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Sunday, February 8, 2015

The 7th Central Pay Commission: The Services should ensure a better deal for the Short Service Commission Scheme

Now that the issues tagged with the 7th Central Pay Commission are gaining momentum, it is very important to again bring to light the matters related to the scheme of Short Service Commission, which arguably is being thought of as the backbone of the officer cadre of the defence services for the future.

A few years ago, the Short Service Commission Scheme of the Army was regressively tweaked from the earlier 5+5+4 system to the 10+4 system making service of 10 years compulsory in the Army for such officers. This was ostensibly done to make the scheme more ‘attractive’, but ironically, this is the greatest disservice that could ever be rendered and has had just the opposite effect. The reasons why I say so can be fathomed from this old post of mine:

A. There is no seniority protection in the civil services for former SS officers anymore, which means that an ex-SSCO starts his/her civil career alongwith civil direct recruits 10 years younger to him/her and atleast two ranks junior to his/her former status in the Army.

B. If joining the corporate world, the ex-SS officer again starts at a point of the ladder where he/she competes with youngsters who already have had a head-start which the former SS officer missed out due to his/her joining the Army.

C. Ex-Servicemen benefits are entitled only on completion of terms of engagement which means that the said benefits which were earlier available after 5 years, are now available after serving for 10.

D. 10% of appointments at Assistant Commandant (Lieutenant equivalent) level in the CAPFs are reserved for SSCOs. There is no protection of seniority. Hence, ex-SSCOs of Major and Lt Col level are expected to join at Lieut level (GP 5400) in the CAPFs which makes the entire reservation redundant.

E. After completing 10 years of service, an SSCO is in his/her 30s and to expect him/her to then look around for a fruitful career, in my opinion, is otiose.

It may be important to point out that in the civil services, in accordance with Rule 49 (2) (b) of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, civil employees become eligible for pension after serving the govt for 10 years, whereas our SSCOs are released without a pension and are only granted a gratuity even after serving 14 years. After the 6th CPC, civil employees are now entitled to full pension after serving 10 years under the ibid rule (it was 33 years for full pension prior to 6th CPC). Of course the 10 year rule on the civil side only applies to those who are released or retired after completing 10 years and not to voluntary retirees. The above applies to pre-2004 recruited employees and the ones who joined service after the said date are eligible for benefits under the New Pension Scheme. 

On learning that the defence services had made no recommendation of a proper pension scheme for SSCOs to the 7th CPC, I had duly pointed out its very pertinent requirement if we were to ensure retention of talent in this very important cadre of the military.

In short, the top brass of the Ministry of Defence and also the defence services, without being unduly guided by personal opinions of their staff, must take a holistic view and address the following issues to retain talent in the Short Service Commission and to maintain the izzat and sheen of the military rank in the civil society in general:

(1) Reverting back to the system of 5+5+4 years terms of engagement rather than the 10+4 years which leaves our officers neither here nor there.

(2) Introduction of pension after 10 years for those who opt to continue beyond 5 years on the lines of Rule 49 (2)(b) on the civil side, or a suitable contributory pension scheme.

(3) Ensuring retention and protection of seniority and status in the civil services for SSCOs.

(4) Restoration of outpatient medical facilities to released SSCOs and ECOs which were illegally withdrawn by the Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services.

Though the above steps are not exhaustive, it is only now that putting our brains together could make any positive dent, otherwise, the matter would further be postponed for another 10 years to the next pay commission. The Services HQ should stand up and take a call!


Alok Asthana said...

Very useful compilation, Navdeep. 5+5+4 is a much better option. Doing army service for 5 years and then moving on to civil life is the best option for youngsters. After that, as Navdeep says, it is neither here nor there. Some Gen should fight for this.

Dhoop said...

The word "holistic" in the blog post assumes a special significance when we consider the question whether SSC and PC careers can be examined independent of one another.

If the SSC conditions of service improve to the required level, as they should, and there are not sufficient differentials for the longer service that a PC entails, then we risk making the PC unattractive.

Unless both PC and SSC streams receive a better deal at the same time, all the recommendations in this blog post for SSCOs being met as well as grant of NFU and faster time bound promotion to at least Col rank for PC Officers, among other things, then an approach on these lines risks falling into the "piecemeal" category.

Anonymous said...

SSC officers and their employment serves three broad purposes:-
(a) Gives an individual a set of all round organisational skills that help him immensely in charting his career better than a non-military person. The glowing references and the sure footing these reliable gentlemen have gained in the REAL world are a testimony to this fact.
(b) Allows the armed forces to manage the promotional pyramid much better than it would be otherwise.
(c) Creates a national pool of able bodied and disciplined individuals who can be utilised in case of hostilities with very little re training.

