Has the military been given a raw deal on the pay front?
6Th Central Pay Commission (CPC) had, besides a few bureaucrats as part of the commission, approximately 125 officers drawn from various central services, (but none from the defence services) such as, postal service, Indian forest Service, police etc, on its staff to work out the nitty-gritty of the report. Predictably, these representatives from the central services, exerting pressure, did manage to extract their pound of flesh by way of Non Functional Up gradation, (NFU) besides a number of other perks.
… a babu may avail all the privileges that accrue to a senior citizen, the day after he retires. As against this, ninety nine percent in the military retire well before the age of 60 years.
NFU implies that, if the 1992 batch IAS officer climbs into the Joint Secretary grade in 2012, then every Group A central service officer of the 1990 batch would automatically get the pay and allowance equivalent to the 1992 batch IAS officers, irrespective of the post they may be occupying. This would happen at approximate service of 18/20 years. It also implies that every single central service officer will retire with the same pension as that of an additional secretary to the government of India.
Competency and performance would no more come into play for advancement is service with no limit to the higher level pay and allowances. Bureaucracy has obviously been on the rampage and this indeed is scandalous. When the retirement age for the babus was raised from 58 to 60 years, the age at which one became a senior citizen was also brought down from 65 years to 60 years, whereas all this while age expectancy has been going up in India. This was done so that a babu may avail all the privileges that accrue to a senior citizen, the day after he retires. As against this, ninety nine percent in the military retire well before the age of 60 years.
Non Functional Up-gradation ( NFU ) is applicable to all group A central services (over four dozen of them ) but not the military, because, it is argued, that military is not a central service. If that be so then how come there have been common CPCs, for the armed forces and group A central services. This exclusion of defence services from NFU, is not only a case of gross injustice, it has created a set of command and control, as well as functional problems for the military in dealing with, BRO, MEO, central police, ( in many sectors along the national borders, such units work under the control of the military ) etc.
This exclusion of armed forces personnel from NFU has also led to lowering the status of military officers vis-à-vis Group A central service officers. With over 97 per cent armed forces officers retiring in the Grade Pay of 8700, their exclusion from the NFU is seen as a deliberate and calculated attempt to grossly disadvantage and marginalize them. This differential disturbs financial parity and further lowers status of defence services officers. Even directly recruited officers of Group B services, attain better pay and promotional avenue and manage to reach the level of Joint Secretary/ maj-gen before retiring, where as less than one percent in the armed forces get up to that rank. Even if NFU is granted to the military, it will not, unlike the civil services, come into full play due to early retirement for the vast majority.
Army’s demand for grant of NFU is a mere reaction to the above noted development. Veterans returning their medals to the President is indication enough of their desperation.
It is a case of each to itself. When Legislators and Parliamentarians have cornered all manner of perks and privileges, higher judiciary could not be left behind and the IAS, IFS, IPS and allied services not only engineered proliferation of higher appointments but arranged ample re-employment avenues. Therefore, others, amongst the class A central services have sought bonanza in NFU. Administrative efficiency, country and its economy is the least concern of the powers that be.
Army’s demand for grant of NFU is a mere reaction to the above noted development. Veterans returning their medals to the President is indication enough of their desperation. Finally, PMO has appointed a committee of secretaries under the cabinet secretary to go into six of the 39 anomalies created by the 6ht CPC in relation to the armed forces.
A President, two PMs, two RMs and two Committees of Parliament, have in the past, unequivocally accepted the need for grant One Rank One Pension ( OROP ) and now this committee of secretaries has been tasked to pass judgment on this very issue! So this then is Indian democracy for you!
Committee of secretaries under the cabinet secretary in the past rejected the demand for OROP. All members of this committee will, on retirement, end up getting some or the other government job for another five to ten years, so how can they feel the pain of those who are retired at age 35/37 or for the vast majority of officers at age 54 years.
If this relentless and persistent discrimination against the defence forces and their periodic down gradation, were to continue, few bright young men would want to join the armed forces. When suitable young men shun military service during peace, the nation will inevitably find its troops badly led during war with predictable consequences for the country.