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.
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.
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 As for personnel below officer ranks - this is even steeper - most of our men are superseded by the age of 36, and then they have either to keep serving in lower ranks with meagre pays, or move out and explore other options, back home.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.
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.
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.
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.
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 -
Col MK Keshwar (Retd)
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