Sunday, December 14, 2014

PENSION PROMISE IN PERIL? Military veterans claim babus are thwarting PM Modi's poll pledge of one-rank-one-pension by inflating its cost estimates

Dec 14 2014 : The Times of India (Pune)                                                                               


                                        

 
Roman emperor Augustus started the tradition of military pensions in 13 BC, when every legionary who had fought 20 years for Rome was guaranteed a pensionfor-life. It set the bar for modern armies, and independent India continued the British tradition of financially privileging military service until the mid-1970s, when soldiers were paid more than civilian bureaucrats, in service and after retirement. All that changed with the Third Pay Commission, which brought military salaries in line with civil services, and while soldiers have long complained about political control over the military in independent India mutating into bureaucratic control, a row over the NDA's promise for one-rank-one-pension (OROP) for military veterans is raising questions about the government's ability to translate its intent into action.
 
Fifteen months after Narendra Modi first demanded it immediately after being anointed the BJP's PM candidate, 10 months after the UPA government granted it, five months after NDA's finance minister Arun Jaitley confirmed it and almost two months after the PM told soldiers in Siachen that it was his “destiny that onerank-one pension has been fulfilled“, military veterans are questioning why the promise has still not been implemented.
NUMBER GAMES
 
Put simply, OROP means that every pension-eligible soldier who retires in a particular rank deserves the same pension, irrespective of date of retirement. Currently, soldiers who left the armed forces more recently receive more than those who did earlier, because successive pay commissions hiked salaries. Two days after he was anointed BJP's PM-candidate in September 2013, Modi vehemently supported the OROP demand at a veterans' rally in Rewari. With roughly 12 lakh veterans also constituting a huge vote-bank, UPA government approved the demand in February 2014, and it was reaffirmed by NDA in July, when finance minister Arun Jaitley specifically provisioned Rs 1,000 crore in his 2014-15 budget (within an overall defence pensions budget of Rs 51,000 crore). Yet, it remains stuck in bureaucratic wrangling.
 
At the heart of the problem are bureaucratic disagreements over costs. The finance ministry told a parliamentary committee in 2011 that it would cost Rs 1,300 crore a year while defence ministry pegged annual cost estimates at Rs 3,000 crore. Yet, now that OROP has been approved, the Comptroller of Defence Accounts has reportedly put the bill as high as Rs 9,300 crore per annum (see charts).
 
Defence minister Manohar Parikkar has held stakeholder meetings to resolve the crisis, most recently on December 10, with no clear solution yet. Veterans' groups are perplexed at the changing goalposts, blaming the bureaucracy for being obscurantist. Says Lt Gen SK Bahri (retd), chairman, Alliance of Ex-Service men Organisations: “The bureaucracy is fighting a rear-guard action. It is not difficult to find funds but our problem is the lower bureaucracy which can stop anything in the ministry . We are fighting an internal enemy .“
 
Veteran groups, fighting the OROP battle for at least two decades, claim they don't have the ears of the leadership.“Whatever the bureaucracy tells them, they believe,“ says Lt Col Inderjit Singh, chairman, All-India Ex-Services Welfare Organisation. Reassuring doubters, Parrikar was recently quoted as saying that “the government is seriously considering implementing the one-rank-one-pension policy“ and the “announcement will be made in four to eight weeks“.
 
His words may reassure veteran groups who have been organizing protest rallies. Their social media networks are full of invective and a growing sense of “betrayal“ and “disillusionment“, which is fast gaining a political edge. The fight for OROP, in this narrative, is turning into a new cipher for the ever-present military trope of overbearing bureaucrats being allowed to ride rough-shod over them in a defence ministry that is still not integrated with service headquarters, as in other liberal democracies.
 
The problem is that different departments used different formulas to calculate costs but as Major Navdeep Singh, advocate in Punjab and Haryana High Court points out, “the directive to break this logjam has to come from the top“. “There seems to be an anti-services sentiment in the lower bureaucracy ,“ he adds, “but higher echelons must overrule such disputes.“
SOLDIERS vs CIVILIANS
 
The case for OROP is predicated on military terms of service being much harsher than those for civil services. Most soldiers retire between 35-37 years of age, while officers below brigadier-or-equivalent do so at 54, with limited re-employment options. Civil servants, in contrast, retire at 60.
 
