Of late there has been a flurry of emails on OROP. Seeing that it affects all of us, the interest OROP has generated is fully understandable.
OROP started its journey in the early Nineteen-Eighties. Since then many had been pursuing it. Notable among them is senior Veteran Col Inderjit Singh, who has been doggedly chipping away at the government resistance and pushing for OROP in his quiet dignified way. He would be remembered with great admiration by the future generations.
From 2008 onwards, the IESM put fresh fuel in the fight for OROP. Ours was a mix of presentations and protests, of meetings, memoranda and medal deposits running simultaneously; pressure and persuasion. Meetings also took place with various political leaders. This included Mr LK Advani, Mr Rajnath Singh when he was BJP President, Mr Nitin Gadkari, Ms Sushman Swaraj, Ms Supriya Sule and many others.
The Rajya Sabha Petitions Committee, which itself was the result of efforts by the MP, Mr Chandrashekhar, came as a shot in the arm. Among others the IESM delegation too made a presentation to the Committee. Some of us also worked behind the scenes. A couple of meetings at the residence of Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who was heading the Committee, helped in inserting the crucial clause that future pension enhancements should be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. As would be seen, with this provision instead of being a one-time benefit, OROP becomes a permanent feature for pension equation. It is a boon for future pensioners. We also had a few meetings with an influential Committee member Mr Ram Vila Paswan and succeeded in soliciting his support.
The cumulative effect of all these efforts resulted in OROP being announced in the Parliament on 17 Feb 2014. Interaction with Mr AK Antony further ensured that this clause - of future enhancements being given automatically to past pensioners - was inserted in the Note he issued in the fourth week of February 2014. This definition was also later reiterated by the RRM in the Parliament in November 2014. Ever since February 2014, OROP has been only a question of 'when' and not of 'whether' it would come through.
The bureaucratic hurdles were indeed there. First they wanted 'service in the rank' and not 'total service' as the criterion. This was adequately explained to the RRM and he confirmed that he would overrule the bureaucrats; he did. The second resistance was in the form of a perceived administrative difficulty in implementing the frequent enhancement in pensions. This was again explained to the RRM that pensions could be enhanced once a year and that since the Dearness Allowance was already being enhanced twice a year in the case of all pensioners without any difficulty any apprehension in case of pension is unfounded.
The proposal is being sent to the Finance Ministry. With the PM himself having committed grant of OROP repeatedly, it is unlikely that the Finance would even do any pruning of the proposal. After receipt back from the Finance Ministry, tables would be prepared jointly by the MoD and Service HQ. Some of the broad parameters of OROP are as under:
1. The definition, as given by the Koshyari Committee stays unchanged.
2. The existing 'X' and 'Y' Groups would continue. The Service Headquarters had wanted merging of the Groups to 'X' level but the recommendation was not accepted.
3. The equation will be with the maximum pensions of past pensioners as explained in my article attached with the Sitrep dated 20 Jan 2015. Extract is given below:
"Keeping the above parameters in mind, a model is suggested here. Let us take the rank of Havildar. The base date of implementing OROP being 1 April 2014, take a sample of the total number of Havildars that retired in the preceding few months or an year. Take the highest pension earned by any Havildar during this period and use that as a benchmark for fixing pension of all Havildars. Since they all retire after a total service of 24 years, the application is simple. In the case of officers, since they retire by age, and the total service varies, take the maximum earned in the chosen sample for different lengths of total service and use these as benchmarks in a similar manner."
4. At the time of preparing tables, Majors' pension is proposed to be upgraded to Lt Col less the Grade Pay equivalent.
5. The total estimated annual cost of OROP is Rs 8,200 Crore.
There are several anxious and even impatient calls being received daily where ESM keep asking for the progress on OROP. The Defence Minister in his TV interview had stated that OROP would be implemented by 31 March 2015. There is no change to that timeline. Some queries even pertain to the budget allocation, which should not be our worry/concern at all. A patient wait is required.
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan
262, Sector - 17A
Gurgaon - 122 001