Wednesday, August 26, 2015

OROP - is NaMo that foolish?

One Rank One Pension (OROP) has been taking media and political stage for a while in India. It was a sort of clarion call from Narendra Modi (NaMo) during last year's General Elections, where, he committed to OROP and confirmed its application, as the leading PM candidate.

However, its been more than a year - barring a few mentions of commitment towards OROP by PM Modi, Defence Minister Parrikar and a slew of other central ministers, there has been no public confirmation of any sorts which can placate the protesting ex-Armed forces personnel.

There have been many views and arguments on its financial implications and economic sense, especially the fiscal burden on the Central Govtt. Read an article, which said, for all the forces included, at best this could be in the range of INR 25,000 crores. And half of which is already addressed by plugging the LPG subsidy leakage. So 50% is already there, rest can easily be addressed by plugging many such subsidy leakages that the Modi govtt anyway intends to go after aggressively. This surely makes a strong case for its implementation.

Well, the other important aspects would be the long term fiscal effect and challenges that it will bring in, atleast for say next 5-10 years at a minimum and what happens after this demand is met (these protests are now making is like a big demand). How will other forces and govtt departments react to it? They are already rumoured to sit on the periphery and look at the current drama. This will likely snowball into a bigger problem and will be politically fanned as well. How does NaMo handle it?

Now on the current protests, there are reports that these are being politically managed. Knowing that is difficult to be practically implemented and NaMo having committed to it, all political parties are using it as a good canvas to paint their sympathy and empathy picture. Some reports also say that a sr. ex-army officer, close to the grand old party of India was parachuted to lead these protests by RaGa.

Knowing NaMo, he understands the political problems that it can bring in and also the possible political benefits he can reap, he wouldn't ideally let it go thus far. Based on back of the envelope estimates, this currently affects 25-30 million people and NaMo is too sensible a politician to ignore or not understand what does that mean.

My personal sense is that had there not been some serious internal tangles and / or issues with it, it would have been announced by now. Given the media fancy to get to the bottom of everything pertaining NaMo, even they have not been able to figure out the real problem in there. Even the protesting ex-servicemen, after multiple meetings, haven't disclosed anything so far.

There was a rumour that OROP might be announced by NaMo on his Independence Day speech. Which, ofcourse didn't happen. And pat came a tweet from the CM of Delhi - PM should announce OROP on Aug 15. Everyone wants to bake their bread while the flame is strong ;) And ofcourse, the brickbats are for NaMo anyway. And not to mention Congress and others, already playing political games, knowing very well that they have nothing to loose here. NaMo is sitting on a political hot potato, which will hurt him more than taking them far ;)

No one until now knows if it will implemented or not. Or by when it will be implemented. May be, what might be useful for NaMo would be to come out and address everyone on OROP and give a full clean statement on where it is and possibly its timeline for implementation. And most importantly, why its being delayed.

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