Monday, January 4, 2016

OROP must go hand in hand with force restructuring

Phased reduction in 'boots on the ground' is necessary to modernise India's armed forces

Finally, the One Rank One Pension, or OROP, is a reality, even if its content and financial impact continues to remain imprecise. It is a different matter that several important conditions not discussed with those agitating for OROP have been incorporated at the last minute and caused both frustration and anguish.

For example, it is not known how the clause for its non-applicability to those who had taken voluntary retirement (termed premature retirement or PMR in the armed forces) came to be incorporated in the official note at the last minute. Similarly, a provision has been inserted whereby pension will be determined by averaging the minimum and maximum of the pay bands for every rank, which is not OROP at all. It is almost certain that these two incongruities, which could only have been inserted through bureaucratic sleight of hand, will be challenged and struck down in the courts of law. The statements made by the prime minister create more doubt than clarity. For example, he has stressed that interests of jawans, widows and those disabled and sent out of service are uppermost in his mind and they will have full benefits of OROP, without making any mention of those who took PMR. If there is a lurking suspicion among these officers that they have been left 'high and dry' they may not be far wrong.

But this is not about OROP. Whatever may be its final shape and form, the fact is that it will result in a cash outgo of over Rs 12,000 crores annually, and the figure can only increase every year. The question that more importantly needs to be considered is whether this expense can be countered by economies that can or should be undertaken in the non-pension parts of Defence expenditure. This calls for some introspection, including by the armed forces. Until 1962, the strength of the Indian Army, post-World War II demobilisation, stood at around 285,000, the Indian Navy at about 16,000 and the Indian Air Force at some 30,000. Following the trauma of that conflict, the Army was authorised a manpower level of 825,000, a nearly three-fold increase so that it could fight a two-front war concurrently. Force levels approved for the navy and the air force at the same time (in 1964) ensured that, over a period of time, their manpower rose to about 35,000 and 60,000 respectively. Since then, the numbers have continued to increase for one reason or the other and the Indian Army today fields nearly 1,200,000, while the other two Services have also gone up to about 50,000 and 100,000, take a little here and there. In sum, uniformed manpower has increased greatly, with inevitable impact on ongoing expenditure that is required to pay, feed and equip them; not surprisingly, nearly 85 per cent of the army's budget goes to meet what is technically termed as revenue expenditure, leaving just 15 per cent for modernisation and technology upgrades and, therefore, leaving it to fight wars with 'what it has' - to quote a former Army Chief - rather than with what it should have. The navy and the air force are not so manpower-intensive and, consequently, are able to spend relatively more of their monetary allocations on capital acquisitions. What merits serious consideration, therefore, is whether we should continue as hitherto or make some course corrections.

Obviously, the first charge in any such exercise will be that of the army taking up as it does, almost half of the Defence budget. This brings us back to where it all began - ability and preparedness to fight land wars on two fronts simultaneously, on one side with Pakistan and on the other, with China. This may well have seemed inescapable after 1962 but despite all posturing and noises made by various sides, did not come about in 1965 and again in 1971, this when Pakistan was being militarily sliced into two, a calamity which should have resulted in some intervention by its ally. Today, the scenarios have changed dramatically. Not only are all three countries nuclear weapon states but their profiles and ambitions have also escalated. China is seeking parity with the US while India seeks to get to the level where China stands today. Neither country will move towards its goals by engaging the other militarily; such an interface can only act to the detriment of both. Pakistan stands in a different category. It has little capability, even interest, in challenging India through war; its aim of keeping us on the defensive is easily achieved by much lower-cost options such as acts of terror, sponsored or otherwise. The world at large is also not supportive of military conflicts between nation states and international pressure, difficult enough to counter in the wars fought so far, will be even more of an 'adversary' in future scenarios. In short, military conflict on one front is, itself, becoming a question mark, leave alone land wars on two fronts together. Our military strategy must recognise this reality.

The situation is quite different in the other two Services where the responsibilities are becoming more strategic rather than structured to just war fighting. The need to deploy air and sea power at long distances, in peace as much as in less-than-war scenarios is gaining priority and recent evacuations of our citizens from troubled areas, disaster assistance in tsunamis and protection of sea lanes of commerce are now well-defined tasks and responsibilities, not just some vague ideas. Our existing force structure, evolved in the 1960s after a traumatic defeat, is no longer capable of responding to the new scenario. There is a definite need to review holistically our emerging interests and responsibilities and formulate policies which will provide capabilities that can deliver what the Americans call 'more bang for the buck'. Manpower or 'boots on the ground' is clearly an essential ingredient of whatever capabilities we create but how many is the question which our planners and strategists must answer. It is nobody's thesis that drastic reductions are necessary or even desirable but phased restructuring is imperative. Given the extent of our land borders, the army will continue to have primacy in our military preparedness but it is necessary that the air and sea power arms are strengthened. 

As a very broad readjustment, our land component of manpower should be gradually brought down to about 1,000,000. To achieve this over a four-five year period is quite feasible if there is determination to do so. Fresh stock can be taken at that stage of what needs to be done further. This, of course, must go hand-in-glove with modernisation of all three forces and enough has been written about this by many to bear repetition. 

But this is much easier said than done. There will be any number of vested interests to 'ground' the proposed restructuring even before it begins and the strongest direction will be needed to take it through, in the armed forces hierarchy, in the associated bureaucracy and finally, and most important, in the political leadership.

