Feel free to contribute on burning issues concerning the armed forces. Contributions would be acknowledged - Use the 'Comments' tab or email navdeepsingh.india[at]gmail.com. No operational/business/commercial matters to be discussed please. Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained. Information on this blog is opinion based and is neither official nor in the form of an advice. This is a pro bono online journal in public service related to issues, policies and benefits, and the idea behind it is to educate and not to create controversy or to incite. Be soft in your language, respect Copyrights.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Not so pragmatic : God save us from ourselves!

I stumbled upon your blogsite by chance while passing time post- retirement. It was interesting to see Pay Commissions, Higher Defence Organisation, Status, Top Brass, Oliver Twist, Gen. John Hackett, Colonialism and Indian values, Rand Corpn’s report on the Indian Armed Forces, Civil Military relations, old friend Prakash setting the cat among the pigeons and best of all, Riding a dead horse and of course Mahajan’s quotes. While it is heartening to see that the spirit of discussion remains alive, but the content, especially Gen Surjit Singh’s lament on the CPCs, reminded me of some lines from Roy Campbell, not the musician, but a South African poet of yore.

“You praise the firm restraint with which they write
I am with you there of course
They use the snaffle and the curb all right
But where’s the bloody horse”.

Most of these are subjects that one has dealt with, whilst in service, either as part of the job or out of personal interest. While I was quite content to watch from the sidelines what goes on, prodding from some friends who are aware of my views have persuaded me that clearing the air on some facts may minimize this ‘comedy of errors’ that happens every time there is an opportunity for correction.

While I agree that there is little love lost between the bureaucracy and the uniformed personnel, I have no doubt that most of our problems with respect to pay and status are more self-inflicted than otherwise. In that, my views may be closer to yours than that of other bloggers. We can address other issues later.

Institutionally, I think there is some trepidation about subordinates (officers and men) being well-paid. Maybe fears of losing control, indiscipline etc. I don’t see any other reason for the persistent disconnect between public posturing and actual proposals. Incidentally, the Calvin & Hobbes ‘we don’t want to learn anything from this’ was the centre-piece of a presentation by a civilian professor at a Defence College abroad I attended many years ago. That really puts our Pay commission conundrum in perspective. But I am surprised there were not many responses to it.

III CPC. This was remarkable in the sense that they gave the best comparison between the nature of duties of the armed forces and civil services. Pay-wise I don’t think they significantly changed the status quo ante.

IV CPC. The single biggest lowering of the pay and status of Service officers was done at the IV CPC, ironically, at the request of the Services. Without going into lengthy details and figures to buttress the argument, I’ll just say what transpired. Though it is from memory, I won’t be far off the mark.

The pay cells asked for 2Lt to Maj. Gen to be bracketed in the same pay band to ameliorate poor promotion prospects. Why it was called running scale is a mystery to me because it kept Service officers standing whilst others moved ahead by Assured Career Progression (ACP) up to Selection Grade (NFSG). Don’t ask me why it is called selection grade when it is a grade of pay given to the guy who is not selected for promotion. The ACP was available to armed forces also in the pay of Major ( Selection Grade),given to the Major who was not selected for promotion to Lt Col. This I think was an achievement of the Q&M paper of 1982 and few seem to recollect this. The CPC report recommended that the pay of Maj (SG) be done away with in view of the running scale (as requested by Services).

If we had not put up any proposal to the IV CPC, by their own logic, the CPC would have given the Major the same scale as the Director(NFSG) in the 14th year as was done for all the other organized Gp A services with which Service officers are bracketed. But since we insisted on being different, and wanted a rank pay in place of the normal increment on promotion, they succumbed to the demand, merged the civil scales up to NFSG, split it into (pay on running scale plus rank pay) and gave the armed forces the same ACP as available to civilians, but in the form that the services asked for. If you check the figures you’ll find that the Major’s pay, incl rank pay was co-terminus (a term I learned from our pay experts) with the civil NFSG scale. But the running (must have been on a tread-mill) scale slowed progress and rank pay (rankles every time) created an ambiguity on the basic pay for status equations. In other words, the Major who was to be placed in the NFSG scale in the 14th year moved to the minimum (Rank pay is also included in this minimum) of that scale in the 16th 0r 17th year only.

