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 Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained.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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

All Lieutenant Colonels can relax, and I mean A.L.L.

Well, there are indications that a tacit green signal has been obtained from the PMO by the MoD for implementation of PB-4 for all Lieutenant Colonels and we may get to see the notification sooner than expected. As earlier thought, heavier pay slips may have to wait for a month or so though.

The opinion expressed on this blog here about the legal position of the ‘deputation’ clause (which was also reflected in the letter from PPOC) is likely to have been accepted in principle and officers holding appointments in organisations such as MES, NCC, AR etc have been kept within the purview of the new scales. Only those officers shall be kept outside the purview and considered on deputation who have proceeded to outside organisations out of their own will & consent and not posted as such by the defence services. Officers on deputation to PSUs form a part of this category but such officers are, as it is, drawing separate scales mostly under the IDA pattern from PSUs and hence this stipulation should not ideally hurt them financially.

As I always say, there is many-a-slip, so we’ll wait for the notification and then analyse it closely.

Readers may also like to visit these two related reports from ‘The Tribune’ :

On Pension of Generals

On upgradation of Lt Colonels

Friday, January 30, 2009

'Militarybrats do it better'

When I was in law college, the sticker on my car went something like this : “Armybrats do it better !”. And indeed, sons and daughters of military officers have done us proud. I’m listing out some such famous military brats and readers are requested to add into the list for the benefit of all of us. Thanks to people who have sent this in. Frankly there are some names which I haven’t heard in the past and there are others about whom I’m not too sure whether they actually are military brats or not, please throw more light if you find any discrepancy. Thanks.

Here is my list, please add in yours :

Manasi Scott
Jyoti Randhawa
Chitrangada Singh
Anirban Lahiri
Jeev Milkha Singh
Nikita Anand
Priyanka Chopra
Neha Dhupia
Aishwarya Rai
Sushmita Sen
Gul Panag
Karen Lunell
Arti Gupta Surendranath
Parmeshwar Godrej
Upneet Pannu
Shyamolie Verma
Arpana Sharma
Sharon Clarke
Renuka Shahane
Amala Akkinenei
Shilpa Saklani
Lara Dutta
Manpreet Brar
Celina Jaitley
JJ Vallaya
Arjun Rampal
Gauri Khan
Preity Zinta
Mohnish Bahl
Nirupama Rao
Mayanti Langer
Shireen Bhan
Anushka Sharma
Mandira Bedi
Gul Panag
Minisha Lamba
Anupama Verma
Poonam Dhilon
Kim Sharma
Aman Verma
Shiney Ahuja
Rajiv Khandewal
Karan Thapar
Arun Sarin
Sabir Bhatia
Vinod Khosla
Juhi Chawla
VJ Juhi
VJ Cyrus Sahukar

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If this is true, then our friend ‘Indian Ace’ is going to be really happy

Times of India and a couple of other papers have reported that the forces are encouraging personnel to exercise the right to vote this time. Surely a welcome change. If this indeed is true then our friend and fellow blogger, ‘Indian Ace’, is going to be thrilled for he has been harping on the same since long.

Though I feel the issue has been needlessly sensationalised in print, here is an excerpt from The Times of India :

For the first time, the armed forces have asked their personnel to exercise their fundamental right to vote in the areas of their posting during the general elections slated for march-april.

In an unprecedented move all the personnel of the army, the navy and the air force have been asked to get themselves registered with the Election Commission office in their area of posting and exercise their right to vote.

"All of us have been asked to get ourselves registered wherever we are posted and exercise our franchise. Voter registration forms and other certificates required are being circulated among all units and departments," a senior naval official told IANS requesting anonymity.

A majority of Indian defence personnel have never voted during their service tenure for want of an effective mechanism. However, there is a provision for the armed forces personnel to vote in their areas of posting only during the general elections, provided they are registered with the Election Commission.

India's armed forces comprise a 1.1-million strong army, around 140,000-strong air force and nearly 60,000-strong navy and they can be a sizeable vote bank especially in cantonment areas.

"The main reason behind this proactive participation of the armed forces in the electoral process seems to be the armed forces being shortchanged in the Pay Commission and their lack of a say in the decision making process," said a high-ranking army official, wishing not to be identified. Though there is a postal ballot and proxy voting system, most personnel are not aware of it.

Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major confessed to IANS in a candid interview: "Though there is the proxy voting system and the postal ballot system, things have not materialised as desired." The IAF chief has himself not been able to vote for the last 10 years because, like most people in the armed forces, he has not been home during election time. "The last I voted was 10 years ago when I was home on vacation. I have voted only four times (in his 41 years of service)," Major told IANS. The IAF chief's statement underscores how successive governments have failed to give effective voting rights to the armed forces. The postal ballot system has proved inadequate due to the long delays involved in sending out voting sheets.

In September 2003, parliament had approved the proxy voting system for armed forces personnel whereby they could authorise a family member - usually a parent or a sibling or a spouse - to cast their vote by proxy. This system draws heavily from that prevailing in Britain but has proved to be ineffective because soldiers do not even know the provision exists.

The defence ministry has time and again stressed that it is looking into the matter but has not taken any steps to rectify the problems.

So it’s ballot power this time I suppose. One must also visit www.jaagore.com for more insight into things electoral.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What placement should Lt Cols expect ?

Firstly, good wishes to all visitors on our Republic Day. Also our hearts go out to the families whose kin have been awarded posthumous gallantry awards. Special felicitations to Lt Col Saurabh Singh Shekhawat, Shaurya Chakra, Sena Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal, who has today been awarded his fourth Presidential Medal - the Kirti Chakra. Col Shekhawat is from 21 PARA (SF).

Though I have an uncanny feeling that the govt is (initially) going to grant Rs 37,400 as a replacement of pre-revised start of Lt Cols (Rs 15,100) in Pay Band-4, the defence services have rightly sought a starting placement at Rs 39,690 in light of Para 2.2.21 of the 6th CPC. Here is what may be implemented if our stand is agreed upon :

Officers @ pre-revised 15,100 : New placement @ 39,690
Officers @ pre-revised 15,500 : New placement @ 39,690
Officers @ pre-revised 15,900 : New placement @ 40,890
Officers @ pre-revised 16,300 : New placement @ 40,890
Officers @ pre-revised 16,700 : New placement @ 42,120
Officers @ pre-revised 17,100 : New placement @ 42,120
Officers @ pre-revised 17,500 : New placement @ 43,390
Officers @ pre-revised 17,900 : New placement @ 43,390
Officers @ pre-revised 18,300 : New placement @ 44,700
Officers @ pre-revised 18,700 : New placement @ 44,700

Para 2.2.21 of the 6th CPC:
"It has also been ensured that a person drawing higher basic pay in any Fifth CPC pay scale is not fitted lower vis-à-vis a person drawing a lower basic pay irrespective of the pay scale"

Hence, logically speaking, keeping in view the spirit of Para 2.2.21, the fixation of Lt Cols (Rs 15100-18700) should be akin to the erstwhile 5th CPC scale of Rs 15100-18300 and not Rs 14300-18300. Let’s see what happens. There is bound to be some wait before PB-4 and the new replacement scales are ultimately notified and implemented.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Changes in pension regime for pre and post-06 pensioners (and some other misc info of general importance)

Pensions of pre-06 retired Generals finally upgraded

As stated by me earlier on this blog on 14 Jan 2009, the govt has finally granted an additional fitment of Rs 3000 to the pensions of pre-06 retired Maj Generals and Lieut Generals (non-Army Commanders / Vice-Chiefs). The govt letter dated 20 Jan 2009 sanctioning the said change alongwith new pension tables (Annexure-II) can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here. The revised basic pensions are as follows :

Colonels : Rs 26,050

Brigadiers : Rs 26,150

Maj Generals : Rs 26,700

Lieut Generals : Rs 27,700

Lieut Generals who retired as Army Commanders or Vice-Chiefs are already placed @ Rs 40,000

Change in pension calculation regime for officers who retired between 01 Jan 2006 and 02 Sept 2008

Officers who retired within these dates shall also now have an option of selecting either a pension in accordance with their last drawn emoluments or average of last 10 months’ emoluments, whichever is more beneficial. The said new direction dated 20 Jan 2009 is available for viewing and download here.