Moreover, the Sixth Pay Commission granted the facility of what bureaucrats call “non-functional upgrade“ (NFU) to officers in all-India Group A services.This is a sort of `pay-promotion', allowing them, under certain conditions, to draw higher pay than their rank, without actually being promoted. Almost all civil servants benefit from this while defence services officers do not, even as their career pyramid is much steeper.Only 0.8% of defence officers make it to the rank of major general after 28 years of service, compared with a much higher rate of civil servants who are eligible to become joint secretaries at 19 years of service. As Major Navdeep Singh says, veterans see NFU as a sort of “OROP by backdoor for civil servants“.
 
Many distinguished veterans argue that they are only asking for what was promised to them, pointing to the aphorism of Chankaya, the architect of the Mauryan empire, who is said to have advised his prodigy Chandragupta Maurya thus: “The day a soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha.From then on you have lost all moral sanctions to be King."

(Source-TOI Pune)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Working on legalising defence agents and middlemen: Manohar Parrikar

IndiaToday.in  New Delhi, December 12, 2014 | UPDATED 16:29 IST 

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at Hotel Taj Mansingh in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: Chandradeep Kumar
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the NDA government is working on legalising lobbyists or middlemen who represent various arms manufacturers across the world and whose hobnobbing with respective governments in New Delhi have led to massive controversies in the past. "There should not be any kickbacks. We are working on legalising defence agents and middlemen. Whether you call them middlemen or agents or lobbyists or representatives, they should be formalised and legalised," Parrikar said at Agenda Aaj Tak held at Hotel Taj Mansingh in New Delhi. Watch LIVE coverage

"There should be legal agreements and if contracts are broken, there should be prohibitive penalties," he said. "I cannot accept a soldier losing his life while loading his gun. I promise accountability in defence ministry," he added. "A clear cut policy will be in place by January on having representatives for defence purchases," Parrikar said at Agenda Aaj Tak.


On the controversial one-rank-one-pension policy, which the NDA government had promised in its Lok Sabha election manifesto, Parrikar said, "The government is seriously considering implementing the one rank one pension policy. The announcement will be made in four to eight weeks."

Shortly after taking over as Defence Minister last month, Parrikar had said that the speedy implementation of defence deals stuck in the mire of corruption, through transparent processes, is his top priority. He said that most defence procurement deals were stuck because of "lobbying and vested interests and kickbacks" citing the acquisition of VVIP Agusta Westland choppers, and procurement of imported fighter planes as an examples.

On Pakistan, the Defence Minister said, "I believe there should be a strong response to Pakistani terrorists. Pakistan is pushing terrorists in India." "There has to be some strong response which will for once and for all end or at least reduce these blatant attacks," he said. When asked what his government has done to prevent the attacks, he said, "Ask me in six months what we have done."

The former Goa Chief Minister was handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to head the sensitive defence ministry last month after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held additional charge of the portfolio for more than five months.

(Source- indiatoday.-aaj-tak )

BRIEFING ON MEETING WITH DM ON 1Oth DEC 2014

A special meeting was called by RM on 10 Dec 14 to which reps of         3 recognized Ex-servicemen Associations, including DIWAVE, were invited. The officials who attended the meeting included DG(PS), DGR, MD (ECHS), Secretary KSB, AFA, Joint CGDA and JS (ESW), in addition to RRM and Secy (ESW). 


2.Stating that the primary focus of meeting was OROP, RM sought     the  views of the Associations on the issue . We responded that the organization that is spearheading the issue is IESM who had already briefed him yesterday and that we had nothing more to add.


