Thursday, May 7, 2015

‘One Rank- One Pension’ Still Stuck in Bureaucratic Maze

trueIndian army soldiers patrol near the line of control. (Photo: Reuters)
India’s 2.5 million plus military veterans are both anxious and angry. For over a decade they have been told they will be granted the ‘One Rank One Pension,’ scheme meant to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to all defence personnel who retire at the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.                                                                       Rank Injustice
Throughout the UPA I and II, the government simply ignored their demand thanks to its proclivity to go with the advice of the civilian bureaucrats who opposed the scheme tooth and nail. However, towards the fag end of the Manmohan Singh government it was agreed in principle to clear the scheme, keeping the bulk votes that the ex-servicemen bring in. The last-minute ruse did not work for the UPA though.
Realising the importance of correcting the wrong, the Narendra Modi government and the prime minister himself gave renewed hope to the veterans by announcing the implementation of the OROP scheme “as soon as possible.” That promise is now nearly a year old and if several associations of military veterans are to be believed, the government is nowhere near putting the money where the mouth is.
For months, the file for OROP is shuttling between the defence and the finance ministries over minor issues. Initially, officials of two ministries differed on the amount required to fulfil the demand. The finance ministry cited a Supreme Court observation in a case filed by a veteran to raise further queries.
Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar walks past the Indian and Japanese flags as he inspects the honour guard. (Photo: Reuters)
Once those queries were answered satisfactorily, it was believed that all hurdles were cleared. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, in fact told this writer on April 10:
​​All hurdles, including a political clearance on the scheme’s financial implications, have been removed. Now the actual calculation and administrative details are being worked out. We are sure to get the scheme rolling in the next few weeks.
-Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister
​Admitting ​ that there is huge scepticism over the OROP scheme implementation, Parrikar said: “This time we have ensured that nothing goes wrong.” At that time he had refused to put a timeline, clearly aware of the bureaucratic nitty-gritty that often trips all grand schemes.
Red Tape Hurdles for OROP Scheme
During the last three weeks, the file has shuttled at least thrice between South and North Block (the building that houses the defence and finance ministries, respectively). Each time the finance ministry has raised a query, the defence ministry has worked on war footing to satisfy the finicky finance ministry babus.
Defence ministry officials and ‘pay cells’ in the three service HQs now say the final calculations are being worked out and that Modi will himself announce the rollout of the scheme before the NDA government completes one year in office on May 26.
Once finally cleared, the move is likely to cost somewhere between Rs 7,500 and Rs 10,000 crore​ annually​. Military veterans are keeping their fingers crossed. They have experienced many a slip between the cup and the lip in the past. But more than their disappointment, it is Modi’s promise that is at stake here. The question is: how close is the government to find a final solution to this long drawn issue?
(Nitin A. Gokhale is an analyst on National Security, Media Trainer and Author)


  1. Mr. Modi it right time for you to have change in cabinet and Jayant Sinha to be FM.

  2. dear sir,

    I think Mr MODI is not worried about the soldiers and their welfare measure.
    His only interest is to go on tour and proliferate the foreign tourist income from indian tax payer money. so many letters have been written.and an equal no of email flashed to him but remain unshaken. He does not think of the sentiments and feelings of soldier guarding the nation. in his regime both kisan and jawan are suffering a lot. now people relents for having given him mandate

  3. Dear sir,
    The main obstacle is created by the MOF mr arun jaitely, because he was defeated by the exservice man in the lok sabha, once defeated by the people, he is not supposed to lead ministry. he has entered the lok sabha through backdoor. the election commission must ensure that those who has been defeated by the people should not be given any minister portfolio. he is against releasing OROP, at the outset, he urged us to scale down our expectation.later on some percentage he put forwarded to accept

  4. Let these bueaucates to sent deep sees and high altitudes for a while then they came to know what is margin of life and daeth.Sitting in under the govt power do not know about the life of jawan,