AN APPEAL ADDRESSED TO
MILITARY VETERANS AT BANGALORE
Your kind presence requested at the
at 10 AM on Sunday, 14 March 2010 at
RASHTRIYA SAINIKA SMARAKA
adjacent to Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain on Chowdaiah Road
opposite Nehru Planetarium, Near Raj Bhawan, Bangalore
*For signing a Memorandum addressed to
the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
A MEMORANDUM FROM THE EX-SERVICEMEN* OF INDIA
TO DOCTOR MANMOHAN SINGH,
HON’BLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
[*Ex-Servicemen means, Retired Officers of the Army, Navy & Air Force and retired JCOs, NCOs & Sepoys of the Army and their equivalents in the Navy & Air Force]
Dr Manmohan Singh
The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
New Delhi – 110 011
EX-SERVICEMEN OF INDIA SEEK JUSTICE WITH REGARD TO PENSION AND RESETTLEMENT
Respected Prime Minister,
1. There is tremendous resentment amongst the EX-SERVICEMEN in the Country, on account of their pain & anguish brought about by years of neglect & apathy by the Govt. of India, in not addressing the various issues relating to their pension & resettlement. And, as a result of popular upsurge, on account of gross injustice meted out the personnel of the Defence Services and Ex-Servicemen; on announcement of the 6th Central Pay Commission, the INDIAN EX-SERVICEMEN MOVEMENT (IESM) came into being. The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement is a crusade, committed to fight for the WELFARE and WELL-BEING of Ex-Servicemen and our foremost demand is that Govt. grant MILITARY PENSION by way of ONE RANK, ONE PENSION.
2. In order to draw the attention of the Govt. of India for the amelioration of their problems relating to pension & resettlement; Ex-Servicemen in large numbers, led by Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals took part, in the following events all over the Country, viz.
(a) A silent Memorial Service paying Homage to Martyrs at War Memorials, on Sunday, 27 April 2008;
(b) A token one day FAST FOR JUSTICE on Tuesday, 27 May 2008;
(c) A MARCH FOR JUSTICE on Sunday, 06 July 2008.
(d) A token one day FAST FOR JUSTICE on Monday, 20 Oct 2008;
(e) A relay FAST FOR JUSTICE at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, commencing on 16 Dec 2008;
(f) Depositing of Medals with the President of India on Sunday, 08 Feb 2009; and till date over 25,000 Medals have been returned & deposited in the Rashtrapathi Bhawan.
3. It is unfortunate that, despite the fact that the aforementioned events, viz. ‘Homage to Martyrs’ and ‘Fast for Justice’ and Return of Medals, organized by Ex-Servicemen in scores of cities & towns all over the Country, were well covered by the Print & Electronic (TV) media and received overwhelming response from the General Public; the Govt. of India continues to display an Ostrich like attitude in ignoring the simmering discontent of millions of Ex-Servicemen through out the length & breadth of the Country. Such a callous attitude by the Govt. of India towards its Ex-Servicemen does not bode well for the well being of the Nation; for it goes without saying that all this is having an adverse effect on the Morale of the Defence Services, as the ‘Men in Uniform’ ie. Serving Soldiers, watch in silence the injustice meted out the Military Veterans (a vast majority of whom are their elder brothers & fathers), fully aware that what has befallen the Ex-Servicemen today, would be their plight tomorrow when they retire; and one can hear the Men in Uniform say: AAJ UNKE SAATH, KAL HAMAARE SAATH.
4. It is due to the dedicated & committed efforts of IESM that ONE RANK, ONE PENSION has been brought centre stage. So much so that, even Her Excellency, the President of India, in her address to the joint session of Parliament, on 04 June 2008, stated that ONE RANK, ONE PENSION was under consideration and that a Committee of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary has been tasked to study the feasibility of granting ONE RANK, ONE PENSION. Unfortunately, the hopes of 2.5 million Ex-Servicemen were severely dashed with the publication of the Committee Report in end June 2009, which in short said NO to the grant of ONE RANK, ONE PENSION.
5. As Chairman of IESM representing the aspirations of 2.5 million Ex-Servicemen, spread all over the Country, I would like to impress upon you five salient points:
(a) Military Service & Service conditions are UNIQUE, meaning that they are entirely different and incomparable with that of a civilian in Govt. service; and hence, the pay & pension rules & regulations applicable to a Soldier CAN NOT be compared or equated with that of a civilian in Govt. service. Any comparison would not only be odious; but would amount to negation of concept of Military Service, as the two are as different as chalk and cheese.