Free Insurance for BSNL subscribers

BSNL has started providing free insurance to all its subscribers, you can know more by clicking here. Thanks to Cdr Vaid for sending this in.

Rare feat by Col Baranwal, a regular visitor of this blog presently on a UN Mission

Lt Col V K Baranwal of the AMC, currently with a UN Mission in Congo, achieved the rare distinction of performing 30 eye surgeries in a single eye camp in Congo. The feat was covered by the international as well as Indian Media. More can be read about it here. Congratulations Col Baranwal, keep the flag high up there !

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let’s stop cribbing and concentrate on ‘homework’ : A wake up call

Charity begins at home they say. While we continue cribbing about the treatment meted out to us by others, what have we done to set our own house in order ?. Cynicism is something I detest and the aim of this is not to be critical, I’m looking for insight on how things have come to such a pass and I’m sure many of us are on the same trip. Seniors and juniors alike, it’s our collective responsibility to restore the past glory of the forces. Especially in public, we should stop cursing the system, our seniors, our bureaucrats - all and sundry, there is so much lack of positivity around us these days. We must realise that we are this so called 'system'. We could definitely do with a little more optimism and project our services in a better light.

How we behave with our own people becomes a benchmark for others to emulate in life outside the cantonment. While we tend to compare our status, stature and salaries with other services, isn’t there an underlying negativity in behavioural patterns being displayed with impunity by us ? Are we setting the right example for others to follow or sending the right signals ? Are we projecting our service as a hallmark of pride of the nation ?. The answer is definitely in the negative. Our internal organisational behaviour ultimately extends to how we are treated by the outside world and we definitely need to improve on how we interact with our own. There is no dearth of examples as to how we dig our own graves. How often do we see more than one Commissioned Officers being bunched into below-status single rooms in Messes on the ground of non-availability. I, for myself have seen situations where ample accommodation is available but still officers being asked to stay in small living spaces on the pretext that the (abundant) vacant accommodation is a contingency back-up for (imaginary) ‘VIPs’. Do we see the same on the civil side ? Do we see SDMs who are equivalent to Lieutenants of the Army being asked to live and stay in rooms like we do ? Never. Often we see junior officers being asked to travel in heavy trucks despite the availability of respectable light transport, why do we do this? Do we expect people outside to be impressed by a strapping young Captain in Combats sitting in a Three Tonner ? Do we, by this action, attract youngsters to join the services ? No amount of ‘Do you have it in you ?’ campaign would work unless we bring the pride, the glamour and the respectability back into our uniform and the so called ‘baboos’ are not responsible for this, the problem lies closer to us than we think – each of us is to blame. Honour has no rank. A Subaltern is much more capable than merely looking for an apt place to put the shamiyana in the Mess lawn. That Subaltern’s civilian counterpart - an SDM or an Addl DC/DM with the same education and from the same recruitment pool, looks after the revenue, executive, administrative, law & order and quasi-judicial functions of an entire sub-division and sometimes even a district and we are not even able to trust our own guy with a Light Motor Vehicle !

How we behave and conduct ourselves outside ultimately has an indirect effect on how people in uniform are perceived and it percolates down to the last rank in the file. PB-4 or no PB-4, the Indian military officer is not badly paid but still we see senior officers in uniform driving around scooters and mobikes to save a few bucks. I’m not such an elitist to be against officers driving two-wheelers out of passion, but we should not project such a miserly picture to the outer world. Officers can absolutely afford respectable means of personal travel. And still we see Commissioned Officers using such means of public transport definitely below their status and class, why ? Irrespective of remuneration, it does not happen in the civil services so why in the defence services ?. We sitting in Headquarters try to impose restrictions on our own people, for example in travel and accommodation guidelines even when the govt does not. As you read this, someone sitting somewhere would be working on how to impose an in-house restriction on the new TA-DA regime introduced after the 6th CPC !, on how to ensure that officers are not able to draw thousands per day for hotel accommodation and to ensure that they continue staying in small rooms in messes with three other roommates clamouring for time in the single attached bath.

Excessive ‘Sirring’ outside the organisation should also cease. While ‘Sir’ may just be a substitute for Shreeman for us, it does not have the same connotation outside. It is a symbol of servility in the civil world. Broadly speaking, in my humble opinion, constitutional appointments and senior civil officers elder in age and with an established longer length of Group-A service should only be addressed as ‘Sir’ while ‘Mr should be the correct form of address for others. We are so naive that we ourselves first pamper others with our servility and then curse when a Pay Commission degrades our status. When a Major calls up his counterpart in a civil department, he talks less and Sirs more and when that civil counterpart calls up a Colonel, he addresses him as ‘Colonel Sahib’. And once you sir them, they would expect all officers of similar rank to behave likewise. The problem is that to get a piece of work done, we stoop to any level, don’t we ? And in the bargain end up damaging our service for personal short-term gains. There are, on the other hand, also examples of military officers not sirring their own seniors in length of service (who are junior in rank) within the services but displaying servility towards junior civilians. I’ve also seen selection grade officers not sirring senior time-scale ones, where are we going ? Have we forgotten the age old adage that in the defence services, irrespective of rank, ‘once senior is always senior’ ?. Sirs and Ma’ams, I do not mean to talk sharp but to earn respect from outsiders we need to first respect our own juniors and seniors.

So friends the time has come to get out of the cocoon, be aware of what’s happening around us and finally WAKE UP in the interest of our dignity and the pride of our respective services. There should be prudence all around but not such silliness that we reduce all our privileges, facilities and benefits provided to us by law to a poor joke. We need to stop cribbing about ‘baboos’, they are not that bad. On the contrary, we need to take pride in our uniform and what we do, we need to put more responsibility on the shoulders of our youngsters and redeem our self-esteem, ego should be shunned but self-respect has to be granted its utmost due. Let us do our homework.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Bursting with pride" : Michelle Obama on the military

This is what the First Lady of the United States of America has to say about the military. The complete text can be read here (Courtesy USA Weekend).

As I take on my newest role -- first lady, I'll be thinking about what that promise means to all those whom I've had the humbling privilege to meet these past two years on the campaign trail: Americans across the country who opened their doors and hearts to share their stories with me stories I carry to this day.

I particularly cherished my visits with military families all across the country. I met so many strong and inspiring military spouses eager to share their stories, their dreams for the future and the unique challenges they face because of their families' selfless service to our country.

And if there's one thing I learned, it's that when our servicemen and women go to war, their families go with them. I saw how they take care of each other, heard how they fill in whenever the system fails and discovered that the trials they faced always were matched by the hope they shared that better days are still ahead.

