Monday, July 16, 2012

Government forms, a time-bound committee to look into, and implement the resolution of anomalies affecting Defence Personnel and Veterans

The Cabinet secretariat has published the the following on 13 Jul 2012.

The Government has decided to constitute a Committee, under the chairpersonship of Cabinet Secretary, to look into pay and pension related issues of relevance to defence services personnel and ex-servicemen. The other members of the Committee will be:

(i) Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister
(ii) Defence Secretary
(iii) Secretary, D/o Expenditure
(iv) Secretary, D/o Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare
(v) Secretary, D/o Personnel and Training

The Committee’s ‘terms of reference’ will be to look into the following issues relating to:

(i) Defence services personnel:

• Common pay-scale for in-service JCOs/Ors
• Initial pay-fixation of Lt Col/Colonel and 
• Review and enhancement of grade pay
• Placing of all Lts General in HAG+ scale
• Grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to 
   armed forces personnel

(ii) Ex-servicemen:

• One-rank one-pension
• Enhancement of family pension
• Dual family pension
• Family pension to mentally/physically challenged children 
   of armed forces personnel on marriage

The Department of Expenditure will service the Committee. The Committee may co-opt any other member. The Committee will finalize its recommendations and submit its report to the Prime Minister by 8th August, 2012.

Finally, a time-bound committee to look into, and implement the resolution of anomalies affecting defence personnel and veterans  is a very Positive development according to Maj Navdeep Singh. Read on what he has to say on this :

The defence community would be pleased to know that the Prime Minister’s office has directed the constitution of an anomalies committee to look into many vital anomalies affecting serving and retired personnel and also their families.

The best part of the directions signed this week is that the committee is to submit its recommendations within a month and the implementation of the accepted recommendations may also be announced on 15 August 2012, thereby marking a radical signal of positivity.

Though a chunk of the bureaucracy in the Ministry of Defence was not inclined to let any such committee come through, this has been possible due to multiple channels of Track-II diplomacy and the stellar efforts of the Chairman COSC and the Pay Cells of the three services which evoked direct response from the Raksha Mantri who then took it upon himself to get this committee approved from the Prime Minister personally and directly without being blinded by comments of lower bureaucracy of the MoD.

The only negative offshoot is that the committee does not have any serving or retired military member and that a proper consultative process was not initiated before identifying the anomalies which required immediate examination. Ideally, the stake-holders should have been a part of the process. However, the saving grace is that the committee has been granted the authority to co-opt any additional member if required. The Committee shall function under the Cabinet Secretary with the Defence Secretary, Secretary Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Secretary DoPT, Expenditure Secretary and Principal Secretary to PM, as members.

Howsoever we may view the development, many important issues such as Non-Functional Upgradation, enhancement of pensions of widows, One Rank One Pension, dual family pension, fixation of pay of Lt Cols/Cos/Brigs, enhancement of Grade Pays, universalisation of scales, grant of HAG+ to all Lt Gens, removal of pay anomalies of other ranks etc have been listed in the charter of the committee. Five anomalies concerning serving personnel and four concerning veterans and pensioners shall be taken up. One surprise (and actually infructuous) entry in the list of anomalies is that the committee would be looking into the issue whether a handicapped family pensioner could be granted family pension on marriage since as per the current interpretation, family pension to handicapped family pensioners is discontinued on marriage. However this issue already stands addressed by the Hon'ble AFT in the case of Vinod Kumar Vs UOI and the judgement also already stands implemented and hence the inclusion of this point in the committee seems totally redundant once it has been judicially adjudicated.

It is however surprising that while the PM had directed that the constitution of the committee may be publically announced, the same has not been done by the staff at MoD till date despite the fact that the directions were conveyed by special courier (by hand) to the MoD for immediate action by the PMO. 


On the last blogpost concerning the committee constituted on the directions of the Prime Minister, some have shown utter discontentment and lack of any hope from the said working group. Some organisations have rejected the group even before the initiation of its functioning. While the distrust vis-à-vis some certain of bureaucracy is understandable to an extent, painting the entire set-up and also the serving military community as being ‘selfish’ and concerned about its own needs and requirements would not be in order.

And is this approach correct? Needless to say, the formation of the committee is a much welcome step and the credit for it goes to the Pay cells of the three services, mainly the Army Pay Cell, to have adequately highlighted at the right places the requirement of resolution of many pertinent anomalies. It may be pointed out here that earlier the formation of an ‘anomalies committee’ had been summarily rejected by the MoD but the Pay Cells and the current senior incumbents of the AG’s branch still managed to convince the Raksha Mantri of the requirement of redressal of these anomalies.

There is some deficit under the present circumstances and some loose ends that need the attention of the PMO, the Cabinet Secretary and the Services, some of these are :

(a) No stake holder is a part of the committee. Since the committee has been granted the authority to co-opt additional members, the thrust should be on the request to have minimum of four members from the military committee – one serving, each from Army, Navy and Air force and one veteran. It may be recalled that similar committees for civilian employees function democratically with a 'staff side' and 'official side'. 

(b) When a Parliamentary Committee has already looked into the demand of One Rank One Pension (OROP) and recommended the same, would it be ethical for a committee of bureaucrats to examine the same demand? Wouldn’t this send a wrong message? Who is more important to the PM, the voice of elected representatives of a democracy or a body of career bureaucrats?

(c) There are many other important anomalies that remain unaddressed. How will those be addressed and by whom? Who decided that these were the only 9 issues that required redressal? Who picked up these 9 from the long list of ‘core issues’? One such very important issue is the issue of broad-banding of disability percentages which affects 80% of all disabled veterans in India and which has led to a spate of unwanted litigation, this issue is the most important stand-alone subject today which requires serious attention rather than rounds of litigation.

(d) Though despite internal inertia by lower echelons of the MoD, the committee has been established, but would it function on its own merits with proper application of mind by the members with independent inputs invited from all concerned or would it again fully depend upon the Pension and Pay/Services Wings of the MoD which have been at the forefront of stonewalling and putting up misleading notes to confuse the top leadership.

Some questions remain unanswered and the constitution of the committee is not perfect as far as its members are concerned, but I would request the defence community to be optimistic on the subject and not jump the gun till the time the recommendations are submitted. Also the Services HQ are at this time tirelessly working towards the objective and need our encouragement in this regard, not negative vibes.

Let us keep our fingers crossed, be optimistic and hope for the best. Still otherwise, this committee is not the last word even if does not entirely meet the expectations of the military community. 
Committee on defence pay and pension anomalies, some additional issues

I am with Navdeep on this, if indeed such a committe has been constituted.

It is not the membership of the Committee that matters as much as the rationale that they bring to justfy their decisions, and more importantly, what is sought by the Service HQs from the committee. I have said this many times in the past(and would love to be contradicted with some specifics) that the primary cause of the problems is the 'Proposals' from Service HQs and not the CPCs, MoD or the bureaucracy. Can we correct it at least this time?

I would suggest that our focus must remain on the terms of reference and Service Hqs must seek its alteration to include as the first point, "Benefits that have been denied merely for being in uniform". In other words, the discriminatory issues, and these should be non-negotiable. One can confidently say that addressing this would automatically take care of most of the issues that have been listed in the said Committe's TOR(pay progression, pay grades, NFU, etc) and give other benefits like reduction in pensionable service, earlier start of pay etc. Those currently engaged in pay issues should be able to give the full list. I think disability issues would also get covered in this.

In other words, resolution of  'one issue' could resolve most problems.

The single important issue that needs to be resolved but would not be, by the above approach, is that of Major's pension. Again, the reason for the low pension of Major is that Service HQs sought(and GOI agreed) to downgrade the Majors to Capt's pay. (Nothing new in this approach. At the IV CPC, we had sought and done away with the pay scales of Lt Col, Col and Brig to much fanfare).

Unfortunately(but not surprisingly), the pension of long retired Majors(who had earned higher pension and had nothing to do with this asinine idea) has also got reduced corresponding to that of a Capt(pre-downgrade). I can see only two ways to resolve this matter in a fair manner.

One is for Service Hqs to retract and revert the Major's to their original position thereby restoring pay/ pension of Major, or to de-link the pension of Pre- AVS/Bagga Major from the present one. I would suggest the latter, keeping 2006(VI CPC) as the cut off. This should give pre-2006 Majors the SG level(now drawn by retd Cols) pension because that is what they were drawing earlier. 

Many long retired Majors have, in many forums, commented on the big difference in pensions of Majors and Lt Cols. This is because the pay/ pension of Major(as they knew it) has disappeared. It is essentially the gap between a Capt's pension and Lt Col's. In fact, if the Lt col gets his due, the gap would be even wider.

A workable via media was suggested to both NHQ(during Bagga committee deliberations) and to all three Service HQs in the build-up to VI CPC. This was to make the Major correspond to Dy Secy(9 years incl trg period). I suspect this would have been very beneficial from both organisational and personal point of view, but did not find acceptance. Those in service can ponder over it again.

OROP, on which much emotional capital  has been expended, is something I still don't understand and therefore offer no comment. If someone can explain, in figures, what difference it would make over existing provisions, will be grateful.

On the constitution of the committee, it would definitely be helpful to have someone to explain the Services point of view. But I suggest that it be somebody who understands the issues involved but does not carry the baggage of the inadequate proposals made in the past. Someone who can admit that mistakes have been made but that they need to be corrected now.

The normal bureaucratic strategy is to make a long list of issues(most of them peripheral) for discussion and agree to the majority while leaving out the really important ones. This is how the Group of Officers made a lemon out of the High Level Committee report after V CPC.  To prevent a repeat, maybe we could make a list of:

1. Non-negotiables - essentially all the discriminatory issues above plus anymore that can be identified.

2. Others in order of precedence - Issues that affect all, issues that affect a large no, issues that affect a smaller no and so on.

It would also be a good idea to give wide publicity to 'what is being asked for and why'. May reduce elbow room for the negotiators on both sides but in this case that may be a good thing for those affected. It would be much more difficult to deny what is legitimately due. Those affected will also know where the buck stopped.

For whatever it is worth to those who may be involved in the discussions



    1. Army comes to rescue civil authority on their failure in name of aid to civil power.
    2.The Armed Forces were paid higher Pay & Pension [pension used to be 75 % of pay, as applicable in other countries] now the pension has been reduced to 50%.
    3. However, this was arbitrarily and without any justification changed by 3rd CPC in 1973.
    4. The RAJYA SABHA Committee opined that the Govt has TAKEN an ill considered decision,
    5. Rajya Sabha ATR is still awaited.
    6. Ex Servicemen discontent is disturbing. Legitimate and fair demand of OROP be accepted.
    7. Rajya Sabha Petition Committee strongly recommended sanction and implementation of OROP.
    8.PM/FM/RM/LOK SABHA/RAJYA SABHA all have accepted One Rank One Pension but a Cabinet Secretary has rejected it. Is CS above all the authorities & Govt who have accepted, OROP, such a person is sowing seeds of discontentment in forces. Forces do not have unions, when water goes above level and they revolt, it may be called mutiny. Kindly ensure such a situation does not arise.
    9. The Defence Personnel have suffered thrice over[Three Pay Commissions eroded their Pay/Pension/Status]; The pension of Defence highest rank has increased only 45 times, that of civil highest rank it has increased 108 times). The Col [Selection]/Brig got mere increase of 30 times. There is just no justification for the same.
    10. All Civilians will draw the pay of Addl Secretary in 14 years as against Lt Gen in 32 yrs of service by virtue of their service being Organised Gp A Service.
    11. The Government accepted the recommendations of Sixth CPC and granted the NFU to Organized GP A Services.
    H] But denied to Defense Services. A height of Degradation of Forces]. In fact, now Sub Inspectors of CRPF/BSF/ITBP too can beat Def Services Offrs when they too will retire with the salary of Addl Secretary/Lt Gen, if they get promoted as Asstt Comdt/DSP in 8 yrs.
    J] All this will only fuel frustration, disgruntlement and will have a demoralising effect on the Armed Forces Offrs.
    K] Since Def Offrs will have to work alongside some of the Organised Gp A Services, a disparity of this magnitude will lead to functional problems.
    L] In some stations, it is already being heard that Civ Offrs have started projecting themselves as senior to top military offrs.
    M] Such problems will only increase in future.
    N] Moreover, this issue must not be allowed to linger till 7th CPC for resolution. Else lot many insurmountable problems within Army will set in & command & control aspect will be faced with multiple problems. Disgruntled armies in world resort to mutiny. Thank God our Army will never do so. Hence, kindly be good to Army & look after it. The issue needs a more forceful action by respected PM/FM/RM.
    O]. Benefits of NFU denied.
    P]. It not only affects pay/pension, it also affects status.
    Q]. Today Army comes in aid to civil power. When civil authority fail in performing their duties. These may be earth quake, flood relief, train accident, Asiad, Naxal problem, terror attack, child in well, strike by rail, electricity board, tele services, hospital services & so on list is never ending.
    R]. Government’s last hope is Army & if you neither give pay/pension, at least put them totally at par with civil IAS/IPS, then you cannot expect miracles from the Army. Nowhere in world poor paid Army has ever won battles/wars.
    S]. Kindly restore status, give pay, pension not less than IAS/IPS & maintain fundamental right of equality & do not violate article 14 of constitution & fundamental right of equality.
    S] Thus, immediate need to revise pay & pension. Speedy payment of arrears with corresponding DA w.e.f 1/1/2006.
    12. Col [selection] should be above super time scale, so also Brig, but in reality it is not so. They are being paid degraded pay & pension.
    13. I understand Chankya said to his king" your kingdom is doomed if and when our soldier has to ask for his dues".

    By Col Lamba

  2. Instead of blaming Govt. Blame Higher Ranked Officers of Armed Forces and people who allow their sons to join the elite Armed Forces as Commissioned Officers. If you join as Jawan after 20 years at the age of 38-40, with further education you can very wel have 2nd Civil career of 20-22 years upto 60. But nobody wants to learn and earn money. Only serve after 12th class and join AF and retire and ask for OROP only. Amen.