General Bipin Rawat, UYSM, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, ADC Chief of Defence Staff
Department of Military Affairs
12, South Block, Raisina Hill
Review of Retirement Age of Defence Personnel and Reduction in Pension
At the outset let me extend my best wishes to you on being part of history in creating and holding first ever coveted position of Chief of Defence Staff of one of the largest democracy & one of the oldest civilisation flourishing on the Planet Earth, that’s Republic of India.
I’m writing this letter to you in capacity of an Ex-Serviceman & concerned enlightened law abiding Citizen of India having been proudly served our Great Nation by ‘touching the sky with glory’ for good 21 long years through Indian Air Force by holding different esteemed Combatant Roles both in Peace & War. I became pensioner w.e.f 1st Feb 2007.
In furtherance to the letters written to honourable Raksha Mantri & You by Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd) and Col (Dr) Yatendra Kumar Yada (Retd) dated 7th Nov 2020 & 9th Nov 2020 respectively on the above subject in reference to your letter written to Min of Defence by Office of the Secy DMA. I would also like to highlight below vital points to your kind office from PBOR’s points of view as they are the major chunk to be affected with this recommendation so as to modulate harmonised approach while forwarding such a self defeating suggestion / succumbing to the pressure of Political Masters/Babus.
First of all let me briefly touch upon some budgetary data which were interpreted by Babus & might have been forced upon you to suggest a simplistic solution to such a complex issue at hand, which need multi- pronged long term strategy by policy makers (Babus).
If you see our overall Defence Budget / Expenditure last 10 years have been reduced from overall 2.5% of GDP to 2.1% of GDP and from 16.3% of total Government expenditure to 15.5% in 2020-21. Despite the fact that Standing Committee on Defence (2018) had recommended that the Ministry of Defence should be allocated a fixed budget of about 3% of GDP to ensure adequate preparedness of our armed forces considering new frontier challenges being faced by our Country. Now consider the monetary difference between current 2.1% and proposed 3% of GDP, the price of sustaining our sovereignty intact.
This is evidently clear from above graphical representation that slight disadvantageous tilt in pensionary allocation is the result of long term neglect in budgetary allocation over the past 10 years. This has to be corrected at the level where it was created at first instance and definitely this is not your job/KRA, leave it boldly to be tackled by glorified Babus.
Now let us tackle the real controversial issue of alleged escalated pensions allocation viz-a-viz total Defence Budget allocation and see where we are by following first thing first principle famously being used by Elon Musk. If you see our Defence budget is burdened with Defence Civilians of approx 6 Lakhs which are approximately 18-20% of total pensionary strength. This has to be redefined only to include ‘Combatant Roles’ in defence pension category. The criterion must be applicable to include those, who are recruited to bleed in war & lay their lives for protecting the sovereignty of our Mother Land. Rest all categories to be left out of this purview with separate dignified arrangement, let’s not camouflage the real issue of National Security.
‘Devil lies in details’, now let us dive deep some more to see the total pensionary budget estimates of Rs 1 Lakh 33 Thousands Crores (Rs.1,33,825/-) for the year 2020-21 as per below table being disbursed to above total 32,35,730 retired pensioners and their families. Now let’s map this total pension figure against all these pensioner beneficiaries and conduct regression analysis to strike at root cause where actual ‘devil lies’. Initiate corrective action only to that extant of deviation (if any) NOT arbitrary suggestion to straight away cut the pensions by half, this will amount akin to ‘Operation is successful but patient is Dead’. Results might be surprising particularly to the overall pension share of PBORs.
Now let us understand why we need proposed 3% of Defence budgetary allocation urgently. Take an example of budgetary allocation for four SPG protectees in 2019-20 was Rs 540.16 crore. This made per capita cost of security cover at Rs 135 crore, that is, average cost of protecting the four VIPs – PM Modi and the three Gandhis – was Rs 135 crore each. Now With another 10 per cent hike in budgetary allocation in 2020-21, the cost of SPG cover for PM Modi has sharply grown at Rs 592 crore only for a single person in comparison to earlier four VIPs. This means that per capita cost of SPG cover increases by almost 340 per cent this year. Similarly Security threat at our frontiers have more or less escalated to that alarming extant. This is just the reflection as why we can’t afford to adopt laxity in Securing our Mother Land. Instead of forcing Babus to ensure 3% allocation to GDP, you are suggesting slashing of pension by half purportedly to save money on pensionary account. This is called penny wise pound foolish approach.
