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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Heartfelt condolences irrespective of colour of uniform and some more clarity on the NSG


Our hearts go out to all lives lost in the Mumbai terror attack irrespective of the colour of uniform. I was also pained to see some immature comments on this blog and elsewhere talking ill of policemen who were in the middle of the action and against Mr J K Dutt, DG NSG who was conducting most of the media briefing. The same immaturity was also shown by some others who said that it was not the Army but a Police Organisation (NSG) which deserved all credit.

Let me clarify.

The NSG comprises of two groups. The Special Action Group (SAG) which handles situations such as Mumbai and other anti-terror, anti-hijack and hostage rescue activities and the Special Ranger Group (SRG) which basically deals with VIP security.

The SAG in its entirety is constituted of Army personnel while the SRG comprises of personnel from the CPOs and also to a degree from the State Police Forces. Needless to say, the operation performed in Mumbai was by the SAG which purely comprises Army Personnel.

Now coming to Mr Jyoti Krishan Dutt. Being the DG NSG and the head of the organisation in thick of action, it was of course natural for him to have briefed the media and I don’t think he did a bad job. The officer is of the 1971 batch of the IPS and is also a recipient of the Police Medal for Gallantry. People who have left negative remarks for him may also have missed out the Sangram Medal ribbon for 1971 Indo-Pak war on his chest. Let us be more responsible in these times, let us not compare professionalism in different organisations, let us just hope that we are able to face this war collectively.

It is also necessary to promote initiative within the uniformed forces. When INS TABAR took on Somalian pirates, it was reported that certain elements in Delhi had castigated the Navy for not keeping them in picture, though later the Navy was rightfully given its pat.

The above reminds me of this situation : Click here for Black Humour on military initiative.

While the sacrifices of Maj Unnikrishnan, Mr Karkare and Hav Gajendra Singh have deservedly received our attention today, the death of Mr Ashok Kamte, another IPS officer of the 1989 batch who was cremated earlier was not much in the public eye. Mr Kamte, son of a Colonel and grandson of a former Police Chief of Maharashtra, was known to be a braveheart who had once physically taken on an MLA in Solapur. He had special attachment and fondness for the Army. He had also attended the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.

May their souls rest in peace.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rank Pay, anyone ??? (Updated)


Newsflash : Our hearts go out to the lives lost in Mumbai. The Army and the NSG have now officially taken over the Operations from the Police. Marcos were the first to arrive at the scene in the morning.

Rank Pay is dead, Long live the rank pay.

Well, as we all know by now, the downgradation of military ranks stems from the non-addition of rank pay into basic pay while laying down the new scales and grade pay. It seems that the Member Secretary of the 6th CPC was not convinced that Rank Pay formed a part of basic pay. The same officer (Member Secy 6th CPC) later also became a member of the Committee of Secretaries under the Cabinet Secy (from Caesar to Caesar’s wife?). Though you may have seen these arguments here and there on this blog, here is why rank pay cannot be excluded from basic pay :

1. Rank pay was carved out of the basic pay of military officers when a running pay band was implemented. So where is the question of rank pay being an ‘additional element’ different from the basic ?. The said fact is also admitted by the 6th CPC in Paragraph 2.3.10 (iv).

2. The 4th CPC had recommended an integrated running pay scale of Rs 2300-5100 for all ranks from Second Lieut till Brigadier to which rank pay was added as a differentiating factor. If we buy the argument of rank pay not being a part of basic pay, it would mean that a 2/Lt as well as a Brig had the same status vis-à-vis civil services since both of them were in the same scale of Rs 2300-5100.

3. Both SAIs 2/S/87 and 2/S/98 notified by the MoD clearly define rank pay as ‘a part of basic pay’. No amendment was carried out in these definitions at any point of time by the Govt. So now to say that rank pay is not a part of basic pay holds no ground.

4. The carving out of rank pay from basic pay and then the addition of the same into basic pay for all purposes was approved by the Cabinet and no authority in the govt can hold an opinion or view which is opposed to the recommendations of the 4th and 5th CPCs approved by the Cabinet.

5. While calculating new pay fixation, even the 6th CPC added rank pay into basic pay. Please see Table 2.3.1 on Page 89 of the 6th CPC.

6. The Hon’ble Kerala High Court reaffirmed the addition of rank pay into basic pay in Maj Dhanapalan Vs Union of India case.

7. The MoD as a respondent had submitted to the Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal that rank pay was to be added into basic pay for status purposes. More details of the said case are available here.

8. The insistence of CPOs that their rank of 2IC is equivalent to Lt Col and that rank pay is not to be added into basic pay of a Lt Col holds no ground since originally in most of the CPOs there was no rank of 2IC but there were two grades of Commandants known as Comdt (Selection Grade) [State Emblem with Two Stars] and Comdt (Ordinary Grade) [State Emblem with One Star], the point to be noted is that both these ranks were in NFSG pay scales which are now in Pay Band-4. Comdts (Ordinary Grade) used to be posted as 2ICs of CPO Battalions. The rank of 2IC however existed in some CPOs such as CISF but that rank was also in NFSG scale. The 5th CPC however merged Comdt (SG) and Comdt (OG) and granted them the NFSG scale of Rs 14300-18300, even the 2IC rank wherever it existed was granted the same NFSG scale of Rs 14300-18300 for existing incumbents. Having done that, the 5th CPC created a new junior rank of 2IC in the Junior Administrative Grade of Rs 12000-16500. Now this new JAG rank of 2IC is what is being compared by the CPOs with a Lt Col. But tell me, if a new junior rank is created for the CPOs for their cadre management, would the rank of Lt Col in the Army also stand automatically degraded ?. How can the argument regarding such action taken in one organization be used for degrading ranks in an another unrelated organization ?. Before CPO officers start questioning the above data, Paras 70.19 & 70.21 of the 5th CPC may be perused for a complete lowdown on the situation.