As if this wasn’t enough, Lt Col, Col, Brig and Major General were also sought to be put in the same bracket. The CPC probably had more respect for the Maj. Gen and declined to bring him down, but agreed for Lt Col, Col and Brig who were brought down by 1, 2 and 3 scales respectively and given Rank Pay as consolation.

Instead of seeking to remedy of the situation when the report came out, the Services pay cells appear to have gone on a propaganda blitz, telling everybody that Majors, Lt Cols and Cols were given the pay of Brigs, less rank pay. The only hint of truth in the statement was that the rank pay was an insignificant amount probably less than the amount you would have got if you moved into the next pay scale like civilian counterparts.

The pay-cells managed to sell this idea so well and with fanfare that nobody bothered to check its veracity. Had they done so, it would have been obvious that Brigs, Cols and Lt Cols were actually down-graded to the level of Majors and not the other way around. The equations got further skewed with the SAG II (corresponding to the Brig) of civilians getting ‘upwardly merged’ (The babus come up with interesting terminology if nothing else) with SAG I (Maj Gen/ JS scale).

The relatively lesser damage during fixation of pay was later taken up by Maj. Dhanapalan. While Dhanapalan is right, look at the figures and you can see that the reduction of rank pay was done to keep the scale plus rank pay within the civil ACP.

In fairness to those who steered the case before the IV CPC, there could be some justifications for the situation at the time because the norms for central pay determination were not clearly spelt out. The IV CPC laid down some norms and we should have realized immediately that the running pay scale was a flawed concept and remedied it immediately. Instead we chose to call this disaster, an achievement, and have been repeating it again and again ad nauseum. Institutionally if we cannot see the obvious even after 22 years, it calls for a review of the way Services handle such issues.

V CPC. The V CPC was an opportunity for correction. But we asked for more of the same and literally asked for a reduction in pay vis-à-vis the civil services. I am not being sarcastic, read the Services memorandum to the V CPC. Fortunately for the Services, even the CPC was probably overwhelmed by the sheer size of the memorandum and didn’t bother to read it. Ironically, the graphical representation of the state of affairs in the volume itself showed that the IV CPC was a disaster for the Services, but we asked for more of the same. But by then there was some realization, outside of the pay-cells at Service HQs, that the running pay-scale/ rank pay had done great damage. The main thrust of the Services’ demand to the Anomalies committee post V CPC (Yes, a similar outpouring of indignation was there after V CPC) was to restore the pre-IV CPC pay equations and re-merge rank pay to basic pay. It was of course turned down, mainly on the argument that it was created at the request of the Services.

VI CPC. I have not seen the Services proposal to the VI CPC and don’t want to comment on it, but I suspect someone at the CPC had time to read the Services’ proposals to the V CPC, because most of this lowering of pay and status all are shouting about now, seem to be what we ourselves asked for at the V CPC. I may be wrong, but it seems to me whoever was tasked to look at the Services proposals at the V CPC may have done it at the VI CPC as well and had the time to read the tome we prepared in 1995. This can be easily checked with our pay guys. It may also explain the CPC’s surprise at the reaction from the Services.

I think it was Carl Jung who spoke about every individual having a death-wish. Probably organizations too have it and Indian armed forces reiterate this at every pay commission and every time some old foggies sing paeans about the achievements at the IV CPC. Not only at CPCs, the AVS report formally lowered the Lt Col to NFSG level and our recommended solution for shortcomings in Higher Defence Organisation is to elevate the Defence Secretary from the level of the Vice-Chief to above the CDS. We can expect much hand-wringing and wailing if and when it gets implemented, including from those who signed the report recommending it.

Though I am a bit away from the scene of action, I can lay a safe bet that if we add up our proposals to the IV and V CPCs, and link it with the AVS report; we would generally get what the VI CPC has recommended. Now that the IAS can move to the Maj Gen’s scale in the 14th year, another request of the Services pay cells to the IV CPC, i.e. of bracketing the Major General with the then civilian equivalent of the Major has also been granted.

