As, India went into the Diwali weekend; television studios were full of Narendra Modi’s
Jammu and Kashmir aid announcement and Bihar Election gutter politics. Among this storm of caste, reservation and religious polarization polemic came a late night notification of a diluted One-Rank-One-Pension also popularly known by the abbreviation, OROP. The notification diluted the original OROP demand to Five Year Pension equalization. It further excluded Premature Retirement from future OROP benefits.
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi himself did not consider it important enough to announce the OROP notification, nor Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, find it worth his time. For a political party like the BJP, and its ideological parent in the RSS, with strong nationalist credentials, and strident claims of Security as a focus, this was a loss of face. The inability to communicate good news with the bad, and hiding behind a faceless bureaucracy destroys a legacy relationship between the disciplined Military and its political masters in the Executive.
OROP has been an emotive issue for both Military Veterans and Active Servicemen with bravery medals and petitions signed in blood, and a hunger strike under the glare of media. The embarrassment of the BJP and RSS was accentuated by insensitive pedestrian remarks by Narendra Modi, Manohar Parrikar and Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley. That the OROP notification was left to a lowly MoD spokesperson, delivered by a tepid Press Information Bureau (PIB) late in the night, designed to get minimum possible media attention, made the sin worse from omission to commission.
Insults and sarcasm were heaped by upset Veterans, on not just, the venal and corrupt, self-serving animosity of the Finance and Defence bureaucracy, but also on self serving Military brass including the 3 Chiefs of Staff of Army, Navy and Air Force. Once a strong votary of the BJP, the Indian Military has become deeply angry and upset at the BJP and its cynosure in Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
The OROP notification has a negative impact not just on the retired Veterans but also on serving men and officers. The Military which seeks to promote a fighting force of young men and officers will see an active disincentive through OROP to early or premature retirement, a misnomer for a face saving way to exit the Military, after being passed over by juniors for promotion, or a downgrade in medical fitness category.
The BJP Baniagiri (derogatory Hindi term for small minded miserly behavior) on OROP and Military Veterans comes in sharp contrast to its lazy populism with taxpayer funds where despite a pledge 130 Lakh Crores, the BJP saw its coalition lose the Bihar Election. Contrast, the tight fisted OROP notification again to Narendra Modi largesse in Kashmir, giving 80,000 Crores in taxpayer money to aid India’s effort in fighting the long standing Islamist Insurgency.
The Army bears the brunt of India’s bloody counterinsurgency and counterterrorism both in terms of lives lost and impact on military families facing privation and loss of economic wellbeing. It is these servicemen who will be tomorrow’s Veterans, which get hit by a jaundiced OROP abdication of Narendra Modi’s election promise, now broken.
The Military Veterans have since rejected the OROP notification. This is one of the many issues that underly the larger malaise of Civil and Military distrust in India. The BJP has by its churlish low-balling of the economic status of the fighting man weakened the idealism of the Military career. Who will fight for India knowing that the political-bureaucratic Kleptocracy sees the soldier and the Veteran as lesser vocations? The implication of financial compensation for soldiering in OROP, as compared to being a public servant or clerk seems to suggest!
Narendra Modi judgement of Military issues is damaging and deficient to the Military veterans and active servicemen. These are dangerous precedents in nation building and safeguarding of external aggression and internal security of India, where the Military remain the last line of defence. What the BJP and RSS only speak in security rhetoric is actually the oath to the Constitution of India by the soldier. What is empty nationalist bluster for most Indians represents the very ethos by which, the loyal and brave, Indian soldier lives and dies. BJP baniagiri on military pension has exposed, Narendra Modi led BJPs, immature populism over prudence.