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Rhetoric Aside, India is the Only Country in the World with OROP

In the light of OROP, The Quint examines what retirement policies are like in the UK, USA, China and Pakistan.

Updated
India
4 min read
India now becomes the only country in the world to implement OROP in letter and spirit. (Photo: iStockphoto)

After four decades of discontent and an 82-day hunger strike, the Government of India has given a nod to the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for the armed forces. But what is it like for retired soldiers in Pakistan, which inherited the same military system as India, and for soldiers in China, UK and USA?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP who championed the cause of defence veterans for OROP says comparing UK, USA, China and Pakistan with India is not fair.

Pakistan and China have a lot of benefits for their Armed forces that are undeclared or unofficial! Post-retirement jobs, land/assets, retirement bonuses etc add to their overall basket of benefits. In India there is only pension and medical and canteen benefits. So the comparison is flawed.
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

Major Navdeep Singh, however believes it is fair to compare India’s retirement benefits with those of other nations on grounds of early retirement. 

There is early retirement in the armed forces all over the world. Men retire after 20 years of service so their lifetime earnings are lower than civilian counterparts, in that sense a comparison is fair.
— Major Navdeep Singh, Member of Short Term Commission Consulting the Government on Grievances of Armed Forces


One Rank One Pension: One of a Kind

India is the only country in the world to implement the One Rank One Pension scheme. (Photo: iStockphoto)
India is the only country in the world to implement the One Rank One Pension scheme. (Photo: iStockphoto)

OROP in letter and spirit, exists only in India.

The policy in the UK is close to the concept of OROP, but is not called that. All countries consider factors like cost of living and inflation.
Major Navdeep Singh, Member of Short Term Commission Consulting the Government on Grievances of Armed Forces

Rajeev Chandrasekhar says the core of OROP has less to do with financial benefits and more to do with preserving the age-old ethos of our armed forces, and restoring the respect and honour of our seniors.

India relies on the command of its officers, even on the battlefield. The death ratio of officers to men in 19:1 in frontline combat. Officers who retired 20 years ago cannot earn less than the men who are below them in rank, but retire today. This lies at the heart of the argument.
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

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Pakistan Policy Laden with Perks

Pakistan army receives a lot of perks like land and houses in addition to pension. (Photo: Reuters)
Pakistan army receives a lot of perks like land and houses in addition to pension. (Photo: Reuters)

Sources within the Pakistan army told The Quint that the pension for all three services is the same, but on an average, it is 40% of the last pay and could go up to 44% depending on the length of service. The final amount is an outcome of the number of years served plus, the pay scale, but the average rarely goes beyond 40%. The Pakistani army has also been pushing for OROP.

However, experts believe that the Pakistani armed forces get several perks, such as land allotments, houses, etc. which are not part of ‘official’ policy.

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China Ensures Civilian Jobs for High Ranks

In China, pension for retired soldiers, even war widows, was raised by 40% in October 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
In China, pension for retired soldiers, even war widows, was raised by 40% in October 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

In the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, retirement age starts at 30 and goes to 63 depending on rank. Officers holding senior specialised technical posts, in active service for 30 years, or aged 50 or more are treated as pensioners. They are even ensured civilian jobs. The China Daily reported that retired soldiers earn differently in China depending on where they live.

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United Kingdom Closest to Indian OROP

 The UK has a uniform pension scheme somewhat similar to OROP. (Photo: iStockphoto)
The UK has a uniform pension scheme somewhat similar to OROP. (Photo: iStockphoto)

In spirit, the United Kingdom’s policy is the closest to the Indian OROP. UK has a uniform pension that is regularly revised, irrespective of rank and date of retirement. Till date, there have been four revisions since 1975.

UK also has a law like the Armed Forces Covenant Bill that makes it a legal obligation of the state and people to support serving officers, veterans and their families. Rajeev Chandrasekhar has introduced a similar private members bill in Parliament.

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USA Aids Re-employment and Re-skilling

At 20 years, US retirement policy grants 50% of last pay. Soldiers get 100% of their last pay if they serve for 40 years or more. (Photo: Reuters)
At 20 years, US retirement policy grants 50% of last pay. Soldiers get 100% of their last pay if they serve for 40 years or more. (Photo: Reuters)

The US keeps it simple – If you stay in the armed forces for 20 or more years, you get pension based on a percentage of your basic pay. If you stay in for 40 years, you get 100% of your basic pay. The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is also included, crucially because over one lifetime, this adjustment could more than double the retirement cheque.

Veterans are placed in police and civic administration jobs and are provided with significant financial and other aid to post retirement re-skilling, bootstrapping, business loans scholarships, etc, which are missing in the Indian system.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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