Sunday, 7 June 2015

Fight for One Rank One Pension Justified?


There has been a renewed demand for One Rank One Pension Scheme floated by the Indian government. Ever since it was floated, there have been demands for the same from the family members of security personnel on duty and those of who have retired from active service to the nation. Last year, the previous government lead by the Indian National Congress (INC) tried to bring in this scheme in a hurry before demitting the office in the hope of reaping rich electoral dividend. However, the previous government did not allocate enough money for the unblemished implementation of the scheme. The current ruling dispensation NDA led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tried to move in the same direction. However, it could not mobilize enough money to implement the same. Hence, it asked for some more time before it could be implemented.

one rank one pension

One Rank One Pension Scheme

This scheme envisages the getting of same pension by the armed forces personnel irrespective of the last drawn pay and the date of joining if they are in the same rank. This scheme is going to benefit those people who have joined in the service little late, but have same ranks as other peers. At present, the pension is decided based on the number of years of service put and the last full salary drawn. Some people who have joined earlier in the same rank stood to gain monetarily. The discrepancy would be more if the higher ranks are considered in the armed forces. Hence, they wanted to get this scheme implemented quickly so that they get the same pension and the arrears due to them.

one rank one pension scheme

Issues with Implementation of One Rank One Pension Scheme

Due to the continued pressure from the armed force personnel, the government finally accepted their demand to implement the One Rank One Pension Scheme in 2014. After accepting the demand, the government of India allocated Rs. 100 crore to implement the scheme. When the preparation for the implementation of the scheme was being undertaken, there arose a fear that other civilian employees could also ask for the same, leading to the severe drain of the country’s exchequer. Hence, the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar decided to change the name of the defence pensions as military pensions. Otherwise, all the retired civilian employees might ask for the same in the future. This needs some more time to bring in the legislation to bring the change. Hence, he sought for more time to implement the scheme. In a function, the country’s Army Chief had told the agitating pensioners from the armed forces that the scheme would be implemented in letter and spirit by April 30, 2015.

scheme implementation issues

Current Scenario

The central government is in no mood to implement the same even after the expiry of the deadline given by the Army Chief. Due to some pending issues that are at hand, the Defence Ministry officials have not been able to prepare the draft for the implementation of One Rank One Pension scheme. The government was planning to introduce the bill in both the houses of Parliament to get the required constitutional approval. As the draft is not ready, it is doubtful whether the government would be able to get the bill passed in the parliament. Many other bills that require immediate attention is still pending before the parliament. Those bills are in the queue for tabling and discussion in the apex legislation making body of the land. This has forced the government to eat its own words. On the other hand, the defence pensioners are feeling betrayed. They had a discussion with the Defence Minister on this issue and asked him to expedite the implementation of the scheme. However, the Minister in charge of Defence portfolio thought to have told his inability in the current situation to expedite the process. The leaders of defence pensioners’ federation have now decided to increase their pressure on the government by sitting on a hunger strike from June 14, 2015.

current scenario
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