It is not difficult to see through the game politicians and bureaucrats have played with OROP announcements. It was declared in a hurry just before the Bihar elections to garner some brownie votes, and then they came back and announced it in a tearing hurry. What has come out from the Govt, is surely a shot in its foot, which they will have to limp for times to come. There are about 7 anomalies which are well known in the media and remain unresolved – Gen Satbir and his team is already at it. I want to touch just one of them which they have served half-baked – the non application of One Rank One Pension (OROP) to future Pre Mature Retirement (PMR) cases of officers and men.

OROP Protests Gen Satbir

Like all militaries in the World – the Indian Armed forces have a structured, steep pyramidal structure, and there are fixed vacancies in a particular rank – so structurally you need lots of soldiers in junior ranks and fewer as they go up the ladder. This is not how anyone wants it, but this is how the militaries of the world have functionally evolved and thats how they all are.

Pyramidal Structure of Armed Forces

In our case everyone reaches to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or a time scale Naik, but for the next rank – Colonel, about 60% will not be promoted by 16 years of service. As for personnel below officer ranks – this is even steeper – most of our men are superseded by the age of 36, and then they have either to keep serving in lower ranks with meagre pays, or move out and explore other options, back home. So by the 15 or 16 years of service, an officer or Junior officers or non commissioned officers  – knows if he has any future in the organisation – is he rising to next rank or not. The pensionable service for PBOR is thus fixed at 15 years and for officers at 20 years. This ensured one good thing – the older ones moved out and made way for the new recruitments to happen. It kept the water flowing and clean. It helped Forces in a mission critical attribute – keeping the profile of our forces Young. And its no brainer to understand why your armed forces should have young profile.

Young and Fit Armed Forces are a must
Young and Fit Armed Forces are a must

We are All Harmed

The recent Govt’s OROP Announcement is a work in a hurry and distinctly short sighted – and that will haunt Armed forces and Govts, for years to come. This announcement of not applying the OROP to future PMR officers or men, will have a few far reaching repercussions. Here is my view  –

Reduced Promotions – Since men who are overlooked for promotions cannot take PMR, they do not vacate the post for others. This will result in promotion avenues slowing down and drop drastically at every stage. Now where does this leave me and what am i thinking – ‘I cannot be promoted and if i opt out of the forces, I would not get OROP benefits. Best option for me is to stay on – for as long as possible and move out with best pension options’. So with all senior ranks packed with numbers – the promotion queue, will keep getting slower.

Increased Frustration – This non promotion to next rank applies in every rank – Naiks, Havaldars, Naib Suberdars or Colonels, Brigadiers, Major Generals and so on. Larger stagnations at the bottom of pyramid and proportionate stagnation in senior ranks. Stagnation anywhere is bad for the morale & efficiencies of individuals and organisation. So moving out of personnel on PMR after a pensionable service, has always been a good thing to happen for Military. It created vacancies for promotion and allowed soldiers to explore their potential outside of Armed Forces. And that is the reason that allowing them to move out on pension ( and OROP) was always a win-win situation. This stands skewed now and we are heading towards a potentially disgruntled armed forces.

It is a tough Job.
It is a tough Job.

Lower Intake – Govt has not been able to fill critical shortage of junior officers since over many decades. In this hyperconnected world, the youth is aware of everything happening – the state of armed forces, the service conditions, the de-incentivisation drives and the insensitivity of the politicians and bureaucrats. Armed forces is a tough job – physically, mentally and financially – there is a sacrifice, beyond comprehension. The youth of today is quite aware of these difficulties and he has softer options. With this de-incentivisation and the could’t-care-less perception created, the numbers is bound to drop further.

Who wants to join Armed Forces?
Who wants to join Armed Forces? ( Courtesy TOI)

Poorer Quality – The Gen-Next or Millenials as they are called – don’t like this ‘trapped-in-a-job’ feel – the smartest and best of the country’s talent is thus not looking this side anyways. The option now is to either run your military with lesser junior leaders or to go and fill the junior officer vacancies at any cost. Since smarter ones will look to greener pastures – the only way to make the numbers will be to scrape the bottom – that is, take just about anyone of any quality to come and lead the men into battles.

