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Monday, 31 August 2015

OROP : Veteran on Hunger Strike , Hospitalised

OROP Row: Another Army Veteran on Hunger Strike Collapses, Hospitalised
File Photo: Ex-servicemen have been protesting for 77 days in favour of 'One Rank One pension'


New Delhi:  A 70-year-old Army veteran who was on a relay hunger strike here as part of agitation by veterans for early implementation of 'One Rank One Pension' today collapsed on stage and was rushed to the Army hospital where his condition is said to be stable.

The incident took place even as the protest by ex-servicemen entered its 77th day.



Havildar Bal Singh was rushed to the Army Research and Referral hospital after his health took a turn for the worst and he fainted. Veterans said his condition is stable now.

The incident happened a day after the ex-servicemen wrote a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, stating that he and the government will be held responsible if any untoward incident happened.

The government had last night said that it had "significantly narrowed down gaps" with the agitating veterans but held out no concrete assurances over the vexed issue.

Representatives of the veterans also held a meeting with Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag at his house earlier today.

"It was a routine meeting and nothing more. We met at his house," Lt Gen Balbir Singh (Retd) President of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement told PTI.

As the ongoing protest at the Jantar Mantar entered its 77th day today with constant flow of family members and other supporters, a group of Harley Davidson bikers from Delhi also came to the spot riding their motorcycles to show support to the veterans.

Close to 22 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she has retired.

OROP - Delay

It is quite unfortunate that the government is running out of time and delaying in announcing the OROP for Ex-Armed Forces Personnel . Bihar elections are any time going to be announced by the EC of India and election code comes in to effect where upon nothing is possible till elections are over. If Modi and his cronies think that the issue can be relegated to the last burner and thus the delay will see the natural death of OROP, then they are sadly mistaken. 
 
The emotional tensions and pressure of frustration being built up amongst the veterans followed by soldiers in uniform and the public and media at large, a small spark to occur  amongst any lower rank in some remote corner of the country is not quite unlikely which will manifest into uncontrollable explosive situation and the fury and tsunami like situation what may be termed as "Mutiny" , if occurs it is only beyond ones comprehension and Indian History will never excuse the rulers.
It is better the PM understands the gravity of the situation and wakeup from deep slumber and announce OROP just for un doing the damage whatever is done so far in an effort to boost the morale of the Armed Forces and prepare them to fight the enemy with spirited vigor, before our adversaries who are curiously watching the situation and the sagged morale of the armed forces launch an attack on our great country. Pakistan is already threatening India with their nuclear options. If the situation worsens hundred Modis and thousand Jaitlys can not repair the damage caused to India.
 
Col  R S Reddy
Army Veteran
 
 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Kashmir issue - Indo-Pak talks

The Kashmir issue should not be the basis of Indo-Pak talks

Photo Credit: Sajjad Qayyum/AFP
Kashmir policy
The Kashmir issue should never be the basis of talks between India and Pakistan ("The Hurriyat flip-flop: Why can't Delhi get its Kashmir policy straight?").  The simple but mostly ignored reason is that the colloquial 'Kashmir issue' is not representative of all the diverse regions of the state, as well as those held by Pakistan.

The entire Kashmir leadership is controlled by Kashmiri-speaking politicians and activists. There is no representation from the other regions of the state such as Jammu and Ladakh.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is extensively diverse linguistically, culturally, religiously and geographically. Somehow, the impression is created that everybody in the state is Kashmiri-speaking. The same applies to 'Azad Kashmir' which is governed by Pakistan. Nobody there speaks Kashmiri nor do they identifiy culturally with the Valley.

Unless a correction in the "Kashmir problem" is made to recognise the diverse realities of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, only then it can be discussed among all the concerned parties. In its present avatar, the Kashmir Issue itself is unrealistic and undemocratic.  Promod Puri

***

What we have been witnessing over the past several decades is that India has been continuously committing heinous crimes against the Kashmiri people, violating the LoC. The recent killing of several civilians near the Sialkot border is known to everyone.

Indian involvement in Balochistan and Karachi is very obvious now. What scares India the most is that Pakistan has been making a speedy recovery from "terrorism" by breaking the backbone of the Taliban and massive operations against the MQM, apart from the Balochistan Liberation Army's surrender to the Pakistan government.

India is disturbed by this and overly worried by the "Pakistan-China" corridor. This has jolted the Indian think-tank as they are reluctant to swallow this reality.

India is equally responsible for this breakdown of the peace process. We, the people of Pakistan, desperately want all outstanding issues with India to be resolved through peaceful dialogue. However, on most occasions, it's India which is running away from the discussion table.  Sajjad Khan Bangash


Seeking reforms

How will Muslim women know about the Muslim Personal Law Board when a large number of them are illiterate ("If Muslim women want to reform personal law, why isn't the Indian state listening to them?")?Nevertheless, it is a representative body of educated and enlightened Muslims who have to protect the Islamic laws pertaining to the personal lives of its followers.

Instead of imposing the government's will or that of some fake NGOs having no roots in the community, those who want to improve the condition of Muslims should help spread education and improve their economic status.

They should help to rescue the Muslims from the widespread bias and prejudice against them in all the spheres of life. Any movement to reform the personal law must grow from within the community.  Mohammad Mustahsan

***

I have read the 212-page report by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan. It has done two things for me. Firstly, I now understand that even a religion-based law can be gender just. Uniform Civil Code need not be the only way. Secondly, the future of the community is in the hands of women. The likes of the Owaisis are useless.

Shoaib Daniyal asks why the Indian state doesn't listen. Well, for starters, the lunatic clerics are the only ones who have systematically engaged with the state. Now that Muslim feminists are attempting an engagement, the state will be forced to listen.

