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Sunday, June 21, 2015

One Rank One Pension: Where do we Go from Here ?


The ex servicemen have all united and started an agitation for the sanction of a legitimate demand like One Rank One Pension. The demand which is festering for last 40 years took off with vigor only about a decade back. Some cosmetic changes were made by the Congress government under that stooge of the Gandhi family, Manmohan Singh, but the core demand of parity in pensions was left untouched.
The BJP under Narendra Modi  had made sanction of OROP an important poll plank of their election campaign, but it was an insincere promise and perhaps made just to garner votes. Right after the BJP came to power, the portends for sanction of OROP were ominous. The Finance , then the defence Minster Arun Jaitley a man with little horizon, set the ball rolling by asking the Ex servicemen's association to " Tone down their demand". He further said that politicians make promises, but all are not honored.
This was followed by the defence minister stating that nobody gets 100% satisfaction in life   and is never the norm and 80% satisfaction could be achieved. This was his thinking though he changed it a little later, but the fact is that 2 important functionaries were not happy with OROP. To queer the pitch Raj Nath Singh the Home Minister also voiced his opposition to OROP and Modi who was looking for a way out began to lean on these men to back track on OROP. The civil services led by the IAS lobby were in any case opposed to the very concept of OROP and they fed the GOI and Modi with data against OROP. Modi knowing all this was false,  yet acquiesced, because he was looking for a way out.
The ex-servicemens agitation is not having the desired effect as the leaders have decided to keep the movement apolitical. Thus opposition parties who supported the OROP  were turned away. I am aghast at this approach. You cannot win a battle without political support and just appealing and fasting for a demand leads nowhere. I wonder how the ESIS leaders could spurn political support ?
 The Government and Modi are really not concerned . They are a callous lot and  men who are 70-80-90 fasting and sitting in the hot sun is not a matter of concern for them. What then is the next step?
I have a gut feeling that OROP will never come and the reason is simple, the Army general staff have over a period of 6 decades starting with general Cariappa  frittered away their bargaining power by agreeing with the government at every stage. I do not wish to delineate all the privileges which were taken away with the agreement of the general staff, but suffice that the COAS is primarily responsible for this mess.
The general staff have created this mess and approval for OROP may never come ( or a watered down scheme come)  till the general staff cleans up the mess of 6 decades. Its not difficult and requires conviction and courage. But the men sitting and wearing hats and looking stern are really pussycats. Will these pussycats become tigers ? If they do OROP will come , otherwise its " By bye birdie"