OROP: Right to Equality in a new ‘Avatar’
Introduction – Koshyari Committee and OROP
“Equality for one and for all” – A phrase that hits the headlines time and again, be it from any part of the society- Equality for women, equality in terms of caste and religion (reservation system). Now, it is coming from the defense services, who demand same pension for the servicemen who retired in the same rank of service with same length of time irrespective of their date of retirement. And, why not? After all, the value of work never depreciates with time!
Thanks to the Koshyari committee, this agenda was brought to attention on 19 Dec 2011 and has been strongly recommended for implementation since then.
‘One Rank, One Pension’ – A Political Issue
In the run for the elections in 2014, this issue ended up being a political agenda for the parties who promised to implement it, if elected. Thus, they aimed at gaining the attention of the servicemen and ex-servicemen who endorse it to support its early implementation.
Post elections, the central government delayed its implementation that led to nationwide protests and hunger strikes on 15 June ’15.
Implementation of OROP and its Consequences
After a lot of heated up accusations and arguments from the opposition party and Protestants, BJP implemented this scheme on 5th September ’15, adhering to a few demands put up in the official OROP proposal. This in turn left the ex-servicemen dissatisfied and they continued with the strikes and protests so as to force the government to implement the OROP scheme their way.
Current Situation of the Protests
The ex-servicemen have now been on a hunger strike for over 90 days, compelling the central government to approve their demands. Although some of their demands have already been fulfilled, they still consider it ‘misleading’ and they, now want the government to consider some other agendas as well. For instance, one of their demands is that the servicemen opting for premature retirement should also get the benefit. Also, the financial year 2013-2014 should be the base year for the scheme, not just 2013. The protestants also want the scheme to be revised every year, and not every 5-year as suggested by the government.
The ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme is crucial step taken by the Indian government in favor of its ex-servicemen. Neither the POV of the govt. nor that of the ex-servicemen regarding this scheme can be under-rated. Although its implementation will bring a lot of financial help to the defense personnel, on the contrary, it will also pose a huge financial burden on the Indian economy. Hence, either way, one of either the govt. or the ex-servicemen have to bend their ways a little for the successful, and rather peaceful implementation of OROP. As for now, this plan definitely needs a few amendments to settle the accusations of the opposition as well as the protestants.
The plan of successful implementation of OROP is yet to be achieved. However, its implementation in the first place is a huge step taken by the govt. to support the ex-servicemen. The fight between what is wrong and what is right is never-ending, but this step itself has already added a feather in the cap of the central government. As per the latest news, the enhanced pensions will be paid to over 25 lakhs ex-servicemen and war widows by January 2016.