With Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley setting aside only Rs. 1000 crore for One Rank One Pension (OROP), there is disquiet within the defence fraternity combined with apprehension that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pre-election commitment to give soldiers this long-pending entitlement may perhaps be diluted yet again.
“We reaffirm our commitment to our brave soldiers. A policy of One Rank One Pension has been adopted by the government to address pension disparities. We propose to set aside a further sum of Rs.1,000 crore to meet the year’s requirement,” Mr. Jaitley said in his budget speech. He followed it up with a meeting on June 12 that was attended by three service chiefs, officers from the defence service headquarters, top officials from Defence Aaccounts and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and representatives of four major ex-servicemen organisations to deliberate on the modalities. The meeting ended in an impasse as differences over the very definition of OROP and the consequent impact on payment of pensions emerged between the departments of the MoD on the one side and the service headquarters and military veterans on the other.
The accepted definition

Speaking to The Hindu, Maj Gen. (retd.) Satbir Singh, Chairman of the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement (IESM), who was present at the meeting, said: “We understand that processes in the government take time. But after the meeting we have begun to doubt the government’s intentions because it appears to be succumbing to the confusion deliberately created by the civilian bureaucracy, represented by the MoD, to scuttle OROP.” The ex-servicemen fraternity has roped in former Army Chief Gen. (retd.) V.K. Singh, now a Minister in the Modi government, to mediate on its behalf. Maj Gen. Satbir Singh is among those who threw the weight of the five lakh-strong IESM behind the Bharatiya Janata Party because Mr. Modi made commitments on several issues of interest to ex-servicemen, chief among them being OROP.

 A common refrain among veterans is that they are being asked to scale down their entitlement when the definition of OROP has already been accepted by the government 
The definition of OROP, given by former Defence Minister A.K. Antony in February this year and accepted by the government, is the same as the one that was accepted by the Petition Committee of Rajya Sabha on OROP, which was chaired by Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. The Committee presented its report in December 2011. According to this definition, “OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pensions of the current pensioners and the past pensioners and also future enhancements in the rate of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.” According to the Koshiyari Committee’s calculation, Rs.3,000 crore would be needed to implement this. With 10 per cent inflation this year, it is now estimated to be about Rs. 4,000 crore. The UPA government had earmarked Rs.500 crore with additional funds, as per requirements, to be made later. It was also accepted that disabled and family pensioners will be included.
Now, however, an alternate model has been floated by the departments of the MoD, namely the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA), the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) or PCDA, and the DESW. They have proposed that pensioners before 2006 be paid pensions that were given at the start of the Sixth Pay Commission (on January 1, 2006). This will mean that a sepoy who retired prior to 2006 and who was receiving a pension of Rs.5,196 a month, would receive Rs.6,450, according to this model, instead of the Rs.8,349 that a sepoy who retired in 2014 would receive. A common refrain among veterans is that they “are being asked to scale down [their] requirement when the correct definition of OROP has already been accepted by the government.”
The alternative model

Lt. Gen. (retd.) S.K. Bahri, who is heading the Alliance of Ex Servicemen Organisations, has pointed out in a letter sent last week to the Defence Minister: “The common refrain among ex-servicemen is that the MoD will delay if not totally deny their dues as they have been able to even disregard judgements of the Supreme Court for four long years. The MoD should categorically state that there will be no dilution in the definition of OROP, and funds for making payments will be fully available.”

The veterans have also apprised Mr. Jaitley about their suspicion that the alternate model had been worked on by the DESW and the Defence Accounts Departments in conjunction with the UPA government to delay the grant of OROP as per the accepted definition. But as Maj Gen. Satbir Singh points out: “Going by the ambivalent stand of the Defence Minister, the BJP seems to have accepted what the bureaucracy has said and not what the stakeholders and service headquarters are saying. The civilian bureaucracy has succeeded in injecting confusion in the minds of the political system.”
Defence pensioners are pressing the government to issue implementation orders on OROP in line with a draft government letter (DGL) prepared by the defence services headquarters. However, this seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. The DESW is preparing another DGL according to its own definition of OROP. Between 2009 and 2011, some 22,000 gallantry medals were returned by ex-servicemen and war widows to the President in protest against non-implementation of OROP. Another 10,000 medals are lying in the office of the IESM after former President Pratibha Patil refused to accept them when the pensioners insisted on handing them over to her personally. The last Lok Sabha election saw a record participation of serving and retired defence personnel in the electoral process. A Supreme Court ruling that enabled serving defence personnel to vote from their place of posting saw political parties scrambling to woo them. The BJP took the lead and gave ticket to several retired Army men. For the first time ever, a former Army Chief contested and won the elections.
Over the years, successive Parliament committees have recommended complete OROP. What the previous UPA government set in motion was reiterated by Prime Minister Modi himself. The euphoria generated by Mr. Modi’s pre and post-election statements on OROP is fast dissipating. It is being replaced, instead, by a sense of resignation that perhaps there will another long haul before those who returned their medals will be able to take them back.
 (Source - The Hindi  chander.dogra@thehindu.co.in )
COMMENT (10)  
  •  Anoop Bhadauria  
    Soldiers who are serving their motherland during that age group when their counterparts in civil enjoy their life to full extent and fulfilling their insatiable desires with vigour. Soldiers are defending their borders and sacrificing their life for the sake of the security of the nation and their people. When they become old they are left with a small penny in the name of the pension. Now, this is the time to repay the sacrifices made by them. So. I urge the Government not to play politics over this issue and implement OROP without any delay. 
    P O · Mahesh  Up Voted
    •  P O  
      The defence personnel of the nation is exposed to extreme conditions and vagaries of nature. Yet, they are discriminated by the bureaucrats and govt. UPA govt, especially the honest and sincere Defence Minister, was humanely very considerate to these defence personnel and hence he has sanctioned OROP. The NDA govt, famous for their hollow promises, might have forgotten the pre-election promises, as it was only a ploy to get votes. The bureaucrats should not be party to the OROP implementation. Bureaucrats work in air conditioned ambience and they never understand the difficulties and hurdles/risk faced by the soldiers. A Commission, exclusively with Defence officials, should be set up to implement OROP. Let us hope that the NDA govt and BJP will at least be honest and sincere to the soldiers who selflessly guard our boarders and nation. P.O. Koshy, Hyderabad   
    • one more Acche din turning into Bure din!

