Military & Aerospace

Depriving Armed Forces to Reduce Defence Budget: Why blame the CDS for following precedent of Idiosyncratic Decision Syndrome?
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 30 Nov , 2020


A former colleague of mine said recently, “The CDS has very good ideas. But he is not able to sell them properly.” Perhaps, that it is the difference between battles lost or won – a commander unable to “sell” his idea to his subordinates and troops. However, whether the decisions have the primary aim of significantly reducing the Defence Budget is open in this write up [which is a historical list of “good ideas that didn’t sell properly” have caused avoidable co-morbidities of demoralisation and “how do we return this Product?”

The 3rd CPC Report of 1974 in Vol III, Chapter 50, Paras 27 onwards states, inter alia, “We now deal with those groups of Service officers who have been provided with special scales of pay for certain reasons. The special groups can be divided into three broad categories – officers of (i) the flying branches of the Air Force and the Navy (ii) AMC/ADC/RVC and (iii) MNS… 

In Para 29, the 3rd CPC stated, inter alia, “The starting salary of the Pilot Officer (equivalent to 2nd Lt in the Army) is Rs 75 more than the standard rate for the rank. This lead in the pay is retained in the next rank of Flying Officer, but for the higher ranks, the pay scales conform to the standard Service scales ….except that the officers of the Flying Branch reach the prescribed stages of pay earlier than others. Thus, the maximum pay in the ranks of Flying Officer, Flight Lieutenant, Squadron Leader and Wing Commander is attainable earlier …..because it is considered to be in the Service interest to advance them to the senior ranks at a relatively younger age….”

In Para 31, it was stated, “We feel that a differential in pay in favour of officers of the Flying Branch should be continued considering the special reasons involved viz. the exceptional risks and demands of their work and the need for attracting persons of the requisite calibre to operational flying;…. “On the same basis we recommend the following scales for officers of the Naval Aviation Branch up to the rank of Commander …” 

Consequently, very junior officers (Plt Offrs and Fg Offrs) of the Flying Branch and (Sub Lts and Lts) of Naval Aviators branches (approx 400 newly commissioned officers & and an equal amount promoted to Lt/Lt (IN)/Fg Offr per year from 1963 to 1969 and 200 newly commissioned officers per year from 1970 to 1986 when the rank of 2nd Lt and equivalent was abolished) earned as follows

Rank Prior to 3rd CPC (upto 1.1.1973) In 3rd CPC (1.1.1974 to 31.12.1985)
  All others Flying and Naval Aviators branches All others Flying and Naval Aviators branches
2nd Lt/Sub Lt/Plt Offr 400 475 750 800
Lt/Lt (IN)/Fg Offr 450 535 800 900

It would be interesting to remember that the starting salary recommended by 3rd CPC and approved by Govt for Group A including IAS was Rs 700 (Paras 8.52 to 8.57, Vol II, 4th CPC Report).

However, Idiosyncratic Decision Syndrome appears to have intervened for the  4th CPC’s Report Vol IV, Chapter 28, states

Para 28.10 states, inter alia, “Officers in specialised cadres like Army Medical Corps (AMC) , Army Dental Corps (ADC), Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC), Flying Branch, Submarine Branch and Military Nursing Service (MNS) have a separate pay structure..

In ibid report, Para 28.11 it states, inter alia, the Services HQ “suggested that separate pay scales in respect of specialised cadres, flying branch in the case of Air Force and aviators and submariners in the case of Navy, may be dispensed with.”

How much did the Services/Defence Budget benefit from this “suggestion” for by 1986, there would have been only a few hundred officers of the ranks of Lts/ LT (IN)/Fg Offr in the Army Aviation Corps, Naval Aviators, Submarine, Flying Branches?           

