Friday, November 28, 2014
Responding to a letter from Mr. Chandrasekhar MP about the delay in the implementation of OROP, the Defence Minister has responded reaffirming the commitment of the Government on OROP and has stated that modalities are being examined with the highest consideration.
Text of Letter from Mr. Chandrasekhar & Response from Defence Minister reproduced below:-
Response from Defence Minister
MINISTER OF DEFENCE
DO No. 12(15)/2014/D (Res.II)/3529-F/RM/14
08 October, 2014
Dear Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar,
This is in continuation of my predecessor’s DO letter No. 1531/VIP/RM/2014 dated 13.06.2014 in response to your letter dated 09.06.2014 regarding the issues concerning Welfare of Armed Forces Veterans and their families.
The matter has been examined. The Government is committed to the implementation of the principle of One Rank One Pension. The modalities for implementation are presently under consideration. The definition of OROP as mentioned in para (a) of your letter is the same as has been conveyed to CGDA. A Working Group was set up under CGDA with representation from the three Services and concerned Departments of Ministry of Defence which had several rounds of discussions on the modalities but were unable to reach a consensus. I assure you that the matter is receiving our highest consideration.
The matter regarding construction of a National War Memorial is being processed on priority. Regarding National Commission for War Memorials as M/o Defence has no policy to set up or support war memorials at regional level, there is no proposal to constitute such a Commission.
The Government has created the Department of Ex. Servicemen Welfare in the Ministry of Defence in 2004 in order to pay focused attention to the welfare and resettlement of ESM. It is mandated to formulate and implement various policies and schemes for the welfare and resettlement of Ex. Servicemen in the country. The main focus is on the welfare of Ex. Servicemen and their dependents, ESM resettlement through pre and post retirement training, re- employment, self-employment and health care. The tasks are being undertaken through the Directorate General Resettlement, Central Organisation ECHS and Kendriya Sainik Board.
The State Governments are also obliged to cater to the needs of ESM & their widows and have set up Zila Sainik Boards & Rajya Sainik Boards for the purpose. They are providing various benefits to them.
There is, therefore, no proposal to introduce an Armed Forces Covenant.
Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Letter from Mr. Chandrasekhar:-
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
Member of Standing Committee on Finance
Member of Consultative Committee on Finance
Member of Parliamentary Forum on Youth
Co-Chairman, Vigilance 8. Monitoring Committee, Bangalore Urban District
Vice Chairman, National Military Memorial Management Trust, Bangalore
09 June, 2014
Sub. : Caring for our Armed Forces who are serving our Nation
Congratulations on assuming the office of the Defence Minister of India.
You are well aware of the service and sacrifices made by our Armed forces personnel who are protecting the nation at the borders as well as fighting enemies within. Through this letter, I would like to draw your attention to some of the important issues concerning the welfare of our Armed Forces veterans, which need to be addressed at the earliest.
1. One Rank, One Pension (OROP)
There is an urgent need for the new government to address the concerns and apprehensions of the large Veteran and Ex-Servicemen community about a decision taken by the UPA government on the implementation of OROP.
a) The Order issued by the Ministry of Defence to the Controller General Defence Accounts (CGDA) dated 26 February, 2014, on the implementation of OROP, does not mention the accepted definition of OROP i.e., "OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of the current pensioners and the past pensioners, and also future enhancements in the rate of pension, to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners".
b) The Order does not mention the execution order i.e., "pensions of past defence retirees will be equal to that of a person with same rank and length of service and same group retiring w.e.f. 01 Apr 2014, and future enhancement in the rates of pensions will be automatically passed to the past pensioners”.
Given the past experience, the Veterans, ex-servicemen and their families fear that failure to clearly define OROP in this Order to CGDA will open the issue to wrong interpretation.
Therefore, I urge the Government to issue a further explicit clarification to the Defence Ministry’s order to CGDA on the points raised above, at the earliest.
2. National Military Memorial in Delhi and a National Commission for War Memorials of India
The long standing demand of the Armed Forces for a National Military Memorial in Delhi, to honour the past, current and future soldiers who serve and lay down their lives for the country, continues to remain unresolved.
Such a memorial will be a befitting tribute and a symbol of grateful thanksgiving and honour from the citizens of the country to these brave men and women of our Armed Forces, who risk life and limb in their line of duty. It is also a place for the families and descendants of these heroes to visit and remember with pride and honour the sacrifices made. Importantly, such a memorial will serve as a beacon of inspiration to the young and upcoming generation of India - a generation in whom we are bestowing so much hope for the future of our great country.
Additionally, I also urge the Government to institute a National Commission for War Memorials of India - along the lines of the Commonwealth Trust War Graves Commission - to address the pathetic situation of the war memorials in existence in the country - at the earliest.
3. Armed Forces Covenant
The nation's commitment to respect and support its Armed Forces is an unwritten pact between society and the Armed Forces, and this pact has been reinforced by custom and convention since time immemorial. Centuries ago, Kautilya, the great political strategist, wrote to Chandragupta Maurya on the importance of having a pact between society and military: ”The day the soldier has to demand his dues will be a sad day for Magadha. For then on that day, you will have loss all moral sanction to be king”.
Therefore, the country needs to demonstrate its commitment to the well-being of the members of our armed forces and their families. It is the duty of the nation to ensure that the Armed Forces personnel and their families have the support they need and are treated fairly and with the dignity and respect that they deserve.
As you are aware, a military covenant is an agreement under which the state pledges a duty of care towards its military personnel in return for the sacrifices that they make, The covenant officially applies only to the Army, but its core principles are taken to extend to the Air Force and the Navy.
The Government should seriously consider introducing an Armed Forces Covenant. As I had mentioned in my letter to you dated 05 June, 2014, l have introduced a Private Members' Bill which the government could consider adopting as a Bill/law. Such a law/legislation would instill a sense of encouragement in the personnel of the Armed Forces, and will go a long way in assuring them that the nation truly values their sacrifices & services.
The Armed Forces constitutes a truly unique and dedicated group of people, whose sense of selfless service, duty and nationalism is a matter of great pride and dignity. These proud men and their families have served our nation selflessly, with a certain belief that the nation and their people will look after them when their turn comes to be looked after.
I urge you to look into and resolve these long pending and rightful demands of our Armed Forces and veterans, at the earliest.
Shri Arun Jaitley
Hon'ble Minister of Defence
Government of India