Friday, 21 November 2014

Manohar Parrikar and Disappointed Veteran OROP Hopes - Letter from Brig Vidyasagar

Courtesy Brig CS Vidyasagar:

Dear Sir,

This is what Shri Manohar Parikkar, hon’ble Defence Minister in his interview to The Economic Times says about OROP: "This one-rank-one pension thing is again complicated; it can't be treated as a dynamic thing where every time someone's pension comes up, everyone else's gets revised."

His statement leaves me in no doubt that he has only heard what his bureaucrats have drilled into him. He would not have said this if he heard his Service Chiefs explaining what is their stand on OROP i.e. any increase in pensions to serving personnel to be passed on to past pensioners.

It is to ensure that at any time pensions of past and present pensioners is same. Otherwise the disparity in pensions shall continue. If pensions are upgraded by any other manner it is not OROP. 

Then let the Govt of India not proclaim it as OROP but call it by any other name say Periodic Enhancement of Pension.

I hope the hon’ble RM knows the pension of Pre – 2006 Sepoy today is Rs 5,000 plus and that of Sepoy of Post 2006 retired in Apr 2014 is Rs 8,000 plus. My arithmetic says difference in two pensions is 60% for two soldiers of same rank, same service and same group.

Mind you who is hon’ble Finance Minister? It is the same person as hon’ble part time RM who has emphatically told delegation of ESM Associations in Jul 2014 to LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS ON OROP.

New Raksha Mantri does not agree to this automatic upgradation of pension of past pensioners. So he consigns the definition of OROP approved by Koshiyari Committee and by Shri AK Antony, former Defence Minister in Apr 2014 into dust bin. Have no doubt on this. It is in Black and White unless hon’ble RM says his comments have been twisted and he never said this.

To be very frank his second statement on OROP has left me totally confused. Here is it what he says: We should have a pay scale kind of scheme, where over a particular period you fix a pension - let us not define the period because we are in active discussion on that with finance ministry - and then at the end of the period they can all get upgraded, or rationalised.

My doubts are:

No 1. What is this pay scale kind of scheme for pensions? Are not pensions depend upon pay scale i.e 50%? Does is mean pay scale for serving personnel is different and scale of pensions is different?

No 2. How is this pay scale kind of scheme of pension going to be made?

No 3. If you do not define a period, then how are you going to upgrade pensions so that gap between pensions of pre – 2006 and post 2006 retirees which is vast (as high as 60% for Sepoys) is going to be reduced or bridged. Then is it OROP?

No 4. What has Ministry of Finance got to do with OROP or any other OP? They are just there to give or take away money earmarked in the budget.

No 5. How is pension upgraded or rationalized at the end of a period? What do you mean by rationalization of pensions? You rationalize something if there is vast variation or you find discrepancies or unacceptable differences.

My assessment is :

Forget OROP for the time being. Even if you get it by end of March 2015 (otherwise Rs 1,500 Crores earmarked for OROP will lapse) it is going to be peanuts by these esoteric terms such as Rationalisation or Upgradation etc.

What is likely to Happen;

Now MoD will throw ball in the court of Min of Finance and tell the whole world that any delay in implementation of OROP is entirely due to Min of Finance. 

Hon'ble PM in his foreign visit to improve bilateral relations with Fiji, Burkino Faso or Liberia will say OROP is close to his heart, to Ms Barkha Dutt of NDTV.

Finance Ministry after sitting on the file till Mar 2015 will return it to MoD saying they have no comments to offer since the matter of OROP exclusively pertains to MoD.

It is upto them to implement or not as per their own understanding of OROP. At this fag end of financial year, no more additional budget can be given to MoD for OROP but they will be too happy and grateful to MoD if some Rs 20,000 Crores can be surrendered for Jan Dhan Yojana etc.

Min of Fin says coffers are empty because of misrule of UPA I & II from 2004 to 2014. Foreign Direct Investment has not yet come as much as expected because our cities are dirty, our villages are dirty in spite of hon’ble PM himself sweeping roads whenever he finds time under SWATCH BHARAT ABHIYAN.

Hon'ble PM says in some meeting OROP is come closer to his heart than earlier.
After this CGDA & MOD are quite capable of convincing hon’ble RM that file be sent to Min of Law for their comments.
Min of Law will then sends this proposal of OROP to seek opinion of hon’ble Surpeme Court after invoking assent of hon’ble President of India under Art xyz of Constitution of India.

Hon'ble PM says he is working on OROP as it has becomes closest to his heart!!
After this hon’ble Surpeme Court refers this to constitution bench of 10 senior judges.

RDOA says Mr Justice Rohinton Nariman who opposed OROP can not sit alongwith these 10 judges. Chief Justice of India reconstitutes the constitution bench in 2018.

Finally the constitution bench rules that there is no legal infirmity involved in this case quoting judgment of similar cases by hon’ble US Supreme Court, UK Supreme Court and Australian Supreme Court in their 2,50,789 pages judgment. Then file is returned to Min of Law in Feb 2019.

Hon'ble PM says he will not rest till OROP is implemented as it is touching his heart as closeness is getting reduced in the same manner as our MOM is getting closer to Mars.

The file will lie with MoD in one of the almirahs whose key is lost and a Court of Inquiry headed by a serving Supreme Court judge is called for to pin point the responsibility for the loss of key.

The hon’ble Supreme court says due to countless cases pending they are unable to spare a sitting judge for this inquiry.
Hon'ble PM in combined Commanders conf of 2024 says OROP is very much in his thoughts and his heart bleeds for pensioners who gave everything to the Nation.

Since there is no unanimity in the ministries on OROP, hon’ble RM suggests to get all political parties to be on board for arriving at consensus(after all politics is the art of possible) on how to implement OROP in 2029.

Hon'ble PM says he breathes, he sleeps and he thinks of only OROP in Apr 2029 in Rewari. Veterans give him standing ovation on state of OROP.

Congress party will say unless LOP post is given to them, they will not approve the proposal of RM on OROP.

Then Mr Narendra Modi goes back in Apr 2019/2024/2029 to Rewari, Haryana and seek votes from ESM community with the promise that he will look into OROP.
The story is supposed to be repeated in Apr 2034 in Rewari. By that time the Anti - Incumbency sets in and NDA-III, IV, V etc are thrown out of power.

UPA - III is brought back to power. Pappu Gandhi is no where to be seen. 

Some veterans will pacify the rest saying"Trust our Service Chiefs. They know what is the best for Pensioners. They will never let us down!!".

Gen Dalbir Singh, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Adm Robin Dhowan (all Retired) and in their 90s drawing OROP thump tables in TV discussions that Govt of India has never intended to implement OROP in its truest sense of the term.

They suspected when they were Service Chiefs and now after 20 years, their suspicions have proved to be true. Tch, Tch, Tch!

By that time the pension of Service Chief is made equal to that of Desk Officer in 10th CPC. When Army Chief calls for a file on OROP, the file does not reach him. Adjutant General complains to Army Chief that the Desk Officer dealing OROP is from Inter Services HQ Cadre who has temerity to say that Desk Officer under NFFU draws more basic pay than Service Chief so he is not obliged to listen to even Service Chief.

Sir, Am I not a pessimist? If not then what I am?

With warm regards,
Brig CS Vidyasagar(Retd)

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