It needs to be stated that central police organisations (CPOs) are wrongly designating themselves and by some others as paramilitary. There is absolutely nothing military about them. Masquerading as paramilitary, they ask for equivalent of one rank, one pension (OROP). They appear to have been prompted by others opposed to the grant of the OROP. This is yet another attempt to put one more spoke in the OROP wheel.
There are only two paramilitary groups in India — Assam Rifles and Rashtriya Rifles. So, the police, including the Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a plethora of others, need to disabuse themselves of this notion of being paramilitary.
ANOMALIES IN ALLOWANCES
Nearly 85% of military personnel retire at the age of 35-37 years whereas policemen retire at the age of 60. Another 23-24% of military personnel retire at varying ages between 45 and 56 years. When a soldier and a police constable reach the age of 60, the latter would have drawn approximately `45 lakh more than a soldier (pay in the case of a constable and pay plus pension in the case of a soldier). So, it’s pointless to compare onions with apples. Look at the anomalies in just a few allowances which an armyman gets and a policeman is given. The paratrooper allowance for a soldier is Rs 800 to Rs 1,200, whereas it is between Rs 7,200 and Rs 11,000 in case of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA BN), which is one of the CPOs.
AT THE RECEIVING END
A disabled armyman is sent out of service whereas a government servant is retained till the age of 60 years. A soldier posted in Kashmir (other than high altitude) and northeast gets no special allowance, whereas a policeman from the CPO gets double house rent allowance (HRA). When posted in peace stations such as Shillong, Aizwal, Sikkim and better part of Jammu and Kashmir, a soldier gets no extra allowance, whereas a policeman from the CPO gets 12.5% of the basic pay as a special duty allowance —25% of the basic pay as hardship allowance for IAS officers of the UT cadre and detachment allowance of Rs 300 per day for all central armed police forces personnel. None of these allowances are applicable to the defence services. Then there is what is called headquarter allowance of Rs 4,000 for the civil services officials which the officers of the defence forces don’t get. While the list of such difference is long, just one more example should drive home the point as to how civil services and the CPOs have feathered their nests. A defence services officer on instructional staff at the National Defence College gets Rs 1,800 per month whereas one from the CPO and civil services gets Rs 19,000 per month.
The higher command of the defence services need to explain to their officers and men as to how this vast difference in allowances have come about and why they have never raised such issues with the seriousness they demand. Why they were being denied non-functional upgradation and how the services came to accept this palpable discrimination?
Some retired chiefs of the CPOs have alleged that their personnel have suffered more casualties than armymen. This is evidently incorrect. Most CPO casualties have been at the hands of ill-trained and ill-equipped Maoists and other insurgent groups and all this speaks poorly of the leadership and training of these CPOs. These chiefs of the CPOs need tell us as to how many IPS officers have been killed in fighting Maoists. The BSF needs tell the nation how more than three crore Bangladeshis have crossed over to India?
EXCUSE TO DELAY OROP
This government is fast losing its credibility and appears to be seeking one or the other excuse to delay and perhaps dilute the OROP. Various figures are being floated, but no one tells how much nonfunctional upgradation has been granted since the sixth pay commission to the class-A central services officers (over four dozen of them). As also if any of these services suffer anywhere near the same range of disadvantages as the defence services officers.
Though the parliamentary committee has been very clear and precise in spelling out what exactly the OROP is, it is the bureaucracy which is trying to flummox the politicians by firstly throwing different figures and then frightening them that others too will ask for the same. On the other hand, they also prompt the others to demand the OROP. The political class should be alive to the compelling rationale for the grant of the OROP.
The political class seems to be unaware of the deep bonding between the veterans and those still in service, and the denial to the former, what is rightly their due, will equally impact the latter.
Finally, the Supreme Court was constrained to observe that the veterans were being forced to beg. Today, the military service fails to draw the right material in its officer cadre and it is possible to substantiate this argument with many instances of poor display of leadership within the military in the recent past.
Let this piece end with a quote from Lord Morgan’s book — Anatomy of Courage. “If we persuade intelligent youth to hold back from the army in peace, we ought not to complain, if we are poorly led in war.” India has a long history of its armies being poorly led and thus suffering unbroken chains of military defeats at the hands of invading armies.