Soldiering has unique dimensions which make it imperative for governments to apply a different yardstick as compared to other arms of government service. A majority of soldiers retire between 35 and 37 years of age, unlike personnel in other arms of government. In addition, given the harsh conditions under which they serve, OROP was a justified demand. Pensions, however, cannot be considered in isolation. All governments face the challenge of prioritising allocation of scarce resources. In India, pensions have been one of the fastest growing expenses in union budgets, increasing by 22.45% between 2011 and 2014. In fiscal 2014 pension payouts recorded Rs 74,896 crore, almost 5% of total spending. In the immediate future, another Rs 8,000-10,000 crore will be spent on defence pensions on account of OROP. Today, defence personnel get about 62% of the aggregate pension payouts of the union government. OROP will further enhance their share. Hopefully, veterans who were initially unhappy with OROP details outlined by Parrikar will rethink their position.
India is set for another rise in salaries of central and state government employees 2016 onwards on the heels of suggestions which will be made by 7th Pay Commission. These suggestions must be temperate, keeping in mind the fragile economic situation of the country and the need for fiscal prudence. It is important to remember that India is a country with a young population. If government spends a large part of its finances on salaries and pensions there will be little left over for education and infrastructure, which will take its toll on India's youth.