Panel suggests modified parity, new pensions for ex-servicemen

A High-powered Committee of Secretaries looking into the One Rank-One Pension demand put forward by ex-servicemen on Thursday presented a concept of 'modified parity' to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In a meeting with the PM, the committee suggested that a new concept of modified parity be drawn up which would ensure that ex-servicemen get a substantial increase in pension. According to the concept, new pay grades would be drawn up for each rank in the Armed Forces, based on which the pension would be awarded. As per current practice, pension is decided on the existing pay bands. This has led to discrepancies as officers of different ranks often fall in the same pay band.

The new pay grades would be fixed specifically for the purpose of deciding pension. The new concept presented before the PM also ensures that retired officers, no matter which year they demitted service, will get pensions lesser than that of their juniors officers. For example, a Brigadier who retired in 1955 would not get a pension that is lesser than the pension being drawn by a Colonel who retired in 2008. The presentation also contained the proposal to increase the pension of jawans to 70 per cent of the last drawn pay, an increase from the earlier proposal of 50 per cent.

It may be recalled that the committee, which is headed by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, was formed nearly two months ago after the long-pending demand of ex-servicemen was picked up by the BJP in its agenda for the recent elections. The new UPA Government has committed to take a fresh look at the demand with President Pratibha Patil mentioning it in her address to the Joint Parliament session on June 4.

Thursday's meeting was attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minster A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Minister of State (Personnel) Prithviraj Chavan.

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