The genuine demand of the veterans of the armed forces seeking one rank, one pension (OROP) has been hanging fire for a very long time. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance – 2, headed by the former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, at the fag-end of its term, agreed to implement it. However, apparently, it was too late.
A ray of hope was seen in 2014, when, in an election rally organized for veterans at Rewari, saw the prime-ministerial aspirant from the Bharatiya Janata Party, Narendra Modi, promising to implement OROP if his party came to power at the Centre that year. He used the word “promise” in the presence of an ex-Army chief, General Vijay Kumar Singh. Riding on the alleged misgovernance of the UPA, the BJP came to power and Modi became the prime minister.
The “implementation” of OROP was announced with much fanfare by the-then defence minister of the Modi-led government, Manohar Parrikar, in a news conference with three service chiefs in attendance (which was against the norms).
However, what was offered as OROP, was shockingly not one rank, one pension, but a one-time enhancement in pension. It was also stated then that there would be a revision of the OROP in the new avatar every five years. The government had obviously gone back on its pre-election promise and what it offered was not what was recommended by the Koshiyari Committee and accepted by Parliament. The veterans didn’t accept this and approached the Supreme Court when the government refused to budge from its stance.
It took seven years for the apex court to pronounce the verdict, which accepted the government submission and rejected the veterans’ arguments. However, the top court ordered the government to pay the arrears. Point to be noted here is that the government has not even done the revision of pension in five years, as it had committed. The government requested for extension of time – and the Supreme Court agreed. That time limit, now, expires on December 15, 2022.
With the veterans’ ongoing agitation for OROP at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar now crossing 2,700 days old and counting, few harsh facts have come to the limelight. Some of them are as follows:
· Veterans made a terrible mistake believing a politician’s words who represents a party with little or no known contribution towards freedom struggle or development of the country.
· Veterans didn’t get the desired support from their own fraternity with seniors, who either kept quiet on this matter or spoke selectively on this matter.
· The self-help attitude of the military hierarchy became all too apparent with the top brass getting OROP and paying no attention towards their very own junior brothers in arm, their families, and widows, thus throwing the Chetwode motto to the wind.
· The so-called media didn’t find it appropriate to cover this agitation and let the world know of the difficulties and hardships faced by veterans, their families, and widows.
The list of shocking facts is way too long, and the ones mentioned above tell the story, albeit in brief. The aspirations of the agitating veterans may or may not bear fruit. However, our progeny aspiring to join our armed forces must understand the following:
· Soldiers must not get swayed by politicians’ flowery words or their promises. They must listen to their brain instead of the heart.
· They must speak their mind against the wrongs committed, regardless of the consequences. Speaking out the truth is not being political.
· All veterans, barring those who have backstabbed their own for vested interests, must wholeheartedly support the veterans’ agitation at the Jantar Mantar.
· Follow the Chetwode motto rather than a political party.
Also, please do keep in mind that the judiciary gets OROP, and an ex-chief of the Army is now a junior minister in the Modi government.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of India Sentinels.
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