Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NDTV..Views by MAj Gen K Khorana

From: Krishen Khorana [mailto:kkrishen@hotmail.com]
Sent: 13 September 2010 02:45
To: Barkha Dutt

Subject: We The People - 12 September 2010. Comments and Suggestion

Dear Ms Barkha Dutt,
Hope you find the time to go through the following write up.
Maj Gen (Retd) K Khorana
2, Sector 2

“We The People” – 12 September 2010. Comments and Suggestion.

Who says money and honour are not linked?

Only combination of the two gives status. How can one forget that in India, money alone can accord power and status? And yet, linkage of money with honour is neither dishonourable nor something new in society and history. However, using it as a clever argument and reddest of red herring the IAS and others of their ilk scored a brownie point over services representatives’ assertion.

It is time that our governments and the civil society stops treating the army as “good man the laaltain”. The “laaltain” must be prevented from extinguishing.
Tell me, would you accord the same respect, honour and what have you to say Ambanis, Birlas and Tatas sans their money? Or how many times would you invite Pratibha Patil, Sharad Pawar, Lallu Yadav, Sushma Swaraj, Paswan and their likes to your channel studios had it not been for their status in civil society? Status, honour, money and power are all interlinked.

All segments of society serve humanity. We all understand that. But in each profession (doctors, teachers, lawyers etc) has individual clients, from whom they obtain remuneration/fee as per their personal skill and volition. Armed forces have the whole nation as its client (dealing with the nation through its elected representatives, irrespective of their political affiliations). But ultimately it has to and must remain responsible to the whole nation. Equally, it becomes the responsibility of the nation through its elected representatives to ensure that needs of the military are fulfilled; they are not in a postion like in other professions, to demand directly for themselves from the vast nation. Some panellists were ignorant on such matters.

Today, our Supreme Court, as one of the pillars of our democracy (feudalistic in nature), felt it necessary to frequently indict the country’s executive - “don’t treat soldiers like beggars”, “don’t make soldiers run from pillar to post with their grievances”, “don’t create classes with a class” etc etc. Despite indictments, our Government goes back, again and again, to the Supreme Court to reverse its judgements in favour of soldiers. With what intent? That attitude of the government alone has proved the proverbial straw for soldiers, particularly the retired. In their ‘peaceful’ agitation mode, they have begun to submit their memoranda signed with their own blood. Mind you that in itself is a violent act. One wonders what it would be next to make the government(s) and civil society to listen and solve retired soldiers’ grievances.

The argument by one panellist (a bureaucrat) that cabinet secretary, chiefs and others drawing ‘fixed scales’ are only getting 50 percent of pay last drawn was utter hogwash. Cleverly done, it made all pre 2006 retirees the beneficiary. The dispensation gave benefit to almost 70 percent of the entire IAS cadre recruited directly, commencing 1947! The benefit would not go to beyond double digits for those who served the armed forces. And in any case, what stopped the government from ‘fixed scales’ for every rank of the Indian Army, from 2nd Lieutenant to Lt General (40000 to 80000)!

The biggest fiddle of 6th CPC was sadly missed out. Historically, whether during British Raj or post independence, every rank was paid pension according to one’s rank; higher the rank, higher the pension. In one stroke, in 6th CPC, ranks were done away with and minimum of “pay band”, irrespective of the rank, introduced! From lt colonel to lt general, all get the same basic pension, with minor differences introduced for argument’s sake and to technically defeat Apex Court judgements. One begins to wonder as to what kind of human beings are there in our bureaucracy and the government!

OROP was a simple in its inception, when it came up in the eighties. Many governments agreed for its implementation. In a contemporaneous environment, with every delay (over decades now) and the governments’ baulking at Supreme Court judgments in favour of retired soldiers, the issue is now seen as one of great injustice, hence highly emotive too. It would be a folly to let the matter linger any further.

Suggested Solution.
1. Government should immediately obey and implement judgements, orders and instructions passed by Indian Supreme Court, as it pertains to pay and pension of retired armed forces personnel, in LETTER AND SPIRIT, and not just technically to hoodwink the Apex Court and affected people.
2. As an interim measure, the government should immediately place and implement “Fixed Formula” for basic pensions of retired soldiers, at a scale of say between 85-90 percent of basic pension drawn by each rank retiring after 2006. The said ‘fixed formula’ should then be further refined by the next pay commission, central or for armed forces, on the lines of OROP.
3. Armed Forces Pay Commission for serving and retired soldiers to be convened by January 2011, delinking it from any periodicity and to be held on the basis of inflation and cost index. Report to be submitted by June 2011 and implemented by December 2011, after approval of Parliament in its winter session.
4. Military Pensions Formulae be converted into a law and built into The Constitution of India. (Away from any political or bureaucratic consideration).
5. Above formulations to ensure that armed forces remain apolitical, efficient and clean.

Suffice it to say that the present logjam must be broken, for the good of the country and the armed forces.

K Khorana
Maj Gen (Retd)

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