Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Letter On OROP Seeking "Widest Circulation"

I came across this in a blog not exactly known for exchange of comments or for discussions. But blogs serve several purposes and can be used in the fashion of  "bulletin boards" for effective dissemination of others' views or ideas.

I cannot, however, vouch for the authenticity of this communication. I have seen a lot of other e_mails purportedly originated from the same source as well as from other functionaries of the same association, all without authentication of any sort. These are just passed on via e_mail, on blogs or linked to in tweets or chatroll posts here and there.

To my mind, an issue deserving to be handled with appropriate seriousness would at least deserve a duly authenticated blog, if not a web-site, regularly updated by people who are not keyboard challenged. That is nowadays the accepted platform for even minor issues. In this case, the welfare of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of ex-servicemen is involved. A slightly more up to date interface can't hurt the cause.

There was a clamor, from a lot of veterans affected, for details and modalities of OROP implementation to be made public by the Govt and the ESM Associations. But the tables in the above communication are not exactly what would meet that need for transparency or bring smiles of hope to all faces. My immediate reaction was to highlight the most ambiguous of the contents in a shade of appropriate grey. There are notes placed alongside, but these may not be view-able on all platforms so here is a gist of the very serious doubts that the contents raise:

*What is meant by "These can be used to work out" at para 3 of the communication? Is application of a thumb-rule being advocated here? Is that all the ESM associations have been able to work out after all the hype that has flooded the media for months now? I hope not. I'd still like to believe, this is not the full picture and the ESM reps are holding something up their sleeves. But I also have serious misgivings that such a superficial view may actually reflect the real level of reasoning at work. I am firmly of the view there is no room here for a "simplest method to implement realistic OROP". I think a bit of complexity for arriving at an actual OROP would meet the requirements a lot better than individual perceptions of "realistic".

*Why is the term TS being used in the table when it is widely acknowledged, even at the level of services HQs, that use of such a suffix is undignified? It has been officially done away with. I'm sure display of a bit of courtesy on such matters will not be out of place and would be appreciated by veterans whom the ESM associations seek to represent. Apart from that, more importantly, why have separate rows been made for OROP pensions for Col promoted by selection and Col promoted on time bound basis? Everyone knows pensions are the same for both as tabulated in PCDA circular 500.

*Why is the table silent on OROP pension for Lt Col retirees with service more than 26 years? Do the ESM Associations have no view on the required parity of pensions of erstwhile (pre AVS-I) Lt Col retirees with more than 26 years of service with pensions of Col promoted on time-bound basis on completing 26 years of service after implementation of AVS-I?

*Similarly, why does the table say nothing of pension parity of Major retirees with more than 20 years of service with pensions of post AVS-I Lt Col with service of 20 years? Most importantly, where did they get figures for a Major retiring between 01 Jan 2014 and 31 March 2014 with service of 24 years? Was there actually a Major with that many years of service who retired in that period? Ever since 16 Dec 2004, Majors are promoted to Lt Col on time bound basis after completing a service of 13 years. Any Officer who retired with 24 years of service as Major between Jan 2014 and April 2014, as the table in the communication states, might have been one who could not be promoted even on time-bound basis due to reasons of being unfit for time-bound promotion or being of a different cadre altogether. Are the ESM associations seeking to peg the pensions of erstwhile older Major retirees to the pension of such a case?

Earlier on, reps of some of the same ESM associations were speaking of pensions based on actual pay-bands. Now, on the other hand, we see a fairly un-representative table based on some pensions actually drawn, with more questions than answers. There is also the most alarming view, in the communication, that some sort of extrapolation, "working-out" be resorted to on the basis of this most inadequate data. Stake holders can only hope more details of modalities based on systematic logic on the subject would emerge.  

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