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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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sukma Maoists attack and where are we going wrong: Replace high-level IPS officers in Naxal belt with hardcore cops

The brutal attack by Maoists on 24 April in Chhattisgarh's Sukma which killed 25 CRPF personnel and injured several others was one of the deadliest attacks in recent times, though smaller than the massacre in April 2010 when Maoists killed 76 CRPF men.

The Maoists walked off with 32 assault rifles (mix of AK and INSAS), an assortment of rifle magazines and ammunition, 22 bulletproof jackets, two binoculars, five wireless sets and one metal detector. It was reported that the team of 99-strong CRPF men, which was out to provide protection for road construction, was attacked by 300 "left-wing extremist" and the firefight continued for at least three hours. There are claims that 10-12 Maoists were killed but no bodies were found. Another report said that the 99-member CRPF patrol team was attacked when they were preppin gto have lunch, obviously without ensuring protection.
It may be recalled that on 11 March this year, Maoists attacked another CRPF column at Bheji (Sukma) and by the time the an hour long assault ended, Maoists had killed 11, injured five (one succumbing to his injuries taking the death toll to 12). Reports had quoted officials as saying that the Naxals also looted ten weapons and two radio sets from the killed men, officials said.

Former home secretary in 2015 LC Goyal had said that an Army cantonment should be established in the Bastar region, as if that will be the silver bullet to tackle the issue. Media lapped up this revelation. However, the public is unaware of the fact that Chhattisgarh alone has some 45 battalions of Central Armed Police Forces (BSF, CRPF, IRB etc), a force equivalent of five times the Infantry Divisions or two times the Corps of the Army.
Goyal, in the report, did not disclose the plan that he, as a former home secretary, had drawn up to deal with the Maoists issue? Another home secretary who delivered a talk at a prominent think tank in New Delhi responded to searching questions cursorily and peremptorily, not once mentioning that the MHA is 'accountable'. He was also repeatedly asked why the Control of Borders was being handled by the police and is not given to Army similar to the Control of the Coast given to Navy, to which he had no answer.
One can hear statements time and again from the home ministry that additional forces can be allotted to the states, as required. But should the responsibility and accountability of MHA end there when the Maoists problem spans multiple states? With CRPF designated as the main counter-insurgency forces, why does the home secretary not recommend that the police academy in Hyderabad shift to the Naxal belt rather than recommending an army cantonment in the region?
In fact, much of the problems of the insurgency areas would be better addressed if the police academy is moved to Bastar and the IAS academy to the Kashmir Valley. Incidentally, a decade-old proposal for locating Army and Air Force elements at Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) that had been agreed upon has not fructified because the state only made available part of the land required and MHA took no interest in the issue.
Surprisingly, the media has never highlighted the woes of the Central Armed Police Forces. With the strong IPS lobby, very few officers from the CRPF and BSF get promoted and seldom get to the rank of Additional Director General (ADG), as the bulk of the appointments at this level too are held by IPS officers despite it being grossly disproportionate given the strength of individual CAPF.
So, the Director General of CRPF actually is an IPS officer who has not come through grassroots of the CRPF, leave aside any experience of operating with the jawans in insurgency areas. This, as per veteran CRPF officers, is the main reason why the manning, training and equipping of this force has been suffering.
The government must look at these issues seriously and the MHA must get into the act. The Home Minister should consider sending MHA bureaucrats to go and live with the CAPF (not as state guests) in Bastar region by rotation to get first-hand experience of the issue.
This could actually be standard operating procedure that all bureaucrats posted to MHA must go through this experience. Much of the army's requirements in Siachen Glacier were met after Defence Minister George Fernandes sent MoD bureaucrats to Siachen.
Hundreds of CAPF battalions have been raised and there is no reason they cannot deal with internal security issues. They must perform and be 'made' to perform, and most importantly, dominate the Dandakaranya forest, where an occasional foray and chest-thumping are useless.
The home ministry must get into the act rather than bureaucrats looking over the shoulder towards the Army, and help our enemies in getting the Army sucked in here too. Wouldn't it surprise the public to know that the manpower strength of the police and central armed police forces is much more than that of the military?
A Maoist document titled Urban Perspective: Our Work in Urban Areas (UPUA) says, "At present the revolutionary movement is advancing in a vast belt of people's war encompassing the extensive areas of Dandakaranya, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar-Odisha border, north Telangana and Koel-Kaimur. We will be able to build these areas into contiguous areas of armed struggle with each area influencing the other."

