Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Hazards Of Ignoring The Non-One-ness Of "One" in OROP

When one sets out to remove disparities and inequities involving groups and individuals, clarity on and comprehension of all issues, having a bearing on the matter, become critical pre-requisites if one's attempts to right wrongs are not to end up resulting in some other form of discrimination, giving rise to acrimony, dissatisfaction and litigation.

OROP appears to be nearing finalisation, even though it would be foolhardy to dismiss, out of hand, probability of application of the old adage about there being many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. Presently, the discussions appear to be centered on the cut off date and the figure to which older pensions will get bench-marked.

Neglect of a few issues would lead to any resolution arrived at compromised with the taint of discrimination.

The basis of that hazard is easy to understand if one approaches OROP at the most fundamental level. OP is clearer to grasp, though there are several issues about that as well. But, let us see what OR of OROP denotes.

"One Rank"! 

Is that a basis for ensuring justice, parity and equity? What is this "One" rank?

What are the most basic constants over the decades that ought, to any reasonable mind, form the basis for parity of present-day pensions of ESM who retired in the distant past? These would be the nature of Commission or Enrolment, the cadre, the years of service put in. Surely, the first two would appear to be the basis for all ongoing discussions, proposals and views. When it comes to "years of service", some discussions center on years spent in a rank vis-a-vis total years of service. This is an issue that would not be difficult to resolve.

But, the real issue is, the constant of "years of service", that ought to be the primary determinant of a pensionary award, has been made subservient to a variable.

The variable is "Rank".

When people speak of One Rank One Pension, they need to understand there is no such thing as "One" Rank when one factors in different service conditions across the decades.

What determines a "Rank" is not how it is spelt or pronounced. There are so many factors involved in the definition of a "Rank". In the case of "select ranks" the variables could be the process for selection, the gradings required to attain the rank, the nature of duties assigned to the rank or the posts that would be filled by a person holding the rank. In other words, it would be virtually impossible to establish equivalence between erstwhile and current "Ranks" obtained through selection.

It's a totally different matter when one considers time-bound promotions. A Major rank used to be obtained after 14 years of service in the 70s. Today, one is automatically a Major after 6 years. The Lt Col rank is given after 13 years of service. When it comes to determining pension parities, should the 70s Major, if he had served for more than 21 years, be clubbed with a "current" Major or Lt Col? The constant here is the "years of service" and the attributes of the rank have changed, rendering it a 'variable'.

The 70s Major and the current Major don't have "One rank", just one that has the same spelling.

Let us take the case of a Lt Col. In the 70s, it was a "select rank". Should we say pension of Officers who retired as Lt Col with more than 26 years of service in the 70s need to be considered only on the basis of that "rank"? An Officer with the same years of service is automatically Col(TS) at present. For the same years of actual service rendered in the same cadre, with the same commission, are the two Officers to be treated differently by pegging their pensions on the basis of a "variable"?

In all such cases, the pensions of earlier retirees need to be at par with current retirees in ranks nowadays automatically obtained with the same years of service as the earlier retirees.

Now these issues would apply whatever cut-off date applies and whichever parameter (maximum, mean, median or mode) as pension level is chosen while implementing OROP.

The logic underlying the need to factor in pension parity on constants, as well as the "denomination nomenclature" of the rank, is one that could help to obtain an OROP implementation which is based on genuine principles of parity.

This specific issue, now that the implementation of OROP appears close, deserves a fresh consideration along with views on the subject expressed elsewhere on this blog


  1. Sir, for years and months on end I have had the privilege to read your wise views and opinions.

    But I go away with the partial emptiness of having had a beautiful (intellectual) meal but with salt missing.

    What are the solutions?
    Do you propose that in considering and deciding modalties of OROP, the "wrong" done by Bagga/Ajai Vikram Singh to a couple of thousand Lt Col & equivalents should be undone by promoting them or by giving them a pension of the higher rank that they would have achieved had B/AVS been implemented from 2001 or 2002?

    Then what about those who would have been affected if that was done from say 1979, the time the first Cadre review of the Armed Forces took place?

    Why not educate us with your proposals and your solutions?

  2. good.Transmit this to Services reps or those taking part in those meetings.

  3. @Taaza Khabar: "wrong" done by Bagga/Ajai Vikram Singh to a couple of thousand Lt Col & equivalents;

    Sir, thank you for your views.

    Actually, I firmly believe Shri AV Singh did no wrong.

    But a serious anomaly certainly arose out of the manner in which various other stake-holders chose to implement the recommendations.

    Having said that, the context of this Blog Post is OROP. Anomalies such as the one caused by manner of implementation of AVS-I and also the consideration of pre 1979 retirees, or retirees in any rank or sub-cadre similarly affected are all relevant to OROP.

    I do beliece RDOA had taken up the AVS-I anomaly with services HQs and MOD. We can but wait for some light to be thrown on that initiative.

    But for OROP, services HQs, ESMs and MOD need to examine such issues minutely so that all the sacrifices made for OROP do not get compromised.