Who is Afraid of the Truth in OROP?
Why the Government Must Tell 125 Crore Indians
The Simple Truth about One Rank One
"Satyameva Jayate" (Sanskrit: सत्यमेव जयते satyam-eva
jayate; literally "Truth alone triumphs") is
from the ancient Indian scripture
Mundaka Upanishad. It was adopted as the national
motto of independent India.
On 14th August
2015, the Delhi police, which functions directly under the Central
Govt, and the NDMC, by their action provided the much needed media
exposure to the ESM agitation. It also united the other ‘sitting on
the wall’ ESM organisations.
On 11th September
2015, in Chandigarh, the PM, by those few words re-invigorated the
reportedly ‘factionalised’ ESM into protesting with much more
vigour. Proof is the attendance at ESM rally on 12th September
2015 and the myriad photographs doing the rounds on social media.
Most print media, with the exception of The Hindu, either blanked
off or covered desultorily and the usually voluble TV channels did
not cover the rally but also did not consider the impact of the
The PM’s words achieved one aim. It
may have been a political speech, as some retired BJP supporters
amongst ESM said, or it was the PM’s anger at the continuing
agitation by ESM in New Delhi or their statements about campaigning
in Bihar, but the words reinforced the feeling that the Govt’s
professed love and respect for the Jawan conceals disdain for ESM
and widows of ESM.
But, all ESM, and their widows to a
large extent, are a literate lot, and they ask many questions. They
find answers to most questions on the Govt’s websites, but they ask
more questions that only the Govt can answer. The ESM and widows ask
Do 125 crore Indians know what OROP really is and why it was
being requested, and
Does it mean that two different Governments led
by two different political parties, aided by a phalanx of
bureaucrats misunderstand the reasons, the concept, the aim, and the
implications – financial, administrative, and legal – of OROP?
If approving OROP was a desperate UPA’s electoral death throes, then
what was the BJP’s repeated “committed to OROP” about?
Do 125 crore Indians know how much the widow of a sepoy, or a
Subedar Major or of a Brigadier draw as Family pension?
How has the Govt given away Rs 1, 23, 000 crore from the money of
the poor (Rs
63, 000 crores as tax exemptions to rich corporates in 2014-15, Rs
20, 000 crores to offset losses of Public Sector Banks (PSB) by
their bad loans of poor people’s money to offenders, and Rs 40, 000
crore of the poor to Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI) in 2015-16),
If outgo of Rs 8300 crore or Rs 10, 000 crore or Rs 12, 000 crore
for OROP will drive India into a Greece like situation, as some
learned commentators, editors and retired bureaucrats predict, then
what about the amount stated above?
Government’s Civilian Employees vis-ŕ-vis ESM
The minimum eligibility period for receipt of pension is 10 years. A
Central Government servant retiring in accordance with the
Pension Rules is entitled to
receive superannuation pension on completion of at least 10 years of
qualifying service (see
qualifying service for Defence Forces personnel above) [emphasis
Compare this with 15
years for ORs and 20 years for Officers of the Defence Forces to be
eligible to draw pensions.
In the case of Family Pension for a Govt’s civilian employee the
widow is eligible
to receive pension on death of her spouse after completion of one
year of continuous service or before even completion of one year if
the Government servant had been examined by the appropriate Medical
Authority and declared fit for Government service [emphasis
(Pension) states that a Family Pensioner of the Defence Forces
http://www.pcdapension.nic.in/gen/faq.htm), inter alia,
states, “No family pension is admissible in cases where the
ex-servicemen was not a pensioner on the date of his death.”
For civilians to draw family pension, there is nothing to do with
dying in the first year of continuous service or even within 15
years or 20 years of service, like many of the jawans and officers
are shot dead by terrorists before they are eligible for pension!
The widows (nearly 6 lakh) of ESM are near penury as they are paid
just 30% of the last pay drawn by their husbands as family pensions.
