The new proposals to enhance retirement age of both officers and jawans in several branches were aimed at the welfare of the frontline combat soldiers, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday. The senior-most defence officer in the country said with these proposals including the revision of pensions personnel seeking premature retirement, only those personnel are unhappy who are technically qualified and want to seek opportunities outside taking retirement with a full pension.
“We are, however, more concerned about the well-being of the competent frontline soldiers who face the real hardships and on whose courage and valour, we all seem to be basking in glory,” Gen Rawat told ANI on the new proposals initiated by the Department of Military Affairs under him.
The proposals to increase the retirement age of both officers and jawans and reduction in pension entitlements of personnel seeking premature retirement have come in for criticism from some quarters within the veterans’ community after a document with details of the proposal was leaked on social media earlier this week.
Gen Rawat said the frontline combatant soldier spends his entire youth and early years of service in places like Siachen, Drass, Tawang, Gurez and Sikkim borders and mostly stay away from their families and during their peace tenures also, they are mostly tasked to do internal security or state government assistance tasks. He said the combatant soldier when forced to leave service at a relatively young age after 17 years of service, gets around Rs 18,000 per month and has to look after his family, children’s education and accommodation.
“Hence, he and his wife are out looking for second employment to ensure decent living and sometimes, even pick up a menial job. One way to get better emoluments is to get disability benefits. Should we encourage this type of behaviour?” the CDS asked. He said by extending the age of retirement of services and some other like the Corps of Military Police and clerical staff “we should be able to care for combatants by lateral absorption into the services after they have done their hard tenures”.
“We cannot send them out of service with a family and young children still in school to fend with a meagre pension,” the CDS said. On the issue of extending service tenure of officers, the CDS said Colonels retire at 54 and then seek reemployment to serve till the age of 58 and they have to be employed in a lower status.
“Is this a good way of extending service or should we not allow them to serve longer with respect for the rank?” Gen Rawat said. (