Tuesday, 25 August 2015

OROP - One Rank One Pension (Open Letter) By Maj. Gen. (Retd)

OROP - OPEN LETTER Dated: 27 August 2015 AND BREAKING NEWS ON TWEET
From:
Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, VSM (Retd)
475, 7th Main Road
Vijayanagar 1st Stage
Mysuru-570017
Tel:0821-2515187
E-mail:
To:
Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi
Prime Minister of India
New Delhi
By E-mail to: ; ;
Respected Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,
I am writing with considerable agitation of mind and a growing sense of alarm regarding the welfare of our country. This is occasioned because of the burning issue of OROP, and its repercussions on national safety and security.
One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) for military Veterans
OROP has been agreed to by the Koshiyari Committee appointed by Parliament, it has been agreed to by India's Apex Court, and it has been agreed to by successive governments including Shri Vajpayee's NDA-1 government. That is, the legislative, the judiciary and the executive – the three pillars of our Constitution – have agreed to the concept and the justice of Veterans' demand for OROP.
Promises & trust
Veterans have been demonstrating in a peaceful and dignified manner at Jantar Mantar since 14 June 2015, because Government of India was unresponsive to their decades-long demand for OROP. After your promise of OROP made at Rewari during your general election campaign, again at Siachen when you visited the troops as Prime Minister, and yet again from Red Fort standing under our Flag on Independence Day, Veterans are unable to understand how bureaucrats and certain motivated politicians have so easily stymied a person like you, who is reputed to be decisive and strong.
Now, with several Veterans going on fast-unto-death, the situation has turned delicate, and Veterans are holding your promises as hollow. The national security fall-out of this is likely to be very serious, because the disillusioned soldiers of the three defence services are getting de-motivated. Every mature person knows that it is very difficult to build trust but it is easy to break it. Trust in civil-military relations has been falling over the years, and Veterans and serving soldiers hold the politician-bureaucrat nexus within successive governments responsible for this. It is sad that it has hit rock bottom in your watch as Prime Minister.
Politician-Bureaucrat “shadayantra”
With amazing rapidity, in less than 18 months after the Apex Court's direction of 2014, government has proposed tabling a Bill in the Lok Sabha monsoon session, to amend the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954, “to rectify an anomaly that leaves High Court judges to draw lesser pension than those elevated from state judicial services“. This was reported in The Tribune of Chandigarh, July 14, 2015, with the title“One rank, one pension for HC judges, govt to amend law”. While Veterans have no problem at all with the judiciary claiming and getting OROP, they view the decades-long delay for OROP for military Veterans as a deliberate “shadayantra” by the bureaucrat-politician nexus in government circles.
The reason for using the word “shadayantra” is because over the years and decades, bureaucrats have deliberately and slyly reduced military salaries and pensions and also downgraded the military in order of precedence. The Indian military is staunchly apolitical, having always been and even today remaining ever ready to serve under civilian control, but neglect and lack of understanding of substantial national security issues by the political class, and the “shadayantra” of seizure of actual control over the military by the bureaucratic class, has created an atmosphere of distrust, resulting in the present unsavoury situation.
Police attack on Veterans
There is an organic link between the Veteran warriors of yesteryear and the serving soldiers, and many serving soldiers have close relatives who are Veterans. You are surely aware that the serving troops are closely following the events at Jantar Mantar, and are especially anxious due to the unprecedented attack by Police on peaceful Veterans on 14 August. The delayed apology by a middle-ranking Police officer (instead of from the Home Ministry, which initiated the attack) has not been taken well by Veterans and serving soldiers.
You would perhaps be aware that, as reported in The Hindu recently, a survey report titled “Democracy in India: A Citizens’ Perspective”, brought out that: ”As in 2005, political parties were the least trusted political institutions, and the police the least trusted unelected institution. Trust in Parliament, while low, rose between 2005 and 2013, while the Army continued to be the most trusted institution. The civil service was perceived as the most corrupt, more so than local, State and Central governments“. I am pained to have to bring this to your notice, but that is the opinion that citizens have of the various parts of government.
The irony of the “most trusted” being neglected, positively downgraded and cheated over the decades by the “most corrupt” bureaucracy, and manhandled by the “least trusted”police, has not been lost on the citizens at large. Indeed, civilians are now joining the Veterans at Jantar Mantar, and several non-political organizations have expressed their open support to Veterans. The serving soldiers of all ranks are also well seized of the matter, as perhaps your NSA would advise you.
The biggest hurdle
It is widely understood that the biggest hurdle to OROP for Veterans is a supposed shortage of funds. I am sure that you are aware that in the recent budget by Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, the “Statement of Revenue Foregone” is to the tune of Rs.5.32 lakh-crores by way of excusing corporate tax, commercial tax and customs duties to the big corporations.
Veterans are unable to understand how a mere Rs.8,300 crores for OROP cannot be found by the Finance Minister. Perhaps he believes that military Veterans are far less important than wealthy corporates who are getting such benefits due to their clout in the corridors of political power. There are many Veterans who are old, in their 80s and 90s, who may die without receiving their rightful due of OROP, if it is not implemented without delay.
It is understood that government bonds are likely to be offered in lieu of cash for OROP. I cannot over-emphasize that what Veterans (especially widows & Jawans who are 85% of Veterans) need is cash, and they need it now. Bonds which mature after years cannot buy food and medicine now, for impoverished widows and Jawan Veterans. I earnestly request you to reject any suggestion for bonds being issued in lieu of cash.
Urgent request
With all due respect, I urgently request you to implement OROP as defined and accepted for military Veterans, without futher delay. Every hour of delay can be critical, considering that the Veterans who are fasting are old and getting weaker by the hour.
Also, your NSA would have informed you that OROP for military Veterans is being closely monitored by Pakistan and China, both of which countries will make very good use of the nearly-destroyed civil-military relations in India.
With respectful regards,
Yours faithfully,
Sudhir Vombatkere
(Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd))
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