Friday, November 4, 2016

Tragic Suicide   Government needs to fix delivery issues on OROP pensions rollout (Editorial - TOI)

The political war over the tragic suicide of ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal needs to be seen in the right perspective. Grewal ­ who had retired in 2004 after serving in the territorial army and defence security corps over 30 years ­ consumed poison earlier this week, apparently over his disappointment with the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme. The issue snowballed into a headline-grabbing row when politicians like Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tried to meet Grewal's family but were detained by Delhi police. Meanwhile, government minister VK Singh questioned the circumstances of Grewal's suicide and alleged the armyman was a Congress worker.Let's be clear, government can't be held accountable for individual suicides no matter how unfortunate these are. However, given the circumstances a probe into Grewal's suicide to ascertain what exactly drove him to take the drastic step would be in order. Second, politicians who tried to meet Grewal's family were disrupting workings at two city hospitals. Hence the police were within their rights to ask them to leave. Third, disbursal of new pensions under OROP has already begun. True, a section of ex-service men are still unsatisfied with the payout formula. But government too has its financial constraints and can't increase pensions beyond a point.
But there's a larger governance related issue that needs to be fixed. The Centre has certainly rolled out a plethora of new schemes and the notification of OROP last year is a case in point. But it needs to ensure that these schemes are actually reaching their intended beneficiaries through smooth delivery. Reportedly, Grewal's grievance was receiving less pension than what was expected under the OROP formula. The ministry of defence has sought to put the blame on the local bank branch in Grewal's hometown of Bhiwani for making a calculation error.
But such excuses won't wash with people. This is precisely why delivery of government benefits needs to be made transparent and powered by technology to prevent errors and leakages. Lastly , the Grewal suicide also highlights a problem with government communication. When ministers should speak in one voice and express condolences over the tragic case, we have ruling party netas giving disparate opinions including downright churlish ones.This not only leads to confusion and resentment but also provides a legitimate opening for the opposition.



  1. Quote "But government too has its financial constraints and can't increase pensions beyond a point."(Unquote). The government has no financial constraints for increasing the MPs and MLAs salaries, Allowances and pension by 100 to 200% or what ever they want. Government has financial constraints only for increasing the eligible pension of ex servicemen.

  2. karunakaran a ex havildarNovember 4, 2016 at 1:00 PM


    what this vk singh says, the deceased is a congress man hence he is denied all his rights, congress man is not the citizen of india, MODI must see such a irresponsible indian army officer should not entrusted with important portfolio, while vk singh was in service he approached the supreme court for the change of his date of birth. a soldier committed suicide on any account because of his family trouble or anything else instead of condole the death, he speaks in some other way, a man is driven to this extreme step, by whom, it is because of the wrong policy of the government on OROP

  3. A functional standing committee for veterans might have solved the OROP fiasco, but the officials in the PMO, MOD and the FM will never have such a committee to over rule their self interests. Why not the members of the standing committee for veterans meet on their own to sort out few important ESM problems?