We might have all read an article couple of days ago appeared in Business Standard newspaper indicating that the due to weak financial position, the union government is mulling with the idea of pushing the implementation of OROP to next fiscal year, which means the implementation might be delayed at least by 5-6 months.

In my personal opinion both the previous and present governments have mishandled the OROP issue and they have perhaps failed to understand the real issues involved in their proper perspective. As suggested in my previous write up if the government would have chosen to introduce an element of age on retirement, in OROP, the expenditure on account of OROP would be less than half the currently estimated expenditure of 8300 crores per annum.

Going by the charts put out by various ESM blogs it appears that if OROP is implemented, every officer will be benefitted ten times more than the POTOs. Considering that there are ten times more POTO veterans than the veteran officers, the total expenditure on account of OROP will be divided equally between the officers and POTOs. So, if the age limit is introduced in OROP, then the GOI can save approximately 4000 crores every year. Anyway it would be difficult to do now and in any case, it can’t be done over night! This needs tremendous political will and high calibre administrative skill.

Therefore, in the present situation, the least that the government can do is to notify the implementation of OROP for Widows and POTOs immediately and pay the first instalment of arrears without much delay.
Needless to emphasise that the POTOs are those who retire at an young age of 33-37 years in public interest and therefore they are the one who deserve OROP the most. It was their pension which was drastically reduced from 75% to 50% in 1973 and it is for this very reason alone, they are eligible for OROP.

How can those who have served to the maximum permissible age or service, resulting in their pension increase by an additional 30%, agitate to claim OROP? Under what rules and on what logic??

Interestingly, the minimum amount of pension plus DR that an officer at the lowest rank is expected to receive under OROP is more than two months salary of a sepoy. What an irony! How much more Pension do they need to lead a decent life in their 60s, 70s & 80s?

In response to my last article published in this blog, one of the senior veterans mailed to me stating that the OROP is not meant to rectify the anomaly but meant to bridge the gap between the past and present pensioners. I have no reason to differ with him, rather I am in full agreement with him.

No doubt that the concept of OROP is exactly the same. But the concept is completely different from the reasons. The concept of OROP is applicable to all pensioners including para military personnel and civil pensioners. But the reasons are unique to each group. What did we do while demanding OROP? We have built up a strong justification for extending this benefit exclusively to military veterans by citing the three cardinal reasons, which I have elaborated in my last article.

In the absence of these strong and genuine reasons no government would have agreed to grant OROP only to military personnel. The agitating veteran leaders knew it more than anybody else. They also knew very well that unless they piggy back on these reasons which are applicable only to NCOs & JCOs, they have no chance of getting OROP at all. After all they have had no valid reasons of their own for such a demand. Therefore these reasons were articulated effectively and continuously in public platforms. The leaders have so cleverly and forcefully articulated these reasons in every available platform that public at large started believing that these reasons are true to all military veterans including the officers. I salute our leaders for this dubious achievement!

They did not stop at it. They were worried that their bluff will one day be called off. So they took full control of the agitation into their own hands and started dictating it. Simultaneously, they established back-channel contacts with the political leaders and bureaucrats to negotiate a deal favourable to them before it is too late. They have succeeded to some extent in this endeavour as well.

But, we now know of all these manipulations and we are not going to take them silently anymore. We will defend our justify and demand what is due to us with all our might and strength.

It would therefore be desirable if the officers who are not eligible for OROP on the basis the three reasons articulated by themselves, encourage the GOI to notify the OROP immediately at least for POTOs & Widows and refrain gracefully from further agitation so that the already existing gap between the officers and ORs in the perception of OROP does not widen any further.

The veteran community of NCOs and JCOs on their part should mobilise members for AFVAI and strengthen it so that we are never ignored or marginalised from now on.

Sgt MPKaran
Karnataka Chapter, AFVAI

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