Thursday, July 28, 2016

Who is more Capable : As a citizen I always see The Army being called to hold the Pants of The Civil Services and The Police and Never the Other Way round. We need a permanent solution to this tussle over emoluments so that the armed forces need only confront the enemies of the nation, says T.R.Ramaswami IAS.

In the continuing debate on pay scales for the armed forces, there has to be a serious and transparent effort to ensure that the country is not faced with an unnecessary civil-military confrontation.That effort will have to come from the netas, who are the real and true bosses of the armed forces and not the civil bureaucracy. A solution may lie in what follows. This country requires the best armed forces, the best police and the best civil service. In fact that is what the British ensured.. By best one means that a person chooses which service he wants as per his desires/capabilities and not based on the vast differential in prospects in the various services.

How much differential is there? 
Take Maharashtra, one of the most parsimonious with police ranks thus still retaining some merit - 
The 1981 IPS batch have become 3-star generals, the 1987 are 2-star and the 1994 1-star.

In the army the corresponding years are 1972, 1975, 1979. ie a differential of 10-15 years. While the differential is more with the IAS, the variance with the IPS is all the more glaring because both are uniformed services and the grades are "visible" on the shoulders.

First some general aspects. 

Only the armed forces are a real profession, i.e. where you rise to the top only by joining at the bottom. We have had professors of economics become Finance Secretaries or even Governors of RBI. We have any number of MBBSs,engineers, MBAs, in the police force though what their qualifications lend to their jobs is a moot point. 

You can join at any level in the civil service, except Cabinet Secretary. A civil servant can move from Animal Husbandry to Civil Aviation to Fertilisers to Steel to yes, unfortunately, even to Defence. 

But the army never asks for Brigade Commanders or a Commandant of the Army War College or even Director General Military Intelligence, even from RAW or IB. Army officers can and have moved into organizations like IB and RAW but it is never the other way round. MBBS and Law graduates are only in the Medical or JAG Corps and do nothing beyond their narrow areas. 

Every Army Chief - in any army - has risen from being a commander of a platoon to company to battalion to brigade to division to corps to army.In fact the professionalism is so intense that no non-armoured corps officer ever commands an armoured formation , first and possibly only exception in world military history is General K. Sunderji. 

Perhaps it is this outstanding professionalism that irks the civil services.

Next, one must note the rigidity and steep pyramid of the army's rank structure. 

In the civil services any post is fungible with any grade based on political expediency and the desires of the service. 

For example I know of one case where one department downgraded one post in another state and up-graded one in Mumbai just to enable someone continue in Mumbai after promotion!

You can't fool around like this in the armed forces. A very good Brigadier cannot be made a Major-General and continue as brigade commander. There has to be a clear vacancy for a Major General and even then there may be others better than him. Further the top five ranks in the army comprise only 10% of the officer strength. 

Contrast this with the civil services where entire batches become Joint Secretaries.

Even the meaning of the word "merit" is vastly different in the army and the civil services. 

Some years back an officer of the Maharashtra cadre claimed that he should be the Chief Secretary as he was first in the merit list.Which merit list? At the time of entry more than 35 years before! The fact is that this is how merit is decided in the IAS and IPS. Every time a batch gets promoted the inter-se merit is still retained as at the time of entry. In other words if you are first in a batch at the time of entry, then as long as you get promoted, you continue to remain first! 

This is like someone in the army claiming that he should become chief because he got the Sword of Honour at the IMA. Even a Param Vir Chakra does not count for promotion, assuming that you are still alive. In the armed forces, merit is a continuous process - each time a batch is promoted the merit list is redrawn according to your performance in all the previous assignments with additional weightage given not only to the last one but also to your suitability for the next one.Thus if you are a Brigade Commander and found fit to become a Major General, you may not get a division because others have been found better to head a division. That effectively puts an end to your promotion to Lt. General.

The compensation package must therefore address all the above issues. In each service, anyone must get the same total compensation by the time he reaches the 'mode rank' of his service. "Mode" is a statistical term it is the value where the maximum number of variables fall.

In the IAS normally everyone reaches Director and in the IPS it is DIG. 

In the army, given the aforementioned rank and grade rigidities and pyramidical structure, the mode rank cannot exceed Colonel. Thus a Colonel's gross career earnings (not salary scales alone) must be at par with that of a Director. 

But remember that a Colonel retires at 54, but every babu from peon to Secretary at 60 regardless of performance.Further, it takes 18-20 years to become a Colonel whereas in that time an IAS officer reaches the next higher grade of Joint Secretary, which is considered equal to a Major General.

These aspects and others - like postings in non-family stations - must be addressed while fixing the overall pay scales of Colonel and below. 

