More than 100 days of a Commitment made to Armed Forces vis-à-vis Implementation of OROP
“Commitment is as an act, not just a word.”
- Jean Paul Sartre
Hegel has often, even repeatedly been quoted that, “We learn from history that we never learn from history.”
I will confine myself to the raison d'être for this article i.e. One Rank One Pension and the commitments expressed by the BJP before and after it formed a Government, a chronology of which is as follows and then the extant situation: -
15 Sep 2013: From Text of Shri Narendra Modi’s speech at Ex- Servicemen’s Rally, Rewari
“……..We have been hearing about one rank, one pension since many years, what is the problem..? Today I publicly demand from the Government of India on behalf of the army men and ex-service men of this country, to publish a white paper on the status of ‘one rank, one pension’ scheme. And Friends, I am sure that if in 2004, Vajpayee Ji would have formed government, then today this problem of one rank one pension would not have been complicated..! Friends, people would have sat together and Atal Ji would have found a solution to this problem, and would have given our former servicemen lives with pride and honour……”
23 Feb 2014: Cong playing fraud with armed forces: Modi on 'One Rank One Pension'
Ludhiana: Slamming the "delay" by UPA in granting 'one-rank, one-pension' for ex-servicemen, Narendra Modi today accused Congress of playing "fraud" with the armed forces
21 April 2014: Congress has bluffed on 'one rank, one pension': Arun Jaitley
“The Congress has repeatedly "bluffed" ex-servicemen on the issue of "one rank, one pension", senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said on Monday.
"As the election campaign proceeds, I have come across hundreds of ex-servicemen living across the country. They served India through its crisis. All of them are concerned with the issue of 'one rank, one pension' which has been a long-standing demand of ex-servicemen," Jaitley said in his blog.
"The BJP has included the 'one rank, one pension' issue as part of its manifesto. We are committed to implement this. The Congress has been repeatedly bluffing ex-servicemen on this issue," he said. Jaitley said the demand was accepted by the government a few years ago. "Subsequently, we found the acceptance was only with respect to a very miniscule category and not all ex-servicemen."
"This year again, in the budget speech, the finance minister announced the acceptance of this demand. However, again the ex-servicemen have been bluffed. No notification has been issued to give enforcement effect to this demand," the blog said.
The senior BJP leader also blamed Defence Minister A. K. Antony of not taking proper decisions…..”
14 June, 2014: PM dedicates INS Vikramaditya to the Nation
“……Shri Modi said that the spirit of the nation’s leadership was as important for a strong nation as the armed forces. He announced that the Government has decided to construct a National War Memorial to salute the courage of the brave martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the motherland. The Prime Minister said the Government is committed to implementing the “One Rank, One Pension scheme……” (emphasis supplied).
The Last Word: Is One Rank One Pension announcement short of demand?
22 July, 2014: On pensions, it is rank injustice
The euphoria generated by Narendra Modi’s election promise of One Rank One Pension is fast dissipating
DISILLUSIONED: Between 2009 and 2011, some 22,000 medals were returned by ex-servicemen and war widows to the President in protest against non-implementation of OROP.
With Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley setting aside only Rs. 1000 crore for One Rank One Pension (OROP), there is disquiet within the defence fraternity combined with apprehension that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pre-election commitment to give soldiers this long-pending entitlement may perhaps be diluted yet again.
“We reaffirm our commitment to our brave soldiers. A policy of One Rank One Pension has been adopted by the government to address pension disparities. We propose to set aside a further sum of Rs. 1,000 crore to meet the year’s requirement,” Mr. Jaitley said in his budget speech. He followed it up with a meeting on June 12 that was attended by three service chiefs, officers from the defence service headquarters, top officials from Defence Accounts and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and representatives of four major ex-servicemen organisations to deliberate on the modalities. The meeting ended in an impasse as differences over the very definition of OROP and the consequent impact on payment of pensions emerged between the departments of the MoD on the one side and the service headquarters and military veterans on the other.”
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There is one stark difference between One Rank One Pension and two other contentious issues of deduction of Rank Pay for re-fixation of pay scales & Non-Functional Upgradation.
Rank Pay was a recommendation of the Pay Commission accepted by the Government and assured by another Prime Minister, who was assassinated (in 1991) before Maj Dhanapalan filed his case (in 1996). MoD manipulated the recommendations and Govt Resolution as can be inferred from Notes on MoD file No. B/25511/AKDP/AG/PS-3(a) and replies thereon to DOP&T and MoF, Deptt of Expenditure.
The Courts’ orders restoring the deduction of Rank Pay, the Ld Attorney General’s opinions based on a narrative of skilful verisimilitude and now the impleadment of the incumbent Defence Secretary and Controller General of Defence Accounts for alleged contempt are witness to the manner and method of alleged manipulation.
Non-Functional Upgradation is a scheme of “Of the Bureaucrats, For the Bureaucrats, by the Bureaucrats” (with apologies to President Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address).
Chairman of the 7th CPC is reported to have been informed in the presentation on 28 Aug 14 that MoD informed Service HQ that NFU for Armed Forces officers is not implementable because they are Commissioned officers and not organised Class A officers.
Will the Armed Forces need associations like the IAS Officers Association and IPS Officers Association to be recognised as organised? This is not possible because the Army, Navy and Air Force Acts prohibit forming associations and the MoD is misusing that prohibition.
However, One Rank One Pension and more importantly speedier implementation was promised by no less than two of the most important leading lights of the BJP majority-led NDA Government, the Honourable Prime Minister or Pradhan Sevak as he has called himself from the ramparts of Red Fort and Shri Arun Jaitely, the Honourable Finance Minister-cum-Defence Minister (excerpts from a few of the very many speeches, promises and commitments are given at the beginning of this piece.)
In February 2014, the much reviled UPA Govt announced setting aside Rs 500 crore for implementation of OROP in the Vote on Account/Interim Budget. With an uncharacteristic alacrity seen nowhere else in the MoD, A K Antony called a meeting of all stakeholders and set the definition of OROP with a week.
Then, when things did not move speedily enough, he constituted the Joint Working Group (JWG) with modalities set for the CGDA as Chairperson, and in consultation with the Armed Forces, to implement the OROP within three weeks. A few meetings took place till 12 Jun 14 when the JWG made a presentation to the RM-cum-FM and, things ground to a deafening halt though the new Defence-cum-Finance Minister issued instructions to come up with a solution. Three months have passed.
OROP, in other words, is the commitment made by then PM candidate and now Honourable PM/Pradhan Sevak, and also by then BJP candidate from Amritsar and now Honourable Finance-cum-Defence Minister.
So, what is holding up the implementation of OROP? How is the CGDA ignoring orders of the RM? Is there some other reason or order or authority from whom CGDA derives the strength to delay the implementation?
In the feverish analysis of the 100 days of the PM/Pradhan Sevak led Govt, are Ex-Servicemen once again being consigned to margins of the Nation that they give their lives to protect, by yet another denial of a commitment?
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