Pension is a very important source of income for retired servicemen especially for those who are injured while performing their duty towards their country or are too old. In some cases it is their and their family’s only source of income for survival. But many issues have been faced and are still being faced by these servicemen in order to get the money which they so rightfully deserve.
Before OROP scheme was introduced there were many protests conducted by veterans, ex-servicemen etc. and they have been appealing to the Indian government from 1973 when the then PM Indira Gandhi led congress to decide the pension for these servicemen by One Rank One Pension (OROP).
During that time a lot of rules like the one downgrading the pension and status of servicemen who served for less than three years etc. were applied. There were countless flaws and loopholes that prevent veterans from getting what they deserved.
Again after 40 years OROP policy was re-introduced by the Modi government and came into effect on July 1, 2014. This policy was mainly done to meet the demand that servicemen of the same rank should receive same pension irrespective of their date of retirement and this policy is age old demand of Indian veterans and Indian armed forces.
Overview of the scheme
Under the OROP scheme about three million military personnel are covered. According to the re-introduced scheme arrears or outstanding payment is made in four instalments (half-yearly) while the widows (including war widows) get the amount in one go, of these instalments the first has been paid whereas the second is still on the way. The government also said that reviews will be made on the scheme every five years and services men who have taken voluntary retirement will not be eligible for the scheme. About Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crore are to be estimated cost of the scheme and the amount can be increased in the future.
Issues with the scheme
Many veterans feel that the scheme must be reviewed yearly rather than five years once and they strongly oppose the exclusion of ‘voluntary retirement candidates because more than 30% of servicemen retire early. The government has set up a single personnel judicial panel to review various aspects of the OROP scheme, it has submitted its report but the government has not made this report public causing agitation among the veterans.
Many veterans have shown their protest towards the scheme and one such is Army veteran Ram Kishan Grewal, who took his life through poison due to his pension issue. This man served his country for 30 years and gave up his life in the lawn of a government building in Delhi. Gerwal had not received his revised pension amount under the OROP scheme and is said to be tired of the injustice towards the servicemen therefore has committed suicide.
Government official say that the issue is just a minor one and could have been solved quite fast therefore his suicide seems to be under suspicious condition thereby is being investigated.
Many veterans as well as civilians have shown there outrage at the injustice done to our country’s service. I personally feel that the amount of money allotted for the pension of our country’s heroes must be revised, these men sacrifice a lot to serve the country therefore have to be compensated accordingly. The government should also take any appeals, suggestions and complaints by the veterans seriously in order to prevent any suicides in the future.