Linked with recent events, they indicate that the critical phase of attacking the political fabric of Indian democracy has already begun. The issue needs to be viewed even more seriously considering that the brain of the Maoists ideology is in Beijing, they are receiving focused support from both China and Pakistan, and their over-ground elements are cloaked as intellectuals and social activists, even participating freely in seminars and debates in New Delhi. They too are very much Maoists and must be treated as such.

The author is veteran Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.

by the kind courtesy of 
http://www.firstpost.com/india/sukma-maoists-attack-and-where-are-we-going-wrong-replace-high-level-ips-officers-in-naxal-belt-with-hardcore-cops-3404956.html

Friday, April 21, 2017

Rs 5,000 crore package for Centre's pensioners after MCD polls


The revised pension will be taken up by the Union cabinet along with issues related to the pay of central government employees. The revised pension scheme has been finalised and the cabinet may clear it next week, said a source.

The government is set to clear a Rs 5,000 crore package for pensioners after Sunday's municipal elections in the capital to address their concerns related to the award of the 7th pay commission for central government employees and seniors.

The revised pension will be taken up by the Union cabinet along with three-four issues related to the pay of central government employees, even as a committee headed by Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa finalises its recommendations for allowances for government employees, including an increase in the house rent allowance (HRA). The panel is expected to submit its recommendations next week but there are indications that the change in allowances may not take place immediately.

"The revised pension scheme has been finalised and the government has postponed a decision due to the code of conduct for Delhi municipal elections. The cabinet may clear it next week," said a source, who did not wish to be identified.

The pay panel had recommended an increment-linked pension formula along with the option for multiplying the pension based on the six pay commission's recommendations by 2.57. To quickly implement the suggestions, the government opted for the second option as the increment-linked pension model was seen to be difficult to implement. This has created a situation where those who retired by December 31, 2015 are receiving a lower pension compared to someone who retired a month later. For instance, someone who retired as a secretary before January 2016 is getting a pension of Rs 1.02 lakh compared to Rs 1.12 lakh for someone who retired at the end of the month.

Now, the government is looking at two options -- one is to move to a new "modified parity-plus" formula, which links the pension to the salary drawn by someone who is at the same rank. The other is a formula based on the multiple of the sixth pay commission-based pension. A sources said the factor of 2.57 is also being changed to make the pension more attractive. "Basically, there will be two options for a pensioner and the formula that ensures a higher payout to the seniors will be given," explained a source.

By the kind courtesy of

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/rs-5000-crore-package-for-centres-pensioners-after-mcd-polls/articleshow/58288896.cms

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Centre to contest tribunal order on military pay


The Defence Ministry Says it (AFT) has no authority and the ruling is ‘judicial overreach’

The Defence Ministry has decided as a matter of principle to challenge in the Supreme Court the ruling of the Armed Forces Tribunal to grant non-functional upgrade (NFU) for the armed forces.
While the government is not against the upgrade for the services, its challenge is on principle as a tribunal has no authority to take such a decision. It is “judicial overreach”, a senior Ministry official said.
Core anomalies
Last December, the Principal Bench of the tribunal in New Delhi granted the upgrade to the armed forces personnel in pay and allowances in response to a petition filed by over 160 officers. The upgrade has been one of the core anomalies raised by the services in the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, which are yet to be implemented for them.
The official said the Defence Ministry had been open to granting the upgrade to the services and it was being looked into as part of the four core anomalies raised by them.
“The Ministry is waiting for the elections to get over. They will appeal later this month,” another official said.
The upgrade entitles all officers of a batch who are not promoted to draw the salary and grade pay that the senior-most officer of their batch would get after a certain period. For instance, batch mates of a Secretary to the Government of India who have not been promoted will be entitled to the same pay after a certain time lapse.
The Sixth Pay Commission had granted the upgrade to most Group ‘A’ officers but not the military. Since then, the armed forces had been demanding a one-time notional upgrade to ensure parity.
However, the Seventh Pay Commission (SPC) gave a mixed verdict on it and the issue has since been referred to the Anomalies Committee. A decision is expected by March-end, sources said.

By the kind courtesy of

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-to-contest-tribunal-order-on-military-pay/article17409588.ece

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Court appeals against defence employees to be curbed


The committee had noted that the ego and prestige based approach reflected how officers dealing with the subject were unable to come to terms that cases had been decided against their stand


In a major move with far reaching consequences on litigation involving soldiers and other defence employees, the Defence Minister has accepted the recommendation of an expert panel wherein it was provided that further appeals would not be filed by the Ministry of Defence on all subjects which have attained finality at the High Courts or Supreme Court.

