Indian Army
OROP: Modi Government is the Victim of Past Sins

It’s pathetically foolish for anyone to believe that that the NDA government will deceive the…

It’s pathetically foolish for anyone to believe that that the NDA government will deceive the nation by not honouring its commitment to OROP. It’s natural for the Pappu of our politics who has recently taken to social media to rave and rant about our Prime Minister having the money for his visits abroad but not for pensions to our veteran soldiers.

The real pity is that ex-servicemen, including some very senior officers, have been publicly expressing their anger on the issue. And some media people have naturally joined the word war to create yet another new item song for “Breaking News.”

All of them, alas, are oblivious that what the Modi government is acing contempt of court proceedings as it inches to a happy solution for the long-term good of the servicemen and the country they serve so valiantly at all times, be it tremors of mother earth or the or the terrorists from across our borders.

All of them equally appear ignorant that on 18 February 2015, a Supreme Court bench of justices TS Thakur and AK Goel had directed the Centre to implement its six-year-old verdict of Justice Altamas Kabir 9 September 2008 to follow the one rank, one pension (OROP) principle for retired armed forces personnel.

Further it reminded the BJP government that it had promised to do so in the run-up to last year’s Lok Sabha elections, and warned the government of contempt if it failed to keep its word within three months.

On 10 July this year, the Supreme Court gave the Centre six more weeks to comply with its 2008 judgment. The next hearing is scheduled for 25 August 2015.

What has escaped notice of Pappu and the fasting-cum-shouting brigade is that on both the above warning days, the government’s Additional Solicitor General did not at all argue against the OROP but said that the government had in fact sanctioned the OROP, and was simply requesting more time to work out the details.

As for the likes of those who don’t go into details, let them remember that, according to portal, the OROP is expected to benefit 25 lakh veterans and widows of defence personnel as of today.

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi

The huge figure is not surprising considering that Indian Army alone has people of 17 ranks—from Sepoy to Field Marshal. With the National Pay Commission reworking salaries and pay scales every five years, utmost care is needed to ensure that the situation does not arise where another Major General S.P.S.Vains first files a writ petition challenging the scheme where a Brigadier gets a higher pension than him, wins against the Union government appeal and secures a historic verdict from the apex court on 9 September 2008 which, seven years later, is being hung over a one-year old government which, irony of ironies, warmly endorses that verdict which proclaimed the supremacy of Article 14 (Right Equality of Law) of our people, including those from the armed forces.

An important aside here is that a political party’s election manifesto is being actually demanded to be implemented—by the apex court no less. This is a unique development in our democracy, and will make the political parties to be more cautious in making election promises in the future. For all you know, the Supreme Court may have opened the door for the Manifesto Bills I wrote about in my last commentary.

Another aside for the shouting brigade to note: does it really want the NDA government to announce its figures of OROP to the public first, even before it does so to the Supreme Court which is hearing the matter? How and why did those ranting people forget the oft-touted phrase sub judice?

Another overlooked possibility: instead of simply announcing the OROP figure, the government would be perfectly justified in putting forth a scheme that will reduce the number of pensioners over a period of time, thereby lessening the nation’s pension burden.

In fact, the 142nd Report on OROP prepared by two BJP MPs in December 2011 and available in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, advocated such a step strongly. It stated that the then existing ratio of pensioners to serving personnel in the military of 1.7 to 1 (as against 0.50 to 1 civil pensioners to civil work force) be decreased and the pension bill drastically reduced.


By the eminently sensible expedient of absorbing or laterally moving the Armed Forces personnel after the end of their military service into suitable government organisations and departments where their unique skills, training, disciple and strengths can be optimally used.

Despite recommendations of the Parliament and Pay Commission to implement the lateral transfer of armed Forces personnel to civil departments, these proposals have yet to be implemented in a meaningful way, despite it being known that such measures are widespread the world over including in China, and in advanced economies like South Korea, Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, and the United States. This is mainly on account of want of energy and commitment by the MOD, and obstruction by the MHA.

Can you guess the savings that will result under the above scheme?

Well, the Sixth Central Pay Commission’s Report (March 2008) estimated that the “at the end of 13 years, the annual savings on this account will be to the tune of ₹ 7,800 crore at constant price index“. Lateral transfer-absorption, if implemented, would in the longer term result in savings in the overall pension bill, and would more than off set projected expenditure on OROP.

And guess what?

The UPA government ignored this recommendation. Instead, seven Central Armed Police Forces, headed by officers from Indian Police Service (who have direct access to the Minister of Home Affairs),were elevated to apex pay grades, a grade higher than that of most Lt Generals, including those in command of Corps of the Indian Army.

The Narendra Modi Government is truly suffering vicariously from the sins of omission and commission committed by the UPA government.

First, the latter did nothing about the Supreme Court’s OROP verdict of Justice Altamas Kabir of 9 September 2008. Then it did mere lip service to the Koshiyal Committee Report of 2011 recommending what is soon to be implemented—as promised by the present government.

What is the NDA’s sin that it should bear the cross of its predecessor? Pappu and the fasting-cum-shouting brigade must answer.

Will August 25 well mark its redemption?

Arvind Lavakere has been a freelance writer since 1957. He has written and spoken on sports on radio and TV. He currently writes on political issues regularly. His writings include a book on Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
  • dinesh prasad gupta

    modi suffering from the sins of the past — very much wwrong.
    modi became pm due to the sins of the past. pl do not forget it.

    why you only mention/worry about the pension of officers. you forget about pbor. our officers too have let us down. they worried for themself and overlooking the ordinary ranks.

