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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"One Rank One Pension" and other military veteran issues: Myth Buster


Navdeep Singh

The very recent assurance on “One Rank One Pension”, or OROP as it is colloquially known, by the Defence Minister of the country should calm some nerves. The Minister, by now known for his sensitive and humane approach, reassured military veterans that he staunchly stood behind the promise made by the Government on the subject time and again, including by the Prime Minister. A case is hence definitely made out not to read too much into the negativity floating around in the environment on the subject.

Why OROP for soldiers some may ask! Common sense is all that is required to fathom that the current cost of living equally applies to a military veteran who retired say fifteen years back vis-a-vis the one who retires today in the same rank. When both go out to the grocer, they pay the same price for atta that they buy, they pay the same for the vegetables which feed their families, they are also expected to maintain a similar level of daily life, so why the sharp difference in their pensions?

Precisely this is the reason why the concept OROP, came into inception. At a rudimentary level, it simply means similar pension for similar rank for an equal length of service. It is not only desirable, but highly logical. Agreeable is the suggestion that ideally it must be applied to all services under the government, military or otherwise, but then we do not live in an ideal world and till that final objective is achieved for all other classes of employees, military veterans do have a case for favourable consideration as explained in the succeeding lines.

As would be expected in any democracy, departments concerned or dealing with the Armed Forces of most nations strongly stand behind their men and women in uniform and plead for the best of benefits from their respective governments. But in our country, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), till recently, was legendary in always taking an adversarial stand against the profession of arms. And not straying from this dubious legacy, it were elements of the same Ministry that always opposed the grant of OROP to military veterans repeatedly citing financial, administrative and legal impediments for resisting the concept, and in the bargain, attempting not only to mislead and misguide the highest of political executive, but even Parliamentary Committees. While financial constraints are well understood and appreciated, there is never too high a price to pay for those who protect us at the peril of their lives. Under the garb of administrative constraints, it was pointed out by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) of the MoD to a Parliamentary Committee in 2011 (Koshyari Committee) that OROP was not feasible to implement since documents of military personnel are weeded out after 25 years- an incorrect averment, to say the least. In reality, it is the documents of non-pensioners that are weeded out in 25 years as per Regulation 595 of the Regulations for the Army. Moreover, the Pension Payment Orders (PPOs) of pensioners which contain all relevant details such as the rank last held and the length of service are retained during the lifetime of each pensioner and then during the lifetime of the family pensioner  in case of demise of the former, and  these details, which are the only two basic requirements for OROP, are also available in a document called “Long Roll” which is maintained in perpetuity in terms of Regulation 592 of the Regulations for the Army. Of course, a complaint to the then Raksha Mantri related to false statements by representatives of the MoD to the Parliamentary Committee and also to Constitutional Courts did not elicit any action whatsoever, as expected. Even the legal constraints pointed out by the DESW repeatedly hold no ground since the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Maj Gen SPS Vains, being the latest on the subject, fully endorses the concept of OROP.

Another strange bogey historically put across by the establishment has been the imaginary fear that “other employees” would also start demanding OROP. This argument too is faulty at multiple levels. Firstly, it is a fact that no civilian pensioners’ body has ever opposed additional pensionary benefits to military veterans and mostly civilian peers have supported the cause, tacitly and even overtly. Secondly, unique service conditions such as living away from the family in a strictly regimented, at times hazardous and highly stressful environment, maintaining two households on being posted away from family, being under a disciplinary code 24 hours a day, 365 days a year et al make an additional dispensation such as OROP all the more justified. Thirdly, depending upon rank, soldiers start retiring at the age of 34 which is not the case in any other service including comrades of the Central Armed Police Forces who also no doubt face tough service conditions. Fourthly, civil employees are blessed with a much higher lifetime earning as compared to military employees and they also are fortunate to see multiple salary revisions through subsequent pay commissions. Fifthly, a much higher system of calculating pensions remained applicable to the defence services till the third pay commission when it was abruptly discontinued and military pensioners were suddenly (broadly) equated with civilian pensioners in many aspects. Sixthly, the fear of ‘similar demands’ also now does not hold much water since other employees (post-2004) are on a New (Contributory) Pension Scheme which is much different than the traditional pension system of the Government. Seventhly, contrary to popular perception, and interestingly, the average life expectancy of military personnel and veterans is much lower than other civilian employees, especially at the lower ranks.

