Thursday, September 21, 2017

SC refuses to stay AFT order on special perks for troops

Plan was only allowed for civilian staff
·         NFU entitles civilian officers to get the pay scale of the highest

·         promoted officer of their batch even if they are not promoted

·         The civilian officers, however, would get NFU two years after the promotion of their batchmate

·         The purpose of this scheme, unique to the Indian establishment, was to alleviate stagnation

·         Vijay Mohan
The Supreme Court has declined to stay the judgment of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) granting non-functional upgradation (NFU) to members of the armed forces on the same lines as it was granted to civilian Group-A services a few years ago.

The scheme was not extended to the armed forces and central armed police forces (CAPF), following which their officers sought judicial intervention. A serving Army officer, Col Mukul Dev, had moved the AFT contending that the armed forces fulfilled the criteria laid down for being considered in Group-A service. He averred that it had not only affected the morale of thousands of defence officers, but also lowered their stature vis-à-vis civilian officers while violating Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The AFT had, in December 2016, allowed Col Dev’s petition along with that filed by other officers. The Union Government moved the apex court against the judgment earlier this year and the matter had been pending over some technical issues. 
The Supreme Court’s Bench did not issue any notice to the parties today and fixed October 26 as the date for final arguments the petitioner’s counsel, Col Rajiv Manglik (retd), told The Tribune. “This can imply that there is now no bar on the government to grant NFU to the armed forces,” he added.

Representing the government, Solicitor General Ranjit Singh had sought a stay on the AFT judgment on the grounds that similar petitions concerning CAPFs were still pending. 


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Everything Is Free In Armed Forces. The Indian Soldiers Die For the Indian Citizens for Free

Did You Know Countrymen, Everything Is Free In Armed Forces. Your Freedom Is Absolutely Free of cost to you

The issue is regarding Insurance for Serving Military Personnel.
Presently the monthly insurance premium is Rs 5000 for officers and Rs 2500 for JCOs for a sum assured of 50 lakhs and 25 lakh respectively, which is deducted from their salary.

The Mkt Rate for 'Normal Life Insurance' (without covering War and other risks of war and terror operations) for a ANNUAL premium of RS 4000 for a sum assured of Rs 1 crore. The heavier premium paid by soldiers is about 220% higher than normal due to the additional war and terror risks.

Govt does not fund the Army Group Insurance Scheme at all and the soldiers not only risk their life for the Country but also pay in cash for taking such risks.

The salaries of the officers who are posted to HQ AGIF to manage these activities are again paid from corpus raised from the salaries and not by the Govt. (The money is refunded to CDA's by AGIF)

In other countries like the USA, every soldier is insured regardless of rank for a monthly premium of 27 dollars for sum assured of 4 lakh dollars. This is made possible by the Federal Govt Law by which the heavy premium is borne by the Federal govt.

In India, we virtually and effectively ask the soldiers to risk their lives and also pay for it too ..



Mera Bharat Mahaan 

Taming of The Bureaucracy - A Tectonic Change

Silently yet determinedly in the last two years, the shape of the steel frame has been getting moulded at the Government of India level. ‘How Bharatiya has been the Indian Bureaucracy,’ ever since the Modi government was formed.

My initial feeling was that the changes brought about are at best piece-meal. It persisted until I got first-hand taste of the silent yet titanic change a few days back when I saw the empanelment list for Additional Secretary of my batch officers in IAS. I was taken aback to know that out of about 102 officers of 1988 IAS batch, only about 40 figured in the said list. My surprise was over the radical weeding out of more than half of them. It was a radical shift from the past where about 90 percent of those who joined early could easily aspire to retire as Secretary to the Government of India. Not any more.

Changes unleashed at the top level bureaucracy, when the new regime took over at the Centre, were at a small level of ensuring office punctuality irrespective of rank, which graduated to keeping track of frequenting IAS officers to golf clubs in Delhi, to posting non-IAS officers to assignments held traditionally by IAS officers, to weed out the rotten eggs through the traditional mechanism of compulsory retirement in good numbers, and it climaxed at unheard performance based mid-term transfers at the level of Joint Secretaries. All these new changes were at best piece-meal, because they did not attempt to alter the fundamental character of Indian bureaucracy. As a result, I heard how reluctant were officers increasingly becoming in joining the government of India. They felt the changes will not affect those who stay back in states.

