The decision of the BJP government in Haryana to roll back the retirement age of government employees from 60 to 58 years seems to be a well thought out political move aimed at initiating large-scale recruitments in the future. The increase in the retirement age from 58 to 60 years was done three months ago by the Congress government primarily with an eye on the assembly elections.
By rolling back the retirement age the BJP government has made its intentions clear — that it would like to do fresh recruitments consistently over the next few years and do it as per their professed policy of “merit”. The saffron party would like to reap political gains by giving employment to several thousand youngsters. The previous Congress regime probably faulted on both the aspects.
“It was a double whammy for the new government. The credit for increasing the retirement age would always be taken by the Congress and the BJP government would not be able to make fresh recruitments,” said an official.
Many have questioned the prudence of the Manohar Lal Khattar government in rolling back the retirement age. Experts say the government could have saved the pension and other retirement benefits by continuing with the increased age thus save the state exchequer from further burden.
However, votaries of the move say that an analysis done in this regard had convinced them of the merits of the move.
“The government pays a newly-recruited employee about 1/3rd amount of what an employee at the stage of retirement gets as salary. The financial burden arising out of dispensation of retirement benefits is not so much that it cannot be easily borne by the government,” said another official.
“Moreover, increasing the age from 58 to 60 would have resulted stalling of promotions at every level for the next two years. This would have been bad for the morale and confidence of junior employees,” he said.
The approximate strength of employees in the Haryana government would be around 3.85 lakh, including nearly 50,000 employed in boards and corporations. The average annual attrition rate due to the retirements is about 5 to 7%.
After Tuesday’s council of ministers’ decision to roll back the retirement age a large number of employees, particularly those who had benefitted or would have soon benefitted from the age increase will be disappointed.
However, it remains to be seen whether the employee bodies would adopt an agitational approach.