NEW DELHI: Two former army chiefs have sounded a note of caution over various provisions of One Rank One Pension (OROP) announced by the government today, with Gen (rtd) V P Malik opposing the decision to exclude those opting to retire early from the benefits.
Former Army chief General Deepak Kapoor termed the announcement as a "substantial step" taken by the Narendra Modi government but said other issues which were worrying the veterans are a "cause of concern".
"The Modi government has taken a substantial step in terms of finally declaring OROP. In principal, accepting this entire concept, they have to be lauded.
"But a number of other issues which are worrying the veterans are a cause of concern. It would have been better if those issues too could have been addressed. For the sources to say that about 98 per cent of aspirations have been met, may not be fully correct," he said.
Ex-servicemen, pressing for OROP for nearly four decades, today won a partial victory with the government announcing that it would implement it.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that OROP, that implies uniform pension for armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with a same length of service, would be implemented from July 1, 2014 on the basis of calender year 2013.
Gen(retd) Malik noted that earlier the government was offering the base year as 2006 and there were other conditions which were not acceptable to ex-servicemen and said that he had hoped that the dispute will be resolved "amicably and gracefully" by both sides and there would be peace.
"Unfortunately, I do not agree with the kind of methodology which has been adopted in announcing this and the manner in which it has been announced, there is a lack of clarity and transparency which should have been avoided," he said.
Malik said it "intrigues" him as to why premature retirees have not been included in the OROP.
"The first thing which really intrigues me is the premature retirees not being in OROP. Officer start retiring after 20 years and most of them take premature retirement when they realise that they are unable to go up in the armed forces.
"If they have already finished their pensionable service, why should not they be in the ambit of OROP?" he asked.
Malik also questioned the logic behind the Defence Minister's meeting with ex-servicemen yesterday when the announcement was made through a "script". "Yesterday there was a leak from Defence Ministry and even I knew what government was going to offer. After that the defence minister called the people who were on agitation to his office. "He heard them and yet when the announcement was made, it was read out from a script which probably might have been prepared two days earlier. Where was the need to call these people hear them and yet do nothing about it," Malik said.
The General (retd) said that the demand for OROP had been accepted by all political parties, Parliament and the present government has announced it over and over again and there was a hope that the agitation on the street will stop.
"But that has not happened. The methodology that has been adopted could have been much more better. It could have inspired much more trust between each other. A clarification should have been given. That has been missing," he said.
Malik also did not agree with the government's announcement of setting up a one man judicial commission to look into the issue.
"I do not agree with one man commission. We must have a proper commission or a committee in which you have experienced people who have served in the army.
"Otherwise, as I said this elementary question of premature retirement it is totally alimentary. We do not want such mistake to occur. Not one man commission but a 4-5 man commission in which you have representative from armed forces," he said.