Saturday, 5 September 2015

Govt announces OROP, ex-servicemen continue agitation over diluted scheme

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announces the grant of OROP on Saturday in New Delhi

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 5th Sept 15

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar addressed a packed press conference in New Delhi on Saturday to announce the government’s acceptance of OROP. Stating, “the government of India respects its armed forces and ex-servicemen”, Parrikar said OROP would be implemented with effect from July 1, 2014 and would cost the government Rs 18,000-22,000 crore this year.

The government has committed to pay Rs 10,000-12,000 crore as arrears, and another Rs 8,000-10,000 crore towards this year’s enhanced pensions. With the central budget having allocated Rs 54,500 crore for military pensions this year, actual spending on defence pensions would now rise to Rs 72,500-76,500 crore.

Parrikar said, “In simple terms, OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement. Future enhancements in the rates of pension would be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.”

However, former soldiers, sailors and airmen who have staged an almost three-month public agitation for their demand of “one rank, one pension” (OROP) took just minutes to reject most of the government’s offer, which failed to meet key demands.

Ex-servicemen agitation leaders in New Delhi expressed particular unhappiness about the exclusion from OROP of those who take premature retirement (PMR) before reaching the age of superannuation from service. When a delegation of agitation leaders conveyed this to Parrikar soon after his announcement, the defence minister quickly addressed their concerns, providing an assurance that even soldiers who took PMR would be granted OROP.

General Satbir Singh, who heads the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) agreed to withdraw the fast-unto-death of ex-servicemen, subject to the latest decision being given in writing. However, he said the larger agitation would continue until all the demands of the agitation are met.

According to the government’s OROP award, there will now be dynamic and continually rising pension scales for ex-servicemen, since pay commissions invariably raise military salaries and, therefore, pensions of the beneficiaries when they retire.

“This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of current and past pensioners at periodic intervals”, said Parrikar. “It has been decided that the gap between rate of pension of current pensioners and past pensioners will be bridged every five years”.

The ex-servicemen groups have flatly rejected this. General Satbir told Business Standard that pensioners cannot wait five years for parity in pensions. Instead, pensions should be adjusted (equalised) every year.

Indicating that the ex-servicemen’s vote bank has acquired a new salience, Parrikar issued a detailed critique of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which, like other governments for the preceding four decades, had “remained ambivalent” on OROP. He said the complexity of OROP was why the National Democratic Alliance government had taken so long to announce its implementation.

“In February 2014, the then government stated that OROP would be implemented in 2014-15, but did not specify what OROP would be, how it would be implemented or how much it would cost. An estimated Rs 500 crore provided for OROP in the budget presented in February 2014 was not based on any thorough analysis. It is pertinent to mention that the then minister of state for defence in 2009 had, in reply to a question, informed Parliament that there are administrative, technical and financial difficulties in implementing OROP. It is for these reasons that the present government took some time to fulfil its promise.”

Talking to Business Standard after the announcement, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh said, “The government has taken a decision that this is what we can give them (the ex-servicemen). It will now be put to them and one can only hope that saner elements amongst them will prevail.”

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Basic features of OROP grant

OROP granted with effect from July 1, 2014

Arrears to be paid in four half-yearly instalments

Widows of casualties to be paid in single instalments

OROP will increase annual pension bill by Rs 10,000 crore

This amount will rise in the future in tandem with military salaries

Arrears will involve a one-time payment of Rs 12,000 crore

Pensions will be equalised and adjusted for OROP once every five years

Pensions to be the average of maximum and minimum pension paid in 2013 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another win for the IAS political class. Once again they have let down the people who risk their lives to protect us. Why should anybody be a soldier in our country if we cant even honour them and treat them fairly

Anonymous said...

The decision is good & fair . Time the veterans realise one cannot have it all esp the officers. The Government has done more in one go than anyone before.
No point in holding it to ransom.

I think they need to accept & move on in life. Wait for 7th pay commission.

Anonymous said...

The govt. intention to be largest creator of jobs will be unsustainable. No second thought on respect defence personals and giving them their due right. However, Govt. should work on reducing the number of armed force personals: unmanned combat Autonomous vehicles (Air , Land and Water). The govt should use its human resources in R&D and innovative industry. give the citizens its birth right - clean air, water, land and opportunities.

Abhishek said...

Hello Ajai. Could you please give an update on the HTT-40 and how far has HAL progressed with it.You had mentioned there are plans to weaponize it. Also recently there are news that IAF has completely rejected the IJT and is going for US Scorpene aircraft as appeared in financial express.

Anonymous said...

I have been an avid followed of your blog for quite some time now. However, i guess from an independent blog that you initially had, last few months I have noticed you taking sides of certain vendors/ firms (actually quite evident). In addition, your views have become slightly biased on issues which might be due to the compulsions of the channels that you are primarily subscribed to.
Hope you could revert back to normal..until then..
no more regular following of your blog.

Anonymous said...

This is a great day for all Veterans ! This Govt. has done more for ex-servicemen that previous four govt. combined. It is not perfect but happy that people in positions of power finally showed the courage to pass this landmark resolution.

Anonymous said...

@Abhishek - The Textron light attack aircraft is called SCORPION, not Scorpene.

The HTT-40 is not an IJT. It is a basic trainer.

Rumors have it that the IAF is exploring the option of ordering the SCORPIONs in lieu of the failed HAL IJT SITARA.

Anonymous said...

did you get irked by congressi comment, that you chose not to display it?
I think it reflects the factual state of your wound, you chose to ignore it

By the way will you get OROP? will you take the monetary benefits approved by your not so fav def min?

Ramapati Sahana said...

I think the time has come when it is not only just OROP but the real / root cause.
Unless we as one family including those in service take the matter to the hilt, this disparity will rebound back in some other form/ disguise.
e.g .. what use of just equalizing the salary / pay bands when 16 yrs Secretary will draw the same pay an old Maj Gen will with 32 yrs service and that too only 1% of it.