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Talking of Novelist Chetan Bhagat and Logic

Talking of Novelist Chetan Bhagat and Logic
By
Maj Gen Ashok Coomar, Veteran
18 Aug 2015
Dear Chetan,
I refer to your article titled “Tark Ke Adhar Par Karen Faisla” that appeared in Dainik Bhaskar, Bhopal edition on Sep 18,2015.
While opening paragraph of your article where you acknowledge the selfless sacrifices by the armed forces amongst other things was to the point, the remaining contents were far from truth and therefore shocking. Such ignorance or intellectual dishonesty – and it has to be one of these - was the least expected from you. I will therefore question your motive in succeeding paragraphs.
Seeds for One Rank One Pension (OROP) were sown by the 3rd Central Pay Commission (CPC) which became effective in 1973. 3rd CPC reduced the armed forces pensions by 20% and increased those of civilians by 20%. Idea was to remove the edge enjoyed by defense pensioners for early retirement varying from 35-37 to 50 years of age of Other Ranks and officers respectively. It was also proposed to compensate them by either OROP or lateral induction into Para-military forces though none was ever granted. The concept was considered in depth by a Parliamentary Committee on Petitions headed by Mr BS Koshiary, MP. Committee in its report submitted in Dec 2011 strongly recommended OROP. This report was accepted by the Parliament and the then UPA government and later by NDA government in 2014. PM Modi had last re-iterated his commitment to OROP on August 15, 2015 at the Red Fort while addressing the nation. It will thus be clear that veterans have no demand of their own but are only demanding implementation of Koshiary committee recommendations which have been repeatedly accepted by PM himself.
Why do you then summarily dismiss the veterans “demands” as merely “justified” and not explain the most significant aspects of truncated careers necessitated by early retirements to keep the forces young and fit to be winners in war? Why do you not go on further to explain that soldiers too have a family and children to take care when they quit while just 35-37 years of age? Why do you not mention that most of them fail to secure a job after quitting and are reduced to penury while serving as low paid security guards? You are content just to state that the veterans want the same pension as the latest retirees. Is that fair?
Veteran’s binding spell notwithstanding, by what stretch of imagination social media’s wishes become binding on the government? You further suggest that veterans have painted picture that the politicians and bureaucrats both are stingy, greedy and insensitive to their demands. But isn’t it true or you are having evidence to the contrary? Be that as it may, can the veteran’s pressure of agitation ever push the government into a corner to abandon a fair analysis for grant of OROP? On the contrary it’s the bureaucracy and the government who have never held an open dialogue with veterans and have always thrust unilateral decisions on veterans and even the armed forces!
A bloated figure of Rs 12000 Cr is fictional and not correct. Manohar Parrikar the RM who is known for his honesty of purpose had after due diligence come to a figure of Rs 8293 Cr for implementation of OROP as per the letter and spirit of its accepted definition. But the award excluded the so-called “VRS” retirees which constitute more than half the pensioners and the pension itself was pushed back to the year 2013 from 2014 at rates which will be average of maximum and minimum and not maximum as required. Should the ultimate outgo then not be reduced to less than half? It does not need a mathematical wizard to understand that the figure of Rs 12000 Cr is a concocted one.
True that the Defense Budget is around Rs 250000 Cr but the pension bill is just Rs 54000 Cr and not Rs 60000 Cr as quoted. Of this Rs 22000 Cr goes to pay for 4 Lack civilians in Defense and Rs 32000 Cr for the armed forces pensioners numbering around 30 Lacks. Had you done some honest home-work the poor per-capita pensions paid to armed forces veterans could not have escaped your attention and logic.
With passage of time this pension bill will progressively go down as more and more civilians eligible for government pension retire or the government finds ways to provide a second opening to future retirees of armed forces.
As far as paucity of government’s financial resources is concerned you seem to forget the Lacks of Crores generated in the current financial year from Coal Blocks, Spectrum auctions and the dividend from RBI etc. You also seem to gloss over government’s profligacy in foregoing huge amounts of revenues due, writing off Public Sector Bank loans and largesse to corporate sector. Can you as a man of finance approve of a sum of Rs 17000 Cr frittered away by the government to reward the inefficiency of Group ‘A’ Civilian Officers in last few years as NON-FUNCTIONAL-FINANCIAL-UPGRADATION? By what logic do you then object to OROP for armed forces veterans? Does the novelist in you over-ride the wisdom acquired at IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmdabad? Would Goldman Sachs not be ashamed that they once employed you?
Though one could but I am not questioning your motive but you still owe an apology to armed forces and veterans for the piffle that you have written.
Praying to God to give you moral courage to do the obvious, I remain
Yours sincerely,
Maj Gen Ashok Coomar, Veteran

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Ashok Coomar

Media/Journalist/Author

Madhya Pradesh ,  INDIA

Hails from a middle class family of Lucknow, U.P., educated at Allahabad and Gwalior.  Joined Indian Military Academy, Dehradun after passing Intermediate. Commissioned in Dec 1962 in the Mahar Regiment, Infantry. Saw active service in 1965 and 1971 wars. Retired in Dec 2001 and now settled at Bhopal, M.P.

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