Citizens' Issues
Military men fighting extended battle over uniform pension

Discontent is intensifying among defence personnel over the government’s neglect of their demand for ‘one rank, one pension’, which has been pending for some years now

India's military men have fought and won some very difficult wars for the country in the short period since independence. But off the battlefield, they are waging a fight for fair retirement benefits, which has gone on so long, they are wondering what they will have to do to succeed this time.

The issue of 'One Rank, One Pension' concerns the disparity in pension scales for retired personnel of the same rank. For example, a colonel who retired prior to 1 January 2006 gets lesser pension than what is given to a colonel who retired later. The problem is compounded because of early retirement age in the military, unlike in the case of civilians who retire at 60, which puts soldiers at a serious disadvantage in monetary terms.

It's an issue that affects over 2.3 million ex-servicemen-the most disciplined and law-abiding class of citizens in our society-that has led them to protest publicly by returning their gallantry medals, after even petitions signed in their blood have failed to move the government. Again, unlike civilians, they do not have full-fledged associations to hold demonstrations, nor are they temperamentally inclined to make public their grievances.

While a part of their demand has been met, they have been brushed away generally, with unsubstantiated arguments of the financial burden on the national exchequer and with excuses of a risk of similar demands from other central civil services, when actually there is no similarity between the civil and military services but in fact a huge difference both in terms of service and hazards. Such mischief has resulted in perpetuating the neglect and systematic suppression of the demands of the military and its retiring/retired soldiers.

A look at the ground realities will help better understand the genuine need to implement the 'one rank, one pension' (OROP) structure urgently, towards restoring the dignity and morale of the armed forces.

1) Significance of military rank: The hierarchy of military leadership is based on visible badges of rank and embellishments on the uniform of officers and junior commissioned officers (JCOs)/non-commissioned officers (NCOs). Professional and social protocol is governed by the status and authority of the rank in this hierarchical order. Traditionally and legally, servicemen carry their rank even on retirement, as a legacy. So, while in active military service no junior will get more salary than his senior in the same rank, on retirement the equation changes. Juniors in a particular rank, will on retirement a few years later, get more pension than their seniors who retired earlier in the same rank. This is not only unjust, it is also ridiculously embarrassing.

2) Shorter service, lower benefits: A majority of the officers and jawans retire 10 to 20 years earlier than civilian government employees, which results in a loss of pay, allowances and service benefits for these many years. The need to maintain a youthful military profile sees jawans and JCOs retiring between 38 and 48 years of age, and officers start retiring at 50, when usually their kids are still quite young, parents too old and the family responsibilities far more expanded.

Civilians, on the other hand, are allowed to serve up to 60 years of age and they usually retire after reaching their final pay bands. About this time their children are well-settled and life's basic commitments have been largely accomplished.

Such terms and conditions of service result in heavy financial loss for soldiers, at the most crucial stage of their lives, when they need this financial security the most. As nearly all civil government employees reach their final post and pay band by retirement, they qualify for the highest pension scale in their position, which translates into a more remunerative package than in the case of ex-servicemen, who are demanding only 'one rank, one pension'.

In fact, had military personnel invoked the principle of equity, they would have demanded the highest pension grades corresponding to the pay band of a Sub-Major for JCOs and other ranks (OR) and the final scale of senior administrative grade (SAG)/higher administrative grade (HAG), that is for Major General/Lieutenant General for officers, as is the practice in the civil services.

3) Unequal career growth opportunity:
Whereas nearly all civilians make speedy career advances in the secure environs of their pre-specified state cadres/deputations, reaching the highest rank/pay bands, the majority in the armed forces (jawans and officers) find themselves out of a job even though they have fulfilled the laid down criteria for career advancement/promotions.

This is the contrast: Whereas over 90% of IAS officers reach secretary/additional secretary level and none retires below the joint secretary rank, only 0.02% of armed forces officers make it to the Army Commander level, 0.15% to other Lieutenant General levels (Corps Commanders and others) and only 0.4% to the Major General level (even after the recent cadre enhancement!). Because of the constricted pyramidal organisational structure of the armed forces, a large number of competent officers eligible for higher ranks have to be wasted out every year. Caught in this whirlpool of systemic adversity, a large number of qualified officers get neither their deserved pay nor pension. Likewise, a majority of jawans reach no further than Honorary Havildar level, whereas almost all lower division clerks (LDCs) in central services and all police constables are assured of retiring at least as Section Officers and Sub-Inspectors (SIs), respectively, reaping the highest returns up to the age of 60 and thereafter.

