One Rank One Pension: Forty years of wait is finally over
OROP breakthrough is easily the most significant of veterans welfare effort in post-independence India by any government.
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The announcement of One Rank, One Pension (OROP) by defence minister Manohar Parrikar today is the culmination of 40 years of wait by the veterans and war widows. It is our country’s thanksgiving to them for decades of service and sacrifice.
This decision today makes OROP the biggest and most significant welfare measure for veterans in post-independent India by any government and for that I thank Prime Minister Modi, defence minister Parrikar and finance minister Jaitley and the government for the fulfilling this important promise.
For me, personally, today’s announcement marks nine years of struggle and perseverance over OROP – starting with the dark days of proud veterans giving up their medals in 2006. OROP was one of the first issues I took up after I joined active politics – and expectedly, today is a big day for me personally and for my time in public service. Apart from raising it repeatedly in Parliament and media, to the point that I was even called “OROP Rajeev” by many political leaders, I have also had the honour of sitting with veterans in many protests in Bengaluru and Delhi, including at Jantar Mantar. I was the principle petitioner for the Koshiyari Committee that conclusively stated that One Rank, One Pension must be granted to the Defence Personnel.
I have also shared the pain of watching thousands of veterans return their gallantry awards to the President, their supreme commander – in an act unprecedented in our country’s history. So I am grateful to PM Modi and defence minister Parrikar for making my public life have meaning and achievement. In minister Parrikar, I have for the first time met someone in political life who cares and understands veterans even more than me or anyone else.
To all veterans, I appeal that they return home – their biggest asset is the support and sympathy of hundreds of millions of Indians. Our countrymen and women love, respect and honour our veterans and armed forces. The political leadership of PM Modi is without doubt one of the most pro-forces and pro-veteran governments in history of India and this is something that needs to built on as further ways to improve the cause of our armed forces, veterans and families will continue to be focused on.
I am aware that OROP still has some issues and but I assure the veterans of my continued commitment to these and believe these can be dealt with by engaging the one-man committee announced and the defence minister in discussions on an ongoing basis. I would urge them to call off their hunger strike and fast and also suspend all agitations and protests from today.
To all those who stood by me on this issue and helped me maintain the spotlight on veterans and their issues including OROP over the past nine years, including in Parliament and media, I offer my deepest thanks.