New Delhi: It is most unfortunate that first the erstwhile UPA regime and for the last one year the current Modi government have been dragging their feet on the one-rank one-pension scheme for the armed forces which has been cleared by both the Congress-led and BJP-led governments in principle. It is undeniable that procrastination has cost the armed forces in the country serious loss of morale. Whatever be the hurdles, there should be no further delay in implementing such an important decision.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent assurance that implementation is on the anvil must set at rest all doubts but it serves no purpose to test the patience of the country’s soldiers. The resentment of the ex-servicemen has gone so deep that they have now decided to sit on hunger strikes and hold rallies, which would be an alarming negation of the exemplary discipline that they are credited with. It was bad enough that on Thursday, two war veterans – Wing Commander (Retd) K V Bopardikar and Wing Commander (retired) SD Karnik – declined to be felicitated by the Defence minister at an event in Pune in protest against the delay in implementation of OROP scheme.
Major General Satbir Singh (retired), who is spearheading the campaign for the implementation of OROP under the banner of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM has described the non-implementation of the scheme as “breach of trust” and a “betrayal” to 6.45 lakh widows of war heroes, 24 lakh ex-servicemen and 15 lakh serving servicemen. One-rank one pension would impose a crippling burden on the national exchequer but with the paramilitary forces intensifying their demand to be included among the scheme’s beneficiaries the burden could go up manifold. If this is posing a roadblock, one way or another the government must decide whether to include them or not. It cannot be overlooked that while paramilitary personnel retire at 60 like all government employees, jawans or their equivalent in other forces retire much earlier. Those in the paramilitary forces who do combat duties in sensitive areas can be compensated for the hazards but to extend the increases across the board would be well nigh unaffordable. There is confusion in the public about what ‘one-rank one-pension’ means. What it implies is that retired soldiers of the same rank and length of service will receive the same pension, regardless of when they retire.
As of now, the date of retirement determines the amount of pension. With each Pay Commission coming up with its recommendations every 10 years, the military veterans who retire early, receive less pension as compared to those who retired later with the same rank and length of service.