      P O
        Up Voted
      •  Narayan Retired Member of Indian Railways Personnel Service at retired civil service 
        service men are our lifeline. may UPA govt. was confused and the bureaucracy did it but here is an Army General who knows ins and outs and there are army men who knows how their pension is worked (defence pension and railways pension have always been done by their respective ministries).  
        Anoop Bhadauria · Virendra  Up Voted
        •  archana  
          OROP is more needed for uniformity and clarity than hiking pension.as far bureaucracy confusing the political ruling class is concerned its a nonsense on the part of the writer,PM modi and his close aid Jaitly being considered very smart politicians, how could bureaucracy confuse them?if govt has will like it raise the railway fare and planning to strike down subsidies,it can operationalize the OROP from one stroke.but since govt lack that will and promise of OROP was just means to get vote like many other promises.
          P O · Anoop Bhadauria · Virendra  Up Voted

          • All politicians and bureaucrats are birds of the same feather. What they speak before elections is forgotten soon after the results are out. The Armed Forces are being cheated again and again. It all started in 1988 and afteralmost every Pay Commission the cheating continues. If and when a war breaks out these cheaters will have to pay a heavy price. Let us wait and see as to how they cheat us after the 7th Pay Commission gives it's report. It seems that in this country there is no place for patriotism and honour for defending it.
            P O · Anoop Bhadauria  Up Voted
            •  ramesh  
              My father who is an ex-serviceman was talking about this and was expecting it eager till his death ..Wish this matter is settled once for ever so that people who defend our country can have a peaceful retired life  
              Anoop Bhadauria · Virendra  Up Voted
              •  ProfR  
                During recent Musharaff's episode , when the civilans & Judiciary went too far , Gen Rasheed of Pak. Army made a simple comment that " DON'T INSULT ARMY MEN " ! This sent a shocking wave in political establishment of Pakistan . The result : " Less id heard of denigrading Musharaff ! He was given a bail and might have already got permisssion to leave the country " Such is the clout the army enjoys in Pakistan ! If IAS & IPS lobby go too far in neglecting the just demands of Army men , the day is not far away the Governenemnt may be an instrument to push the army to extremes . Already retd. Gen Singh acted weiredly during UPA regime. . The IAS & IPS lobby pervades every section of establishment and undermines the rights of the people in those wings. !!!! 
                •  Birender Bakshi  
                  Shri Modi,Honorable Prime Minister,Ex Servicemen fraternity has been banking on you & your assurances given during pre-election rallies & your election manifesto clearly specifies that the OROP shall be granted to all ex service men.The defination of OROP has already been accepted by the UPA government based on the parliamentary committee & various meetings held during UPA regime.Its a saddest moment that the PM of the country now had made very clear commitment just before the elections for the sad commitment,has been lingering on for months.We are sorry to state that these BABU's who do not know the ABCD of the armed forces,have been taking them for a ride for decades,could do so by playing dirty tricks with the government headed by you.You very well the damage being caused by Department of Ex ServiceMen(welfare) since it was established.We recommend to start with please disband this Department.Its of no use.Its not looking after welfare ,it's demoralizing the armed forces . 
                  Anoop Bhadauria  Up Voted
                  •  Vikramjit Singh  
                    The point I made sometime back n will continue to make is that the bureaucrat carries deep hatred for the armed forces because it was the only organisation that had the courage to put them at their place as Babu's whose job was to carry out orders. It was from the beginning of our nationhood that many of our chief's n other senior officers who stood up to them were treated shabbily. The most glaring insult was to the Hero of Bangladesh war Field Marshall Maneckshaw's passing away was not given homage by previous govt. Can their be greater insult to the Fauji? Words like Shame, disgrace,,are the medals they wear because power n lucre they earn by their position to change the color of the good thought by injecting comma's n colon's at right places give totally different meaning to the best of the idea by god even. I had said sometime back we need to have a political party to win clout n tame these babus who will sanction free medical treatment abroad for themselves but our rightful dues