(b) Why “ONE RANK ONE PENSION”. ‘One Rank One Pension’ implies that uniform pension be paid to Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancement in the rates of pension be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. Military Service is UNIQUE, with a highly demanding 24 by 7 work culture under hostile environments; and secondly, Military Service is the only Service wherein a Jawan is bundled out at the young age of 35, when he has a wife, two small children, unmarried sisters & parents to be taken care of; without the STATE bothering to give him an alternative employment. It is absolutely callous. A young man who joins Govt. service in civil as a LDC or a Police constable; serves comfortably till the age of 60 years and retires in a much higher position with a good amount as pension. Not so in the case of a Jawan. 85% of the Sepoys retire as Sepoys only after 15 years service. Most civilians who retire at 60, would live to see only one Pay Commission after retirement, considering their longevity to be 70-75 years and may be a few, two pay commissions; but a Sepoy would live to see nothing less than four Pay Commissions after retirement. ‘ONE RANK, ONE PENSION’ is equally applicable to Officers, as bulk (85%) retire in the rank of Colonel, at the age of 54 years; thus losing out on pay for six years & enhanced pensionary benefits. It is the older pensioners of the Army, Navy & Air Force who are the worst sufferers. It is not only the serving soldier that the STATE is duty bound to take care of; but also the Veterans who have sacrificed their youth in service of the Nation with no other thought but, DUTY, HONOUR and COUNTRY.
(c) The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, comprising 44 eminent Members of Parliament, had in their Report to Lok Sabha on 19 Aug 2003, strongly recommended the grant of ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP) to Ex-Servicemen. Para 99 of the said Report is reproduced below:
“The Committee has been recommending grant of `ONE RANK ONE PENSION’ to the armed forces personnel time and again. The Committee observes that successive Governments and Pay Commissions have made improvements in the pension structure keeping in view the cost of living index. This has accentuated the disparity of pensionary benefits between pensioners of the same rank. The older pensioners who have become infirm in ability and capability and burdened with a larger social obligation receive pension calculated at the rate of pay at the time of their retirement in 1950s or 1960s or 1970s, which is quite paltry and the Dearness Relief quite inconsequential in today’s context of inflation and shrinking purchasing value of money. The nation must repay its debt to those Defendents of the motherland with gratitude and humility. We should, instead of, looking for precedents in this regard, create precedents for the others to emulate. Any amount paid in this regard would be small token of our gratitude to them. The Committee, therefore, once again reiterates their earlier recommendation for providing `ONE RANK ONE PENSION’ to the armed forces personnel”.
(d) On detailed study & analysis of the 21 pages Report dated 30 June 2009, on ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP), by the Committee of Secretaries headed by the learned Cabinet Secretary, it would be crystal clear that, the Committee of Secretaries who were tasked to study ‘the feasibility of granting OROP’, have in fact arrogated to themselves the onerous duty of deciding ‘as to why OROP can not be granted & should NOT be granted to Ex-Servicemen’ by submitting a Report, which at best can be called ‘a litany of half truths’ with serious intent of obfuscation of truth; with the sole aim of misleading & misguiding the Ministers & Members of Parliament, by substantiating their illuminating recommendation, viz. OROP can not be granted to Ex-Servicemen, on the specious grounds that, ‘if OROP is granted to Ex-Servicemen, grant of OROP to civilians in Govt service, too, would have to be conceded, as both Civilian and Military Pensioners are governed by the same set of Pay & Pension regulations’. Nothing can be farther from the truth. And to put it mildly, the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) headed by the learned Cabinet Secretary has been ‘economical with truth’ by selectively quoting only adverse recommendations of Committees, Ministries & judicial verdicts, viz. saying, Ministry of Law opined that “the issue had come up for consideration before the Supreme Court in a number of cases, wherein the Ex-Servicemen has not been found to be entitled to ‘One Rank One Pension’ under the existing legal regime” and CoS going on to deliberately misquote the Supreme Court as saying, “This may entail discrimination, offending the principles of equality before law as enshrined in our Constitution”, and also that “That may amount to treating ‘unequal’ as ‘equal’, if all of them are to be treated alike by providing same pension, while ignoring their respective variations in length of service and average pay”. The point to note here is that the malicious intent of the Committee of Secretaries comes to the fore, by their quoting Supreme Court judgements not relevant to the subject, fully aware that that the Supreme Court had said so, ie. Grant of ONE RANK ONE PENSION is not feasible, only in the case of pensioners with ‘variations in service’; when, the same is NOT applicable in our case; as we have all along been asking for ONE RANK ONE PENSION, only in respect of pensioners of same rank with EQUAL length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. The Report is an Obfuscation of Truth, because, nowhere in their Report, is there any mention regarding the ‘Report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, strongly & repeatedly recommending grant of ONE RANK ONE PENSION to Ex-Servicemen’.