Rank Pay Anomaly: – Prior to the 4th CPC, officers up to the rank of Brigadiers were paid Special Disturbance Allowance “… granted in the year 1950 as a temporary measure to improve the earnings of Service Officers without interfering with the pay scales introduced on the recommendations of the Post War Pay Committee. At the same time, many of the ICOs were being brought down from their War-time pay scales of pay to the new scales and the grant of this concession among others helped to afford some relief to these officers (Para 13, Chapter 50, Vol III of 3rd CPC Report).  However, 3rd CPC and earlier ensured that payment of Rs 45 as SDA did not impinge on the pay of Maj Gen and above (Para 19, 23, 25, Chapter 50, Vol III of 3rd CPC Report).

Services Pay Commission Cells appear to have lost the woods for the trees in that while removing the special groups’ pay scales (of a few hundreds by 1986), they missed the fact that with the introduction of Rank Pay the total emoluments of a Brigadier (Pay in the integrated scale of Rs 4950-5100 + Rank Pay Rs 1200 = Rs 6150-6300) would exceed the pay scale of hundreds of Maj Gens (Rs 5900-6700) & equivalents. Worse, that as soon as a Brig was promoted to rank of Maj Gen he would suffer a loss of pay!

The matter was rectified to a very limited extent in Air Vice Marshal S N Chaturvedi vs UoI ( in 1990. Finally, Maj A K Dhanapalan challenged the deduction of Rank Pay in 1996 and the dismissal of MoD’s Special Leave Petition in 2005 by the hon’ble Supreme Court opened the flood gates for litigation by several hundred similarly situated officers for the Apex Court to order in IA No. 9 of 2010 in Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 56 of 2007 on 04 Sep 2012 that the benefits may also be paid to thousands of officers of the ranks of Captains to Brigadiers. MoD issued orders initiating correction in 24 Jul 2014. 

Differential in Flying Pay 

In 1997, another Idiosyncratic Decision reared its head in the proposal for higher Flying Pay for Fighter Pilots mooted, reportedly by then Chairman COSC & CAS. One would remember that Flying Bounty was introduced in 1948 as an incentive for people join as aircrew and also acknowledged the higher risks entailed in military aviation.

The Fifth Central Pay Commission (5th CPC) recorded in its Report as follows:-

“Flying Pay

150.2 Flying pay is granted to officers of the Flying Branch and technical officers and airmen performing air crew duties in the Indian Air Force and equivalent personnel in the Army and Navy. Flying Pay was earlier called Flying Bounty, and was introduced in 1948 to serve as an incentive to persons of the right calibre to join the flying branch for undertaking military flying with its attendant risks.”

However, it is reported that, on the insistence of the then Chairman COSC & CAS, the 5th CPC recommended differential rates as follows for different types of aircrew.

150.7 ……..We have taken cognisance of the high degree of risk involved in fighter flying and the tremendous pressure on the pilot who has to operate with a high degree of motivation and precision and are convinced that fighter flying deserves a higher compensation.

150.8 Keeping all the above aspects in view, we propose to keep a distinction between fighter pilots and other flying personnel. We therefore recommend that the existing Flying Pay may be renamed as “Flying Allowance” and be enhanced in the following manner (Rs. per month): 

      1. Fighter pilots 3000/-
      2. Other pilots and technical officers – 2400/- upto the rank of Gp. Captain
      3. Airmen Aircrew 1800/-

Dissatisfaction in the Air Force must have compelled a re-think and the GoI/MoD issued the following letter regarding Flying Allowance vide No. 1(26)/97/XXI/D(Pay/Services) dated the 29th February, 2000: –

I am directed to refer to this Ministry’s letters No. 1(22)/97/D(Pay/Services) and 3(4)/97/D(Pay/Services) both dated 8.1.1998 and to state that the issue regarding certain anomalies arising from the implementation of revised pay scales and allowances consequent to the V CPC award has been considered in the light of the recommendations of a Committee specially constituted on the above subject and it has been decided that the following shall be a revised rates of Flying Allowance: – 

