Friday, 18 April 2014

CDM Seminar: Preparation and Presentation of Cases before the Pay Commission – Lessons Learnt

From the Seminar at CDM on 05 Mar 14

Words in parenthesis ( ) are inserted by Aerial View to make for easier reading. Rest of the talk has been typed verbatim from the booklet provided by CDM

Preparation and Presentation of Cases before the Pay Commission – Lessons Learnt

Lt Gen (retd) K R Rao PVSM AVSM VSM

Good Afternoon Everybody,

1.       After a heavy lunch it takes a little while to get upto the topic. In the first session we came across an interesting discussion on separate pay commission vs. a member in the CPC. It is not a thing which got added now but was there earlier. We always felt in Sixth Pay Commission that a member in the CPC is not likely to see the light of the day. You may call it being pessimistic.

2.       We have seen even Mr Pranab Mukherjee saying no to it. The second way we looked at it is separate pay commission and in this we took the model of British Armed Forces Pay Review model. It is a static body composed of retired Air Vice Marshal/Lt Gen equivalent with members also from economic services and there is (an) Armed Forces Pay Review Body. But unfortunately, I believe decisions have been taken as an entire community without discussing with those people who were earlier there, on as to what were the compulsions on us to go in for a separate pay commission. However, now it has been announced that decision has been taken without discussing with the earlier people on what were the compulsions on why did we go for a separate pay body. I still feel that this is one particular thing which we are not in the right direction. However, if at all the Chairman, Ex-Serviceman League finds a way through for a member in the CPC, I wish good luck to them.   

3.       Now I shall cover what happened during Sixth CPC. The preliminary action of PPOC i.e. AG, COP and AOP formed the cell and went for MoD approval. It took us six months to get approvals. Reasons given were that Services were coming separately and why Army is looking for a bigger chunk, Navy is looking for a smaller chunk etc. However, inspite of delays we were able to get the cells in place in six months. However, I am happy that things happened very fast. There were issues of coordination too.

4.       During the preliminary stages we were fortunate to have the services of an excellent organization called TRIPAS headed by Cdr Chawla – repository of all knowledge that was there. He gave us a lot of knowledge. We went through the briefings and old reports and other things and, of course, it took us (a) lot of time getting various inputs. But fortunately we did not lose these six months i.e. PS Dte, CoP and AoP said that let us collect inputs from various people by emails, internet and intranet. It took us a little while to get JCOs’ Ors’ and vehicles and administrative support in place. Unfortunately, we got it after the matter was raised to the level of (the) Vice Chief. But it is time that we cut down red-tapism. Coming to the initial meetings, we had (a) lot of initial meetings and we decided the items that we need to focus on. We read through various reports and identified issues like service conditions, pay of PBOR, pay of Officers, allowances and pensions.

5.       We had a lot of interactions. As far as interactions are concerned, we had interactions with Maj Gen Surjit (not the present one but the one who was in Pay Commission), late Lt Gen Balaram, and Adm Nanda. Only thing I would like to submit to this forum and the pay cell(s) that are there is make it formal. Have a little advisory council and people. It does not cost you money. Get them there once a quarter. Ask them to review whatever proposals you are looking at. We are not enemies. Earlier we used to literally call a person on the quiet. I used to go to Lt Gen Balaram’s house. I met Mr Singhdeo, former MoS for Defence in a club trying to brief on what is happening. Time has now come that we should go on a warrant. Thereafter, we drew the timelines and went to submit JSM presentations. However during that duration all three Chiefs changed. PSOs, except the AG, also changed. However it is painful and unfortunate that even the officers in the pay cells got changed. It is unfortunate that one gets posted and he goes to AFT or something etc. One went on promotion. It is very important that whoever you place there, there is need for continuity. If you keep changing these people there is a lack of continuity. Please do not resort to that. The Army should follow the Navy way. Give more stable tenures at least here. And as far as choice of officers is concerned, it has already been covered. You need to look at a person who can understand, who has the ability and clarity of mind to express and who can create an impact. Please do not go by qualifications. Army is looking at some interviews ands other things. I hope we get the best guy and it is important that the person has presence of mind to respond to various queries. Allocations were done to Army, Navy and AF and responsibility for presentations given.              

