The language of the resolution issued by the Ministry of Finance implementing the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission contained an odd line.
Though I would not blame the Ministry for it since more than them the line reflects the quality of application of mind by the Seventh Pay Commission to the pay, allowances and expectations of the defence community, certain amount of circumspection is required by authorities while dealing with such subjects. Of course, I am talking of the not so happily worded statement that says that additional levels were being added to the defence pay matrix to maintain parity with the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), meaning thereby that the defence services were being upgraded to CAPFs level proving that the Pay Commission had placed the former at a disadvantage compared to the latter.
Till some years ago, other organisations used to repeatedly request successive Pay Commissions and the Government to bridge the gap between their pay & allowances and those of the defence services, but for the first time, the defence services had it so bad that the Government of India had to step in and say that the pay would now have to be enhanced so as to address the anomalous situation recommended by the Pay Commission wherein the defence services were now at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the CAPFs. Unlike some others, I sincerely believe that all professions and services in India are equally important and nobody can claim to be better than the other, however a reading of the Pay Commission Report reflects that a strange projection had been put forth as if the defence services were being paid more than what they deserved.
Historically as far as commissioned officers are concerned, the pay was broadly linked with officers of the Indian Police Service (IPS). When a pay progression anomaly was noticed after implementation of the 5th Central Pay Commission, a High Level Committee duly recommended that Majors of the Army in their 14th year of service should retain a near-parity with IPS officers with 14 years of service, and the enhanced pay was then implemented by issuing a Government order.
Fast forward 2016, the Pay Commission gave IPS officers with 14 years of service (including training) an edge in pay even over Brigadiers with about 28 years of service!
While the Government may have rectified certain anomalies and may also not have accepted certain regressive recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, it would be in the fitness of things for the political executive to at least ensure that decisions concerning the defence services are taken after due representation of all stakeholders and not based on one-sided inputs at the back of those who are directly affected. It would also be appreciated in case subtle aspects such as the language of notifications and letters are duly given adequate thought so as to avoid unnecessary controversy. Though the usage of language and choice of words may not matter to an officer drafting a resolution, it can really damage the self-respect of those who look towards the Government for taking care of their interests while they serve the society to the best of their ability in trying and exacting circumstances.
A little sensitivity, hence, wouldn’t hurt.