Monday, June 1, 2015
OROP - A promise to redeem
June 1, 2015 00:32 IST
The issue of implementing One Rank One Pension principle for the veterans of the defence services continues to be in the news for all the wrong reasons, with a final announcement nowhere in sight. With the Narendra Modi government in its second year, its major poll promise of OROP remains unfulfilled. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Ministers havereiterated the government’s commitment to the scheme, that by itself does little to contain the growing unhappiness in the community of ex-servicemen that has been waiting for years for a fair deal. Their demand goes back over three decades. Successive governments have intermittently raised hopes on it according to political convenience, but the feeling has grown that the soldier who puts the nation ahead of his own life in the line of duty faces political apathy after retirement. The previous UPA government cleared the deal in principle and allocated Rs.500 crore, but there was no progress beyond that. In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election last year, the Congress once again brought the issue to the limelight. OROP was one of the top election promises of the BJP that helped garner the support of the large community of ex-servicemen and their families. And the huge mandate the BJP received had convinced them that at long last the scheme would see the light of day.
While the government has given in-principle clearance to the proposal, the process of completing the administrative procedures across different departments seems to be an unending one. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had on several occasions said his Ministry had finished its part of the work and that the file was with the Finance Ministry. He has promised 80-90 per cent satisfaction for the service personnel. OROP essentially seeks parity for all service personnel retiring on the same rank and tenure irrespective of when they retire, and is expected to benefit two and a half million ex-servicemen and women immediately. That said, the exercise of calculating the dues is a complicated process in itself. In Budget 2015 an initial allocation of Rs.1,000 crore was made but it has been estimated that the cost could come to about Rs.8,300 crore. There is the view that it would still go up by substantial measure depending on the method and criteria adopted. It has to be seen how the government makes the financial provision for such a recurring outgo. But the early implementation of the scheme has now become an imperative: mere rhetoric and assurances will not suffice. It is high time the government came out with a clear road map and a firm date for its implementation, and then adhere to it. This country owes its defence forces as much.
(Source- The Hindu Editorial)