So treat them with the consideration that a veteran deserves rather than disposable commodities. Give him a pension, help him resettle better with lateral absorption, continuing education programs in good universities rather than arcane DGR courses that are a sham. Why not the Civil Services?

The services need to wake up and demand a better future for these veterans.

A Sunder Rajan said...

Dear Maj Navdeep,

Indeed a very valid point. I am surprised that for so many long years, service HQs did not make the connection/comparison that a civil govt employee becomes eligible after 10 years whereas a Fauji is Not.Service HQs are there to ensure that Faujis get justice and a fair deal . Unfortunately that has not happened in the case of SS officers and also medical officers(Which is a separate issue).

Thanks for taking up the case of SS officers.

Col AS Rajan(Retd)

Capt Sharma said...

Beautifully articulated. Needs proper attention. No segment of defence forces must be allowed to feel left out; if want them to carry the undying 'Love' for family like bonhomie in Armed Forces; which make them a war winning machine

Dave said...

With only six months left for 7CPC to submit their report, it seems time is running out to cater to any fresh suggestions.

dvksingh@gmail.com said...

Very fine suggestion Navdeep .I hope it trickles down to the officers pursuing the 7Th PC ,Army and navy are incapable and also non understanding when it comes to these matters .If you could some how pass this on to AOC, AFCO ,Subroto Park ,He would be a great help ,as they are the professionals who are capable and proud of the task they perform.

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep,
Excellent suggestions.
Though I think the last point raised by you, regarding medical facilities for SSC officers has now been addressed.
The SSC officers are now been given ECHS cards which entitles them to treatment as for any ECHS members. At least this is what I see happening in our hospital.
Please correct me if I am mistaken on this account.
I think it is a positive step.

amit said...

dear sir
once again you have made the point in so logical a manner i am forced to ask myself if the powers that be r indeed any powers or intelligent as we consider and hope them to be. r they not aware of the disservice they r doing.
already logistic is facing a major discipline issue with only 25% selection rate, curtailment of posting of superseded offrs on ERE, lack of opportunity for study leave, posting 4-5 superseded offrs in each bn, and to rub salt delay in pmr also

Anonymous said...

Sir, any additional benefits for those who served for 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you totally but will our one wheel fits all super babus in uniform act. I think not....

Anonymous said...

Could the Indian armed forces have a scheme of reimbursement of higher education expenses incurred before joining as short service comm officer and then releasing them after say 5 years without pension, and after 14 years with pension payable for say next 10 years(not whole life ) . Higher education expenses being so high these days 5 years service as a short service commissioned officer could be an attractive proposition.

Unknown said...

It is a very good point and got a logic for SSCO,S. Authorities must putup this point for the welfare,Ijjat and sheen of our SSCO,S.Right to equality must be maintained.

Anonymous said...

Dear Navdeep Sir, I am very upset with our veterans who seem to be very selfish. Do you know the very poor standard of life in terms of promotion, your Jawans are compelled to live. They are bound to serve as Sepoy till specific time of more than 17 years and thereafter thrown out in their initial rank itself. They are being considered good only for 'Chowkidaar' duties by the private sector outside causing a big insult to the training and life of Army men. You must demand what you deserve. But meanwhile you are also requested to have some discussion on the largest section of military, you lead once and still expecting some good order of your's. While serving officers are further running for AVSC next part. They don't have any plan or recommendations to ensure respectful career for their Jawans. Kindly discuss and analysis if you could anything. Sorry for diverting from the main issue of your blog. A continuous follower of your blogs.

Anonymous said...

Echs for ssc is not given at all. Wrong info in one of the commyents.


10 years is too long 5 years is ok after coming out from service as SSC by that time age between 32 to 37. its not correct according to me.


According to me 10 years SSC is not correct , 5+5+4 is ok, let us take one example :- 30 years He/She will take commissioned in the Army after completion of full tenure of 14 they will be at 45. At this age again searching new life is not possible to every body. specially Army setup and counter Part of Civil is drastically different .I saw maximum SSC officers are not in a position to pickup suitable job.

Abhay Kumar said...

Very good and appropriate suggestions timely raised.SSC Army officer should be treated as permanent after retirement.Pension ,medical and canteen facilities and most importantly proper honour must be given after retirement of SSC Army Officer .Jai Hind.

Anonymous said...