9. A document showing a supposedly new definition of rank pay is now being used to say that rank pay is not to be added into basic pay. Again a plain perusal of this document would show that in fact it re-affirms the stand of the services since it clearly states that rank pay is directly related to the basic pay and scale of pay. The reason for not merging rank pay into basic pay was quite different from what it is being made to look. Rank pay was maintained as a different part of basic pay to cater for acting ranks keeping in view the uniqueness of the services in this regard. For example, if a Capt was promoted as Acting Major, he/she was to be paid the basic pay of a Capt with rank pay of a Major. In case rank pay and basic pay were merged, there would have been a difficulty in maintenance of this concept and that was the reason why there was no merger.

10. The Committee of Secretaries after the 5th CPC had also opined that a Major’s pay with rank pay in 14th year of service should be equated with the NFSG on the civil side. In fact, since the 3rd CPC, it was Majors who enjoyed a close equivalence with NFSG. During the 3rd CPC regime, the pay of a Major (Selection Grade) was Rs 1550-1900 which was quite similar to the Civil Selection Grade of Rs 1650-1800 now in Pay Band-4.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Pleasant news in the offing, Relax and wait :-) Please don’t read too much into the Cabinet Secretary’s interview


Papers yesterday blew out of proportion some off-the-cuff comments by India’s Cabinet Secretary, Mr KM Chandrasekhar, on the military pay anomalies issue. There was indeed an over-interpretation of his remarks.

The difficulty of maintenance of a balance in equities and parities he was referring to was in fact of the pre-GoM days. He was referring to the Committee of Secretaries and not to the Group of Ministers, which of course is a higher apex body. The GoM is currently examining the accepted recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries headed by Mr Chandrasekhar. The GoM would soon be recommending to the Cabinet the improved amendments.

The following (complete) remarks bring more clarity on what he was trying to convey :-

“The Cabinet Secretary said when the armed forces raised the issue of pay parity, the Committee of Secretaries took up it immediately and deliberated on how to find a solution to it for the satisfaction of the defence personnel. ‘When the armed forces raised the issue, we sat together at the official level with Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister (P M Nair) and decided that the best thing would be to request the higher level. So we requested the external affairs minister because he was both defence and finance minister earlier and could consult defence minister and finance Minister and give his views,’ he said.”

I however do hope that the Cab Secretary was not referring to the below mentioned good work by the CoS when he talked of ‘balance’ and ‘parity’ in his remarks :-) (uh hmm !!)

Click here to see the Comparison of difference / lag in pay and status progression between the civil and defence services.

Click here to see a Comparison of Military & Civil Pay Scales : 5th Vs 6th CPC


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Perhaps a far fetched idea for the future but an idea nevertheless. And (unrelated) yet another Rumour Killer


First the Sunday rumour killer. There have been rumours that Colonels (Time Scale) have been placed in Pay Band-3 with the Grade Pay of a Lt Col (7600). This is incorrect. The MoD has already issued orders (SAI 3/S/08) placing the rank of Col (TS) in Pay Band-4 with a Grade Pay of Rs 8700. Hence there remains no difference in status of a Col (TS) and Col (Selection) vis-à-vis Civil services. Indeed a good step. Anybody wanting the ibid SAI may email a request to me. (Thanks to our friend MBSG for this)

Now the main post. The following comment at 0850 hrs on 20 November 2008 on this post regarding the potent caustic ability of office notings made me think :

“As one comes on posting to Delhi, first priorities are house, child education and so on. With no overlap provided, the incumbent has no choice but to depend wholly on that cunning babu, who has seen many officers come and go. We must change the posting policy at AFHQ. There needs to be a permanent set of officers and JCOs trained to handle HQ jobs with limited rotation to field after every 5-7 yrs.”

The above comment reminded me of the Adjutant General’s Corps of the US Army which is a separate Combat Support Service and provides personnel and managerial support to the Army besides other administrative duties. This corps has its own insignia and is a separate branch of the Army.

We, in India too can have a similar concept with officers exclusively dealing with policy, records and management at headquarter level - a military equivalent of the Armed Forces HQ Civil Service (AFHQCS). This can also put in place a good system of checks and balances wherein military interests could be effectively looked after by providing a better advisory arrangement to the top political and civil executive. The lack of continuity and to an extent a lack of proper understanding of certain concepts at the HQ level may be responsible for neglect of execution of balanced decision making concerning the military. Such a Service Corps if conceptualized, could also take over ‘Records’ and finance duties in the Army and the subsisting SL Cadre of Record officers could also be merged into it. To take a different but parallel example, the Indian Air Force already has an Accounts Branch and a Central Accounts Office which is able to constructively counter balance and also support and augment elements of the CDA. And they do a good job at that, perhaps (arguably) better than what we have in the other two services.

