Tomorrow, 15 August, marks India's 69th Independence Day. And as the nation celebrates the victory over colonialism, will the defence forces celebrate a victory for OROP (One Rank, One Pension) too?
Possibly. It's being rumoured that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce a grand pension package for the defence services during his speech to the nation from Red Fort, Delhi, tomorrow.
But even if the rumour turns out to be a fact, it's a shame that the people who defend our borders have been treated so badly by the government.
On 14 August, after protesting for more than two months at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, retired defence personnel were heckled, dragged, pushed and evicted from the site of protest ahead of Independence Day 'to ensure proper security'.
What is OROP?
'One Rank, One Pension' is a demand by retired defence personnel through which they will be entitled to a uniform pension irrespective of their duration of service and their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission's recommendations at the time the person retired. Therefore, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.
The OROP scheme had been in force before 1973, but the India Gandhi-led government terminated it after recommendations by the Third Central Pay Commission.
The scheme, if implemented once again, will directly benefit more than 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows in the country.
After demanding the return of the OROP scheme for more than 40 years, finally resorting to agitation and protest for more than two months, retired defence personnel have received nothing but verbal promises.