Friday, November 13, 2015

Despite All the Assurances, What Veterans Have Got is One Rank, Many Pensions -By Gul Panag


A full, uncurtailed One Rank One Pension was accepted and promised by no one less than Narendra Modi himself. Was that also a jumla?

Ex-servicemen returning their medals during their agitation for the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme near the IGI airport in New Delhi on Tuesday. Credit: PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla
The military veterans have started returning their medals. Yesterday, nearly 2,000 proud ex-servicemen returned their medals in Delhi alone. Medals are not just a piece of metal for them. They have seen their comrades die for similar medals; others have lost limbs for theirs. Just notice how proudly a soldier – or a veteran – wears his medal on his chest. Those were the medals that were given up yesterday.

Now take a look at how the government has reacted. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said that the war veterans’ protest against the One Rank One Pension (OROP) notification is “unlike that of a soldier”, and the protesters were “misguided”. Of course, Mr Parrikar, who has not served a single day in uniform, knows more about “soldier-like behaviour” than lakhs of veterans who have been protesting for 150 days now. We should also thank him for not calling these protests “manufactured” or these military veterans “anti-national”. After all, nothing is outside the realm of possibility in the times that we live in.

Some would dismiss this as an emotional rant against the defence minister. But emotions matter. Why do soldiers fight after all? What do they die for? They are not mercenaries, fighting for money. They are dying for the emotional appeal of “naamnamak and nishaan”.

Perhaps it is “unlike a soldier” to be emotional about his country. So let’s move to facts. A full, uncurtailed One Rank One Pension was accepted and promised by no one less than Narendra Modi himself. He made that promise not only as a prime ministerial candidate but also after becoming the Prime Minister. Various Union ministers in his government subsequently reaffirmed that promise.

It was only Arun Jaitley who reportedly told the protesting veterans in a private meeting last year that promises made during the election campaign were not meant to be kept. A veterans’ leader revealed this to the press and that version, as far as I know, has not been disputed by Mr Jaitley. In case we forget, he was also the defence minister when he made that statement to Major General (retd) Satbir Singh. It should thus surprise no one that Mr Jaitley as finance minister allocated only Rs 1,000 crore for OROP in his first budget, which was also returned unutilised at the end of the financial year. That allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for something that needed Rs 8,300 crore should have alerted the veterans about the real dishonest intentions of the government.

Perhaps the veterans were gullible, gullible enough to take a Prime Minister on his word. They ought to have treated his promise of OROP as another ‘jumla’, to use BJP president Amit Shah’s explanation for why Mr Modi had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh  in the bank account of every Indian’s account from the black money he would bring back to the country once he became PM. If the veterans had indeed known that Mr Modi’s promise of OROP was a ‘jumla‘, he would not be Prime Minister with the thumping parliamentary majority that he has today.

Veterans now feel that they were used by Mr Modi and thrown away after the 2014 elections, and they are not wrong. The so-called OROP announcement of September by the defence minister came with so many caveats that it is not OROP, but ORMP – One Rank, Many Pensions. The caveats were not rational, but petty (for instance premature retirees up till now will receive ORMP but not those seeking premature retirement hence forth). The announcement only served to hurt and anger the veterans further. If Mr Parrikar thinks that this is his biggest achievement as defence minister so far, he needs to learn that insulting and hurting veterans is not on the charter of duties of the Raksha Mantri.

The ORMP announcement was timed before the Bihar elections, and if some senior journalists are to be believed, followed by instructions from a top leader to stop the coverage of OROP protests. After the announcement, the notification came on a Saturday night – the Government of India working on a Saturday night for a notification that was drafted two months ago – only because the veterans had announced their medal wapsi from the following week. Following the award wapsi so closely, the return of medals would have been hard for the media to ignore. And as Arun Shourie has explained, this government seems to respond only to manage the headlines. Harsh, but true.

The seven points of disagreement between ORMP – as notified by the government – and OROP – as promised and accepted by Mr Modi – are too well known to be repeated. The time to make the arguments has long past.