The simple 35-word oath my husband will take and the peaceful transfer of power it completes makes it easy to forget that the great fortune of our citizenship isn't free at all. It's a responsibility inherited only because generations of Americans have fought and bled and died for it.

So as I watch Barack take that oath, I'll be thinking especially about those members of our American family who stand guard across the world and the loved ones who await their safe return. Because even as we mark this moment in American history, there still will be empty seats at the dinner table; there still will be spouses struggling to juggle roles and responsibilities; there still will be children who mark the passing of a birthday without Mommy and toddlers who know their father only by a grainy video stream from a far-flung corner of the globe.

My husband and I are deeply grateful for the sacrifices that these families make to protect all American families. And we join them today and every day in praying for their loved ones and their safety. They don't ask a lot in return, just a Washington that understands the challenges they face as part of their extraordinary commitment to our country.

My husband understands that commitment, and he will ensure America lives up to its end. As military families join us on Tuesday, in person and in spirit, I want each and every one of them to know that for as long as I have the tremendous honor of being your first lady, your voices will be heard, you will have an advocate in the White House, and the American promise you preserve always will extend to you, too.

All of us can learn a fundamental lesson from our military families: You don't need to wear a uniform to serve your country. We all have something to contribute to the life of this nation.

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And to honor the legacy of a man who believed that everybody could be great because anybody can serve, my family and I will spend the day performing activities in service to others. And we'll ask all Americans to join us in making an ongoing commitment to serve their community and their country, because in this new season of hope, that's the only way we'll begin renewing America's promise for all who reach for it and all who defend it as one nation and one people.

On Tuesday night, my husband and I will tuck in our daughters like we always do. Their bedrooms will be different, their home unfamiliar. But they will drift off to sleep protected by that same sacrifice that has kept all of our families safe and safeguarded our freedom for generations -- the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their families.

For that, we could not be more grateful or more proud.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Same dope again ?

I receive many mails on the oh so popular bureaucratic way of life. In the same vein, readers may like to go through this post on this blog which has received quite a few requests for re-publishing since the past two days : “Our officialdom – defenders of the absurd”

Also you may like to peruse this very nice (and long) write-up by Konstantin L Bannikov, a Russian anthropologist, titled “Regimented communities in civil life” on certain specific sociological aspects of military life (Courtesy pipss.org). Very true in the Indian context too.

For pay planning, calculation and related issues, you may like to visit http://www.paymatrix.blogspot.com/

Sunday, January 18, 2009

AWES notifies admissions to various professional courses

The Army Welfare Education Society (AWES) has announced today the admissions to various professional institutes for kin of Army personnel. Admission notice for the following has been notified :

Army Institute of Education, Delhi

Army Institute of Higher Education, Pathankot

Army Centre of Education, Panchmari

Army College of Dental Sciences, Secunderabad

Army College of Nursing, Faridkot

Army Institute of Nursing, Guwahati

Army Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Bangalore

Army Institute of Technology, Pune

Army Institute of Fashion and Design, Bangalore

Army College of Medical Sciences, Delhi

Broad Eligibility Conditions :

Broadly speaking, wards of serving and retired army personnel released with any kind of pension are eligible. Even wards of army personnel who have put in atleast 10 years of service before obtaining release / discharge are eligible irrespective of whether an ‘ex-serviceman status’ or pension was earned or not. Wards of AMC/ADC officers serving with IAF / IN are also eligible provided the officer served with the Army for atleast 10 years. Wards of APS pensioners and APS personnel with minimum 10 years of service are also eligible. Wards of TA and MNS personnel are also eligible subject to a service eligibility of minimum 10 years (embodied service in case of TA).

Prospectuses are available from the respective institutions and also from HQ AWES in Delhi and all AWES Cells at Command HQs. Date of sale of prospectus is 28 Jan 09 and last date of receipt of application is 15 March 09. Details may be obtained from their website www.awes.nic.in

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Of course, he is an ex-fighter pilot !

The pilot who saved NYC from another disaster is of course a former USAF fighter pilot. Exhibiting sharp military skills and acumen which came handy in such a precarious situation, former F-4 pilot, Chesley B "Sully" Sullenberger III, not only landed the plane in an unusual location but also ensured the safety of inhabited areas of NYC and all his passengers in the finest military traditions.

The released officer was commissioned into the Regular US Air Force from the USAF Academy, Colorado Springs. The multi-faceted man also runs a safety consulting firm and is a visiting Professor at University of California at Berkley. Flying commercial aircraft remains a full time hobby.

A good argument for encouraging citizens to garner military skills and be associated with the defence services – National Guard in the US, and the Territorial Army (TA) in India.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Did you know that ‘Spicejet’ offers full fare discount on all its flights for serving defence personnel anywhere in the country ?

Well, now you know !

The airline company is the first to offer complete waiver of the airline ticket price for serving personnel. When flying on ‘Spicejet’, defence personnel are only supposed to pay the taxes and not the ticket price. There are no other restrictions applicable on flight bookings and there is no limit on the number of tickets that may be bought.

The special no-fare scheme for defence personnel is a continuous offer and not a limited scheme but cannot be availed for family members or by retired personnel. Though these days it is the taxes that pinch the pocket, still a nice gesture.

Tickets for military personnel can be booked through their website http://www.spicejet.com/

Readers are also requested to send in details of any like deals applicable to defence personnel so that all of us can make maximum use of such offers.

PS - I forgot. Google has been placing some adverts of political parties on blogs. Some may get reflected on this blog too. However, this blog has no political leanings whatsoever. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Miscellaneous bits

Increase in DA in the offing ?

Yes, an increase in DA may be announced soon. Insiders indicate it may be 22% with effect from 01 Jan 2009. But as they say, there’s many-a-slip, so let’s wait for the official announcement ! (Thanks to all those who have sent this in)

Pay and Pension of Colonels (Time Scale)

Though clarified earlier on the blog, there have been various queries on the issue. I confirm it once again for all readers : PB-4 for Col (TS) was announced much before it came through for Lt Cols. Apart from PB-4, Colonels (TS) have also been granted a Grade Pay of Rs 8700. The CDA (O) has also received instructions for the same and the salary in consonance with PB-4 with Rs 8700 GP would be released very soon. Retired Colonels (TS) who were released prior to 01 Jan 2006 would receive a basic pension of Rs 26,050 whereas those who retired after the said date shall receive a pension @ 50% of their last emoluments / average emoluments.

Pension of Maj Generals and Lieut Generals

The pension of pre-2006 pensioners (according to the new scales) is being calculated at 50% of minimum of pay band + Grade Pay + MSP. Accordingly, the basic pension of Cols has been fixed at Rs 26,050 and Brigs at 26,150. The basic pension of Major Generals and Lieut Generals has been fixed lower than Cols and Brigs at 23,700 and 24,700 respectively since MSP is not admissible to Maj Gens and Lt Gens. However, the pension of these General ranks is to be stepped up to Rs 26,150 since a higher rank cannot be sanctioned a pension lower than an inferior rank. There is however a thought process in motion that an additional fitment of Rs 3000 (50% of MSP) may be granted to Major Generals and Lieut Generals since a fitment of Rs 6000 on account of MSP has already been granted to the said serving ranks on promotion from Brig to Maj Gen. While MSP as a separate element is not granted to serving Generals, a fitment jump in the pay itself amounting to Rs 6000 is sanctioned on promotion. This anomaly in pension fixation for Major Generals and Lieut Generals affects only the pre-2006 pensioners and not post-2006 pensioners since in the case of the latter, pension is fixed @ 50% of last drawn emoluments and not on the basis of the 50% of Minima+GP+MSP formula. A grant of such fitment in pension should ideally take care of this glaring anomaly. If implemented, it would raise the basic pension of pre-2006 Maj Generals to Rs 26,700 and Lieut Generals to Rs 27,700. Let’s hope for the best.

