Monday, March 28, 2016

OROP, 7th Pay Commission and Discrimination Against Armed Forces

The world of the ex servicemen is agog after the government sanctioned One Rank One Pension and the 7th Pay commission submitted its report. The OROP demand hangs back to 1973, when Indira Gandhi for reasons best known to her took the decision to reduce the pensions of the Servicemen from 70% of pay last drawn to 50 % , while upgrading the pension of civilians from 33% to 50% of last pay drawn.

For the next 40 years this demand of OROP was allowed to simmer and umpteen Chiefs came and went away, They did nothing . In addition successive pay commissions  continuously downgraded the ranks and privileges of the services vis a vis their civil counterparts. Yet all this was allowed to pass without a whimper by the general staff. This dereliction of duty towards their men by general officers who commanded the largest body of organized force in the country can never be forgiven.

Towards the turn of the century the movement hotted up and a forceful representation was made to the political bosses for sanction of OROP by ex servicemen.  Right from 2004 and even earlier when Vajpayee was the PM, the political parties promised OROP as part of their election manifesto. But when in power, both the Congress and the Vajpayee government just gave lip service and did nothing. They were aided by a supine general staff who just sat and twiddled their  thumbs.

With the 2014 election around the corner the BJP desperate for a foot hold promised  to sanction OROP. During this time an agitation by ex servicemen led by General Satbir Singh finally gathered steam. This  must have shamed the sitting chiefs who then began to make some noises for sanction of OROP.. Modi and the BJP boxed themselves into a corner by repeated statements by the PM that he would ensure that OROP would be sanctioned. With the pressure of ex servicemen led by Satbir Singh a relay hunger strike the government sanctioned a watered down scheme of OROP.

Now the 7th pay commission is out with its recommendations and they have been generally detrimental to the armed forces.  The ex service men are up in arms and the Chiefs have written a ' strong' letter. Generally the ex servicemen are blaming  the watered down recommendations of the pay commission  on  IAS lobby. In a way this is correct, but to cry 'wolf' after 40 years leads no where. The IAS lobby has got its way, because they represented their case better to the government  I am afraid its a self afflicted injury and the blame lies on the senior officer corps of the armed force who wanted to keep a plethora of ranks and yet ask for parity. Its the armed forces themselves who created a select hierarchy because of obsession with rank structure. Many officers of a corps and the flying branch could not see promotion and higher ranks for others. With this sate of affairs to blame everything on the IAS lobby holds no water. Had the case been projected for all officers to retire as Major General, the question and present crib of equality with IAS would have been solved.

The armed forces themselves were restrictive in  promotion. did the government stop upgrading of ranks . If the forces had projected ALL officers to retire as major general in 26 years would the governments have turned it down? Did the armed forces senior brass ever project this to the government. Never, because they had themselves created a rank hierarchy and restrictive promotion. Now to say the IAS officers are getting a better deal has no meaning. I am afraid the forces have no case.  It is better they take up with the government a case for all officers to retire as major Generals, but the way the ranks are entrenched it will not happen. Even the Jawan's need a better deal, but who will fight for them?