A resolution to the ongoing One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue will be found eventually, maybe even within this week. But as the old wisdom goes, you should never waste a crisis. Accordingly, the Narendra Modi government should also use this crisis as an opportunity to usher in some serious reforms.
The most important of these pertains to the armed forces' mid-rank officers, other ranks who retire early, in case of jawans at 35, since the Army must stay young. Veterans are right to say that all talk of equivalence with other services is irrelevant while others retire at 60 and most soldiers go home young.
This is the time to reopen and implement the old frozen, but sensible idea of making at least 50 per cent of all new recruitments to the central paramilitary forces out of ex-servicemen. It will rehabilitate them in the prime of their lives, and why should anybody have to live a retired life 35 on, whatever the pension.
It will also radically improve the quality of the Central para-military forces (CPMFs) which are expanding at a fast pace and increasingly seeing more combat, in Naxal zones as well as the international borders. The CPMFs are now using more lethal weapons and getting drawn into tough tactical battles, and also taking serious casualties.
This was proposed many years ago in the Balaram Committee report but blocked by resistance from the bureaucracy, particularly the IPS. This should be overruled now and the rehab plan implemented.This crisis offers just the opportunity for instituting this important reform.
(This post first appeared on the writer's Facebook page.)