Armed forces personnel have to be young, in keeping with their role that requires high standards of physical fitness. Therefore, unlike other government employees, they are compulsorily retired at an early age. Grant of One Rank-One Pension is considered a partial compensation for the curtailment of their service
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd)
The Ex-servicemen’s contingent on parade at Rajpath during Republic Day. While announcing grant of One Rank -- One Pension, the government has not fully removed apprehensions in the minds of the veterans
FOR students of military history, the only significance of February 17 is that on this day in 1864, Hunley became the first submarine ever to engage and sink a warship during the American Civil War. But for Indian veterans, February 17, 2014 marks another important milestone. It was on this day the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, during his presentation of the interim budget in the Parliament made an announcement of the government accepting the concept of “One Rank — One Pension” (OROP). If many veterans who were watching the live telecast wanted to reconfirm if what they heard was correct, it was understandable. They had been short-changed and their expectations had been belied so many times that hope was almost lost. Many are still not reconciled to the reality that it has actually happened.
OROP had been projected as a demand for the first time in 1982. It had been simmering since then. It was rekindled and put on the front burner and truly on the national map by the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement staring in 2008. Today almost everyone in the country is familiar with the term, though not many outside the uniform may understand its nuances. Armed forces personnel have to be young in age in keeping with their roles and tasks that require a high standard of physical fitness. Therefore, unlike all other central government employees, they are compulsorily retired at an early age. Nearly 85 per cent defence personnel retire before they reach 40 years of age. It is a big blow to a person to be thrown out of his job at an age when his financial commitments are at the peak. There is no provision for him to be absorbed in another government job till his normal age of superannuation. Nor is there any compensation worth the name. OROP is designed to partially address this issue.
What is OROP? The central pay commissions are constituted every 10 years. Every pay commission recommends enhancement of salaries keeping in view the prevailing cost of living and other relevant factors. Rise in salaries leads to an increase in pensions, which are a percentage of the salaries. The increase in pension is always applied prospectively and past pensioners are left out. This creates a gap in the emoluments of old and new pensioners and this gaps keeps widening with every successive pay commission. Since pension is a remuneration for services rendered, this is an unfair disparity between two defence pensioners that have rendered equal service and have handled the same level of responsibility. To remove this anomaly it is essential that persons retiring after rendering the same length of service and from the same rank always get the same pension. In other words, “equal service, equal rank, equal pension.” This is referred by its shortened version of “One Rank — One Pension.”