Monday, 16 February 2015


Achchey Din seems likely to dawn on the armed forces, or ex-personnel in particular. The government is giving final shape to their long standing demand of adopting One-Rank One-Pension (OROP).
Bureaucrats are currently burning midnight oil to pore over the fine print of at least four options to implement the OROP scheme. A source in government, aware of the developments, says a decision is expected soon and a large provision in the Budget, or soon after.

"We are very hopeful that the long overdue injustice to the armed forces will be reversed in this budget," says Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd) who leads the IESM or Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, which lobbied intensely for OROP since 2008. "Both UPA and NDA have agreed to our OROP so we see no reason that it will be held back now," he says.

For 40 years the retirees, now numbering three million, have been bristling under what they perceive as "neglect and humiliation" by political parties and successive governments. Its extreme manifestation, from their perspective, was the denial of OROP. Lack of empirical data on the cost of this pension, plus political reluctance of the parties fuelled much of the denial and delay. The former military staff launched public agitations to make their case, often embarrassing the government.

Regardless of which of the four options the government decides upon ultimately, the roughly Rs 8,000 crore likely to be set aside for OROP should go a long way to calm the angry (wo)men in uniform, besides providing them a lifestyle befitting the status, say, one that a retired colonel or brigadier enjoys.

One choice before the government, says the same government source, is to do exactly as the ex-servicemen want: Give future and past retirees of the same rank from the Army, Navy and Air Force exactly the same pension. Essentially, this means that all Brigadiers or, say, Air Vice Marshals, would get the same pension regardless of when they retired, taking into account only their years in service and the number of years they held the rank. This formula, a literal interpretation of the phrase One-Rank One-Pension, has been accepted by government committees, including the Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence.

For instance, a colonel with 30-32 years of service, whose basic pay was around Rs. 26,000 before 2004 would have earned around Rs. 37,000 in 2014. OROP is expected to bridge the pension gap that arises due to this pay discrepancy. "Our demand is very simple: Today's pension for all previous retirees," says Singh.

But the government's estimates of cost of this pension have it pedalling back a little. Taking 2012 as the cut-off date, giving past retirees hikes that bring them on par with the highest pension paid to that rank in 2012, would cost a whopping Rs 16,000 crore, they argue. This has prompted a hunt for other options, meant to "balance" the exchequer with meeting armed force expectations.

A second option involves fixing the pension for pre-2006 retirees according to the 6th Pay Commission. Then, the government may pull a trick out of its hat and select the lowest pension paid since 2006 as the norm for older retirees. A version of this formula is already under implementation for Junior Commissioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and other ranks. It's possible this formula, with some tweaks, will be accepted, and result in the roughly Rs 8,000 crore allocation.

"It's obvious OROP is going to happen," says this government official. The discussions, this person says, is now in its final stage. There was a third choice, which involved bringing all ex-servicemen on par with the basic pay of the 6th Pay Commission, then calculate each retiree's pension individually, taking into account each one's years in service and length of time spent in the rank. This option is an "administrative nightmare" dogged, reportedly, by unavailable past data with the Controller of Defence Accounts, a wing of the ministry of defence. The lack of data is also a clear sign that the OROP debate has been based on weak databases and much groping in the dark.

A fourth and final option is where pension is to be fixed on the basis of an average or median. Separate groups of retirees who superannuated in bands of years, say, between 1990 and 2000, would be made. Those earning a pension below the average would get an enhanced pension, while the rest would be protected. This option, apparently easy to implement, is technically not OROP at all as it implies a different pension for retirees in the same rank, if they retired at different points of time.

The defence forces are mounting tremendous pressure on the government to ensure OROP isn't watered down. Earlier this month, they questioned defence minister Manohar Parrikar for saying that OROP would satisfy them "80 per cent." Their vociferous protest had the government assure full satisfaction. In 2009, angry retired armed personnel signed a petition in their own blood for then President Pratibha Patil. Reeling under such tough tactics, the UPA finally accepted OROP in 2012. But the Rs. 500 crore for it in last year's interim budget presented by finance minister P Chidambaram was seen as woefully inadequate. The veterans switched sides, now pinning their hopes on to the BJP's then prime minister-aspirant, Narendra Modi.

