(May I again request readers not to indulge in personal attacks. Mr Datta is a respected journalist and just as I disagree with some facts in his article, he may have a different take on the issue. His article is a journalistic viewpoint, and I support his right to have his own opinion to the hilt. Let us be more accommodating and flexible. Sorry and Thanks)
Firstly, is it a mere coincidence that all that’s said against the defence establishment now emanates from ‘finance ministry sources’ ?
Saikat Datta has come up with a good one on the Military’s case for pay enhancement. I support Datta’s right to disagree with the services’ demands but I also feel tempted to address the factual errors so very prominently displayed by him.
After all the hullabaloo, this is what we needed – a supposed ‘Order of Precedence’ in a national magazine of repute which shows a Section Officer equal to a Major of the Army !. Yes, this is what is reproduced in the said article in Outlook. Click here for Page 1 of the Article and here for Page 2. So Mr Datta, what about Lieutenants and Captains, I’m sure if a Major is of the status of a Section officer, the ones who provided you with this ‘order of precedence’ would now want a Capt to be equated with an Upper Division Clerk (UDC) and Lieut with an LDC – that’s how the hierarchy below SO goes. And what about Subedar Major ? Oh, he’s a peon, alright. Now that would be really satisfying for some !!!
Well for starters, there is no such ‘order of precedence’ as reproduced in Saikat Datta’s article. Only the President’s Secretariat and the Ministry of Home Affairs are competent to deal with status and equivalence. The lone document that can be relied on is the official Order of Precedence (also known as Warrant of Precedence - WoP) last drastically amended in 1979 and issued by the President’s Secretariat. This WoP (amended till Oct 2007) clearly and unambiguously lays down the following equivalence :
Article 11 : Cabinet Secretary
Article 12 : Service Chiefs
Article 23 : Lt Generals (Army Commander equivalents) and Secretaries to Govt of India
Article 24 : Other Lt Generals
Article 25 : Additional Secretaries to Govt of India / Chief Secretaries of States outside their States.
Article 26 : Major Generals and Joint Secretaries to Govt of India
The current Central WoP is only till the rank of Major General. For ranks and posts below Maj Gen / JS to GoI, the old Warrant of 1937 is followed as per Govt of India instructions. The actual WoP down till the rank of Capt is available here.
Saikat Datta however reproduces a supposedly 1968 issued ‘Order of Precedence’ in his article which lists Army Commanders (GsOC-in-C) with Additional Secretaries, Major Generals with Joint Secretaries, Brigadiers with Deputy Secretaries, Colonels with Officiating Dy Secretaries (Needless to say, no such post exists), Lt Colonels with Under Secretaries and Majors with Section Officers. It is another story that the official number of said table or the legal sanctity of its issuing authority is not mentioned in the article. Can such a self created ‘Order of Precedence’ override the Order of Precedence issued by the President’s Secretariat. Here is a take on so called equivalence by the Army HQ, and here is the stand of the Home Ministry on equivalance. Tell me, what do you say about this Mr Datta ?. Tomorrow can the Army HQ also override the President’s warrant and locally issue a similar equivalence table showing a Capt equivalent to an Additional Secretary to Govt of India ?. Give us a break from this propaganda.
Alright let’s leave that aside, even the 6th CPC was not that cruel to the forces. The 6th CPC (and the Cabinet after due amendments) had articulated the following status and pay equivalence :-
1. Service Chiefs = Cabinet Secretary
2. Lt Gen (Army Commander) = Secretary to Govt of India (Apex Scale)
3. Lt Gen = Additional Secretary to Govt of India (Higher Adm Grade)
4. Maj Gen = Joint Secretary to Govt of India (Senior Adm Grade)
5. Brig = No equivalent in the Secretarial hierarchy but has now been equated with a DIG of IPS and Conservator of IFS.
6. Col = Director to Govt of India (Non-Functional Selection Grade)
7. Lt Col = Deputy Secretary to Govt of India (Junior Adm Grade)
8. Maj = Under Secretary to Govt of India (Senior Time Scale)
9. Capt = No equivalent
10. Lieut = Junior Time Scale
Of course a Section Officer finds mention in the 6th CPC report but sorry the said post has been equated with a Subedar of the Army. But maybe the 6th CPC got it all wrong and SOs should have been granted a Grade Pay of Rs 7600 in Pay Band-3 !!
The problem that the Services have with the 6th CPC hypothesized equivalence is that the rough pay equation of the 5th CPC and the one recommended by the Group of Officers (GOO) in 1999 has been disturbed. Till the 6th CPC came along, the pay equation was :-
Capt = Under Secretary to GoI, Maj = Dy Secretary to GoI, Lt Col = Director to GoI, Col = DIG of IPS, Brig = No equivalent, Maj Gen = Joint Secy to GoI, Lt Gen = Addl Secy to GoI, Lt Gen (Army Commander) = Secy to GoI, Service Chiefs = Cabinet Secy
Saikat Datta also gives a feeling as if the Cabinet Secretary and his team of Secretaries felt that the Services’ demand of maintenance of an edge by Regular Officers over those of the Military Nursing Services (MNS) was a big joke. Well it was not so Mr Datta. The final approval of the Cabinet would show that indeed the said demand has been accepted and MNS officers have been granted lower grade pays and status than regular commissioned officers. And let me also tell you that it is only in the Army (after the 6th CPC) that Nurses have been granted a Group-A (Class-I) status equal to other officers. On the civil side, Nurses are appointed on Group-C (Class-III) appointments.
While I hold MNS officers in high esteem, the Cabinet has not only perpetuated an anomaly by placing Lt Colonels in a lower pay band vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts, but another grave injustice has been committed closer at home, look at this :-
Lt Col of Regular Army
5th CPC Scale : Rs 15100-400-18700
6th CPC Scale : Pay Band-3 (Rs 15900-39100)
Colonel of Military Nursing Service
5th CPC Scale : Rs 13400-300-15500
6th CPC Scale : Pay Band- 4 (Rs 37400-67000)
How’s that for ‘specious arguments’, Mr Datta ??
Mr Saikat Datta replies :
Hi. This is Saikat Datta.
I wrote the piece so I welcome your take on it. However, I have only reported what i have gathered.
I have done the same to highlight how the IAS has given themselves a lot more money then what was approved by the Cabinet! I wish you had read that article to get an idea of what i am trying to say in my pieces.
Here is the link to the same : http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20081013&fname=IAS+Officers+%28F%29&sid=1
My point is that there is a growing intolerance to any opinion on any issue these days. And there is no leakage of any confidential information. Just highlighting some things in an alternative perspective. If you give me your email I am sure we can discuss this further. As regards the document that I have published (the 1968 document) this is something that was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on behalf of the cabinet secretariat. This was appended to a letter from a particular group of military officers in their representation to the pay commission.
In brief the point of the article was/is that by trying to drag down other services the army chief took the debate away from the legitimate demands of the three services for their men and officers. In fact I also state that the Navy Chief's representations as well as his signals were in the finest traditions of the services. However, mere rhetoric will not help us argue for parity, status or more money. It also needs some soul searching. Issues such as perks for senior officers by means of subsidised liquor, free rations, misuse of PBORs by making them wash clothes, swipe the floor etc. I have personally witnessed these above acts. Should Brigadiers and above be given such perks?. I have no answers but I would love to hear your views on the above.