With a proactive Prime Minister, a sensitive Defence Minister and other former soldiers on Ministerial berths, the new Government has definitely given hope to defence pensioners in the well known demands of the military community in issues such as OROP as well as other insidious matters such as the way disabled soldiers and military widows are treated by the system. The new government, which now seems to be getting a grip of things, however must ensure that the political will in this regard is imposed and enforced with an iron fist from the top downwards towards the bottom and not the other way round. The last few years have been witness to a deleterious culture whereby junior Section Officer and Under Secretary level officers were ruling the roost by initiating misleading noting sheets which were approved till the very top without question. The one-way imposition of appalling, illegal, illogical and negative policies hence emanated from below with the top brass merely affixing initials. The attitude must shift from ‘how a thing cannot be done’ to finding ways to move towards a constructive and positive foundation. The Defence Accounts Department must also not be allowed to influence policy or present exaggerated figures by juggling with numbers as was seen in the last few years. The office of the Controller General of Defence Accounts is only responsible for accounts and auditing and must not be seen as the policy-maker as has been the case in the last few years wherein the MoD has been asking the former to draft policies and government letters related to pay, allowances and pensions of defence services.

Per chance, co-extensive with the proactive top brass in the government, the higher echelons of the military have also seen some changes including the newly appointed Adjutant General of the Army who is expected to make a change with his sensitive and pragmatic approach. It is a perfect opportunity for the defence services to work in tandem with the government to ameliorate the problems being faced by the veteran community. The fillip to the Veterans’ Cell in the Army HQ, which is rendering excellent service, is a step in the right direction. It would in fact augur well for the system, if just like the DESW, the military too cleans up its act especially in its Personnel Services directorate and Record Offices, some elements of which are also ensconced in cobwebs of negativity and rigidity and who do not let the seniors in the chain of command look at issues with an optimistic vision. File notings are framed in such a manner so as to ensure the elicitation of a negative decision. This attitude must change, so must the structure of initiating multiple litigation by the establishment against old veterans, disabled soldiers and military widows.  Military veteran organisations too must not take extreme positions or bicker amongst themselves. In fact, the veteran community expects veteran organisations to play a beneficial role and facilitate a well oiled overall veteran welfare machinery, bereft of politics.

The time is right, the leadership is optimal; however it needs to be instilled and drilled into the authorities dealing with the welfare of soldiers that an environment of positivity needs to be inculcated towards our men and women in uniform. All stakeholders must shun rigidity, sit together and work towards smooth and early implementation by efficiently ironing out the creases without any delay. Friction and antagonism is not in national interest.

It is our obligation that we must rise to the occasion, aid and assist the current leadership in ensuring a better deal to our protectors. Issues concerning our veterans and also our serving soldiers have to be dealt with a caring, sympathetic, compassionate and sensitive approach and not in the environ of pessimism or  with the spirit of hyper-technicality and hyper-legalese. It is time for all of us to salute our men and women in uniform who protect our freedom in this proud democracy, not with lip-service but with steps that facilitate them in day to day life.


Anonymous said...

what an article? congradulations Major sab.

ninihala said...

Serving and retired personnel need OROP. But what the minister has given, so far, is HOPE. I can see the difference in spelling alone. It is high time that Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Parrikar take tough action and implement their (political) will. If needeed, get rid of a few babus, a la Home Secy and Foreign Secy. It would be a good idea to jolt IDAS out of their conspiring ways.

digvijay said...

Things are falling in place the positive approach has worked .Your writings the essence of it are percolating to the right places .You have worked hard in putting the right words in legal terms .This does influence the right guy ,fortunately it seems that is one of them .Amen


Dear Maj.Navdeep, excellent write up. I am sure if and whenever, RM reads this, he will definitely rise up to the time and hope delivers the dues to the services in general and veterans.