But the radical-most of all is what started two years back, and it affected each, irrespective of one’s placement in state or the Centre. The Government of India made a move to shortlist names of IAS officers for senior most empanelment based on what is known today as the 360-Degree Review. It is an out of box appraisal system to select, promote and even punish officials. It has changed the rules played hitherto in that each officer’s suitability to hold the senior-most post is judged not only by what his immediate seniors hold for him/her. He/she is judged today by what the juniors, peer group, or even social circles think of him/her besides his immediate superiors. This essentially reduces the reliance on annual confidential reports as the key basis for short-listing and empanelment. This, in turn, has a significant bearing on the final selection of a bureaucrat to a top job.
The striking fact about the radical most shift is that its mechanism is the least revealed to even those who are part of the system. Surprisingly, the names of three retired secretary–level officers is a tightly guarded state secret, not known to an ordinary senior officer.

As a result, over the past three years, this new system has slowly unhinged certain basic assumptions in a bureaucrat's zone of maneuverability-like lobbying the minister concerned for a job in his department, or even other top bureaucrats.

This is not to say that any of these methods has turned obsolete. But their effectiveness, or ‘rate of return’, has sharply dropped. While some of it has to do with the erosion of coalition era multiple power centres, the simple fact is that new rules have replaced old rules. It is feared that grounds are prepared that in few years from now, more than half of the Secretary's level post in the Government of India will be held by private sector experts.

360-Degree System

It’s said that so devoted is the prime minister to the 360-degree system that he doesn't even want himself to be exempted. He has reportedly chosen to drop names forwarded from his office if they don't pass the 360-degree test.

Three questions arise: What is this review? How is it done? And why is it so important to GoI?

A way had to be found to counter a decade of Congress rule in which the bureaucracy held sway, allowing for long-lasting loyalties to be cultivated across services and beyond retirement barriers. For new equations to be built, old ones had to be disrupted.

But how? After all, lines and rows of batches-cum-cadres seemed well sorted with a string of ‘outstanding’ reports and recommendations. There was no way that they would fail the existing evaluation and selection system, unless there was outright political high-handedness, which would have invited avoidable bureaucratic opprobrium.

Then there was the mandate against corruption. This provided the perfect setting for a systemic overhaul by a newly elected political leadership. This is also the reason why GoI could carry out more senior bureaucratic reshuffles than usual in the past three years.
It was in this context that the 360-degree system was put in place. What does it mean? Quite literally, like in many corporates, it amounts to conducting a holistic evaluation across talent, skills, social and personal parameters instead of simply looking at filework. In bureaucracy, this meant don’t go by confidential reports alone. GoI’s highest echelons were convinced that this system had been rigged, and that many officers were not making it to the shortlist because they had one ‘outstanding’ less than the other. Few important calls were made.

One, all eligible candidates, regardless of their average performance on their appraisals, will be considered for this assessment. Two, the minister’s recommendation of the post being filled will not override the outcome of the 360-degree process. And three, integrity will also be assessed by way of reputation, not just by a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) clearance.

A Tightly Held Secret

So how is the process conducted? The exercise is a tightly held secret conducted by three retired secretary-level officials. They have been appointed for a two-year period, subject to health considerations, and their identities are supposed to be classified.

This group is expected to work pretty much independently, sharing all the cadres among the three, collecting information from myriad sources in an unsuspecting, unassuming manner, figuring out the general reputation of the officer among subordinate staff, paint an overall perception picture on integrity, besides making any other relevant observations. At the same time this group wouldn't be made aware of the job an officer is being considered for. Now, whom they talk to, and whose views count is still more or less a grey area. But what we know is that this report is placed before a panel headed by the Cabinet secretary in case of secretary-level appointments, and the establishment officer, who heads the panel for joint secretaries. Both panels have PMO representations.

All other inputs, including intelligence reports and ministerial recommendations, are on the table. But the contents and conclusion of this report have a definitive bearing. The recommendation of this panel is largely final. In other words, the measure of perception and reputation has come to matter more, regardless of what appraisal reports say. And while that may give a second chance to many who have lost out in their careers for the wrong reasons, the system has also introduced new variables, including subjective elements, that have drastically altered the field of play.