@ Maj Navdeep- Had the honour of being your neighbour and childhood friend, will surely take up for the cause of SS officers soon. I think we need numbers and need to shake up the political class to wake up on such issues. Hope to ensure likes of Capt Amrinder and Capt Abhimanyu to support us in various forums.
Just need to shape up a few things and then will announce the warcry. Till then. Cheers!

naval officer said...

Very significant words sir. i would like to mention that if the MoD wants to really make SSC attractive, the the best things they can do are:
1. Provide option of permanent commission to certain percentage of good performing officers of ALL BRANCHES without any discrimination to keep them motivated to work hard through out their service
2. Make the ECHS facility available to all post retirement
3. Provide for Contributory pension/NPS/ normal defence pension to all SSC officers serving for 10 or more years
4. Providing re-employment till 18 yrs or providing some extra money are not going to bring in the much needed motivation, feeling of parity, feeling of secure career, complete belongingness in the service

Anonymous said...

Dear Major Navdeep,

All said and done but Armed Forces are a different cattle altogether. Armed Forces are not like All India Services with a subordinate cadre supporting the lower rung and these Services ruling the roost at higher levels. Neither Armed Forces are like business enterprises. The cutting edge of the Armed Forces are the young officers. Would a young officer put his life upfront when he knows that it is only after few years that he would be shunted out? When there is differentiation between two young officers within same battalion, how is it going to effect the functional efficiency? Such a situation does not exist in the case of All India Services. Hence efforts at creation of a subordinate cadre in the form of Short Service may not be a correct answerer for the Armed forces. In other words, assured General-ship and higher ranks for NDA entrants and exit door for other entries on one pretext or the other including age is bad management and sure demotivater.

Thinking of better packages for Short Service officers is a very welcome step but the issue that must be central to Chiefs and Generals is that how to make them a fighting machines and good soldiers ? What organisational means must exist so that Short Service Officers are not discriminated in terms of career advancements, seeking continuation within organisation, afforded equal opportunities, protection and promotions.

Can Army, Navy or IAF afford to function well based on two distinctive grades and Cadre of officers for the same job or same kind of functions?

Why not to make all entries including NDA entry only as Short Service entry and all be considered for permanent commission after five years of service ? That would be non discriminatory, functional and efficient measure.

Discrimination is not a good way to promote organisational efficiency and motivation, particular when the function of the organisation is as dangerous as war.

Bharat said...

SSC Officers are not entitled to ECHS benefits. A case was taken up by the Services HQ, but it was turned down by the the Babus of MoD.

dr yogesh chandra said...

If anybody can make policy available for ECHS FACILITY FOR SSCO,what is present status if it is not through

ninihala said...

SSC tenure from 5+5+4 was changed to 10+4, not due to improving service conditions for SSCOs, but to compulsorily retain them beyond 5 years, i.e. for organisational reasons. This step was though tom tommed as a favor to SSCOs.
Need for a support cadre remains. Structure of such cadre needs to be such that they do not compete with PRC officers in promotion. Limiting their terms of engagement to 14 years has not been fruitful, leading to heartburn, court cases (WSES) and cadre mismanagement. Such offrs also need to be offered a good deal when the leave.
To obviate all these problems, I sugge4st that IA introduce Direct Entry JCOs upto 20% of auth str, initially. This Entry should replace SSC entry. After 10 years in JCO rk, they be screened and suitable pers offered PRC at bottom rung. This way, they will not compete with PRC offrs for promotion and also will have full service tenures. This proposal will need more deliberation and fine tuning, but is workable.

Unknown said...

pay and seniority protection is must,see a SSC officer served for 10-14 years of service and in age bracket of 35-45 years with responsibility of families and kids looks like helpless without any pension and health benefits as well as junior in all streams to his/her colleague.It is completely ridiculous in a democratic country a person is so helpless and without honor of his/her rank when he comes in civil job/corporate job/CAPF jobs.That is why young persons aviding a career in armed forces as SSC officer if such a shameful end after giving so many years to country.
Dr.(Lt Col) S K Tripathi

Anonymous said...

