Friday, 12 June 2015

Battle Honours for the Battle of OROP

Readers of this blog, 

I have a confession to make. In the past 3 years of operating this blog, I have been privy to lots of information. I share all information obtained through the RTI Act, 2005 but assimilate information that is factual but for which I have no documents to back me up. What I write in succeeding paragraphs is one such item of information.

I confess letting you all down by not sharing a bit of information which I had dismissed as I was hearing it. Because a year ago, every one believed that ‘achhe din’ were already here after 26th May 2014 and so did I.

A year later, listening to Lt Gen Kadyan (is he the Chairman of the IESM still?) wax eloquent on how the OROP will be honoured because a commitment has been made at the highest level, I am not going to suppress my conscience.

It happened like this.

On 12 July 2014, Lt Col (retd) B K Sharma, President RDOA called up and said that Lt Col (retd) Satwant Singh, the Secretary RDOA is indisposed and whether it would be possible for me to travel to New Delhi for meeting with the Senior Advocate before the hearing scheduled for 25th July 2014 in the Contempt Petition (Civil) No. 328 of 2013.

I travelled to New Delhi on 22nd July 2014 and I met President, RDOA, and later President, IESL that afternoon at lunch.

It was decided at the meeting with President RDOA, that we would meet on the 23rd afternoon in the office of the AOR (advocate on record) to have the Proforma signed for gate passes to the Supreme Court, provide him with any additional inputs based on the RTI disclosures before we departed to meet the Senior Advocate either on the 24th July 2014 afternoon or the morning of 25th July 2014 and then proceed to the Supreme Court for the hearing.

Due to lighter than expected traffic, I was in the office of the AoR well before the appointed time. There were two gentlemen sitting with the AoR, an elderly and dignified-looking gentleman and Wg Cdr (retd) Tomar, who I knew earlier. I was introduced to the elderly and dignified-looking gentleman, and I was informed that he was an important office-bearer in the BJP’s Ex-Servicemens’ Cell.     

The talk veered around to OROP. After listening in silence and to the  few sentences into the discussion of how the Joint Working Group (JWG) had ceased meeting after briefing the Finance-cum-Defence Minister on 12th June 2014,  the elderly gentleman interjected by asking, “Who is the CGDA?”

Before I could give her name (Ms Vandana Srivastav) to him, the elderly and dignified-looking gentleman interrupted and said, “No, I am not asking for the name. The CGDA is an Additional Secretary level officer. She knows that she could be moved out in a couple of seconds, if she does not obey the orders of the Defence-cum-Finance Minister. Why do you think she, the chairperson, is not convening the meeting of the JWG?”

Shocked, I asked “Are you telling me that there is possibility of some one higher than the Defence-cum-Finance Minister has to take the decision to implement OROP?”

The elderly gentleman, stood up and bidding me Jai Hind, said, “Aap bahut senior officer the, aap samajh jaoge ke jab tak orders nahin aayenge, tab tak OROP ka kuch nahin hoga.”

The elderly and dignified-looking gentleman took his leave and left before I could mention to him that the PM has committed to implementing OROP from the deck of INS Vikramaditya on 14 Jun 2014.

I held my peace because I expected that the PM would remember the Kargil War was won on 26th July 1999, when the first BJP led NDA Government was at the Centre. And there could be an announcement that OROP implementation orders are issued in memory of those who were martyred. 

When OROP orders did not happen, yet reposing more faith, I held on to the belief that PM Modi would follow up those “mere bhagya mein likha hain” words with a Diwali gift of OROP on Diwali day, 2014, or maybe on Good Governance Day, which is incidentally the birthday of the first BJP PM Atal Behari Vajpayee.

In the interim, I have been the unwilling recipient of forwarded emails of letters written to the President, the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and Finance Minister by persons representing different ESM organisations and after hearing about how OROP is not as simple as the PM thought it was (for over a year!), and incredulous with the OROP still nowhere, all I can say is “How true are the words uttered on 23rd July 2014.”

After 26th July 1999, the then BJP-NDA Government of Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee presented Gallantry awards, and gas agencies and petrol pumps. 

But the true recognition of the service to the Nation in the face of overwhelming odds, the Battle Honours appeared to suffer the same decision difficulty as the OROP with the file doing the maze of bureaucracy, though there were no financial implications.

The Battle Honours file was ultimately approved by then President A P J Abdul Kalam on 25th May 2005, ironically by the UPA-Congress Government ( 

Army battalions/Brigades were given Battle/Theatre honours of Batalik, Dras, Tololing, Tiger Hill, Dah, Mushkoh etc – a year after the BJP-NDA Govt was voted out but six years after the Kargil War ended.  