This bold article on Indian Bureaucracy is by Uday Sahay, A former IPS officer

Saturday, May 13, 2017

7th Pay Commission: NFU dream of paramilitary to end; MHA moots withdrawal of tag

The home ministry is working on a proposal to do away with the 'organised services' status, which ensures timely promotion and salary hike of officers, and subsequently reject the demand for additional monetary benefits to officers of paramilitary and defence forces.

The home ministry is working on a proposal to do away with the 'organised services' status, which ensures timely promotion and salary hike of officers, and subsequently reject the demand for additional monetary benefits to officers of paramilitary and defence forces.
At a high-level meeting chaired by Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi recently, it was mooted that as government officers were already enjoying "very high salaries", such a non-functional upgrade (NFU) should be reviewed and withdrawn in consultation with the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC).
The meeting was held in the backdrop of a recent Supreme Court directive asking the Centre to re-think on giving monetary benefits to Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) such as CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF and SSB as was done in case of 'organised services', including the IAS and the IPS.
The apex court had in April this year asked the Centre to frame a response in this regard after it heard a batch of appeals, including one filed by the Centre against the Delhi High Court's September 2015 verdict asking it to consider all paramilitary forces as 'organised services'.
The high court had said officers of CAPFs should be given the benefits including non-functional financial upgradation, earlier available to 'Group A organised services', from 2006 in terms of the 6th Pay Commission.
Under NFU, if all officers of a particular batch cannot move up the ladder owing to lack of vacancies but only one does, the others will automatically get financial upgradation like the one who has been promoted.
"It was suggested that selective application of NFU is unsustainable, unjustified in view of the very high salaries in government and should therefore be withdrawn in accordance with the majority opinion of the CPC," the minutes of the meeting, accessed by PTI, said.
The meeting was attended by the chiefs of the CAPFs besides officers from the ministries of home and finance and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
"It was reiterated that the only long-term stable solution would be to withdraw NFU from all services, failing which, not only this case be lost, but it would spiral into a similar demand from the armed forces," the note said.
Senior CAPF officials said the move is aimed at "scuttling" the better chances of the cadre officers of these forces who are deployed in some of the most difficult and hard areas at the borders and in the hinterland countering Naxals, insurgents and terrorists.
"While the political leadership of the country has said that services of the armed forces and CAPFs are among the toughest and steps are being taken to make their services better and remuneration commensurate to their hard work, the bureaucracy is bent on depriving them these benefits owing to their vested interests," a senior officer in a paramilitary force said.
During the hearing in the apex court, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, representing the Centre, had told that if the paramilitary forces were declared as organised group 'A' services, there cannot be any deputation and no one from the Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre could come on deputation to these forces.
"All the CAPF chiefs who are part of the panel to draft a reply to the Supreme Court directive are IPS officers. The conflict of interest is apparent?" another officer said.
The IPS officers form the core of the senior leadership of these forces and there is a division between them and the cadre officers for occupying the command positions in CAPFs.
The home ministry meeting was informed by the DoPT official that there are no "consistent parameters" for granting NFU to various services and hence the same was difficult to accept and implement for the CAPFs too.
The apex court had said it perceives that the CAPF personnel were grieved by the non-grant of 'equal pay for equal work', a benefit granted to the organised services, and if the conferment of monetary benefit can assuage their grievance, the government might think over it, the bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and M M Shantanagoudar had said.
The bench had granted 12 weeks to the Centre to deliberate upon the issue and the next hearing is scheduled for August 9.

by the kind courtesy of 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Good News for Brigadiers, Colonels, Lt Cols and Equivalents in other two Services. Modifications in the 7th CPC recommendations on pay and pensionary benefits approved by the Cabinet on 3rd May, 2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved important proposals relating to modifications in the 7th CPC (Central Pay Commission) recommendations on pay and pensionary benefits in the course of their implementation. Earlier, on 29th June, 2016, the Cabinet had approved implementation of the recommendations with an additional financial outgo of ₹84,933 crore for 2016-17 (including arrears for 2 months of 2015-16).
The benefit of the proposed modifications will be available with effect from 1st January, 2016, i.e., the date of implementation of 7th CPC recommendations. With the increase approved by the Cabinet, the annual pension bill alone of the Central Government is likely to be ₹1,76,071 crore.
Some of the important decisions of the Cabinet are mentioned below:
1.      Revision of pension of pre – 2016 pensioners and family pensioners

