OROP Protests Continue: The Premature Retirement Issue

 

The Government has finally given its nod for OROP or the one rank one pension demand of ex-servicemen but the din is far from over. The latest storm has been stirred by the mention of the word VRS and a proposal to exclude them from the OROP scheme.

The Govt tried its best to pacify the protestors over the weekend. While Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar assured that these pending issues about the implementation of OROP would be eventually addressed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified that armed personnels who had to retire pre-maturely from the services would be covered under the OROP scheme. He also promised that sticky issues in this matter would be resolved.

The moot point however seems to be interpretation of the premature retirement from services. In this context I feel it is extremely important to understand what exactly does this term mean. Unlike what you would have seen in case of Public Sector manufacturing industries or banks, Voluntary Retirement with a cash payment to the retiree and no future pension is not applicable in case of defence personnel. When they retire from services before the completion of their term, the reasons are significantly different.

Defence personnel seek retirement under the following circumstances:

  • If a junior supersedes and concerned officer is not ready to serve under him
  • If they decide not to continue in service failing promotion
  • Declared unfit on medical grounds
  • Personal issues

However it has to be clarified that all the Pre-mature retirement applications are accepted after the Defence Ministry’s due consideration and they have to serve a mandatory period between 15-20 years depending on their rank before applying for Pre-mature retirement. Non-completion of this mandatory period automatically takes away the right to pension.

While the mudslinging and race to take credit for its implementation continues between political parties, the need of this hour is swift implementation and a clear roadmap. Rather than this becoming an instrument for winning votebanks, the OROP should become the hallmark of the country men’s gratitude towards our defence personnel for their selfless service and often compromising all that’s valuable for most of us like spending time with family, seeing their children grow up and in many unfortunate cases, untimely death.

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