The Defence Ministry has finally taken a call on the long pending demand of implementing One Rank One Pension policy from ex-servicemen. The decision comes in the backdrop of RSS diktat of resolving the issue as soon as possible, at its recently concluded review meeting.
The policy will ensure that every soldier who retires in the same rank gets the same pension, notwithstanding his date of retirement.
Under the current policy, soldiers who have retired more recently, receive more pension than those who did earlier. This is because pensions are computed on the last salary drawn - something that is revised periodically by pay commissions.
The BJP's ideological parent, warned the ruling party of a possible political fallout if the deadlock continued. Following the diktat, the draft proposal on OROP was circulated at a RSS meeting on 4 September, reports the Indian Express.
However, what prompted the government to take an immediate call on the issue is the fact that the dates for the Bihar elections might be announced in a day or two. Once the dates are given out, making an announcement on OROP would be impossible, given the code of conduct.
One of the primary reasons why the government has found itself on the back-foot on the issue, is because Prime Minister Modi had made heavy promises about OROP during his election campaign. In fact, OROP was one of the first public promises made by Narendra Modi in September 2013 after being declared the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. So, when on the eve of Independence Day, ex-servicemen were roughed up, the government's credibility took a serious hit.
War veterans have been protesting against the non-implementation of their long-pending demand for 84 days now. Initially they began with a relay hunger strike, later some veterans decided to intensify matters by announcing a fast unto death. Many of them were hospitalised as well.
Despite the long battle, it is highly likely that the government's decision might end up disappointing them. There are already ample indications towards this:
- Conflicts on arrears and implementation date: According to the draft, the basis for the implementation of the scheme would be 2013 and arrears would be paid in four instalments. The Indian Express quotes Major General Satbir Singh (retd), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen movement, who said that the veterans would not accept the government proposal of implementing OROP from July 2014 instead of 31 March 2014.
- Frequency of pension revision: This is the biggest point that several rounds of negotiations between protesting ex-servicemen and the Defence Ministry has failed to iron out. It is believed that the government will stick to the five year cap on revision while the ex-servicemen want it to be revised every one or two years.
- No OROP for servicemen who took voluntary retirement: While the benefit of OROP will be extended to widows of martyrs, Army personnel who took voluntary retirement will not get advantage of the new system. However this is not acceptable to army veterans.