Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

One Rank One Pension

On 5/9/2015 Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced government’s version of One Rank One Pension (OROP) which failed to satisfy many ex-servicemen. The issue started in 1973 and the last word is not said.
In 2014 during Lok Sabha elections BJP had promised OROP within 100 days of coming to power. Ex-servicemen had faith in Narendra Modi and they voted for him. It took 15 months and 10 days to partially fulfil the promise.
Congress held a press conference. A. K. Antony, Kapil Sibal, and Randeep Singh Surjewala addressed journalists. Congress claimed credit for OROP because they had accepted it in principle in February 2014 and allotted 500 crore rupees in interim budget. It blamed BJP for dilution of OROP. Minster of State for External Affairs and former General Vijay Kumar Singh said those who did nothing for 42 years have no right to talk. Poor fellow was unaware that out of these 42 years Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister for six years (1998-2004), Janata Party was in power in 1977-79 and BJP had supported Vishwanath Pratap Singh government in 1989-90. Congress had supported Charan Singh in 1979, Chandra Shekhar government in 1990-91 and Deve Gowda and I. K. Gujral governments in 1996-97.
Vijay Kumar Singh can be excused for his ignorance. Not Narendra Modi. He said something similar on 6/9/2015.
What BJP has agreed to implement is One Rank Many Pensions. The average of maximum and minimum pension will be given to those who get less than average pension. Those who get more than average pension will retain their pension.
BJP had promised OROP with effect from 1/4/2014 in Parliament. Now it is with effect from 1/7/2014. The excuse is BJP came to power on 26/5/2014. But BJP had made that promise after they came to power. Veterans were not happy with it but they accepted it.
Revision of pension is every five years. Veterans wanted revision every year or at least every two years.
Government has announced one-member judicial commission on OROP for a period of six months. Veterans want five-member commission with three veterans as members for a period of one month. Government says calculations take a long time. Veterans say there is a computer programme that can calculate in 15 minutes.
Government said those who took VRS will not get OROP. Veterans said there is no VRS in armed forces, they have premature retirement. Government accepted that contention.
Congress claiming credit for OROP is laughable. For long they opposed OROP. In 2009 they had said there were administrative, technical and financial difficulties in implementing OROP. When elections drew near in 2014 they agreed for OROP to get votes of veterans. It was too late and was of no use.
Political reactions have been predictable. Those who are on BJP side have said it is a great achievement. Those who are on the opposite side have found faults with it.
Veterans have given up fast unto death and are continuing their agitation at Jantar Mantar with chain hunger strike.
One argument against OROP has been it will cost huge money and government cannot afford it. This argument is not valid. Central government is never short of money. Whenever it wants money it prints notes. Narendra Modi announced Bihar package of more than 2 lakh crore rupees. Public sector banks have lost lakhs of crores of rupees due to corporate debt restructuring. In the name of recapitalisation, government has printed notes and given to banks. Property of defaulters is not confiscated. Money is lost in NREGA and various schemes. Nothing is done to stop them.
Veterans waited for OROP. In March 2014 Defence Ministry finished its calculations and sent to Finance Ministry. According to veterans it was close to 8,300 crore rupees. Things got stuck up at Finance Ministry. Veterans waited for a year. They expected Narendra Modi to announce OROP at Mathura on 25/5/2015. That did not happen. Veterans lost patience. They began their agitation at Jantar Mantar. There was no effect. On 14/8/2015 NDMC officials and policepersons tried to remove veterans forcibly which created outrage. Modi did not announce OROP during his Independence Day speech at Red Fort on 15/8/2015. On 16/8/2015 two veterans began fast unto death and later some more veterans joined them. Veterans did not get appointment to meet Prime Minister. Veterans were angry. They threatened to intensify their agitation and spread it across the country and campaign against BJP in Bihar elections. Commemoration of 1965 War became a casualty.
Satbir Singh was on many TV channels giving the view of veterans. V. K. Gandhi and Amit Kaul were sometimes on TV.
MPs get pension irrespective of the time one was an MP. They get their salaries and allowances even when they disrupt Parliament and no work takes place. They have the power to increase their salaries, allowances, perks and privileges as they like. The bills get passed quickly without disruption and with unanimity. There is Parliament canteen subsidy. Bureaucrats get OROP.
BJP broke many promises. Prominent among them is to make public names of black money holders in foreign accounts and bring back black money from foreign countries and put 15 lakh rupees in account of every Indian within 100 days. Promises to make Henderson-Brookes Report and Subhash Chandra Bose files public were broken. If veterans had not started their agitation and resorted to fast unto death the promise of OROP which is fulfilled partially would have been broken.

Updated: September 8, 2015 — 7:32 am

3 Comments

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  1. True, they have failed to keep their promises. But, sadly, this is the case with every political party in our country. Politics here means mudslinging and breaking promises…

    A very well-written post…thanks for sharing…. :-)

  2. True, BJP has failed to keep their promises, but sadly this is the case with every other political party in our country. Politics here means nothing but mudslinging and breaking promises. Nobody thinks about the welfare of common man.

    A very timely and well-written post….thanks for sharing… :-)

  3. You’re so awesome! I don’t think I’ve read through anything
    like that before. So good to find someone with a few genuine thoughts on this issue.
    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is
    something that is required on the internet, someone
    with some originality!

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