Earlier in Forum






Q: Should there be “one rank, one pension”
for defence personnel?

This is the fourth instalment of readers’ response

Give soldiers their due

THE ex-servicemen in India are the lowest paid strata of society. It hardly needs to be stressed that the outstanding demand of one rank, one pension is a genuine one. Its genuineness can simply be gauged by the fact that all political parties, including the Congress that ruled the country uninterruptedly nearly for half a century, have supported this demand while occupying the Opposition benches. But once in power, every party tends to forget the promises made earlier. The reason is that ex-servicemen are not united. Also, they are forbidden to bargain collectively during service. Our bureaucracy too have raised many objections to stall this genuine demand.

The soldiers are lauded when they deal with emergencies, whether natural or man-made. They perform their duty ungrudgingly, cheerfully and in a disciplined manner befitting the tradition of the armed forces. However, when threats recede their perks and other entitlements are spurned. Even the promises made to the families of the martyrs are conveniently forgotten.

It is highly unfair that they are treated as goats to be sacrificed in war. They are not adequately paid during service and the pension is too meagre to lead a respectable life. Today, the soldier takes the service as a profession and hopes to be decently paid just like any other profession. Since no corrective measures are being taken, good, intelligent and hard working persons are not joining the services.

One should remember that in war, there is no trophy for the runner-up. It is high time that the authorities fulfill the promises made to defence personnel. They should not wait for calamity to happen.

Lt-Col ANGAD SINGH (retd),

Fighting units should get more

The government should consider the following suggestions: Those who are serving in the fighting units—infantry, armoured corps, engineers and signals—should get extra benefits than the others serving in ASC, ordinance, medical corps except for the period spent with the above-mentioned fighting units.

The soldiers who quit prior to 20 years of service should not get more than 50 per cent of the rank pension. The rules should apply to the Navy, Air Force and Army alike. The condition of the service involving risk in frontline should be considered. Those who have served over 20 years should be included in the minimum rank pension.


Anomaly is not justified

There should be no indiscriminate awarding of pension. The pension is fixed on the basic pay drawn by the defence personnel. The soldiers who had retired in the past and were drawing less basic pay (as per the recommended pay fixed by the Pay Commission) draw less pension today (as per their old basic pay). However, their pension should be no different from the pension drawn by the defence personnel retired later.

Inflation is the order of the day and it affects all sections of society equally. The defence personnel who draw pension as per the old basic pay scale should be given the same pension as allocated to the recent retirees so that they are able to maintain their dignity and respect by coping better with inflation.

They who keep us safe from invaders and keep the nation intact deserve a better deal.

Jalandhar City

No reason to dither

The principle of one rank, one pension is followed all over the world, except in India, as far as retirees from the defense forces are concerned. It is beyond comprehension why ex-servicemen are being treated as sons of a lesser God?

Before Independence, on retirement, the Armymen were paid pension at 80 per cent of last pay drawn. Ex-servicemen could live their lives comfortably. The rationale of one rank, one pension is undisputed. Successive governments have taken note of the genuine demand of ex-servicemen and have been convinced of the disparity and injustice being meted out to former soldiers. The Parliamentary Committee on Defence, in its 20th report tabled in both Houses of Parliament, had strongly urged the Ministry concerned to streamline the archaic and unjust pension system.

Why the government dithers in accepting the demand is puzzling. Is the government not aware of the injustice and hardships faced by the ex-servicemen? The government seems to be unwilling to give justice to its veterans who have served the nation during wars and other calamities.

Ex-servicemen believe they would get justice from Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, who is fully aware of the difficulties faced by the ex-servicemen. The injustice meted out to ex-servicemen should be stopped before thousands of more ex-servicemen pass away before the demand is met.

Col AMRIK SINGH (retd),


It is indeed a great pity that defence personnel who had retired in the past and were drawing less basic pay draw less pension today. A few years back, one rank, one pension was a live issue, now it seems the issue has taken a back seat. After spending the major part of their life in healthy defence environments, it is indeed very difficult for soldiers to make do with a meagre pension. So instead of dithering over the issue, the government should accept the genuine demand at the earliest.


It’s a small demand

The demand for one rank, one pension looks minor in front of the task that the defence personnel are asked to perform. For the Indian defence personnel, their duty, nation and dignity come first. If they spend so many years guarding the frontiers against the enemy, then the government should also serve them and their families equally after retirement. There should be no discrimination on the basis of rank for awarding pension to our former soldiers.


Revamp pension system

Our defence personnel epitomise valour and gallantry. The nation salutes their magnanimous and selfless service. However, in utter disregard of the services rendered by them, the privileges offered to ex-servicemen are not satisfactory.

The pension scheme that lays the condition of 33 years of service to earn full pension is a limiting factor in the well being of the brave men. There is a need to revamp the pension system, and thus the demand for one rank, one pension is genuine.

The Supreme Court approved the need a few years back, but the decision was overshadowed by political reluctance. The issue is unresolved till date. The most effected by this fragmented pension system are the low-rankers, who retire early and are robbed of any benefit. The need of the hour is to re-examine the issue and implement the one rank, one pension demand.