Leadership in Battle needs Courage and Character
Leadership in Battle needs Courage and Character

This would mean a sub standard leadership – forming a sub standard armed forces – delivering substandard National Security. I cannot even imagine what that augurs for a country that has no dearth of Internal and External threats to its national security.

Who in his sane mind does this to its Armed Forces? This is how an insensitive Govt advised by insecure bureaucrats kill a damn good Indian Armed Forces.

To summarise here is what you have got yourself  –
“A frustrated and stagnant organisation, which no one wants to join”.

With these announcements the Indian Armed Forces – present and future stay harmed.The bureaucracy, Govt of the day and those heading the Armed forces, have to shoulder this responsibility to right the impending harm that is coming.

I pray to God that i be proved wrong. My heart goes to the Armed Forces –

Salute to the Military Men
Salute to the Military Men

Col MK Keshwar (Retd)
997 1119 102

51 thoughts on “OROP Announcement – Putting Forces in Harm’s Way

  1. Well spoken and aptly summed ! Why is the Government choosing to be so short sighted?? Another 10 yrs and the army profile is going to change for the worse. Do we want our neighbours to take over us???

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    1. Thanks Nandita. The problem is with bureaucratic insecurity. They do not have much knowledge of Armed forces HR issues, and they are afraid to involve anyone from Armed forces. Unfortunately they are the ones who advise the politicians on all policy matters related to Armed Forces. And hence this pathetic shot sightedness on policy decision making. 🙂

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      1. It is not insecurity alone. And it is not that they afraid to involve anyone from the Armed Forces. SInce independence the bureaucracy has got the mandate from the highest political authority to put the forces in their place .And they are doing a pretty good job of it with impunity regardless of any other consequences

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      2. The bureaucracy is at heads with all and one who is a potential threat to its supremacy, case in point – the case of other services vs IAS.

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  2. Sir…you have expressed fears of all who understand the ramifications of this notification on our organisation and the bleak future these corrupt bureaucrats are leading us to…I wonder if all our concerns will ever have an impact on deaf ears before its too late…!!!

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    1. Hope and pray the OROP team will make some impact. They are one stubborn bunch of Protagonists. And as soldiers they would not quit half way. So i am confident something would come of it. Thanks for reading and commenting. Pl share with others if you like.

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  3. The present political leadership and the lousy lot of “Babus” can’t see beyond their nose. National interests don’t seem to be in their line of thinking. This short sighted action is going to prove very costly for the armed forces and the nation. Even the present armed forces leadership can’t escape blame for not standing up to the cavalier and scandalous treatment being meted out to the armed forces and the veterans.

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  4. Dear sir
    I’m sorry for this coments but fact is this that the option for continuous service when not get promotion in the same rank is only in the case of officers only in the army no choice for PBOR ofter complition of thir service in their rank they kicked out from army in case of PBOR of AIR FORCE AND NAVY they have choice for extending their service by time extention
    Sir I’ll give you a example if one soldier may be sepohi or jcos got the rank of Sub Major in the 10th year of service that person kicked out when he complited 14th year becouse the service of sub major is only 4 year in the same fashion he retire
    Sir I’m not seen that sub major served more than 4 year in the rank of sub major this is his fault but in airforce and navy they served in equivalent rank till his service left
    Service of sub major is up to 32 years but why he kicked out ofter 4 year in army if he got pramotion in 28th year of service then he complete their 32 year if he promote before 28th they serve only 4 year
    Sir it is requested Pl review and raise your voice for this type of things you are able to do that
    Thanks

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  5. MK nice write up and I respect ur views. However I have a little different take. If a person wants to part with service amongst many factors and his own peculiar situation the overriding factor can’t be the pension. If I have the confidence in own abilities then new beginning will be a fresh lease of life. However if I don’t get the next rank then to carry on in service just because of pension considerations is not okay. To both service and the individual. The issue raised by you has universal face in militaries the world over. The developed world has the institutional capacity and resources to look after veterans though there also they have concerns. Nevertheless one is fully with u as far as empathetic considerations for soldiers well being and second innings is concerned.

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    1. Yes you have a point there sir. Such human assets are very good in and out of service and would never need this Govt OROP alms – it financially will not affect them. This is for that 90% who do not belong to that category – they too spent their youth doing border rounds while their friends were making careers. This sacrifice is enough, for Govt to watch their back and be fair. That is all my point is.