Games politician play only politician or God only knows. On one hand RM states OROP will be as per approved definition.
In most of cases ESM will get fixed at highest of their rank pay band.
OROP equalization will be done annually.
Some issues of Major’s pension are under discussion and will be sorted out soon.
On the other hand RRM states on the same day.
उन्होंने कहा कि बजट से पहले रक्षा मंत्री मनोहर पार्रिकर इस बारे में सरकार के फैसले की घोषणा करेंगे। उन्होंने कहा कि इस योजना को लागू करने के बाद राजस्व पर बोझ बढ़ना तय है। लिहाजा उसके वित्तीय प्रभावों का आकलन किया जा रहा है। पूर्व में 6 हजार करोड़ अतिरिक्त बोझ बढ़ने का अनुमान लगाया गया था जो वर्तमान में बढ़कर 14 हजार करोड़ तक हो सकता है। योजना का खाका तैयार करने के बाद ही इसका ब्यौरा उपलब्ध हो सकेगा। उन्होंने कहा कि अगर यह योजना सौ फीसदी लागू नहीं हो सकी तो कम से कम 90 फीसदी लागू किया जाएगा।
Whom to believe.I am confused. Can some body enlighten me on this?
Col Pardaman Singh

Rajesh Pillai said...


Apropos to the contents of your blog, are'nt the requirements of the men in uniform across the ranks and files the same ?

In that case, why there is discrimination in the facilities provided by the services different ?

1. Why should be there be difference in the purchase limits on CSD ?
does it imply that certain entities who are entitled for higher limits
brush and bath three or four times as against twice what others do ?

2. Also, what is the justification for providing 10 bottles of liquor
to certain categories while some others are provided only four ? Shouldn't it be rationalised to 8 bottles a month @3 60 ml pegs a day ?

3. Why cant an airman, or the so called PBOR buy a car above 1300 CC ?
And only one four wheeler in his life time, where as the Motor Vehicle act itself prescribes 15 years of max life for a vehicle ? What if he company stops production of the model and original spares are not provided in the market or the vehicle is written off as total loss in an accident or incident ?

we are paying our money and indian currency always has the same value
everywhere, irrespective of the person paying it. Aso, there are
several airmen from very well off families as well as those who are
extremely well settled post retirement.

there are several other issues like supply of ration, hardship
allowances, to name a few, which all should be at par, since the
hardships faced by lower ranks are much more than those higher in the

I believe these disparities also need to be taken up for eradication to keep the face of the forces bright. As a person who has served as an airman, I will not let my children join the force in the files...

rajesh pillai

corona8 said...

@ninihala: "..difference in spelling alone.."

That is well put. A valid concern and an astute observation.

I don't think there is a need for anyone to hand out plus marks in advance to any set-up or individual in the Government until the ink has dried on all the fine print and the dues are in ESMs' bank accounts.

Unknown said...

Dear Maj NS I/ Friends, What about this TWO-IN-ONE News?


SC asks Centre to fulfil one rank, one pension promise

•Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi Updated: Feb 18, 2015 11:54 IST

The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to implement its six-year-old verdict to follow the one rank, one pension (OROP) principle for retired armed forces personnel, reminding the BJP government that it had promised to do so in the run-up to last year’s Lok Sabha elections.
A bench of justices TS Thakur and AK Goel warned the government of contempt if it failed to abide by its order within three months.
“We make it clear that no further time will be granted for the purpose of implementation of the judgment,” the bench told additional solicitor general Pinky Anand who assured the bench that modalities would be worked out till then.
“This was part of your manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections. You must keep your word,” justice Thakur reminded Anand while hearing a contempt petition filed by retired Major General SPS Vains who dragged the defence ministry to court demanding the OROP scheme.
Armed forces personnel holding the same rank will get the same pension, regardless of the last drawn pay, years of service and the years served in a particular rank, under the OROP scheme.
Vains’s counsel, senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta, said the government wasn’t doing charity since there was a court order in his clients’ favour. “We have a judgment. It has been six years and we are still waiting,” Gupta told the court.
He later told HT, “Before this judgment came, there was disparity among retired armed forces personnel receiving pensionary benefits that were calculated as per their pay-scale. So a major general, who retired before 1996 when the fifth pay commission was introduced, drew pension lower than not just a similarly ranked officer who retired post-1996 but also a brigadier, colonel and a lieutenant colonel. The 2008 judgment brought everyone at par as the verdict said there should be no classification due to the date of retirement.”
Successive governments in the past have opposed OROP on the grounds that it would not be financially feasible.
However, the Modi government has promised to implement the policy that will benefit around 25 lakh ex-servicemen. OROP for the armed forces is likely to be part of the Union budget and could be implemented soon.