It may appear to be a far fetched idea as of now, but I think it is absolutely workable.

Click here to see the history of the US AG Corps.

I would request readers to post comments on as to how we can have an effective balanced arrangement at places of governance so that decision making bodies are provided professional and valuable military inputs by those wearing uniform rather than those without it. It may be in the overall interest of the defence set up.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday rumour killer....


The cyberspace and corridors of power are rife with rumours. The biggest one being that the core anomalies have been rejected and the file has reached the PMO and that all demands (except enhanced pensionary weightage to PBOR) stand discarded.

This is wrong. While the govt is still deliberating the issues, no demand has been rejected as on date.

Moreover, I would urge some of my friends to be a little patient. Contrary to popular perception, there was no time-frame for the GoM to come up with its recommendations. The ‘by diwali’ comment was an off the cuff utterance referring to the adhoc arrears. Can you imagine a committee of three busy ministers coming up with a solution for a million strong force within a few days when the Pay Commission and subsequent bodies took more than 2 years for the same. Of course, they need to be quick, but we need to give them some space…it’s just a matter of days now. Instead of praying for a quickie, we should hope for a well rounded decision sealing the matter for all times to come and also for an independent assessment by the GoM without much dependence on what is fed by the Ministry of Finance and their imaginary equivalence.

Oh, by the way, here is the new order on revised allowances. The acceptance of the new inflation protection clause is a welcome move. Otherwise basically all allowances stand doubled except funeral allowance which stands quadrupled. Ironic, isn’t it ?


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In defence of the IAS. Well, sort of !!


"What distortion could you let your pen forget today? What misfortune left your heart so broken you only say Words intended to belittle or dismay? What if I say you lie?" : Prince, in Billy Jack B from 'The Gold Experience' (1996)

Oft you may have seen and heard serving and retired personnel lamenting that the IAS lobby is responsible for bringing down the status and dignity of the military and that the same is singularly responsible for the Pay Com fiasco.

I beg to differ.

In my humble opinion, it is those innocuous looking notes and file notings and recommendations and clerical remarks by the lower echelons of bureaucracy which ultimately wreck havoc upon reaching their respective destinations. It is the army of desk officers, section officers, under and deputy secretaries who do not want the status of the military to be enhanced since they would not like to let go of the self-propagated control wielded by them. The problem is that once a proposal is mooted or moved by the forces, before it reaches the decision makers it has to go through a sieve of secretarial staff, who with their limited outlook and expertise in nuisance value, place their veiled comments in such a nasty manner that the thinking process of the decision makers gets clouded. It is not the IAS or the political executive which is to blame, the malaise derives its origin from much lower places.

In law, there is a concept called ‘opportunity of hearing’ and ‘Audi Alterm Partem' which in plain parlance means ‘nobody can be condemned unheard’. Now this is what is lacking in our system when it comes to the military. Whenever any proposal is forwarded to the decision makers (for example, the GoM and MoF in the case of 6th CPC), it goes through a labyrinth of lower bureaucracy the comments and notings of whom the forces are not privy to. Such unilateral comments are taken as gospel truth by the powers that be without giving any opportunity of clarification to the forces and eventually resulting in adverse and sometimes perverse decisions based on incorrect feedback & analysis of a particular situation. The IAS lobby does not give a damn if the status of the military is enhanced or maintained, come to think about it, it does not matter to them, but my friends it does matter to the Central Secretariat Service (CSS), AFHQCS, IDAS, IDAS et al.

When the four core anomalies (Placing of Lt Colonels in PB-4 / Placing of Lt Gens in HAG+ / Uniform Grade Pay / Enhancement of Pension of PBOR) were forwarded to the highest of political executive and earlier to the Committee of Secretaries, the proposals of the forces were reportedly unfortunately saddled with notes (‘analysis’) by old hands at the MoD and some of these may have been blatantly incorrect to say the least. It is common knowledge that certain notes having no official basis may have been placed on files dealing with the 6th CPC, some examples :

While admitting that rank pay was carved out of basic pay, it was reportedly noted on the file forwarded by certain officials at MoD that ‘a view was later taken by the Ministry that rank pay was not a part of basic pay’. Now it fails common sense as to how can a junior official sitting in the ministry take a ‘view’ on something recommended by the 4th and 5th CPCs and approved by the Cabinet. Elsewhere the same officials have reportedly also stated in writing that ‘rank pay is not a part of basic pay’, of course paragraphs of SAI 2/S/87 or 2/S/98 notified by the MoD which say that ‘rank pay is a part of basic pay’ were not in all probability referred to in the ibid note. The same officials also reportedly made a categorical statement that the pay of a Lt Col had been equated with the Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) since the 3rd CPC. Of course it was not mentioned that the pay scale of a Lt Col (1750-1950) was higher than even the civil Selection Grade of Rs 1650-1800 which is now in Pay Band-4. It was also not mentioned that the erstwhile rank of Major (Selection Grade) with a scale of 1550-1900 was also akin to the civil Selection Grade. An example of what certain people would like the status of military to be is reflected from the following comment on the official 6th CPC portal by AFHQ ISOs organization :-

“To compensate their risky and strenuous assignment they should be granted Combatant Allowance. In this way we can ensure, first, equity of pay and, secondly, avoid clash of equivalence with civilian posts which is rampant these days. The pay of a Lieutenant should be at par with civilian equivalent i.e. Section Officer, in the new grade.”

