New Delhi: The Prime Minister-appointed pay panel is unlikely to accept the ex-servicemen's demand of One Rank One Pension (OROP). Sources say that the government could agree to modified parity. The committee which is still to submit its report to the Prime Minister has already met the three service chiefs.
The nitty-gritties of the One Rank One Pension would be clear if we look at one Army family that had two generations serving the nation at two different periods for the same length of time in the same capacity as Havaldar, and yet earning two different pension figures.
Rajesh Kumar, an Army man, lives just about 200 kilometre from the capital in the village of Beri. A small family of three, his father too served in the Indian Army.
Havaldar Zile Singh is the veteran of two wars. He spent 16 years 27 days in the Army, retiring in 1977. Meanwhile, Havaldar Rajesh Kumar saw no wars but served in several conflict zones. He spent nearly the same time - 16 years 10 months - in the force and retired in 2009.
Roughly the same time in service, roughly the same hardships, but the father earns Rs 7,304 as pension, while Rajesh earns Rs 10,736. It's this difference, between a pre-96 retiree and a post-2006 retiree that is at the heart of the conflict and the demand for One Rank One Pension.
One Rank One Pension means two military persons who retired after equal service in the same rank, get equal pension, irrespective of time span separating their retirement date.
Sources, however, say that the government-appointed pay panel is unlikely to agree to this demand. Instead, it may offer modified parity which simply means that for purposes of pension, pay grades will be fixed.
Enhancement of widows' pension, fixing of common scales for all Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and and other ranks (ORs) and the grant of non-functional upgradation may also get the green signal.
The pay panel has met the three service chiefs for their inputs, after repeated warnings that the issue of pay and pension was leading to a whole lot of restlessness among the forces.
Many say, naturally so. For instance: A sepoy who retired in 1995 will get a pension which is roughly 80 per cent less than his counterpart who retired on or after after January 1, 2006.
Worse, three Havaldars with exactly the same length of service could earn different pensions if one retired before 96, the second before 2006 and the third post-2006.
The financial aspect apart, the pay panel has also been told that this one issue was leading to organisational problems, especially in areas where the Army men were working in close co-ordination with his civilian counterparts.
The pay panel's deliberations are still work in progress and the hope is that by Independence Day, the government will have a gift for its men in uniform.
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