Source : FM's Budget Proposal.
Troops cheer, officers feel left out
The announcement of a new system in the Union Budget for parity in pensions for defence personnel is welcome news for the troops, but it has left the officer cadre fuming.
Based on the recommendation of a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary on One Rank One Pension (OROP), the government has decided to “substantially improve” the pensions of other ranks and bridge the gap between pre-2006 and post-2006 retirees. This is expected to cost the exchequer Rs 2,100 crore.
The government’s announcement does not cover officers, and a large number of them have expressed disappointment at being left out. Following the announcement of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, they had protested over what they perceived was a raw deal handed out to them.
The recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission had faced sharp criticism for widening the wedge between personnel who retired before and after January 1, 2006 - the cut off date for the implementation of new scales. While earlier the pensions of PBOR were calculated on the basis of the top of the pay scales, the 6th Pay Commission postulated a calculation at the bottom of scales at par with civilians since one single scale was now brought into force for all ranks from Sepoy to Havildar.
While the actual system of calculation remains hazy, sources say that it will substantially bring down the gap between retirees of various vintages. Ministry of Defence sources point out that the pensions of officers have always been linked to the pension calculation system in vogue for civil employees, whereas, Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) have traditionally had a separate system in view of their service profile resulting in retirement starting from the age of 33 onwards. Even till 1996, retired PBOR of different eras were drawing almost the same pension, which was however upset by the 6th central pay commission, an anomaly that now stands addressed.
Source : The Tribune.
Jawans win pension battle
The battle was fought over a decade during which hundreds of war medals had been surrendered and many courted arrests but the struggle of the former jawans of the Indian defence services ended only today with a victory.
Pranab Mukherjee, the country’s finance minister finally announced the government’s decision to accept the one-rank-one-pension system for retired personnel. This essentially means that all jawans of a particular rank will get the same pension irrespective of their year of retirement.
Jawans who retired after 1997 — just after the Fifth Pay Commission in 1995 — had been getting more pension than their counterparts who retired before the cut-odd year of 1997. The Sixth pay Commission only widened the gap.
Mukherjee, during his budget speech today, said: “Our country owes a deep debt of gratitude to our valiant ex-servicemen. The committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary on OROP (one rank one pension) has submitted its report and the recommendations of the committee have been accepted”.
The minister also spelt out the details of the OROP during his speech: “On the basis of these recommendations, the government has decided to substantially improve the pension of pre-1.1.2006 defence pensioners below officer rank (PBOR) and bring pre 10.10.1997 pensioners on par with post 10.10.1997 pensioners.
“Both these decisions will be implemented from 1st July 2009 resulting in enhanced pension for more than 12 lakh jawans and JCOs.”
For people, like Col (retd) K. Tshering, the president of the Indian Ex-Services League (Darjeeling branch), the announcement is momentous.
“We have been agitating for so long. In February, we went to the Jantar Mantar and staged a dharna there. More than 3,600 ex-servicemen surrendered their war medals to the President of India to demand implementation of this OROP system.
“Lt General (retd) Raj Kadyan, who has been leading the movement, had also courted arrest. Ultimately, our movement has borne fruit,” Tshering told The Telegraph over the phone from Cooch Behar.
“There was a huge gap,” he said.
According to Tshering, havildars who had retired before 1997 were getting a monthly pension of about Rs 3,700 while a jawan of the same rank is now entitled to Rs 7.600 as his monthly annuity benefit.
In fact, the decision to implement the OROP scheme will benefit around 40,000 retired jawans in the hills.
Before the Lok Sabha elections this year, the BJP, had in its manifesto promised to implement the OROP if voted to power. The UPA manifesto, was however, silent on the ex-serviceman’s demand.
Tshering said the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement for the welfare of retired soldiers has been fighting for five demands. “One of the most important one has now been fulfilled.”
The other four demands are:
Employment in the army till the age of 60 (jawans now retire at 33 years)
Setting up of a separate Army Pay Commission
An Army Welfare Commission on the lines of the Minority Commission
Annual Leave Travel Concession to continue after retirement like the Indian Railways does for its employees
Source : The Telegraph, Kolkata.