Before suggesting or succumbing to political pressure, Now you kindly ask your reporting Masters/glorified Babus that what suggestions and recommendations they have received/demanded from various such other Central Govt Departments on cost cutting measures to not only align within Budgetary allocation but increasing the overall revenue.
- What action Babus/RBI are initiating to tackle the huge mounting of NPAs which is about Rs 12 Lakhs crores currently and majority of that money is siphoned off/laundered due to lack of due diligence on the part of these Babus, whereas our Defence forces are even spending less than the allocated budgets years after years despite giving our 100% output (DHFL & IL&FS alone have siphoned off close to Rs.1.5 Lakh crores, thanks to these lackadaisical babus). Isn’t is a Governance issue? and you are suggesting these Babus to sell Defence Land/Cut on Hotel Stay/Cut on Pension besides other bizarre innovative suggestion to raise the revenue at the cost of soldier’s Blood.
- The total loan waived off for Farmer runs in to several Lakhs crores across India, which is further reflection of performance appraisals of these glorified Babus, and this has become now ritual to suggest waive off these huge loans periodically (More than 6-7 Lakhs crores last 10 years). If you also suggest Jawan’s pensions to be cut by half then these Jawans will also join already starving fraternity of our ‘Annadatas’ since almost all the army personnel comes from these farmer’s communities.
- Did you ask these Babus as what they are doing to bring out the transparency in to Political funding of parties which is currently doesn’t even fall under RTI purview, means people are dare enough to file the RTIs to know the commercials of Rafale but same people can’t dare to file and get the information on political parties funding, despite the fact that Indian electoral exercise is one of the most expensive affairs in the whole world.
- As per estimates last year during 2019 total money lost against Cyber crime was Rs. 1.67 Lakhs crores, and see the condition yourself to assess the recently launched cyber crime portal by MHA which is supposed to facilitate lodging of cyber crime complaints. Even Flipkart’s e-commerce website is much faster and user friendly than https://www.cybercrime.gov.in, try to lodge any complaint yourself and you will come to know the efficacy of this site forget about further investigation and filing of FIR and getting your lost money back. Even that portal also launched on the insistence of Hon’ble Supreme Court, which has been done half heartedly as usual. Ask Babus if it is left like this even this year also get ready for another Rs 2 Lakhs crores losses on account of cyber crimes and you are suggesting to cut the pension by half to save few thousands crores at the cost of National sovereignty.
- Also if you focus on enhancing internal hygienic factors amongst Defence Forces, it will further reduce overall ‘Turn Over rate’, which will in turn considerably reduce pension burden. This is CDS’s office task. And trust me you can do a lot on this if you focus with open mind as there is a lot which can be internally corrected to reduce overall turnover rate of Defence Forces.
All these examples I’ve cited which have tremendous capacity to save our hard earned money which is being lost & running in to several Lakhs crores due to sheer negligence of our glorified Babus. Instead of suggesting soldiers arbitrary pension cuts, Babus must focus on increasing overall size of Pie. We already aspire to be a $5 Trillion economy soon, which will make this proposed 3% defence budget to total GDP look very miniscule. With this much awaited allocation of 3% our Defence Forces Capital Outlay will straight away jump from current meagre 22.75% to whooping 45.92%, adequate enough to modernise our Defence Forces to not only meet but exceed our Nation’s future expectations from Our Forces. Also an eye sore of Pension’s share will heavily come down from current 28.39% to much lower at 19.87% of total Defence Budget. In fact It is Babu’s job to ensure revenue generation not yours as CDS. Your job is only to ensure 100% territorial integrity of our Mother Land for which you already have fortunately 100% passionate Jawans, who don’t even blink before taking or giving enemies lives at the borders or anywhere they are deployed.