The Cabinet approved modifications in the recommendations of the 7th CPC relating to the method of revision of pension of pre-2016 pensioners and family pensioners based on suggestions made by the Committee chaired by Secretary (Pensions) constituted with the approval of the Cabinet. The modified formulation of pension revision approved by the Cabinet will entail an additional benefit to the pensioners and an additional expenditure of approximately ₹5031 crore for 2016-17 over and above the expenditure already incurred in revision of pension as per the second formulation based on fitment factor. It will benefit over 55 lakh pre-2016 civil and defence pensioners and family pensioners.

While approving the implementation of the 7th CPC recommendations on 29th June, 2016, the Cabinet had approved the changed method of pension revision recommended by the 7th CPC for pre-2016 pensioners, comprising of two alternative formulations, subject to the feasibility of the first formulation which was to be examined by the Committee.

In terms of the Cabinet decision, pensions of pre-2016 pensioners were revised as per the second formulation multiplying existing pension by a fitment factor of 2.57, though the pensioners were to be given the option of choosing the more beneficial of the two formulations as per the 7th CPC recommendations.

In order to provide the more beneficial option to the pensioners, Cabinet has accepted the recommendations of the Committee, which has suggested revision of pension based on information contained in the Pension Payment Order (PPO) issued to every pensioner. The revised procedure of fixation of notional pay is more scientific, rational and implementable in all the cases. The Committee reached its findings based on an analysis of hundreds of live pension cases. The modified formulation will be beneficial to more pensioners than the first formulation recommended by the 7th CPC, which was not found to be feasible to implement on account of non-availability of records in a large number of cases and was also found to be prone to several anomalies.

2.    Disability Pension for Defence Pensioners.

The Cabinet also approved the retention of percentage-based regime of disability pension implemented post 6th CPC, which the 7th CPC had recommended to be replaced by a slab-based system.

The issue of disability pension was referred to the National Anomaly Committee by the Ministry of Defence on account of the representation received from the Defence Forces to retain the slab-based system, as it would have resulted in reduction in the amount of disability pension for existing pensioners and a reduction in the amount of disability pension for future retirees when compared to percentage based disability pension.

The decision which will benefit existing and future Defence pensioners would entail an additional expenditure of approximately ₹130 crore per annum.

3.    Changes in Pay Structure and Revision of the three Pay Matrices:

The Cabinet, while approving the 7th CPC recommendations for their implementation on 29th June, had made two modifications in the Defence Pay Matrix as under:

(i) Index of Rationalisation (IOR) of Level 13A (Brigadier) may be increased from 2.57 to 2.67.

(ii) Additional 3 stages in Levels 12A (Lt Col), 3 stages in Level 13 (Colonel) and 2 stages in Level 13A (Brigadier) may be added.

The Cabinet has now approved further modifications in the pay structure and the three Pay Matrices, i.e. Civil, Defence and Military Nursing Service (MNS). The modifications are listed below:

(i) Defence Pay Matrix has been extended to 40 stages similar to the Civil Pay Matrix: The 7th CPC had recommended a compact Pay Matrix for Defence Forces personnel keeping in view the number of levels, age and retirement profiles of the service personnel. Ministry of Defence raised the issue that the compact nature of the Defence Pay Matrix may lead to stagnation for JCOs in Defence Forces and proposed that the Defence Pay Matrix be extended to 40 stages. The Cabinet decision to extend the Defence Pay Matrix will benefit the JCOs who can continue in service without facing any stagnation till their retirement age of 57 years.

