In his eighth installment of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on radio, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured ex-servicemen that his government would soon resolve the One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue. The agitation by ex-Army personnel comes out two weeks after PM Narendra Modi repeats his assurance to execute the OROP. However, the delay in the implementation of the OROP policy, ex-servicemen held protests across the country, demanding its immediate introduction. The pension issue for ex-service men is very crucial and government needs to understand it. Speaking on Radio or Television will not solve the issues of Defence Personnel. All ex-servicemen worked hard during their services for the country, we should not forget that.
One year is too long period to implement such a simple thing when Defence Minister said that he had worked out on everything and waiting for the Finance Ministry nod on it. However, the civil servants applied the veto exposing the political leadership as weak and untrustworthy.
One Rank One Pension is an old demand of Indian military personnel. The term means armed forces personnel holding the same rank and same length of service will get the same pension, regardless of the last drawn pay. The Indian government accepted the demand in 2014. In its July 2014 Budget, Government of India allocated Rs. 1000 crore for this scheme.
Due to some technical calculations and interpretations to be concluded by the related ministry, there was a delay in the implementation of the scheme in 2014. Recent meetings have been on the positive note indicating that the scheme will be implemented before the approval of budget of India 2015-16. Out of fear by the retired central government employees that if Defence get OROP policy then they might also demand the same, Defence pension was renamed as Military pension. And promised that the proposal will be sought in parliament before budget session commencing from April 2015 and the OROP will be implemented from May 2015. This was disclosed by an ex-servicemen organisation member who had a meeting with Parrikar on 23 April 2015 and later on put up on the official website of government information http://pib.nic.in after the Defence Minister included in his speech in a function. While inaugurating a top defence accounts dept controllers meet on 30 April 2015, he asked the MoD officials to be prepared to implement OROP orders shortly. There are unsatisfied elements and opposition party sympathasiers in ESM, as veterans are called in India, community who sledge the government as well as Defence minister for delay in implementation of the scheme.
The protest comes after talks — both formal and back-channel — with the government failed as the ex-servicemen were not given a specific timeline for the implementation of the long-pending OROP. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government was committed to implement the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen, but sought time to resolve its complexities. Attacking the previous governments for “playing politics” over the issue for the past 40 years, he said OROP was “a complex issue”, but BJP made it even more complicated.
OROP has been a long-standing demand of over two million ex-servicemen of India. The ex-servicemen maintained that they were not against any government but were protesting to get their long-pending dues. Interestingly, some farmers’ groups and students from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University also joined the protests.
OROP envisages a uniform pension for the Defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme. OROP file was with the Finance Ministry for a final budgetary approval. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has repeatedly said that the government has completed all formalities and OROP will be implemented soon. In a bid to step up pressure on the Modi government for the implementation of One Rank One Pension scheme, ex-servicemen have signed a petition in blood and will hand it to President Pranab Mukherjee and the Prime Minister. Mahasangram rallies are held in around 55 cities across India, it will be followed by an indefinite relay hunger strike commenced on Sunday.