Unknown said...

This is with reference to item posted by Natarajan V, about the SC judgement, as given in the Hindustan Times. So, that's the spur behind the generosity of the BJP. I always wondered how a BJP man is thinking of anyone other than Ambani and Adani. Surprised that no TV channel is showing this judgement. Bravo, Gen SPS Vains. My salute to you. Keep kicking. That's the ONLY language these chaps understand.

Anonymous said...

Hats off sir for such a write up. I too agree about the present hike in the market. When you've written so much about the veterans, my concern is also with the serving people. Why there is so much difference in the allowances when the Officer and PBOR is serving in the same harsh conditions? Why MSP difference when they are serving the nation?

Justin N Christian said...


Major Deepak Mehra said...


Good article, and I hope some thing happens.
Alongside I would like to mention another lacuna by the Indian Govt. towards its short service commissioned officers - those who completed 10 years, and fought the 1971 war for the country.I wrote about this when I left the Army in 1976 to the then COAS, but there was no reply.
I was reading about the American Army, and there the benefits are the same if you have completed three years of operational duty.
I was lucky and fared well in civil life - but a bad taste still remains
I wonder whether its worth taking up with the Govt now?
You can see my profile on Linkedin.

Major Deepak Mehra
Short Service-1.

Anonymous said...


MoD has finally Approved O R OP on 17th Feb 2015. Chaired by Raksha Mantri

The following were approved :

1. Military Pension will be considered as a Special Pension.
2.OROP will be as per Approved Defination only '
3. In most of the cases ESM will get Fixed at Highiest of Their Rank Pay Band .
4.Majors pension wil be Upgraded to Lt Col .
5. O R O P Equalisation will be done Annually .
6. Rs 8000 Crore Budget approved .
7 . File moves to Finance Ministry on Monday 23 Feb 2015 .
8 . Announcement any time before Budget on 28 Feb 2015 .

CHEER 's with Lots of Hope !

Bharat said...

One other important aspect that needs to be addressed in the 7th CPC is regarding continuation of the "Defined Benefit" pension scheme as existing, for the Armed Forces. If the 7th CPC were to recommend that Armed Forces also adopt the New Pension Scheme (NPS),it should not be accepted at all. The NPS would be to the detriment of the Armed Forces personnel for various reasons.
The influential people active on this blog should ensure that the NPS is not made applicable to us.

Anonymous said...

now that the budget is a done thing with practically no mention of OROP, where does that leave the exservicemen?
all our analysis collapses and falls flat to the political logic. i wonder what col r s rathore has to add to the subject.

pirthipal said...

Thanks a LOT for the Valued Information !! THIS is an Excillent Advice for Retd service Personne.
I want to Bring to UR Notice that budget has been declared but the promised notification has not been Declared bi DEF Minister as Promiswed > This has set in Disappointment amoung retd service personnel , May I request *U* to UPTP-Date details IF available with *U* or Take Appropriate Measures .
Thanking YOU
Yours Col(Retd) Pirthi Pal Singh
24 Gopal Park KAPURTHALA-144601

Commander said...

A very hypocritical post, supporive of the government. The fact is OROP is not saunctioned and no proviso made for it in the union budget. I wonder what is there to crow about ? The Army is the biggest stake holder in the unity of India and denying OROP is like hitting at your roots. Hope sanity will prevail and OROP approved, but I have my doubts. People may read articles on OROP on my blog wwwemge.blogspot.com
Gp Capt MG Singh

Unknown said...

Dear Maj Navdeep Singh, the post is but a reiteration of your views, opinions and facts expressed elsewhere. But it does not inform us of anything new on why it takes the IIT man with his compassion and the PM with his "for the forces" iteration from the heights of the Siachen glacier, so many months. Is it convenience? If they could ask the Home Secy to resign for shielding a politician and the Foreign Secretary for not weilding political savvy, how is it that the likes of the Secy/FADS and CGDA with their "professed" expertise and crores spent on upgrading their software cannot come up with a Govt letter?

@Raju Pillai, please don't mix up OROP with bottles of liquor and purchase of a car. This is the kind of things the babus like to keep us down.

Sreedhar said...

This is the best write up on matters 'OROP'. This covers all concerned issues. Very good Sir.
Veteran Sreedhar. Bangalore.

