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Defence Want One-Rank-One-Pension:WILL PM SINGH BITE THE BULLET? By Col,PK Vasudeva(Retd),24 Jul, 12 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 24 July 2012

Defence Want One-Rank-One-Pension


By Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva (Retd)


Will the Prime Minister bite the bullet and grant a long-standing and just demand of 21 lakh ex-servicemen to implement the principle of One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP)? According to the buzz in the corridors of power, Manmohan Singh is likely to make this grand announcement from the ramparts of New Delhi’s Red Fort on Independence Day 15 August. Developments in recent days have raised ex-servicemen’s hopes as never before.


Importantly, the issue of anomalies in pay, allowances and pension compared with other civil services especially the ‘one-rank-one-pension’ principle of ex-servicemen has been hanging fire for the last three decades. Thereby, causing deep resentment among serving and retired soldiers in the defence forces.

Aware of the soldiers’ angst, the Prime Minister constituted a Committee, under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary, to look into the anomalies in pay and pension-related issues of defence personnel and ex-servicemen recently.

This is not all. The Committee was directed to finalise its recommendations and submit the report to the Prime Minister by 8 August.  This followed a strong recommendation by a Rajya Sabha Committee advocating adoption of the ‘one-rank-one-pension’ principle to retired defence personnel last year.

Pertinently, the brief of the Committee’s ‘terms of reference’ are crystal clear. Namely, to look into issues relating to: One, defence services personnel common pay-scale for in-service JCOs/OR.

Two, initial pay-fixation of Lt Col/Colonel and Brigadier/equivalent. Three, review and enhancement of grade pay, placing of all Lt. Generals’ in HAG + scale and grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to armed forces personnel.

Last but not least, ex-servicemen to get One-rank one-pension, enhancement of family pension, dual family pension and family pension to mentally/physically challenged children of armed forces personnel on marriage.

Unfortunately, to now order a special committee of babus to look into old grievances and anomalies in pay scales of serving soldiers, resulting from the 6th Pay Commission after four years defies logic.

More so against the backdrop of the Supreme Court having rejected the soldiers repeated pleas to redress their problems is another one of the farcical games the Government plays with its forces.

Clearly, the soldiers are being fooled by the powers-that-be once again as the 2014 elections are barely two years away. Think. The composition of the committee ensures that no worthwhile purpose will be served by it. As neither serving nor any retired soldier has been co-opted as a member.

In fact, the panel’s present members are the bureaucracy’s henchmen who will do no good, except delay results, both soldiers and veterans are eagerly awaiting.   

Pertinently, last week (18 July) the three service Chiefs, led by Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) along-with his colleagues, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne and Army Chief General Bikram Singh gave a detailed presentation to the Committee of Secretaries to resolve anomalies in the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission award for the Armed Forces. Appended to this were strong demands from ex-servicemen and from acting servicemen for implementation of the one-rank-one-pay principle.


Specially, as the Sixth Pay Commission had buckled under pressure from the Group organised Services under the Central Government like the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Military Engineering Services (MES), Postal Services by giving them a special concession.


Notably, it allowed officers in these services to be placed in a grade pay scale equivalent to an IAS officer two years behind that particular IAS batch. For example if a 1992 IAS officer got placed in the Joint Secretary grade in 2012, all Group A organised officers of the 1990 batch would automatically get the pay and allowances equivalent to the 1992 IAS batch, irrespective of the post and place they are serving in. Explicitly, this is the upgradation done on a ‘non-functional’ basis.


Needless to say, this has brought about huge functional problems in the day-to-day affairs wherein military officers have to work in close coordination with MES Civil Officers, BRO Civil Officers, IPS Officers in Border Security Force, Central Railway Protection Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Defence Accounts (IDAS), Test Audit (IA&AS), Ordnance Factory Board etc, with whom defence forces officers inter-act regularly.


Thus, the military officers senior to them in rank and service will get less grade pay at the same level of service thereby creating a functional disparity giving rise to in-subordination and subtle non-compliance.


Interestingly, according to calculations done by the military, the annual outgo for granting one-rank-one-pension to the approximately 21 lakh ex-servicemen would not be more than Rs. 1300 crores.


Similarly, the NFU status, if granted, would cost the exchequer a mere Rs. 70 crore annually but will go a long way in restoring the pride and status of the armed forces’ officers. 


It remains to be seen whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will show sagacity and wisdom in agreeing to these basic demands of the defence services and restore dignity to the men in uniform. Specially, at a time when the military has been buffeted from all sides.

Undoubtedly, in taking this vital decision, the technocrat Prime Minister will have to rise above his usual bureaucratic approach. ----- INFA

(Copyright, India News and  Feature Alliance)

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