Defence Forces of the nation persistently wronged
Defence forces have been disadvantaged in a wide range of areas. Firstly they has been persistently wronged by successive Central Pay Commissions, (CPCs) While defence forces are the largest single group of government employees, there has never been a member from it on any of the CPCs: not even amongst150 odd staff assembled to work out the nitty-gritty of the recommendations and prepare the report.
From the years 2001 to 2004, 2000 army officers applied for release from service, which included 2 lt-Gens, 10 Maj-Gens, 84 brigadiers and the rest colonels and below. This is a glaring case of dissatisfaction in the service.
98 Percent of the defence personnel retire before the age of 60 years: age at which all central government employees retire. Soldiers retire between the ages of 36-38 years, with no assured second career, Age expectancy of civil employees (IARM report) is 77 years, for railway employees it is 78 years while that of army officers it is 67 years, Junior Commissioned officers, 72.5 years and in the case of soldiers it is 59.5 to 64 years. Increasing family commitments leading to financial worries after early retirement and consequently less pension takes it toll. Upto mid fifties, a brigadier drew more pension than a chief secretary of a state and soldiers and others 75 percent of the last pay drawn, as pension.
Truncated careers, extremely limited promotions, long separation from families, hard living conditions in uncongenial environments and tenures in high altitude, risk to life and limb and a hundred other travails, recognized the world over and termed as ‘X’ factor and fully compensated, is simply over looked by the Indian government. Taking the existing pay etc into account, and assuming there being no increase for the next two decades for everyone, a soldier retiring at age 36 years would get approximately Rs 37 lakhs less compared to his equivalent in the civil, by the time both reach the of 60 years: age at which a civil employees will retire. All central services officers have been granted, what is called Non Functional Upgradation (NFU) but the same has been denied to defence services officers and the plea is that defence services officers are not class A central services officers!
The condition of 33 years service to earn full pension works against only defence services personnel because majority of them are compulsorily retired much before completing that much length of service.
Long standing demand of One Rank One Pension be met without delay. This will to some extent compensate early retirement.
Military service has become so unattractive that few suitable candidates are coming forward to join the officer cadre and the same problem is prevalent in the case of soldiers. From the years 2001 to 2004, 2000 army officers applied for release from service, which included 2 lt-Gens, 10 Maj-Gens, 84 brigadiers and the rest colonels and below. This is a glaring case of dissatisfaction in the service. How many from the IAS, IPS etc ever opt to leave service!
Therefore to correct this alarming situation the following needs to be done.
a) Long standing demand of One Rank One Pension be met without delay. This will to some extent compensate early retirement.
b) A representative from the defence services be included in the 7th CPC board and minimum of 10 percent officers on the staff of CPC to prepare the report.
c) Non Functional Upgradation to be made applicable to defence services officers from 2006, as is applicable to civil services.
d) All anomalies of 4th to 6th CPCs would be expeditiously resolved.