The family pension for a Group X (the highest paid) Sepoy’s widow is
Rs 3672 + 113% Dearness Relief (DR) = Rs 7822 per month (Rs 260 per
day) to Rs 6507 +113% DR = Rs 13859 per month (Rs 462 per day) for
the widow of a Gp X Sub Maj who served 30 years but whose pension
reached the top of the pension table at 28 years?
Compare the above with the MGNREGA daily wages for 2015-16 for
unskilled, unemployed labourers for
some States: -Haryana – Rs 251; Chandigarh – Rs 239; Punjab – Rs
210; lowest Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh Rs 159. (Complete
text of F No. J-1011/1/2009-MGNREGA (Pt III) dated 31st March
Widows of Lt Col, Colonel, Brigadier draw Rs 15759, Rs 16677 and Rs
17487 + 113% DR as family pensions, respectively.
The ESM amongst Officers cadre are no better – Lt Col’s pension Rs
21490 at 20 years of service, Colonel’s pension Rs 26265 at 26 years
of service and Brigadier’s pension Rs 29145 at 30 years of service.
It is all taxable and that is why they have to find employment
(Source: Circular Nos. 501 & 547 for Other Ranks Pensioners and No.
500 & 548 for Officers’)
Pensioners issued by PCDA (and updated on 11th September
2015). Defence Forces
Pensioners are Income Tax Payees
Of the 30 lakh ESM pensioners, including family pensioners, a
majority pay income tax, and many uninformed (sic?) trolls think
defence pension is income-tax exempt.
ESM contributed part
of the Rs 63, 000 crore tax exemption & incentives gifted to the
corporate sector, and part of the first tranche of Rs 20, 000 to
re-capitalise PSBs’ for the irrecoverable loans they handed out, and
part of Rs 40,000 crore the Govt has exempted the FII from paying
MAT, and the several hundred crore that is paid to Air India for Air
India One’s flights and Rs 40 crore spent of the PM’s 15 trips
why the poor are being deprived to pay OROP of Rs 10, 000 crore to
ESM but are not deprived when
the Govt foregoes Revenue (taxes) of Rs 63000 crore, gives Rs 20000
crore to PSB and Rs 40000 crore FPI of the poor peoples’ money in
In this context it would be educative for all to read what Shri
Uttam Gupta, a financial analyst, has written in the Deccan Herald,
2015, in his comment titled Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT), Don’t
Override the Judicial Process, inter alia, “After Justice Shah
Committee recommended… He (FM) has also promised to come out with an
amendment to Section 115J of the Finance Act to exempt all FPIs nt
having permanent establishments in India from levy of MAT…….By
giving these assurances the Narendra Modi Govt has not only gone
back on the principle espoused by the Govt but also pre-empted the
OROP Commitments and Implementation Issue
Then PM-candidate, by his now famed his oratorical flourishes,
raised the forlorn hopes of ESM in Rewari in September 2013, and
with his every subsequent assurances and statements of
implementation of OROP, kept those hopes high.
Are 125 crore Indians aware of subsequent and recorded on file
statements by the UPA’s Raksha Mantri (RM) and the Finance Minister
(FM) that “Rs 500 crore was just
a token amount and more would be forthcoming as soon as the amount
could be worked out?”
Those pre-election speeches might also have been the reason for the
otherwise slow moving Defence Minister of the UPA to constitute a
Joint Working Group (JWG), engrave the definition of OROP (equal
pension for those with the same rank and same years of service and
automatic future enhancements) in the pages of MoD’s files with
alacrity, even haste, and set what now seems to be the OROP fireball
on its way.
Jean Paul Sartre said, “Commitment is not just a word. It is an
act.” So, the newly formed NDA Govt had its chance of converting
that commitment of OROP into fulfilling a promise in the Budget
Though 125 crore Indians, of whom 30
lakh are ESM and widows of ESM, may think that Budgets are made by
the FM and his (sealed up in the North Block) bureaucrats, they are
by norm, prepared in consultation with the Prime Minister. FM (also
the RM till November 2014) must have been aware of the PM’s
priorities when he framed the Budgets 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The Budgets for 2014-2015 & 2015-16 make
it clear that Ex-Servicemen (ESM) were
led up the commitment path till
5th September 2015
by repeated announcements.