Thereafter a Brigadier will be made equal to a Joint Secretary, a Major-General to an Additional Secretary and a Lt. General to a Secretary. 

The Army Commanders deserve a new rank -Colonel General - and should be above a Secretary but below Cabinet Secretary. 

The equalization takes place at the level of Cabinet Secretary and Army Chief.
If this is financially a problem I have another solution. Without increasing the armed forces' scales, reduce the scales of the IAS and IPS till they too have 20% shortage. Done?

Even India 's corruption index will go down.

If the above is accepted in principle, there is a good case to review the number of posts above Colonel. Senior ranks in the armed forces have become devalued with more and more posts being created. But the same pruning exercise is necessary in the IAS and more so in the IPS, where Directors General in some states are re-writing police manuals eg one is doing Volume I and another Volume II!

Further the civil services have such facilities as "compulsory wait" ie basically a picnic at taxpayers cost. And if you are not promoted or posted where you don't want to go they seem able to take off on leave with much ease. 

In the army you will be court-martialled. Also find out how many are on study leave. The country cannot afford this.

Let not someone say that the IAS and IPS exams are tougher and hence the quality of the officers better. An exam at the age of 24 has to be tougher than one at the age of 16. 

The taxpaying citizen is not interested in your essay/note writing capabilities or whether you know Cleopatra's grandfather.

As a citizen I always see the army being called to hold the pants of the civil services and the police and never the other way round. That's enough proof as to who is really more capable. 

Also recall the insensitive statements made by the IG Meerut in the Aarushi case and the Home Secretary after the blasts. 

Further, when the IAS and IPS hopefuls are sleeping, eating and studying, their school mates, who have joined the army, stand vigil on the borders to make it possible for them to do so. 

Remember that the armed forces can only fight for above the table pay. They can never compete with the civil services and definitely not with the police for the under the table variety.

Finally, there is one supreme national necessity. The political class, not the bureaucracy - which represents the real civil supremacy better become more savvy on matters relating to the armed forces. Till then they are at the mercy of the civil service, who frequently play their own little war games. 

At ministerial level there are some very specialized departments eg Finance, Railways,Security (Home), Foreign and Defence, where split second decisions are necessary. It is always possible to find netas savvy in finance, foreign relations and railways. 

Security has been addressed in getting a former IPS officer as NSA at the level of a MoS. Is it time that a professional is also brought into the Defence Ministry as MoS? The sooner the better. 

In fact this will be better than a CoDS because the armed forces will have someone not constrained by the Army Act or Article 33 of the Constitution.Of course the loudest howls will come from the babus. The netas must realize that a divide and rule policy cannot work where the country's security is concerned. Recall 1962?

Our army, already engaged in activities not core to their functions, including rescuing babies from borewells, should not have to engage in civil wars over their pay scales. 

I only hope our defence minister or anyone who would take a reasonable stand for defence forces ever gets to see this article.

It would definitely affect any person with an iota of integrity.....

(Source- Via e-mail from BHARAT BHUSHAN GHAI VET)


  1. If there is shortage in IAS and IPS service,then our Army officers should be posted.They will do a better job than these bluff masters.

  2. Sir, The British were not fools to grant highest status to Armed forces among all government services.They knew the "lower incentive will draw inferiors who will ensure second rate of security and in war there is no trophy for runners up. Having said that Indian masses are not fools, already lower grades have been accepted in the selections and the nation witnessed 571 deaths in a small theatre ops in Kargil much more than what we witnessed during major wars.The govt now needs to pay to higher rate of martyrs due to low quality in take in services.Then the have to reduce the cost to take care of next of kins and there will be further fall in quality which will eat up your economy against the per head efficiency of your solders.This vivacious cycle has already started as armed forces are placed below Police and subsequently we will be placed with security guards as the quality will drop sharply.The govt must use the tool of foreign policy to over come the dependency on Armed Forces and be friendly with neighbours.

  3. Sir many many thanks for showing the clear and right path for the honour and dignity of defence forces. I wish the netas of this country understand it and act accordingly without taking any reversal step. THANKS.

  4. Armed forces are always remembered when people are out of power. Little hope!

  5. Excellent briefing,I do wish some gut guy in govt reads this.Thanks sir.

  6. Dear Ramaswami, IAS
    Your views reflect the real picture on the subject. The actual problem is that Parl and Political leadership should sense the genuine rights and needs of the forces. The matters pertaining to pay, pension, allcs and welfare to be handled and decided by MoD only which must include reps from Armed Forces. Babus involvement in the matter should be restricted t
    o minimum.

