1.Scheme aimed to benefit 3 million veterans.
2.PM announced Rs 8,300 crore on defense budget,a 15% increase from the previous one.
3.Jawans constitute major part of army yet suffer pay and pension parity.
4.Need to relook at the retiring age of jawans and officers.
5.Army personnel should be provided lateral opportunities in govt institutes.
6.More representation should be given to them.
They gave their adulthood, their productive years to the nation beleiving that it will give them something back. They battled a battle different from the 1962 Sino-Indian or the 1965 Indo Pak war. At 60's they are not afraid to die just asking for their right - OROP-One Rank One Pension.
The scheme expected to benefit three million pensioners would guarantee equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement. The OROP struggled for decades to be implemented. The UPA government allocated Rs 500 crore to defence budget but was delayed due to the shackles of corrupt politicians. Soon in 2014 when the Modi government came into power it went viral. PM Modi announced the defence budget at Rs 8,300 crore, an almost 15% increase in the existing budget. of Rs 54,000 crore per year. This was rather fascinating but soon started getting delayed yet again and agitations by veterans at Jantar Mantar became a common sight.
The bill was finally passed on 5 September, 2015. But the government was reluctant to add premature retirements in OROP. The fact to consider here is that 90% Jawans in the army apply for this. They are regarded as the backbone of Armed Forces yet given meager pensions, facilities and promotions which I the sole reason for opting for an early retirement. To quote an example, a Jawan gets Rs 5,500 as pension whereas an officer gets Rs 55,000 which just shows the disparity in their pension.Also Jawans are made to retire at a young age of 35 years and officers at 54 years. This in turn creates a large number of young pensioners - which is the root cause of the high defense pension costs. Veterans demanded a reduction in the pension revision time period. They demanded that pension should be recalculated every 2 years rather than 5 years which will ensure timely increment in their pension. Another demand was to set up a single member Judicial Panel to look into various aspects of OROP consisting of 5 members including 3 veterans.
There is a urgent need to relook at the pension reforms, including the way armed forces are structured. I think it's a national waste to allow a 35- year old jawan or a 54- year old officer to retire in the prime of his life. The re-skilling of armed forces personnel should be made compulsory so that later on they are provided lateral opportunities in government institutions like paramilitary forces, police etc. The US is a good example of how veterans find themselves serving in police forces and the government around the country after their tenure of duty.
In India, such lateral placements would achieve two objectives - skilled, dedicated and professional men and women will be available to government organisations , and this will reduce the pension bill and costs to the government.
Lastly, the defense forces must start restructuring and transforming into a smaller, nimbler and more mobile force and reduce numbers over the medium and long terms. And norms should be made in which Jawans get the equal rights, regular increment in their pay scale as their counterpart officers.
Veterans are human capital that represent national service at its best. It is sad that they find very little representation in the government machinery post retirement.