Moreover, the moment the Indian state wants to do something, the "secular" left-liberal media, in cahoots with the Mullahs, will scream "threat to secularism". The international media will pick it up and will say Muslims are being harassed in India.

Just try to remember the kind of Islamic mobilisation that happened after the Shah Bano case. So, unless the left liberal secularists stop being in bed with the most obscurant elements among the right-wing clerics, no govt will have the courage to codify Muslim personal law.  Soumyakanti Chakraborty


Atrocities against Dalits

While on the one hand there is political insensitivity, on the other hand there is total apathy among the general population ("How an attack on Dalits on Independence Day reveals the cynical caste politics in Tamil Nadu"). The public needs to be sensitised on the relationship between Dalits and other communities.

The general masses seem to get confused between reservation issues and human rights with regard to the Dalits. A section of the society is under the impression that the inhumane treatment meted out to the Dalits is because they "enjoy excessive benefits under quota system".

They fail to comprehend that the quota system continues, or rather that there's a need to continue it, because of the Dalits being denied rights even in the 69th year of independence. A section of society is still unable to digest socio-economic upliftment of the so-called untouchables. It becomes a vicious cycle.  Qudsia Gandhi

***

If the Dalits are a soft target for violence and humiliation in a village in which they are large in number, then they are not safe anywhere in India. What is the meaning of independence for them?

To escape this tyranny of casteist Hindus, they convert to Christianity or Islam. But then Hindus start chest-beating. Why then Dalits should not view them as their worst enemies who do not allow them to live a life of dignity?

They also think it is their right to commit atrocities against Dalits and despite this humiliation, expect them to remain loyal to Hinduism. Till the caste system and its genesis is buried as a foundation of Hinduism, it will remain the biggest threat to Dalits and their future.  Sunil Bagde


ISIS' destructive streak

I really appreciate your article on the destruction in Palmyra ("ISIS demolition of Palmyra temple has lessons for both Left and Right in India"). The research that went into the article is worthy of praise. The author has tried his best to balance politics and religion while explaining the reason for the destruction.

However, the balance is limited to the extent of knowledge about Islam. The Satanic Verses is false, as is the evidence that supports it. In any case, Islam does not permit the destruction of holy places by our own will.

How could a religion that doesn’t permit cutting trees during wartime consider such an act? Everything is clearly and precisely written in Quran and the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. We are supposed to live our lives according to what is written in Quran and by understanding the life of our Prophet and the Shariat.

If some individuals or groups deviate from these teachings, then they are not acting according to Islam. There is no lenient, liberal or extreme side of Islam. Islam is for all humankind. It is the people who distort the meaning of Islam. Humam

***

It is religious tenets, not political drive, that encourage ISIS to commit such acts of desecration against humanity. This perverse action may result in a temporary political victory, but the ancient relics are gone forever.

We cannot keep justifying the dastardly acts of fundamental Islamists, who in my opinion are more harmful to humanity than any other extreme and violent individuals. If we keep doing this, then they will be in our backyards before long.  Suresh Krishanan


Potential asset

I think Zakir Naik would be an asset for India because he personally knows the heads of state of 56 Islamic countries and could be of great assistance as an ambassador ("Why a Saudi award for televangelist Zakir Naik is bad news for India’s Muslims"). Not only could he help in cultivating a good relationship, but he could also help on the economic front too by seeking investment in India, apart from aiding the eradication poverty worldwide.  Saed J Rahman


Undercooked reportage

I haven't been able to find a single instance of this matter having been adequately commented on in any of the mainstream Indian media outlets ("Italians are pleading their marines’ innocence in India by pointing to a US injustice from 1927"). There were a couple of half-decent pieces, but they did not really explain the deliberations that took place in the tribunal and the nature of the process of arbitration, or what is even at stake.

This matter of the Italian marines provoked a sentiment of hypernationalism in 2012 and was widely used by the now-ruling political party for propping itself as the protector of the rights of Indians. But the latest developments certainly seem to have no bearing on the conscience of the ruling political class anymore.

I think people should be made aware of the real facts of this case – most importantly, the fact that an international tribunal has now admitted a case brought before it by Italy, which seeks to deprive India of the opportunity to inquire, investigate and prosecute the killings of its fishermen by Italian guards. How the tribunal finally decides this case remains to be seen, but not covering a story – or explaining what it means – is a blatant disservice. Dr. Mohit Kumar


He's no 'iron man'

If Hardik Patel wants to be of service to Gujarat, let him first remove "Patel" from his name and then beg for reservations and government subsidy ("Could Hardik Patel really be Gujarat's new loh purush?"). He should feel  lucky to be a citizen of India's best state.

Let him study the life and sacrifices made by great Gujaratis. He will only ruin Gujarat and make it a backward state. The country should have very strict laws and not encourage all this nonsense.  baptys on email


Ominous sign

This kind of action is a message to future officers that they have to obey their political masters and not the constitution ("The lesson from Sanjiv Bhatt’s dismissal: there’s nobody to protect whistle-blowing civil servants").

Also, it establishes without doubt the past and present Gujarat government's subversion of justice, apart from indicting the 'not-so-honourable'  Prime Minister Narendra Modi  Ahraz Athar


Grey areas

Anjali Mody raises some very pertinent concerns regarding education policies in India ("Why India should not bring back the old practice of failing primary school children"). However, I can't help but feel that the piece is rushed and does not offer sufficient insights into whether the "no-detention" policy works. In my opinion, and I concede this is not backed by any data, it does not.