(e) India is a Democratic Country; and, in a Democracy, the Country is governed by the ‘elected representatives of the people’, viz. Members of Parliament, who go on to form the Council of Ministers. And, it is the Council of Ministers and Members of Parliament, who after due discussion & deliberation of various issues, frame laws, rules & regulations for the efficient governance & administration of the Country; keeping in mind the concerns of National Security and the welfare & well-being of the people, who are SUPREME.
6. Civilian control over the Armed Forces in a Democracy, DOES NOT mean control by the Bureaucrats. Hark back to history of the Sub-Continent: when things went wrong in 1962, it is only the ‘heads’ of Ministers and the Soldiers at the helm, which rolled and NOT of any Bureaucrat. And hence, it is high time that the Hon’ble Prime Minister realized that the Question of ONE RANK ONE PENSION and resettlement of Ex-Servicemen can not be allowed to fester any longer and needs his personal attention. In the garb of exercising civilian control over the Armed Forces in a Democracy, successive Govt. in power have not only diluted the Combat Effectiveness or Worthiness of the Armed Forces, but also lowered its stature & image in the eyes of the public. And, one is thus reminded of Francis Quarles' poem:
God and the soldier, all men adore,
In time of danger and not before;
When the danger is passed and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.
7. To do justice to the demand for grant of MILITARY PENSION by way of ONE RANK, ONE PENSION; and to address the Question of resettlement of Ex-Servicemen in a manner that is fair & square; the IESM requests the Hon’ble Prime Minister to convene a JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE [JPC] by 15 Apr 2010, to study the subject matter in its entirety and submit its Report within sixty days (ie. by 15 Jun 2010). And, it is also requested that the JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE [JPC] be assisted by a Group of Military Veterans comprising retired Officers of the Army, Navy & Air Force who would be better suited to brief and advise the JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE [JPC] on all matters relating to Pay, Pension & Service conditions in the Armed Forces. We also request that we, IESM, be consulted while nominating the Group of Military Veterans, meant to assist & advice the JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE [JPC].
8. It may kindly be noted that WE, the Ex-Servicemen in India, have resolved that WE WILL achieve our Goal, before 31 Dec 2010. And, it may also kindly be noted that whatever WE do, our struggle will be WITHIN the bounds of LAW. As Ex-Servicemen WE realize that WE can not pelt stones; WE can not burn buses; WE can not indulge in RAASTA ROKO; WE can not indulge in TRAIN ROKO. Then what are the options left open to us and what is it that WE can do that WE remain within the bounds of Law? Simple, adopt Gandhian methods. To start with, this Memorandum is being signed by Ex-Servicemen in their own BLOOD, to impress upon you that WE the Ex-Servicemen are indeed anguished & pained to resort to this; and to request you to please take note of our pain & anguish and initiate immediate steps to ameliorate the same. WE the Ex-Servicemen also take this opportunity to inform you Sir, that in case our request for amelioration of our problems relating to Pension and Resettlement are not suitably addressed, WE the Ex-Servicemen, all over the Country, will be forced to further intensify our struggle; and the next and final step would be to launch a nation wide Satyagraha, undertaking FAST UNTO DEATH, commencing on 02 Oct 2010.
9. In the light of above, WE, the Ex-Servicemen of India, request you Sir, our Hon’ble Prime Minister, to show sagacity & perspicacity by taking bold decisions with regard to the welfare & well being of Ex-Servicemen, in the interest of the Nation; as any lowering of Morale of either the serving soldier or that of Ex-Servicemen, would seriously impinge and impact National Security.
10. To end, I most humbly request you Sir, to please grant us an appointment / audience at the very earliest, so that WE can express our pain & anguish in person.
Veteran Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
Indian Ex- Servicemen Movement (IESM)
New Delhi, Sunday, 14 March 2010
1. The Hon’ble Minister for Defence
2. The Hon’ble Minister of State for Defence
3. All Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha)
Not on Original (NOO)
4. Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
5. Chief of Army Staff
6. Chief of Naval Staff
7. Chief of Air Staff
8. Vice Chief of Army Staff and GOC-in-C of all Army Commands
9. Vice Chief of Naval Staff and FOC-in-C of all Naval Commands
10. Vice Chief of Air Staff and AOC-in-C all Air Commands
11. PRESS – both Electronic & Print Media