Politics

It’s a Question of Honour, Mr. Prime Minister. Your Honour.

Did you or did you not make a promise to implement One Rank, One Pension?

An Ex-serviceman during a protest over the delay in implementation of One Rank, One Pension (OROP) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Credit: PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist

An Ex-serviceman during a protest over the delay in implementation of One Rank, One Pension (OROP) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Credit: PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist

The time for debate is over. It is no longer about the pros or cons of taking a decision. It is now about fulfilling a commitment made by the Prime Minister of India, a commitment made to people who live and die over their commitment to the nation. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi first made the announcement of One Rank One Pension (OROP) at Rewari in 2013, it was without any ifs and buts. That promise won the military community over and they voted for him in overwhelming numbers. I know this from my first-hand experience in Chandigarh when I contested the Lok Sabha elections last May.

Not to digress but 16 months since later, the veterans are still waiting. After some hollow words and promises from Union ministers and BJP spokespersons, what we have now from the ruling party and the Prime Minister is silence, a thundering silence. Veterans, proudly wearing their medals on their chest, are protesting not very far from our Republic’s seat of power. The hunger strike at Jantar Mantar is now in its tenth day. No senior minister has had the courtesy to pay a visit and see what they are going through. It is a painful and heartbreaking sight for anyone but it hurts even more when three generations of your family have served and are serving in the Indian Army.

The OROP issue has now damaged the political credibility of the current regime—damage that is disproportionate to the number of people it actually affects.  Because from being an issue that directly affects a handful of Indians (relatively speaking), it has now caught the imagination of the entire country.

One Rank, One Pension affects only those who have already retired from the defence services and those who will retire in the future — and their families. For the sake of convenience, let’s put a number on it. The entire veterans community and their families would tally up to no more than a crore. That’s less than one percent of the Indian population. Why then, has this issue occupied political centre stage today?

Was it the rough handling of the veterans? Or the complete and deafening silence from the executive? Or images of veterans, well into their 80s, peacefully protesting against the delay in implementation of what they were led to believe is their right? Why has the OROP issue united, albeit emotionally, the entire nation? And why has it brought out our collective patriotism from cold storage?

The answers to these questions lie in the difference between our soldiers and the political leadership.

Our soldiers fight for naam, namak and nishaan and do so while blindly trusting their civilian masters—the elected leadership of the country. The veterans – and even serving soldiers – now feel that these civilians masters have taken them for a ride, led by the tallest political leader in the country. The contrast between the two – the soldier and the politician – couldn’t be starker. And it has struck a chord with every single Indian. 

We are now being told that the OROP is not affordable. I can easily get into “what about the Sardar Patel statue” or “the new fleet of VVIP aircraft” but that would be to digress from a point that is really simple. Did you or did you not make that promise, Mr Prime Minister? I, for one, find it hard to believe that someone who had been a chief minister for 12 years made the promise unthinkingly, without knowing what he was saying. The time to discuss, debate and have a public dialogue on OROP — or its merits and demerits — has long gone. Reams have been written on it and I would not like to add to the arguments which are already in the public domain.

Let us not forget that OROP is perhaps the only issue where consensus exists across the political spectrum: every single party is committed to it. And it doesn’t even need a constitutional amendment like the GST; or an ordinance as was done for the Prime Minister’s principal secretary, or for the Land Bill. It is a simple executive decision, a signature on the file where all the details and implementation schedule have been worked out, which will uphold the Prime Minister’s word.

Do it quickly, do it well, do it in full. After all, as they say in the military, Mr Prime Minister, it is a matter of honour. Your honour.

Gul Panag is an actor and an entrepreneur

  • NARENDRA M APTE

    (1) It is true that since
    our Prime Minister has made a promise about implementation of One Rank One
    Pension scheme, he must honour it. But there are millions of citizens who have
    never worked for the Army and are not aware of many angles of the OROP issue. (2)
    It is also true that two main political parties, Congress and BJP have not
    shown expected maturity in handling this OROP issue. That is why, finding an
    acceptable solution has become pretty difficult. (3) I believe that information
    about the number of defence personnel who are likely to be considered as eligible
    for OROP should be disclosed by the Central government. Similarly, estimates of
    total amount of payable to them per month as per today’s calculations should be
    disclosed so that citizens will know how much the country will have to pay to
    implement OROP. Of course, danger is that once OROP scheme is implemented for
    defence personnel, other Central government employees will make similar demands.
    We know how some politicians will support these groups of Central govt. employees
    for immediate political gain. Already, one Indian Railway Employees’ Union has
    made a demand for OROP.

    • Basant Kumar

      Dear Narendra , Please realise all calculation have been made and given to DM,RM and PM also. It will be amounting to 8293 crore and the pension of defence forces is already separated from other central govt services , by titling the Military pension and not Central Govt Pension, than what concerned this got with other Govt services. in all the three services the alive veterans used to file Life Certificate every year, widows also filing the same every year, means all the records are readily available just at a “Click” on the system. yes I agree that politicians always favour the Civil Govt service for their Political gains and humiliate the Defence Forces by the sacrifices of whom the nation is alive.
      Shame on such Netahs and also Shame on the Public who don’t understand the importance of defence Forces and don’t respect the Military personnel due to their selfish attitude.

