Saturday, 19 April 2014

CDM Seminar: Changes that have taken place since Independence in Functional Equivalence


From the seminar held at CDM on 5 Mar 14

Words in parenthesis ( ) are inserted by Aerial View to make for easier reading.

Certain parts, such as salutations have been edited out but the gist has been re-typed intact.

Changes that have taken place since Independence in Functional Equivalence
Mr S N Mishra (retd)
(Former PCDA (N) amongst other high profile assignments)
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1.       Having been part of the Sixth Finance Commission in 2005, I was the Financial Adviser and having been associated with all the deliberations (that) happened at that time, I think I have some credibility on this issue and I will try to be as balanced as possible and I do not have the burden of being Financial Advisor and I could be far more practical. When I was making this presentation I was reminded of (Lt) General Rao who made an absolutely similar presentation before the (Sri)Krishna Commission; he is here and it was a very passionate presentation. I remember, it was a very small room and the then Secretary, Ms Sushama Nath was there and she was exceptionally impressed. The singular point in that pay commission, apart from the several points, was that we were asking for a Military Pay and (Lt) Gen Rao was so passionate that Ms Sushama was bowled over, as it was probably the first time she had heard a General speaking and she was always listening to Advocates. She said she will do something for the Armed Forces and in the break, when I asked her if we were actually going to agree to the demands of parity with IAS, she replied, “We’ll see.”      

2.       I will therefore give the historical perspective followed by 5-10 minutes of a few suggestions. Therefore, I have done a brief summary of how the whole interface panned out in the past. I will not go beyond the Sepoy Mutiny because then I, as a Professor of  Economics and law, will probably take over all the points. So, I will start with the 1858 Act which created the Presidency and in that particular Act it was seen that the Governing Council, the Ministry Members, and the Commander-in-chief were the primary interface, so to say. All of us know about the slip ups which happened between Lord Curzon and Kitchener in 1906. Very interestingly, the rank of the Commander in Chief was 9A and you had the concept of Principal Staff Officer, the Defence Secretary. But the Warrant of Precedence which caused a very bitter dismay and resentment was in 1979. Before I go into areas of dismay, I also met before coming here, the Deputy Secretary (Commissioner?) and the Police Commissioner and I took their views and perceptions of the equivalence issue and I feel perhaps they (IAS & IPS) are your thickest pals while you may not agree to on public platforms. I can say as a Financial Advisor that my best friends are from Defence Services due to our interactions in various Defence Procurement Deals and Empowered Committees.   

3.       Coming to the Warrant of Precedence in 1979, wherein for the first time the three Services Chiefs were put below (a) Supreme Court judge. This was (the) one main area of consternation and of course the Cabinet Secretary being placed above the Chief of Army Staff and the Secretary being made at par with the Army Commanders. And if you ask and talk to people, they really do not crib about this and people do not crib that the Defence Secretary is powerful and that the Cabinet Secretary should be the first and I feel that it has to be that way in any civilian establishment. It has to be somebody like the Cabinet Secretary who has to be at the helm. The areas of concern are in the rank(s) of the Brigadiers, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels and the Majors whereas, I find whatever is available on the internet its 30 years for a Brigadier, 23 years for a Colonel, 18 years for a Lieutenant Colonel and 12 years for a Major to pick up their ranks. This does not find a mention either in the Warrant of Precedence (1979) in the MHA or in the President’s Secretariat’s Warrant of Precedence. I cross-checked and found that they do not have this equivalence but this is part of the website that is of 2008 and these do not figure in the officers cadre. I did a quick check of Pakistan where the military has supremacy and found that the Chief of Army Staff is placed at sixth, a Supreme Court judge is equivalent to an Army Commander at twelfth. I will not make any comments on this and will just state facts. A Lieutenant General has a position of 15th, an Additional Secretary to Government of Pakistan is placed at 21 and Brigadier is placed at 23. I did a quick check of the cadre strength and compared the Army whose strength is approximately 48000; the problem is essentially that you do not have adequate number of posts at the level of Major Generals. This is the hub of the problem and also at the level of Brigadiers.      