Flying Allowance                                                 Rate

Flying Officer & equivalent                                  Rs 4500 pm

Flight Lieutenant & equivalent                             Rs 5500pm

Squadron Leader & to Gp Capt equivalent        Rs 7000 pm

Air Commodore & equivalent & above              Rs 5250 pm

An aside: – Interestingly, the hon’ble Supreme Court, on 11 Jul 2018, upheld on that Submarine pay of Chief Petty Officers paid up to and including in the 3rd CPC dispensation must be counted as a part of Reckonable Emoluments to calculate pension. For more details please see Civil Appeal No. 10035 of 2010 available at: 

1986 and continuing 

The idiosyncrasy in the CPCs’ elucidations in  Para 2.3.12 of 6th CPC Report; Para 5.2.8, 5.2.22, 6.1.28 to 6.1.31 of 7th CPC Report why MSP should be limited to Brig and below has not been satisfactorily addressed by Services HQ. At the time of writing one AVM has successfully contested a case in the Armed Forces Tribunal and several Maj Gen & above have filed cases in the High Court of Punjab & Haryana.

Perhaps worries of an increase in the Defence Budget allocation for Pay are the reason. However, that does not seem to have worried Min of Fin/Other ministries who continue to pay NFU to an increasing number of officers (and pay last drawn including NFU counts towards pensions?) 

Canteen Services Department (CSD) Facilities

“Reduce the Defence Budget” idiosyncrasy appears to have started to reach feverish heights a couple of years ago when it was announced that a monetary limit would be imposed on groceries and one needs to register with a CSD canteen to avail reduced quota of “spirit of life” (perhaps rightly, smart card notwithstanding). Then came the restriction in purchase of new cars by means of a convoluted procedure that required approval by Army HQ, even though the individual would be making the payment.

All the while the Govt was crying itself hoarse that purchasing power needs to be increased so that the economy would improve and the GDP would come out of its depression (no pun intended). One may also factor in that profits of the CSD are paid into the Consolidated Fund of India and 50% is returned to MoD to be distributed as Grant in Aid to various URCs.

Income Tax on Disability Benefits of those who superannuated

Another idiosyncrasy of “Reduce the Defence Budget” appeared necessary (reportedly to remedy senior officers who forced medical authorities to place them in lower medical category and give benefit of disability benefits to them). So Services (who?) proposed to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBODT) to issue a circular (Unlucky No. 13 of 2019) taxing disability benefits of those patriotic (and nationalistic?) enough to continue to serve the Nation through the Services till superannuation instead of laughing all the way to the Bank by getting invalided out and escaping the tax net! The matter has been stayed by the hon’ble Supreme Court (

If the CDS felt there were some senior personnel took undue benefit of their positions to get disability benefits and superannuate, why not ask those “suspects” to undergo a medical examination during the next Life Certificate cycle and pursue means to rescind the disability benefits?

Why punish every one who survived with disability benefits to serve the Nation and Service till superannuation? Is this a fall back to NDA/IMA days when the course was punished when one Cadet/Gentleman Cadet bunked out?

Increasing retirement age Reducing Pension of personnel who leave Service prematurely

The decision appears to fit into the tradition of idiosyncrasies for the following reasons

(a) Just 16 years ago, the Army, based on a concept paper by Lt Gen Bagga persuaded the MoD to convene the Ajay Vikram Singh Committee (AVSC) and obtained Government of India (GoI) approval in 2005 for a younger Army/Armed Forces by accelerated promotions so as to have younger Armed Forces.

(b) Now, by curtailing the pension of those whose prospects of promotions have receded and have been prevented from proceeding on PMR are compelled to continue to serve till they serve 35 years or superannuate.

(c) But Services HQ are either not willing to take up the dormant (or is it already dead?) proposal of lateral placement in Para military forces proposed by the 5th, 6th and 7th CPC,

Surely the hierarchy under the CDS is aware that

(i) With AVSC, officers up to the rank of Lt Col and equivalent are promoted on a time scale basis.

