Every Indian is proud of the gallantry traditions of our armed forces. They have always served with honour in the battle-field and have always pitched in with their heroism whenever the country needed them.
The One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue has been one of the issues raised by the retired armed forces personnel and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has stated he would press for an early resolution of this issue. Rahul Gandhi said our soldiers never think twice before making the supreme sacrifice for our country and that he would do everything to ensure their demands are met.
India has close to 2.5 million ex-servicemen. That's almost double the strength of the 1.3 million strong Indian army. These 2.5 million former soldiers, and their families, represent a generation that sacrificed its youth in defending India's honour. Thousands of them, who laid down their lives defending National honour, are now survived by their widows and children.
Some of Mother India's bravest daughters and sons have been fighting a prolonged battle seeking parity in pension for all ex-servicemen regardless of their date of retirement.
The issue moved closer to resolution on Friday when they had a meeting with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. The Congress leader assured the 1,000 member ex-servicemen delegation of his complete support.
Rahul Gandhi said he will make sure their demands are met at the earliest. 'I am on your side. I understand your concerns. You give your life for the country; I will do all that I can to see that your demands are met,' the Congress Vice President said.
The delegation largely comprised ex-servicemen from Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
One Rank One Pension has been a long-standing demand of the two million plus ex-servicemen of India. Highlighting the unjustness of higher pensions for juniors, who retire later at the same rank, they urged the Congress Vice-President to ensure this anomaly is corrected.
One Rank One Pension policy will ensure uniform pension for all armed forces personnel retiring at the same rank, and with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
At present there is a disparity between pensions received by those who retired pre-2006, and those who retired post-2006. For example, a Lieutenant General who retired in 2002 receives a significantly lesser pension than a Lt. Gen. who retired in 2008.
During discussions with Rahul Gandhi the delegation requested government's consideration on the following issues: One Rank One Pension; establishment of an Ex-Servicemen Commission; assured second career for officers by way of placements in Central Armed Police Forces, Public Sector Undertakings, Police and State government organisations; a separate Pay Commission, or alternatively, representation in the Seventh Pay Commission; representation of Defence officers in the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, enhanced rate of pension in case of early retirement; and reservation for the children of ex-servicemen in jobs.
According to Major Ved Prakash, Chairman of the Congress party's ex-servicemen department, 'OROP will ensure that these ex-servicemen receive pension on the basis of the pension people are getting in their rank after the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission.'
Recounting the ex-servicemen's meeting with Rahul Gandhi, Maj Ved Prakash added, 'The ex-servicemen also pointed out that those working in the armed forces retire early, even before their family commitments are fulfilled and hence should be accommodated in paramilitary forces and government jobs'.
As per some estimates over 6 lakh widows will benefit from a government decision to implement OROP.
UPA government recently approved the composition of the Seventh Central Pay Commission, which will be chaired by Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur. His appointment has been welcomed by several sections of the armed forces since Justice Mathur previously served as the chairman of the Armed Forces Tribunal and is well acquainted with the issues related to the Defence forces.
With Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi making an intervention on the issue, our brave soldiers, who have served the nation with honour, are confident that the issue would be resolved at the earliest.