S.C.Maheshwari Secy. Genl BPS speech at Convention of Pensioners' Association at Vijayawada on 26.7.20115
I thank you all to have invited me and to be with you this morning.
I am aware you all are eager to know what transpired in the BPs meetings with 7th CPC & what is the expected outcome.
Well before the constitution of 7th CPC BPS went over different parts of the country and after consulting our stake holders identified common issues, dotted down clinching justification for each of the issues, mustered support of NCJCM (staff side) and submitted a comprehensive memorandum to the 7th CPC. BPS on the invitation of the 7th CPC has had 3 opportunities to explain & to tender evidence on the issues raised by it. We explained to pay commission, that pensioners' only aspiration is to have a peaceful and healthy life with dignity. Dignity as guaranteed by the Constitution & pronounced by the Apex court as far back as 17.12.1982.in D S Nakra vs UOI. i.e pension is a deferred wage & not a largesse, pension w/o any cut-off date/or discrimination based on date of retirement should be sufficient to enable pensioner to live with the standard he/she had been living while in service. We explained that healthcare is a Fundamental right of ex employee as pronounced by the apex court on 27.10.1995 in the case Consumer education and Research Centre Vs Union of India (AIR 1995 Supreme Court 922) and that it is in the National interest to provide free adequate hassle free preventive & curative medical attendance & treatment to Sr Citizens or else by 2050 India will be a Nation of poor limping oldies as by then 25% population will be 60+
But what we are getting? Discrimination ,disparities & neglect.
Every time, months before CPC recommendations are out. Media creates a misleading hype! "CG Employees/Pensioners will be richer after Pay comm; recommendations . Pension& salaries will go up 4 times, country's finances will derailed etc etc.
A wrong perception is created , as if alms are being doled out!
What we actually get as revised pension ?
Existing basic Pension+ DR+ fitments benefit = revised pension i.e. about 40% rise in pension for about 90% of pensioners after a long wait of 10 yrs or so. The fitments benefit, in fact is part of squeezed DR . DR which govt. pays during intervening period of two pay commissions is never sufficient as the very method of calculating ALL INDIA CONSUMER PRICE INDEX FOR INDUSTRIAL WORKERS is fraught with discrepancies. 100% neutralization is an illusion. This was accepted by the then deputy chairman planning comm. Sardar Montek Singh Alluwaliah in his statement to PTI on27.2.2008(published in National dailies on 28.2.2008).In short the Pay & Pension hike which Pay Commission gives, is just a compensation for all round price hike during the past 10yrs & nothing else. Pension has been our Service condition we have contributed for it by way of foregoing 8.33% of our salary Per month matching Govt contribution to PF, Worked hard for the development of the country accepting lower pay scales which were intentionally designed to cater to pension to be paid after retirement. Pension is our deferred wage. It is definitely not a defined benefit.
7th CPC as we understand has classified pensioners in two broad categories i.e. Defense Pensioners & Civil Pensioners. For representing civil Pensioners in final round of discussion Pay comm. had short listed Bharat Pensioners Samaj.
We are satisfied that the 7th CPC listened to us patiently & appreciated our view point on several important issues such as ratio between min & max. paid to be brought back to 1:8. upward revision of pension to 67/65% of last drawn. Full parity in pension/ carrying forward w/o break the modified parity formula enunciated by 5th CPC. Common multiplication factor to apply uniformly to all, need for downward revision of age for additional pension, additional pension to start from the age of 65 yrs. Removal of discrimination with those who retire on 31.12 & 30.06,modification of NPS to ensure that min pension shall not be less than 50% of last drawn, DR merger with pension whenever it goes above 50%, 7th CPC recommendations should apply to all w/o cut of date,7th CPC recommendations should apply to BSNL pensioners since governed by CCS(pension rules), Defence civilian pensioners should get ex-service men status, full pension for 20yrs QS to pre 2006 retirees also, Commuted portion of pension to be restored in 12yrs,gratuity w/o any restriction of max. limit ,full pension to family pensioners for 10 yrs w/o any cutoff date &discrimination, Pension to be tax free. Pooling together the health facilities/schemes of different departments, uniform application & widening the spread-over of CGHS without discrimination such as CGH/non CGHS areas/CSMA rules, removal of discrimination against pensioners of postal & other departments. Periodical revision of CGHS rates to match market conditions, regulatory authority for healthcare facilities. Issuing Smart Cards to all pensioners for hassle free cashless treatment in medical emergencies with all India validity in all empanelled hospitals of CGHS,ECHS,RELHS , State govt. as well as in super specialty hospitals which have been allotted land on concession rates. Upward revision of FMA to Rs 2000PM. Improvement in grievance redressal mechanism etc.etc.
Friends, 7th CPC has finished recording evidence & is now drafting its recommendations. We have done our duty well by representing our issues in a forceful manner, Chairman CPC approach has been positive & we expect positive outcome.
But Government of India’s Policy is explicit as seen from the Budget documents. This Government is anti employee and Pro-employer. Freight charges on Coal, Petroleum product etc. have been increased health care budget is slashed, service tax enhanced &Swatch Bharat cess introduced, prices of essential commodities increasing .The Interest rates are coming down. We Pensioners’ will pay excess price on essential commodities, receive less interest on savings, will pay more taxes and will not get any tax relief, interim relief or DR merger .
On the other hand. Wealth Tax abolished. Income tax rates for corporate assesses reduced . Already Estate duty & Gift Tax stand abolished benefiting the rich. But no provision has been made for implementation of VII Central Pay Commission recommendations, though the Government of India has promised implementation from 1.1.2016.
