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Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Post: BeeCee’s views on post retirement occupation, legal redressal and status+protocol issues

Our regular guest writer, BeeCee is back, and would like to share his views on post retirement jobs, veterans & serving personnel approaching judicial fora for relief and status issues. His earlier posts, and references to those posts, can be accessed by clicking here.

The views are his own. I would particularly invite the attention of readers, specially serving personnel, to his observations made in this post on status incongruities. 



Navdeep's recent posts on Status issues and Rank pay, as well as some other mails on the net regarding post-retirement employment must give us pause to see the inter-connectedness of many of these issues. Also at play is the proposal to further restrict employment of ex-servicemen.

Post-retirement Jobs

As correctly brought out in a mail among some veterans, further restrictions on post-retirement occupation is another self-goal in the making by the Services HQ. 

To be fair, we are not alone in this. A former British General was describing to me the other day an  expose/sting op done by a UK Paper on senior retired military officers and their links to the defence procurement process in the UK. But the problem may actually be in the rules than in the personnel. The points I want to raise are threefold:

1. Does the GOI actually have the right to decide what work you'll do or not do when you retire? In particular, to proscribe you from doing the job you are most competent to do? One veteran had also raised this issue more directly sometime back and suggested that the GOI must compensate the affected parties adequately if they apply such restrictions on employment.
2. Is there any other sector where the only people with domain knowledge are banned from working in the particular sector? Say, like 'if you have banking experience, you cannot work in the financial services industry' or if you have IT experience, you cannot work in the computer industry etc. What amazes me is that those who suggest these measures seem to be completely oblivious to the inherent self-contradiction in such blanket bans. The Service HQ must actually be actively involved in encouraging veterans to join the defence industry so that their knowledge and experience can be beneficial to both the vendor and the customer, and of course the country in general.
(Post Note on Points 1 & 2 : Yes, service rules prescribe prohibition on commercial employment for civilian as well as defence employees according to rank, however the said stipulations are peppered with many ifs and buts, and, as they stand now, are not blanket or draconian in nature –   Navdeep.)
3. Isn't it also surprising that the same people who advocate greater removal of controls and regulation for better efficiency in the marketplace advocate the opposite for Defence industry. It does not stand to reason that openness and transparency that is beneficial everywhere else would be counterproductive only in the defense sector.
My own view is that discouraging Service personnel from embracing this is a deliberate ploy by those already in it or their cohorts, to minimise competition and scrutiny by others with product knowledge. Corruption is a red herring. Of course there may be corruption, as in any human activity and must be dealt with ruthlessly. But the solution to a headache is not to cut off the head. I haven't heard anyone say that people who understand telecom or coal must be banned from those sectors because of corruption there.

The surprise is that Service HQ (and many veterans) don't see through this. Or is it a case of turning the Nelson's eye? You can then have shadowy operators (veteran or otherwise) coming out of the woodwork without scrutiny. It is also a way of creating continued dependency of veterans on govt handouts whether it be in the form of public/political appointments, Track II sojourns etc instead of letting personnel strike out on their own and make a living based on their personal competence.

Instead of parroting such views, Services HQ/Veterans need to look at the constitutional validity of such instructions. I suspect what may be required is merely a full disclosure from the veteran regarding his military background. In case of any conflict of interest, his competitor (likely another veteran) is sure to bring it out easing out the job of the procurement agency and delivering better service.

General VK Singh in the spotlight

Fortunately, a fair amount of sensible comment is coming in the media, especially if the last rank in service was relatively junior. Let me add some points to ponder.

Maj Dhanapalan's going to court to claim what was legitimately due to him has been hailed by all of us because the court upheld his claim, and especially because the RDOA effectively made it into a class action with many benefitting. 

When Gen VKS went to court to claim what was legitimately his due (at least I feel that way), many frowned and even became shrill when the court also took evasive action. Technically or legally, I think the General's claim was as valid as Maj Dhanapalan's.

But the point that needs to be made is that irrespective of personal opinions, both cases were caused by action/inaction at Service HQ, all three HQ in the former, and Army HQ in the latter. Has anyone been called to account for this? This, I think remains a fundamental failing.

