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Anna Hazare rallies in for OROP: Things to know about the scheme

The 78-year-old social activist Anna Hazare is back with holding rallies across the country and this time the cause is not corruption. He is supporting the demand for One Rank One Pension.

The Gandhian Anna, is holding a rally in Ludhiana on Sunday and will visit Rohtak, Maharashtra and Ramlila Maidan on August 9, 23 and October 2 respectively. He plans to combine the OROP issue with Land Acquisition Bill.

OROP has been in news for a long time now, here are few things to know about why it has become a controversial issue:

What is OROP?

One Rank One Pension is a scheme for ex-servicemen which provides the same pension to armed forces with the same rank . According to the scheme, the two servicemen who retired in different years will get the same amount of pension if they have served for equal number of years. OROP was functional till 1973.  

When did the conflict start?

It was in 1973 that the Indian National Congress (INC) government aborted OROP post the Third Central Pay Commission. The termination led to protests on various occasions. It was the Indira Gandhi government who aborted the scheme.

OROP as a political instrument

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his election manifesto promised to implement this policy. While campaigning in Haryana during 2014 he declared that if elected he will implement OROP. Post coming to power his Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar repeatedly gave public affirmations about the implementation of the scheme but it still stands unattended.

It was actually in the Manmohan Singh led UPA government tenure that this issue gained momentum again after the UPA post Sixth Pay Commission disregarded the OROP. But towards the end of the tenure, former Defense Minister AK Antony announced that UPA will implement the policy by 1 April 2014 though only Rs. 500 crore were allocated for it.

Congress too used OROP to address the rallies and promised its implementation.

Koshyari Committee

A ten member Parliamentary Panel known as the Koshyari Comittee headed by Bhagat Singh Koshiyari examined the OROP policy. The committee found merit in OROP and recommended early implementation.

When the matter went to the Supreme Court, it ordered for its implementation in 2009. A reminder of sorts was sent to the government this year to implement the policy.

Question of affordability 

According to the expenditure estimates by Ministry of Defense, OROP estimates vary between Rs 8000 to 9000. Experts say that it is affordable but the defence pension budget for 2015-16 is Rs 54,500  which includes about 400,000 defense civilians.

What is the present scenario?

Presently, the pension is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time when they retired. A serviceman who retired in 2000 with a lower rank receives more pension than the serviceman who retired with a higher rank in 1996

The implementation will benefit 25 lakh ex-servicemen, the Finance Ministry has to finally take the call.

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