The Fourteenth Finance Commission projected an increase in Pension Payment by 30% in 2016-17 & annual increase rate of 8% thereafter. Thus we may not be getting desired relief through 7th CPC. Middle class should take care of itself says the Finance minister. We should be able to understand the writing on the wall- "Bad days ahead".
India considered to be a bright spot in Global economy but is pushing its Pensioners to poverty through anti middle class attitude .
GOI has spent 100s of crores on Administrative reforms, e governance and is now striving for digital India. But in reality our grievances on CPENGRAMS are being closed without resolving. Concerned officers do not read our e.mail. Ministers & even Secretaries have no time to listen to our representations. It take weeks & weeks to get few minutes appointment.
What is the way out?
Pensioners who with their spouses account for over 33 million Voters & who are part of larger community of over 120 million Sr citizens are not helpless? With their vast knowledge & experience they are a large section of intelligent voters among 120 million Sr citizens voters are spread in every nook and corner of the country. They can very well be the opinion formers. Pensioners are Sr Citizen first. Issues i.e. Financial security, Healthcare & social security are common to entire community of Sr. Citizens.
We are transforming into an institution. Hence, horizon is expanding; reach is widening; vision though far, is visible and much clearer
This is the time consolidate ourselves to ensure that no injustice is done to us.
BPS suggests 3 C formula i.e. Communicate, Co-ordinate & Consolidate”
1. Communicate: World has changed & is constantly changing we too need to change ourselves. Even developed countries have realized that moving alone is not possible any- more and have started communicating with other countries. Same is true for pensioners organizations instead of wasting time & energy in raising new or reviving dormant organizations we need to form strong conglomerate of existing live Federations and Associations. As main aspirations i.e. Financial, Social security & healthcare are common, this is possible. To achieve it communication is the basic tool . So communicate amongst yourself , with your members, affiliates, associates, MOU partners, with Civil Society , National / local leaders ,with Media and with the employees retiring in next six months. Spread awareness about, what pensioners did for the country & are still doing for the civil Society. Apprise Civil Society about their service conditions, entitlements as per Constitution, Supreme court pronouncements . Empower Pensioners & Pensioners to be with information, knowledge & network to interconnect. Aggressively use Social Media & modern digital technology to interact among yourself & with the civil society to enable them to understand pensioners/family pensioner’s issues & the deficient areas.
2. Co ordinate: Coordinate not only to seek govt. support in deficient areas but to develop systems which may enable all of us to act as one family with mutual confidence, support and growing interdependence. To explain it further I narrate a real life small story " one day at about 9.30 in the night I received a call from a family pensioner from Dimapur in 'Nagaland' .The lady pleaded for help, she was having health problem with no body to look after her, I took her details & contacted Genl. Secy.NFRPA at Guwahati in 'Assam', giving the details & assistance required, comrades at Dimapur were informed accordingly, help reached, lady in medical distress was shifted to Lumding Rly Hospital (Nagaland) from where she was referred to Prambur Rly hospital Chennai in 'TN'. I passed on the details to Secy. Genl. AIFPA at Chennai who attended on the patient , contacted doctors & pursued treatment. Though due to legal hurdles we were not obliged with 100% success but the lady today is alive, wkg for family pensioners &realises that she is not alone, she has a large family of Pensioners Brothers and sisters. Comrades, if we have to survive with dignity then such should be our system of mutual confidence, interdependence & coordination that non of us feel lonely &helpless.
Share information, technology and resources with Affiliates/Associates MOU partners/sister organizations &members .Coordinate and provide support to members, affiliates and associate associations. Coordinate & stand shoulder to shoulder with the administration & fellow citizens during National emergencies and natural calamities. Launch and participate in welfare activities such as organ donation for the good of civil society.
3.Consolidate: Inspire more & more pensioners/Associations/Federations to come together. Strive to bring all C.G; State, PSU, EPS95 pensioners/family pensioners together. Inspire sister organizations sign MOUs to jointly & severally struggle for resolving common issues. BPS, AIFPA,NFRP Palghat & AISCCON have been successfully wkg with such an agreement. I invite other like minded pensioners organizations to join. BPS today has over 15 lac audience on Social media platform, let us utilize the facility for pensioners' cause. We throw it open to all like minded organizations. Add more & more , friends , viewers & followers on Social media pages . Share pensioner's related posts as much as possible.
Due to age & ailments, traditional agitational methods like Dharnas, Demonstrations etc are losing sheen for pensioners . Let us blend old & new techniques, strengthen presence on social media to highlight pensioners issues & deficient areas . Streamline & inter- link available resources like publications, websites, Blogs, Groups, Face book, Twitter, You Tube etc. BPS has launched a pilot project 'PENSIONERS OWN MEDIA' under which publications of like minded Pensioners organizations who willingly provide us their publications in pdf format upto 5MB are being uploaded on BPS website, Blog, Face book, Twitter & BPS 1955 yahoo group.
Let us make best use of modern technology /opportunities combined with traditional methods to consolidate ‘Elderly Vote Power’, the ultimate weapon & panacea for all our ills.
Comrades, we are not a helpless or a useless lot. Neither we are a liability to the society or a burden on the exchequer. We are an asset for the civil society & the Govt.
We can still turn the TIDES. With 'elderly vote power' we have the ability to change Govt. Even in our death we have the capacity to give life to 5 persons (by organ donation )
We may not live to see the end results but it is our responsibility to give correct direction & a road map to pensioners of tomorrow.
Brothers & Sisters I request you to consider the suggestion for adoption.
Secy. Genl. Bharat Pensioners Samaj