Thursday, 4 August 2016

An open letter to veterans of armed forces

 (This and a few other articles on the subject were written more than a year ago. A veteran who had consumed poison yesterday died in hospital this morning. Obviously, the issue has not yet been resolved to the satisfaction of those who risk their life to protect us from enemies. It belies all claims to make India strong. There is urgent need to analyse the causes of dissatisfaction and solve the remaining problems without delay. Financial constraint cannot be an excuse. November 2, 2016)

Dear veterans,

It is a matter of deep regret that you are still sitting at Jantar Mantar and some of you are on hunger strike while the government is reiterating its assurance without announcing formal order.

I have already written four articles in support of your demand: 

(1)   One rank, one pension  - Part I, A simple problem deliberately created and confounded. 17/8/2015
(2)   One rank, one pension – Part II, Prime Minister must act like a leader. 18/8/2015
(3)   Ex-servicemen should ask the government to produce all records concerning one rank one pay. 20/8/2015. Link:
(4)    One rank one pension, Prime Minister should act like a leader. 24/8/2015

All these write-ups are available on and have been read by large number of persons. Some of you also must have read one or two of these articles, if not all.

I am a common man. I have absolutely no illusion that my voice carries any weight. I wrote  those articlesvto express a common man’s solidarity with the defenders of the motherland.

I am constrained to write this letter because I feel that at least one of your demands is unlikely to be accepted and if you insist, you would give the government an excuse to delay.

I am referring to your demand for annual revision of pension. Perhaps, you got the idea from the recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission that a serving government employee in a running the scheme should be given annual increment @ 3% of salary.

As it is, the government is worried that if ‘one rank one pension’ is granted to you, retirees of paramilitary forces and millions of retired civilian employees will also make similar demand. Perhaps the government would not be able to refuse similar treatment to the veterans of paramilitary forces but would find it impossible to mobilise resources to meet the demand of retired civilian employees.

The government can somehow manage to deny ‘one rank one pension’ to retired civilian employees on the ground that the working conditions of the armed forces and paramilitary forces being very hard, they need a special dispensation. However, your demand for annual pension increment, in addition to dearness allowance paid as compensation for inflation, will weaken the government’s case.

A pay commission revises salary structure once in 10 years taking into account several factors such as the state of economy, financial health of the government, inflation, etc. Annual salary increment is a sort of incentive which can be withheld under rules if an employee is punished. It is withheld when the employee remains on long leave, for example on study leave.

Annual pension increment or revision is something unheard of. As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has already declared that the government would not accept this demand. 

It is in your interest not to make demand for annual pension increment a prestige issue. You would be only delaying formal announcement of what the government has already accepted in principle.

Dear veterans, demand to be acceptable should be reasonable. Please stick to your basic demand ‘one rank one pension’.  

I would once again advise you to obtain photocopies of all government records – note sheets, discussion papers, correspondence, etc. – concerning ‘one rank one pension’ under the Right to Information Act. Once you are in possession of these records, you will be able to meet all the objections raised by the mandarins of North and South Blocks and make the government come to a quick settlement.

Devendra Narain

A retired civil servant

September 01, 2015