  7. Mr. T R Ramaswamy, IAS, a big salute to you, Sir, for the in-depth article about the differentials in the service conditions between defense and civil service.
    I wonder if Mr. Ramaswamy is serving or a retired bureaucrat. A serving officer will not dare write an article of this nature because he would have to face the wrath of his colleagues ; if retired he does not have to care .
    Mr. Ramaswamy has brought out very clearly the drastically different and discriminatory service condition prevailing in the armed forces as compared to civil service. I would like to point out an insultingly glaring example in the rank structure between defense and IPS. The later dons rank insignia of Major immediately pos- training and that of Lt.Col just after six months ; it takes 8 years for a defense service officer to become major or equivalent in Air force and Navy and another half decade to become Lt.Col or equivalent.
    His opinion “In the continuing debate on pay scales for the armed forces, there has to be a serious and transparent effort to ensure that the country is not faced with an unnecessary civil-military confrontation” must be understood in the true sense of the hinted innuendo.
    God save the country and the Armed force (including veterans)
    Once again a Salute to you Ramaswamy, Sir
    Sukumaran Nair RV ( Air Force veteran)

    1. A similar article appeared in Sep 2011, it may interest you....see it at

  8. Following points need more deliberations to secure the interest and welfare of military as well as in general civilian personnel :-
    a) Combined Pay Commission :- Though an idea of separate pay commissions not only for defence but say for R&D , Engineering , Sports , Judiciary and so forth has been suggested but it is going to be hugely detrimental in times to come. IAS and its sister services with their proximity to power , drafting of rules and access to critical information will always contrive a sleight of hand / introduce surreptitious rules benefiting themselves. It is important to insist a single pay commission if necessary with larger bench and support where all information are captured at one place and a most scientific and holistic study attempted . In case we go separately, the babus soon will have butter and creams added and that too w/o rest of us knowing by inserting minor variations/ changes in service conditions, leading to accelerated career advancements surely coupled with pay & perks bonanzas .
    b) Comparisons / Merits :- Surely there should be a hierarchy among the various services which be clearly spelt out based on say entry challenges , educational levels , age of entry and the environment. Every person should have right to inter and intra migrate within these services with skill set and talent the only criteria.
    c) Pay and Perks :- Having established above two main conditions, the inter service relative pay difference can then be easily justified. Just to amplify two jobs compared apple to apple .. say between police/ CPAF and the military will then be considered for additional perks on account of i) Surrender of individual fundamental rights ii) Termination of service at young age iii) Boarding out due disability. This should be true for all type of jobs and risks from being a coal miner to scavenger job to Scientific job in Antartica.

    However the problem is who will listen to you and your transparency exercise which does not benefit the givers and power to be.

  9. karunakaran a ex havildarJuly 29, 2016 at 4:05 PM


    you have come out with truth in openness, very good , the babus and pseudo politicians are enjoying undue advantage of this unsuccessful democracy, if the situation of disrespecting the armed forces continue, some radical changes may take place . our breakaway neighbouring nations have witnessed military coup to curtail the anarchy on account of political leaders excess. still no ex army or in service army jawan wants the similar change over here

  10. An officer who has got the GUTS to accept openly the present status of the armed forces.He suggests ways and means to come over that.I doubt whether our COS will at least open their mouths in front of Defence Minister if not with the Prime minister.Thanks Mr.T.R Ramaswami.I.A.S

  11. Congress party stated degrading Arms forces and it is continuing, Modi has photo ops with Jawans and his FM Arun jaitley following congress for the same.

    1. Well said. People born in Congress regime can't think beyond that. Arun Jaitley is no exception.

  12. Sir, Please do a favour by sending a copy of this Article alongwith comments to each Member in Parliament Both Houses and there after tio each MP in Both Houses after general elections so that all MPs and Ministers are well versed with functioning of IAS, IPS & Armed defence Forces,. Thanks very much for highlighting plight of Armed Forces (excluding CAPF).

  13. Definetly it require high level

  14. Is there fear in mind of politicians and buearocrates of being hijacked by arms forces? So they are always ignoring their fair demand.

  15. Such well meaning articles with similar sincere advice to the ruling leadership have appeared in many blogs, newspapers and many other columns but all those have been duly shown the dustbin by the self serving bureaucracy but optimists have not given up is apparent from the above write up. Best wishes for your efforts......

  16. Yes, the main reason is the fear of the resultant defense supremacy which may cause transferring the reigns of the country in their hands. But, it's a fact that there is a need to eradicate these explained anomalies wisely.

  17. Yes, the main reason is the fear of the resultant defense supremacy which may cause transferring the reigns of the country in their hands. But, it's a fact that there is a need to eradicate these explained anomalies wisely.