPARISONS - AND AS AN EXAMPLE YOU CAN CITE "THE COM. OF OROP ROUTE" WHICH WAS ADOPTED TO GET THE BENEFIT FOR A TOPMOST SEGMENT AMONG THEM EVEN BEFORE THE RTD LT GENERALS COULD GET THE ORDERS!THIS BLATANT AND GLARING ACT OF DISCRIMINATION CAN NEVER BE FORGIVEN AS THE "HSC" DECIDED PARITY FOR RTD MAJ GENERALS, RANK PAY BENEFITS FOR MAJORS & OTHERS, DIABILITY PENSION FOR SOLDIERS, MODIFIED PARITY FOR RTD LT CDRS/ MAJORS ETC ARE BEING SCUTTLED AND DELAYED EVERYTIME BY THE VERY SAME AUTHORITIES!

yYour last snetence: "But how do we counter it - by rhetoric and presenting ourselves as ‘holier than thou’ or by logical reasoning?"

My view: All are aware our "rhetorics" (vociferously conveyed in Debates like "OROP" ?) and presenting holier than thou approach (passively trying to surrender medals/ honours etc) have failed. Logical reasoning voiced through various appeals by individual and associations have suffered "en masse" disposals!

What other alternatives?: GOING TO TRIBUNALS/ COURTS? - we are all doing that now. After that WHAT?????? Take to streets?

In a system where the highest offices of the country have no "voice" to dictate or "implement" even "HSC" verdicts,
what can we do?

exweltrust said...

A well written article. All veterans must appreciate for a powerful expression of Maj.Navdeep.
Thanks a lot for the article.

AKSA said...

The view that OROP should also be implemented for civilian employees needs a review. The most important argument for OROP for armed forces personnel is the truncated careers they have in uniform as compared to civilian employees. So where is the justification for giving yet another advantage to the latter? OROP is required to bridge the gap between civilian retirees and armed forces veterans. OROP for civilians would maintain the advantage they already have over armed forces personnel. A consideration of other alternatives to OROP ought to clarify the concept.