Hindustan Times, September 6, 2015:: Key features of OROP and why ex-servicemen are still complaining::The ‘one rank one pension’ scheme for defence veterans announced by the Narendra Modi government on Saturday failed to satisfy the ex-servicemen who said their agitation will continue. Announcing the scheme, defence minister Manohar Parrikar assured an equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of retirement.
The ex-servicemen however said the government accepted only one out of their six demands. The opposition Congress joined them by saying the government has “substantially diluted” its provisions.
Here are the main features from the government’s OROP announcement and the complaints the veterans have about some of them.
- Cost to exchequer: The estimated cost to exchequer would be Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore at present and will increase further in future. Defence minister Parrikar said the previous government had put the estimate at Rs 500 crore.
- Base year for OROP: The scheme will be effective from July 1, 2014, and the base year will be 2013. The veterans wanted OROP from April 1, 2014 and 2015 as the base year.
- Yearly vs 5-yearly review: The government proposes to hold a review every five years. The veterans want a review held every year. Some reports say they were even willing to settle for a two-yearly revision. Their contention is that a senior officer can never receive a smaller pension than a junior officer.
- Premature retirees: The government initially said soldiers who took “voluntary retirement” would not be entitled to OROP. This struck a raw nerve as at least 40% of servicemen retire early, and such a decision would be a big blow for the forces. Later in the evening, representatives of ex-servicemen met Parrikar in his office and returned “satisfied” with “strong indications” that premature retirees would not be left high and dry
- Judicial panel vs Veterans’ panel: The government will constitute a single-member judicial committee to look into various aspects of OROP, including inter-services matters, and it will submit its report in six months. The ex-servicemen say the deadline has to be thirty days. They demand a five-member panel of which three should be veterans, one serving serviceman and an officer of their choice.
- Three mn personnel: About three million military personnel will be covered under the OROP scheme. The arrears will be paid in four half-yearly.
The Hindu, September 5, 2015 :: Paramilitary forces too demand OROP
Paramilitary forces too demand OROP: The paramilitary forces, officially referred to as the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), which report to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), will soon petition Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Home Minister Rajnath Singh to assert their rights and be treated on a par with the armed forces. They are also planning to launch a strong protest and agitation in the coming days. A paramilitary officer said the forces had been part of all the wars — the 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil wars — as they had fought along with the Army and were the “first line of defence.” He said since Independence, 22,250 Army personnel had lost their lives in different battles, while 33,678 CAPF jawans had been killed in the line of duty. Several retired and serving CAPF officials, who spoke to The Hindu, said the announcement of OROP reflected the “discriminatory” attitude of the government towards them. Officials said the definition of enemy had changed in the past two-three decades and the danger was not only from across the border but also from within the country.
The Hindu, September 6, 2015: : ‘Akhand Bharat’ idea behind RSS cover for talks with Pak.? :: Talks between India and Pakistan have always been a tricky issue. So, on the last day of the Samanvay Baithak (coordination meeting) between the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party, when Dattatreya Hosabale, joint general secretary of the Sangh, gave political cover for the government to pursue dialogue with Pakistan, it came as a surprise. Many believed the Sangh’s idea of “Akhand Bharat”, or unified India, which included parts of the subcontinent sundered from it, would not favour support for talks with Pakistan.
RSS insiders, however, say the stand is in consonance with the concept of “Akhand Bharat” declared on April 12, 1964, by the former Jan Sangh president Deendayal Upadhyaya and the socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia. “India is part of SAARC and has family-like cultural relations with neighbouring countries, be it Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Bangladesh. It was one body which was divided to form Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is natural that people living there are part of the same family,” Mr. Hosabale had said. When reminded that there had been a spike in infiltration and cross-border firing between India and at least one of the “brother” countries, he replied, “Sometimes relations [go bad], like it happens between brothers and so we also discussed how we can improve our relations with those who are historically and geographically attached to us.” Mahesh Sharma, who heads the Deendayal Shodh Sansthan (Deendayal Research Centre) and is considered an expert on the Jan Sangh leader, says the RSS’s stance is “hardly new”.