(ii) Having served a few years in the rank of Lt Col and equivalent, officers by then are just about 34 to 38 years of age (depending on the Arms/Service/Branch), they are looking for promotion/career advancement and not wish to be promoted to the rank of Col (TS) and equivalent.

(iii) Discouraging Lt Cols and equivalents from seeking Premature Retirement (PMR) (due to inability of the “System” to provide adequate promotion avenues or lateral placements in other Govt organisations) by the disincentive of reduced rate of pension, older officers and Persons Below Officer Rank (PBOR) “will hang around,” with resultant disincentive and lowering of morale.

And to read that the proposals are being considered as welfare measures is just going downhill from the sublime to the ridiculous!(

While on the subject of increasing retirement ages as a means to “effect savings”(sic) one also needs to check the budgets of 1998 and 1999 to see how much of savings occurred when retirement ages were hiked up by two years.

From Ministry of Finance archives it is seen that the Defence pension budget for 1997-98 was originally projected to be Rs 4947 crore and the revised budget estimate for FY 1998-99 was shown to be Rs 5923 crore, an increase of Rs 976 crore. However, the Defence Pension budget almost doubled to Rs 10770 crore in FY 2000-1 when those whose service was extended by two years retired (

Just Asking – Is the responsibility of Savings on the Defence Services alone?

While the CDS is reportedly fixated on reducing the pay and pension burden on India’s Defence Budget, there appears to be another India that begs the question – How much of the Union of India’s Budget on pay and pensions has been saved/reduced by granting Non-Functional (Financial) Up gradation to thousands in the BSF, CRPF and 58 Group ‘A’ Organised Services up to the Higher Administrative Grade (HAG)?

In conclusion

Finally, why doesn’t the CDS, who has the ears of the Executive,

(a) Seek separation/compartments in the Defence Budget as follows: –

(i) Part I – just for modernisation

(ii) Part II – Pensions of Armed Forces Veterans and Family pensioners and

(iii) Part III – Defence Civilians pensioners of Ordnance Factories, DRDO, MES, Army Ordnance Corps, Army Supply Corps, Naval Dockyard, Base Repair Depots, Equipment Depots, and Army Base Workshops etc and their family pensioners?

(b) Or merge Defence Pension budgets with the pensions of Civilians under the Ministry of Finance’s Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO)? As it is the Defence Accounts Department (DAD), which included the CGDA is paid from the MoF budget. (’s-defence-manpower-04820).

Railways, Telecommunications etc, whose pensioners are not provided services by CPAO may be because the Railways and Telecom earn profits. Similarly, Deptt of Defence Production under the MoD may have its set of pensioners from Ordnance Factories, DRDO, MES, Army Ordnance Corps, Army Supply Corps, Naval Dockyard, Base Repair Depots, Equipment Depots, and Army Base Workshops.

Finally, Civilians and Defence Pay and Pensions improvements are in the remit/ToR of a common Central Pay Commission. MoF mandates (as per RTI disclosures) that proposals for changes in Pay and Allowances of Defence Forces have to be vetted by MoD/Fin, a Deptt of DAD paid pensions by MoF, before being approved by the Ministry of Finance! 


3rd Central Pay Commission (CPC) Report Vol III – Armed Forces:

4th CPC Report Chapter 28

4th CPC Report both Part I for Pay & Allowances and Part II for Pensions and NE Benefits

Interlocutory Application No. 9 of 2010 in Transfer Petition No. 56 of 2007 ( ).

MoD letter dated 24 Jul 2014 for action after above judgment

Flying Pay – 5th CPC

Pages 67 & 68

Core Concerns – 7th CPC

CSD Profits – CAG Report

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15 thoughts on “Depriving Armed Forces to Reduce Defence Budget: Why blame the CDS for following precedent of Idiosyncratic Decision Syndrome?