Satish said...

June 18 th -- A retired Sargent from UP strangled his 18 year daughter and then committed suicide since he could not afford her coaching class expenses. What a shame that this Govt is dragging its feet on OROP

Rajeev said...

I feel the Ex Servicemen are demanding too much.This everyone know including the PM and FM.The PBOR who had retired at the age of 37 or 38 needs to be compensated.If he has not got a pensionable job after retirement from service,his pension should be made 60% of the minimum pay of the scale in the present pay band.For the officers it should be 50% of minimum in the pay band.

Unknown said...

dear maj navdeep singh your article on orop really worth reading and an eyeopener to those who are still not trying to know why ower brave jawans should be given orop its really worth to read a big salute to you sir jwo narayanan nambisan calicut

Raja Dutta said...


What about short service commissioned office released in 2002.

Major Raja Dutta

cp nair said...

Well written article, but tell us how the former soldiers in the ministerial berths have given hope to the veteran community

Unknown said...

I am thankful to major Mehara who has brought the subject of those who served in the forces for 10-11 years,took part in 1971 war and they are not given pension,because the contract was for 10 yrs only after that Navy did not want to retain them or they left themselves for better opportunity.still cases are pending but by the time it will be decided somany of them will die.Indian law makers within no time decide all the benefit for themselves with many legal and illegal previllages for life time.they are getting pension if they complete only five yrs as a member,where as people from armed forces worked for 10-11 years fought a war of 1971 and when time came for pension government changed the rule one year before that they will not be kept as reserve which was against the contract rule.once contract is signed one can not change as and when they want.still people are running pillar to post but case has not been decided.I am 65 year old ,now I have decided not to say anyone I am ex-serviceman or I have fought 1971 war.My grand children when ask me DADAji show me your medals,I tell them donot bother about it,that is just a show piece.when some society members ask me-aree sahab I heared you were on board INS TALWAR during 1971 war which attacked karachi harbour on 4th&8th December, pl.share your experience.I just reply to them that I forgot everything,where as no one in life can forget such seen which was criated in karachi harbour by missile boat vinash.It is seeing &believing experience of those who are taking part in war.we were petroling out of karachi harbour when we received message INS KHUKHARI HAS BEEN HIT BY TORPIDO COME FOR HELPING IN RESCUE OPERATION.So many of our friends lost their life.It could have been anyone of us.we could not sleep for 14 days.I am writing this only to open the eyes of our law makers who thinks they are the only people delivering for the nation but they donot know what hardship a soldier is facing or they donot want to know.WHO REMEMBERS US?But today those leaders are also in power who comes out of jail or having criminal charges on them.still I appreciate PRIMEMINISTER,DEFENCE MINISTER and BJP who kept promises.I hate congress & its leadership who divided the country in cast&religion,and only knew how to rule and make wealth.we have to take lession fron singapore,china,malaysia,dubai for development.we should have been an example for them.

Unknown said...

Dear Major Navdeep Singh ,
Excellent article on OROP presented by you Sir.
Kindly enlighten me whether PMR Officers are
In the OROP orbit or not please.
Major P J Rao

Brigadier Dinesh Mathur said...

We have got it wrong from the very beginning.
Our basis of argument should have been our jawans who retire very early at age group 37-40 and require jobs to sustain themselves. Chetwodian motto could have led our great leaders of this movement to get their claims first and everything would have followed later.
Still not to late to correct.
Brigadier Dinesh Mathur( Retired)

Manohar said...

Dear Navdeep, time and again you were raising the topic on OROP in a matured way touching the lacunae in the system. With an approach positive, we will certainly get the OROP in its accepted definition. As the rumour spread by Mr PK Awasthi in these column, may be we will see the light at the end of the tunnel very soon. At the end a major portion of the credit goes to you undoubtedly, specially to the PBOR and their widows. I am sure that you will carry out your fight against injustice along with our friend Major DP Singh. All the best.
PS: Recently the Railway Board noted that there are 2,80,000 Railway pensioners above 80 years and in that 46,000 are above 90-100 year bracket. (I am giving this detail to emphasise your point on life expectancy of soldiers).

Mohan Joseph said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,

Well articulated. well done. And thanks for taking up the ESM's issues in the right earnest so relentlessly.