Teaching is not merely a matter of imparting education. There are administrative aspects to the profession. While these may need to be addressed, the fact remains that irrespective of whether you have the no-detention policy or not, children do suffer.

Regular comprehensive tests are not easy for either the children or teachers. This is not to say that end-of-year exams are the solution. I'm merely trying, albeit rather poorly, to state that the matter isn't as straightforward as the writer appears to suggest.

With a little more effort, she could have offered a more comprehensive article that would have given a more satisfying answer or raised more nuanced questions. In its current form, the article simply appears to want to pin the blame on either teachers or administrators. I would hope the editors at Scroll.in agree that matters are not simply black and white.  J Banerjee


Right to die

Suicide is humane ("Fasting unto death for religion is not suicide or euthanasia, say outraged Jains"). If terminally ill individuals or people in desperate situations wish to end their lives, it is their right to do so. Their life does not belong to the government or the public.

The Jains call it Sallekhana, which has been practised by great people since ancient times. Some great saints also went into an everlasting trance.  Sham Mangal


Questionable research

While I can certainly appreciate the intent of the author to underscore the use of Cilappatikāram in demarcating the confines of the ancient Tamil homeland, it seems rather unsatisfactory in several respects ("How a 2,000-year-old epic influenced Tamil Nadu's boundaries").

Firstly, the writer has failed to do his fair share of research. Has journalism really sunk so low? He unintentionally makes it obvious he has no previous insight of either the life of Ma. Po. Ke  or the Cilappatikāram – only what could be garnered from the Wikipedia articles about either. I would say there's nothing inherently wrong about it, but it strongly reeks of amateurism.

Perhaps the only piece of originality on the part of the writer is the stringing together of the Cilappatikāram and the use of it in identifying the Tamil homeland by Ma. Po. Ke. Such being his thesis, the writer should have spent great deal of time outlining the details of his theory, not least of which is to include the exact references in Cilappatikāram to the Tamil homeland employed by Ma. Po. Ke.

The writer should take this as constructive criticism. It certainly is good attempt to shed light on ancient Tamil literature (considering how woefully inadequate its coverage in the mainstream media is) and I look forward to more such articles.  Joseph Sakaya


Extremist leanings

If Pegida is not against Islam, but only against Islamisation, then why couldn't they figure out that Narendra Modi is for Hinduisation of India’s one billion citizens ("Germany's Pegida anti-Islamisation group says it has a new hero: Narendra Modi")?

The attempt to impose yoga on the entire country was nothing but forced Hinduisation. How can Pegida not differentiate between the two fascist impositions? If they can tell the difference, they will not call on Modi to attend their Dresden meeting.  Ghulam Muhammed


Pride of the past

Thanks for a balanced and thoughtful article ("How Sanskrit came to be considered the most suitable language for computer software"). As a computer engineer, I've been hearing since the 80s about how Sanskrit is the best language for computing.

I understood by instinct that Sanskrit had well-structured grammar and clearer rules. I assumed that studying those rules and constructs would provide insight into how a language for artificiaI intelligence could be built and nothing more.

But Indians feel particularly proud about anything that the West appreciates or tries to explore, without trying to understand what is being said. Their innate pride just takes over and they feel on top of the world.

Unfortunately, most of the time it is just ancient achievements that give us a boost. Our culture was great, but the question is: are we building on it?  Jay Nair


Balanced view

I am compelled to say that never before have I read a more intriguing, clear and unbiased account of the incidents surrounding the tragedy ("The Yakub Memon story: The man who helped India expose Pakistan's role in 1993 Bombay blasts"). The facts are listed – clear and simple.

What I like best is that you refrain from passing your personal judgments and have tried to tell both sides of the story. Most accounts on this issue lack this underrated but extremely important quality. I hope you continue to educate young Indians with your wonderful, unbiased writing style.  Priya Chetty


Yogic insight

It's very nice to see the progress being made in the field of yoga in Bharat ("From neuromapping to biomechanics – the hard science questions that yoga researchers are asking"). No matter what the West does, they have no true spirituality in their DNA to come to the same conclusions. I wish the best for our researchers.  Renu

OROP : Veterans plan as Bihar election issue

A campaign by ex-servicemen in Patna ahead of the Bihar elections is likely to have political implications for the NDA combine.

 
The unfulfilled promise could hurt the BJP which counts a large proportion of ex-servicemen among its supporters. File Photo: Sandeep Saxena
The unfulfilled promise could hurt the BJP which counts a large proportion of ex-servicemen among its supporters. File Photo: Sandeep Saxena
 
Military veterans, whose protest for the implementation of the one rank, one pension scheme entered the 76th day here on Saturday, may announce holding of a rally in Patna if the government does not meet their demand by Monday.
As part of “intensifying the agitation” in the absence of any favourable decision by the government by August 31, the ex-servicemen said they would launch a mass awareness campaign in Bihar against the Union government.
To more States
“Not just Bihar, we will be going to all election-bound States. We are going to tell the people when you elect your leaders, be careful and make sure they will fulfil their assurances,” Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (Retd.) told The Hindu.
“We will plan a rally in Patna at an appropriate time, we have not done it so far,” he said when asked if a possible date had been fixed.
Another retired Army officer, who is part of the front, said the veterans would recalibrate their strategy based on the government’s response.


Veterans’ campaign will hit NDA in Bihar
A campaign by ex-servicemen in Patna ahead of the Bihar elections is likely to have political implications for the NDA combine that is pitched in a direct battle with the Janata Dal (U)-Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress coalition.
The Congress-led UPA had announced OROP, and the BJP had announced implementing it as an election promise. The unfulfilled promise could hurt the BJP which counts a large proportion of ex-servicemen among its supporters. Members of the United Front for Ex-servicemen, which has been agitating at Jantar Mantar here, have hardened their stance after talks failed with the Army chief and PMO officials on Thursday night.