Imaginary equivalence at work again. Needless to say, a Section Officer has been equated with a JCO by even the 6th CPC. Erstwhile Civilian Staff Officers (CSOs) in the Services Headquarters have also been re-designated as Section Officers.

My point is that the issues concerning the forces should not suffer merely because they (the forces) have no control over unilateral comments noted on minute sheets by others who are hell bent on exercising control even in spheres which should remain inert from such control. Now there is no mechanism in place where the forces could have enlightened the powers that be about the incorrectness of the above mentioned observations. Had that happened, the situation may have been entirely different than today. Now where does the role of IAS come into play ? The IAS lobby and the senior bureaucracy have to share the limited blame of not applying proper mind to notes originating from below. In India, power is directly linked to nuisance value and people try to derive such power through ego brownie points and creating hurdles in public life. It is not just in bureaucratic circles that such tendencies exist, such things happen closer at home too. To take a military example, I’m sure serving officers may have experienced situations wherein proposals sent by senior officers on various issues to Record Offices are scuttled by junior military staff by intelligently worded notes or how most of us must have experienced Head Clerks misguiding COs. IAS officers face the same problems in DoPT, IPS officers face the same in MHA. Officers, whether civilian or military, have a bounden duty to apply mind to notes and recommendations coming from below, that is why they are that – ‘recommendations’. These are not binding and one must not blink an eye while disagreeing with such ‘recommendations’ or overruling them with proper logic and that my friends is what distinguishes officers from officials whether the backdrop is civil or military.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Pension orders issued for post-2006 retirees (UPDATED) : Thankfully MoD to the rescue of PBOR


The pension notification for post-2006 pensioners is out.
It is available here for viewing / download.

Looks good. Personnel retiring after 01-09-2008 seem to be the luckiest :-)

But one important issue.

As most readers must be knowing, the 6th CPC had recommended the scrapping of the 33 year service requirement (with or without weightage) for earning full pension. Prior to 6th CPC, a service length of 33 years was required for earning full pension and for personnel with service below 33 years, pension was proportionately decreased. The 6th CPC has postulated full pension on completion of pensionable service, that is 20 years for commissioned officers and 15 years for defence PBOR. Similar recommendations were made for civil employees too. The same was also accepted by the Cabinet.

However the ibid pension orders reveal a grave anomaly which in fact is not due to any fault of the MoD but a resultant of the orders issued by the Deparment of Pension and Pensioners' Welfare, Govt of India. As per paragraphs 6.1 and 6.2, PBOR retiring after 1-1-2006 would be granted full pension on completion of pensionable service of 15 years but the same would be applicable to Commissioned officers only after 2-9-2008 and not 1-1-2006. Commissioned Officers retiring between 1-1-2006 and 1-9-2008 would remain amenable to the 33 years service clause for full pension and proportionately decreased pension for service below 33 years. The same cut off date of 1-9-2008 has been initiated for civil pensioners too by the Deptt of Pensions. Hence we would have three categories of personnel within the defence services as per this letter :

A) PBOR retiring after 1-1-2006 who would receive full pension after fulfilling their minimum pension qualifying service of 15 years.

B) Commissioned Officers retiring between 1-1-2006 and 1-9-2008 who would receive full pension only after completing 33 years of service with or without weightage.

C) Commissioned Officers retiring after 1-9-2008 who would receive full pension after completing 20 years of service.

Now the question arises that if the 6th CPC recommendation of full pension on 20 years wef 1-1-2006 was accepted by the Cabinet, could the Deptt of Pension & Pensioners' Welfare alter the mandate of the accepted recommendations by creating an artificial date of 1-9-2008 on its own or was the cut off date of 1-9-2008 decided by the Cabinet itself ?. The 6th CPC definitely stated in Para 6.5.3 that the benefit of full pension on completion of minimum qualifying service by waiving the 33 years' service limit would accrue prospectively (except for PBOR), but we always thought it to mean that the actual monetary benefit would be disbursed prospectively but full pension to pensioners with service less than 33 years would otherwise be fixed w.e.f 1-1-2006. As also pointed out in one of the comments to this post, it's all a question of liberal Vs literal interpretation I guess.

A pertinent question since it greatly affects those commissioned officers and civil employees who retired between 1-1-2006 and 1-9-2008 since their pension would be proportionately reduced in accordance with their length of service on retirement. Thankfully the MoD has released this pension order much in favour of PBOR and thereby protecting atleast the PBOR from this anomaly keeping in view the recommendations of 6th CPC contained in Para 6.5.3.

The paragraphs in reference of the MoD pension letter dated 12-11-2008 are reproduced below :



(a) Linkage of full pension with 33 years of Qualifying Service is dispensed with w.e.f. 2.9.2008. The Retiring pension of Commissioned Officers retiring/invalided out on or after 2.9.2008 will be calculated at 50% of emoluments last drawn or average of reckonable emoluments drawn during last 10 months, whichever is more beneficial.

(b) Grant of retiring pension to the Commissioned Officers retired/invalided out during 1.1.2006 to 1.9.2008 will continue to be governed by the Rules/Orders which were in force immediately before coming into effect of these orders.

