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The One Rank One Pension Agitation is Eating into Indian Armed Forces Morale

Updated on September 29, 2015


The Indian army traces its history to the early force raised by the East India Company almost 2 centuries back. Over the years the army developed a professional outlook and became the main cog of the Raj. It helped the British empire fight 2 World Wars and also helped consolidate British power all over the world from China to East Africa and Singapore to the North West Frontier.

The army and other services during the days of the Raj were a privileged force and they were well looked after. The British realised that a nations standing in the world comity of nations was dependent on military power and they took great pains to ensure that the Indian armed forces personnel did not have a raw deal. This approach showed foresight and only Mao tse Tung articulated what the British had put into effect earlier by stating that " Political power comes ot of the barrel of a gun".

In 1947 the British realised that the army on which they had relied to control India was no longer dependable. They thus took a decision to withdraw from India and granted independence to India by an act of the British parliament called the Indian Independence Act. This was passed in 1946 and the British left India in 1947. The new Indian state inherited a first class army and at that time India was the dominent power in Asia as China was fighting a civil war and Japan had been A Bombed into submission.

Downgradation of the Armed Forces

Nehru took over as prime minister of India. Unfortunately Nehru had spent his entire life agitating against the English by non violent methods. He was used to the politics of fasting and non cooperation. He had no idea what strategic power meant. He became prime minister and had a deep distrust of the army. When in rival countries like Burma and Pakistan the military seized power, his fear of the Indian army bordered on the paranoid. He was scared that he would be ousted by the military in a coup and decided to defang the army and reduce its importance. He also sanctioned a systematic purge of all privileges of the army and decided to sideline any soldier who he thought was a threat to him. Thus distinguished soldiers were retired and yes men promoted

Nehru also refused to sanction the latest weaponry for the army and also reduced its perks including pension. The 1962 war with China punctured Nehru's ego and he was completely deflated as he realised he had committed a cardinal sin by neglecting and downgrading the army. He died a broken men, scorned by many who at one time adulated him.

This state of affairs continued under successive prime minsiters and despite the Indian army giving a great victory in 1971, the pensions which were 70% of the last pay drawn were reduced to 50% in 1973 by Indira Gandhi. No explnation is available as to why it was done, but the fact is that the armed forces were on a down slide.

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The Present Scenario

The army for many years represented to the central government to sanction One Rank One Pension . This demand became strident in about 2004 when ManMohan Singh became Prime Minister. Unfortunately the old distrust and dominance of the IAS lobby ensured that the demand was never conceded. The government talked only of progress and neglected the armed forces and hoped like the Ostrich that the storm will blow away. They failed to realise the effect of this on the serving soldiers who have an unbilical cord with retired servicemen. After all todays soldiers will be ex servicemen tomorrow.

About 3 months ago matters came to head and the ex servicemen launched an agitation against the newly elected BJP government headed by Narendra Modi. The sad part is that at least on 3 occassions Narendra Modi promised he would sanction OROP and yet when the crunch came , Modi put his hands up: Intent on foreign jaunts like Nehru. He never realised the effect of this agitation on serving personnel as he strutted on the world stage. Alas so like Nehru who similarly posed as a great " Third World Leader" only to bite the dust like Humpty Dumpty.

The govermnment under pressure from the RSS did come up with an approval of OROP, but it was way below what has been approved by parliament. In fact it was a traversity of OROP and yet Modi and the BJP are unable to see the light. The situation is bad and the ex servicement are on hunger strike demanding that OROP as agreed be approved. The Modi goverment by not approving this demand is playing with fire. The serving soldier is affected and one wonders how India can assert its position as a great power.



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