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December 17, 2016

OROP Scheme - Important Details you should know

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One Rank One Pension for Indian Armed Forces

  • What is OROP ? 
  • The career span and the meagre pension of the soldiers.
  • The concept of OROP is not applied due to deficiency of fund.
  • The movement started for implementation of OROP. 
  • The government's reservation against OROP. 
  • OROP will be a great motivation for the armed forces.
One Rank One Pension (OROP) is a pension reform for the 'Indian Armed Forces' personnel. Under this programme, all the retired soldiers will get the same pension, irrespective of their date of retirement. Any future enhancements in the rates of pensions would be automatically transferred to the past pensioners.

In the present scenario, the soldiers who retired recently receive more pension than their previously retired counterparts. This is because the pension is directly associated with the last salary drawn and there have been appraisals by successive pay commissions. Currently, the pension is based on the pay recommendations at the time when an individual retires.

The career span of a soldier is short as the age of retirement in the armed forces is between 35 to 37 years. This early age retirement is backed by the fact that the country needs a young armed force. Older men cannot fight battles as they have comparatively less stamina and strength than the young people.

Second, due to the limited vacancies and rigid pyramidal rank structure, it is tough to get promotions easily in the army. Third, the soldiers and the lower grade employees are considered equivalent to grade D government employees.

The proponents strongly opine the fact that the armed personnel have given the best years of their lives to safeguard the nation. After their retirement, they are dependent on the meagre pension offered by the government. This meagre pension is not sufficient to meet the needs and fulfil their social responsibilities in lieu of the changing socioeconomic conditions.

Given the low pensions, the individual has no choice but to seek employment in order to fulfil his responsibilities. There are fewer chances that these veterans can get lateral entry into the government jobs and have to look out for other alternatives. In other words, the compulsory retirement of the soldiers means that they are being denied salary earnings of approx 25 years which other government employees receive because they retire at the age of 60.

Had they joined any other profession, they would have been earning the complete salary. In order to make up for this inevitable replacement, the veterans expect the government to make up for it. They anticipate all the benefits which are offered to the personnel of the same rank in subsequent years due to the change in the government's policies to be offered to them as well.

The concept of OROP in the armed forces is not new to the Indian government. This scheme was scraped off by the Indira Gandhi's government in 1973 due to the requirement of excessive funds. However, the subsequent government implemented 'rank pay', which aimed to make civil, police and military grade pay equivalent. But the defence personnel were not satisfied and felt let down in the actual implementation. The Sharad Pawar Committee granted one time increase of OROP.

Later, Koshyari Committee was set to look into the issue of OROP and it explained OROP as the scheme that seeks to bridge the gap between the rates of pension payable to the current and past pensioners.

The committee favoured the scheme on the basis that equality in armed forces is governed by the rank and tenure of the service. As the personnels were associated and entitled with their ranks even after the retirement, two armed personnel with equal length of services and same rank should be entitled to an equal pension.

Owing to the legal, administrative and financial liabilities associated with OROP, the government wasn't much keen to implement it. This led to the returning of the gallantry awards, war and service medals to the President of India by the veterans. They have been holding peaceful protests, rallies, and demonstrations.

They have written letters to Prime Minister, Defence Minister, and President so as their demands are fulfilled. Due to the protests, successive governments had agreed to OROP but its implementation still remains a question.

The Koshyari committee, as well as the veterans, feel that it is the administrative and bureaucratic framework which is to be blamed for the delay in the implementation of OROP. The OROP will come as an additional cost for the government.

According to the estimates, whenever the OROP model is implemented, the government will have to payout in thousand of crores as an initial amount to compensate for the previous years. This cost will increase every time with a new Central Pay Commission.

Also, the government feels that if benefits are transferred directly to the veterans, it will not be justified to the present soldiers. One of the major inhibitions is that there is a probability that other government employees will also ask for the same benefits if OROP is implemented for the armed forces.

Collecting and compiling the previous records of all the ex-serviceman is another major roadblock in the implementation of OROP. Post their retirement, the government should absorb the armed forces personnels into the civilian jobs. This will be helpful in reduction of the fiscal burden on the government.

It is a common practice in China, Singapore, Israel and Switzerland. The nature of the job of armed forces is such that they have to work in life-threatening and stressful situations away from their families.

The people as well as the country are safe and secure because of them. Their hard work, dedication and sacrifice need to be acknowledged. The implementation of OROP will be a great motivation for the armed forces personnel and will also attract the youth to serve the nation.

Difficult Words with Meanings
  • Reform the amendment of conduct, belief etc
  • Counterparts someone or something that has the same job or purpose as another 
  • Rigid still or unyielding
  • Pyramidal of the nature of pyramid
  • Proponents a person who puts forward a proposal
  • Opine to hold or express an opinion
  • Meager deficient in quantity or quality
  • Veterans a person who has served in military force, especially one who has fought in a war
  • Lateral of or relating to the side, situated at, proceeding form
  • Inevitable sure to occur of happen; scraped to remove in a way
  • Tenure the period or term of holding something
  • Gallantry dashing courage
  • Inhibitions the act of preventing or slowing the activity or occurence of something
  • Fiscal of or relating to public treasury or revenues. 
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani

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