3. After listening to Lt Gen Balbir Singh, President IESL’s arguments,   RM stated that the implementation of OROP was not in doubt as it was  a solemn commitment of the Govt and BJP. The only question was of modalities for future increases i.e. dynamic adjustments or in slabs.      A view was expressed that while granting increments until end 2015, the 7th CPC could be asked to give formula for future adjustments. On the question of expenditure figures, it was pointed out that whatever   be the amount, it would not appear significant when compared with Rs.12500 crores as the cost of each DA installment which is twice a year. Also, a commitment is commitment, whatever be the cost.


4. After hearing pros and cons, RM indicated that he was in a better picture and that while he would not like to bind himself with a time frame, he is keen to take final decision as soon as possible.


5. Before the meeting ended, we did bring to RM’s attention 2 priority issues – a. Attitude and functioning of DESW and b. The dire need to reduce litigation by effecting 4-5 changes in current pension policies.   It was decided that a small group comprising DIWAVE reps and DESW officials would discuss the issues and put up recommendations to RRM & RM. RM indicated that he would have no hesitation in withdrawing legal cases if so warranted. Also, by end Jan15 he would call another meeting on such issues.


6. With reference to some reports about Shri Harbans Singh, former   Dir /JS Pensions likely to be brought back, we made it clear that such   a step would be retrogressive, because of his anti-veteran approach   and the fact the he alone was responsible for proliferating mindless litigation against the disabled and war widows. The point was taken note of.


(Source- Voice of Pensioners blog)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

IESM MEETING WITH RM on 09 Dec 14

Posted: 09 Dec 2014 06:56 PM PST
Dear Members

As you aware that IESM had planned agitation from 3 Dec to 16 Dec with a rally on 7 Dec and medal return on 16 Dec 14 to remind the Government to fulfill the promises made by BJP in their manifesto. Though many veterans advised to delay the agitation but IESM was steadfast to resume the agitation because undue delay in issuance of notification on OROP.

Sh Rajeev Chandrashekhar met IESM delegation on 1 Dec 14 and advised IESM that he would be ready to work as conduit between Govt and IESM and will arrange a meeting with RM soon to discuss OROP and its implementation. Based on the assurances IESM decided to postpone the planned agitation and decided to give a chance to negotiations. IESM got some welcome messages from ex-servicemen and some rebuttals for postponing agitation. However GB IESM had taken this decision in light of some positive information given to them by Sh Rajeev Chandrashekhar. IESM firmly believes that doors for consultations should never be closed.

A meeting was arranged by Sh Rajeev Chandrashekhar MP Rajya Sabha for IESM delegation to meet Sh Manohar Parikarr Raksha Mantri at 1420h on 9 Dec 14. Maj Gen Satbir Singh Chairman and Gp Capt VK Gandhi Gen Sec IESM met Raksha Mantri at Parliament house. After initial introductions, We came straight to OROP and its implementation. Concept of OROP and its historical back ground was explained to him. He asked many questions to clear his doubts and these were satisfactorily answered. IESM very clearly explained the concept of yearly increments for pensioners and explained that without this OROP has no meaning. However once an ESM reaches top of his pay band he would not be entitled to further increments. This aspect was elaborately explained. Honorable RM also touched upon the differing figures of funds required to meet OROP. IESM delegation explained that this must have been worked out by the responsible officers in MOD at the time of approving OROP. However fig given by Army Hq seems to be more reasonable. Moreover this is not the task of IESM or ESMs to work out the figures. IESM stressed upon that definition of OROP is sacrosanct can not be diluted. It stands approved by Parliament.

The meeting lasted for 30 min and IESM delegation got a feeling that the thought process of RM was positive. RM did not make any negative comment or any serious objection about OROP and its implementation. IESM delegation explained to RM that ESMs are getting restless about this undue delay in issuance of notification of OROP. Government needs to issue notification without any delay preferably within this year. Though RM did not make any commitment but delegation is hopeful that Govt is likely to make announcement on OROP very soon may be within one month. This would a very good news for complete veteran family.
Regards
Gp Capt VK Gandhi VSM
Gen Sec IESM

(Source-Voice of Pensioners)

Cong accuses Centre of ignoring one rank, one pension issue

New Delhi, December 9
The Congress today accused the Centre of ignoring the one rank, one pension (OROP) issue of retired defence personnel. Raising the issue in Lok Sabha today afternoon, Congress MP From Rohtak, Deepnder Hooda said the OROP had been announced in the Interim Budget in February this year, but was yet to be implemented.

