Ex-servicemen of Lucknow have approached defence minister AK Antony with their demand to rectify anomalies in their pension policies. Retired soldiers of the army, navy and air force, under the pan India banner — Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM) — have, in a letter to the minister, pointed out a “serious lacuna’’ that the ministry of defence (MoD) has committed while formulating the pension guidelines for retired personnel.
“On completing 21 years of service, a major rank officer gets a pension higher than a lieutenant colonel, colonel, brigadier or a major general,” said wing commander (retd) AK Sahai, who is also the Lucknow convener of IESM.
As part of the campaign underway across the country, all retired officers, affected by the scheme, have been advised to write to the defence minister, requesting him to direct the defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma to immediately remove the serious discrepancy in pensions.
“It is a mischief on the part of a clerk. We want the ministry to enhance the pensions of lieutenant colonel (both time scale and selective), colonel, brigadier and major general proportionately, making it higher than that of a major,” Sahai added.
The argument is that unlike civilian government employees, who retire at the age of 60, military personnel retire by ranks at comparatively younger ages. Retired soldiers feel that this demand, if fulfilled, would be a step towards implementation of the long pending one-rank, one-pension (OROP) scheme, which was announced by the Government of India in 2012. It means that personnel retiring at same rank and putting in the same tenure of service get same pension irrespective of the year of retirement.
“All jawans retire in their mid 30s, junior commissioned officer in their mid 40s and a bulk of officers in their early 50s. This is done to ensure the armed forces always remain young. Only a handful of officers like lieutenant generals serve up to 60 years of age,” said an officer.
Since the date of retirement also determines the quantum of pension, with each pay commission, the veterans who retire early receive lesser pension compared to those who have retired later with the same rank and service.
“OROP is the dream of every soldier in the country. The government is still not clear about it. But if they ensure that every retired officer gets maximum pension as proposed by the sixth pay commission it won’t be much of a burden for them financially,” Sahai said.