Increase Retirement Age of Army Jawans to Deal with Ballooning Pension Budget, Says Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat
Rawat said the pension budget for 2020-21 is Rs 1.33 lakh crore, a hike from Rs 1.1 lakh crore of 2019-20, which is not sustainable in the long run.
Newly appointed Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat talks to media after inspecting a joint military guard of honor in New Delhi. (Image: AP)
New Delhi: Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has proposed an extension in the retirement age of jawans of the Indian Army till 58. While Army officers retire at 58, jawans are sent home in their late 30s.
“Today, the officer retires at 58 and then looks forward to four years of reemployment. But he wants his soldier to go at 37,” Rawat told CNN-News18 in an exclusive interview.
Rawat said Army jawans, who are recruited early on, serves for 20 years and then receives pension for 30-35 years of his life.
“What is happening today is that a jawan serves for 20 years and from the age of 40 he draws a pension till he is 70. So, he is serving for 20 years and receiving pension for 30 to 35 years,” said Rawat. “I’m not saying that you don’t look after the jawan. You must look after him but you have to look after the combatant more than the others.”
“When a jawan retires and his pension drops to half his income, he loses the free accommodation and ration, he loses the facility of school (for his children) that is next to his unit…where does that jawan stand?” Rawat asked. “He also needs to be looked after. Officers are talking about themselves. Please think about your men too.”
The defence budget was increased to Rs 3.37 lakh crore for 2020-21 against last year's Rs 3.18 lakh crore, belying expectations of a significantly enhanced allocation to fast-track long-pending military modernisation.
Rawat asked if the right thing is being done by retiring a jawan at the age of 37-38 and then providing a pension for 30-35 years.
"There is a combatant who has to retire at the age of 40 to 45. But why must you treat every jawan as being unfit to work?" asked Rawat. "Yes, there will be a jawan who will be termed unfit to work after the age of 40, but a very large number may not be unfit till 40 or even 45. So you let them go through a medical process and let all those chaps who are fit serve for a longer period depending on how long you want them to serve. Somehow, all these comments are coming from the officers. I am not saying that the officers are comfortable with the salaries they are drawing and therefore with their pension."
Rawat said there could be a system in place in which jawans until 45 can serve in difficult areas and after it, when their children also come of age, "because we also have to look at the welfare of people – you get them to those areas which are relatively quiet and peaceful. You look at the base workshop. The base workshop has military and civilian people – more civilians than military", he said.
Rawat said the pension budget for 2020-21 is Rs 1.33 lakh crore, a hike from Rs 1.1 lakh crore of 2019-20.
"If it has gone to this limit, what is the increase annually? Can you sustain this budget annually with pensions?" he said.
In a landmark decision, the government on December 24 last year approved the creation of a CDS in the rank of a four-star general who acts as the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters relating to the tri-services.
The government also decided to create a new Department of Military Affairs (DMA) under the Defence Ministry, which is headed by the CDS as its secretary.
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