In case of PBOR, linkage of full pension with 33 years of qualifying service is dispensed with from 1.1.2006. Service pension of PBOR will be calculated at 50% of emoluments last drawn or average of reckonable emoluments drawn during last 10 months, whichever is more beneficial.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Changed status equation vis-à-vis civil officers : practical effect on pension after issuance of pension orders


As discussed earlier on this blog, the changed status equation has had a cascading effect on pension of military officers.

A theoretical example of Lt Colonels Vs Directors to Govt of India was provided to amplify the said situation.

Now that the pension tables for pre 2006 military and civil pensioners have been published, here is the practical difference in basic pension between the two categories :-

Basic Pension as on 31-12-2005 (5th CPC rates)

Director to Govt of India : Rs 7150 per month (@50% of lowest end of scale, that is, Rs 14300)
Lt Colonel : Rs 7550 per month (@50% of lowest end of scale, that is, Rs 15100)

Basic Pension as on 01-01-2006 (6th CPC rates)

Director to Govt of India : Rs 23050 per month
Lt Colonel : Rs 17063 per month

The govt is seized of the matter and hopefully this anomaly too would be addressed as an off-shoot of the Pay Band-4 issue.

The latest pension orders for military pensioners are now available on the CGDA website and can be downloaded / saved by clicking here.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Better news and addition of MSP fitment for pre 1-1-2006 (and pre 1-9-2008) pensioners in the offing ? Yes & No


Well, as reported on this blog earlier, the govt has decided to grant the benefit of MSP to past retirees also which is a welcome step. But my advisory of ‘take it with a pinch of salt’ has also come into play. The addition of an MSP fitment into pension does not translate into direct benefit to all retirees since the benefit of 50% of MSP (Rs 3000 for Officers and Rs 1000 for PBOR) has not been granted for calculation of new pension as per the new 6th CPC system but only for the purposes of prescribed minima for each rank.

Meaning thereby that the new pension for old retirees shall not be below 50% of the minimum of new pay band plus grade pay plus MSP (plus X group pay if admissible).

Hence the new pension shall be either :

As per the new fitment scheme of the 6th CPC (that is, old basic pension X 2.26 + 16% DA as on date)


@ 50% of minimum of new scale + X Group Pay if admissible + Grade Pay + MSP

whichever of the two is higher.

Pension of a Full Colonel who retired on any date prior to 1-1-2006 would be granted @ 50% of minimum of new scale (Rs 37400) plus Grade Pay (Rs 8700) plus MSP (Rs 6000) which would come to 50% of Rs 52100, that is Rs 26050 (plus the applicable DA of course). The said pension would also be admissible to Lt Colonels who retired prior to 1-1-2006 in case Pay Band-4 is accepted for Lt Colonels.

An across the board fitment @50% of MSP for all retirees has not yet been granted.

This paragraph from Govt of India Letter No 17(4)/2008(1)/D(Pen/Policy) dated 11 Nov 2008 may throw more light on the issue :

“The consolidation of pension will further be subject to the provision that the consolidated pension, in no case shall be lower than fifty percent of the minimum of the pay in the pay band plus the grade pay corresponding to the pre revised scale from which the pensioner had retired/discharged including Military Service Pay and ‘X’ Group pay where applicable. For example, if a pensioner had retired in the pre-revised scale of pay of 6600 – 170 – 9320, the corresponding pay band being 9300 - 34800 and the corresponding grade pay and Military Service Pay being Rs. 4,600/- and Rs. 2,000/- respectively, his minimum guaranteed pension would be 50% of Rs. 9300 + Rs 4600 + 2000 i.e. Rs 7,950…”

Anyone wanting the new Govt of India letter on military pensions for pre 1-1-2006 retirees from me may do so through email.

Due to my professional commitments, I would not be able to answer individual queries on pension calculation. However readers are welcome to post their queries or observations as comments to this post and subject to availability of time, I shall attempt to reply. Posting of comments also is a better idea since it gives an opportunity for a cross section of readers to reply to each other leading to a qualitative improvement of our knowledge base and a better exchange of thoughts.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Picture and a Nation

By now, we all must have seen the above picture flashed in every major media outlet all over the world. President designate Obama here is seen hugging Tammy Duckworth at Bronze Soldiers Memorial at Soldier Field, Chicago. She is seen with her husband in the second picture.

So who is Major Tammy Duckworth ?

Maj Duckworth, a brave daughter of an American father and Thai mother, is a National Guard Volunteer who opted for a tour of duty in Iraq where she got hit by a rocket propelled grenade and lost both her legs and also suffered other permanent injuries. For the uninitiated, the National Guard is a part-time national service voluntary force like our Territorial Army (TA). Maj Duckworth, despite her disability is still a National Guard volunteer and has also been appointed as the Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for the State of Illinois. She stands decorated with the Air Medal, Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal.

The State Departments of Veterans’ Affairs have been in the forefront for veterans’ rights and policies in the US. What is strikingly refreshing is the fact that the State Governments in the US are not rank conscious while appointing heads of veterans’ affairs who are directly answerable to the State Governors and who play a major role in the lives of veterans and also their families.