6.       Now I will come to the major issues - the broad issues/parameters. When we looked at this, in service conditions we had only one major agenda and that is we push through the MSP. Because we realized that irrespective of the field area allowances, high altitude allowances and separation allowance, there are certain factors which were intrinsic or which were abstract which were not enunciated and we were not getting the compensation. Just to give an example, how many people die due to stress, how many psychic cases, how many families are undergoing separation, freedom to speak, freedom to vote, freedom to form an organization an there were various presentations. I would like to compliment CDM for an extra-ordinary job well-done. If at all the MSP is in place today, on behalf of all members of Sixth Pay Commission who are here today, I must compliment CDM. They have done a wonderful analysis and CDM had a great role to play as far as MSP is concerned. I would also like to mention here that a lot of people initially told that x-factor, we kept on fighting for last five pay commissions and nothing happened. And for the first time in the history of the Armed Forces, we fought. So the moral of the story is that we really prepare ourselves properly and pitch our issues correctly and fight it out whether in uniform or strength of outside uniform there is certainly a way ahead. Status of armed forces remains an axe to grind for whole lot of us. Irrespective of what has been talked about in the previous sessions, it is a burning issue and unfortunately grade pay has been introduced in the Sixth Pay Commission not realizing exactly understanding what were the levels of grade pay existing, which were the equivalence and parities existing and unfortunately it has created a lot of turmoil. So that is yet another issue that you need to continue to pursue.       

7.       Pay of PBOR.              We had our own in-house differences. What should be the main criteria? Is it risk to life or qualifications? This was bugging us a lot of times. The AF, Army and Navy had a lot of differences. But the good part is, we had come to a conclusion that we can go thus far and that is it. CDM shows a movie. 11 or 12 guys want to decide on a thing. They disagree with each other and they are left locked for nearly two days. So at the end of it they come out with a solution. And honestly we came out with a very good solution. We had (a) little bit of problem regarding X, Y, and Z categories of men as far as PBOR pay and allowances are concerned. I would talk about it (a) little later. But the good thing is that we were decreasing this getting together as far as X, Y Z element was concerned. We also had a problem as far as there was a peculiar trade called artificer. Because it was neither in X nor in Y. So there were problems that were perceptible and were addressed. As far as pay of officers was concerned we wasted time to calculate whether it could be 1.5/3.5 or 4.5 times. While it gave a lot of understanding as what should be the way – that is good exercise for academic purposes. But once the government already decided to give 2.5.or 2.35 or whatever it is – we could go a little slow on that.    

8.       The biggest issue was existing pay scale vs. running pay band. There were (a) large number of differences between (a) lot of people and Service personnel. Lt Gen Balaram of Fourth Pay Commission told that if at all (the) majority of Armed Forces need to be happy, go in for a running pay band irrespective of a Col (TS) getting into a particular scale compared to Selection grade. I think we certainly reached some consensus which we are in a running pay band of sorts. The next three are the problematic issues we had. If you remember when pay commission was announced, it was flashed in the papers that Army gets 22, Air Force gets 6 and Navy gets 3 Vice Adm/equivalent. Everything was hunky dory and a rosy picture was painted and when we started looking at it we realized that they (had) made a fool of us. To be very brief, a Lt Gen’s equivalent were not getting in to a Rs 60, 000 pay scale. That was the time that we said that we are not going to accept this and we were not going to accept this and we were going to ask for a RM’s meeting and that is what the previous speaker Mr Mishra was trying to quote that we became compassionate (sic) while talking. The RM was sitting there and I said it was (an) utter lie. Vijay Singh said that I don’t agree with you. I said please ask Mrs Sushama Nath, if she denies the issue we will end this presentation here. So the moral of the story is until and unless wherever the presentations are done we have a clear understanding and we must be able to contest the people and we contested. When the presentation to RM was finished some of you would have heard the anecdotes. Vijay Singh called (Lt Gen) Milan Naidu, (Air Chief Marshal) Major was talking about the 1 km clause. He said, “What nonsense is this one km? My airfield is 22 km from one end to the other.” Three of us were called and Vijay Singh says that the way it looks the Army is going to revolt. Let that be, at least the impression was created. I am sure that in a wonderful democracy we would not have revolted. But when we were standing at the apex we made the noise and we got what we wanted. Immediately, unfortunately (Gen) Deepak Kapoor said “Send a letter to all commands. Everything is hunky dory and we will take care of these things.” So there is a need for us to thump the table within the realms of discipline and at the same time, (the) tone and tenor has got to convey a message to a person saying that we mean business. Thereafter we called for a presentation to the Cabinet Secretary at seven o’clock that night and that is the time this whole thing, because (Adm) Sureesh Mehta told “We are not going to accept this particular thing and we are going to thump the table.” That night at 7.30 pm we gave a presentation to the Cabinet Secretary Chandrasekhar and other secretaries. We said that if at all the joint secretary is at 16 years, what about my full colonel getting into pay band 4. We fought for full colonels first. They gave us all funny reasons saying we become officers at 20 (years of age). I said that is now 22 (years of age). They said that we become at 25 (years of age). We said that three years differential and that is how we got into pay band 4. If at all we have our logic correct and you have excellent people in pay cells who are capable of giving them inputs, we can fight our battle.           

