A group of retired military chiefs have urged President Pranab Mukherjee to “urgently intervene” to ensure “One Rank, One Pension (OROP)” for the forces, warning that denying this will “severely damage the officer-jawan relationship.”
Following are the latest developments:
1. “…denial of OROP is merely the last straw that has exhausted the Veterans’ patience,” says an open letter signed by former army chief General SF Rodrigues, and former navy chiefs, Admirals L Ramdas, Arun Prakash and Sureesh Mehta.
2. The letter comes just ahead of the Independence Day, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is widely expected to announce the big step.
3. NDTV has learned that a meeting between officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and retired armed forces personnel yesterday has failed to evolve a consensus on One Rank One Pension.
4. One Rank One Pension or OROP, a longstanding demand of ex-servicemen, will grant retired armed forces personnel pension parity with officers and jawans of the same rank who are retiring now – at a cost of an estimated Rs. 8,300 crore annually to the government. Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time they retire. A Major General who retired in 1996 would draw less pension than his junior who retired years later.
5. In the meeting, ex-servicemen flatly rejected the government proposal to benchmark pensions at 2011 rates. They insisted that 2014 rates should be counted as that is when the NDA government had promised the scheme.
6. If implemented at 2014 rates, the pension of retired personnel would be drastically enhanced. For example, a retiring Havildar’s pension would go up from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 9,600 a month. Similarly, a retiring Major would earn Rs. 35,000, up fromRs. 14,400.
7. Widows would also benefit; the widow of a Subedar Major would see her pension go up from Rs. 4830 to Rs. 9612. The widow of a major would get nearly Rs. 20,000 as opposed to Rs.8,460 that they receive now.
8. The ex-chiefs have said in their letter that the political delay in implementing the scheme has “not only triggered a process of politicization of the Indian military, but also served to inflict grave damage on its morale and self-esteem.”
9. The letter says: “Soldiers, like flags and anthems, are emblematic of a nation’s pride and honor. The very fact that the nation’s military Veterans have had to take resort to agitational methods and that the government could tolerate their denigration or humiliation has come as a rude shock to all of us.”
10. Alleging lack of political will, the letter urges the president to intervene as the Supreme Commander of the forces.
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