Military personnel obviously deserve to be appropriately compensated for the salary loss suffered due to curtailed period of service and restricted career opportunities, and resultant lower pension from enforced early retirement.

4) Unimaginably tough service conditions: Forfeiting their fundamental rights, our jawans and officers not only serve in extremely hostile terrain and climate, but they also spend the better part of their lives separated from their families, even in peace times, and no guarantee of weekly offs and festival holidays. More lives are known to be lost due to these tough conditions than in battle, something common citizens cannot even imagine.

These extraordinary service conditions make the armed forces distinct from and incomparable with any other service in the country. And recognising this, the government had decided to set up a separate pay commission for the armed forces. (The defence minister announced this in the Lok Sabha on 13 July 2009.) But details about how the commission will be constituted have not yet been made public.

5) A nation's strength: In spite of a back-breaking recession, the United States has primarily through its superior military might asserted its will and maintained its authority at the top of the world order, with scant regard for dissent.  A credible military deterrent is essential if a nation has to make meaningful political, diplomatic and economic strides. Few countries have used their military force as much as India has to defend our borders and maintain internal order.

With a history of four wars since Independence, incessant insurgency and expanding terrorism, India's armed forces should be an example of a powerful and motivated military. From Siachin to Arunachal and down to Kanyakumari, the authorities have regularly called on the services of the armed forces in natural calamities and riots, during disruptions of essential services or failure of civil administration, and even to salvage national honour in the face of fiascos like the footbridge collapse in New Delhi, days before the Commonwealth Games.

Unfortunately, ever since the Third Pay Commission, there has been a calculated and systematic process going on to degrade the position and prestige of the military. Every successive pay commission has pushed servicemen a few notches below their deserved levels. The manner in which the demand of ex-servicemen for one rank, one pension has been treated, indicates that there are anti-military forces working to deprive soldiers and ex-servicemen of their genuine dues.

Bureaucrats guilty of delaying and denying military personnel their dues and entitlements must be dealt with severely and prosecuted. This must be ensured especially where the political leadership and/or higher judiciary have ruled in favour of the military, as is clear from the following record.

(a) OROP has been repeatedly recommended by successive parliamentary committees over the years.
(b) Almost all major political parties, including the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have supported this long-pending demand, even in their election manifestos. United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi is on record declaring her support for ex-servicemen on the issue.

(c) Observations and directions by the judiciary (this includes the Supreme Court) on a number of cases relating to disparity in pay and pension of ex-servicemen, have talked about the removal of the disparity. The Supreme Court has gone to the extent of admonishing the authorities for treating soldiers/ex-soldiers like 'beggars'.

(d) Even a committee headed by the cabinet secretary found it hard to refute the legitimacy of OROP. However, while the committee largely accepted the essence of the demand with respect to JCOs/OR (personnel below officer's rank - PBOR), in the case of commissioned officers it stopped short of according  parity between pre- and post-01-01-2006 pensioners. (From a statement by AK Antony, defence minister, in the Lok Sabha, on 13 July 2009.) Confounding a simple issue, the committee's convoluted recommendations at best halved the injustice to officers, by introducing an absurdly misleading idea of 'modified parity', as if there could be such a thing as 'modified truth'. The reality is that anything other than 'parity' is 'disparity' and that must be resolved in simple and absolute terms.

Unfortunately, an impression has been sought to be created over this genuine issue, as if it was a mere welfare matter. The result is further delay on this critical issue that affects serving and retired service personnel, and this can only hurt the morale of the armed forces, weakening our national defence. Nothing can be more perilous for a country than a demoralised military led by a discontented leadership, simply because of the apathy of the powers that be on such an important matter.

(The writer is a military veteran who commanded an Infantry battalion with many successes in counter-terrorist operations. He was also actively involved in numerous high-risk operations as second in command of the elite 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guard (NSG.)  He conducts leadership training and is the author of two bestsellers on leadership development that have also been translated into foreign languages.)



Dharam Prakash

5 years ago

Grave injustice done to simple people by the establishment needs to be corrected sooner than later to STEM the long term ill effect on the mind of the uniform people who given their blood for generations in defending Nation.It's a WAKE UP CALL.


5 years ago

Unlike civilian employees, Ex-servicemen suffered in younghood dedicated their youth for the casue of the nation. Manything may be regained but not the youth. This alone Could standby as the cause for the grant of one rank-one pension


5 years ago

Dear Roopsingh
Your questions shld be addressed to an MP. I am not one nor am I a politician.My questions are seeking factual data.