God save us from ourselves!

Bee Cee


The proposed "Servicemembers' Redressal of Grievances Act" : Statutory liability to respond to/ act upon grievances of servicemembers

A presentation :

Background Paper

Complete text of the proposed Act

The above is pending with the govt somewhere in officialdom.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The year was 1992 - This is what the Chairman COSC had to say to the Defence Minister :

This is what the Chairman COSC had to say to the Defence Minister in 1992.
Fast-Forward - 2008, where are we ? Still there !!!

Document Page 1:

Document Page 2:

Document Page 3:

Cut and Paste in your browser if the links do not work directly.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pay-scales based on Protocol or convenience ? : No Sir, 1+1 is NOT 2 here !!

(Sorry, the following is slightly technical :-) )
On popular demand, I am enclosing a link to the Central Warrant of Precedence that is presently applicable. This WoP is only till the rank of Major General and below this the old warrant of 1937 is valid till date as confirmed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.


Taking into account the 6th CPC, things to ponder in view of the warrant :-

1. The 6th CPC has equated the Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) of the Civil Services with a Major General. This is incorrect. Only those officers of the SAG can be equated with Major Generals who are empanelled and holding the appointment of a Joint Secretary to Govt of India, and that too only for ceremonial purposes. (Please see Article 26 and Note-1 below it). It is a Joint Secretary GOI who is equated with a Maj Gen for ceremonial purposes and not all SAG officers. There are many SAG officers but not all are Joint Secretaries in Govt of India.

2. The 6th CPC has taken the WoP as a basis for determination of pay scales and status and that is the reason for equating a GOI Joint Secretary’s pay with a Maj Gen (Both on Article 26). The same was done by earlier CPCs too. Keeping that in view, now how do they justify a fixed pay of Rs 80,000 for DG of CPOs and a lesser pay of Rs 39200-67000 (with Grade Pay of Rs 11000) to Lt Generals ? A Lt Gen is on Article 24 while a DG of a CPO is on Article 25 !!!. In fact, a Maj Gen posted as a PSO (as was the case in the past) is equated with a CPO DG on Article 25.

3. How has the same pay of Rs 80,000 been recommended for an Army Commander (GOC-in-C) and DsG of CPOs ? An Army Commander is on Article 23 while the latter is two steps below on Article 25.

4. The pay of a Lt Gen (Article 24 of WoP) has been kept at Rs 39200-67000 (with a Grade Pay of Rs 11000) which is lesser than even the pay of a DG of State Police who has the same pay-scale with a Grade Pay of Rs 13000. A DGP of State Police does not even feature on the Central Warrant of Precedence. In fact, the pay of a Lt Gen has now been linked to the pay of an Addl DGP of States who has also been placed in the same pay band with a Grade Pay of 11000. Needless to say, an Addl DG also is nowhere near the Central WoP.



Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is 6th CPC that bad ? . Myth & Reality : Sixth Central Pay Commission

Fan of the 6th CPC I am definitely not, and am particularly appalled at some of the recommendations which also reflect a shallowness of understanding on the part of the commission. However many funny queries have been received on the recommendations of the 6th CPC by me. Though, in certain areas, defence personnel have not been dealt with fairly, some apprehensions stem from misinformation and a misconceived negative propaganda against the commission. Answers to some such common queries are :-

:- The starting pay of a Lieutenant has been kept lower than the starting pay of a Civil Services Group ‘A’ Officer.

Reality :- The starting pay of Lieutenant is absolutely the same as his civilian counterpart. In addition, a Lieut gets a Military Service Pay (MSP) of Rs 6000/- which gets added to his/her pay. The issue however is that the edge to military officers over the starting pay of civil servants has been done away with by this Pay Commission.
:- No DA is admissible on MSP.

Reality :- MSP is to be added into basic pay for all intents and purposes except for increments. It would also be added for calculation of allowances such as HRA. It would also be added for calculation of pension.

