One Rank One Pen­sion Imbroglio

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

ONE RANK ONE PEN­SION (OROP) dates back to about four decades ago when in the year 1973 in the Third Pay Com­mis­sion the soldier who was in re­ceipt of 70 per cent of his pay as pen­sion on at­tain­ing the ser­vice laid down as el­i­gi­bil­ity for pen­sion was sub­jected to new pay com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions in which his pen­sion was brought down to 50 per cent of the last pay drawn when the civil­ian em­ploy­ees who were only el­i­gi­ble for 33 per cent of the last pay drawn were taken up to 50 per cent. This dif­fer­en­tial was kept ear­lier be­cause the soldier re­tired at an early age, at about 34 to 37 years of age as com­pared to their civil­ian coun­ter­parts. Even the of­fi­cers re­tired ear­lier based on their ranks. The soldier did not re­sent the oth­ers get­ting an in­crease but he was ap­palled at this bi­ased de­ci­sion which in­ci­den­tally was taken af­ter the 1971 War when the In­dian armed forces had soundly de­feated the Pak­istan Army, cut that coun­try to half its size, and lib­er­ated a new na­tion called Bangladesh.

The sol­diery (all ranks) is con­vinced that this de­ceit was es­pe­cially foisted on the mil­i­tary by the bu­reau­cracy (IAS of­fi­cers) who has al­ways been against the mil­i­tary es­tab­lish­ment. Vet­er­ans feel that till the gov­ern­ment let­ter clar­i­fy­ing all is­sues re­gard­ing the OROP is out in the public do­main there is a like­li­hood of dis­hon­esty and trick­ery on part of the bu­reau­cracy of MoD.

The OROP Sanc­tioned by the Gov­ern­ment

The gov­ern­ment on its part has ful­filled one of its ma­jor elec­tion prom­ises in the run up to the Lok Sabha elec­tions of the BJP. The De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar on Septem­ber 5, 2015, an­nounced the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the long de­layed One Rank One Pen­sion for ex-ser­vice­men.

Ex­plain­ing the de­tails on the cost of OROP to the ex­che­quer, Par­rikar on Septem­ber 5, stated that it would cost be­tween

` 8,000-10,000 crore at present which would in­crease in fu­ture. The ex­pen­di­ture on ar­rears alone would be ` 12,000 crore. Cur­rently the pen­sion bill of the de­fence min­istry stands at

` 54,000 crore. There are about 2.45 mil­lion vet­er­ans and six lakh war wid­ows who stand to ben­e­fit from the scheme.

The aim of this an­nounce­ment was os­ten­si­bly to end the strike by vet­er­ans de­mand­ing OROP which had been hang­ing fire for nearly three months. How­ever while thank­ing the gov­ern­ment on its de­ci­sion to sanc­tion the OROP, the protest­ing vet­er­ans have re­jected the ‘uni­lat­eral’ an­nounce­ment as it ‘di­lutes’ sev­eral core is­sues from the ac­cepted def­i­ni­tion. Par­rikar, who has earned the re­spect of the vet­er­ans for the man­ner in which he has han­dled the is­sue of OROP, met the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of ex-ser­vice­men later in the day, on Septem­ber 5-and some un­der­stand­ing it seems has been reached.

Points of Dif­fer­ence

The over­all sit­u­a­tion of the OROP an­nounce­ment made Septem­ber 5 by the Gov­ern­ment and ac­cep­tance/non ac­cep­tance by vet­er­ans is as un­der: Vet­er­ans are happy that at last OROP has been ac­cepted in prin­ci­ple af­ter a strug­gle last­ing more than four decades and they have thanked the Prime Min­is­ter and the De­fence Min­is­ter for this. The base year for OROP will be 201314. All vet­er­ans will be up­graded in their pen­sion as on March 31, 2014, to their re­spec­tive ranks. This has been ac­cepted. The point not ac­cepted is that ex-ser­vice­men were to be granted top of the scale of pen­sion on March 31, 2014 in re­spec­tive ranks, while gov­ern­ment is say­ing it will be av­er­age of the max-min pen­sion on that date. This has not been ac­cepted by the vet­er­ans and needs res­o­lu­tion. The in­ter­val at which pen­sion will be equalised has also not yet been re­solved. The gov­ern­ment had stated that it would be done af­ter ev­ery five years while the vet­er­ans had ac­cepted a two-year pe­riod. Vet­er­ans have agreed for this to be re­solved through a Com­mit­tee but they have not ac­cepted the “One Man Com­mit­tee” an­nounced by the gov­ern­ment. Vet­er­ans want a five mem­ber com­mit­tee which should have three ex-ser­vice­men, one mem­ber from the Ser­vices HQ (a Serv­ing of­fi­cer) and one to be nom­i­nated by the De­fence Min­is­ter. They want the Com­mit­tee to be di­rectly un­der the De­fence Min­is­ter. This is­sue is yet to be re­solved. Gov­ern­ment wants to give six months to the Com­mit­tee to give the re­port. Vet­er­ans want that the re­port should be sub- mit­ted in 30 days and should be im­ple­mented in next 15 days. This also needs to be re­solved. While OROP would be ap­pli­ca­ble for the dis­abled and war wid­ows, those opt­ing for vol­un­tary re­tire­ment and not com­ple­ment­ing full ser­vice will be out of its am­bit. This has raised a new point of dis­agree­ment be­tween the vet­er­ans and the gov­ern­ment. Par­rikar has said that the gov­ern­ment would give de­tails on the vol­un­tary re­tire­ment in the gov­ern­ment or­der. This mat­ter has also been dis­cussed with the vet­er­ans and it seems that those who pro­ceed on pre­ma­ture re­tire­ment and are in re­ceipt of pen­sion will con­tinue to be in the am­bit of OROP.

Fur­ther Ac­tion En­vis­aged by the Ex-Ser­vice­men

Fur­ther ac­tion en­vis­aged by the Ex Ser­vice­men is as un­der: Fast unto Death has been called off with im­me­di­ate ef­fect. The per­sons on fast unto death have very kindly agreed to it. How­ever the Re­lay Hunger Strike shall con­tinue at Jan­tar Man­tar and all other sta­tions in In­dia and will be called off only af­ter all the pend­ing is­sues are re­solved by the Gov­ern­ment. As per the united ex-ser­vice­men as­so­ci­a­tions, mass ex-ser­vice­men ral­lies will be held all over In­dia on 12 Sep 2015, and as per cur­rent in­di­ca­tions the num­ber of cities is likely to be 80. The Re­lay Hunger Strike will also con­tinue till all is­sues have been mu­tu­ally re­solved.

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