Despite all odds, I remember my olden days of active service when I was posted in deep jungles of North Eastern part of India and engaged to participate with US Army soldiers who were undergoing jungle surviving training in collaboration with Indian Army. I vividly remember as how those US troops refused to board our Helicopters due to the fact our flying machines were much older in age and their insurance policies didn’t permit them to board the military planes of certain age. US troops called their own fleet of transport plane & Helicopters to take a ride. And we still use these flying machines and not only challenge but shoot F-16 fighter planes with our much out dated/aged MIG-21 aircrafts, Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman VrC is not new name to mention here.
Just to recall old memories as how we all soldiers were deeply concerned after getting sudden mobilisation signal from Delhi Air Head Quarters to be ready to move at short notice to participate in Cargil war during 1999 with adequate heavy winter clothing, since we were only issued with one jersey pullover sufficient to protect us from moderate winter definitely not from -40 degree centigrade temperature of Cargil. So we expect you to focus on such fundamental things as our defence forces still struggle to get adequate clothings & other life saving equipments.
Babus have failed our Nation otherwise how come we neglected China’s steep growth in terms of total GDP continuously last 30 years. And we were still discussing whether Daulat Beg Oldi Advanced Landing Ground to be made operational or not. Even had self defeating policies of no construction at border near to china, for that we are paying heavy price in this inclement weather whereas China already geared up. Also there is a clash of our democracy and clandestine arrangement of communist china, today one small privately family owned company Dassault in France, giving us cut edge technology of Rafale fighter planes and we are still struggling justifying our INSAS Rifles developed by Indian Ordnance factories.
Now let us discuss the most lethal expected outcome which your suggestion of cutting the pension by half might bring out. Since the implementation of OROP, it has to be adjusted every after 5 years. After your deadly suggestion’s implementation, God forbid it will never happen, my Pension will have to be matched with newly retired Sergeants of same rank and same length of service, who will qualify only to get 50% of today’s 50% pension so literally every after 5 years I will expect further downward cuts in my pension to match OROP recommendations. Isn’t it going to be disastrous on Morales of our Forces if I understand correctly?
Please remember Feb 2016 when Haryana Govt totally collapsed in discharging their constitutional obligation during Jat’s stir movement and finally Army had to be called in to bring out the situation under control. So you as a CDS has immense responsibilities not only to safeguard our frontiers but inside the Country too, there is a saying in Africa, that after Army there is only God, So if Army fails only God can save.
Kindly take up the larger issue with your political Masters and Babus purely based on merit. Please tell CEC to devise code of conduct of “no interference and no inference” of our Glorified Army’s achievements by any Political parties during election rallies only to rouse the emotions of innocent public with an objective of turning them in to Votes. Once our Defence Forces are completely Apolitical then why Political Parties are allowed to en-cash our Defence Force’s achievements for their Cheap political gains.
In the name of almighty God, I invoke the sense of self respect and self esteem in you to start emulating your stalwarts predecessors like Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, & Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, OBE. And understand how Sh TN Seshan handled political parties after becoming CEC backed with Constitutional safeguards. You don’t have any choice than to not only protect but enhance the dignity of your coveted office. As currently almighty God has given you everything, you don’t have any thing to loose so please don’t succumb to these Babus and listen to your own conscience unless you still aspire to get some more Govt Positions like Governorship for some State or getting nomination to Rajya Sabha seats, but for me both will be equivalent to demotion considering what God has bestowed upon you today.
एयर वेटरन सार्जेंट कृष्ण कुमार सिंह (सेवानिवृत्त)
अधिवक्ता जिला सत्र न्यायालय नोएडा, दिल्ली उच्च न्यायालय
MBA (HR), LL.B, MA (Gold Med), B.Sc (Bio)
DPT, CSCP-ISB Hyderabad,
Former Asst Vice President HR, SCM & Legal Affairs West Africa/UAE
Former Country Organiser Heartfulness USA
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