Government is looking at a “middle path” in resolving the “ticklish issue” of ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) demand of ex-servicemen, officials sources said.
‘OROP’ scheme may put a huge burden on the exchequer because of the need to revise the pensions every year and so the government is in discussions with the ex-servicemen community towards finding a middle path, they said.
Meanwhile, four former service chiefs have written an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee requesting his intervention in the issue.
Expressing concern over the delay in rolling out ‘OROP’ scheme, they said, “It is with a sense of deep anguish that we are writing to draw the attention of the Supreme Commander to the dismal spectacle of our veteran soldiers, driven to undertake public protests and demonstrations to press their demand for the – long overdue grant of OROP”.
The letter was written by General S F Rodrigues Admiral L Ramdas, Admiral Arun Prakash and Admiral Sureesh Mehta.
They said that the denial of OROP is merely the last straw that has exhausted the veterans’ patience.
It appears to be the culmination of a process by which successive Pay Commissions have been used to whittle down the financial and protocol status of the military over the years vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, the letter said.
It added that the decline in the status of military in India “has been orchestrated” to make it “subservient to the bureaucracy”.
The former chiefs said there does not seem to be adequate realisation that this development “has the potential for inflicting long-term damage to India’s proud and apolitical military ethos”.
No one in the political or bureaucratic establishments seems to have recognised that veterans retain a strong umbilical connection with serving personnel because the two constitute one extended family, it said.
Referring to the on-going protests by ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar, the report said anything which denigrates or humiliates the veteran also hurts the self-esteem of the serving soldier – because he sees himself as tomorrow’s veteran, the four retired chiefs said.
“Thus, the recent developments have not only triggered a process of politicisation of the Indian military, but also served to inflict grave damage on its morale and self-esteem,” the letter stated.
It said that since no administration has deemed it appropriate to convey the actual reason for the interminable delays, there is a growing feeling in the rank and file that the senior armed forces leadership has not done enough to pursue their cause.
“An erosion of confidence such as this could inflict severe damage on the officer-jawan relationship. This is a sacred trust, built on a 350-year old tradition, which we will find very difficult to rebuild,” it said.
It said the factors mentioned above have the potential to cause immense damage to India’s military edifice and hence, to our national security.