In a controversial move, the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is proposing radical changes in retirement profile and pension entitlements. The proposal forwarded by DMA, which is headed by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has caused serious anger amongst serving and retired officers. As per a report in the Print, the note proposes that the retirement age of colonel be increased to 57 years from the existing 54.
Increase in retirement age for officers, JCOs and ORs
Similarly, an officer serving at Brigadier level will be asked to serve up to 58 years from the current 56 and that of major generals to 59 from the current 58. The proposal does not change the retirement age for officers serving at the lieutenant general. The Army Medical Corps and Military Nursing Service will be unaffected if the proposal is implemented. All similar ranks in the three services will be subject to the proposed rules.
Similarly, the retirement age of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and Other Ranks (ORs) in the services which includes Logistics, Technical and Medical Branch has been increased to 57 years. Notably, other ranks retire 17 years after their enlistment.
Lower pension for pre-mature retirement
The main reason why the veterans are against this proposal is a radical decrease in the pension for the personnel taking premature release (PMR). An officer may apply for PMR in the services after serving the retirement age, which is 20 years of service. If cleared, the officer receives a pension of 50% of her last salary. But according to the proposed new amendments, just 50 per cent of the pension will now be entitled to those taking PMR with 20-25 years of service.
Moreover, with 26-30 years of service, an officer will get 60 per cent pension and 31-35 years of serving will entitle 75 per cent pension. Officers serving over 35 years will be entitled to a full pension. One of the sources said, "What this means is that, let us say an officer gets Rs 1 lakh as salary right now. If he takes PMR, his pension would be Rs 50,000. However, under new rules, if he has served only 20-25 years, then he will get a pension of only Rs 25,000."
Veterans have shown their displeasure over the proposal. They argued that it will hamper even the recruitment process making it less attractive to youth. A retired officer said, "The pensions are sacred and are governed by a lot of rules and intrinsically linked to the civilian pension also."
Proposal to save budget
The proponents of the note have argued that it would save money as pension accounts for a large defence budget in India. It concurred that forces have to pay efforts to replace highly skilled personnel who leave forces after serving for 10-20 years. The proposal will rationalise the cost of managing the manpower in forces.