One rank one pension: The arguments for and against

OROP, though promised by both the UPA and NDA, is yet to be implemented, triggering emotional, countrywide protests by ex-soldiers.

Written by Sushant Singh | Updated: July 16, 2015 9:23 am
OROP, One rank one pension, Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister Parrikar, Defence Ministry, OROP protest, OROP implementation, india news, latest news, top stories, indian express TENSION OVER PENSION: Ex-servicemen demand the implementation of One Rank, One Pension at SAS Nagar this week. (Express Photo by: Jasbir Malhi)

OROP — or One Rank, One Pension — means that every pension-eligible soldier retiring in a particular rank gets the same pension, irrespective of his date of retirement. As of now, soldiers who retired more recently receive more pension than those who retired earlier. This is because pensions are dependent on the last salary drawn, and successive pay commissions have raised salaries. Thus, a Colonel who retired after the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations were accepted in 2006, gets more than a Colonel who retired when his salary was computed on the basis of the recommendations of the Third Pay Commission. OROP, though promised by both the UPA and NDA, is yet to be implemented, triggering emotional, countrywide protests by ex-soldiers.

Sushant Singh explains the arguments for and against OROP.



Compensation for early retirement, and a national obligation.

The nation needs a young Army, necessitating early recruitments and retirements. Soldiers have short careers — a jawan retires at age 35, while a civilian can work until he is 60. To make up for their shorter working lives, without lateral absorption into another government job of the same grade and status, veterans need compensation that is comparable to what a soldier of the same rank retiring today would get from the government.

A curtailed career results in denial of longer service at higher pay and, therefore, higher pension. Soldiers are denied the opportunity to earn more increments and promotions, as well as the benefits offered by more recent pay commissions, which significantly affects their pensions. OROP can address all of this.

There is also the emotional argument. Defence forces personnel give up their best years to the service of the nation and society, suffering hardships of military life — and, at the end of their service, face limited opportunities for re-employment.

orop1Many defence personnel, both serving and retired, feel that their contribution to the nation and society is not adequately recognised or appreciated. Their terminal benefits bear no resemblance to the realities of life in the civilian world.

A nation cannot allow its soldiers to feel that it does not care for them. OROP is essentially an obligation of the Indian nation towards its soldiers — and the price it must pay for maintaining a standing Army. OROP would send a strong emotional signal to soldiers and veterans.


Administrative nightmare, an unbearable financial burden.

The arguments against OROP are based on administrative, financial and legal complications in implementing the scheme. In 2011, the Defence Ministry told the Koshiyari Committee that records going back further than 25 years were no longer available — a major administrative “difficulty in introducing the concept”. There are cases where soldiers who retired in the 1940s are still being paid family pensions, and it will be administrative impossible to reconcile the nearly 20 lakh cases over such a long period for OROP over any reasonable timeframe.

orop3The Law Ministry told the committee that “if today’s pension and emoluments are passed automatically to somebody who retired 30 years ago, there will be inherent discrimination against terms and conditions of service which would lead to discrimination under the Constitution”.

A related aspect: people who retire in the same rank often earn different pensions because they may have served for longer periods in that rank. A Colonel who serves for 12 years in that rank will earn more pension than someone who served for 4 years as Colonel. Equating their pensions was unlikely to withstand a legal challenge.

The financial argument is about the long-term cost of implementing OROP.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s estimate of Rs 8,300 crore is only a one-time payout. This amount will increase substantially every time a new pay commission makes its recommendations, with all old pensioners being paid at the new rate. There is also the likelihood of civilian employees, such as the Central Armed Police Forces and the state police forces, raising the demand for OROP. Finally, there are fears that civilian employees who moved to a contributory pension scheme in 2004 might demand a reversion to fixed pensions, thus unravelling the whole system. That, perhaps, is the strongest argument against setting a precedent with OROP.

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  1. H
    Hemlata Pandey
    Mar 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm
    I am amused at the comment 'stop buying express publication'.Well, Sir/Madam, the paper is just trying to tell the arguments 'For and Against' , what's wrong with;br/gt;lt;br/gt;I, for instance, had to prepare a note on the same topic, and I googled it. This page got opened. Don't blame express for no reason. The 'against' arguments are not made by the news paper. And btw, did you not see the 'For' argments? Blaming the media on every issue blindly.
    1. Sumesh Olassery
      Jan 30, 2016 at 10:30 am
      Anybody can answer this my question ..... ?If a Havildar Clerk retire from service after completion of minimum service (17) years, same time Havildar (GD) retire from service after completion of 26 years , is they get same amount pension based on Rank or service in this OROP system.?
      1. S
        Satendra kumar
        Jul 16, 2015 at 1:12 pm
        The pension saga for the central government should be finalised and sorted out according to present system of laws.
        1. Major
          Jul 16, 2015 at 2:16 pm
          To ignore unhappiness among the EXServiceMen is undesirable, but to brush aside and snub disenchantment among the serving Armed Forces is dangerously foolish. Which is why, even with an unblemished 6 decades plus service record by the Armed Forces since independence, the equation between the Armed Forces and civilian masters remains skewed against the the Armed Forces, with great possibility of greater disillusionment within. It is the civilian leadership of India have brought us to this perilous state? Their acts of commission and omission have created a hostile environment within and around India, making it impossible to drastically decrease the size of our Armed Forces just to cut the pension bill. So don’t blame the Armed Forces for the number of pensioners. Young men are enticed to join the Armed Forces because there is a pension, which is a big attraction. Our large potion ensures mulude applications for few vacancies, and we get a voluntary Armed Forces that is exploited to the hilt by civilians, and then aborted like unwanted pregnancies at an young age. How long will this carry on? The number of retired Officers and Other Ranks is large. Studies have shown that for every serving man/woman, the number of pensioners will soon double. Big standing Armed Forces is inescapable to defend our land, its coastline, air space and borders. Add to this are the burden of keeping Armed Forces manpower available for, taking over tasks of the para-military, disaster relief, mega national events etc. Looking at the politico-economic-adversarial relationship with our neighbours, the regional inter-se equations and our global ambitions, trimming the Armed Forces is not an option today.
          1. M
            Aug 16, 2015 at 5:23 pm
            I am amused at bureaucrats, other people opposing OROP demand. Firstly the amount - 8400 Cr is peanuts - There was a raid on one district level official in MP who has 500 Cr at home. One has to raid only few of these at district level to get the amount, state or centre level functionaries are not even to be touched. Second - legitimacy, the Armed Forces of Country and once they retire as veterans have ensured that there is a country called India. On independence there were numerous states which had to be integrated - done by Armed Forces. Over the years the most ignorant cannot deny that if India is still standing and even in J&K and NE - it is because of Armed Forces. Point here is not to highlight achievements but all perks, status, privileges of Armed Forces have been denigrated since independence below bureaucrats, para military, police infact all government services. While all crisis is handled by Armed Forces - which is charter of others. "The dis-enchantment is the only point". If it grows Armed Forces will also NOT risk their lives and everything for the Nation like all others. OROP and the treatment meted out to veterans is not about money - it is about honour by which the Armed Forces fight. Nation in their own interest should not take away this precious commodity called honour and respect of Armed Forces, as any force without this is a defunct force. Please realize!!!
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