Dear Major Navdeep,
I would like to point out a few pertinent facts, which are a bit different from the regular bandwagon on this blog.
1. Nobody in current frame of mind joins Army as SSCO these days. When all other means of employment are exhausted including civilian permanent job opportunities, then only a person applies to the SSCO category.
2. In an era of information / transparency/ internet , you can not argue that SSCO cadre officers dont know what they will get after they join army. They very well know that they are going to be a subordinate cadre and are treated as such by PC officers.
3. These officers are used as ploys by the PC officers(NDA branded) to further their own promotional aspects, as these officers serve only at lower ranks by the time of getting promoted to Col and above they are shunted out.
4. Passing on these second rate officers , who in the first place could not find any suitable (permanent) employment either in civilian establishments or armed forces, as gemstones to be readily picked by other civillian services is a mockery of the intellect of an officer.
5. Would the armed forces be ready to provide reservation in officer cadre to
a) Sub Inspectors of CAPF who couldnt clear Asst Commdt Exam by UPSC.
b) clerical level staff of Civilian Organisation, who couldn't clear Civil Service Exam by UPSC.
6. The above suggestion in point 5 seems ridicules right? It is that is why other organisation find it equally ridiculous to have a second rate officer getting in their ranks in first instance and then a mockery started by some people to give them seniority too.
7. My suggestion is that SSCO should be scrapped altogether, because anyhow only worthless youngsters are opting for that. NDA should be the only point of entry and after 5 years in army , it should be decided that who will continue to serve and who will not. The people shunted out after 5 years should be given 4-5 years age relaxation while appearing in other exams and No Reservation chant please.

Commandant CRPF

Veteran said...

Fully in sync with Navdeep.
Though outside the gambit of 7CPC ,BUT IN THE Ministry of Defence DOMAIN , The following points Requires to be added :-
.1. The cadres like Forces HQ (group A services ), IDAS (defense Audit & accts), DRDO (both admin & sceintists) , DGQA, CSD service ,Defence Estate service , Defense Engineering Service (MES), GREF(border roads) are support services(Tail) created for the Military(tooth). Therefore at least 50% of their cadre streangth to be made up of laterally shifted SSCOs/WSSCOs with seniority protection. Doing this is a policy decision to be initiated and executed by the MOD.

.2. The SSCOs status as ESM(Exservice man) should be restored to 1962 level . The definition of ESM has been getting diluted over a period since 60s with evil intentions to deny ESM status to SSCOs.
.3. Another point which is purely in the service HQ domain is grant of military/DSOI club membership to SSCOs which is denied now . The service HQ proactively should issue executive orders to all stations to make the SSCOs eligible for these club membership at par with retired officers .

akhil said...

I endorse the views expressed by Maj.Nav ,
Maximum service is extracted from SSC OFFICERS and are left in Wilderness after completion of tenure.
Treat ssc officers on par with civilian counter part of same length of service at least.

Naveen Kolli said...

Your blog is bang on, Pricise and clear with only the most critical points covered.
10 years of SSC is a cruelty as the officer is on the wrong side of age and would have compelling family commitments.
5+5+4 is the most ideal and would really serve the stated purpose of Short Service.

Anonymous said...

Excellent job major naveep. I feel 7th cpc to go through this blog instead of seeking recommendations from top brass and baabus, at least they will know the ground realities of army and the agonies of it's men.

Unknown said...

Major Navdeep, you have been tirelessly working for the welfare of Ex Servicemen & have made tremendous contribution, which we all appreciate. As regards welfare of SSCO & ECO's I hope defence officer representing the forces presents the case before the 7th pay commission keeping in mind that, he has also to retire & then he will be sitting on the other side of table & then even by default one of his near & dear happenes to make mistake like we did, it will be too late. Hope someone known to member participating in commission reminds him. Major T R Sethi, SSCO, 4th Course, March 1968 Batch

farasi krishna vilas said...

Imust congratulate your very efficiient praposal for ssco.if people like you are not in society ssco will be used as commodity in need n to feed the requirment of armed forces..our senior officers sre not bother to think about ssco.which the reason for liberal pramotion for pc.can a person walk without back bone.how come our commanders are not bothered..in one place Nepoleon said-The Gernals who neglect their man in peace pay heavily.in actual war. At navdeep ji you have put this matter.hape our senior will come out of slumber and put this matter to 7th pay commison.

Anonymous said...

Just read this article makes a lot of sense for SS officers. But there are many more glaring unjust issues for the species of the short service male medical officer. It was too late for me when I realised the really bad double meaning of 'do u have it in you'. It is a professional suicide. U will be used like toilet paper and discarded. I strongly discourage any doctor wanting to join as SSC. Get permanent commission or quit.

Anonymous said...

Very significant words sir. i would like to mention that if the MoD wants to really make SSC attractive, the the best things they can do are:
1. Provide option of permanent commission to certain percentage of good performing officers of ALL BRANCHES without any discrimination to keep them motivated to work hard through out their service as SSC officer have also contributed towards nation. Kicking out from service is just like "use and through" without any value.
2. Make the ECHS facility available to all post retirement
3. Provide "Proportionate pension" as happened in civil employment based on length of service to all SSC officers serving for 7 or more years.
4. Providing re-employment in Defence public sector for good return to Govt. with pay protection.