Pension hike for Sepoy is must

A Sepoy after rendering minimum service of 15 years in the Army gets a meagre pension of Rs 1,912, whereas a leader after getting elected to the Assembly gets a handsome pension of Rs 10, 000 per month. So, one can well imagine how difficult it is for the Sepoy and his family to survive on a meagre pension. We all are aware of the plight of defence personnel who generally perform duty in inhospitable terrain and climate. If the nation wants to ameliorate their condition, the pension of the rank of Sepoy should not be less than Rs 5,000.


Leaders are liars

The long-pending issue of one rank, one pension has been lying in cold store for over two decades. More than once, its acceptance has been announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort. However, some sworn enemies of defence fraternity came in the way of its implementation. Former Defence Minister Mr George Fernandes too had said in Anandpur Sahib that that the demand for one rank, one pension had been accepted and would be implemented in a few days. It seems that all politicians are liars, if not then why are they reluctant to accept this most fair and genuine demand?


Implement panel’s suggestions

Scarifies made by our forces need no mention. The one rank, one pension issue was raised in early 80s, when the differences between the old and new pensioners became wide.

The non-acceptance of this just demand is not the only injustice done to ex-servicemen but many more. The government is trying to do justice to the people born with natural disabilities, but what about those ex-servicemen who had been disabled while serving the country? Today, the country has over 2 lakh disabled ex-servicemen who are living without any pension or perk. When soldiers are disabled during service, the defence authorities recommend their discharge with disability pension. But the final sanctioning authority CDA (PO) often rejects the recommendation by saying that the disease or disability is not attributable to military service.

Not only this, the disability element paid to pre- and post-1996 retirees has huge anomilities. While the pre-1996 retirees are getting Rs 310 along with DA, the post-1996 retirees are getting Rs 775 along with DA. So, it is the need of the hour to solve the problems of ex-servicemen who are facing hardships daily. The government should implement the defence panel’s suggestions at the earliest.

ex-LEM (P) Navy,


An Armyman retired after 2000 gets three times the pension of his colleague who retired before 1980, whereas the price index remains the some for both. Why this discrimination? Was the former a lesser soldier?

The government says its coffers are empty; perhaps, none of ministers’ son ever joined the Army or underwent the rigours of serving in Siachen and Kargil. A mother feeds her child only when he cries. But this child in uniform cannot even cry since that would be a breach of discipline, the highest crime in military. He may ignore hunger, but his stomach won’t.

“Soldiers don’t fight empty stomach,” said Gen Napoleon Bonaparte two centuries ago. Today’s soldier wants his stomach full even after his retirement, insurance cover till death, irrespective of rank, and reservation for wards in professional institutions. There should be weightage in pension for various retired categories, specially the lower ranks, who retire early. These are the defence panel’s suggestions waiting implementation since long. Don’t soldiers deserve this after sacrificing their youth today for nation’s happy tomorrow?


Govt should accept the just demand

The government should have no hitch in meeting the long-standing genuine demand of defence personnel who defend the borders of the country, serve in hostile conditions and bear innumerable hardships at the cost of their lives, so that we live securely. The real tragedy is that they are treated well when they are in service but the moment they retire, they are conveniently forgotten. Lip service is paid and promises are made but nothing concrete is done to alleviate their lot.

By granting one rank, one pension to the defence personnel, the government can surely assuage their hurt feelings and apply balm on their bruised psyche. This will restore parity and remove anomaly, putting an end to their grouse and grievance for good. Nothing is greater than the supreme and selfless sacrifices made by our warriors. Their legitimate demand should be accepted at the earliest to remove the charge of “step-motherly treatment” meted out to our ex-servicemen. To them, the service of nation always comes first. So, we should be proud of them and express our profound gratitude to them by implementing the long-pending demand.



The Supreme Court had adjudged more than three decades ago that one rank, one pension for defence personnel was a legitimate need. Since then no attempt has been made by any government at the Centre to meet the just demand. It is a first requirement and it should not be demanded or begged. The present government should make provision in the forthcoming Budget without dilly-dallying.

The officials of the ex-servicemen league should also pursue the matter with the Defence Minister and the Prime Minister to meet the requirement of those defence personnel who have sacrificed their yesterday for the better tomorrow of their fellow countrymen.

Mullanpur (Ludhiana)


The most important factor behind the demand of one rank, one pension is economic. Ex-servicemen are getting pension at the old rate, whereas the inflation has shot up many times. And the cost of living too adversely affects both the serving as well as pre-1996 retirees. Therefore, the government should accept this genuine demand to boost the morale of defence services.


Address the prevalent anomalies

Pension is a periodic payment made by the state to a person upon completing a specified length of service or attaining the age of superannuation. The demand of one rank, one pension is just, as it is the right of defence personnel to earn it after devoting prime years of their life in safeguarding the nation.

Everyone in the three forces contributes and draws salary according to his rank. However, the limited scope for promotion leads to stagnation, compelling many rankers to seek discharge upon the completion of pensionable years.

As the calculation of pension is based on the formula “last basic pay drawn”, it tends to be varying even within the same rank. The demand for one rank, one pension goes against the interest of a majority of personnel who stagnate while is service, as juniors in the same rank will also receive the same pension. Despite rising inflation rates, the government has not acceded to this genuine demand.

If the government wishes to implement this policy, it should first address the prevalent anomalies in the promotion system of the forces. Reduced stagnation in the ranks may pave the way for “one rank, one pension”.



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