Jatin Gandhi
 

OROP - Veterans seek President's intervention

No solution to OROP row, veterans seek President's intervention

NEW DELHI: The government tonight said it has "significantly narrowed down" the gaps with the agitating ex- servicemen but held out no concrete assurances over 'One Rank One Pension' even as the veterans sought President Pranab Mukherjee's intervention to resolve the vexed issue. 

"I understand that over the last few days the gap has narrowed down significantly... The principle which implements OROP we are committed to it but it has to be based on some principles," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
 
"Therefore, you have to have a more disciplined economy and therefore, those raising demands in the various segments must realise that the governments can also implement such demands as much as the state of the economy can afford. But I'd like to see people being paid more," Jaitley said at an event here, noting that one cannot have a system where pension of one segment is revised every year. 
 
"Can it happen anywhere else in the world? And then if you do it one segment you have a demonstrative effect on other segments. And then we can forget about fiscal deficits and fiscal prudence and probably what happened last Monday will probably happen once every month if we discard all fiscal norms," he added. 

The annual revision of pension is one of the keys demands of the ex-servicemen who are seeking implementation of OROP. 
 
Meanwhile, ex-servicemen took their 76-day-old agitation a notch higher by seeking the intervention of Mukherjee to resolve the vexed issue, stating that if any "damage or mishap happens" to those on hunger strike he and the government will be "solely responsible". 
 
Read more at  
 

To compare bureaucrats to those in armed forces is laughable

 

‘Service in the Armed Forces can’t be compared to government service. If that basic premise is not accepted, then there’s no scope for any debate on OROP’
‘No one joins the Armed Forces on a contract. They join to serve. Armed Forces attract those who want to serve, not based on financial terms and contracts’
Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a passionate advocate of OROP, speaks to Sudhir Bisht.  

Ex-servicemen and their families continue their protest demanding OROP at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. The protest has now been on for 75 days. Photograph: PTI
Rajeev Chandrasekhar is a passionate votary of One Rank, One Pension and has been championing the cause since 2006 vocally within and outside Parliament.
He has taken over 60 major initiatives inside and outside Parliament including 25 interventions, 30 letters to government, 12+ articles in the media and dozen meetings with ministers and veterans.
Most recently, on August 24, 2015, he was the only politician who visited Jantar Mantar and expressed his solidarity with and support to the protesting veterans, their family members and to OROP.
The member of Parliament spoke to Sudhir Bisht.
It has become politically incorrect to question the implementation of One Rank One Pension, but there are several government employees who feel that they will lose out if the scheme is implemented. What is your take on it?
It is not politically wrong to ask questions but they do not understand the very different service conditions our armed forces endure.
Is it not important to make a distinction between officers and jawans? Officers retire at the age of 54, with two extensions. A jawan, on the other had, retires at 38. Hence, isn’t the premise that all armymen retire young wrong and the portrayal of the same incorrect?
Most of the benefits of OROP are for jawans and war widows. The bulk of the armed forces do retire young and OROP is a legitimate right.
Officers are a very small percentage of the total strength of the armed forces. Besides this, the ethos of the armed forces is based heavily on honour and respect to seniority. The fact is that there shouldn’t be differences or divisions between terms of officers and men, their nature of service and risk and the fact that OROP was a norm for many years is reason that officers also have a right to OROP.
Why is it surprising that a retired major general gets a pension less than a young retired colonel? This happens everywhere, all the time. A retired Central Reserve Police Force commandant who is 75 years of age will get lesser pension than an assistant commandant who is 60 years of age. A retired deputy secretary who is 80 gets 20 per cent less pension than the under secretary who is just 60 and has just retired. The logic for OROP for people retiring at different times doesn’t make any sense.
As I said earlier, comparing the armed forces to the paramilitary forces or any other government service is the argument that the governments of many years have used to justify the denial of OROP.
The basic premise of OROP is the recognition that serving in the armed forces is different in many ways. If that basic premise is not accepted, then there’s no scope for any debate on OROP.

Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar
The Indian Army does a great job for its citizens. So does the CRPF, the Border Security Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police. The officers of these paramilitary services compulsorily retire at 57 if they don’t get the DIG grade. How is it then that only army officers can be given the OROP benefit?
Like I said before, Army officers can’t be separated from the men they command and lead into battle and conflicts. These arguments have been debated endlessly before, including to a parliamentary committee on petitions (Koshiari committee) and addressed. The armed forces are not the same as the paramilitary forces. They differ in many fundamental ways

