After Rahul Gandhi's push, the govt accepted the long-standing demand of ex-servicemen for 'one-rank, one-pension' and allocated Rs 500 crore for the fund, a decision that is expected to benefit around 30 lakh retired personnel of the Armed forces.
However, the armed forces were not sure whether the amount would be sufficient to fully implement the scheme that will come into effect from 2014-15 as they feel the requirement would be nearly five times the amount. Finance Minister P Chidambaram, while presenting the Vote-on-Account in the Lok Sabha on Monday, said, "I am happy to announce that the government has accepted the principle of 'one-rank, one-pension' for the Defence forces. This decision will be implemented prospectively from the financial year 2014-15."
The requirement for 2014-15 is estimated at Rs 500 crore and "as an earnest of the UPA government's commitment, I propose to transfer a sum of Rs 500 crore to the Defence Pension Account in the current financial year itself." The announcement, which is likely to benefit around 3 million defence pensioners, comes days after Rahul Gandhi assured a delegation of ex-servicemen that he supported their demand and would do "all that I can to see that your demands are met".
Chidambaram said the two UPA governments had made changes in the pension rules for defence services on three occasions but some gaps remained in the ranks of 'Sepoy' and 'Naik' among non-officers and 'Major' and above among officers. "We need a young fighting force, we need young jawans and we need young officers. We also need to take care of those who served in the defence forces only for a limited numbers of years. The Government has therefore decided to walk the last mile and closed the gap for all retirees in all ranks," he announced.
Rahul hailed as historic the decision on the 'one-rank, one-pension' demand.