The 16th Kargil Divas falls on 26th July 2015 with another BJP dominated NDA Government at the Centre. Coincidentally, it is more than a year after the UPA-Congress Govt was ousted at the ballot boxes. Will the BJP dominated NDA Government grant Battle Honours for the Battle of the OROP to those officers, JCOs and ORs who fought that Kargil War who passed onto the category of ESM, something denied by the UPA-Congress Government till February 2014? 

And who will claim the Battle Honours – the Govt or the MoD or the MoF, even the CGDA or the panoply of ESM organisations/movements/associations?

Or will history repeat itself as a tragedy, as more ESM and widows will be dying in the hope of acche din of OROP or will it to be implemented six years later in 2020 by the whichever Government is at the Centre? 

*        *        *        *        *


  1. A true analogy of events and the muddle created in.... HOW NOT TO GIVE OROP.. the difficulty is not in solving the commitment but how to wriggle out of it. Lets hope that some sane advice from some unknown quarter prevails and lifts the burden of the cross from the veterans shoulders. The way things are going rather festering, the day is not far when the serving soldiers come out in the open to support the cause. It indeed would be a sad day for Indian democracy and the Armed forces in particular.

  2. Shocking, Sir. Who was higher than RM-cum-FM?

  3. Sir, your revelation should be an eye opener for all those who still choose to be guided by "simple soldier" belief systems.

    An additional thing to consider would be where is the need for an impression to be created by others that such machinations have simpler explanations or that these can be ascribed to quarters other than the real source?

    It is the nature of governance that does not permit a "Yea to be a yea". We have to acknowledge and accept that as a fact of life. Playing with a straight bat is no longer the norm, not even in cricket. It is just that people fighting for their just entitlements need to stop being naive and concentrate on what needs to be done.

    In any case, there is every need to question widely held beliefs and opinions being circulated as I mentioned here

  4. Dear sir. I have commented on this earlier also. The bureaucracy is finding OROP unaffordable simply because it is a recurring expenditure which will increase with time. A one time waiver of farmer loans or corporate tax write off cannot be compared with OROP. It is now a catch 22 situation for the PM. He's caught between a rock and a hard place. On one end he has gone and promised something and now he's being told that this defies all fiscal prudence. It is now a question of whether the govt. considers the Armed forces important enough to provide this benefit. A cost benefit analysis will show that measures such as farm loan waiver or even corporate tax waiver have far more utility to the political setup than paying such a huge sum to the Armed forces. The Armed forces will continue their sacrifice for the country in places like Siachen etc with the same effectiveness whether OROP comes or not. Only time will tell how the PM walks this tightrope.

    1. Sir, with due apologies I disagree.

      In a nation where the bureaucracy always listens, obeys and implements its political masters, we are unfairly giving them, the bureaucrats, the stick and discredit.Just read "true confessions" of Baru, Parakh, Baijal etc and my hypothesis will be proved.

      Second, when the BJP led NDA Govt deliberated over the New Pension Scheme (NPS) and implemented it from 2004, it must have had strong reasons to exempt only the Armed Forces from amongst Central Govt paid employees from the remit of the NPS. Therefore, if some one reads those policy files, which are never destroyed, the claims for OROP of central police organisations may be put to rest. There are of course additional factors such as the benefits denied to Armed Forces under the Disability Act and the early retirement/discharge ages etc etc.

      The loans to farmers waiver was, if my memory serves me right, Rs 80, 000 crore. Farmers are still committing suicide in hundreds because their loans have not been waived but the money has gone somewhere else.

      The waiver/exemption/incentive to corporates Rs 62,398 crore. The industry is not showing the growth for the simple reason the only incentive to raise output is demand for what is made (in India). That demand is not there. An objective reading of indices (by a retd Prof in economics) shows that only the mining industry showed 7.9% growth in 2014-15.

      At 3% (annual) increment on an initial outgo of "a huge sum" of Rs 8300 crore, in your opinion, is a fraction of Rs 80, 000 crore or Rs 62,398 crores and which will pay for OROP for the next 7/6 years at the present rate of pensions..

      Bureaucracy is finding it unaffordable? What happens when the 7th CPC recommends an increase by a factor of 2.5 per cent or more? Will the proceedings be shelved or implemented with alacrity because of reasons that are preventing OROP from being implemented.

      Finally, please peruse the Revised Estimates of the Defence Budgets and you will see the humungous sums surrendered because modernisation/indigenisation is just jargon!

    2. "..The bureaucracy is finding OROP unaffordable simply because it is a recurring expenditure which will increase with time.."

      An example of precisely the sort of reasoning orientation I had sought to refer to in my previous comment.