Hooda accused the bureaucracy of trying to dilute the original meaning of OROP as  defined by the Koshiyari Committee, which was the petition committee of the Rajya Sabha. Hooda asked the government to come out and announce the implementation of OROP. Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the matter merited a short discussion in the Lok Sabha .
(Source-Tribune News Service)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Petitioning Prime Minister - IMPLEMENT ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP) SCHEME FOR THE ARMED FORCES VETERANS IMMEDIATELLY

DEAR ALL,

PLEASE GO THRO THE PETITION TO HON'BLE PM FOR IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION OF OROP (Source-Change.org)

PLEASE DO SIGN IN LARGE NUMBERS.

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR SIGNING THE ONLINE PETITION TO PM

THANKS IN ADVANCE

Gavini VN,
AirVeteran

Friday, December 5, 2014

Military University


Government has approved proposal for setting up of Indian National Defence University at Binola, Gurgaon, Haryana.

Aim of the University is to develop and propagate higher education in the field of Defence Studies, Defence Management, Defence Science & Technology and promote policy oriented research on all aspects relating to National Security and Strategy. Objectives of the University are as under:- 
·        To prepare officers from Armed Forces & officials of national security establishment from India & its friendly foreign countries for high level leadership, staff & policy responsibilities. 
·        To promote capacity building in competencies related to national security with a view to spawn national security leaders & managers to look at strategic security challenges holistically, enabling them to formulate policies based on research & informed inputs. 
·        To encourage the culture of strategic thinking in India especially the Armed Forces on defence & strategic issues & initiate debates on such like issues at national / global level. 
·        To instil a spirit of jointness amongst various elements of national security systems. 
·        To develop & promote higher education in Defence Studies, Defence Management & Defence Science & Technology. 
·        To promote policy oriented research related to national security, both internal & external. 
·        To create synergy between academic community & Government functionaries. 
·        To promote an awareness of national security issues beyond the officials of national security establishments. 
·        To serve as think tank contributing to policy formulation & debates on security & strategic issues. 
·        To network with other national, regional & international education / research institutions & think tanks with similar objects for greater value addition. 
·        To recognize educational programmes / training at constituent & affiliating autonomous institutions.

·        To provide opportunities of higher education to Defence Services in technology. 

·        To provide higher education by distance learning mode to Armed Forces personnel.

·        To promote interface between stakeholders of national security & defence industrial base for long-term strategic & defence needs.

·        To provide corporate fellowship programme at board level in corporate sector.

·        To institute international fellows programme. 
Proposed course to be offered by the University to its stakeholders on the subjects related to Defence Strategic Studies, Defence Technology, Defence Management and Defence Science & Technology are as under:-
·        Flagship / Postgraduate Program: The University will offer 1-year postgraduate course with 48 credits, supplemented by an additional module of research / project study leading to an appropriate Master’s degree. 
·        Doctoral Program: The University will offer 2 to 5 years Ph.D. course through which young scholars will be encouraged to acquire experience of teaching in Universities. 
·        Short term Modules / Certifications: The flagship programmes mentioned above will also be offered in the form of short term modules including skill development & re-settlement courses and other certifications. 
·        Customised Courses / Programmes: This will include courses / programmes with less than three months duration to be conducted under the constituent institutions for requirements projected by the Services / stakeholders. 
·        Distance Learning Programmes: Distance learning programmes have been catered for providing higher education to service personnel serving to remote areas who can’t be spared due to exigencies of service in the following three domains:- 
o      Security and Defence Studies.
o      Defence Technology.
o      Defence / Resource Management. 
This information was given by Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Smt Santosh Ahlawat in Lok Sabha today. 
HH/RAJ (Release ID :112677)
(Source-PIB)