When these retired officers joined their respective jobs, they entered into a contract. The contract didn’t say that they will get One Rank One Pension. To force it upon the government is an act of negotiation, just as any union or association would pursue with its employers. This makes OROP a subject of negotiation and NOT a matter of right, as is being portrayed.
I disagree. OROP became a promise that was made and committed. There is not much to negotiate on OROP, except perhaps the terms of the payment in keeping with the government’s economic situation. To many in the armed forces, this is a right.
No one joins the armed Forces on a contract. They join to serve. Armed forces attract those who want to serve not based on financial terms and contracts. To think so, betrays a lack of understanding of what makes men in the forces tick.
And, nothing is being ‘portrayed’. It’s a simple issue of principle to those who serve and to those in our country who value the ideals of service to nation. Veterans have been asking for this for several years and the current situation is the culmination of decades of frustration. It is not a ‘portrayal’ to see repeated instances of apathy to the overall cause of veterans and a system that has remained apathetic to normal dignified requests all these years.
If OROP is implemented for the armed forces, the paramilitary too shall demand the same. And why not? It is well known that a high number of General Reserve Engineer Force/ Border road workers die due to frost bite or cold while working in high altitude road projects, many more than the number of soldiers who die during border skirmishes. Why should GREF personnel not demand OROP? Why should the fire services not demand OROP?
Like I said, there’s nothing preventing people asking or doing things. But as I have answered, this is a bogie, a red herring raised for several years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already committed to this because he has no doubts of the very different service conditions of the armed forces. Additionally, this is not to say that the other forces do not deserve improvement in their terms, but clearly none that justifies OROP.
Government servants who joined after 2004 are no longer entitled to a guaranteed minimum pension by the government. In light of this, shouldn’t any formula given by the government be welcomed by the armed forces, as the days of guaranteed pension are over?
I hesitate to say this, but say it I must. A bureaucrat is no way comparable to a man or woman who serves in the armed forces. Nowhere is this comparison even attempted, not in the United States, the United Kingdom or even China. It’s laughable and making that comparison is ludicrous.
Countries like the US and UK and most other advanced democracies, with armies that are facing conflict, venerate the men and women who serve.
The UK parliament has even passed a law called Armed Forces Covenant (the Armed Forces Covenant is the expression of the moral obligation that the government and the nation owe to the armed forces community. The covenant acknowledges that members of the armed forces sacrifice some freedoms and often face dangerous situations. It recognises that families play a vital role in supporting the operational effectiveness of the armed forces). It is only in India where our men and women have to go through the humiliation of a comparison with a discredited bureaucracy.
Sudhir Bisht is a published author and a freelance columnist.  

Last updated on: August 28, 2015 18:03 IST

[TriServiceVeteransIndia]

OROP Whistle blow

Whistle blow: why OROP in the armed forces will be disastrous

ADITYA MENON@adityamenon22
|19 August 2015

The demand

  • Ex-servicemen are demanding one rank one pension (OROP). Narendra Modi had promised it in his election campaign
  • Modi has been non-committal on the matter after coming to power
  • The proposal will place a huge financial burden on the government

Financial burden

  • Govt needs to spend Rs 18-20,000 crore every year to implement OROP
  • This will take the total expenditure on pensions to Rs 75,000 crore per year
  • This is not much less than the total salary expenditure of Rs 93,216 crore

The threats

  • Implementing OROP for armed forces could give rise to similar demands from crores of government employees
  • Paramilitary forces face dangers similar to those faced by the armed forces. How can they be treated differently?
  • The only justification for the demand is an emotive one
One Rank One Pension (OROP) for the armed forces was perhaps the first electoral promise made by Narendra Modi in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He made this promise on 15 September 2013 at a huge rally of ex-servicemen in Rewari, Haryana. This was just a day after Modi was chosen as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.
Accompanied by former army chief General VK Singh, Modi accused the UPA government of disrespecting the armed forces by not implementing the OROP. Nearly two years later, the UPA is having the last laugh. Today, Modi is squarely in the firing line of ex-servicemen, who accuse him of going back on his word.
Modi is faced with the reality that no government in its right senses can implement OROP. Here's why.

Huge cost

  • Rs 93,216 crore - this is what the defence ministry presently spends on salaries every year.
  • Rs 54,500 crore - the pension bill for this year.
  • Rs 18-20,000 crore - the amount required to meet the ex-servicemen's demands.
  • Rs 75,000 crore - the annual expenditure on military pensions, after implementing OROP.
  • The expenditure on pensions will be 80% of what the government pays its active army. And this is a conservative estimate.
Therefore, by agreeing to OROP, the government will be maintaining the equivalent of two armies, two air forces, and two navies. Can it afford such a huge expenditure?

Economic logic

The rationale behind OROP is that a soldier who retired three decades ago should be eligible for the same pension as a soldier of the same rank who retired last year. Prima facie, the demand isn't unjustified as both veterans as well as their families need to make ends meet according to today's economic realities.
But the concept of OROP is based on a wrong understanding of what pensions actually are. Pensions are inherently based on the salary one draws at the time of retirement. It cannot be linked to the salary being paid for the same post 20 years later. How justified is it to base past pensions on present salaries?
Pensions, like salaries, are subject to the growth in a country's GDP. So in a country like India, where GDP growth has accelerated only in the past two decades, people who retired in an earlier period will be at a disadvantage. Pension's relation to GDP growth is an unfortunate fact that pensioners across the world have to face. It isn't specific to Indian ex-servicemen.
The government does address this, to a significant extent, through the dearness allowance provided to pensioners as well as to those presently in service. This factors in the rate of inflation in the salaries and pensions given.

Retirement age

Unlike other government services, the bulk of the armed forces retires between the age of 35-40 years. According to figures provided by Ajay Shah, who writes for The Economist, about 80% of the military retire between the age of 35-40, 18-19% retire between the ages of 54 and 60 and only about 1% retire at 60.
This means that compared to other services, the government has to pay pensions to the armed forces for a much longer period.
Govt pays military pensions for a longer period. 80% of the forces retire at 35-40 years. Only 1% retire at 60
No one disputes that India needs to have a young military and the retirement policy has been designed towards this end. But it is well known that servicemen, especially those who retire at a young age, often get absorbed into other jobs after retirement. Depending on their rank, the jobs range from security guards to high ranking corporate professionals.
Of course, this may exclude soldiers who are permanently injured in the line of duty. But there are separate allowances for such cases and it cannot be used as a justification for OROP.
Another issue in this context is the number of years that a soldier has put in before he retires. Surely, it isn't fair to consider someone who retires after 30 years of service at par with someone who put in five years.
Shah says that we may be stuck with a situation that for every person who is serving in the armed forces, there may be four who would be drawing a pension from the government.
Unlike other services, the armed forces don't contribute to their own pension. The national pension scheme should have been extended to the army.