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      1. Nicely put Keshwar. There’s a dire need of brethren on the other side to articulate what those in service cannot. Regards

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  6. I agree, what problem services are going to face specially in officers cadre . Any unit will have lot many stagnated seniors available with commanded by junior. It will be frustrating task for commander to execute the assigned role. Armed forces have specific role, can’t be equated with any other organisations.it’s catch 22 situation .

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  7. Dear Manoj,
    Well worded article. The point raised by Mr Anjani Kumar Shukla is relevant and needs to be looked at. The Services (mainly Army, but the other two are also culpable) have been very good at shooting themselves in the foot.
    As regards the point raised by Mr Satvinder Singh, which has an element of truth – the reality is that by the time one realizes that the story is over and the writing on the wall becomes clear that there is no future in the service, the reality of life strikes – children in their teens either appearing for Boards or just over it, which means you don’t want to disturb their rhythm. Your parents are probably in their eighties, you’ve taken a loan to buy a flat and possibly your car as well. Besides, that is when you realize that you have no skills of value to the corporate world. For the last 25 years you’ve led an ordered life in remote places, chances are that your wife hasn’t yet picked up a steady job and thus far supplemented your income with temporary jobs as a teacher.
    So now what are the options – move to your village back home with almost no chance of getting a worthwhile job, plunge into the civvy street in a big city like Bombay or Bangalore or Delhi, without a house, skills or experience and hope like hell that things somehow work out or …. carry on in service waiting for the next pay commission, till they push you out.
    The truth is that despite the courses you do in service and those civil courses that you do in preparation for leaving service, most employers do not recognize in service experience and skills. The only ones that are recognized are – pilots (of all types), aircraft maintenance, civil engineers, hydrographers, naval architects, ship command and marine engineering (provided one has completed the mandatory certified courses), communications (to some extent) and possibly a few others that are required in relatively narrow fields.
    Then there is your age which is a turn off for most employers.
    So when you send your CV after deleting terms like CO, Exo, Col Q, Cdr etc and despite trying to make it sound simple to a corporate, you don’t get responses from most search engines because they function on the basis of keywords. What are you left with – General Admin and Security. The best bet is to seek employment in companies that have already employed ESM who are doing well.
    Supercession in service takes place due to a variety of reasons – if the previous promotion board promoted your senior batch who just happened to be younger than you, your story is over because there won’t be vacancies by the time you come up. If in your batch being considered for promotion, there are a few younger than you, chances are they will get selected and you get shafted. If they just happen to consider more than one batch for promotion at the same time, your chances are reduced and its likely that the junior batch will be younger, so again you get it. If you didn’t get that crucial assignment before you came up for promotion which would have looked good on the report, just because you happened to be doing some other job, you’re out.
    There are so many ifs and buts along the way. In fact our entire appraisal system needs a thorough re-look as it is unable to weed out the bootlickers because there is no peer assessment.
    I served 32 years in the Navy before leaving two years shy of superannuation, lest I got transferred at a time I couldn’t afford to split the family. I am relieved that the GoI found it fit to give me the benefits of OROP, but I don’t see why another person with a similar profile in future should be denied.

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    1. Thanks so much sir for reading the blog and your very valuable overview of a veterans market-fit ( or unfit:)). You have said it all. Heart goes out to the organisation we selflessly served. And I really feel a lot of harm will come if the OROP is not allowed to future PMRs. Coming to Jawans the situation is even more skewed. They are out of the game at 36 yrs of age – now looking for security guards and odd jobs.

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  8. Due to neglect and its cumulating effect of years to gathert,the Indian Army is no more the same as it was a decade ago.To day’s soldiers being edgucated,consciou’s of his status and standing. His aspirations are growing fast with changing envirment around him.Tere is mounting discontentment over’ the Government inability to set things right.
    2.No more under the threat of Militarey Law, He is taken for granted task to perform,what his civilian compatators prefer not to do.Today orderly duties and cleaning areas and of forming part of working parties should not be the rules of the game
    3.Considering defence civilians at par,not exposed to life risks required reconsidered ,saving in defence budget.