9.       Allowances.        We were pretty clear that we will not focus on allowances common to civilians but on allowances which were service specific and equivalences of various service specific allowances. We had (a) few issues here and there like the Air Force came and said that flying allowance should be Rs 8000 to start with. Army people said Siachen. How can we have equivalence between those two, Marcos etc. So we had differences. So we fought well and came to a congruence. 

10.     Pension.    With respect to pensions, it was felt that disability pensions and constant attendant allowance of Rs 200 was too meager. Now it has increased to Rs 3000. Our focus was very clear that men who were retiring so early need to be compensated. Other issues like double (dual) pension for DSC, disability pension and family pension for unmarried girls above 25 years (of age) were not eligible for family pension. Lots of issues in pension rules and regulations which do not get addressed. Unfortunately, for all of us PS matters are very secondary. I want to nail the point that when there is no war, it is our officers and men’s happiness and their administration which needs to be focused (on).     

11.     Now talking of approach towards Seventh CPC. First thing is, as expected, let us resolve these anomalies. I will show you a slide which I showed in the Sixth Pay Commission. Lots of people were talking about these anomalies. I culled out some of these slides from there. Where the hell are we? Our resolve will be to resolve these anomalies well before we present it to Seventh Pay Commission. This is a herculean task. But if at all if we can push some of these anomalies which have now cropped up to 46. The second is to carry the veterans. One rank one pension, Yes, CDM may talk about it. They have a role to play. I think veterans have certainly pushed it. Who has the laugh, the veterans or Rahul Gandhi, we will tell later.

12.     Multiplication factor and previous reports – I have already told about it. Grade and equivalence is a sore point. I am not going to get into (Rs) 7600 or (Rs) 8600 etc. But this needs to be examined afresh. Unfortunately what happens is that we recommend something.  It gets accepted but then we think it is very good. The minute the pay commission os announced we need to go across and tell them to do this, that etc.     

13.     Equivalence.     Once you tinker with a full Colonel and director which is talked about, it makes a hell of a difference. My crunch point is edge of Armed Forces – if you like it well and good and if you do not like it you may do what you want. But I think this particular aspect is a losing battle for 8250 officers. You can keep fighting. I do not say close the chapter. But this is not an area of focus. Second issue is what I will like to focus on. If at all we are going the smart way. Leave aside we have hardly 0.25% Lt Gens and 0.35% equivalent etc and that is all! If at all IAS category can have 4.43% to 5%. What the CDM has recommended, I may be totally wrong (with) doing away with the ranks of Lt Col and Brig. It was discussed at length. It is nothing new. But there are complexities of command. If at all a div is commanded by a Major General it will take awhile to tell all that a Bde is to be commanded by a Colonel. Yes, there are Armies which do that. But if at all it is acceptable to the environment and the majority feels so, go ahead and do it. But notwithstanding we must try and achieve percentage of people getting into Secretary pay scales are so many. Let us not get bogged down by how many Maj Gens/Lt Gens we have. If at all we stagnate for two years as Lt Gen, if at all we are able to get more people into the Rs 80000 pay scale, I think it will spread happiness. It is very important. Hardly about Rs 400 difference! If a full Colonel carries (Rs) 81,900 that can be addressed if we make a case of it. We will win the case. But (the) maximum you pull upwards, you are creating space for lower ranks. You cannot play around with Lt Gens. Can we try and make them into a pay scale? That is the thought that I would like to leave with pay cell members. Can you put them? IAS has 5% reaching. For that we have to have or, alternately on length of service i.e. 33 or 35 (years). We have a fair number of people getting (Rs) 80000. Ultimately, the goal is clear. We cannot have the percentage given as Secretaries. Nobody is going to accept it. Unfortunately, Armed Forces are structure oriented Armed Forces. The minute we meet each other we are very conscious of our seniority. It is a fact whether we like it or not. Let us get more people to finances. Try and go to civilian scales as much as possible.    

