New Delhi, Feb.17 ANI | 8 months ago

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that One Rank One Pension scheme will prove to be a historical step for the welfare of the soldiers, who defend the country by working in difficult conditions.

"It (One Rank One Pension) is a historical step. The soldiers posted in difficult terrains are defending our country by giving their blood and sweat. It is our responsibility to help them. I would like to thank the government, the prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The soldiers must feel that they have the government's support," he said.

Defense experts, however, expressed skepticism about the timing of the announcement. The scheme's announcement which comes a few months before the general elections is being seen as a bribe by many.

"It is a very good thing for our soldiers and JCOs (Junior Commissioned Officers) but the timing couldn't have been more wrong. Why did they (the government) sit on this issue for 10 years? They seem to be bribing the soldiers," said P N Hoon, a defense expert.

Another defense expert Bharat Verma attributed the announcement of One Rank One Pension as a result of competitive politics.

"This decision has been taken due to competitive politics. But I've heard that we don't have enough ammunition to sustain intense firing for 40 days. Our ammunition can only last for one and a half days. We don't have fighter planes and ground defense lacks in resources. The government must pay attention to that," he said.

Earlier on Mionday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram increased the defense allocation for new fiscal beginning April 1 by 10% to 2.24 trillion rupees from 2.03 trillion rupees for last fiscal.

He also announced "one-rank one pension" to ensure that retirees receive a pension to match the rank at which they retired regardless of when they leave the forces.

(Posted on 17-02-2014)

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