Why not other services?

The economic cost and administrative challenges of OROP are only part of the problem. The danger is that implementing it could open a pandora's box of similar demands by other services.
For instance, if soldiers are given the benefit of OROP on the justification that they safeguard the nation's borders, why should a force like the Border Security Force be deprived of it? This also holds true of the CRPF which is deployed in the Naxal-affected districts of Central India.
Even police forces in insurgency affected states like Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Manipur can put forward similar demands. Such demands have already been made by railway employees unions and representatives of paramilitary forces personnel.
Why should armed forces be considered an exception?
According to former bureaucrat Avay Shukla, the root of the problem lies in the fact that the upper echelons of the civil services have awarded themselves the benefit of an OROP-like system.
"The highest pay scale in government (currently) is Rs 80,000/fixed. It was decreed that all who retire in this scale (known loftily as the Apex Scale) would get OROP - that is, their pensions would always be linked to whatever revised Apex Scale the subsequent Pay Commissions decided," Shukla writes.
Since every single IAS or IFS officer retires in the Apex Scale this forever ensured OROP for themselves. The Apex Scale has also been provided to the top brass of the armed forces, Shukla writes.
It is this inequitable decision that is the cause of the trouble.
If the government is not in a position to bear the financial burden of providing OROP to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and 6 lakh widows, how will it be able to deal with crores of central and state government employees?
The only justification for OROP is an emotional one. But it is only the emotive aspect that is dominating the public discourse. As a PM aspirant, Modi used it to mobilise anger against the UPA. Now at the helm of affairs, the complete non-viability of his promise has come back to bite him.
With inputs from Suhas Munshi.

[TriServiceVeteransI​ndia]
 

OROP: Grand Show at Jantar Manter - Col Rajan



Respected Veterans,

Jai Hind.

1.       At the very outset, I must state that, I consider Veteran Maj Gen Satbir Singh, as theleading light of the Ex-Servicemen movementwhich has been spearheading the struggle for grant of OROP; for, it was on receipt of an email from Maj Gen Satbir Singh in the first week of Apr 2008 that, I in Bangalore, organized the first Ex-Servicemen Rally on 27 Apr 2008. And, from then on, the Movement has moved from strength to strength.

2.       I had been to Delhi on 22 Aug and fasted at Jantar Mantar for a period of 36 hrs from the morning of Sunday, 23 Aug, till evening of Monday, 24 Aug 2015. I spent the night 23/24 Aug on the dias; and was privileged to be in the company of 70 yrs+ Ex-Servicemen, incl 82 year old Veteran Bishambar Singh, who were on Relay Fast.

3.       It is to be seen to be believed. The mood of Ex-Servicemen who had gathered at Jantar Mantar and also those participating in the Relay Fast was upbeat; and, it was a pleasure seeing Jathas/groups/batches of Ex-Servicemen in large numbers from various parts of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Uttarakhand, UP, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka visiting Jantar Mantar, expressing their solidarity with the Ex-Servicemen on ‘Relay Fast’; and a few on ‘Indefinite Fast’. 

4.       The show put up by Gen Satbir Singh & his team at Jantar Mantar is awesome. Gen Satbir Singh & his team deserve all the kudos for their hardwork & dedication in organizing the ‘Relay Fast’ at Jantar Mantar; and, for being steadfast in their demand to get OROP, as defined by the Koshyari Committee; and for grant of OROP wef 01 Apr 2014, as committed by the UPA Govt on the floor of the house (Lok Sabha) on 17 Feb 2014; and also the present NDA Govt.

5.    I must thank Gen Balbir Singh, President IESL, for joining hands with Gen Satbir Singh, Chairman IESM, thus forming a United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFoESM).

6.       My appeal to Veterans. I request Veterans from all over the Country to visit Jantar Mantar and express their solidarity by under taking ‘Relay Fast’ for 24 hrs and spend the night with Veteran JCOs & OR.
Regards,

Col Rajan, 
Cell No. 944 904 3770
Convenor, Military Veterans Karnataka

Saturday, 29 August 2015

OROP Press Release 29 Aug 15

Greetings for the day from the Media Desk at Jantar Mantar for MISSION OROP!
 
We at Jantar Mantar feel very positive each day and are convinced that the mission OROP will be successful.
 
Please find attached the Press Release for 28th of Aug, 15 for your perusal.
 
Regards,
 
United Front of Ex-Servicemen
 
PRESS RELEASE DATED 29th AUG 2015
AS ON 1800 HRS
76th DAY OF RHS AT JANTAR MANTAR FOR OROP
 
Breaking News- A letter has been written to The President of India with copy to the PM, the Defence Minister, The Home Minister and The Chief of Army Staff that this is the 14th day of indefinite hunger strike and some veterans on hunger strike are developing some medical complications. If any untoward incident happens the Govt of India will be responsible for the same because they are unnecessarily delaying the final decision on the OROP.

Relay Hunger Strike
Today, on the 76thday of the agitation, 35 Ex-servicemen and four Veer Narees sat on Relay Hunger Strike at Jantar Mantar. Ex-servicemen from various states continued to participate in the Relay Hunger Strike (RHS).

Hav Abhilash Singh who was on RHS was evacuated to R&R due to some medical complications.
In addition RHS entered the 72st day at Ambala and 76th at Pathankot.

