Monday, October 7, 2013

Armed forces oppose government's separate pay commission - Jugal R Purohit

In a development which has left the government red-faced and tongue-tied, the announcement of the Seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC) has directly pitted the armed forces against the Prime Minister. On the day PM approved the formation of the 7th CPC, it was hit by a guided missile by the armed forces, represented by from none less than the Air Chief NAK Browne, the Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee (COSC). This has left the Government red-faced and tongue-tied. It all began with a directive by the Prime Minister, issued on December 27, 2008 which stated that, "In future, pay revision of the armed forces should be de-linked from that of civilians and separate board or commission should be set up for pay revision of the armed forces. "Along with that, the PM had also announced the formation of a High Powered Committee to 'resolve issues relating to command and control functions/status of armed forces vis a vis paramilitary and civilians, something which still hasn't taken place, as per the letter. Standing up, in complete contradiction to that, on September 13, 2013, Air Chief NAK Browne, representing not just the air force but also the army and the navy, requested Defence Minister AK Antony's 'active support and consideration' to 'press for the justified demand of the services' and sought 'representation in pay commission'.
The three page letter, significantly titled, 'Common VII Central Pay Commission', revisited the past when the armed forces emoluments were revised not by a common pay commission but by departmental committees.  ACM Browne mentioned, "Analysis of the experience of departmental committees vis a vis central pay commissions indicates that a separate pay commission may not necessarily benefit the services as anomalies are invariably bound to arise in both cases." Air Chief went on to say that it was the non-resolution of anomalies or ex parte resolution of anomalies which was the cause for dissatisfaction, leading the government to infer that the armed forces should have a separate pay commission. In the fifth paragraph of his letter, the Air Chief admitted, "central pay commissions to a large extent have been judicious and fair in their dispensation towards armed forces".  How stung the government is can be gauged by the fact that prior to this revelation, within the MoD, the move of creating a separate military pay commission was being seen as a 'historic one' to rectify the problems flagged by the armed forces.
Speaking to this correspondent, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) official aware of the case said, "Armed forces were being ceremoniously duped and what the Air Chief has said makes sense so that his men get a better share of the pay commission pie."In fact, the current stand off is reminiscent of the face-off between the government and the armed forces during the Sixth CPC.
  • Three services had already created special cells and trained their manpower to join the seventh CPC.
  • Armed Forces conducted a study at the College of Defence Management (CDM), Securdarabad which involved the rank and file of the three services, to understand whether the armed forces wanted to be a part of the central pay commission or not. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of the former PM announced today that the 7th CPC will be effective from 1/1/16 and a two-year window has been given to formalize the recommendations of the same.
 The name of the chairperson and its terms of reference are yet to be finalised.

Decision a big jolt to the Armed forces especially the ESMs/Veterans
Comments by Veteran Maj Gen (Retd) PK Renjen, AVSM
Although it now appears that with the Chiefs opposed to a separate Military Pay Commission we are doomed to continue with the same discrimination, systemic down gradation, denial of perks - privileges granted to Gp A Services etc, I would like to put across some thoughts on why this decision by the Chiefs is not in our interest.
The PM's announcement in Dec 2008 came about in response to IESM's protests, specific demands for a separate Military Pay Commission (one of our four main demands) and meetings with the PM, RM and other politicians to put across our grievances and demands. By the Chiefs' current stance they have undone what little IESM had then achieved.
In case they had felt that a separate MPC was not desirable, they should have come out with their views immediately after the PM's announcement in the Parliament in Dec 2008. They should at least have discussed with IESM and other veteran Orgs to know their views and reasons for demanding a separate MPC before assuming that they were the best judges of what is good for the veterans. They did not bother to interact - whether due to work pressure, indifference or considering ESMs and their issues as avoidable nuisance, I dont know - but they went ahead to inform the PM of their decision. They forgot that while they are the masters of a million plus serving soldiers' welfare and destinies, they are also expected to look after the welfare of 2.5 million ESM and widows. Regrettably their actions till date, or those of their predecessors, as far as pay, pensions, terms of service and cadre management are concerned, have not inspired confidence at least in the ESM fraternity. Had they been more vigilant, more knowledgeable about such matters or prepared their staff to better understand the nuances of pay and status issues or more steadfast and persevering in their objections and demand for remedying the anomalies, the services would not have been suffering the humiliation and ignominy at the hands of the bureaucrats that it is suffering today. 
Let us accept that we as a force do not have the knowledge, understanding or even patience to understand complex issues, regulations and rules related to pay & pensions nor do we have the guile to counter the many tricks played by the bureaucrats against the Armed Forces. 
Our so called experts (with half baked knowledge) who might join the 7th CPC will be easily overwhelmed by precedents, rules and statistics bandied freely by the bureaucrats within the CPC. Even assuming the best case for us (fully prepared experts ready to stand up to the antics of bureaucrats), within the 7th CPC, we can at best hope for parity with the civs. If that is our goal then we should stop dreaming about restoration of our status, treatment as a distinctly different entity due to our unique and extremely difficult service conditions, adequate compensation for such hazardous conditions which not only adversely affect the soldier - health, life span, financial stability etc - but also very seriously undermine the growth of his children, development of familial bonds, conjugal happiness, marriage itself and multifarious other family issues. The adverse effects permeate through the family and for long. 
The Chiefs need to understand that parity with civs can never be adequate compensation for the soldiers' sacrifices. We are different and deserve to be treated differently and better than the bureaucrats. We have to get back our status and pay cum pension edge over the bureaucrats which we had always enjoyed before we were brought under system of CPCs that undid every advantage that we had traditionally enjoyed (3rd CPC in 1973 was the first for us). 
There are many options to overcome the fear and apprehension that by having a separate MPC we might not know what the civs are getting and could miss out on those benefits. But, more importantly the MPC would have examined our status de-novo and treated us as an entity distinct from the civs, deserving of special additional benefits. Even if we did not get everything that we should have in the first MPC, a start would have been made, some incremental benefits would be granted over and above the civs, discussions recorded for future improvements, desirable targets identified and recorded etc. Hopefully in the 2nd MPC we would achieve what we deserve and want.
By accepting to be a part of the 7th CPC the Chiefs have in effect agreed to their reduced status and privileges in perpetuity and are now only begging for parity. Then, what has all the hullaballoo about the status been till now - umpteen letters written by different Chiefs to the Govt, interviews, talks, articles in the media expressing anguish on the subject.
Chiefs need to remember that our ultimate aim has to be much improved (if not fully restored) status which is closer to the traditional. Status automatically brings with it pay, pension and perks.
Maj Gen (Retd) PK Renjen, AVSM      

1 comment:

  1. Gen Renjen in my opinion is absolutely right. I can't fathom what is in the minds of Service chiefs who seem to have opted out of a Separate Pay commission for the Armed forces. By going with the CPC, we are denying ourselves a chance to improve our status which has been eroded through successive pay commissions. I repeat what Gen Renjen has in no uncertain words expressed.
    " our Ultimate aim has to be much improved ( if not fully restored ) Status, which is closer to the traditional. Status automatically brings with it pay, pensions and perks ".

    The earlier we understand this better it is for us.
(Source- India of my dreams blog)

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