  1. Dear Air Mshl SY Savur,
    One of the best article read by me till date. Absolute clarity, I did not stop even for a second. Sir you have covered all essential parameters, leaving no doubts for asking any question at first instant. Yes some doubts may come up latter, but that will not be serious. With present scenario infact it covers all aspects.
    Excellent sir, hope to read similar articles from you in future.
    Air Cmde LS Ruprai (Retd)

  2. The Govt has to revise their political objectives and rethink on the necessity of having such a big force of regular and para mil and few more performing behind the scenes . If this is not possible then we can not punish the men who joined the services on certain conditions and promises . We have to bear the brunt of expenditure and find ways and means to increase the defence Budget outlay by cutting from other capital budgeting by lowering the priorities in their sector . Any austerity measures resorted in the defence sector has to be across the board including civilian being paid out of defence Budget . Para mil forces should also not be an exception. We have to think on cutting down the size of Babu strength and their salaries and pensions including those of political clan . Political leadership have to dispense their self styled ambitions to go into the history of the nation for some time till we come out of economic recession . Govt should take austerity measures in their expenditure which is not apparent . They have to ask themselves that at this juncture is it proper to spend Rs 30000/- cr on new parliament when the old building is fulfilling the need. I have hardly seen the seats fully occupied during sessions in progress except when there is a whip to attend the session . This is one example to search our soul and there are many more including superfluous celebration expdtre . We have to be realistic and recognise that India is not a rich nation when poverty is on rampant in the country Progress of the nation is getting nullified by explosion of population . CDS should give serious thought before giving short sighted proposals . We have to keep the morale of tps high at any cost to deliver of our sole objective of success in any situation This includes veterans too because today’s serving soldier is tomorrow’s vetran . Let us not do the damage to our disciplined and dedicated force lest we repent later

  3. SAVUR SIR 🙏🙏🙏🏅🏅🏅🥂🥂🥂
    NEVERTHELESS, FOR THOSE OPPOSING CDS without suggesting Better
    ENTIRE VIEW IS lopsided ie. BASED ON MAN (Human) being (conceptually) a Sinner, a Social ANIMAL, an Economic ANIMAL, a Political ANIMAL, a Need-Fulfilling ANIMAL, a Tool-Making ANIMAL, a Rational ANIMAL – missing the really-real-reality ie. Spiritual Soul- embodied Self / Atma ie. POTENTIALLY DIVINE taking to work-life / joining ORGANIZATION that affords maximum OPPORTUNITY to manifest one’s Divinity WITHIN . Can life elsewhere AFFORD as much as ARMED FORCES DO / CAN EVEN MORE . Do OUR Armed Forces NEED persons with INNER-MENTAL-MAKE of say Fishermen taking to Sea / Life in fishing boats for Bigger Catch ??? DON’T WE NEED more of (element) AKAASHA predominant PURUSHAS vis-a-vis PRITHVI predominant PURUSHAS to come on board say ‘MEN OF WAR’ be / remain PART OF ARMEDA for keep sailing across the SEA OF LIFE ???
    SURELY IT IS CULTURES in vogue esp. post-indep WHICH HAVE BROUGHT THE NATION TO ITS CURRENT STATE where Paid kids Take to Throw Stones At the very Army Men safeguardin the State ; a city goon can Bark at the SERVING COAS & call him ….. & so called ldrs sitting in OPPN can blatantly SUPPORT .
    JUST AS disgusting-disabling WORK-CULTURES of the post indep RULING MENTALITY / DYNASTY cultured CITIZENRY ; so is current ‘Seva Parmo Dharma’ spirit culturing ORGANIZATIONAL / NATIONAL WORK CULTURES .
    FAITH-3 IS NEEDED & transforming BLIND / SHALLOW FAITHS . WE R BLESSED TO HAVE A PERS LIKE CDS having proved his worth / daring to Tackle the Problems like H.E. P.M. preferring to UPROOT the Klish-Trees vis-a-vis Keep Pruning / FELLING BRANCHES / STEM letting the ROOT remain intact .
    LET US be part of HIS TEAM suggest something Better to wriggle out of the messes created here, there & elsewhere .
    COL (PROF) RAMESH SEHGAL, Author of ‘Work, Work-Culture & its Dimensions’ Mob WA 8728809765

