What is One Rank, One Pension Reform Movement?
From the name itself it can be understood that, One Rank, One Pension mean equal pension to those officers who holds the same rank. This reform movement was initiated for the persons working in the India Armed Forces.
To understand this reform, one rank, one pension would allow the General who retires in the year 1980 to enjoy by receiving the same pension as a General who is retiring in the year 2015. Therefore, one rank, one pension means same pension for same work and same length of service irrespective of the date of retirement.
For example, ‘A’ an officer who has been working in the service for 15 years from 1980 to 1994 and there is another officer who has been a part of service ‘B’ who has been in service for 15 years from the year 1995 to the year 2010, and according to the One Rank, One Pension Scheme, both the officers which are of same rank and has been serving the services for the same length of time shall get the same pension.
The ex-servicemen of India has been demanding for One Rank, One pension, from a very long time and the defense minister of India, Mr. Manohar Parrikar announced this scheme for the benefit and fulfilling the long lasting demand of the ex-servicemen.
The NDA government led by Mr. Narendra Modi took this opportunity to launch the scheme which was demanded since 40 years, and the retired defense persons and war widows was waiting for this scheme since more than 30 years. The scheme was launched in the year 2015.
Even the scheme inflicted an additional economic burden on the Government, it do not step back and launched this scheme for the well being of the ex-servicemen of the armed force and war widows.
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History of the Movement
There was a demand for pay and pension equity which had certain features of one rank, one pension reform. The armed forces were not satisfied with the ex-parte decision of our former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi which decreased the pension of the armed forces by 20 to 40 per cent, and increased the civilian pensions by 20 per cent. This was an ex-parte decision as it was taken without consulting the headquarters of the armed forces.
Back to the year 1986, the Third Pension Commission which was exacerbated by the former Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi, decided to implement the Rank Pay. This in turn decreased the basic pay of captain, Majors, lt-colonel, colonels, and brigadiers, and same rank officers in the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy, relative to the basic pay scales of civilian and the police officers.
The decision to reduce the basic pay scale of the officers holding these ranks was taken without giving any say to the Armed Forces and this created radically asymmetries between police and military ranks which affected the pay and pension of ten thousand officers and veterans.
This situation created an environment of distrust among the armed forces and the veterans.
In the year 2008, when Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister of the country, who let the United Progressive Alliance Government, in the Sixth Central Pay Commission, discarded the idea of rank pay and introduced Grade Pay and Pay Bands which reinforced existing asymmetries.
The decision also created hundreds of new posts of Secretaries, Special Secretaries, Director General of the Police officer, at the apex grade pay level to ensure that all civilians and police officers, which also included the defense civilian officers which would retire at the highest pay grade with the apex pay pensions with One Rank, One Pension.
Why was the One Rank One Pension Scheme Launched?
- Lower Per Cent of Pension of General: The scheme was launch to remove the defects of the old modal of pension which provide a Lieutenant General who retired in 1995 a pension which is 10 per cent lower than the colonel who get retired after the year 2006.
- Lower Per Cent of Pension of Jawan: As same as this, a jawan who gets retired in the year 1995 gets a pension which is only 20% per cent of the pension which is received by their counterparts who gets retired on or after 1st January, 2006.
- Disparities in Pension: The demand for One Rank, One Pension was for removing these differences among the servicemen who were working on the same ranking and this scheme successfully removed this existing disparity.
- Period of Service: The period which the defense officer serves is very short and they get retired at the age of 33 to 35 years. This short period of service is necessary because the defense service needs younger men to serve it. On the other side, the officers of civil services retire at the age of 60 years.
- The Role of Defence in Security of India: India has many invisible enemies and the defense personals protect the citizens by combating them and it is a moral obligation of the government to pay attention for the welfare of the defense personals that devote their life to the nation.
- Decrease Enthusiasm: A pay scale or pension which is lower than what is received by the civilian officers will decrease the enthusiasm and moral of the defense personals.
- Moral Virtues:The scheme of One Rank, One Pension uplifts the virtue of justice, equity, honour and national security.
Challenges Faced by the Scheme
The government will have to face extra financial hurdle as the estimate cost which will occur for implementation of the scheme is supposed to be between 8000 and 10,000 Crore rupees which will increase on every salary which would be revised.
The expenditure which will occur on arrears would be approximately 10,000 Crore rupees.
Launching this scheme would encourage demands from other army personals like the CRPF, CISF etc.
It would be a challenge for administration as it is very difficult to look into the past records of many years and then providing for the benefits to those who are eligible for getting those benefits.
Koshiyari Committee is a committee which is formed by ten members which is an all party parliamentary panel which is operated under the chairmanship of Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. This committee has submitted its report in December 2011.
This committee has accepted the wants of the ex-servicemen and has defined One Rank, One Pension as, “it implies uniform pension to be paid to armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancements in the rate of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners”.
This definition was accepted by the government and the ex-servicemen and this in turn became the definition of the One Rank, One Pension scheme and is the base for the demands of the ex-servicemen for effective implementation of One Rank, One Pension.
Even after the report was supplied to Dr. Manmohan Singh led UPA government, the government did not paid much attention to the scheme and hardly did anything for implementation of the same.
Advantages of the Scheme
- The scheme One Rank, One pension will be favourable for the ex-servicemen and war widows. These groups will be benefited by this scheme.
- The soldiers will be getting equal pension even when their retiring rates are lower than those of civil service officers. In past, around in the year 1996, the Sepoy’s received 82 per cent lower pensions than the Sepoy who retired in the year 2006.
- The scheme brought equity among the pensions of the ex-servicemen of armed forces and the civil officers.
- The pension will automatically get increased after every pay commission.
- The increase in the pension will help the officers to live a satisfied life after their retirements and to sustain themselves in this time where the cost of living is increasing every day.
- The government support to their soldiers has increase and this has raised the morale of the people and more and more people want to join the armed forces.
Disadvantages of the Scheme
- The financial burden on the government will increase as the total cost of the scheme is very high.
- The pension is based on ranks and therefore, the persons with higher ranks will be benefited with higher pension than those who are having lower rank.
- All the importance is given to the rank and nothing is the time of the service and this is unfair for those soldiers who have rendered more service in the defense.
- The scheme will inflict more burden on the government in the future as there are chances that the government will be paying more pension to the ex-servicemen than the salaries on the working men.
- The scheme would surely ignite other service man and they will start demanding increased pensions and it will be very difficult for the government to handle the pressure from public and this will again create pressure on the government treasury.