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      1. People were taking PM when there was no OROP n will continue to do so hereafter also as the so called OROP now given does not materially enhance the options of remaining in service.
        Where it will hurt the Armed forces in BIG (BIG BIG ) way is that the suitable (suitable ) material that is opting for careers in ARMED FORCES will think ten times more n will shrink drastically in future. The damage that will be caused to the nation’s defence ed be immense. The present leaderships (Three CHIEFS 🙈🙊🙉) wud be long gone n enjoying crumbs /luv of their labour pains.
        The Cabal of Babus (MAFIOSIS) who have masterminded the desecration /degradation/ destruction of ARMED FORCES capabilities will continue to gloat with mirth .
        The explosive growth of population n enormous no job applicants will keep feeding Recruitment Rallies .The cabal of Babus will convince Political Master that Armed forces is still an attractive option.
        The ruination of INDIAN REPUBLIC is earnestly on its way .

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  9. Manoj It is unfortunate that we have a techie as a Def Minister . He may be a good man but he doesnt understand implications of his decisions. Def chiefs should have stood up and pointed out the implications. Hope they do it now .

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    1. The Wall that exists between reality of Armed forces and the Policy makers is this stubborn thing called ‘Bureaucracy’. And they suffer from complexes of ‘Raj Hangover’ that are impossible to remove. Thanks for reading the blog and your ever valuable response to the forum.

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  10. I believe soldiers have got major victory. Instead they are weeping like kids instead of thanking their movement. It is hightime they support the government in the task of nation building . soldiers are patriots and not union workers. Their sactifices cannot be quantified and at the same time nation has given them what ever it can give for now. Civil servants since 1.1.2004 have lost pension scheme altogether hence need to consolidate approach tribunal for sorting the anamolies and put their demands to it for resolution.

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    1. Hi Satish, respect your views and there is a lobby that believes – take what you got. One thing i disagree is that there is no comparison to make with civil servants. Staying in Delhi with family and kids going to good school is not same is serving in Kupwara. Grateful for your inputs.

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  11. it is an excellent article and eye opener for a lay man.I would like to get your mail regularly.My e mail id is “pavadai.ganesan@gmail.com

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  12. The pride of nation held high by us may one day roll down due to dilution of quality of leadership and reasons for induction of our men in arms, due to the apathy shown by our dishonest and corrupt politicians in cohesion with bureaucrats, but never will they be able to trample our heads with there humiliation and discrimination…. we came here to serve our Nation and will do it without a question till our end. Country respects us or not matters but not that much because it will take years for this nation to come up to the maturity where US or any western nation today is, hence US is a superpower…A nation which honors and respects its soldiers and veterans are the nation which will always be a winner economically, politically, democratically and military might wise.

    Very eloquently written blog Sir with thought provoking words. Hope this is disseminated to our civilian brothers as they are totally ignorant of the facts and figures, they in fact think Army is holding Government at ransom with irresponsible and illogical demand for OROP, thanks to people like Chetan Bhagat’s and A Goswami’s!

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    1. Thanks sir for reading the blog. Fear is bureaucrats have no idea of armed forces – the culture, the traditions, what makes it a better managed organisation, its cadre management – and they do not involve us from hangover of Raj? No wonder such pitiful short sighted policies are rolled out. And our veterans who can raise the voice – are made to look bad. Thanks once again for your very valuable response.

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  13. Dear Col Keshawar ,

    Another point which merits attention is the obstinate refusal of services to let Officers resign or take PMR before 20 years. What about the opportunity cost for these Officers ?
    Now when they are forced to serve till 20 years you tell them that they will not get full benefits including OROP. Even at 20 yrs of service at 40-45 yrs if age it is very difficult to get a job. The ideal period to leave and get a job is between 28-35 when the services do not oblige whatever be your reason.
    Regards
    Vikas.

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  14. Guys like Satish Kumar should be made to stay with troops in bunkers at the forward most posts in snow bound kashmir, I am sure his views about Army and soldiers will change, This nation is thankless, here everyone knows Sunny Deol of Border movie, not Brig Kuldeep Singh who fought that war , sunny just potrayed him in a movie, India like reel heros, not real heros, how many people know the name of Bana Singh? What medal did he get?

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