  5. Nothing moves without Force !

  6. Dear sir, very clearly brought out. So what could be the reason why OROP is not getting implemented? If money is available then what could be the problem. The planned degradation of the Armed Forces which was commenced in the 50's in the form of reduction in pay (from British raj days), status, and various other methods like introducing proportionate intake from all states etc. was acheived by maybe the 80's? Now the Armed forces are in no position to perform a coup, the fear of which led to initiation of all these measures. Is it that the people in power are unable to change their mindset that the Armed forces have to be perpetually subjugated psychologically so as to prevent them from getting ideas like our western neighbour. What will it take for this mindset change to happen? These are the burning questions.

  7. Not that it should have any bearing on the financial implications on account of OROP, but what about the other bill on minimum guaranteed pension arrears that the Govt also needs to foot by 17 July 2015? Is the Govt now getting the jitters because all these expenses are now all going to add up. There is also the rank pay petition coming up that would involve, hopefully, some outgo.

    We are so engrossed with OROP that issues such as those are not even subjects of discussion anymore. No one appears to know what is the status of implementation of the court order mentioned in this RDOA blog post

    1. Sir,

      Every one knows the status and hence are waiting to see what happens next. Any way just to refresh my memory....

      Comments are held back on the issues other than OROP because

      (1) The Maj Gen Vains case is slated for hearing on 01 July 2015 where the Govt will have to specify action taken,

      (2) the Rank Pay case is slated for hearing from 14 Jul 2015, and

      (3) Four months have been given from 17 Mar 2015 for implementation of the judgment in the Minimum Guaranteed Pension case and, in case of non-implementation, petitioners to "initiate Contempt proceedings in the AFT and take the case to its logical conclusion."

      Consequently, the implementation order of the Maj Gen Vains case (and OROP as mentioned in the judgment) would have to be shown as issued to the Apex Court on 01 Jul 2015 unless, as has happened in the UoI Vs Lt Col N K Nair & Others case, the (BJP) Govt files for an extension, citing the familiarly trodden path in the Rank Pay case i.e.lack of information on the persons affected, their Bank Acct nos, PAN (and may be Aadhar card too!!) etc, in a case of stretching the limits of the patience of the Apex Court.

      What happens on 01 Jul 2015 might indicate, but not necessarily apply, to the judgment and subsequent course of action in the MGP case.

      As for the Rank Pay case, we need to wait for the orders of the Apex Court.

    2. Sir, thank you for enlightening everyone.

      My reference to being "engrossed" was in relation to the total absence of news on all blogs, twitter accounts, chat forums and groups related to ex servicemen. It seems everyone has forgotten these other very relevant matters are, now, more likely to see some action on account of judgments of HSC.

      Once again, readers of this blog are the fortunate beneficiaries of all the updates they can ever hope to find.

    3. Maybe others issues affect just a small number of the 25 lakh ESM & widows of ESM!

  8. @SMankotia
    Why would it be a sad day if the serving soldiers demand their rights?Infact they
    should have agitated whenever they were denied what were their legitimate dues financial & otherwise.e.g reduction of pension from 70% to 50 % in 1973 ,deliberate anomalies introduced in 6CPC (incl NFU) &denial of representation in CPC.They should have demanded the Mil ldrship to act & force the govt to grant legitimate dues.Infact a time has come to form associations/union/federation by armed forces serving personal,thru a proper legal process,to enable them to counter the repeated illtreatment & seek justice.

  9. Sir, These political parties in case think in this way, Indian Constitution should be amended for compulsory training and service in military (Army Air Force, Navy in any rank for five years for all MLAs, MPs,All central/State Officers Class I Gazetted officers so that they understand nitty gritty of Armed Forces and ex servicemen life and difficulties. Second point is All Ex Servicemen Organization form All India Ex servicemen Democratic Party/Front and take part in all Central Govt/State Govt/Local Bodies elections. Only then these political parties will start respecting ex servicemen and their leaders.

    1. Sir, we have a panoply of ESM organisations led by Generals and Colonels. May be they should all amalgamate by heeding that Panchatantra story of how a bundle of sticks cannot be broken but single sticks can be!

  10. My gut feeling tells me that Arun jaitely is being spiteful for having lost hard fought election and shefd sweat and tears and blaming it on faujis in his cnstituency where every one is a fauji or has some relatives in fauj who did not give him the vote. He is now making the faujis sweat it out before the OROP

    1. @Abe: Our "gut feelings" that would have been best left in the gut yielded web-page after web-page of brilliant analysis over the past so many years and decades and which did not bring about any clarity for veterans on the ills plaguing them.

      As to how a lost election can cause a Government functionary to turn against armed forces of his country is something we'll need to wait another decade of analysis to learn.

      Suffice it to say, if simple ideas could explain our predicaments, we'd all have got OROP, NFU and Rank Pay resolution many times over by now.

  11. @Aerial

    unfortunately the generals differ in their opinions and some have political ambitions which result in the sell out of welfare of veterans. Why is Gen VK singh. not taking a lead. He fought very hard for his date of birth.

    1. A very good question for which the General will have the correct answer.