  4. Very well analyzed Sharad. Perhaps a relevant issue is also that the 3rd CPC reduced the pension of armed forces from 75% of last pay drawn to 50% while increasing the pension of other government servants to 50% from the earlier 33%. At the same time, I understand that for full pension, one had to serve for an odd figure of 33 years. Below this service, one got pro-rata pension. How they reached this magical figure of 33 years confounded many. I guess it was put in keeping the retirement age for all civilians at 58 with an average entry age of 25. This hurt the PBORs most whose term of engagement was generally 15 years unless promoted to an appropriate higher rank and a willingness to serve additional years. In effect, the double whammy for PBORs was that first they dropped to 50% of last pay as pension and then got about 40% of the reduced pension for having served just 15 years i. e. just 20% against the previous 75%. After all, one doesn’t even want an older person as an actual war fighter in combat. Amazingly, the 3CPC was a reward, idiosyncratic?, for the 1971 war. We all need to speak out against such injustice.

  5. Nicely analysed.3rd4th gen are not sending children to army is trying to recruit people From bussiness background so as salary is not a issue.. technology advancements require more qualified all’arms.more qualified people look for less demanding professions with better opportunities even when not superceeded.making retirement after 20 years for disabled to continue.however for others it May be increased to 30 years.pmr problems will reduce


  6. To bring out these points in official meetings or interactions requires courage. Can the upper echelon of the Services make some of the numerous Defence Colleges study these issues and publish them. Commanders need to be able to take on such queries from subordinates gracefully. But again that is possible only when the superior commanders are addressing them with the civil government. Again any action on this angle will jeopardize their progress. So it’s nice to see such enlightened articles but it is of no use unless it is written in a national daily….or is taken up officially by serving military brass on every possible occasion.

    • Sir
      Exactly the point.
      The distorted proportion of civilian pension included in the defense pension budget is further compounded by the fact that there are more defense pensioners but their pension bill is lesser than their civilian pensioners paid of the defense estimates.
      This is being repeatedly brushed under the carpet and short sighted low hanging fruit of lopping the serving people is sought bcoz they can’t unionize or their protests can be subdued by a simple line , you are volunteers who didn’t join to make money.

  7. A spineless, shameful and blot on noble profession. A totally incapable CDS and COAS earlier. He is a chaprasi in the Govt, no one cares for his views. He is hardly a single point adviser to PM or the Cabinet. Pity Armed Forces and my India. He may be going as Governor, Ambassador or join Rajya sabha like Ex Chief Justice, Gogoi. All Independent Institutions are compromised today. Time will pass. Hope we have more Sams in future rather than lickers. Regards. With malice to none.

    • Truly, agree with you respected Brig. CDS and his ideas, him being promoted as CDS, are an insult to the Armed Forces to atleast three greats the Military has had, Field Marshal Cariappa, Field Marshal Manekshaw and Air Field Marshal Arjan Singh, because of whose ideas this country won many wars. They earned their ranks not by merely licking the boots of the politically incorrect politicians who have nill practical knowledge of the Armed Forces and the hardship it faces in the line of their duties. Such unethical ideas of such crooks discredits many servicing discourages all those who see forces as their career option.

      Anyways, all credit goes to the writer for his through study and great interpretations of the facts.

  8. A good write up with relevant details & references. the major reason may be that the representation of Defence Services in the Pay Commission is still missing.
    Can we pressurise the Govt to cede to this requrement.

  9. Rank pay was taken out of basic pay. But in 6th CPC rankpay was removed without merging back into basic pay . Which is illegal deprivation big pay. MSP introduction was due to hardship faced & not compensation to Rank Pay as Babu’s propagate

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