Vice Admiral P.S. Das (retd) is a former Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command. He has also served on the National Security Advisory Board

(Source- Business Standard)


  1. NO use of writing articles.Our politicians are insensitive.In this set up of democracy no wonder can or will happen.It is better for you to take rest and spend your days with kith and kin.Let God save this nation as it was ever to be

  2. Dear sir,

    You are an ex navy officer, you may not know the plight of ex sepoys, how they are treated in border by the officers, all gallantry medals are distributed among officers, not even a single soldier is decorated with the award, why because of the faulty system, officers they decorate themselves even in OROP officers have recommended for the categorization of X and Y group which is highly violative norms adopted by both UPA and NDA government, OROP is meant for the commitment of soldiers to operate weapons when war breaks out, later on his tradework comes, there should be no discrimination in the award of OROP

    I am having poor english knowledge this is my submission

  3. We pbor have not received VIth cpc yet, you are waiting VIIth CPC. What a greatness ?

  4. True to the teeth is this article. Our nation wants a strong army, but cannot support it. They believe in modern equipment but no the men behind these machines that too by indigenisation over a period, which may be several decades. Our political leaders got confidence in the bookish knowledge of expertise of the bureaucrats and not professionals who command the troops. Over a period, even our general officers have become passive to leave defence matters to these bureaucrats for better after retirement settlements. All is not well on the national security scenario.

  5. Dear' All Veterans!

    1-I want produced major anomalies in regard of OROP 'Which notification has already been issued by MoD GoI in month of Nov-2015. It could not explain of One Rank One Pension irrespective a same length of service rendered by Ex Army personnel's. The definition of OROP in three methodologies

    2- One Rank 2- One Pension-'3 Irrespective a length of service rendered by individuals' and nor explained in Definition of OROP. I have already wrote
    the comments a few days ago in regard this subjected' Govt / CDAP' Yet not been issued and published the Circular along with (Matrix table for the purpose of publicized in public domain) of OROP by PCDAP Allahabad . NDA Govt has badly been replaced the condition and definition of OROP' Hence' we could not say and Explain 'One Rank One Pension' Just you say it hiked the salary Once more like this as a UPA Govt.

    3- The Formula has p repaired by MoD bureaucrat in direction of RM/FM for the purpose of controlling of Fund and budget and' Matrix table has already been completed 10 days ago' But yet not issued officially in public domain. I want produce' for comparison projected 'Matrix table 'which had prepared been during the tenure of UPA in year of April-2014' And now has been made by CDAP in tenure of NDA govt in year of Dec-2015.

    4-As per OROP matrix table pension scale a 15 years of Nk 'X' Group has fixed Rs 8075 instead' Y' Group of Nk Rs 7210 only the deference amount in same length of service Rs 865 only between X & Y Group.

    5-As per OROP matrix table pension scale a 15 years of 'Nk 'X' Group has fixed Rs 8075 instead' Y' Group of Nk Rs 7210 only the difference amount in Same length of service Rs 865 only between X & Y Group.

    6- The 'Y' Group of Nk along with 20 years of service' has nor hiked been from Rs 7210 only, i would say (Fixed) 'But in same length of service as a NK of 'X' Group has Much' much hiked Rs 8070 to Rs 9305 only in four years of service ‘Which has hiked been Rs 1265 only than 'Y' Group Nk in same length of service in 20 years.

    7- The X' Group of Nk irrespective 22 years maximum length as a service have hiked been Rs 8070 to Rs 9305' Instead same Rank holder of 'Y' Group' irrespective same length 22 years of service Rs 7210 to Rs 7418 only Rs 208 only hiked 'Than X Group of NK Rs '1265' in same length of service between X & Y Group.

    8-The X' Group of Nk irrespective 22 years maximum length as a service has hiked been Rs 8070 to Rs 9305' Than same Rank holder of 'Y' Group' irrespective same length 22 years of service Rs 7210 to Rs 7418 only Rs 208 only hiked 'Than X Group of NK Rs '1265' in same length of service between X & Y Group. Most important X Group of Nk along with 22 years Maximum qualifying service would get Rs 9305 instead’ Y’ Group of Nk render same length of service 22 years More difference between both of Rs 1887 only.

    9- In view of the above there had not been attention of authorities of PCDAP Allahabad at a time preparing and calculation of pension chart average of Minimum & Maximum a base years of -2013.

    There are no doubts Pension account Group of (PCDA) Allahabad calculating chart of Pension under (OROP) scheme in direction of MoD /RM for the purpose of controlling of fund. But after view of pension chart’ we found critical anomalies' which has calculated by senseless persons between X& Y Group of NK . Hence’ We it’ could say ‘One Rank Two Pension’’ as per group wise. One person in same rank irrespective same rendered length of service’ would get TWO PENSION as per Group Wise.


  6. How many officers retire in the rank of Lt, Capt or Major? How many officers retire at the age of 35-37 years? It is the JCOs/Os who retire at the age of 35-37 years. The service headquarters will always fight for the pay and pension increase for the ranks of Lt Col, Col or Brigadiers because these are the ranks in which maximum numbers of officers retire and once their pay and pension is creased the upper hierarchy will be automatically benefited. So, I request the ex-servicemen associations to fight for the pay and pension increase of the lowest rank only. The ranks placed above them will be automatically benefited.

  7. I strongly feel that it is high time that service chiefs must put their foot down on all mateers related to def be it anything including Pay,ORPP,equipment, morale which affects it.Army must have separate pay commission.