:- Officers upto the rank of Brigadier would stagnate in their pay-scales at the higher end of Rs 39100/-

Reality :- On reaching the higher end, they would automatically be upgraded to Pay Band-4 with a starting pay of Rs 39200/-. What needs to be addressed is the problem that IAS officers would reach PB-4 in merely 14 years of service while it would take double the service for defence officers.

:- Not much benefit in pension and retrial benefits

Reality :- Pension, especially for post 1-1-2006 (and hopefully for earlier retirees in case a better modified parity is provided as is being hinted) would be definitely better than at present since besides the higher pay, MSP would also be added. Death-cum-Retirement Gratuity has been raised to Rs 10 Lacs. Anomalies in leave encashment have been removed and enhanced pension has been recommended for pensioners attaining the ages of 80, 85, 90, 95 and 100 years. Bar on disability pension on voluntary retirement has been removed. Disability pension now to be calculated as percentage of pay unlike the slab system in the past.

Problem Areas :- There are many, including :-

a) Major difference between the pension of pre and post 1-1-2006 retirees in case a good system of modified parity is not put into motion.

b) Degradation of status of military officers – Grade Pay would now determine status. And according to recommendations of this pay commission, grade pays of military officers of higher status have been linked with junior civil officers especially till the rank of Brigadier. To take an example, the starting pay of a DIG was in between a Lt Col and a Col but this time a DIG has been recommended the pay of a Brigadier. The pay of a Lt General (Article 24 on the current warrant of precedence) has been kept two steps lower than a DG of Central Police Organizations who is junior to a Lt General in status and features on Article 25 of the current warrant of precedence.

c) Low MSP for PBOR and NO arrears recommended on MSP.

d) Re-configuration of Assured Career Progression scheme according to military norms not accepted. Currently the second ACP applies after 20 years of service, a time when most of the PBOR of the lowest ranks in the fighting arms have already retired.
Also see :-

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

'Neurosis' attributable to military service, release disability pension : HC

The Punjab & Haryana High Court has held that psychiatric diseases such as 'Neurosis' cannot be declared as 'not-attributable to military service'. While dealing with the case of ex-Sepoy Thakur Singh, the Hon'ble High Court has held that diseases which find mention in the rules as ones affected by stress and strain of service, have to be regarded as such even if the medical board holds otherwise. The decision is in line with a decision by the Delhi High Court that a medical board shall only hold primacy if it has been held within the four corners of rules and regulations. It may be recalled that the Hon'ble Supreme Court had held recently that Medical Board recommendations shall hold primacy while determining disability pension claims.

Release / Invaliding Medical Boards are expected to conform to 'Entitlement Rules' promulgated by the Ministry of Defence while dealing with disability pension claims. But unfortunately, most of such diseases are declared as 'constitutional in nature and not connected to service' by medical boards, a practice which in fact contravenes entitlement rules which provide detailed guidelines as to how such claims should be handled.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A short presentation on some glaring 6th CPC anomalies

Navy’s decision to curtail the tenure of naval cadets at NDA by one year : Views of an ex-NDA foreign officer on the issue

Col (Retired) T C Pang (NDA : 1974-1977, 11056, 52nd L Sqn, Class 52A, IMA : 1977-1978, YO’s Belgaum : 1979) is a well settled and well respected retired officer from Singapore who left active service in 1990 and the reserves in 2005. Now in a successful consultancy, trading and patents venture business, following are his views on the Navy’s decision which has evoked mixed reactions.