4.       I did a check and found that the percentage of posts both in the Audit & Accounts service and IAS for Major general level is 16 years (of service). The reason why an IAS/Audit & Accounts officer gets promotion in 15 years is because they have 16% of the authorised strength at that level. So, legitimately, you need to have much higher authorisation. And its not possible to have promotions in the services alike, whether logical or rational, is a different thing. The only way is to have more number of posts and we did an analysis at the Central Accounts level and we introduced more number of IFA (Integrated Financial Advisers) and we hastened the promotions and earlier it was taking almost 23-24 years for a Controller to get promoted. The level I and II was only there for the Central Services which was done away with in the Fifth Pay Commission. So, if you are looking for career advancement in terms of faster promotions, the problem is of authorisation. These are also the issues being raised by the services officers that the ranks are not being equated with the IAS.   

5.       One of the suggestions given is to revise the cadre authorisation which I very strongly suggest. Another suggestion is also to make the Pay Bans equivalent to the IAS. I will mention to you about Field Marshal Maneckshaw, who retired with a princely sum of Rs 1600 in 1971. When Dr Kalam was President, he said that it is incorrect and we must protect the Field Marshal’s last pay drawn and an arrear of Rs 1.16 crore was carried by then Defence Secretary Mr Shekhar Dutt and incidentally Maneckshaw was in the last stages of his life. The first thing he asked was whether the arrears were tax free? So I checked up from the Additional Secretary, Finance Ministry that the tax is to be paid. So arrears of only Rs 1.16 crore were given to Field Marshal Maneckshaw.    

6.       Mr Fukiyama has written a wonderful book called ‘The End of History’ relating to the period after the Cold war and said that the problem between Civil and Military exists and the best way that the two could co-exist together without hindrance was in a liberal democracy. He said that in a liberal democracy like India should not be affected by a fight between the Civil and Military. Mr Winston Churchill also said, “War is too serious a business to be left to the generals,” although I don’t know whether Churchill could wield a weapon and fight with the Germans. Also an interesting statement by Huntington who was hounded out of Harvard University for writing the book “The Clash of Civilisations” which is a wonderful riposte on what is happening in a liberal democracy. After 70 military studies over a period of 40 years, he also wrote a book “Soldier and the State” which is a wonderful book and he said that military personnel are the most conservative and civilians the most brazen. I don’t know whether it is true, so please bolster the military professionalism. He also said that focus on the politically neutral, autonomous ad professional Officers Corp as he thinks that the only entity in the world which is really professional is the Military. The last chapter speak about the professionalism of soldiers. This book is a wonderful read as he speaks of how a professional army should be.        

7.       One issue is interface with the IAS and it is essential to know that Army has made an excellent contribution in the aid to civil authority and civil-military liaison which the Deputy Secretary also told me that the Army did an excellent job in the tsunami affected areas of Bhubaneswar and they reached the most inaccessible areas. He further said that we do not find much of a threat and we respect the Armed Forces and most of the IAS officers have the same view and they are your true friends. So, basically the IAS and IPS are cognisant of the wonderful role that the Armed Forces are playing and they do not crib if a substantial kind of financial package is given to the Armed Forces. It is actually the problem of status of the officers of the military vis-à-vis the civil services which is where the problem lies. An interesting statement made by Adm (retd) Arun Prakash is that “civil servants do not have the expertise to decide on military requirements and if self-reliance has not happened in India, it is not because of Defence Minister Antony but it is because of civil servants. The civil servants should resign and not the Chief.” In a wonderful book by Sumit Ganguly ‘India’s Emerging Country’ he says you must develop long term strategic vision and that most countries have a large cadre of trained professionals in budgeting, acquisition, capability building and we require a few in the Ministry of Finance also. One suggestion is which the Sisodia Committee has also given that we should have a formal acquisition wing and have professionals if we really want to improve. Similar on the lines of DGA in France, which I visited. I also feel that there is a need for Service officers for deputation to the Ministry of Defence. There has to be a healthy rotation between officers of the Defence Services, which is prevalent in the UK wherein expertise in budgeting is essentially with Service HQ. I also feel that the Accounts Services in the IAF are exceptionally good and they should be part of the Accounts and Finance set up. Therefore, the most important thing is that the need of the hour is to hug each other and take the mission forward and, not just take a mission of you and us. Thank you.
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