Monday, January 12, 2009

High time this mudslinging in mixed organisations should end !

First a request. The chat box in the last few days has witnessed some real unethical talk, impersonations and personal attacks. If this continues, the chat box shall be removed altogether. Even comments on some posts leave much to be desired and hence shall be moderated from today onwards. Though fair & unbiased criticism shall remain welcome, personal attacks and harsh language would not be published.

As stated in an earlier post, the announcement of PB-4 for Lt Cols is not the end of the story. A committee is going to examine status, parity, command & control issues which would set(tle) the course for the future.

Notwithstanding the long struggle for officers of the three services from March onwards when the 6th CPC report was presented to the Ministry of Finance, the occasional outburst of civil officers from mixed organisations against officers from the military is unfortunate if not worrisome. It also points to a deeper malaise of certain sections of the set-up being diametrically opposed to the restoration of glory of the forces. To take an example, officers of the Indian Defence Service of Engineers (IDSE) have been in the forefront of reflecting officers from the Corps of Engineers in a poor light (and also vice-versa). Sometimes we forget the very grundnorm of our existence – the fact that irrespective of our cadres, all of us together have to work for the betterment of the system. Also unfortunate is the call from IDSE officers for the removal of military officers from the Military Engineering Services (MES), the organisation exists for the ‘military’, doesn’t it ? Isn’t such kind of a demand unreasonable ?. The establishment sanction for the MES equates a Lt Col with an SE and while the Army was gunning for placement of Lt Cols in PB-4, the IDSE officers’ association, in official correspondence to the Defence Secretary commented that Lt Cols of the Army should be equated with the Senior Time Scale (STS/Grade Pay 6600). Now that Lt Cols are in PB-4, we hope such blinkers stand removed forever. The nuances of tenability of certain appointments by officers of different grades from various cadres have already been explained in detail by me on this blog. We should learn how to co-exist without mudslinging. Though the task remains unfinished, the following is the story so far :

(a) The IDSE officers’ association had requested for equation of Lt Cols with the Senior Time Scale (STS) which is achieved in four years of service on the civil side. The govt has responded by placing Lt Colonels in PB-4, much higher than even NFSG officers of the Central Engineering Services.

(b) IDSE officers had filed cases before the Central Administrative Tribunal stating therein that the grade of SE should be equated with a full Colonel / Brigadier (!!?!!). Two Hon’ble benches of the CAT held that a Col is senior in reporting channel than an SE and also upheld the legality of an SE / Director reporting to a full Colonel of the Army.

(c) Colonels are also senior to other similarly placed officers in PB-4 since when Grade Pay is alike, then total emoluments (including MSP) are to be taken into account to determine seniority as per the 6th CPC.

(d) Assistant Engineers serving in the MES who are also posted as AGEs in military stations have been explicitly equated with JCOs of the Army by the 6th CPC.

(e) The govt is making efforts not to post Lt Cols to mixed organisations so that they do not have to serve in civil grades junior to them.

(f) By rightly upgrading Lt Cols in PB-4, the govt has clarified that 2ICs / Commandants (JG) of CPOs are definitely much junior to Lt Cols. It may be recalled that 2ICs / Comdts (JG) of the CPOs were in the 5th CPC scale of Rs 12000-375-16500 while Lt Cols were in the scale Rs 15100-400-18700.

(g) Officers of the Armed Forces HQ Civil Service joining as SOs (formerly known as CSOs) through the Civil Services Examination conducted by the UPSC had claimed an equivalence to Lieutenants of the Army. The 6th CPC and the govt rightly placed SOs equal to JCOs as was the actual equation till now.

(h) The incorrect placement of Lt Cols with the Junior Administrative Grade had such a detrimental effect that even directly recruited Group-B (Class-II) services were reaching the JAG in 13 years of service as were Commissioned Officers (Group-A/Class-I) of the three services. The govt has now rightly placed Lt Cols in PB-4 thereby resulting in maintenance of the edge in status of Commissioned Officers over civil officers initially joining at the Group-B level.

(i) Irrespective of rank badges, the 6th CPC and the govt have rightly placed Constables of the Police equal to Sepoys, Head Constables equal to Naiks, ASIs equal to Havildars, SIs equal to Naib Subedars, Inspectors equal to Subedars and the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) equal to a Subedar Major.

While military officers should not have a false sense of superiority over their civilian counterparts, it is also incumbent on civil officers not to indulge in false propaganda in the corridors of power or to comment that defence officers are ‘spoilt’ or ‘overpaid’. Going by the job profile of the military, the officers of the defence services are unable to efficiently react to falsities giving rise to unwanted urban legends. Just analyse the kind of life a man or woman in uniform has to lead, the kind of postings, the inhospitable conditions, the frequency of movement, the family life, the early retirement, the limitations on fundamental rights - in short definitely a curtailed life. The object of our respective services is lost when we try to put down the other. I however do tend to agree with civilian MES officers that senior military ranks should not be posted to posts tenable by juniors. We in fact should make efforts to post JCOs as AGEs where the posts are tenable by AEs (Group-B) from the civil side and Lieutenants where the posts are tenable by AEEs (Group-A). Officers not higher than Majors should be posted as GEs while only Lt Cols or Acting Cols may be posted as CWEs. This would also ultimately lead to a correct rank equation within the hierarchy if postings of senior military ranks to mixed organisations are found objectionable by civil officers.

Let us all not forget that we work for the same organisation and the same nation.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

For the weekend : Yesterday once more

No, this write-up was not written yesterday. Courtesy Rediff and thanks to Admiral J G Nadkarni, it’s a flashback, 1998 to be precise. But read on this balanced piece…

Admiral J G Nadkarni

The antipathy between defence servicemen and their civilian counterparts in New Delhi is as old as the ages. So far both have been happy in trying their routine exercises in one-upmanship, name-calling and occasional sulks. Outwardly a façade of polite camaraderie and back-slapping has been maintained. The business of defence has continued, not smoothly perhaps but at least with minimum hiccups.

Recently, however, matters appear to have turned for the worse. The media has happily reported that both sides are now preparing for the ensuing battle, that the two sides are not even on talking terms. No less a person than the defence minister has admitted that all is not well in South Block and asked the service chiefs for their recommendations for reorganising the defence headquarters. If only he had dusted off the hundreds that have been lying in the minister's cupboard all these years!

Indians love scapegoats. How comforting to know that someone else is responsible for all one's inefficiency, ill luck and problems. For the politician it is always the "foreign hand" or his "politically motivated" opponent. (If a politician cannot be politically motivated who else can?) For the serviceman it is always the bureaucrat. If the army finds the going tough in Siachen then it is the fault of that babu who did not sanction enough equipment. If the air force planes are crashing more than normal it is all due to the bureaucrat vacillating over the advanced jet trainer. And if the navy has not been able to place order for new ships it is all due to bureaucratic bungling. The armed forces cannot afford "an entrenched, all-powerful, recruited-for-life civil service, whose vested interests and hijacking of policy formulations have served to curtail the country's progress" says a recent naval paper. Really!

Why is there such animosity between the two arms of our security mechanism? Are the bureaucrats that bad or are they more sinned against than sinners?