Five lakh ex-servicemen had assembled last spring at Rewari, on the outskirts of Delhi, to hear Modi promise OROP, should his party form the government. Behind the scenes, the ex-servicemen had already got an assurance from the party to consider their demand and publicly announce it, as a precondition for pulling in the spectacular crowd in Rewari. "For years we had requested, protested and demanded OROP. In 2014 we realised what would make a difference to politicians—votes. With our strength and influence over the village population, we could swing elections in many places," Gen (retd) Singh says.

OROP is an issue which could trip the BJP. It considers and projects itself as a fiercely nationalist party, a narrative meaningless without a robust national defence policy. It can scarcely afford to disappoint the defence forces. Nevertheless, the different versions of OROP indicate just how conflicted the issue is. The ex-servicemen never agreed that OROP will cost the Rs. 16000 predicted by the bureaucracy. They still hope for a Rs. 9000-12000 crore allocation for full OROP. The usually docile military retirees started getting heated up only after 2006. That year, the Sixth Pay Commission hiked central government pay significantly, to counter the private sector's fantastic offers to the similarly educated. As pension is always a proportion of salary, after this hike, the gap between pensions of ex-servicemen who retired before and after 2006 grew wider. Most jawans retire in their mid-thirties, and only an eighth of officers rise beyond the rank of colonel. The belief that the army would never catch up with the civil services' benefits also grew.



  1. Make 50% of maximum of pay band +GP+MSP of 6 CPC of each rank as full pension for 33 yrs of service for both pre and post 2006 retirees. I think that this would achieve OROP in real terms.

  2. The bureaucracy were the defacto rulers during the British Raj as there were no politicians to boss over them and this legacy of ruling still continues as Government changes. The Neta Babu combination survives on ruling the country and not in serving the country and the Military is sidelined traditionally unlike in Pakistan where 10 percent of vacancies of Central Superior Service is reserved for the Military. The Babus have made themselves comfortable not at the cost of the Military but because of the financial ignorance of the brass who accepted degradation over a long period of time. The primary point is soldiers parity in pension and implementation will benefit lakhs of soldiers whereas officers are in thousands only . This is another case of series of leaked information to cater to the manipulations of those in Power. Even the Apex Court has repeatedly exposed the manipulations orchestrated by the rulers . Apparently the Supreme Court has now donned the saviours role to safeguard the interest of the soldiers. Anti government sentiments have been reflected clearly by the defence fraternity in Jammu and Delhi. Hopefully lessons are learnt and the Military brass prevent farther degradations

    1. An apt comment-seems to be an outcome of much experience & wisdom.
      -Harendra Jha

  3. Dear All

    I wish to say that in India our main enemy is Bureaucrat Lobbies/Mafias and not a Pakistan/China/ or any other Terrorist Groups as we can defeat them nicely but we are unable to defeat the Bureaucrat Lobbies due to lack aid to civil power, as they are internal enemy for us . We must keep away from them unless they will sold out us or our community also

  4. atleast something is moving. abcd wont happen always

  5. Exservicemen community knows calculation of orop as already reflected in the dgl which was meticulously prepared considering all pros and cons including sacrifice and sufferings of exservicemen during service as well as after retirement at an early age. A
    Defence minister has already made his commitment of implementation of orop in real terms repeatedly in front of exservicemen representatives on 01.02.2015 giving certain date lines of implementation. Let's hope for the best till budget. (2015)

  6. Dgl as prepared by service headquarters should be followed in true sense of orop implementation. No other option will ensure 100 percent satisfaction to exservicrmen community.

  7. MOD was to send its views on orop by 17 Feb 2015 as it was confirmed by our DM on 01 Feb 2015. Today 17 Feb is also over still babus are trying to derail and delay the implementation of orop . Why our PM is keeping quite on the issue

  8. OROP means total number of years of service and rank retired. These two informations are available in everyone's PPO. The bureaucrats added the number of years served in the last rank, which neither be available with maximum number of Veterans nor with the PCDA or anywhere. Just to confuse they included this criteria. Even in the second option above, they have not taken number of years served in the rank.

    Step up the pension of the pre 2006 pensioners equal to the post 2006 pensioners with the same rank and total number of years service. For example :-
    All 20 years pre 2006 pensioners of PO rank to post 2006 PO rank 20 years service pensioner. Likewise, 19 years, 18 years, 17, 16 and 15 years etc.

  9. Modi ji ka raj sare IESM ko dokka aur dukki thetha hai yeh achcha nahi hai