It is not a happy situation. Tempers are frayed and emotions are running high. India can’t afford this any further. The veterans are impacted directly but the serving soldiers are also getting affected – today’s soldier knows that he is tomorrow’s veteran. If they don’t get their due from the government, the veterans will have to intensify their agitation. Or perhaps take legal recourse.

It is now up to the Prime Minister to either listen to the country’s veterans or to dismiss those who fought for India as misguided, emotional fools. Emotional they may be, but tell me honestly, with a hand on your heart, what do you feel when you read the Kohima epitaph:

“When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.”

Gul Panag is an actor and an entrepreneur

(Source- Via e-mail)


  1. while you accuse the DM of ignorance of the way of a soldier you seem to forget that you are just a daughter of the elite military officer- a Lt Gen no less.I am a serving officer so i claim better domain expertise. Let us analyse the issue.
    The claim of betrayal by the PM is really not tenable as the committed liability is of the order of 8000 cr annually as against the claim of 8300 cr by Maj Gen Satbir Singh and his financial advisers.(If you had any intent to be accurate please read Air Marshal Savoors blog - Of course you can call him a traitor to the cause). Some of the things the so called reps of all ex servicemen are demanding - like annual increment for retired personnel - how shallow their financial acumen is or they are following entirely different agenda - hence can you blame the common Indian to believe that the movement has become political -Two points remain that is the average pension issue and Voluntary retirement issue - which (the govt stand) will not stand legal scrutiny or any prudence.
    Let me also tell you while most analysts have dubbed the DMs statement as arrogant dont fail to see Maj Gemn Satbir and his followers (col kaul or gp capt gandhi) statements on TV - Arrogant to the core and sometimes threats and inflammatory. Since all of you claim to have huge following - it is easy to see how;;;Keep promising the moon Like ur political affiliate The AAP- please understand that most issues you are raising have already been dealt with by courts - what stops us from approaching them. The only reason is to keep the pot boiling for some hidden agenda.

  2. Honorable Defence Minister who is supposed to be the care taker of veteran's community should have under stand their emotional pulse. He should consider their dedicated and selfless service to the Nation; hence they deserve respect and honour instead term them as " unlike a soldier ". In that case he is to called as " unlike a Defence Minister ",

  3. Kindly post the Government notification on OROP so that one can argue or put suggestions or find anomalies on the matter

  4. Please give undiluted OROP without any conditions.
    FM if he does not have any money he can put like earlier education cess impose 1 or 2% of Service Tax because security of our Nation can not be compromised. Major P J Rao Retired.

  5. Dear Hon'be PM & Hon'be DM Sir,
    I humbly appeal to you Sir to kindly consider undiluted OROP before 7th Pay Commission
    Major p j rao Retd.

  6. Now Maj Gen Satvir no more represent the Ex Servicemen of India. He has become an agent of political players. Even he was not representing ESM society earlier too. He was just befooling the ESM to provide maximum benefit to the officers. Maj Gen Satvir, better you correct your self or you will face humiliation at the hands of ESM.

  7. We have only received blank orop notification not in real it will be get more than one year like notification 547 for jcos/or only.

  8. Please see the benefit of officer vetrans on orop who are the main part and hard worker of the IA.

  9. Sir orop main koi shart mat rakhaya 13(3) pahale nikaalo pm sahab ne jo bole hain pension panewale ko sab ko orop melega aise ho

  10. Sir orop main koi sharth mat rakhiye specially 13(3) own opt kaa rule lagadiya pahale vrs ka lagadiya ab own opta ka sir bataeya own opta aur aur vrs main kyaa antar hain sir sabko ulajha kar mat rakhiye PM Saab ne jo bole hain pension panewale sab ko orop melega aise he hona chaiye

  11. Sir orop main koi shart mat rakhaya 13(3) pahale nikaalo pm sahab ne jo bole hain pension panewale ko sab ko orop melega aise ho

  12. What happened of notification 547 for PBOR only, the same is going to be happened in orop