Earlier in Forum






Q: Should there be “one rank, one pension” for defence personnel?
This is the second instalment of readers’ response

Being a soldier has few rewards

THE issue of one rank one pension is now attached with our sentiments. We the ex-servicemen feel neglected and cheated by the ministers of successive governments since the late 1980s. Implementing one rank one pension will not cost the exchequer more than the cost of maintaining a minister without portfolio.

We deserve one rank one pension, since our service terms and conditions differ in 22 ways from the rest of the government services.

We deserve a separate pay commission that will have ex-servicemen on it as representatives. The cost of living remains the same for all retirees, whether one has retired before 1986 or after that.

We are lowest paid soldiers in world and have faced serious life risks everyday in our career. Nearly 14 per cent of our soldiers fall out and struggle for getting their disability pension. Nearly 95 per cent of us retire between the age of 36 and 45. Leaving out some of us with meager pension just because we did not complete 35 years of service is nothing but unjust.

No other government servant spends 70 per cent of his or her working life away from home, risking property disputes and becoming the victim of so many social problems.

Our resettlement system is ineffective, since the government does not re-employ more than 2 per cent of us. Underemployment and exploitation are rife.

Lt Col S. S. SOHI (retd), President, Ex-Servicemen Grievances Cell

Remove anomaly

WITH the upward revision in the pay scale and pension after the 1986 and 1996 Pay Commissions, a glaring disparity between the pension of the personnel retired before and after the setting up of the commissions came into being. This gave rise to the one rank one pension demand, which was agreed in principle long ago by the previous governments, but the “babus” came in the way, putting forth a similar claim and causing the delay. If we think dispassionately, they too have a point that may be considered, if only to prevent further delay.

In 1996, the Fifth Pay Commission also made a similar recommendation, which has since been implemented largely removing the disparity in pension between the pre and post-96 retirees. However, this only partially meets the demand, with the lacuna that the pre-96 retirees have been sanctioned revised pensions based on the minimum of the revised pay scales, ignoring the annual increments earned by them. The anomaly needs to be removed and their pension be fixed giving due benefit of increments.

Wg-Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

The issue is as good as dead

This issue was alive long ago. After their career as a soldier is over, ex-servicemen in their second career find it difficult to meet even their daily needy requirements with the meager pension and terminals benefits. Inflation has created more problems for them.

The government should redress the problem of sharing the ex gratia and other incentives between the widows and parents of the martyrs. The Punjab Government has indeed announcing some respectful incentives for them, but all depends upon how soon these incentives are given.

PARTAP SINGH, Kainthan, Dasuya

All retirees have same liabilities

Various Pay Commissions, by increasing the salary of jawans, have made it possible that they later get a higher pension than the older retirees. However, the retired jawans getting lower pension have the same liabilities and responsibilities as their counterparts who retire later.

One rank one pension is their right, which will enable them to maintain a decent standard of living. We have to do that if we want to attract the youth towards the armed forces. For all similar benefits, the government should also take care of reservists who were made to sacrifice their promotional avenues both in defence as well as in civil re-employment.

J. SINGH, Delhi

Amend the Pension Act

The government should fulfil the long-pending demand for one rank one pension and amendments should be made to the obsolete Pension Act, 1871, to provide pension to the eligible widows of defence pensioners, besides the minimum pension of Rs 1,275 to World War II veterans and healthier allowances for the disabled.

The defence pensioners look forward to the encouraging outlook of Dr Manmohan Singh, who assured us that his government was concerned about the well-being of the forces.

As per its commitment made in the National Common Minimum Programme, the UPA government has constituted a group of ministers to go into the issue of one rank one pension and set up a new Department of Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare. The government should implement the demand at the earliest to boost the morale of services.


Make rank the sole parameter

The government should accept the long-pending demand of one rank one pension to remove any sort of bias among the forces. It will also prove to be an example of equality. The rank should be made the sole parameter for deciding the pension.

The period of service or any other factor should not be taken into consideration while granting pension. Our jawans who guard the frontiers of the nation by sacrificing their lives should get their due. By accepting their demand, the government will take a major step towards a better tomorrow.


Revive tradition

After World War II, an ex-serviceman used to say that he received “Subedari pension”, “Havildari pension”, etc. It gave the impression that all retired Subedars and Havildars were getting the same pension, respectively. The ex-servicemen wish to revive the old tradition.

The pension of a rank should be fixed with reference to the maximum of a payscale, irrespective of the actual pay being drawn before retirement. This has already been implemented in the case of Subedar Majors. Pension of pre-2004 civilian pensioners can also be determined on the same pattern. This long-pending demand of the protectors of the nation should be accepted at the earliest.


Implement it as token of respect

There should be one rank one pension for defence personnel because the prices of essential commodities are rising and it becomes difficult to meet the basic needs for those personnel who retired under the old pay scales. This disparity can be removed only if the government agrees to their genuine demand. When all accept their supremacy in discipline, dedication, devotion, and above all their love for the motherland, the government should implement the demand as a token of respect for their matchless sacrifices.


Defence personnel deserve more

Defence personnel are on duty round-the-clock throughout the year. They mostly work in inhospitable conditions, facing the vagaries of weather that adversely affect their physical health. They have to suffer from numerous diseases while at high altitudes. Besides, their lives are at stake on many counts like enemy assault, wild animal attacks and difficult terrain. It is unfortunate that when they retire, they get lower pension as compared to their counterparts in the civil service. Defence personnel deserve more than what they get at present.


Even political parties support the demand

This case is pending with the government since long. All political parties have supported this demand. In 1989, the-then Prime Minister, Mr V. P. Singh, promised one rank one pension in his televised address to the nation.

Mr George Fernandes, who held the defence portfolio under the NDA government, also said in Anandpur Sahib in 1990 that the demand for one rank one pension had been accepted and would be implemented in a few days. So far, no positive action has been taken by the government in this regard.

Personnel in the defence forces get early retirement, which makes their service and service conditions totally different from the job of a civil servant.

B. L. SACHDEV, Panchkula

Don’t deny what’s due

Denying soldiers their due pension is great injustice. I retired from the Army after rendering 28 years of service. On retirement, I was granted the honorary rank of Subedar Major.

I was promoted to the rank of Subedar w.e.f. March 10, 1968, and substantive Subedar with effect from September 16, 1968. Thus, I served as a Subedar for one year, eight months and four days, but was given the pension of a Naib Subedar because I could not complete two years of service as Subedar, as stipulated by the Government.

I retired at the age of 46 years and 7 months. I am now 82 and feel that the government should either do away with the two-year condition in a particular rank or consider relaxing this condition so that ex-servicemen get the pension of the rank from which they retire.

Subedar GULZARI LAL (retd), Chandigarh

Few are left to enjoy any benefit

Ex-servicemen are fooled every time the elections are near. Most of the men who could have benefited from one rank one pension have died already and others will follow them soon well before it is implemented. Defence personnel are retired between the ages of 35 and 45, depending upon their rank and requirement of service. The retired men of this age have little opportunity in civil administration, so they rely on meager pension.

There is no comparison of defence life with civil service, the age of retirement and the benefits. The hardship borne by the soldier outweighs everything that a common civil servant bears.

NIVEDITA, Ludhiana

Ex-servicemen are nobody’s constituency

Had it been a matter of collecting votes, political parties would have been much too keen to implement one rank one pension. The low-ranked Armymen serve the country in testing circumstances, that too on a meager salary.

One rank one pension would boost the morals of the defence personnel. Along with their pension the salaries of the lower ranked soldiers should also be enhanced to a respectable amount.

Capt GIAN SINGH, Paldi (Hoshiarpur)


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