We, on the other hand also have a proactive set up dealing with ex-servicemen (high time we shed this term – it should be gender neutral : either ex-servicemembers or veterans) welfare but the system is so much embroiled in red-tapism, hierarchism and rank-consciousness that the ultimate benefits do not efficiently percolate down to beneficiaries. The system is also lopsided at places and undermines military dignity. To take an example, all over India, DCs / DMs / Collectors of Districts, mostly young IAS officers are appointed Presidents of Zila Sainik Boards ex-officio. Kendriya Sainik Board guidelines however provide that in each district the Vice-President of the Sainik Board should be a retired General Officer. So we ourselves from within the Kendriya Sainik Board (whose Secretary is a serving defence officer) have initiated a hierarchy wherein young bureaucrats are placed as Presidents and retired Generals are placed as Vice-Presidents.

Secretaries of Zila Sainik Boards in each district (also variably known as Distt Sainik Welfare Officers) mostly used to be retired Honorary officers or released Commissioned officers of junior ranks earlier. However with our own policy in 1999, the Kendriya Sainik Board directed that such appointments must only be made from amongst retired officers of the rank of Major, Lt Col or Col. As a policy it may seem good but the modality not realized by the powers that be was (/is) that the post of Secy Zila Sainik Board in most states is an appointment under the Junior Time Scale (JTS) equal to a pay and status of a Lieutenant and in this light was it prudent for us in the Kendriya Sainik Board to have initiated an upward revision of ranks without first asking the States to upwardly revise the pay and thereby the status ? Isn’t it self deprecating asking Majors, Lt Cols and Cols to join lower rungs of civil hierarchy ?. Most young IAS officers usually extend due respect to retired military officers but it is not normally the case with officers from other state and provincial cadres. And here I also agree with civilian officers of mixed organizations who say that Army officers are often ready to take up lower level ‘below status’ appointments in MES etc to enjoy cushy stints – this definitely leads to status erosion in the longer run, but that’s my personal opinion of course.

Coming back to the Sainik welfare hierarchy. Secretaries of Rajya Sainik Boards (also known as State Directors of Sainik Welfare) are also to be appointed from amongst retired Brigadiers according to Kendriya Sainik Board Policy. It’s another story that most of such appointments were placed in the approx pay scale of a Major of the Army. If indeed an enhanced pay package cannot be provided then a contractual honorarium shall be better than a regular pay scale since it would atleast bypass any comparison with serving civil officers. If retired Brigadiers were to be recommended for such appointments, then firstly the nomenclature of the appointment should have been upgraded to ‘Director General’ and pay scale should have been enhanced. Even the Zila (District) level officers should have been made directly answerable to such State level heads and not civil district heads as is the present practice. Vice-Presidents of Zila Sainik Boards should have been designated as Advisors and not Vice-Presidents who are placed below young civil officers designated as Presidents. The above are small changes in nomenclature which can go a long way in enhancing the dignity of retired officers. But is anyone listening and is someone ready to challenge the status quo ante ?

The ideal set-up would be to have an accomplished veteran at the head of the State organization not based on rank but based on his or her achievements, Maj Tammy Duckworth anyone …?

By the way, this is what President-elect Obama had to say on the occasion yesterday :

“On this Veterans’ Day, let us rededicate ourselves to keep a sacred trust with all who have worn the uniform of the United States of America: that America will serve you as well as you have served your country. As your next Commander-in-Chief, I promise to work every single day to keep that sacred trust with all who have served. May God bless our veterans, and may God bless the United States of America,"

1st Photo Courtesy : Phillyburbs.com, Thank You.
2nd Photo Courtesy : Stripes.com, Thank You.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Police and Military ranks at PBOR level, how do they compare after the 6th CPC ?


There used to be some confusion of relativities at the PBOR level between the military and the police, but thankfully this has been cleared by the 6th CPC (you saw that right !!). This post is also in response to the humungous amount of queries received on the subject. Following is the order of ranks (with Grade Pay) as recommended by the 6th CPC and accepted by the Govt :-

(The amount in brackets is the Grade Pay)

Sepoy of Army = Constable of Police (2000)

Naik of Army = Head Constable of Police (2400)

Havaldar of Army = Asst Sub Inspector of Police (2800)

Naib Subedar of Army = Sub Inspector of Police (4200)

Subedar of Army = Inspector of Police (4600)

Subedar Major of Army = Asst Commissioner of Police (4800)

Assistant Commissioner of Police after 4 years of service (5400)

The above is a comparison of military ranks vis-à-vis grades of the Delhi Police. The two grades of Asst Commissioner of Police may create some confusion in the minds of readers so let me clarify. Officers of the Delhi & Andaman Nicobar Islands Police Service (Group-B), popularly known as DANIPS, are recruited by the UPSC through the Civil Services Examination. Such officers are appointed as Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACP) in Delhi but are Group-B officers. DANIPS officers are not to be however confused with IPS officers who can also be appointed to the post of ACP in Delhi. IPS officers of the Junior Time Scale (JTS) appointed to the post of ACP are in Pay Band-3 with a Grade Pay of Rs 5400 (equivalent to Lieut of the Army) whereas DANIPS officers are in Pay Band-2 with a Grade Pay of Rs 4800. After 4 years of service, DANIPS officers are also upgraded to a Grade Pay of Rs 5400 albeit in Pay Band-2. DANIPS officers, hence even when upgraded to a Grade Pay of Rs 5400 remain junior to IPS officers in the JTS and Lieutenants of the Army. DANIPS is otherwise a feeder cadre to the IPS and such officers when promoted to the IPS at Selection Grade Level (Grade Pay 8700) are absorbed into the AGMUT cadre of the IPS.

