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One Rank-One Pension – For the guardians of security and integrity of India


If the demand is not attended to, it runs the risk of leading to a detrimental effect on the good morale and motivation of the armed forces personnel, who are all future pensioners

By Lt. Gen. (Emeritus) Raj Kadyan

Febuary 14, 2009

 

The nearly 21 lakh Ex-Servicemen of India have been demanding their right of 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) for over 25 years now. All political parties have supported the move in their election manifestos but none have been able to get it sanctioned when in power. Successive governments at the center have failed to address this issue and in December 2008, the current regime also rejected the demand after forcing the Ex-Servicemen to state their demands through public platforms.

After organising rallies and sitting on a relay fast to highlight the denial of justice to them, the army veterans from all over the country assembled at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on February 8, 2009 and returned their most precious possession – their medals – to the President of India who is also the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces. This unprecedented action indicates the degree of disenchantment of the Ex Servicemen at being denied their due. The Ex Servicemen have resolved to take the medals back only after OROP is sanctioned.

What is One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP)?

Pension is a deferred wage. It is a payment for services already rendered. Therefore, logic and equity demand that two individuals rendering equal service, both in terms of quantum and quality, must receive equal pension.  In military terms, it implies that two individuals retiring after equal length of service and from the same rank (which determines the level of responsibility or the quality of service) must get equal pension. Put simply it means 'same rank, equal service, equal pension'. The term 'one rank one pension' or OROP is a generic term used for this. Injecting any other parameter, such as the period in which the said service is rendered, would be illogical and unjust.

The current status

Under the existing dispensation, OROP is not being given.  Whenever the pensions are increased, which happens once in ten years when the Central Pay Commissions are constituted, the enhancement is applied prospectively and does not cover the past pensioners who thus start receiving lower pension than their younger counterparts do. The gap keeps on increasing after every pay commission. After the Sixth Pay Commission, the disparity between the old and the new pensioners is too stark. Details are the disparities and their intra-rank and inter-rank implications are given in the tables below –

 

PENSION: PERSONNEL BELOW OFFICER RANK

RANK

PRE 01.01.1996

PRE 01.01.2006

POST 01.01.2006

SEPOY

3,764

4,667

6,860

NAIK

4,417

4,828

6,950

HAVILDAR

5,008

5,239

8,030

NAIB SUBEDAR

7,967

9,198

8,980

SUBEDAR

9,323

10,532

9,915

SUBEDAR MAJOR

10,792

10,792

10,795


Intra Rank Implications: a pre 1996 Sepoy gets 82% lower pension than his post 2006 counterpart.

Inter rank implications: a pre 1996 Havildar gets 37% lower pension than a post 2006 Sepoy, who is two ranks lower than he is.

 

PENSION:OFFICERS

RANK

PRE 01.01.1996

PRE 01.01.2006

POST 01.01.2006

LIEUTENANT

13,500

13,500

15,885

CAPTAIN

13,850

13,850

17,865

MAJOR

14,464

18,137

22,135

LT COLONEL

25,700

25,700

25,700

BRIGADIER

26,150

26,150

31,170

MAJOR GENERAL

26,700

26,700

33,925

LT GENERAL

27,700

27,700

38,190


Intra Rank Implications: A pre 1996 Major gets 53% lower pension than his post 2006 counterpart.

Inter Rank Implications: A pre 1996 Lt General, who reached that rank after going through five selection boards and served for 40 years, gets 10 % lower pension than a 'Time Scale' Colonel who did not make it through a single selection board and retired after 26 years of service.

OROP – A demand for equal status

Demand for OROP is not extraordinary. The Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assemblies and judges are already enjoying this benefit. OROP is also being given to the secretaries, special secretaries and senior posts in other government departments under the provision of 'fixed salaries'.

Even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has been asking the government to implement OROP. Para 99 of the Report of Standing Committee on Defence (2003) clearly states: "The committee have been recommending grant of 'One Rank One Pension' to the armed forces personnel time and again. The Committee observes that successive Governments and Pay Commissions have made improvements in the pension structure keeping in view the cost of living index. This has accentuated the disparity of pensionary benefits between pensioners of the same rank. The older pensioners who have become infirm in ability and capability and burdened with a larger social obligation receive pension calculated at the rate of pay at the time of their retirement in 1950s or 1960s or 1970s, which is quite paltry and the Dearness Relief quite inconsequential in today's context of inflation and shrinking purchasing value of money. The nation must repay its debt to those defenders of motherland with gratitude and humility. We should, instead of, looking for precedents in this regard, create precedents for the others to emulate. Any amount paid in this regard would be small token of our gratitude to them. The committee, therefore, once again reiterates their earlier recommendation for providing 'One Rank One Pension' to the armed forces personnel".

[For purpose of 'pension' the term military veterans includes widows/parents/ next of kin of soldiers who were killed in battle and also those who died in peace time, and in receipt of pension from Defence Department].

Unfortunately, despite the recommendations of the committee, the government rejected the demand in December 2008 saying that the OROP demand was not acceptable due to administrative, financial and legal reasons. All these aspects notwithstanding, the adverse effects of non-grant of OROP are too serious and detrimental to the good morale and motivation of defence personnel. Yet the government does not seem to see the light of the day. If things continue as they are, the security and integrity of India will be in jeopardy.

For a soldier his most precious possession is his medals, awarded to him by the President. Each medal is a record of his contribution to the security and integrity of the country. The soldier guards these zealously throughout his life. When he dies, the medals are passed on to his descendents. The military veterans have returned their medals back to the president on February 8, 2009 will take them back only after OROP and other resettlement demands of military veterans are met by the government.

Lt. Gen. (Emeritus) Raj Kadyan is Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM). He is a former Deputy Chief of Army Staff. He can be contacted at rajkadyan@yahoo.com.



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