  • Shravan Kumar Gudur

    #OROP is not AAP ad budget to get allocated instantly !! It costs anywhere between 10K-25K crores !!

    • Krishna Karki

      Modi is announcing thousands and lakhs of crores as and when giving speeches every where, Could he not full fill this poll promise even after 16 months?

    • amartya

      and it 8000 crore will be paid annually not a single time . whatever i believe that OROP should be implemented but only for military forces. also i would like to point out that he(modi) is the first politician to promise OROP and i know he will implement it.yes RajivG did but only lip-service.so modi doesnot need an AAP party candidate to remind him.

      • Basant Kumar

        Amritya, do you think that spending 8000 crore for the person who secured and securing the nation is a Big amount. Can you ask the PM from where he will bring the another crores which he is distributing in other countries like Nepal, Mangolia , 1.25 lakh crore for Bihar, 1000 crore for J & K and nothing for the person who safeguarded the same J & K and so many died for the same J & K and he has nothing for their widows. yes I appreciate you for thinking about the military forces, of course Military Forces to be kept separate from all other Govt. or private sector services as they are always on the face of death. I don’t say the people don’t die who are not in Defence but the Military person daily faces the death and overcome that. So must be separately dealt with.
        I am not agreed that he is the first politician to promise on this, it was already announced by UPA govt, of course they announced it to avoid their past failures but yes they done it and Modi was just to carry forward it which he could not do in 16 month where as each and everything is clear and calculated. This is his failure. And you have to accept that the PM is the biggest Lip Service provider even has only the qualification of Lip -Service and is a “0” every where.

        • amartya

          LOL then why didnot UPA implemented it in last 60 years? haan?

    • Mahesh Kumar

      What is this person talking about? The govt has 1.25 lakh crores to squander just to win votes for a political party. But does not have money to pay soldier’s pensions. This is a national shame.

    • babua

      So Modi made another Jumla for the soldiers two years ago?

  • Sudhir Kumar Sunkara

    It’s interesting how the author very easily does not mention that the PM has talked about OROP twice in the recent past. He has spoken about some issues, that he couldn’t anticipate. He promised on August 15th, from the ramparts of Red Fort, under the aegis of the Indian flag, that he is still committed to OROP and also needs some time, on an issue that has been burning for 40 years.

    As dramatic as this article sounds, this is so low on facts, only intended to make a political point (Author is a AAP leader).

    • Win32

      If it is so low on facts and if Modi so correct and communicated everything properly, why are they going on strike and why is nobody bothering to meet them?

  • Wg Cdr KJ Bhatt

    My dear Gul,
    They will never understand your 3rd Generation angst.Can one compare the training of a soldier?yr dad was three courses senior to my original NDA course.He has an outstanding reputation.Thats what matters,that’s what Izzat is all about.
    Love kopterkojak@utube/soldier(LA Taxi Live).

  • Ravi Shanker Singh

    आज फौज अपने ईमानदारी पूर्वक कर्तव्य निभाते हुये जेबी सेवा निवृत हो कर घर जाता है तो समझ मे आता है कि उसके ईमानदारी का मोल समाज मे कुछ भी नहीं है अपने ईमानदारी के कमाई पर अपने परिवार का निर्वाह भी ढंग से नहीं कर सकता है ! वही सिविल सर्विस मे मजे ही मजे है। आज हमारे प्रधानमंत्री विदेश जाते है उनके साथ अलग अलग मंत्रालयों के लोग भी जाकर मस्ती करते है तथा लौटने के बाद TA डीए के नाम पर अच्छा पैसा भी मिल जाता है ! आज सभी विभाग के पास वेतन के अलावा दूसरी साधन भी है परंतु फौजी के पास वेतन के अलावा कुछ भी नहीं। जवानो के पैसे भी वैसे ही मिलते है जैसे महीने मे एक बार आया और महीने भर कैसे गुजारा होगा सोचने के लिए मजबूर हो जाता है ! सरकार का रवैया कभी भी सेना के प्रति हमेशा ही उदासीन रहा है ! आज मोदी से एक उम्मीद जागी थी परंतु यह सरकार भी अपनी पहचान दूसरे राजनीतिज्ञो की तरह ही दी। देश मे उनही की सुनी जाती है जिनके पास वोट बैंक हो परंतु भूतपूर्व सैनिको तो अलग अलग जगहो से है उनका वोट एकत्रित नहीं है इसीसे से सरकार भी अपना रंग दिखा रही है। इस देश को वोट बैंक की राजनीति बर्बाद कर दिया परंतु अब आम जनता को इस देश को बचाने के लिए जागना होगा और राजनीतिज्ञो की मनमानी से छुटकारा दिलवाना ही होगा।

  • #AAPjvenkatesh

    Excellent right up put my thoughts in words . You are absolutely right when the PM deals with those who keep their words for honour of this nation it also becomes responcibility of PM to keep his honour . No more arguments do it now .