Indefinite Fast
Col Pushpender Singh (Grenadiers) and Havaldar Major Singh (Sikh Light Infantry) have entered the 14th day of their indefinite fast while Hav Ashok Kumar Chauhan (Signals) entered the 12th day. In addition four more soldiers and father of a martyred soldier Sunil Kumar Yadav are sitting on indefinite fast.
Col Pushpender Singh (Grenadiers) and Hav Ashok Kumar Chauhan (Signals) continue their fast in the hospital while Hav Major Singh at Jantar Mantar. Necessary medical arrangements have been made to cater for any emergency.

Sub Vijay Singh Yadav (ASC) and Swr Keshav Singh (65 Armed) joined indefinite fast yesterday and they are on 2nd day of indefinite fast
Col Pushpender Singh, Hav Sahib Singh, Hav Ashok Chauhan and Major Piar Chand are in R&R. They are continuing their fast while in the hospital.

Media Centre
Media Centre has been functioning effectively at Jantar Mantar and media has been appreciative of the arrangements made for their coverage of the movement. However, we continue to request the media to first come and register at the MEDIA CENTRE where up to date information will be provided and all possible arrangements will be made for the coverage as they desire. For your information, you may contact us on our official no. for mission OROP +91 78381 26478.

 We would like to reiterate that Media Centre will not be responsible for any information taken from unauthorized sources. Press release would be released at 1800 hrs daily.

Events of the day
Ex-servicemen in various groups (regiments/courses) as well as individuals/ various organizations including NRIs continue to visit Jantar Mantar to boost morale and express total solidarity as under:
(a)  Today being the Raksha Bandhan day lot of social organizations and wives/daughters of officers, JCOs and other Ranks tied Rakhi to all the veterans on indefinite hunger strike, relay hunger strike and Gen Satbir Singh.
(b) Senior veterans of the rank of Lt Gen and equivalent continue to come in larger number to express the total support and further raise the morale of the veterans sitting on hunger strike. Notable amongst them was Vice Admiral Kohli.
(c)   Officers of several courses continue to visit as usual to boost the morale of the participants of the Hunger Strike.
Breakfast and Lunch.
Col Laxmi Narain and Mrs Krishna Chauhan sponsored the breakfast and Lungar is being provided by Gurudwara Bangla Sahib continuously and the management is overwhelmingly thankful for their support.
 
Gp Capt VK Gandhi
29th Aug 2015

OROP : Govt. filling ‘small gaps’ - Parikkar

The Prime Minister’s Office is "directly involved" in the efforts to resolve the One-Rank-One-Pension issue, says the Defence Minister

 
 
The Prime Minister’s Office is “directly involved” in the efforts to resolve the One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) issue and the government is working to fill in the “small gaps” in it, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today said.
He also said that some time should be given to resolve the matter.
“Now the small gaps are being filled. Give it some time for completion. In principle, the Prime Minister on August 15 (Independence Day speech) has given an approval. Now, PMO is directly involved...then by saying that do it in these many days will not help.
“All efforts are being made to solve the issue,” Parrikar told reporters here on the sidelines of an event.
Talks between agitating ex-servicemen and the government failed to make a headway yesterday in resolving sticky issues for OROP implementation.
Asked about the shelling on the border by the Pakistani forces, the Defence Minister said the security forces are on “alert” and taking action.
Earlier, addressing a conference, he said the defence industry can give a boost to the ‘Make in India’ campaign through micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“More than 40 per cent of India’s engineering exports are through MSMEs. But for them the defence sector is like a hurdle due to stringent conditions because if one has to export goods, they have to be first sold locally. One has to develop the product first.
“I have got letters from over 30 owners of MSMEs expressing their frustration that they have spent crores on technology, but that is not being used,” Parrikar told the India MSME Expo and Summit 2015.
He said that “flexibility” needs to be brought into the procurement process and his ministry will bring amendments in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).
Batting for a greater role for MSMEs, Parrikar said it was important to give them a boost ”...if a war erupts it is the local industry a country needs to rely on rather than a foreign one”.
 
 

Why Call the Army - Maj Gen SG Vombatkere, VSM



Dear All,


There is no denying that the army (defence forces) is the instrument of last resort for the nation. But the bureaucratic steel frame (or rather, the steal frame) is the biggest obstacle for the safety and security of our country, and the people are utterly disgusted with the political class across all parties. Central & State governments are simply pro-corporate and anti- poor people; not just now, but over the past two decades, though the present governments are rabidly so. Please remember that >85% of Veterans are poor, and denying them OROP is very much in keeping with policy-trend. 



I am again reproducing the result of a survey reported in The Hindu very recently: “Democracy in India: A Citizens’ Perspective”:“As in 2005, political parties were the least trusted political institutions, and the police the least trusted unelected institution. Trust in Parliament, while low, rose between 2005 and 2013, while the Army continued to be the most trusted institution. The civil service was perceived as the most corrupt, more so than local, State and Central governments“. [“Many have faith in unelected bodies, but India values dissent“; “The Hindu”, New Delhi, August 8, 2015; <http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/many-have-faith-in-unelected-bodies-but-india-values-dissent/article7513414.ece>]. 



 TV anchors referring to funds given to farmers when government is "unable" to find funds for Veterans, is grossly unfair. They should refer rather to HUGE funds given away to corporates as tax (corporate+commercial+customs).