(ii) IOR for Levels 12 A (Lt. Col. and equivalent) and 13 (Colonel and equivalent) in the Defence Pay Matrix and Level 13 (Director and equivalent) in the Civil Pay Matrix has been increased from 2.57 to 2.67: Variable IOR ranging from 2.57 to 2.81 has been applied by the 7th CPC to arrive at Minimum Pay in each Level on the premise that with enhancement of Levels from Pay Band 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and onwards, the role, responsibility and accountability increases at each step in the hierarchy. This principle has not been applied in respect of Levels 12A (Lt. Col. and equivalent), 13 (Colonel and equivalent) and 13A (Brigadier and equivalent) of Defence Pay Matrix and Level 13 (Director and equivalent) of the Civil Pay Matrix on the ground that there was a disproportionate increase in entry pay at the level pertaining to GP 8700 in the 6th CPC regime. The IOR for Level 13A (Brigadier and equivalent) in the Defence Pay Matrix has already been revised upwards with the approval of the Cabinet earlier. In view of the request from Ministry of Defence for raising the IOR for Levels 12 A and 13 of the Defence Pay Matrix and requests from others, the IOR for these levels has been revised upwards to ensure uniformity of approach in determining the IOR.

(iii) To give effect to the decisions to extend the Defence Pay Matrix and to enhance the IORs, the three Pay Matrices – Civil, Defence and MNS – have also been revised. While doing so, two calculation errors noticed in the MNS Pay Matrix have also been rectified.

(iv) To ensure against reduction in pay, benefit of pay protection in the form of Personal Pay was earlier extended to officers when posted on deputation under Central Staffing Scheme (CSS) with the approval of Cabinet. The benefit will also be available to officers coming on Central Deputation on posts not covered under the CSS.

Authority http://finmin.nic.in/7cpc/Press_Note_Modification_7CPC_pensioners04052017.pdf

Monday, May 1, 2017

Supreme Court Declines to Unshackle the Security Forces

Major General Mrinal Suman

Last week was very painful. Death of 25 CRPF personnel in a Maoist ambush at Sukma was soon followed by the martyrdom of three soldiers in a terrorist attack at Pulwama. Heart-rending TV clips of wailing widows and orphaned children were highly disconcerting. Far too many lives are being lost. Continued inadequacy of Indian response to the long drawn challenges became evident once again.

However, it was the ruling of the Supreme Court that caused the maximum pain. On April 27, it rejected the curative petition of the government and upheld its earlier direction of July 8, 2016 wherein registration of FIR against armed forces personnel, even in disturbed areas under Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), had been made mandatory for every encounter death. Repeated pleas of the government that the said order would one day make it well-nigh impossible to maintain peace and security failed to convince the Court.

The decision to dismiss the curative petition was taken in a chamber hearing without the presence of the law officers for the government. Apparently, the judges were so convinced of the soundness of their earlier order that they felt no need for further arguments.

