Thursday, July 2, 2015
Delay in OROP implementation could affect morale of soldiers
The recommendations made by the defence minister, in consultation with the chiefs of the armed forces and the veterans, are reportedly being opposed by the finance ministry on the grounds that the annual cost of Rs8,400 crore is unaffordable and that a similar demand may spring from the CAPFs. It appears that the issue might be referred to the Seventh Pay Commission for a ‘holistic’ overview.
Often, the personnel in CAPFs serve much longer than the ones in the armed forces, which means that they earn more increments and therefore must not be equated for pension. The additional expenditure on OROP is less than 10% of the pension bill of Rs88,521 crore for 2015-16, which is much less than other subsidies.
Hence, the recommendation of referring the issue to the Seventh Pay Commission is seen as an insidious plot to scuttle the OROP scheme.
As it is, the serving and retired members of the armed forces feel wronged at having been deprived of their dues in several cases in the past, including the ‘rank pay’ case, 36 pending anomalies in the implementation of the awards of the Fifth and the Sixth Pay Commissions, and the withholding of non-functional upgradation (NFU) of pay for officers denied promotion for lack of vacancies.
Also, the ministry of defence has repeatedly appealed against the court judgements that favour the veterans and soldiers’ widows — often contesting that the award of paltry sums, even as the cost of litigation exceeds the amount at stake.
The government must take note of the impact of the prolonged delay in the implementation of OROP on morale — not only of the veterans, but also of the serving soldiers; it may also affect many second or third generation soldiers who are witness to the sad plight of those before them.
The day a soldier takes his oath, he undertakes to selflessly serve his nation and even make the supreme sacrifice when necessary. He swears allegiance to Naam, Namak, Nishan and has never faltered.
Gurmeet Kanwal is an army veteran and a Delhi-based strategic analyst
(Source- Hindustan Times)