Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Our main aim is to fight for one rank, one pension’

Cdr Ravindra Waman Pathak

Commander Ravindra Waman Pathak, convenor of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), studied in various schools while travelling with his IAS father. He finished his schooling from Sainik School, Satara and joined the National Defence Academy as a naval cadet in 1965. He joined the Indian Navy in 1969 and saw action during the 1971 war. During his tenure, he specialised in navigation duties and commanded two warships. He was the intelligence and protocol officer at Western Naval Command at the time of his retirement in 1989. Pathak spoke to Kiran Dahitule about IESM, which is a NGO working for the cause of retired defence personnel.

What is the aim of IESM?
IESM was born in 2008 to protest against the injustice meted out to retired defence personnel that has been taking place since 1947 when Jawaharlal Nehru said independent India does not need armed forces until after the sixth pay commission.
Our main aim is to fight for OROP (one rank, one pension), which means same pension for same rank irrespective of the date of retirement. We strongly feel that a separate pay commission for the defence forces should be set up on the lines of other national commissions.

What issues are being tackled by IESM?
One of the major issues that we are handling is injustice against widows and officers. Having increased the pensions of JCOs (junior commissioned officer) and those below them with effect from July 1, 2009, which aims to bring near parity with post 2006 retirees, the Indian government did not give any benefits to widows or the officers.
The officers have been provided relief by AFT (Armed Forces Tribunal) but the government is yet to implement the ruling.
Denial of the right to vote is yet another issue we are looking at. The serving personnel have been denied the right to vote at their place of posting since 1995 after the Supreme Court judgment on the same.

What are the problems faced by ex-servicemen and widows of servicemen and how does IESM plan to resolve it?
The IESM is working at ground level in the following areas: Pension: We liaise with banks and record offices to correct the pensions and payment of dues in time.
ECHS: We have been officially recognised as the liaison between the ECHS (Ex-servicemen contributory health scheme) central organisation and the veterans. We are committed to spread the word about ECHS to veterans and encourage them to benefit from this very good scheme.
We are also working towards improving other benefits like Ayurveda treatment offered to veterans, fixed medical allowance for those living far from ECHS polyclinics, improvement in canteen services and ensuring the right to vote for serving personnel in places of posting. IESM does not work on issues that are at local level.

How can people contact you or how can they become members of your NGO?
For enrolling as members or to get redressal on issues connected with pension one can contact the following:
Cdr R W Pathak, 982329340, raviwarsha@gmail.com Gp Capt SS Phatak, 9421003200, sushan1005@yahoo.com
Lt Col Vinod Patil, 9923701885, bscd5791@gmail.com

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