Monday, 7 September 2015

OROP - One Rank One Pension

Congrats to all the personnel of Armed forces and the BJP Govt.  Modiji has turned into a reality a 42 year old dream  of Armed Forces veterans and this is a herculean achievement and needs to be applauded at all levels!!!

While displaying his firm commitment to OROP our beloved PM made a passionate speech about what he feels about the difficulties faced by jawans which left no doubt about his intent and mindset.  He also assured that VRS is just a bogey and OROP will be applicable to everyone!!!.

Well that calls for a happy ending except for a few sticking points which may be met mid way by both parties in due course of time.

While going through this agitation, as a dedicated citizen of this country, I heard certain comments by some learned TV commentators and journalists about the Armed forces and OROP which pained me quite a bit and i would like to touch upon those:-

(Whatever clarifications I am giving here - Modiji and the Govt are already aware of, which is why OROP was granted.  This is for common people like you and me)

1.    Are the Armed forces asking for too much? - a question repeatedly asked by some TV channels.
Ans. The Armed forces are only asking for what is their due.  Upto 1973 the armed forces personnel drew 70% of their last drawn pay as pension and the civil staff drew 30%.  This was due to the short service span of a soldier and as pension was linked to years of service he was permitted to draw upto 70%.  Ironically, after the Armed forces won the 1971 war for India, the Govt of the day (led by Smt (late) Indira Gandhiji) reduced the pensions of the armed forces to 50% and surprisingly increased the pensions of the civilian staff to 50%.  To justify the reduction they assured a scheme which was akin to the present OROP which never fructified in four decades.  So, the veterans are only fighting for what was promised and accepted by the Govt.  They are not demanding anything more than what was promised to them by the Govt and therefore the question of  'asking for too much' does not arise.

2.     The burden of 8-10,000 crores is too much in addition to the 45,000 crores pension bill already there.
Ans. The figure of 45-50,000 crores that is being quoted includes the pension payout to civilians also who make up roughly 40% of the workforce.  Therefore, the entire quoted bill is not just for the uniformed personnel.  

3.    Why should OROP be applicable to VRS personnel?
Ans. Firstly there is no VRS in the services. They retire Prematurely i.e after completion of 15 years for jawans and 20 years for Officers.  They retire either due to war injuries, disabilities accrued on account of service or due to lack of further promotion opportunities.  The last one is particularly good for the country, as it is this exit policy that keeps the Army young. Jawans in the age of 35-40 retire and make way for younger ones in the age group of 17-23.  This obviously is to the Nation's advantage and not to its detriment.

4.  Why should OROP be applicable to people who are comfortably employed in their second careers?

Ans.  Everyone is not comfortably employed in second career.  One anchor chose to take the example of airforce pilots leaving to take up a career in the aviation sector as pilots.  I would say that it is a rather extreme example - bcoz the % of transport pilots in the entire armed forces is  a very miniscule number (probably less than 1%) and within that 1% the number who leave the service and join air india would be about 10 %.  Therefore, quoting a case which would apply to less than 0.1% of Armed forces as a norm to force an argument is outrightly unacceptable.  I hope it was done only out of ignorance of the facts and not with malicious intent.

5.    "Its a lot of money", "We have to face it, its going to be a huge bill" said another anchor.
Ans.  It is a huge bill - no doubt about it.  My answer to that anchor would be "Son, that is the cost of War (or the ability to prevent it)".  it is the huge bill on defence expenditure over decades that sustained peace for nearly 45 years (few low intensity conflicts not withstanding).   It is not unique to us.  The same happens in other countries such as the United States (where it is not even called pension -  it is called retirement pay), China, U.K etc.  Even they are paying this huge bill of Armed forces. 

Citizens over generations have paid this bill - to safeguard themselves from barbaric attacks of the enemy  - to preserve their freedom - to keep their Nation's flag flying high 

- the cost is very high, no doubt -

but "Freedom" ladies and gentlemen, does not come cheap!!!