The @IndiaToday revelation that has set the agenda: Military veterans break new ground, aim to embarrass Modi sarkaar


Article appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on May 29, 2015
Article appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on May 29, 2015

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The delay over the non-implementation of the much-awaited One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) scheme for the military veterans is set to hit the NDA government very hard. On the anvil are measures hitherto unseen in the agitation which has been around for at least a decade.

General Secretary of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, the country’s largest ex servicemen body, Group Captain VK Gandhi said, “We are requesting our members to boycott all government functions in view of the anti-ex-servicemen attitude of theirs. In addition, we are also asking our gallantry award winners to boycott the Republic day celebration of January 2016.”

When asked if this would mean there would be no march by the ex-servicemen contingent down the Rajpath, he said it was very much possible. In addition, the IESM with close to 30,000 members across the country has called for a ‘Maha Rally’ on June 14 in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to firm up its course of action.

The first sign of trouble began with the conclusion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s speech on May 25 in Mathura. That he chose to say nothing on the OROP hurt the veteran community.

1971 war hero, Pune-based Wing Commander (retd) SD Karnik, whose efforts were awarded with nation’s third highest gallantry award, Vir Chakra was the first to move. He cancelled his presence at a function in Pune where the Defence MinisterManohar Parrikar and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis were to felicitate him.

“A soldier retires at 37 and a civil employee retires at 60. So while the jawan has all responsibilities ahead of him after retiring whereas a civilian can fulfil all of them. Thus OROP is critical. When this invite came I said of course I should go since it was the Defence Minister, but then I got a feeling that we are being short changed. So many assurances on one side but nothing is changing on ground. There is NATO (No Action Talk Only) from them,” he said.

The retired air warrior, who also has to his credit a Chief of Air Staff commendation, concluded by saying, “If you pay peanuts, then you will only get monkeys. Things have gone beyond the threshold of what military personnel can take.” Karnik’s actions have inspired his community so much so that they plan to felicitate him at the same venue in Pune, 30 minutes before Parrikar’s event begins.

Pune IESM member Commander (retd) Ravindra Pathak said, “Karnik is among the very few officers who was to be felicitated by Parrikar. His decision and thoughts are identical to our movement and thus we thought of honouring him. The defence minister was to felicitate him at 6:30pm but we will felicitate him at the same venue at 6pm, if security permit. Let us see if they impose Sec 144 there.”

What Manohar Parrikar said on May 26, 2015

  • “I remember I said it in January that OROP will be operationalised by July. We are going about our work. No point putting a time frame. I am not telling people to wait for 5 years for OROP but I can’t put a timeframe.”

What is OROP?

  • One Rank One Pension, simply put is similar pension to all who held the same rank and put in equal number of years of service, irrespective of when one retired. Implementing OROP will ensure that an army Major (example) retired in 1985 will get the same pension as one retiring in 2015, provided they have put in equal number of years in service
  • Term popularized by Supreme Court’s using it in 1983
  • Ex Servicemen claim the case concerns close to 30 lakh pensioners, including widows
  • Govt believes the financial implication of agreeing to OROP will come to the tune of Rs 8500 crore
  • Govt has clarified that no matter when OROP is implemented, payments to veterans will be from April 1, 2014
  • In February 2014, in its final Vote On Account, the UPA cleared OROP and allocated Rs 500 crore·   In July 2014, presenting the NDA’s first interim budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitleyallocated Rs 1000 crore
  • However, till date there has no government order operationalising budget announcement
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