The Committee comprising former Adjutant General Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal (retd), former Military Secretary Lt Gen Richard Khare (retd), Punjab and Haryana High Court Lawyer Maj Navdeep Singh, former Judge Advocate General (JAG) Maj Gen T Parshad and Kargil disabled veteran Maj DP Singh had strongly deprecated the tendency of the Defence Ministry, long known to be a chronic litigant, of filing individual appeals against court and tribunal decisions in favour of employees on the pretext of the judgements being ‘against government policy’.

Watch what else is in the newssh Assembly Elections

The committee had noted that an unexplained urge was being shown by government officers to litigate who wanted to file multiple cases even where the law had already been settled, with a hope that in some odd stray case, a judgement would be rendered against an employee which could then be flaunted to deny benefits to similarly placed employees.

The committee had noted that the ego and prestige based approach reflected how officers dealing with the subject were unable to come to terms that cases had been decided against their stand. The panel had stated that there should be ‘quietus’ on issues which have attained finality at the HC or SC.

Accepting the recommendation, the Defence Minister is also learnt to have approved another related suggestion which additionally covers civilian employees wherein noting that the effort of the system was to wear down employees by filing multiple appeals, the panel had recommended that the government should gracefully accept court verdicts as far as possible and appeals should be an exception and not the rule.

Challenges of tribunal orders will be made in the HC only in exceptional cases and appeals undertaken in the Supreme Court restricted to the rarest of rare cases. The Committee had noted that the culture of appealing must cease and officers should ‘concentrate upon improving governance and administration rather than waging a litigative war against their own junior employees who have limited means’.

In its strongly worded observations, the committee had also noted that the official establishment was indulging in litigation of ‘luxury’ and that litigation should not be treated as a war or a sport which must be won at all costs. The panel had expressed surprise that instead of focussing on reducing appeals and faster implementation of orders as propounded by the Defence Minister, certain officers had presented views during their depositions on ways and means to file “faster appeals” which ran counter to the very intentions of the government.


When contacted, Maj Navdeep Singh, who was a member of the Committee, called it a “much needed reform” but cautioned that the “political executive must ensure its implementation in letter and spirit and must not allow the legal-official ecosystem to hold political will to ransom”.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sector-wise Budget 2017-18 : Highlights – At a Glance


Opening Remarks

·       Our govt was elected amidst huge expectations; underlying theme was good governance
·       Massive war against black money has been launched
·       Govt now seen as a trusted custodian of public money
·       Focus on energizing youth to reap benefits of growth
·       World economy faces considerable uncertainty
·       Three major challenges for emerging economies: US Fed stance, uncertainty over commodity prices especially oil prices, signs of increasing retreat from globalization as protectionist fears build up 

Tax Administration

·       Black Money: No cash transaction above Rs. 3 lakh
·       Transparency in political funding: Parties continue to receive anonymous donations; proposed system to c lean up limits maximum amount of cash donations to Rs. 2000/=. No limit to payment through cheques or digitally. Amendment proposed to RBI Act to issue electoral bonds. Every party will have to file returns within specified time
·       Exempt FPI Category 1 & 2 investors from indirect provisions
·       Time period of revising tax returns reduced to twelve months income
·       Personal Income Tax: Rate reduced to 5% for income bracket Rs 2.5-5 Lakh. All categories to get uniform benefit of Rs 12.500 per person. Levy of  10% surcharge on bracket Rs 50 Lakh-Rs 1 Crore
·       Personal Income Tax: To have simple one page form for taxable income up to Rs 5 Lakh
·       Direct tax collection not commensurate with income/expenditure pattern of India
·       We are largely a Tax non –compliant society; predominance  of cash in society enable tax evasion
·       After demonetization; data received  will increase tax net
·       Real Estate: Changes in capital gain tax
·       Concessional withholding rate will be extended to 30 June2020 and for  rupee-denominated masala bonds
·       Start-ups: Relaxing holding rules
·       MAT not to be abolished at present; to allow carry forward for 15 years
·       Corporate tax rate: MSME’s rate (annual turnover less than Rs 50 Crore) reduced to 25%
·       Limit of cash donation for Charitable Trusts reduced to Rs 2000/=

Fiscal Management

·       Total Budget expenditure  Rs 21 trillion
·       Rs 3,000 crore to implement various budget announcements
·       Defence expenditure  excluding pensions is Rs 2,74,114 Crore
·       Consolidated outcome budget for all ministries being created
·       FRBM review panel has recommended debt-to-GDP of 60%
·       Fiscal deficit for FY18 pegged at 3.2% of GDP
·       Revenue deficit for FY 18 at 1.9%
·       Public Service
·       To use Head post office for  passport services
·       Defence: Centralized defence travel system developed
·       Defence: Centralised Pension distribution system to be  established
·       Govt recruitment: To introduce two-tier exam system
·       Considering introducing laws to confiscate assets of economic defaulters
·       High-level panel chaired by PM to commemorate Mahtama Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary

Digital Economy

·       India at cusp of digital revolution
·       Govt to launch 2 scheme including cash back scheme for merchants
·       AADHAAR  Pay for people who don’t have mobile phones
·       Focus on rural and semi-urban areas
·       To strengthen financial inclusion fund
·       Panel on digital payments has recommended structural reforms
·       To create payment board at RBI

Financial Sector

·       FDI policy: FIPB to be abolished
·       Commodities market: Panel to study legal framework for spot & derivative market
·       Resolution mechanism for financial firms
·       Cyber security: Computer emergency response to be set up
·       Listing of PSEs will foster public accountability; revised mechanism for time-bound listing
·       To create integrated public sector oil major
·       Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana: Lending target at 2.44 trillion
·       Stand-up India scheme: Over 16,000 new enterprises have been set up

Infrastructure

·       Total Capex & development expenditure of railways pegged at Rs 1,31,000 Crore
·       Railways: Passenger safety fund corpus set up. Unmanned level crossing to be eliminated by 2020
·       Railway lines of 3,500km to be commissioned
·       To launch dedicated tourism/pilgrimage trains
·       500 stations to be made differently-abled friendly
·       Cleanliness in Railways: To introduce Coach Mitra facility. By 2019, bio-toilets for all coaches
·       Railways to offer competitive ticket-booking facility. Service charge withdrawn from IRCTC
·       New metro rail policy to be announced
·       Roads sector: National highways allocation at Rs 64,000 Crore
·       AAI Act to be amended to enable monetization of land resources
·       Transport sector: Allocation at Rs 2 trillion
·       Telecom Sector: Allocation to Bharat Net programme at Rs 10,000 Crore
·       Digi-gau initiative to be launched
·       To make India global hub for electronics manufacture
·       Export infra: New restructured central scheme to be launched
·       Total allocation for infrastructure Rs 3.96 trillion

Poor & Underprivileged

·       Women: Mahila  Shakti Kendras with Rs 500 Crore corpus
·       Stepped up allocation to Rs 1,84,632 Crore for various schemes for women and children
·       Affordable housing to be given infrastructure status
·       Action plan to eliminate leprosy by 2018, TB by 2025, reduce IMR to 29 in 2019
·       To create additional PG medical seats
·       Two new AIIMS in Jharkhand & Gujarat
·       New rules for medical devices
·       Labour rights: Legislative  reforms to simplify existing labour laws
·       Allocation to SCs increased to Rs 52,393 crore; STs to Rs 31,920 crore, Minority affairs Rs 4,195 crore

Youth

·       Education: System of measuring annual learning outcomes, emphasis on science
·       Innovation fund for secondary education
·       Reforms in UGC: Colleges to be identified based on ranking  and given autonomy
·       Propose to leverage IT with launch of SWAYAM  platform for virtual learning
·       National testing agency to be established for all entrance exams, freeing CBSE & AICTE
·       100 Indian international skill centres to be established with courses in foreign language
·       To launch skill acquisition and knowledge awareness  -  Rs 4,000 crore
·       Special  scheme for  creating employment in leather/footwear sector
·       Tourism: Five special zones to be set up

Farmers

·       Farmer  credit fixed at record level of Rs 10 trillion; will ensure adequate flow to underserved areas
·       Soil health cards: Govt to set up mini-labs in Krishi Vignan Kendras
·       Long-term irrigation fund in Nabard-corpus at Rs 40,000 crore
·       Model law on contract farming to be circulated
·       Dairy processing infra fund with corpus at Rs 8,000 crore
·       Dedicated micro-irrigation fund with Rs 5,000 crore corpus

Rural Population

·       Mission Antyodaya to bring 1 crore  households of pverty
·       MGNREGA: Participation of women now at 55%
·       MGNREGA: Rs 48,000 crore allocated
·       MGNREGA: using space technology in a big way
·       Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yogna: Rs 1,9000 crore allocated; along with states, Rs 27,000 crore to be  spent in FY18
·       Pradhan Mantri Awas Yogana: Rs  23,000 crore allocated
·       100% village electrification by May 2018
·       Rural livelihood mission: Rs 4,500 crore allocated
·       Mason training for 5 lakh people
·       Panchyat Raj: HR resource programme to be launched

·       Rs 1,87,223 crore for rural programmes