When you compare DPA/NHQ's(reported) brief with that of RDOA on the Rank Pay case, one realises that nothing much has changed and Service HQ still haven't got their head out of the sand. The scales indicated in the letters in circulation are actually a bit lower than what would have been automatically available if we had just accepted civil norms to begin with. 

Status issues

Which brings me to the third issue highlighted by Navdeep on his blog and various comments thereon regarding status.

Again, here the primary culprit is Services HQ in the past because status is related to pay. This is what happens if you have a bunch of decision makers who feel that 'Service officers have/had an edge over others in pay', then further create an ambiguity in basic pay through integrated scale/Rank Pay and then add to it some officers who want to hang around in Delhi in whatever position is available.

NHQ had caught on to this sham in the mid 90s when the Cabinet Secretariat had asked for "Commanders (psc) on deputation to work as Under Secys in ......”. Navy wrote back to Cabinet Secretariat to make up their mind on whether they wanted Commanders or Under Secys to Govt of India. If it was the former, then they would have to be designated as Directors and if it was the latter, Navy will send Lieutenants. After some back and forth and a meeting between COP and the Secy, a meeting was convened to iron out an agreement between NHQ and Cabinet Secretariat. 

The interesting aspect is that none of the civilians on the other side of the table had a problem with a pay based equation (which was finally agreed to) as suggested by the Navy and is the norm elsewhere. Vociferous objection was from the senior military officer in the Cabinet Secretariat, a Maj Gen. The substance of his argument was that rank for rank military officers were paid higher and that it is only NHQ that had a problem while Army and Air HQ were willing to send even Cols/Gp Capts to Under Secy level posts. NHQ did win the argument there at the time but the latter part of his stand was also true. This and the exchange of words between the Maj Gen and a relatively junior naval rep provided much amusement to the civilians present during discussions.

Unfortunately, he was not alone in that line of thinking. At Delhi, it was common to see Majors and Dy Secys Govt of India/Directors staying in the same block of DII accommodation. This was because they had similar levels of pay and service and you didn't have to be a genius to realise that these grades were at par. However most Service officers of the rank of Major  had convinced themselves that they were junior, but were paid higher with better accommodation entitlements. A classic case Groupthink, at variance from reality.

On the comments of some bloggers that individual officers must refuse to take up lower level deputation posts, my view is that it could be done, but it will only have marginal impact. Addressing systemic faults is the responsibility of Services HQ and they need to ensure that no individual is put in a position to make such difficult choices. 
For whatever it's worth



Penmil said...

A happy Diwali to all bloggers!
Thanks for an interesting post, on burning issues.


This brings out a need (at the Service HQ) to continuously balance pay progression as well as rank up gradation. Failure to keep the balance will either result in lower pays, as it happened at 4th CPC, or rank vs. length of service mismatch, as it happened during AVS Reforms.
Instead of rigidly linking pay with the rank, if the Services de-link rank progression from pay progression (without introducing a disaster like the 4th CPC Rank Pay),the situation will be more comfortable.
An officer is to be promoted to a higher rank as per the needs of the organization and not for higher pay whereas the pay progression as well as the pay scales should follow the prevalent civil pattern.
That is, one should get promotion twice at each stage. First, a promotion in pay when the equivalent Civil Services get it (so that a balance with the Civil, is maintained all the while).Next the officer is to be promoted to a higher rank only when the Service needs him to take up higher responsibilities.
Thus the Services, while dealing with the civilians, can talk of equivalent pay, but while dealing, internally within the Service(s), consider only the rank.

Similar arrangements (of de linking pay and appointment) are there in the civil and might have been there in the past too.

Synapse said...

Though out of context here...

Can any one tell me why is it that Defence Services have lower retiring age. If the answer is to have a younger force then we have CRPF, BSF, Assam Rifles etc who do an equally physically demanding job but retiring at 60 years. I have never heard anyone demanding equivalent retirement ages.
Moreover if BPET defines physical fitness levels, then atleast till 45 yrs a person is considered capable of acceptable Battle Proficiency - why should then he be retired at 35 years.
The age enhancement would resolve many problems we are currently faced with.

Anonymous said...

A happy and prosperous Diwali to all bloggers.