Given the background of a service officer and his progress through ranks, a clash between servicemen and bureaucracy is inevitable. The internal organisation of each service is more of a fiefdom than democracy. The battalion commander or the commanding officer of a ship is a petty chieftain. The division commander is king and the service chief an absolute monarch, at least within his service. Within their small kingdoms their word is law. Discussion is rare. Dissent frowned upon. Major dissent is a passport to oblivion.

During his early service the officer is isolated form the realities of the outer world. Eventually when he arrives at his service headquarters for the first time, probably as a brigadier or major general, he has a chest full of medals and an ego the size of a pumpkin. He is confronted for the first time by a well-seasoned bureaucrat. It is a culture shock. Being used to rule by fiat where he hardly had to reason out a case, he becomes angry when even a pan-chewing section officer can pick ten holes in his staff-college-background logical proposal. The seeds of antipathy are sown.

By the time he becomes the chief, a serviceman is determined to prove his superiority. By now he has learned that over the years the serviceman has lost his precedence. He is heir to a load of cliches. "Civil control does not mean control by the civil service," he tells everyone. His juniors are expecting him to 'thump the table' even when there is no table to thump. He does not want to be accused of kowtowing to the bureaucrat and certainly not of angling for a governorship, although no service chief has been made even a dogcatcher for the past ten years. Can any co-operation exist between the serviceman and the bureaucrat in these circumstances?

A service chief would like to rule like Aurangzeb. His idea of a defence organisation is that the taxpayer should place the approved thousands of millions in his hands and ask him to run the army or navy. No questions asked. After all he is the professional. What does that civilian know about tanks and aircraft and ships? And yet as Robert McNamara showed, his whiz kids knew far more about defence and its management than the old fogies in the Pentagon.

The much-maligned bureaucrat in the defence ministry has two useful functions. Firstly he bridles the unfettered and sometimes fanciful exuberance of servicemen. It is the bureaucrat who reminds the armed forces, to frame rules and work within those rules. It is he who reminds them for the first time to work within a budget. In essence he acts as the essential check and balance on the serviceman, which has been lacking in his early career.

Take promotions for example. Until the mid-sixties the services did not have institutionalised rules for promotion. It was a nagging bureaucracy who compelled the services to frame rules for promotion and stick by them. When a set of promotions is queried it is then called interference by the bureaucracy. In such cases you can bet your bottom dollar that some rule has been broken to favour someone.

"How can the secretary question the decision of eight wise men with a combined service of over 200 years?" goes the plaint. More often than not it is the fancy of one wise man at the head of the table and seven nodding their heads. Experienced hands know that no case has or can ever come back, which is strictly according to the promotion rules.

The second and even more important job of the bureaucracy is to shield the serviceman from the fancies and foibles of politicians. If India's defence services have by and large remained apolitical it is in large measure because the bureaucracy has successfully carried out this task. Some call it the "politician-bureaucrat" nexus. Possibly. Yet it is far more acceptable than a servicemen-politician nexus were the bureaucrats are shown the door. Recently in fact servicemen have rallied the advantages of getting close to their political masters and have begun to circumvent the bureaucrats.

Servicemen blame the bureaucrats of being unsympathetic to their requirements. Yet in most cases the serviceman fails to do his detailed homework. For years now the defence ministry has been urging the three services to produce detailed budgets for their service. The US defence budget, for example, is presented to the congress in 14 thick volumes. It goes into minute details including, for instance, the pay of the CNO's gardener or the stationery budget of the Naval War College. India's armed forces forward their budget to the defence ministry on ten pages of paper under broad headings and then expect about Rs 10 billion to be appropriated after a half page note!

This is, of course, not to give a blank endorsement of excellence and efficiency to the defence bureaucracy. There are black sheep on both sides of the corridor. And yet some of the most illustrious brains in the country have occupied the defence secretary's chair in the past. H M Patel, P V R Rao, K B Lal, Harish Sarina and the irrepressible T N Seshan.

The defence bureaucrat works under many handicaps. At lower levels the ministry is staffed by promotees from clerical cadres. Without doubt they lack vision, knowledge and dynamism (Also see this previous post on this blog). Secondly, due to the peculiar career pattern of a central services officer, they are all birds of passage. Knowing that they will be only around for a few years they do not bother to study defence. And yet those who have had the fortune of serving in the defence ministry on more than one occasion bring considerable knowledge and experience to their task.

Finally he has to put up with the idiosyncrasies, foibles, ignorance and demands of his political bosses, who may change three or four times in a matter of few years. The fact that he rarely passes on all the bosses' ridiculous requirements to the services is something to be thankful for.

Will a reorganisation of defence headquarters help? The army, for example, is keen to have a chief of defence staff. Ironically, they seem to be unaware of the fact that in the present set-up the army chief is de facto the CDS. Asked how they treat the services, a wise politician candidly said, "Well, we always listen carefully to the army, we humour the air force and we ignore the navy."

If the defence minister is keen on reorganising the defence set-up, he might pay heed to that wise Roman, Petronius the Arbiter. "Each time we were defeated," said Petronius, "we reorganised and each reorganisation led to a bigger chaos and a bigger defeat."

Servicemen have two choices. They can continue to sit in their ivory towers, nurse their egos and thump the table. Alternatively they can make up their minds to make the system work by co-operating and a little give and take.

Given determination, any system can work. Bloated egos and rigid stands will defeat any reorganisation.

The complete piece is also available here on Rediff

Friday, January 9, 2009

Territorial Army (TA) takes over the oil set-up of the nation

The elite citizens’ army has once again responded to the call of the nation.

The oil sector TA units have been mobilised in light of the oil crisis facing the country. These units comprise of personnel from the ONGC, IOC, BPCL & HPCL and are affiliated with the Army Service Corps (Oil Marketing TA unit) and the Corps of Engineers. While Engineers help in the process of oil production and refineries, the ASC unit helps in supply and marketing of fuel. TA volunteers of these units who are basically civil employees of their respective oil sector companies, perform their functions in OG in such situations and while doing so they are amenable to the Army Act and outside the purview of their respective service associations, unions and organisations. These units have been mobilised in the past also to render service in such emergencies. Similar units exist in our Railway set-up to cater for rail strikes and emergent situations. These units are manned by volunteers serving with the Railways. TA Commissioned Officers in the Infantry TA units are volunteers from civil life who are gainfully / self employed in their respective vocations and professions who serve in a military environment for a few days every year in their spare time and volunteer to bear arms for the defence of the nation in national emergencies and wars. Ex-service officers can also join TA and their seniority and rank remain protected.

Incidentally, this morning an advertisement was published in national newspapers seeking volunteers to join at the Commissioned Officer level in the Infantry TA. The age limit is pretty vast : 18 till 42 years.

So once again, Olive Green to the rescue…

Thursday, January 8, 2009

URGENT for (1) Pre-06 pensioners getting a pension lower than their juniors & (2) Personnel who retired between 01-01-06 and 02-09-08

There are some urgent guidelines which need to be amplified for pre-06 pensioners of senior ranks who have been granted a pension that is lower than that of junior ranks and for personnel who retired between 01 Jan 2006 (implementation date for 6th CPC) and 02 Sept 2008 (acceptance date for 6th CPC). These are explained in the following paragraphs. Though emails are welcome on any issue, individual queries or requests for calculations may please not be endorsed to me due to paucity of time at my end, such requests may be posted as comments to this post which in turn can be answered in the public domain by all of us.