If the 125 crore Indians, the poor and income tax paying ESM &
widows, do not believe it, they just need a cursory reading of
Demand No. 22, available on the Ministry of Finance website [Source:
Notes on Demands for Grants, 2015-2016, MoD, Demand No. 22, and
Defence Pensions at indiabudget.nic.in/ub2015-16/eb/sbe22.pdf].
The extract of Demand No. 22 below shows that the FM did not project
any demand for OROP and so FM (also the RM) made no provision in
Revised Budget 2014-2015, in fact he deducted the Rs 1000 crore he
grandly set aside for OROP: -
Total (in crore rupees)
Note: -1. Pensions
and Other Retirement Benefits:.
Defence Pensions provides for pensionary charges in respect of
retired Defence personnel (including
civilian employees)of three
Services viz. Army, Navy and Air Force and
also employees of Ordnance Factories, etc.
It covers payment of service pensions, gratuity, family pension,
disability pension, commuted value of pension and leave encashment. The
increase in BE 2015-16 is mainly due to normal growth in pensionary
benefits and increase in provision towards payment of Gratuity,
Commuted Value of Pension and Superannuation and Retirement
Benefits. Increase of higher provision is also due to increase in
number of pensioners and anticipated provisions of Dearness Relief” (emphasis
The Note below the table in Demand No. 22 makes one realise the jumla as
it shows a conspicuous
absence of OROP in thought, word, or deed, in contradiction, if one
needs it, to the repeated “assurances and commitment.”
So, the FM (also RM from 27th May
2014 to 8th November
2014) did not even plan for the OROP in Budget 2015-16 and hence the
misery of depriving the poor to pay the tax paying ESM & widows.
It took the UPA Govt that never
works faster sixteen months to realise that it can pay the Class A
Services to reward their incompetence with the Non-Functional
Financial Upgradation (NFU), so that performance and promotion of
one is presumed to be windfall for the others, even though 2 years
later, non-performance notwithstanding! Funnily, no department, the
ubiquitous Department of Expenditure included, is aware, in replies
to RTI, of how much of the income tax paying ESM and widows and the
poor people’s money goes towards that NFU.
The truth is that in the OROP case, 16 months or so after May 2014,
while the Govt gave away as revenue foregone an amount of Rs 62, 398
crores (see Annex 12 on MoF website for more details), the Govt made
no realistic provision for OROP either in Budget 2014-15 (wherein
the additional Rs 1000 crore earmarked for OROP was deducted in the
revised budget when the FM was also the RM. The evidence is there on
MoF website but extracted here for ready reference From
Implementation of Budget Announcements 2014-15(pages
33 and 34): -
One Rank One Pension (Position
reported on 30th January,
S No. Para
No. 125 140 Budget
We reaffirm our commitment to our brave soldiers. A policy of "One
Rank One Pension" has been adopted by the Government to address the
pension disparities. We
propose to set aside a further sum of Rs 1,000
crore to meet this year's requirement [Nodal
Ministry/Department: Ministry of Defence] (emphasis supplied).
Status of Implementation
A working Group was constituted under the Chairmanship of CGDA for
examining the proposal. The Working Group after deliberation
suggested some possible options for implementation of One Rank One
Pension (OROP). Meetings
were held on 26.8.2014under
the Chairmanship of Defence Minister (emphasis
supplied), with Defence Secretary, Secretary (ESW), FA (DS) and CGDA
on the implementation of OROP. The modalities are under
(Note: FM was also RM from 27th May
2014 to 8th November
2014). For 2015-16 the RM
must have apprised the FM (who was the former RM) of the funds
required for OROP.
Now that the Govt is to implement OROP, a process which will be
complete when the implementation orders are issued, there is that
bogey of the costs and “at the expense of the poor” that is being
Don’t the 125 crore Indians, deserve
to be told why the demands of the ESM for OROP deserves so much of
their Govt’s disdain?
ESM hope that the PM will tell the truth about OROP in his future
speech(es) and uphold the national motto - Satyam Ev Jayate.