This is indeed not an easy subject. Numerous views there will be, be it sentimental, economic, national security or even emotional, but I doubt there can be one consensus. The statistics in the last paragraph is a cold reality. When I joined NDA in June 1974, I learnt that tens of thousands teenage boys compete fiercely for 300 places. Today, there are 300 places searching for another 100 "missing" candidates!Times have changed. The economic reality today and the wars that will be fought tomorrow are vastly different from those of 30 years ago. NDA cannot remain the same. Otherwise it will lose it's raison d'Ãtre. As it is, NDA is already losing "it" from the Navy's perspective. Worst of all, there are not enough qualified cadets to train, be it BSc, BA, or BTech in 2 or 3 years! Some soul searching is needed? National defence and security will always remain a strategic priority. The challenge is to find an economic balance in building the defence capability. Whatever the size and shape ofthe defence force may be, it still has to "compete" for the candidates within the harsh reality of market forces and society's value system. The weapon systems in use today and in the future will obviously require different skills from what NDA is teaching today. Apart from the "hard" technical skills, there is also the "soft" skills of leadership, management, communication and team building. There is no denial that 3 years in NDA forge a very special bond. The fact that I'm writing this email after 30 years from 3,000 miles away to an audience of 100 of my course mates, on a very emotional and difficult subject adds to that testimony. But, within that 3-year time window, given the group dynamics of 300 cadets, at best, we have found and formed very close friendships with 30 course mates, from squadron, class or sports/club/activity types. The rest remain very close social and professional acquaintances with very unique shared experiences.Transport such group dynamics into war, and we ask ourselves how crucial such bonds are? Is it so crucial that all commanders at the same level in the 3 services are pals on first-name basis? Are we arguing that if our commanders do not know each other well, we are less effective, or worse, ineffective, when fighting a common enemy together? So, then, what should be the mission and role of NDA? Is it merely to give the cadets a BA, BSc or BTech over 3 years plus 30 close friends? Isn't there something more? There must be. How can we describe the "something more" in very clear terms that 3 years is crucial and 2 years just don't make the cut.Ideally, NDA should cater to the changing needs of the services. How is it that only the Navy needs BTech? Are we suggesting that the Army and Air Force do not need new technical skills? Rather than dragging the Navy behind, why not allow all services to have access to BTech for their cadets? A more fundamental challenge remains unsolved. Declining recruitment rates and increasing resignations arising from poor salary and benefits. If there are not enough qualified cadets, BTech over 2 or 3 years is a moot point. My view is that improvement in terms and conditions of service is priority and crucial to address declining recruitment. At the same time, change and add on to what NDA can offer. But keep the cadets together, the longer the better. BTech degrees and faculties are portable. They can be persuaded or motivated to come to NDA. Just like SP Jain Business School and INSEAD are in Singapore. But the NDA and its environs is not. One has to be there physically and mentally, to be forged in its unique architecture, landscape, activities and routine, and the bonds arising from such group dynamics.Put it in another perspective, BA, BSc, BTech can all be packaged into "distance learning" programs today. It's the transmission of academic and technical information and knowledge. But the NDA experience cannot be transported. One has to be there, in mind, body and spirit.

TC Pang
52nd L Sqn
Class 52A

The above views were expressed by the author in response to an article on the subject by Ajai Shukla.
Messages / Comments to Col Pang can be sent to navdeepsingh.india@gmail.com and would be duly passed on to him.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Silly observations, blunders and goof-ups by the 6th CPC

One look at the report and it seems like a darn nice B-school exercise. Another look at the 6th Pay Commission Report and you can fathom so many fundamental and basic mistakes in the report while dealing with the armed forces that you wonder how the future pay and allowances of the forces were dealt with a panel so ill-informed, not just about the conditions in which the services perform, but also about the existing pay and pensionary benefits. Three examples :-

1. Chapter 2.3, Page 73 onwards : - The 6th CPC has articulated equivalence tables as established by the earlier pay commissions. Now this is a self created imaginary interpretation of the Sixth Pay Commission. The earlier pay commissions never established or put forth any such equivalence or relativity. In fact, the rough equivalence established by the 5th CPC is as below :-


Junior Time Scale / 8000 / Lieut / 8250

Senior Time Scale / 10000 / Capt / 10000
(Under Secy to Govt of India)

Junior Adm Grade / 12000 / Major / 12800
(Dy Secy to GoI)

Non Functional / 14300 / Lt Col / 15100
Selection Grade
(Director GoI)