  • radhakrishnan m

    How can the Jawans in the border believe a PM and go happily to the border to fight for the country leaving behind their wards in home that the govt will look after their wards after his sacrifices for the nation? No one will go to if the govt is going to behave like this. Now the veterans are on strike and what about future veterans?

    • Basant Kumar

      You are right sir. My son it to appear for SSB in sep 2015 but seeing this attitude of the Politicians and Bureaucrats, I decided not to allow him to join the Defence as I have served for 20 years and don’t want He also should face the same difficulties by serving in Army and getting nothing from there.

  • Major AM Manohar

    In India violence pays, it is proved in the land of Gandhiji yesterday. The veterans in a mature patient way appealed to the GoI over a period of 43 years for a decent pension. Currently for the past two months they intensified it a bit by observing a Gandhian path of satyagraha. This looks odd for they were not taught to fight for IJJAT like this. It is not in their blood to fight with patience. Still the disciplined soldiers when attacked by the police on 14 Aug, they never retaliated but were peaceful. Still their demands were thrown to winds by the powers to be because they were not violent in their actions. On the other hand violence erupted in Gujarat during a stir for quota by Patel community, curfew has been clamped in many parts of the state, a statewide shutdown was observed. More than 50 incidents of violence were reported from Ahmedabad city where buses, police posts and private vehicles were set on fire while police personnel were also attacked at some places. The violence also spread to other parts of the state like Mehsana, Rajkot, Surat and remote areas of Saurashtra region. More than 100 buses have been damaged in different cities, while several private cars and motorcycles were set on fire in different parts of the state. About 5,000 personnel of Rapid Action Force, CRPF and BSF have been rushed to Gujarat to assist the local administration in maintaining law and order. Internet services have been suspended in some parts of Gujarat to stop rumour-mongering. In a day or two there will be an agreement in favour of the Patel community. It happened in the past and will happen now. So violence pays and not peaceful stir like that by veterans for OROP.

  • Rakhi

    So what is Gul is an AAP leader ??? She is first the proud daughter of a soldier who went to war for the sake of ungrateful and selfish people who can see things only from narrow perspectives of BJP CONG and AAP. She is rightly anguished at the plight of the soldiers who earn not by just sweat but by their blood, Soldiers who honour their word and Soldiers who have been waiting patiently for decades for their dues. Now it is for Mr Modi to show his mantle. Will he honour his word ??? I am begining to have serious doubts.

  • shilshi

    We calmed sea, air and land from the turbulence of adversary 24 x 7 tirelessly, so that every soul in this great nation sleeps in peace. Now we are taken for a ride as a prize.

  • IndianArmy Colonel

    We have paradoxes of treatment after military victories
    India won the 1971 War decisively , as a ‘reward’ Indira Gandhi ‘thanked’ the forces by steeply lowering the percentage of military pensions from 75% of last drawn pay to 50%
    India won the Kargil war in 1999. BJP Government under Vajpayee still didnt implement OROP. it was a live issue even then and
    the best chance for OROP, There was no shortage of photo ops by politicians at funerals of soldiers killed in the Kargil war however..

    So its sheer lack of will. We lost the opportunities for OROP in 1973 and 1999
    Is there any army in the world where soldiers are forced to go on hunger strike- US , China or Russia or else where.

    Iys a tragedy that our ungrateful governments, salute only dead soldiers after wars and eternally condemn the living ones …

  • Snaidu

    OROP for armed forces is a must and must be given asap! Infact when its already given to executive, judges and senior armed forces personnel, then it definitely must be given to lower ranks folks who really put their lives at stake on our borders for civilians like us to reside safe within India. However, Gul Panag, the author here, is clearly using the issue & the platform to further her political interests and igniting passions immaturely. The PM has never been silent on OROP…he restated the commitment in ‘Mann ki Baat’ and again from the ramparts of Red Fort, so why ignore those statements by saying – “what we have now from the ruling party and the Prime Minister is silence”!! Its just a matter of time lady. Earlier there was no information as to what are the technical difficulties. But now we know the sticking points and those should get sorted soon with either party agreeing to a formula. So there isn’t any need to remind the PM of honour here. The govt as such could have managed the expectations better by doing something in the interim while working on the complete solution. That led to beliefs that they are going back on their words. So definitely a lesson learned for them just like the land bill!

  • Muppathiyil Joy Thomas

    OROP was due from the year 1973.Then the salary of a javan was below Rs 500 per month Had the scheme been implimented in 1973 the expenditure hike by now would have been quite gentle and affordable.The desciplened soldiers kept mum and were satisfied with whatever they got . The effective date should have been 1973 but demanded wef 1-4-2014 as approved by all.Now if any negosiation to make is its date of implimentation to prepone to1-1-2006 atleast.If there is a political will funds can be made available by curbing coruption in higest level

  • thavalai9

    I agree with this article. OROP MUST be implemented immediately. No question of cost consideration. When the Union and the State governments upgraded the pensions of the bureaucracy repeatedly with the every recommendation of every Pay Commission over the past three decades, did any one (and did the bureaucracy in the finance ministry in particular) talk about the cost, even though governments have been perpetually been under great financial strain by deficit budgets, negative economic growth et al?