14.     MSP.          I have already talked about what we meant by MSP. There are a lot of ways which other Armed Forces are compensating people. I have already talked about what is X factor. Unfortunately, we recommend Rs 3000 as the barest minimum. But it was not agreed and it came down to (Rs) 2000. We went percentage 56.5 and 62.5 and CDM has done a wonderful study.         
15.     We talked about social security post retirement but it was not accepted as MSP finishes when we go for pension. The Z category has already been done away with. It is important that we take majority of chunk long and spread happiness.

16.     We collect various data from various Central Police Organisations. We realized that he is getting camp allowance, duty allowance etc (and) 10 days encashment. You will be surprised – there is a person by the name Dr. Agnihotri who retired as Secretary, Parliamentary Affairs. His son is in Arty. He said we have 300 days encashment. In addition we get 10 days every year. This we really did not know. It is important that we keep our eyes and ears open. 

17.     We push for higher allowances. We are closing in much as we can pay is concerned. It is not possible that Armed Forces cross IAS. Do what you may, it is a rule in a democracy. In democracy, bureaucracy is supreme. Fight you should but it will not happen. Hopefully, I am proved wrong. So try and close in as much as possible and exploit strength. Our strength is the allowances which are not known to many. There are a lot of allowances common to all services, risk related allowances to all of us have got nearly same. Army has got 26, Navy 25 and Air Force (has got) 27.    

18.     Work on aspects which are more beneficial. Like leave encashment. Let us work towards 500 again. Like the bureaucrats can never encash 500. It is only you and me who can encash 500. Let is look at common areas where we can benefit.

19.     New Allowances.        There are a lot of new allowances like duty/camp allowances etc which we have recommended. Let us keep fighting. Let us not say (that) we have lost. To get what  we have recommended that men should get atleast 75% of last pay drawn as pension at least till 55 years (of age). We could ask forever. In the study CDM has recommended the US form. US has got this model that after 30 years (of age) it increases by 2.5% of every year served. That is how a person reached 100%. Ideally we can get that. If we can’t get that let us fight for our men and say people retire very early, 39 to 42 (years of age). And that is the time that he has a large number of requirements (responsibilities). Men should get a little more pension certainly at that age. We gave a model that upto 55 (years of age) give them 75%. A little variance from what Gen Satbir has said. The men have also got to come up. But from the disparity ratio of 1:10.2 we need to get disparity ratio to 1:12.   

20.     Though this is not part of Pay Commission, I am giving you certain thoughts i.e. indirect way of meeting requirements. Let us try and look at increasing honorary ranks as far as men are concerned. One more thing that will be talked about is entitled rations. There were (a) lot many proposals, people said take cash etc. I personally feel that we should not give into this particular thing for obvious reasons. 

21.     Differences and Dissent.    They will exist. Differences will always bring out good things. Have a maximum of interaction with all ranks. Some of the men have (a) lot of knowledge. So get inputs as much as you can.  Retirement ages need to be reviewed. We had an option to convert pensionable service to 15 years. We said no to it. We need to have a re-look at it. Just because we have shortages we should not have said no to it. Performance related incentives were another hot topic that was discussed. Get majority view. Good decision is not only (the) quality of decision. It is a function of quality multiplied by acceptability. So, if a majority feels that this incentive is required, have a look at it again. But Army was of the view that gladiators and not created.

*        *        *        *        *

No comments:

Post a Comment