Pension of pre-2006 pensioners who have been granted a revised pension lower than that of junior ranks.

In the revised Annexure-II of the new pension tables as per Govt of India, MoD Letter dated 11 Nov 2008, there are instances wherein the pension of lower ranks has been reflected higher than that of higher ranks. For example, the basic pension for each rank is 50% of the total of minimum of pay band + Grade Pay + MSP. Now by this formula, the basic pension of a Brig is bound to be more than those of Maj Generals and Lieut Generals since MSP is not admissible to Maj Gens and Lt Gens. It has however been decided by the Hon’ble Apex Court that the pension of a Maj Gen cannot be lower than that of a Brig and keeping this in view, in the pension tables initially issued, the MoD had rightly stepped up the pension of Maj Gens and Lt Gens to a level equivalent to that of a Brig (Rs 26150). But strangely these tables were revised and in the latest tables again the pension of Maj Gens and Lt Gens is reflected as lower than Brigadiers. This however is in conflict with the law of the land as laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the MoD has also resultantly added a little disclaimer as a Note under Annexure-II which may escape the naked eye. It says :

“In case the pension of a senior rank happens to be less than the revised pension of a lower rank, which may happen in rare cases, such cases may be referred to pension sanctioning authorities concerned”

Practically the above means that in case a higher rank is getting pension lesser than a lower rank, it is to be stepped up by the Pension Sanctioning Authority. So please peruse the pension tables meticulously which are available at the MoD website by clicking here and undertake the following in case your pension is being reflected lesser than any lower rank :-

(a) Inform the bank (Pension Disbursing Authority – PDA) in writing requesting them to take up your individual case with the PCDA(Pensions) Allahabad (Pension Sanctioning Authority – PSA).

(b) Immediately inform the PCDA(P) through an individual letter explaining that your pension is lesser than that of a lower rank. Please inform them of all details such as your PPO number, Bank account / name and address.

Personnel who retired between 01-01-2006 and 02-09-2008.

Personnel who retired between 01 Jan 2006 and 02 Sept 2008 have been granted a commutation of pension at the old (5th CPC) rates. Such personnel now have an option of re-calculating their commutation under the authority of this MoD letter dated 12 Dec 2008 which is available on the MoD website by clicking here.

The following is important in this letter :

“In the case of those pensioners in whose case commutation of pension became absolute on or after 1.1.2006 but before 2.9.2008, the pre-revised Table of Commutation Value for commutation of pension has been used for payment of commuted value of pension based on pre-revised pension. Such pensioners shall have an option to commute the amount of pension that has become additionally commutable on account of retrospective revision of pay/pension on implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission. On exercising such an option as per Annexure-II by the pensioner, the revised Table of commutation value of pension will be used for the commutation of the additional amount of pension that has become commutable on account of retrospective revision of pension with reference to age next birthday already reckoned for commutation of pre-revised

“The Armed Forces personnel who had already retired/discharged/invalided out from service during 1.1.2006 and 1.9.2008 and have availed of the benefit of commutation of pension not exceeding maximum permissible limit (i.e. 43% & 45% in respect of commissioned officers and PBOR respectively) within one year of retirement/discharge/invalidment, the benefit of commutation of additional pension (i.e. 50% less the percentage already commuted), will be allowed with reference to the age next birthday as on the date of fresh option as per Annexure-II without medical examination by applying revised commutation value Annexed to this letter. In case of Armed Forces personnel retired/discharged/invalided out during 1.1.2006 to 1.9.2008 and had not availed the commutation of pension upto maximum permissible limit within one year of retirement/discharge, the benefit of commutation of additional pension as at Para 9.3 above may be allowed with reference to age next birthday as on date of fresh option after medical examination. The pensioners who have already undergone medical examination in the latter case need not be medically examined again for this purpose.”

Exercise your option after going into the modalities by perusing the said letters which are available on the official MoD website http://www.mod.nic.in/

“Choose wisely and you’ll find me in the mellow of your mind” – Prince (2001)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Updated - URGENT & IMPORTANT for offrs promoted after 01 Jan 2006 : Last few days to exercise option of date of switching over to new 6th CPC scales

SAI 2/S/08 was issued on 11 Oct 2008.

All officers were supposed to exercise options vis-à-vis the new scales within a period of 3 months from date of issuance of the ibid SAI. If an option is not exercised, then by default the switch over to the new scales would be initiated by the CDA(O) with effect from 01 Jan 06.

But switching over to the new scale w.e.f 01-01-2006 can be highly detrimental to officers who were promoted after 01-01-2006.

For example, if a person was a Capt on 01-01-2006, his/her pay by default would be fixed by multiplying his/her basic pay (as on 01-01-2006) X 1.86 and the figure thus obtained would be his new basic pay in the new 6th CPC Pay Band-3. Irrespective of his/her next promotion, his/her pay would then continue to move forward w.e.f 01-01-2006 from the basic pay thus fixed by the multiplication factor of 1.86.

However, if the above officer is promoted to the rank of Major on say 01-04-2006, then it would be more beneficial for him/her to opt for moving over to 6th CPC scale w.e.f 02-04-2006 since by doing so, his new basic in PB-3 would be calculated by multiplying by 1.86 his new higher basic pay for the rank of Major (as opposed to Capt’s pay on 01-01-2006) which would make a substantial difference.

The above situations are fully explained in Paragraphs 5 and 6 of SAI/2/S/08.

Illustrations and examples are also available on CDA(O) wesite http://www.cdaopune.org/ and courtesy CDA(O) the same are also being placed here on this blog for the convenience of readers.

Examples from the CDA (O) illustration :

Example 1 : An officer who is a Capt as on 01-01-2006 and is promoted to Major on 10-06-2006.

If this officer opts for the new scale (which would happen by default) on 01-01-2006, then his total arrears would be Rs 66580

But if this officer opts for the new scale (through Appendix-A of SAI 2/S/08) with effect from his promotion as Major on 10-06-2006, then his total arrears would be Rs 177112

Example 2 : An officer of the AMC who is a Capt as on 01-01-2006 and is promoted to Major on 02-04-2006.

If this officer opts for the new scale on 01-01-2006 then his total arrears would be Rs 53968

If this officer opts for the new scale from his promotion on 02-04-2006 then his total arrears would be Rs 202772

What can be immediately done since 10 Jan 09 is the last date for exercising your option :

Firstly if you were promoted after 01-01-06, by carefully perusing this illustration table and Paras 5 & 6 of the SAI, please analyse if you would gain by opting for the new scale from the date of promotion. If you stand to gain, then promptly do the following :

(a) Send a signed copy of Appendix-A (Option form) of SAI 2/S/08 immediately to CDA(O), Golibar Maidan, Pune – 411 001 through speed post.

(b) Send a signed copy through your unit also by speed post which in fact is the correct procedure.

(c) Just to have a back-up, do send CDA (O) an email exercising your option with an e-copy of Appendix-A (the option form).

Kindly also visit the CDA(O) website to clarify any further doubts on the issue.

Please be extra careful while exercising your option and undertake detailed calculation before doing so. Please excuse me from individual queries on the subject but the same may be placed as comments to this post so that a cross-section of visitors can enlighten us all in case of any ambiguity.