MRP said....
I agree with comments of penmil but so far as integrated pay scale introduced by IV CPC was one of the best thing happened in the history of Armed Forces. i say so because in III CPC maximum officers were stagnating in their respective ranks without any stagnation increments because pay scale for each rank was shortsighted. Of course it would have been better if the rank pay element been included in the integrated pay scale and benit of FR 22C would have been given on each promotion. The real disaster was V CPC because again truncated pay scales were created for each rank.The present sufferings caused by VI CPC are the result of past mistakes of Service HQs.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the comment of Penmil that we need to 'de-link rank progression from pay progression'. The issue of status and consequently heart burn crops up only because we have to link our pay with our rank. Promotion to a new rank should have nothing to do with pay progression. In my view, the pay progression should happen so as to be effective from the date the officer fulfills the eligibility criteria (for Captains to Lieutenant Colonels and for time scale promotions) and thereafter the date on which had been adjudged to be competent to hold the next higher rank i.e. the declassification of the selection board results.

Anonymous said...

Awesome is the word !!

but are the ol' foggies listening or will they cry foul when they become veterans or ill-treated personally.

good post sir ;)

PK Tyagi said...

A happy Diwali to all readers.

It appears that senior officers have been unable to stem the rot, barring a few instances, like the one referred to in this blog, and the senior service has been the culprit more often than not, even though other two services have also been equally responsible. I have seen Flag officers bending backwards to babus well below their status to satisfy their egos to avoid upsetting them and this is what has caused most of the problems. I am sure equating pay and not rank, to positions will help, but can it be done, is a million dollar questions!! I guess we need to think out of box, like Major Dhanpalan did when he decided to take up the matter in court, at tremendous personal cost, I beleive.

Anonymous said...

A jawan signs a bond for 20 years (IAF)at the time of recruitment and hence after discharge he remains eligible for grp "C" & "D" category jobs only. If the bond get reduced to 10-12 years, there will be absolutely no problem with re-employment.Today's Jawans are enough qualified and they are well prepared to compete with rest of the world if they are given opportunity to do so even if no post is reserved for them. As no restriction is imposed in respect of job in private sectors, a large number of Jawans are doing very well there from bottom to top level.

Unknown said...

Can organisations like AFNHB / AWHO be taken to court of not delivering Dwelling units on time or escalating cost of the house by several Lacs.

Maneesh Joshi said...


Point No 1 made by BeeCee is valid. The GOI should have no business with what one does after ones's service ends unless there is a conflict of interest with regard to national security issues i.e it would be highly incorrect for a former COAS to join the ISI as a consultant!

In the case of Point No 2, I beg to differ but with a caveat - in almost all highly specialised domains in the corporate world, a worker is barred from practising in that domain for monetary gain only if found guilty of professional malfeasance. Rajat Gupta may well face this situation in the days ahead.

Point No 3 has been superbly analysed by BeeCee in the write-up.

In fact, if one goes by the "Contact With Foreign Nationals" manual of the Army, not a single veteran or her/his kids would be able to secure any employment at all!

BeeCee said...

Navdeep's note - Agree, but the point to be made is that it is the job of Service HQs to rationalise existing orders and also to point out to the MOD/GOI when such orders make no sense or deny fundamental rights without due compensation for such restrictions that have an impact on your employment options.

Penmil - Generally agree with what is stated but such a system is already in existence as per CPC norms and mil.ranks can be easily dovetailed into it. Our problem is that Services have refused this option. Public posturing is at complete variance with what is actually sought from CPCs.

MRP - I think we inhabit completely different universes. But we could discuss after you read some of the earlier posts on the subject and once the Rank Pay imbroglio is over.

Maneesh Joshi - Rajat Gupta's case I presume is mainly about insider trading, the use of privileged info for financial benefit. Such laws are in existence everywhere and is equally applicable in all sectors. If you want to draw a parallel, our guys would have banned such class of people from trading in shares/stocks instead catching the individual who was at fault.


Anonymous said...

Dear All,

As for restriction on the kind of job you can take up once you retire, it is very much prevalent in the corporate too. Most companies explicitly mention in their employment contracts that if the employee chooses to quit the company he/she will not join a competitor (in some cases names are provided too) for a stipulated period of time, in most cases it is about three yrs.