  • Arvind Lavarake

    Like a typical trigger-happy soldier firing at a perceived enemy hiding in the forest area, Group Captain J.Ramaswamy chooses to target me by concluding that I wrote what I wrote because I don’t have a relative in the family serving in the Armed Forces. Well, Sir, I do have, not one, but two, both close to me. One is a serving Colonel and another a Captain who served in the Bangladesh War and retired soon thereafter to go slowly up the civil ranks to retire as a Deputy General Manager (Security) in a PSU Bank. And I have talked to the him. preferring not to have any conversation on the subject with the Colonel for obvious reasons. What is forgotten is that I did not oppose the principle of OROP. What is forgotten is my conviction that the Modi government would surely honour its commitment. But what is not understood by those in uniform in an emotive circumstance is that the same quantum of pension to. say, a Group Captain retiring now after , say, five years of service, as well as to a Group Captain who, after the same length of service, retired 20- years ago, is neither good economics nor good governance. It’s a question of sensitive complexities, especially with Civil Defence Services, BSF as well as regular civil services possibly wanting to go on a hunger strike to demand the same. If the government wants more time to thrash out the deal in talks with senior retired Army officers what is the problem? Incidentally, instead of indulging in a trade union type of protest which is so demeaning to our armed forces, why didn’t the Army negotiators offer that, after retiring at age 40 or so, as a large chunk does, they are agreeable to work for the nation in civilian jobs in government? Such an offer would have made the OROP so much easier to execute and also helped considerably to save the nation’s Pension Budget. No, Group Captain, I’m not shooting in the dark. Remember, our Central Pay Commission did recommend that, but nothing ever happened. Why?

  • Dr. MS

    Little off the point. Kindly write your comments to a dumb biased article in the New York Times asking, ” Why aren’t Indian women working?”, comparing it with Bangladeshi workers in garment factories…using outdated labor statistics and skewed analysis. Kindly give your comments, with intelligent analysis and facts, to two third-rate journalists (with thier own axe to grind) writing on India in the New York Times.

    Make sure you are polite in your comments while hitting hard with the facts and evidence.

    The article is at . “

  • Group Captain J Ramaswamy

    Its an eye-opener to learn that erudite personnel like the ilk of Mr A Lavakare are still ignorant of perhaps the real problems of OROP. Reinventing the wheels does no good if you cannot voice your opinion at the right time for the right cause. Remembering HISTORY to your advantage & ignoring the present to support your cause reflects naivety,. I am sure none in HIS family have served with the “Armed Forces”, or else, his views would sure be different and sympathetic towards War Widows & PBOR’s. I wish he had suggested that all personnel before joining State or central Govt jobs are made to work in the “Armed Forces” for two years & cleared only if they meet the average QR’s in the ARMY..For his info, Mrs Pinky Anand has just asked for some more time & not a definite period in the Highest Court of the country to avoid Contempt of the Court.. God Bless him with more WISDOM.

  • Dr. MS

    Here is a “National” Commission on Women (.,
    whose funding few know about. But every research study has only focused on “Mizoram, Manipur, Muslim Women of UP, AP and women of Kerala…”. Strange. Can someone investigate and find out who is benefitting from these research, what are the research standards, where does the data go and who funds so many studies in “Mizoram, Manipur and on Muslim women”? I did not find one study on Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or on Hindu women (and many of their struggles for leadership where they are the majority).

  • Balakrishnan Hariharan

    When people who know nothing about Military ethos, and go about showing that they indeed know – the result is Arvind Lavakare’s ‘hogwash ‘ . I regret to state this as I am an admirer of the writer’s many Opinions. Not this one. He has turned OROP into a slugfest between the Congress and the BJP. Who stated at Siachen to the Jawans on 24 Oct 2014 : “It is my destiny that I have fulfilled OROP”. Where is the sanction letter ? Regards

  • Sandeep Pandit

    The writer says, “the OROP is expected to benefit 25 lakh veterans and widows of defence personnel as of today.The huge figure is not surprising considering that Indian Army alone has people of 17 ranks”. What the writer failed to emphasize is that the number of defence pensioners is huge because MORE THAN 80% OF THEM RETIRE MUCH MUCH EARLIER THAN THE AGE OF 60 unlike the civilians. Yes, lateral induction into other Govt organizations, which allow people to serve till 60 years of age, is a realistic solution to reduce the Defence pension bill.

  • prasad

    So as per the most informed author, the following should happen
    A)Every new government should start with a clean slate,not being answerable for the deeds(good or )bad deeds of previous government B)Supreme court should not question the incumbent government for non implementation of orders issued by the previous Governments C) Citizens especially veterans should not speak Just because the PM repeatedly assures and finally why not the wise people in the government submit a copy of letter where in Govt has sanctioned OROP as stated to the supreme court? Sanction by govt and working of modalities well which is the horse?and which is the cart? Well in any case one is much ahead of the other.. much much ahead indeed? Brains of geniuses Pathetically much ahead of ordinary veterans in any case….

    • sayvari

      What the Author tends to highlight why the issues you have raised were not brought before the so called enlightened govt which ruled over India for 60+ years. The line you are trying toe, some learned guy has stated this as “Moronsmirti”.

  • Vivek Sanghi

    excellend write up hope the general mass reads and understands this. would our all empowered bureaucracy allow this as it would impact them somewhere viz promotions, vacancies, power sharing ….

    • Ex Sub Saji

      The write up is scholors foolishness,