Ex-Army chief VP Malik: "Pay Commission will hit armed forces' morale"
- Recently, the Central government okayed the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission\'s recommendations
- This will mean a 23.5% pay hike for all Central govt employees
- Armed forces personnel are unhappy with the panel\'s recommendations
- They say that as usual, the Pay Commission hasn\'t treated them at par with civil servants
- What ex-Army chief General VP Malik feels about the issue
- How it is likely to affect the future of India\'s armed forces
The Central government has tried to woo its employees by approving the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission. But large sections of employees are far from happy with it.
Among this category fall defence personnel, who are particularly pointing to the inequality in their pay grades compared to their civilian counterparts.
The commission has recommended an overall hike of 23.5%, but the structure of its implementation has left defence personnel dissatisfied. The implementation of the recommendations will reportedly cost the government Rs 1.02 lakh crore annually.
The first issue that needs to be explained at length is why servicemen are upset with the recommendations.
It is being pointed out that ever since the third Central Pay Commission (CPC), there has been a progressive lowering of the pay and allowances, and thus a decline in the status of military personnel vis-a- vis other central government employees. IAS, IPS and IFS officers get extra benefits at every grade from selection to the upper echelons of the bureaucracy. There are none for the military.
General Malik's view
Former Chief of Army Staff, General (Retd) Ved Prakash Malik told Catch: "The Seventh CPC has adopted grossly different, flawed principles in structuring pay matrices for defence personnel vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts. The Empowered Committee of the Secretaries, which had no representation from the armed forces (despite repeated calls to the government by retired chiefs) has rejected most of the recommendations made by the armed forces through the ministry of defence, including non-functional upgradation enjoyed by all civil services."
He further said: "There is wide disparity in the allowances, particularly hazard allowances, between the civil, paramilitary and military services. This, and many other anomalies have not been decided by the Empowered Committee, but passed on to new committees, comprising civilian officers."
All this has led to a considerable disillusionment and disappointment among serving and retired armed forces personnel.
The discrepancies resulting from the implementation is expected to have far reaching ramifications as far as the services sector is concerned.
General Malik points out: "These discrepancies are likely to affect motivation and morale of the serving personnel and will discourage quality youth from joining the armed forces in future. The changed status of military personnel will adversely affect functionality, when civil and military personnel have to work together. For example, in service headquarters and operational situations, such as counter-insurgency, terror operations and in aid to civil authorities."
Committee to study anomalies
The government has tried to pacify defence personnel by announcing a committee to study the anomalies but the latter are skeptical about it. And they have solid reasons too.
Many of the anomalies raised in the fourth to the sixth pay commissions were also passed on to various committees. They have remained unresolved till date, or have been decided in the courts.
General Malik feels there is little hope that the anomalies now raised will get settled soon.
Defence officials further state the detrimental impact of the pay commission not accepting the common pay matrix and non-functional upgradation, or the anomaly with regards to risk hardship matrix.
They point out that the new matrix has serious flaws, and thus, adverse effects on the military pay scales.
General Malik foresees that this will result in pay stagnation, as well as lowered pensions of many armed forces personnel.
Given the fact that the armed forces already have a pretty serious shortage of officer rank personnel, such discrepancies are likely to desist youngsters from taking a call to get themselves enrolled in the services.
They would rather opt for other avenues available, both in the government as well as the private sectors.
Asked about this, General Malik said: "Definitely. It will adversely affect the quality as well as the discrepancies amongst officer ranks in the armed forces."
Edited by Shreyas Sharma
More in Catch