The one rank one pension (OROP) scheme was announced by the Modi government on September 6, 2015 but ex-servicemen say it has failed to address their concerns.
The scheme, implemented after more than 40 years, promises equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of retirement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said the first installment of nearly R5,500 crore was paid towards OROP.
“What has been implemented is not OROP but one-time increase in pensions. If the anomalies are not removed, senior defence personnel will start drawing less pension than their juniors, a system unacceptable constitutionally, fairly and justifiably,” said major general Satbir Singh (retd), who is at the forefront of the OROP agitation.
The main features of OROP and the complaints the veterans have:
1. The scheme is effective July 1, 2014, with 2013 as the base year. The veterans wanted OROP from April 1, 2014 and 2015 as the base year.
2. Around three million military personnel covered under the OROP scheme. The arrears are to be paid in four half-yearly installments and all widows, including war widows, will get arrears in one go. First instalment has been paid and second is on the way
3. The estimated cost to exchequer is expected to be Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore and will increase in future.
4. The government has proposed a review every five years. The veterans want an annual review. Their contention is that a senior officer can never receive a smaller pension than a junior officer.
5. The government initially said soldiers who took “voluntary retirement” would not be entitled to OROP. This hit a raw nerve as at least 40% of servicemen retire early. Only those who retired before the plan kicked in would be entitled to OROP, the government has said.
6. A single-member judicial panel set up by the government to look into various aspects of OROP, including inter-services matters, has submitted its report, which is yet to be made public