As a veteran, one has experienced the trauma of losing colleagues to terrorist bullets in counter-insurgency operations in Nagaland and counter-terrorist operations in Punjab. Therefore, one felt highly let down by the Court ruling. With one stroke, the Court has deprived the armed forces of the protection against prosecution provided to them under AFSPA, thereby throwing up a number of issues that are critical for the security and integrity of the country.
AFSPA was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered disturbed areas. AFSPA was first applied to the internal disturbances in the North East in 1958. It was promulgated in Punjab from 1983 to 1997 to control the turmoil and has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990.
Two points need to be flagged here. One, the efficacy of AFSPA stands proved by the fact that India continues to survive as a nation despite numerous insurgencies seeking secession from the Indian Union. AFSPA prevented balkanisation of the country by allowing the security forces to focus on tackling insurgents without any fear of subsequent inquests. Officers enjoyed legal protection as long as they acted in good faith which is held to mean ‘with due care and attention’.
Two, AFSPA has been repeatedly subjected to legal scrutiny at various levels since its enactment. Every dispensation has accepted its essentiality. What new developments have taken place in the recent past to warrant a fresh ruling by the Court, except that the anti-national activists have become more strident in their false accusations?
As a matter of fact, situation in the Kashmir valley has deteriorated considerably. Security forces are being subjected to unprecedented ordeals. They face death at every step while engaged in combat operations against highly indoctrinated jihadis armed with sophisticated weapons. Hence, the requirement for legal protection to carry out the unenviable task has acquired increased criticality.
Sadly, the Supreme Court has overlooked the fact that Kashmir is a not an ordinary law & order issue. A war is being waged there – an asymmetrical war wherein the jihadi forces are seeking to fragment the country and wreak havoc on the country’s social fabric through fidayeen attacks. They give no quarter. It is a fight unto death – either the security forces kill the jihadis or else suffer casualties. It is a matter of split-second response.
To prevent fidayeen attacks, the security forces have to seek the jihadis out and eliminate them. For that, police parties invariably accompany them. All efforts are made to minimise collateral damage. Terrorists exploit this self-imposed restraint of the security forces and take shelter in populated areas and summon stone-pelters to help breach cordons. Removal of protection of AFSPA will further embolden the jihadis. Wonder if the jihadi organisations have passed a vote of thanks for our Supreme Court! 
The security forces are striving to keep the country secure. The Court has imposed most unwarranted caution on the soldiers. They will have to think of legal consequences before killing a terrorist. Some may consider it more prudent to let him slip-away to avoid FIR.
India must be the only country where killing of the enemies of the nation is subjected to judicial reviews. For such shameful state of affairs, the country needs to thank the human rights activists, pseudo-secularists, presstitutes and other anti-national elements. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has got carried away with their perverse logic. As one veteran has suggested, all judges should be asked to stay in military camps in Kashmir for a week to get a true sense of the trepidations and threats to life that the soldiers endure for months at a stretch.
Another veteran, who lost a family member to a militant’s bullet, has raised an agonising poser to the Supreme Court, “How much do you know about the brutality of war? How many of you have sent your progeny to the armed forces? Have you ever lost a family member in the defence of the country? Do you know the pain of losing a young son or having a widowed daughter or seeing your grandchildren grow up without their father? If not, please do not impede our war effort. Human rights sound very nice when you and your families are safely ensconced in secure air-conditioned homes.”
Applying the Court directions to the Pulwama incident, an FIR will be lodged against Gunner Rishi Kumar who risked his life and killed two terrorists despite being hit on his headgear. Police investigations will carry on for years haunting him even when posted to other places in India. Courts will issue summons and demand his presence. He will be accused of depriving the ‘innocent’ jihadis of their human rights and asked to justify the killings. He will be queried, “Are you sure they were terrorists? They did not kill you, why did you kill them? Did you give them adequate opportunity to surrender and reform themselves? Did you give them a fair chance to escape? Did you fire warning shots in the air?” Instead of lauding his bravery, he will be subjected to judicial witch-hunt. What a disgrace for the nation!
Subjecting active military operations to judicial review is an outlandish idea. Whereas all nations empower their soldiers to vanquish enemies of the state, India takes pride in shackling them. While addressing the U.S. Naval Academy in April 2010, Secretary of Defence Robert M Gates said, “You have answered the trumpet call. For my part, I consider myself personally responsible for each and every one of you as though you were my own sons and daughters. And when I send you in harm’s way, as I will, I will do everything in my power to see that you have what you need to accomplish your mission – and come home safely.” Apparently, India’s Supreme Court thinks differently. Human rights of the enemies of the state appear to be far more important than the security of the country.
Finally, as a serving officer commented wryly, “The Supreme Court has given us two options – ‘get killed and the country will honour your martyrdom’ or ‘kill the terrorist and face police/judicial investigations for years’.” His apprehensions are genuine and shared by the most. Wonder which soldier will look forward to serving in such antagonistic environment!
However, the security forces are still hopeful that the Supreme Court will reconsider the issue and appreciate its gravity.*****

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Non Implementation 7th CPC

The non-implementation of the award of the Seventh Pay Commission, and OROP Committee chaired by Justice A K Mathur, for the armed forces, almost one year after it was implemented for their civilian counterparts, is gradually, almost imperceptibly, but without an iota of doubt, beginning to hurt morale.

According to the veterans' grapevine, in Sainik Sammelan after Sainik Sammelan across the country, soldiers are asking their commanding officers why they are not being given their new pay scales when their friends and acquaintances in government services have got them.

The COs have no answers as the issue is 'under consideration of the government.'

How has this sorry state of affairs come to pass?