5 years ago

I have a few queries of the writer:
1.What pension does a LT.COL retired in 1986, get on retirement, in 1996, 2006 and in 2011?
2.If OROP is implemented in 2007, will not the pension of the retired Officer be much more than the salary he drew while in service?
3.Is the current pension index-linked(i.e. adjusted for inflation year on year)?
4.Are retired Officers entitled to subsidized rations and other supplies from Canteen Stores Dept/other bodies?
5.What percent of retired service Officers are re-employed in Pvt/Psu service?
6.What percent of Military Officers retire without seeing any action on any front?



In Reply to SANarayan 5 years ago

I have some query to u,please let me inform why a member of parliament be entitled for life time pension even if he is elected once?
why he is given free railway passes along with family even if he never travels in a railway train?
why they become a crorepati in 4 years though they get salary which is not more then a IAS officers?
why they are never questioned by IT deptt for so big exponential rise in assets in just 5 yrs?
why they should not be HANGED in public for violatong the oath they take while joining the duty?
because they are public servants in lips but in reality they act as public cheaters by violating the oath.
I think any MINISTER if caught in corruption charges should be hanged in public then only we can make this country a real india


In Reply to Roopsingh 5 years ago

I would prefer the old greek system of electing people's representatives. A prospective candidate would stand on a podium with a hangman's noose around his neck. The candidate then will start explaining his future policies and plans. If the people like it then the noose will be removed. Otherwise the podium will be removed.


5 years ago

Civilians under defence forces are suffering because of unformed personnels. There is no promotions in JE/Clerical levels. What ever promotions are announced a major pie goes to SC/ST candidates. Hardly one promotion is given in the fag end of live. The UPSC candidates are well of but the middle level are suffering on account of frequent transfers and disturbances because of uniformed officers. No facility like free food, accommodation, transport, admissions for schools is given, so at the end of service, and start of retirement they are left with no money thus are at mercy to receive merger pensions. Thus civilians are suffering during the service and in retirement period. Please amend promotions policies and perks.

Thomas Manimala Parathara

5 years ago

Amend to read the last sentence as "such action by the Govt. rather the Polity".


6 years ago

The annual outlay for implementing the OROP is calculated to be 2100 Crores.

If one recalls the saving by austerity measures for the Central ministers for near an Year was more than 2100 Crores.

We can also highlight how supersonic fast the MPs Salary and other benefits were passed.

The Nation does not have money only for Ex-Servicemen. It has money in Lakhs of Crores for all scams. See how arrogant the charge sheeted Politicians are ? as if looting is their birth right.

There has to be compulsory Military Service for every Youngster in this Country for a period of say 3 Years (Split into 6 Months Airforce, 6 Months on board Naval Ships during Monsoons and 2 Years in the Army taking turn in forward areas and militants infested areas).

This will give a chance for every one to understand what it takes to be in Uniform.



In Reply to Prajeev 5 years ago

This a wonderful, practical and implementable suggestion for a politician to qualify. Evenif he is not educated at least he will not sell his country which many politicians are now trying to.


In Reply to Prajeev 6 years ago

I strongly support you for making armed service training compulsory for every citizen-amd i will add one more point-the training should be compulsory for any one who wishes to go for govt service or want to become a minister(then he must posses a training completed for 3 yrs as you mentioned0then only these rascal politicians will recognise what patriotism is in reality.


6 years ago

Politicians including the present defence minister and IAS baus will never support the ex-service people.

Very soon no sane person will allow his son / daughter to join the defence services and get wasted.

It is much better to become a cricketeer or a racketeer politico. You get crores. A cricketeer might even get the title of colonel or brigadier as a bonus.

When the chinese or pakistan attacks us let these guys go and defend the nation.

If money is the problem to accept the one rank one pension demand, then the government should get all the money stashed away abroad. These funds could be used to pay for the military veterans.

K B Patil

6 years ago

I have been hearing about this disparity and also seen protests by ex servicemen on TV. As a common man, I feel that their grievances are genuine. This only shows that the current set of politicians have hearts made of stone. They can distribute TVs to voters but not give armymen who risk their life and limbs, their legitimate dues.

javahar kp

6 years ago

Congratulations Moneylife foundation and Col KK for raising such a wounderful real and touching issues whereas, all other media partners are busy showing unethical laughfing/crying/sleeping cricketers. I salute both of you for such a value addition .


