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Monday, November 30, 2020

Military proposes pension cut, increase in retirement age in armed forces, sparks criticism on social media

The letter dated October 29 states that a draft Government Sanction Letter (GSL) be processed for the two proposals of pension cuts and increase in retirement age for the persusal of General Rawat by November 10.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Updated: November 4, 2020 7:29:48 pm
The proposals indicate that the pension for officers seeking premature retirement will be cut between 50 per cent to 75 per cent , with only those officers who complete their service till age of retirement receiving the full pension.(Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal/Representational)

A wave of indignation spread in the military circles after a letter from Department of Military Affairs (DMA) proposing a drastic cut in pension for officers seeking premature retirement from service and increase in retirement age, started doing the rounds on social media.

The letter is signed by the Deputy Defence Advisor to Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who heads the DMA in his capacity as Secretary.

When contacted, a senior officer in Army Headquarters confirmed the authenticity of the letter to The Indian Express. Immediately after the contents of the letter were shared on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp there were adverse comments on the move to cut pension and memes of General Rawat lampooning him for the move started circulating all over.

An advocate dealing with military affairs contended that the move will be challenged in court as terms of engagement and entitlements could not be changed summarily by DMA.

The letter dated October 29 states that a draft Government Sanction Letter (GSL) be processed for the two proposals of pension cuts and increase in retirement age for the persusal of General Rawat by November 10.

The proposals indicate that the pension for officers seeking premature retirement will be cut between 50 per cent to 75 per cent, with only those officers who complete their service till age of retirement receiving the full pension.

As per the proposal, those officers who seek retirement between 20 to 25 years of service will only get 50 per cent of their entitled pension and those who retire between 26-30 years of age will get only 60 per cent of their pension. Similarly, those officers who seek premature retirement between 31 to 35 years of age will get 75 per cent of their pension while those who serve above 35 years of service shall get full pension.

The letter states that there will be no change in entitlement of pension of battle casualties. It also states that there are a large number of personnel who are boarded out of service in view of lesser vacancies and some service restrictions.

At the same time, there are several specialists and super specialists who are trained for high skill jobs in the services that leave the service to work in other sectors. Such loss of high skilled manpower results in void in the services skill matrix and is counter productive to the armed forces and which is why the pension entitlement is being reviewed, the letter states. The increase in retirement age (excluding Army Medical Corps and Military Nursing Service) proposes a Colonel to retire at 57 years of age as against 54 at present, Brigadier at 58 years, as against 56 at present, and Major General to retire at 59 years as against 58 at present.

Highly placed sources said that these proposals had been enunciated by General Rawat during the recently concluded Army Commanders Conference held at New Delhi. The increase in retirement age will consequently lead to the stopping of re-employment being offered to Colonels and Brigadiers after retirement.

At present, Colonels can get re-employment for four years after retirement at age of 54 years while Brigadiers get re-employment for two years after retiring at 56 years of age.

“General Rawat had made it very clear that the increase in retirement age would come through by 2021 as it was the need of the hour. Both the measures would lead to substantial financial savings as the increase in retirement age will also lead to lesser intake of officers at cadet level.” the source said.

The military has been grappling with methods to bring down its pensions bill which at present constitutes around 28 per cent of the overall budget of the MoD in the current financial year.

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