Readers are also requested to immediately (by tele) inform friends/batchmates/affected officers who may not be having access to such information and who may be serving in not so hospitable areas. With a further request to extend full help and support to such officers on this issue. Please note that this option as per Appendix-A read with Paras 5 & 6 of the SAI is separate than the situation mentioned in Para 12 wherein an option has to be expressed as to the date of application of increment on promotion. CDA (O) would select the more beneficial option as per Para 12 if not opted for by the officer himself/herself but CDA (O) would not do so as far as the date of switching over to new scales is concerned. Officers tend to confuse the two optional situations, that is, the first mentioned in Paras 5&6 and the second mentioned in Para 12. The option as per Para 12 is not so pertinent to the overall scheme of things as is the option as per Paras 5 & 6. It is recommended that with the help of the SAI and the illustrations, two detailed charts may be made - One as per switch over on 01 Jan 2006 and the other as per a switch over on date of promotion, and then a decision may be taken by analysing the arrears. The CDA (O) will not select the more benefical option for the officers in case of the date of switch over from the date of promotion after 01-01-2006 (Paras 5 & 6 of the SAI), it would only select the more beneficial option concerning the date of increment on promotion within the new scale as per Para 12.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Combat duty / ready for Combat duty : ‘Combatant’ explained in PB-4 context

One of the hottest topics of discussion amongst military circles is the stipulation that PB-4 shall be granted to Lt Cols who are on combat duty or who are ready for combat. The various facets of PB-4 not being granted to officers on deputation have already been discussed in this blog here but it is also important to touch on the second issue – the term ‘combatant’.

So who is a ‘combatant’ ? For starters, the term ‘combatant’ is not defined anywhere in any of the Military Acts (Army/Navy/Air Force Act). By convention it includes all military personnel serving under military law except :

a) Members of the Military Nursing Service (MNS)

b) Whole Time NCC officers (Such officers are explicitly mentioned to be outside the purview of military service in terms of Section 10 of the NCC Act, 1948). It may be pointed out here that such Whole Time NCC Officers (who wear Khakhi uniform) are a class separate from Regular combatant Army Officers posted to NCC units.

c) Non-Combatant Enrolled Personnel (NCsE) who being non-officers are in any case not related to our topic

Before there are dissenting voices, the following quote concerning MNS from the 6th CPC report on Page 79 becomes very relevant :

The rates of MSP would however need to be kept suitably lower (4200) keeping in view the fact that MNS officers are not primarily meant for combat duties.

The above statement also goes to show that officers granted a higher MSP of Rs 6000 are primarily meant for combat duties, hence the said higher rate of MSP. All officers including all arms, services, branches and departments of the three services have been granted an MSP of Rs 6000 solidifying their ‘primary combat duties’ status as conveyed by the 6th CPC itself.

Though the term ‘combatant’ is not defined anywhere under law, it becomes clear as a crystal if we rely on international law. Article 1 of the 1907 Hague Regulations relating to War on Land simply defines combatants as all those personnel who are commanded by a particular person, have fixed distinctive insignia, are authorized to carry arms and conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. Article 43 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 describes all members of armed forces as ‘Combatants’. Basically, every member of an armed force who is authorised to use an arm (weapon) in an offensive or a defensive role, is a combatant.

Coming back to MNS and to why they are not classically covered under the definition of ‘combatants’. The officers of the Nursing Service need not go into battle or operate weapons though they are supposed to perform duties at nursing stations / hospitals / ambulances at the fringes of battle. Nursing functions in actual battle are carried out by BFNAs who are a part and parcel of fighting elements in battle, and hence classified as ‘combatants’. It is a time tested system wherein in the battlefield, the job of non-combatant nurses is carried out by combatant nursing assistants.

There was discussion on this blog earlier wherein former officers of certain arms and support arms had referred to services such as ASC and AOC as non-combatant branches. This is absolutely incorrect. All members of Arms, Services, Branches and Departments of the ‘Armed’ Forces are Combatants irrespective of the functions performed by them. They are all meant to fight battles and bear arms for the nation. Next time someone would say that pathologists and psychiatrists in the medical services of the central govt are not to be granted PB-4 since they are not ‘surgery ready’. To put it simply, by extending the logic of the 6th CPC, all those who are in receipt of an MSP of Rs 6000 would be eligible for PB-4 too.

So in my humble opinion, all should rest assured that Pay Band-4 shall ultimately be made applicable to all officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force irrespective of the kind of duties being ascribed or performed. The same can logically only be held back from MNS officers and Whole Time NCC Officers. By the way, every soldier in every arm or service is enrolled in the Army through Form-I appended as Appx-1 to Army Rules and this form clearly defines all soldiers as 'Combatants'. Non-Combatants are enrolled through Form-II of Appx-1.

May I also request readers once again to maintain the dignity of the discussion fora. Derogatory references to various services may not be initiated please - neither in the chat box nor in the comments area, otherwise I shall be constrained to moderate comments and messages. Thank You.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Officers on ‘deputation’ not to be included in the new pay regime. But does a posting to AR, MES, BRO, etc qualify as ‘deputation’ ? No it does not

By now readers must be aware of the rider of the new scale for Lt Cols not being applicable to those officers who are on deputation to other organisations.

While clearly stating that in the future Lt Cols would not be sent on deputation to other organisations, the directions from the PMO ordain that “Lt Colonels on deputation may be given PB4 and Grade Pay of Rs 8000 only when they return from deputation to their parent service”

But what is ‘deputation’ you may ask. Well, in the civil parlance, deputation is an inter-se voluntary arrangement between two departments with the consent of the concerned employee wherein there are three players - there is a lending department, a borrowing department and a consenting employee.

Postings to Assam Rifles, Military Engineering Services, National Cadet Corps etc neither fulfil the above criterion nor involve any kind of voluntariness of officers. In my humble opinion, though sometimes (for convenience) termed as ‘deputation’, such postings are not so since there is no consent of employees involved in these. Officers are posted out by the MS branch based on administrative convenience and based on the number of vacancies and there is no willingness involved. Had these postings been optional or voluntary and that too on posts with lower GP, then the stipulation could have been applied to such officers. The stipulation of lower GP to deputationists can, in my humble opinion, be only applied to officers who in response to advertisements or departmental requisitions volunteer to opt for deputation. A close example would be deputation to organisations such as RAW wherein senior officers have traditionally been deputed to lower posts. In such a case, when an officer is himself or herself volunteering to proceed on deputation to a lower appointment after being made aware of the scale and the corresponding ‘pitfalls’, the stipulation of application of a lower GP may be perfectly valid. Postings to even outside organisations such as Assam Rifles (Ministry of Home Affairs), Border Roads Organisation (Ministry of Road Transport & Highways), National Cadet Corps (Ministry of HRD) may be colloquially and commonly referred to as ‘deputation’ within military circles but actually and technically these are not deputations but transfer-appointments made under Regulation 99 of the Defence Services Regulations (DSR-Regulations for the Army, 1987). The said Regulation does NOT even remotely refer to the term ‘deputation’.

How have Hon’ble Courts defined ‘deputation’ ?