DIG (Unique to IPS) / 16400 / Colonel / 17100

2. Chapter 5.1, Page 349 onwards :- While dealing with the demand for grant of disability pension to voluntary retirees, the 6th CPC has stated that defence personnel who are retimed in service despite disability are granted a ‘disability lumpsum compensation in lieu of disability pension’ and hence if on voluntary retirement the disability pension is also released, it would amount to double benefit for the same disability. The 6th CPC then goes on to recommend that Yes, disability pension needs to be provided to voluntary retirees but only if such individuals choose to forgo the lumpsum compensation. The above observation of the commission is absolutely incorrect since disability lumpsum compensation is not provided to all individuals on getting disabled, it is optional. As it is, a person who opts for disability lumpsum compensation is not eligible for disability pensionary benefits on retirement as per existing rules. Hence the entire commentary of the commission in this respect justifying the earlier bar on disability pension on voluntary retirement on the pretext of avoidance of double benefit, is redundant and makes no sense. Also it seems that it was unknown to the commission that even this disability lumpsum compensation is taken back by the govt on voluntary retirement as per existing rules, an issue which needs to be addressed. Bar on disability pension on voluntary retirement has already been held to be ‘bad in law’ by Hon’ble Courts.

3. Chapter 5.1 (sub para 68) on Page 349 :- The Pay Commission has rejected the demand of the Armed Forces that disability pension should be released even to soldiers, sailors and airmen with less than 20% disability. The Commission has opined that a disability below 20% cannot be treated as a disability and the existing provisions need to be retained. With all due respect, the 6th CPC has failed to appreciate that in the civil services, there is no bar on disability pension to employees suffering a disability below 20%. In fact, a person suffering even 1% disability in the civil services is entitled to a disability element by taking his disability as 50%. Hence in the opinion of the commission, below 20% disability is ‘no disability’ for armed forces personnel but for civilians, even 1% disability is a disability deserving the release of disability pension.

What to expect from Pay Commission review committee(s) ?

Notwithstanding the fact that there is no member from the uniformed community, here is what may be coming the way of the defence services according to hints from the powers that be :-

a) Introduction of another pay band or additional step up
b) Improvement in Grade Pay (and hence the status) vis-à-vis civil service officers
c) A better modified parity between post and pre-1-1-2006 retirees : A step towards one-rank one-pay regime
d) A better Military Service Pay (MSP) for PBORAnd some minor tinkering here and there

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Toll Tax Exemption is NOT available to Ex-Servicemen/women / Veterans

I have time and again received queries and complaints on refusal of toll exemption to ex-servicemen / veterans. It is clarified that the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, is NOT applicable to ex-servicemen. Certain Ex-servicemen organizations had been flaunting a letter dated 17-11-2006 supposedly issued by the NHAI in which it was stated that besides serving personnel, even ex-servicemen were entitled to toll tax exemption. The NHAI has confirmed that the letter is fake.
Toll exemption is only available to private vehicles of serving personnel.
However veterans would be happy to learn that the Govt of India, as a goodwill gesture, has exempted gallantry award winning veterans from payment of toll tax on National Highways. While toll exemption under the above mentioned Act of 1901 is available on all roads and bridges in India, exemption to gallantry award winners is only available on NHs.
Also see :

Chandigarh, March 21. Ex-servicemen are not exempted from paying toll tax on national highways. The exemption is available only to serving armed forces personnel, whether moving in government transport or their private vehicles.
A communiqué issued by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on March 6 has further stated that a letter dated November 17, 2006, supposedly issued by its Delhi office providing for exemption to ex-servicemen, is a fake.
Over the past few months, various ex-servicemen organisations have been making the use of the aforesaid letter that mentions that besides serving personnel, ex-servicemen were also entitled toll tax exemption.
A section of serving and retired defence personnel has, however, raised doubts over the veracity of the letter since the Indian Tolls Act 1901 only provides for toll exemption to serving military personnel. Even the Supreme Court had in 2006 upheld toll exemption to private vehicles of serving defence personnel even if they were not on duty.
Many ex-servicemen had protested against toll collection on the basis of the said letter. An ex-servicemen’s organisation in Punjab had reportedly even obtained a stay from a district court on toll collection from retired personnel on the basis of the letter.