Maj Gen SG Vombatkere, VSM  (Retd)



[TriServiceVeteransIndia] 


OROP Open Letter - Mej Gen SG Vombatkere, VSM

OPEN LETTER
Dated: 27 August 2015
From:
Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, VSM (Retd)
475, 7th Main Road
Vijayanagar 1st Stage
Mysuru-570017
Tel:0821-2515187

To:
Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi
Prime Minister of India
New Delhi

By E-mail to:


Respected Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,

I am writing with considerable agitation of mind and a growing sense of alarm regarding the welfare of our country. This is occasioned because of the burning issue of OROP, and its repercussions on national safety and security.

One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) for military Veterans
OROP has been agreed to by the Koshiyari Committee appointed by Parliament, it has been agreed to by India's Apex Court, and it has been agreed to by successive governments including Shri Vajpayee's NDA-1 government. That is, the legislative, the judiciary and the executive – the three pillars of our Constitution – have agreed to the concept and the justice of Veterans' demand for OROP.

Promises & trust
Veterans have been demonstrating in a peaceful and dignified manner at Jantar Mantar since 14 June 2015, because Government of India was unresponsive to their decades-long demand for OROP. After your promise of OROP made at Rewari during your general election campaign, again at Siachen when you visited the troops as Prime Minister, and yet again from Red Fort standing under our Flag on Independence Day, Veterans are unable to understand how bureaucrats and certain motivated politicians have so easily stymied a person like you, who is reputed to be decisive and strong.

Now, with several Veterans going on fast-unto-death, the situation has turned delicate, and Veterans are holding your promises as hollow. The national security fall-out of this is likely to be very serious, because the disillusioned soldiers of the three defence services are getting de-motivated. Every mature person knows that it is very difficult to build trust but it is easy to break it. Trust in civil-military relations has been falling over the years, and Veterans and serving soldiers hold the politician-bureaucrat nexus within successive governments responsible for this. It is sad that it has hit rock bottom in your watch as Prime Minister.

Politician-Bureaucrat “shadayantra”
With amazing rapidity, in less than 18 months after the Apex Court's direction of 2014, government has proposed tabling a Bill in the Lok Sabha monsoon session, to amend the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954, “to rectify an anomaly that leaves High Court judges to draw lesser pension than those elevated from state judicial services“. This was reported in The Tribune of Chandigarh, July 14, 2015, with the title“One rank, one pension for HC judges, govt to amend law”. While Veterans have no problem at all with the judiciary claiming and getting OROP, they view the decades-long delay for OROP for military Veterans as a deliberate “shadayantra” by the bureaucrat-politician nexus in government circles.

The reason for using the word “shadayantra” is because over the years and decades, bureaucrats have deliberately and slyly reduced military salaries and pensions and also downgraded the military in order of precedence. The Indian military is staunchly apolitical, having always been and even today remaining ever ready to serve under civilian control, but neglect and lack of understanding of substantial national security issues by the political class, and the “shadayantra” of seizure of actual control over the military by the bureaucratic class, has created an atmosphere of distrust, resulting in the present unsavoury situation.

Police attack on Veterans
There is an organic link between the Veteran warriors of yesteryear and the serving soldiers, and many serving soldiers have close relatives who are Veterans. You are surely aware that the serving troops are closely following the events at Jantar Mantar, and are especially anxious due to the unprecedented attack by Police on peaceful Veterans on 14 August. The delayed apology by a middle-ranking Police officer (instead of from the Home Ministry, which initiated the attack) has not been taken well by Veterans and serving soldiers.

You would perhaps be aware that, as reported in The Hindu recently, a survey report titled “Democracy in India: A Citizens’ Perspective”, brought out that: ”As in 2005, political parties were the least trusted political institutions, and the police the least trusted unelected institution. Trust in Parliament, while low, rose between 2005 and 2013, while the Army continued to be the most trusted institution. The civil service was perceived as the most corrupt, more so than local, State and Central governments“I am pained to have to bring this to your notice, but that is the opinion that citizens have of the various parts of government.

The irony of the “most trusted” being neglected, positively downgraded and cheated over the decades by the “most corrupt”bureaucracy, and manhandled by the “least trusted” police, has not been lost on the citizens at large. Indeed, civilians are now joining the Veterans at Jantar Mantar, and several non-political organizations have expressed their open support to Veterans. The serving soldiers of all ranks are also well seized of the matter, as perhaps your NSA would advise you.

The biggest hurdle
It is widely understood that the biggest hurdle to OROP for Veterans is a supposed shortage of funds. I am sure that you are aware that in the recent budget by Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, the “Statement of Revenue Foregone” is to the tune of Rs.5.32 lakh-crores by way of excusing corporate tax, commercial tax and customs duties to the big corporations.

Veterans are unable to understand how a mere Rs.8,300 crores for OROP cannot be found by the Finance Minister. Perhaps he believes that military Veterans are far less important than wealthy corporates who are getting such benefits due to their clout in the corridors of political power. There are many Veterans who are old, in their 80s and 90s, who may die without receiving their rightful due of OROP, if it is not implemented without delay.

It is understood that government bonds are likely to be offered in lieu of cash for OROP. I cannot over-emphasize that what Veterans (especially widows & Jawans who are 85% of Veterans) need is cash, and they need it now. Bonds which mature after years cannot buy food and medicine now, for impoverished widows and Jawan Veterans. I earnestly request you to reject any suggestion for bonds being issued in lieu of cash.

Urgent request
With all due respect, I urgently request you to implement OROP as defined and accepted for military Veterans, without futher delay. Every hour of delay can be critical, considering that the Veterans who are fasting are old and getting weaker by the hour.

Also, your NSA would have informed you that OROP for military Veterans is being closely monitored by Pakistan and China, both of which countries will make very good use of the nearly-destroyed civil-military relations in India.

With respectful regards,

Yours faithfully,

Sudhir Vombatkere

(Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd))