Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Defence pay scales and growing dissatisfaction

By V K Das

An amazing situation exists in India where the defence personnel have to approach the Courts to get justice. No other service in India has to do that and nowhere in the world defence personnel have to knock at the doors of judges to get justice. Strangely all judgements go against the Govt yet they do not mend their ways. How and why this has happened?

When India became independent it was felt that the services, both civil and military, were too highly paid and a poor country needing every penny to spend on development could not afford that. Accordingly, the first pay commission was formed to go into the matter. It recommended lower pay scales for both but the ICS and the KCIOs escaped its cuts on the plea that they were Imperial services and should not be touched - strange argument but they got away with it, because they wielded power and the political leadership being novices in the art of governance needed them. The IAS and the def services were brought at par with Rs 50 difference in favour of defence as special disturbance and kit maintenance allowance.

This resulted in disgruntlement but died out soon as the ICOs got very quick promotions and the loss of pay was more than made up by the salary of higher ranks at a very young age. Lt Cols - six years, Brigs - 12 years and Maj Gens - 16 years. Gen Chaudhry was GOC Armd Div and Governor of Hy'bad with 18 years of service! Carriappa became Chief with 30 years of service. The KCIOs had their bread buttered on both sides.

In 1959 came the second pay commission. No one knew about it. I was Adjt of my Regt when in the pay slip I found an increase of Rs 50 in my pay with some arrears. I had to be told by my head clerk that it was on account of the second pay commission. I went to the mess and broke the good news to the officers assembled at the bar. There was jubilation all around. However, one major sahib did not like my talking of pay scales and called me aside to tick me off by saying why I was discussing pay scales at the bar. "Are you a soldier or a mercenary?". Those were the days!

Things changed and in 1973 when I was doing the HC course, the then Chief, Gen Bewoor came to give a talk. In the tea break we gathered around him and talked of nothing but the impending third pay commission report that was expected soon. He assured us that he will ensure that we get our dues.  No one said it was infra dig to discuss pay scales!

In 1974 while I was serving in the MO Dte after the HC Course the then RM, Jagjivan Ram said in a Monday morning meeting that it was causing a lot of discontentment in def services that their pay scales had not been revised while the IAS were the first to get the raise and the others followed soon after. He asked the Def Secy to covey to the Cabinet Secy and Finance Secy that he will not accept any further delay and the matter must be resolved by that evening and he will leave the office only after he was given the report that it had been done. He then looked at the Chief who nodded his satisfaction. 

After a few hours I went to the Chief's office to hand over a Top Secret file to the Chief but was told by the MA that I could not go in as there was a meeting on with Cab Secy and others. The meeting lasted several hours and there was agreement on meeting the two views mid-way. It was unthinkable that the soldiers will be allowed to go to the Courts to seek justice. Then came the fourth pay commission and with the IAS at the helm of affairs and weak political and military leadership things went out of hand and the soldiers were forced to go to the Courts where invariably they are getting judgements in their favour, 4th, 5th and 6th pay commission decision have all been overturned in favour of the military personnel and against the Govt. What is the psychological effect of this?

Today the soldier thinks that he has three enemies to face-two across the border that he is trained and equipped to deal with and one in the South Block behind his back ready to stab him anytime. He has to learn to deal with them. He is doing so but at the cost of discipline and morale. This is something that our political and military leadership should ponder over. They should study the mechanism in place in foreign armies and ensure that the country's soldiery does not have to take to legal recourse and maintains its faith and loyalty to the political and military leadership of the country. The responsibility for ensuring this lies with the top leadership-both civil and military.


  1. Good article. You must send this to PMs portal

  2. Dear Sir,

    You are doing a yeoman service. We are with you. Our voices seem to be falling in deaf ears. Leave aside IAS cadres, even for issue of veteran ID, DSSAB wants a full service particulars and they do not seem to be satisfied with the PPO presented in original and a copy of discharge letter. Red tapism of highest order.

  3. Dear Col Anand Sir,
    I am a veteran (Retired Army) Officer forcefully superanuated due to the fault of our policy makers and their incorrectly interpretation of our top leadership during implementation of AVS Committee. We had knocked the door of AFT and decision given in favouir of our cadre. But, the MOD filed SLP in the SC challenging the verdict of AFT insted of implementating the Court verdict.
    These are all due to the attitude of corrupt politicians, bureaucrates and military top leadership. Why it is necessary a serving/veteran needs to knock the door of court to get his valid rights/dues from the Govt/country, to defend of which he had shedded the sweat and blod unflinthingly? This is the irony of a soldier/veteran in indian and rewarded him by the nation/Govt/own top leadership.
    Sir, you have rightly brought out all facts and figures of present discremination metted by the veteran/serving personnel for the authoity.
    Sir, may I request you to tag me with your blogs as a permanent reader.

    With best regards

    Maj NB Shrestha

  4. Maj NB Shrestha,

    I agree with you. It is a pity that in UPA-2 there is no one interested in even listening to the grievances of ESM leave alone redressing them in a true and sincere manner, including our Hon'bl Defence Minister who should be most concerned about the welfare of not only serving defense personnel but also of the Veterans.

    He, as a standard practice has been evading to solve problems by giving standard noncommittal replies.

    So, I personally feel, that unless some one at that level has the well being of the veterans at heart and acts according to their needs nothing worthwhile may materialise.

    Let us hope against hope for the best anyway.

    I am afraid I am unable to tag you on the blog which you must do yourself.


    Col LK Anand (Retd)