6 years ago

Shame on the central govt. The way by which one scam after another is coming out it looks as though the central ministers would have time only to deal with their court cases. Imagine a posh bungalow in a remote area without proper security. Is our centre turning penny wise and pound foolish. Anna Hazare should take up this cause first. this is yet another form of corruption by the ruling central govts. If the country ignores its jawans and kissans then who will save us.


6 years ago

Dear sir,after putting my comment i felt most relaxed during my entire commenting on Moneylife since i started writing here,because i feel that this country is left with only one option now-a new revolution-and indian army which is one of most disciplined and law abiding institution can do it very well because indian common man is helpless and frightened and too much over burdened with making his two ends meet,so they have lost all courage to come for protests on streets.


6 years ago

Dear sir,with highest regards for militry men in my heart,i know it is a job of supreme sacrifice and most tough emotional and physical adverse conditions then any other(i have experienced it because i have my entire education in army and navy campus schools and all my classmates were of same back ground)-but the biggest pity is that our parliamentarians increased their pensions 3 fold even if they never attend parliament session to full length-and even if they get elected just once-they have made themselves entitled for life time pension( They loot the public money by bribes and again they get life time pension for this dirty job),
same is with police services who work in very adverse condition with wages which are lower then a municipality JHADOOWALI(sweeper),
then where this country is heading with magnifying discontent among most classes of society?
i am sure this country needs one more revolution for freedom of people from this corrupt system which we have labelled as democracy.
i read a very old joke in local news paper today which was of soviet era-
two dogs who were trying to cross border on india- russia border.the russian dog was healthy and well looking then indian dog,both asked each other why they want to change their country?the russian dog said -there is ample facility free available in russia but no freedom to bark-the indian dog replied, we have full freedom to bark but no caring of common men by govt.
i think we are better explained what we need now-a revolution,a rebel or a army coup which can remove these rascals from our country.

Thomas Manimala

6 years ago

This article explains the resons for demand for uniform pension for retired military persons. Will the Govt. open it eyes.

SBI Life records 33% growth in profit at Rs366 cr in FY’11

SBI Life Insurance reported a 33% growth in net profit at Rs366 crore for the financial year ended March 2011 on the back of increase in renewal premium income

Leading private sector insurer SBI Life Insurance today reported a 33% growth in net profit at Rs366 crore for the financial year ended March 2011 on the back of increase in renewal premium income.

"We continue to be profitable from operations side as we keep our expenses low. Bancassurance (bank channels) and agency force is helping us to sustain profits," SBI Life Insurance managing director MN Rao told PTI.

SBI Life Insurance is a joint venture between State Bank of India and BNP Paribas Assurance. SBI owns 74% of the total capital in the JV and BNP Paribas Assurance holds the remaining 26%.

The total premium income of the insurance company during the fiscal grew by 28% to Rs12,912 crore. New business premium collection stood at Rs7,572 crore, a rise of 7% over previous financial year.

"We are moving aggressively on renewal business. With 74% growth, our renewal premium collection rose to Rs5,340 crore in FY'11 from Rs3,063 crore in FY'10," Rao added.

The persistency ratio of SBI Life rose to 69% in FY'11, from 58% last year. Also the Asset Under Management jumped by 40% to Rs40,163 crore at the end of 31 March  2011. The company added 135 branches during the fiscal.

During the current financial year (2011-12), SBI Life would focus on optimising bank channel usage for product distribution.

"We will focus on the bancassurance model. We plan to open 75 new branches by middle of June this year for which we have IRDA approval," he added.

The company is also looking at increasing the workforce by up to 15% during the current fiscal. We will increase the staff strength to about 8,250 from 7,300 at present.

On plans of capital infusion, Rao said SBI Life is a well capitalised company and all expansions would be funded by internal accruals.
"In the current fiscal we are targeting a 35% growth in total business premium from Rs12,912 crore at present. With this we will be able to fund all the expenses," Rao added.


Reliance Mutual Fund floats Fixed Horizon Fund-XIX-Series 3

Reliance Mutual Fund new issue closes on 28th April

Reliance Mutual Fund has launched Reliance Fixed Horizon Fund-XIX-Series 3, a close-ended income scheme.

The primary investment objective of the scheme is to seek to generate regular returns and growth of capital by investing in a diversified portfolio of central and state government securities and other fixed income/debt securities maturing on or before the date of maturity of the scheme with the objective of limiting interest rate volatility. The tenor of the scheme is 186 days.

The new issue closes on 28th April. The minimum investment amount is Rs5,000.

Crisil Short Term Bond Fund    Index is the benchmark index. Amit Tripathi is the fund manager.


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