Defence forces have been a vital cog in India’s development since its independence in 1947. The three arms of forces- Air force, Army and Navy have been performing their duties irrespective of situations or change in ruling party in the nation. They have been everywhere; be it guarding the borders, wartime situations, providing a helping hand in almost all the natural disasters, building of bridges or roads in different states or providing education to masses. They lead a life in simplicity, honour, pride and respect for their nation and their duty and contribution towards the nation can’t be measured in numbers or monetary values.
In return of all the services, defence personnel (both serving and retired) only wish to provide a quality life to their families and to continue working for nation in other fields. A soldier strives to meet the demands of his nation and he doesn’t demand anything in return. There have been few wishes by the defence community to the government in recent years. One such important request has been One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for defence personnel.
One Rank One Pension (OROP) means armed forces personnel holding the same rank and same length of service will get the same pension regardless of the last drawn pay. This request has been made to the central government a various number of times ensuring it to be met as soon as possible. The requesting committee is the Ex-servicemen (ESM) community which includes 2.5 million veterans from defence forces. At present, pensioners who retired before 2006 draw a lower pension than their counterparts and juniors who retired afterwards. This disparity between pensioners has grown with every successive pay commission and successive governments have failed to fulfil this promise made to them even after agreeing in principle.
One of the major hurdles for government about this scheme is that the civilian retired employees of central government may also demand OROP. This may be countered by stating that the military pension which can’t be claimed by civilians is distinct from others and a payment of past services rendered to the nation. The armed personnel also do not get to serve as long as those in civil services. Further, civil servants are also protected under Section 47 of Disability Act and can’t be discharged on account of disability until their retirement age which doesn’t apply to defence forces.
The people serving in defence forces perform their duty every day to keep the nation safe with a vigour, motivation and determination which has no limits. Despite the recent media developments about Indian Defence war-worthiness and delays in their few requests to the government, they have not let us down at any moment of time. This also applies to the retired employees of armed forces who have given their valuable service to the nation and still live with a sense of pride being one among many real heroes. The new government has shown promise on this request being met soon with delegates meeting the Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar often in recent months. It has also agreed on an allocation of Rs.10,000 crores for the obligation of OROP. Armed Forces personnel deserve utmost respect for their service throughout years gone by and years to come and this opportunity seems perfect to give them something substantial of what they deserve and to ensure that they live a quality life with their families.