Specially for the naysayers. Before disputing the above data, please do visit pages 84 and 465 of the 6th CPC. Thank You.

And by the way, this blog is 100 posts old.


Monday, November 10, 2008

History Redux !!!


Some comments by officers of allied / mixed organizations and of the CPOs on this post make it imperative to go back to pre-3rd CPC days. While the rank pay (4th & 5th CPCs) alibi is being used to browbeat the forces into degraded submission, the 3rd CPC scales make it abundantly clear that the civilian Selection Grade (Rs 1650-1800) which was more akin to the Major’s scale (Rs 1550-1800 / Rs 1550-1900 for Maj Selection Grade) and was definitely inferior to the scale of a Lt Col (Rs 1750-1950) is now in Pay Band-4 with a Grade Pay of Rs 8700 whereas a Lt Col has been placed in Pay Band-3 with a Grade Pay or Rs 7600. But again some officers say that even the 3rd CPC could not be a point of comparison since the Special Disturbance Allowance (SDA) had been added into military scales. This argument too is specious since even if this line is agreed upon still the scale of a Lt Col was superior to that of Selection Grade. The SDA was granted @ Rs 45/- per month fixed for all officers upto the rank of Brig.

Prior to 3rd CPC, the starting pay of a Junior Time Scale Officer was Rs 400 and so was the starting pay of a 2nd Lieut with an additional Rs 45/- per month as the SDA.

The starting point of the Senior Time Scale in the 6th year of service was Rs 740 while that of a Capt was Rs 750 with an additional Rs 45/- per month as the SDA.

Now for the Selection Grade. The Selection Grade of the IPS @ Rs 1400 fixed was right in the middle of the scale of a Lt Col @ Rs 1300-1500. A Lt Col however received an additional Rs 45/- per month as the SDA. The IPS Selection Grade Scale was then upgraded to Rs 1650-1800 by the 3rd CPC while the scale of a Lt Col was upgraded to Rs 1750-1950. The SDA was abolished by the 3rd CPC. The term ‘Non-Functional Selection Grade (NFSG)’ used by the 6th CPC for 3rd CPC scales is a misnomer since the then nomenclature was Selection Grade (SG) and not NFSG. In fact even today there is no NFSG in the All India Services (Indian Administrative, Police & Forest Services) and the nomenclature still is SG.

The rest as they say is……Page 73 of the CPC


Friday, November 7, 2008

Who propagates these myths ??


(First an unrelated newsflash :- The Hon'ble Supreme Court has upheld the orders of the Delhi High Court which had held that Low Medical Category personnel cannot be discharged across the board as a policy unless there is a specific endorsement of being unfit for military duty by a duly constituted Invaliding Medical Board. It may be recalled that thousands of LMC personnel were discharged last year after being declared surplus. All personnel may have to be reinstated in light of the latest development)

Now with the blog post. An oft repeated rejoinder against upgradation of Lt Colonels into Pay Band-4 is that in the good old days, Lt Colonels used to command units but now the said function is being performed by full Colonels and hence it is Colonels who deserve the erstwhile pay of Lt Colonels and Lt Colonels have been rightly placed in Pay Band-3. It is also rubbed in that officers in certain arms are attaining the rank of full Colonel in 15 years.

My first objection to this argument is that contrary to popular perception, most units are not being commanded by full Colonels but by substantive Lt Colonels who are actually acting Colonels. Officers are not promoted to the rank of Colonel in 15 years - they attain the substantive rank and pay of Colonel in 20 years which is the minimum statutorily prescribed length of service under the rules. Secondly, less than 30% officers make it to Colonel and keeping that in view, as on date the defence services may be the lowest in the ladder in the arena of officers in Pay Band-4. Thirdly, why isn’t the same argument used against other services ?. An Inspector General of Police (IGP) in the Senior Administrative Grade used to be the senior most officer in the IPS and in charge of the entire state. Today the same function is being performed by a DGP who is three grades higher than an IG, but do we hear anywhere that a DGP should be granted the scale of an IG whereas the scale of an IG should be drastically downgraded because the erstwhile functions of an IG are being performed by a DGP ?. The 6th CPC states that the military’s closest counterpart for pay comparison purposes is the IPS, but did you know that out of the total cadre strength of the IPS, more than 90% are today in Pay Band-4 ?, What about the defence services you may ask, well the percentage stands below 15% as on date.

It would be a very small gesture in my humble opinion if the anomalies as projected by the services are rectified. While the equality between different services and pay scales has been harped on by the 6th CPC, career progression in the defence services leaves much to be desired. If the present situation is allowed to continue, the lag in promotions would remain as follows :

(Note : The length of service is being reflected by including the training period assuming the IMA standard of 1.5 years)

Lt is 1.5 years behind his/her civilian counterpart from the IAS as well as the IPS

Major is 3.5 years behind his/her civilian counterpart from the IAS as well as the IPS

Lt Colonel is 5.5 years behind his/her civilian counterpart from the IAS as well as the IPS

Colonel is 8.5 years behind his/her civilian counterpart from the IAS as well as the IPS

Brig is 15.5 years behind his/her counterpart from the IPS. There is no corresponding scale in the IAS

Maj Gen is 18.5 years behind his/her counterpart from the IAS and 16.5 years behind his/her counterpart from the IPS

Moreover, while progression to Maj Gen equivalent grades is available to 100% officers on the civil side, the story is not the same with the military.

