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Ex-Servicemen have mixed reactions over OROP as announced by the Government
The Government on Saturday has finally accepted OROP- a demand by India's defence personnel that uniform pension should be paid to armed force retirees with the same rank and same length of service.

While the veterans accepted the implementation decision and thanked the government for the same, there are many clauses which the veterans are not accepting.

The major confusions in the government approved OROP are the use of the terms VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) and PMR (Premature Retirement) and the government's OROP scheme not being applicable on the ones who have opted for PMR. On one side Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is saying that OROP is not applicable on those who have seeked PMR, while on the other side PM Modi says that OROP benefits also apply to those who retire prematurely.

So, with confusions surrounding on whom amongst the retirees will be the beneficiaries of One Rank, One Pension, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday asked all those concerned to wait for the final order which will clear all the confusions.

We tried talking to few Ex-servicemen to take their opinion over this issue:

Bhaskar SarkarColonel (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar says that it's a good deal. "See you can never get 100 percent satisfaction in anything, but I think it is a good deal. See their is no such thing called VRS in the Army. From the beginning there is this provision that any person putting his best can take retirement. When you have a VRS system in the civil, you get additional monetary benefits. Basically this system of VRS is aimed at reducing the number of workers and thereby reducing money. But in the Army it is not like that, because in the Army the number of officers required or the number of jobs required is based on units and that number is fixed, and by taking VRS you are not going to reduce the wage bill, as it happens in industry. So this term VRS is misleading, and the term we use in the Army is called per-mature retirement."

He also talked about the positives of OROP by the government. "Now coming to the positives that I can see are that, it is going to help those who have retired much earlier, like I have retired in 1991 but my seniors who became General, and are 10 yrs senior to me possibly get less pension than what I am getting. Those people who retired say in early 70s and 80s, their widows will certainly benefit substantially from this, as they were really having a bad time. So to that extent I consider it a great positive. Secondly I always feel that a bad decision is always better than no decision. So now at least there is an agreement or commitment by the government that they will start paying the money. And I am sure that except for a few who are egoistic, almost everyone will accept that the government also has certain limitations. See you can't revive the pension every year as they are saying, it is not practical. And I think 5 yrs is not bad, you can't always get everything that you want. I think it is a good deal and we should be satisfied as long as what is been said comes out on paper."

Arun BajpaiBrigadier Arun Bajpai (Retd) feels bad about the 78 day agitation. "See it has been accepted after 78 days of agitation, it is very sad, very pathetic and a very bad publicity for the whole world that the Indian Army people have to go on a hunger strike, which doesn't even happen in a Banana republic. If the government had to give it, they should have given it on the very first day itself, what message have you sent to the world and the people of India, that in this country nothing happens unless and until you go on a dharna pradarshan."

He also highlighted that OROP was applicable in India till 1973 and not a new concept. "When India was independent from that day till 1973 OROP was applicable and every year the escalation that the Faujis are demanding now, was also applicable. But thanks to Indira Gandhi, that she cut out OROP and reduced the take home pension of an Army person from 70% to 50% from the last pay drawn. See OROP was applicable to the Armed forces up to first 23 years of Indian independence, and this was taken off after the 1973 pay commission, when Armed forces pension was compared with civil forces pension. And this is not fair, as all civil force personnel retire at 60 yrs of age and 90% of the Army personnel retire at 35 (plus) age, because it has to be kept young. See the civilians serve 23 yrs more and they want to be at par with us, how is that possible? Then send them to war."

Brigadier Arun Bajpai also pointed out a serious issue of politicising of the Armed forces, which were apolitical till now. "See the biggest damage done by this whole instance of 78 days of dharna pradarshan is that it has politicized the Army, which was apolitical till date, now that virus has gone into the Army. Now the Army has realized that the only way to get things done is going for a dharna. So, what have you done, you have politicized a apolitical Army and this particular thing is not going to die down, is my perception."

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