The answer to this question is incredibly bitter. Vis-à-vis civilian government employees, the three Services found some of the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, as approved by the Cabinet for the armed forces, to be patently unfair.

The three chiefs of staff felt constrained to request then defence minister Manohar Parrikar to withhold implementation of the award till some of the major infirmities were rectified.

They said the armed forces may be given a 'delayed' award, but not a 'diluted' award vis-à-vis the civilian services.

They must have also reminded him that many of the anomalies of the Sixth Pay Commission had still not been resolved and they did not wish to inflict a similar situation on the rank and file again.

The minister agreed to take up the matter and promised them that their 'core' concerns will be given immediate attention.

The rank and file were informed and told to wait patiently.

Since then, over six months have passed, but the problem has still not been addressed.

To be fair to the PMO, a committee was reportedly appointed to look into the issues raised by the armed forces. However, it is not known whether the committee has submitted its report and it is under consideration, or if the committee is yet to submit its report.

Incidentally, there is not a single member, serving or retired, from the armed forces on this committee.

For that matter, there has never been a single member of the armed forces on any Pay Commission despite the fact that their personnel form a huge chunk (29 per cent) of total central government employees and their service conditions are far more challenging and hazardous.

What were the core concerns expressed by the army, navy and air force chiefs?

The major disparities pointed out included the following: Non-functional upgradation (NFU), already being given to civilians, should be given to the Services as well; the Defence Pay Matrix (DPM) should be brought in sync with the Civilian Pay Matrix (CPM); and the Military Service Pay (MSP) given earlier up to the rank of Brigadier should also be given to Major Generals.

An anomaly in the MSP given to JCOs and the Other Ranks also needed to be corrected.

The new anomalies have further widened the existing gap in status and parity between the armed forces and their civilian counterparts.

Two additional increments were already being given to IAS officers. This facility has now been extended to the IPS and IFS as well.

The Pay Matrix approved for the armed forces will result in officers stagnating and drawing lesser pay, pension and percentage based allowances.

The armed forces have been short changed while fixing risk and hardship allowances also.

A Superintendent of Police posted at Leh or Shillong will receive Rs 54,000 as Special Duty allowance, SDA. Army officers posted at Leh will get Rs 13,900.

In Shillong army officers are not entitled to any allowance at all.

While civilian personnel who suffer disabilities will continue to get disability pension according to the existing 'slab' system, which is advantageous, armed forces personnel have been relegated to a 'percentage' system of calculation.

Consequently, while a soldier retiring with 100 per cent disability will receive an additional monthly pension of Rs 12,000, a civilian official with similar disability will be given Rs 27,690.

It is not so well known that as many as 46 anomalies of the Sixth Pay Commission have still not been resolved satisfactorily.

The more important ones among these, called 'core anomalies' include incorrect fixation of basic pay, incorrect fixation of grade pay, non-grant of common pay scales for JCOs and Other Ranks, non-grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) for armed forces officers and not placing lieutenant generals in HAG plus scale.

The three Services had requested the government to resolve these anomalies before the implementation of the award of the Seventh Pay Commission so that there is no distortion in fixing revised pay and allowances. However, the ministry of defence was unable to do so.

Soldiers, sailors and airmen cannot help but feel a sense of bias against them and rue the Commission's failure to recognise the risk that they take and the hardships and deprivation that they suffer on a day-to-day basis.

Successive Pay Commissions have also failed to appreciate that personnel serving in the armed forces retire at an early age, so that a youthful profile that is so necessary in battle can be maintained, and therefore need to be better compensated by way of pension.

The delay in implementation of the award of the Seventh Pay Commission has come on the heels of the OROP imbroglio, in which the government had inexplicably diluted the definition of one rank-one pension while implementing the long-pending pension reform.

As such, the non-implementation of the award was bound to have had an adverse impact on the morale of the nation's defenders.

A dip in the morale of armed forces personnel must ring alarm bells in South Block.

The government must move post haste to rectify the core concerns of the armed forces and approve just and reasonable pay and allowances for them.

The government owes it to the men in uniform to ensure that they do not feel let down and do not think that all their sacrifices have been in vain.

By an aggrieved Defence Veteran Pensioner