Knowing certain commentators who would definitely question this data, the following are the IAS and IPS rules after the 6th CPC which may first be perused before shooting those keys on your keyboards.

IAS Pay Rules, 2008

IPS Pay Rules, 2008


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The make believe world of inferiority : Courtesy 6th CPC


Before I start, some basic facts about history. The controversy of equation has now whittled down to the concept of rank pay. So let’s forget rank pay for a while and go back to 3rd CPC days when there was no rank pay. The 3rd CPC NFSG scale of Rs 1650-1800 is now in Pay Band-4 (Rs 37,400-67000) with a Grade Pay of Rs 8700 while the 3rd CPC scale for Lt Col @ Rs 1750-1950 is today in Pay Band-3 (Rs 15,600-39100) with a Grade Pay of Rs 7600.

Is the IAS to blame for this mess ? I don’t think so.

All the chaos we are in seems a direct resultant of incorrect self-created pay equation reflected by the 6th CPC on page 73 of the report. But who bells the cat my friends ?. The 6th CPC stated that the closest comparison of Military officers was that with the Indian Police Service. The most apt evaluation should be the 3rd CPC since at that point of time the ugly Rank Pay controversy was still a story for the future. That said, after wrongly showing Lt Col equal to Junior Administrative Grade (JAG), the following is a recap of what the 6th CPC had to say on relativities in its comparative tables about the ranks of Colonel and Brigadier :

Non-Functional Selection Grade (Rs 2000-2250) was shown equal to Colonel (Rs 1950-2175)

DIG (Rs 2250-2500) was shown equal to Brigadier (Rs 2200-2400)

But dear Sirs and Ma’ams, unfortunately the above is a lie.

The scale shown against NFSG (Rs 2000-2250) was actually the scale of a DIG and not NFSG whereas the scale shown against DIG (Rs 2250-2500) was actually the scale of the erstwhile then existing rank of Additional IG (later merged into IG) and not of DIG. And would you like to know what the Non-Functional Selection Grade scale was for IPS, well it was Rs 1650-1800. What about Lt Col you may ask, well friends Lt Col was placed in Rs 1750-1950 and today we have the Ministry of Expenditure giving us a lecture that Lt Col was not equivalent to NFSG but to JAG. What hogwash !. In fact, it was the scale of a Major that was closer to NFSG – a Major was placed in Rs 1550-1800 (and Rs 1550-1900 for Major Selection Grade). Moreover the IPS scale of Rs 1650-1800 was known as Selection Grade and not Non-Functional Selection Grade as stated in 6th CPC.

With particular reference to the Lt Col-NFSG controversy, here is the actual 3rd CPC comparison with the IPS:
(Note : The figure in brackets is the 6th CPC Scale)

Lt Col : Rs 1750-1950 (Pay Band-3 with Grade Pay Rs 7600)
Selection Grade of the IPS : Rs 1650-1800 (Pay Band-4 with Grade Pay Rs 8700)
Major : Rs 1550-1800 / Rs 1550-1900 for Major Selection Grade : (Pay Band-3 with Grade Pay Rs 6600)

Why did then the 6th CPC show an NFSG scale as Rs 2000-2250 while it was actually 1650-1800 and a DIG’s scale as 2250-2500 when it was actually 2000-2250 ?

Historically, whenever there is a merger of scales, lower scales are merged into higher scales, but in case of the military, the closest military scales have been merged into lower civil scales, why ?

In the comparison tables, a Captain has been shown against the Senior Time Scale (STS) in 3rd CPC and then against Junior Time Scale (clubbed with Lieut) in the 4th CPC. Who authorized this degradation ? Is there any order to the effect ? No, there is none. There is nothing in the 4th CPC report to suggest that a Capt is being downgraded from STS to JTS. Again 6th CPC’s fertile imagination at work !

4th CPC clearly states (admitted by 6th CPC too) that rank pay was carved out of basic pay. If that be so, how can they now say that rank pay is not a part of basic ?. When a continuous running pay band of Rs 2300-5100 was created for all ranks from 2/Lieut till Brig by the 4th CPC, rank pay was added into basic pay as a differentiating factor. If we say that rank pay is not a part of basic, it would amount to saying that all ranks from 2/Lieut till Brig have the same status since they were in the same scale of Rs 2300-5100.

Why this ‘kanjoosi’ with the Armed Forces only ? To take an example, in defence services with over 55000 officer cadre strength, there are just a little over 20 officers in the Apex Scale of Rs 80,000 fixed (Army Commander’s scale) and still there is opposition to granting the HAG+ scale to other Lt Generals. In comparison, the IAS with a cadre strength of about 4700 officers has about 215 officers in the Apex scale, the Indian Forest Service with a strength of about 2600 officers has about 30 officers in the Apex scale while the IPS with about 3900 officers also has 30 officers in the same scale.

The govt is well meaning, the political leadership is also not to be blamed but the senior bureaucracy, especially in the Ministry of Finance, should deal with the issue with an open mind and not depend on clerical notes put up by the lower echelons of governance. A desk officer or section officer has no right to comment on equivalence or relativities of the military with the civil services and senior civil officers also should put their grey matter into gear - it is not difficult, just forget the 6th CPC tables on Page 73 and start with a clean slate, unlocked attitude and new tables.