One Rank One Pension Goes Live – Army Veterans Partially Happy
Things were pretty stirred up since early this morning with talks about One Rank One Pension being accepted and implemented by Modi Government. However, the proposals made by the new schemes were not what was expected.
At 10:30 AM this morning, Colonel Anil Kaul said, “Pension revision every 5 years as suggested by the Government will not be welcomed by veterans”. “This new proposal will only aggravate the already agitated veterans,” he added. Retired Captain VK Gandhi, also expressed the same view about 16 minutes later at 10:46 AM. Captain Gandhi, also said that the veterans are not looking forward to any kind of violence.
With the newly implemented OROP scheme, the pension expenditure of the government will increase to ₹ 75,000 crores from existing ₹ 54,000 crores in order to properly cover more than 24.25 lakh retired army personnel and an additional 6 lakh widows who are, according to national law, entitled to lifetime of pension earnings.
ManoharParrikar, India’s Defence Minister met with Defence veterans before the scheduled media announcements at 1:00 PM. Post meeting, the veterans clarified that the government accepted and approved the basic One Rank One Pension concept however, complete announcements regarding the same will be revealed publicly later during a press meet.
Minister Parrikar addressed the media at 3:04 PM and announced that OROP has been implemented. The exact time for the announcement was 6 minutes after the press conference started. Minister Parrikar revealed that 2013 has been selected as the base year for the calculation of the new pensions and OROP’s effectiveness will be calculated from July 1, 2014. Any revisions in payable pension will be made every 5 years.
Post announcement, ex-servicemen were not really completely happy about the OROP. Though the acceptance of OROP demand by the government was welcome and the suggested changes were kind of ‘okay’, retired General Satbir Singh said, “Equalization every 5 years and a judicial panel of just 1 man is not really acceptable.”
The ex-servicemen who are on a hunger strike at JantarMantar have made it clear that the strike will continue unless the government clarifies the modalities on which the OROP has been implemented.
Currently, the Central Government has accepted the One Pension One Rank with certain clauses which are:
- Pension will be rationalized every 5 years.
- 2013 calendar year will be taken as base year for calculating the arrears.
- The arrears will be calculated with effect from July 1, 2014.
- All arrears will be paid out in 4 phases with 1st phase covering the widows.
- Soldiers or Defence personnel who took voluntary retirement will not be covered under the OROP scheme.
- A total of ₹ 10,000 to ₹ 12,000 crores will be the total cost of covering arrears.
- 1-member judicial committee will be formed with complete reports being delivered in 6 months.
Expressing thought about the implemented OROP scheme, the leader of the ex-servicemen who are currently on hunger strike at JantarMantar, Retire Major General Satbir Singh rejected the following:
- Veterans who took VRS will not be covered under OROP: According Mr. Singh, this is nothing but a clear example of Bureaucracy which is not acceptable. Veterans are demanding that everyone whether he opted for VRS or not should be covered under OROP. Definition of VRS is not clear. PM Modi have clarified that Army men who have retired after 15 years will also be benefited in OROP.
- Judicial committee of 1 member: Veterans are demanding that the committee should have 5 members, out of which 1 member must be an officer currently serving in armed forces and 3 should be retired veterans. It is only then, according to Mr. Singh, that the pension rationalization will be correct because only personnel from armed forces can clarify the needs properly.
- Report Delivery in 1 month: Veterans do not agree to the 6-month time frame for providing report on OROP implementation. In fact, they are demanding that the report be submitted within 1 month by Defence Ministry.
It must be noted that the veterans actually demanded pension rationalization every 1 year and the government on the other hand has actually implemented a 5-year rationalization plan. Speaking about the government declaration, Major General Satbir Singh said that the government has only accepted 1 out of 6 demands made by the retired veterans. Mr. Singh has clearly declared that fast-until-death will be withdrawn by the veterans in government decides to include even VRS candidates into OROP scheme.
Going all guns blazing at Congress, Retired General VK Singh and Union Minister stated that the opposition party should not even dare to utter a word because they did absolutely nothing about rationalizing pensions for Defence veterans in last 42 years and they are pretty vocal about pointing out problems in steps taken by current NDA government. Mr. VK Singh intends to talk to opposition leaders about their absolutely disappointing take in OROP this evening. This reaction came after MP A.K. Antony said that government implemented the OROP after substantial dilution of the demands made by the veterans and this is nothing but a great disappointment.
Here is a quick comparison between government’s announcements and reactions of veterans (note that these are the 5 out of 6 demands that have not been accepted by the government):
|What Government Said||How Veterans Reacted|
|OROP will be implement with effect from July 1, 2014.||Not acceptable because the demand was to implement OROP with effective date being March, 2014.|
|Pension will be rationalized every 5 years.||Not acceptable and pension should be rationalized every year.|
|Judicial committee of one member.||Not acceptable and the committee should consist of 5 members of which 3 should be retired veterans.|
|One-member committee to provide reports on OROP expenditures in 6 months.||Not accepted. The committee should provide the report within 1 month.|
|Retired Defence personnel who opted for VRS will not be covered.||Not accepted as everyone should be covered whether or not he opted for VRS.|