Saturday, September 12, 2015

From Contours To Vague Outlines

It has been more than one year since an attempt was made by me to list out the various possible shapes of this entity called OROP, given all the options floating about in the air at the time. It was a kind of an abstract, admittedly half-baked, exercise in imagineering.

A lot of water has flown under the OROP bridge since then. It would be uncharitable to say that we are nowhere closer to knowing what OROP will be after all the recent sloganeering, fasting and shouting coupled with some very true to norm lack-of-clarity from the powers that be.

We do know a few things now that were shrouded in mists of uncertainty back then. These are:

*Under OROP, pensions of older retirees would be bench-marked to "average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013".

*The pensions would be reviewed after five years.

Did I mention a "few things"? Well, no, sorry, two actually, if you can call that "knowing", considering the text of the statement holds more vagueness than what we started out with.

I have already outlined all my doubts over this "average business".

The strangest thing is how ESM Associations so visibly, not to forget, vocally in the forefront of the most recent episodes of the agitation, have been seen to be very reluctant to part with details, as if they were almost in competition with the Government in keeping a tight lid on what exactly they are negotiating for and what in their view should be the nuts and bolts of the final OROP paradigm.

The DGL attributed to some sections within the Services HQs hierarchy, un-authenticated, of course, had more to say on the subject than the hundreds of TV interviews with the leading lights, and their support structure, of the "movement" have yielded. Apart from what they have vociferously "rejected".

An interesting example is a recent news item. The ESM representative, while voicing his concern for a pre 2006 retiree in Major rank has simply glossed over the fact that the parity point of the Major retiree may not be the "highest pension" that the ESM association's valiant efforts are directed towards but to a much higher level keeping in view the Major's years in service and the current rank a retiree would automatically attain with the same service.

The ESM representative also does not mention that the "highest pay" for a current Major would probably correspond to a length of service much less than the older Major retiree would have put in, hence, in effect dooming his chances by voicing the opinion that the retirees' pension should be at the maximum of the current scale. I would be the happiest person to be informed that my misgivings are misplaced and based on ignorance. But I'd like to know what would be the factual reason for such information coming my way. 

Arising from that news item, the simplest query to the member of Governing Body and Pension Cell of IESM in that report, would be which Officer with Major rank retired with pensionable service of 20 years in the base year 2013, or the year 2014_15 mentioned by the IESM member, and what was his pension?

The tables with PCDA circular 500 state the pension of a pre 2006 Major retiree is Rs 15447/- to Rs. 17930/- from years of service 20 to 24.5 and is constant at Rs.18205 from years of service 25 onwards as against the figure of Rs.19205/- as quoted in the article. What IESM need to clarify is how will they find Majors retiring with the same years of service in base year 2013 or in 2014-15, forget about bench-marking pensions of older retirees with these "imaginary" post 2006 Major retirees?

This is just an isolated question on the subject, but it does reflect, if not the opaqueness then certainly the translucence of the manner in which information is being shared with stake holders.

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