The concept of deputation is consensual and involves a voluntary decision of the employer to lend the services of his employee and a corresponding acceptance of such services by the borrowing employer – it also involves the consent of the employee to go on deputation or not : The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Umapati Chowdhary Vs State of Bihar (1999) / Citation AIR 1999(SC) 1948

Deputation is deputing or transferring an employee to a post outside his cadre, that is to say, to another department on a temporary basis. There can be no deputation without the consent of the person so deputed and he would, therefore, know his rights and privileges in the deputation post : The Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of Punjab Vs Inder Singh and others (1998) / Citation AIR 1998(SC)7

A deputation subsists so long as the parties to this tripartite arrangement do not abrogate it. However , if any one of the parties repudiate the agreement, the other two have no legally enforceable right to insist upon continuance of deputation : The Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court in Gurinder Pal Singh Vs State of Punjab (2005) / Citation 2005(1)RSJ 340

An Army officer can be posted to Assam Rifles without his consent : The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Lt Gen VP Airy Vs Union of India (1993) / Citation 1993LabIC565

The pattern of postings of defence officers to such organisations would hence reveal that such appointments are not consensual, voluntary or optional but mandatory and obligatorily enforced under Regulation 99 of DSR and which a person cannot refuse. Hence in my humble opinion, the stipulation of the new pay regime not being made applicable to deputationists cannot include such postings which are compulsorily executed but can only be imposed on posts on which the officers have themselves voluntarily proceeded on deputation. Postings to AR, MES, BRO, NCC etc do not qualify as ‘deputation’ posts as held and defined by Hon’ble Courts of Law including the Hon’ble Apex Court.

The new pay scale hence to my mind and personal opinion, can only be refused to those who have voluntarily proceeded on lower JAG level posts and not to those who have been posted to various appointments by the organisation under the authority of Regulation 99. The new scale should hence logically apply to every single Lt Col and equivalent in the three services except officers who have voluntarily on their own asking proceeded on deputation to lower posts and the only officers who can be excluded are perhaps MNS officers and Whole Time Commissioned Officers of the NCC who by nature of their duties are non-combatants. One cannot, should not and perhaps would not be denied a benefit on the basis of a posting on which he or she had no control.

Friday, January 2, 2009

What about increase in Grade Pay for ranks other than Lt Cols, upgradation of status, higher pay for Lt Gens etc ? Is the story over ?

Fortunately No. The story is not over, not yet.

A committee is going to examine the inter-se relativities of military and civil officers and the issue has not been rejected as reported by some sections of the media.

Before rumour mongering, langar gupp and half-baked reports rise again, I feel it important to throw light on the little I know on the directions of the PM on the military pay & status issue.

It is true that the note from the PMO contains a stipulation that combat ready Lt Cols are to be upgraded to PB-4. But what is the definition of Combat readiness ? Nobody knows. Every officer of the defence services is a combatant - hence to my mind, every Lt Col/Wg Cdr/Cdr should get it. I think this stipulation should simply imply that those officers who are currently holding appointments on deputation in ‘outside organisations’ which are tenable by civil officers of the Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) shall continue to receive a GP of Rs 7600 till the time they revert back to the forces.

The problem however is that the term ‘deputation’ has different connotation for the military vis-a-vis the civil services. In the civil services, it refers to an appointment outside the cadre and is purely voluntary and optional in nature while in the services postings to organisations such as MES, AR and RR are sometimes technically (incorrectly) termed as ‘deputation’ but are not so in the classical sense. In fact, if I remember correctly, even the Hon’ble Supreme Court had held that postings to Assam Rifles are mandatory and not ‘deputation’ in the conventional sense as the term is used in the civilian set-up.

It also brings us to another important point. In the civil services, an officer who volunteers to proceed on deputation on a lower post remains in his or her actual pay band but draws a lower GP attached to that particular deputation post. Drawing the same analogy, all Lt Cols must remain in PB-4 even if they are on deputation to other (lower) posts. It would not be fair to implement this modality any other way.

Another aspect sent for implementation by the PMO is that Lt Colonels would henceforth not be posted on deputation to other organisations. Good in a way since they would not have to work under officers from other cadres with a shorter length of service till the relativities are actually settled, but how would we be able to implement this remains to be seen. I personally feel it is not exactly practical though it would all depend on how ‘deputation’ is defined for such orders to take effect.

As I said in my previous post, there is no ‘full stop’ in issues like these and the setting up of the committee to examine rest of the issues shows just that. Had the GoM been satisfied with the current relativities in vogue as imposed on the forces, there would have been no orders for setting up of a committee. The committee would definitely go into the service conditions, historical perspective and length of service taken to reach particular ranks and grades while deliberating on this very imperative issue. Ideally the GoM itself should have examined these issues but perhaps going into such details would require additional and better technical expertise.

We should stay positive, we’ll symptomatically handle all issues as they come. I don’t think any anger should be directed towards our pay cells or top brass or elements in the MoD who supported the forces’ demands - they have played their roles well, otherwise the story would have climaxed in August 2008 after the govt resolution. Some months on, Lt Cols are in PB-4, many other ‘lighter’ anomalies stand addressed and the issues of status, relativities and pay parity stay alive. I may sound too optimistic but nothing is possible till we all exude positive energy. If readers remember, I always used two words for those who felt that PB-4 was an impossible dream – Have Faith, and I’ll say them again.

“Positivity, have you had your plus sign today ?” : Prince (1988)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lt Colonels finally in Pay Band-4. What does it practically mean for serving and retired officers ?

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world - Etty Hillesum

In these times of chaos, let us wish and hope for peace.
A very happy new year to all readers of this blog.

Now back to the topic at hand.

Impact on serving officers

There have been mixed reactions to the news confirming the placement of all Lt Colonels and equivalent in Pay Band-4 with a Grade Pay (GP) of Rs 8000. But if you ask me, there is no reason to feel dejected. We should feel happy that for the time being our Lt Cols are in PB-4 and would not be drawing a total pay package lower than Non Functional Selection Grade (NFSG) officers of Group-A civil services or Selection Grade (SG) officers of the All India Services. The Grade Pay has been tinkered with and lowered but we would keep pursuing the issue and there is nothing like a ‘full stop’ in the labyrinths of administrative strata.

Many people in the civil as well as defence set up were convinced that PB-4 was never going to come through but I’m glad that ultimately we were established in the positive and they in the red. Lt Colonels were wrongly placed equivalent to the Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) by the 6th CPC (PB-3 with GP of Rs 7600) but now have been upgraded to PB-4 with a GP of Rs 8000. The GP of Lt Cols has however been kept lower than NFSG officers of Group-A civil services / SG officers of All India Services who enjoy a GP of Rs 8700.

The upgradation would also practically mean that Lt Colonels shall now draw a higher pay band and a higher GP than the following :

Deputy Secretaries to Govt of India

Directors and Additional Secretaries to State Governments

District Police Chiefs (Known with variable nomenclature as District SPs / Distt SSPs / DCPs)

Non-Functional Selection Grade Officers of the Central Engineering Services

2ICs of Central Police Organisations

Commandants (Junior Grade) of the Indian Coast Guard

Deputy Commissioners / District Magistrates / Collectors of Districts in the Junior Administrative Grade

Scientists ‘D’ of the Technical and Scientific Services

Joint Controllers of Defence Accounts (JCsDA)

Impact on retired officers

Retired Lt Colonels (Selection Grade as well as Time Scale) are also expected to gain from this announcement. The basic pension of pre-2006 Lt Colonels and equivalent would most probably be fixed at Rs 25700 which is higher than the basic pension of NFSG officers of the Group-A services as well as SG officers of the All India Services which is now fixed at Rs 23050. As prior to 6th CPC, the edge in pensions of Lt Cols shall hence continue to operate vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts. Most of the earlier Lt Col retirees were till now drawing a basic pension of Rs 7550 whereas NFSG/SG officers were drawing a basic pension of Rs 7150 but the 6th CPC had altered this advantage to the detriment to Lt Cols who were now granted a basic pension of Rs 17063. Thankfully this has been rectified by the GoM.

So be positive and relax and continue blogging !!!