Sixth Pay Panel: IAS Advantage: The IAS lobby has cornered for itself far more pay than the Union cabinet cleared
- The Union cabinet had cleared two additional increments for IAS officers, but bureaucrats gave themselves four
- Even the two additional increments cleared by the cabinet were meant only for a limited period. But the IAS lobby has manipulated to see that this incremental edge over others stays throughout service period.
- The additional fiscal burden for these increments not sanctioned by the cabinet is Rs 12 crore a year
- New notifications scripted by the babus have ensured that junior IAS officers will draw more than their seniors in other services
- Those in other services who were drawing the same pay as their IAS counterparts will now get less
- On August 14, the cabinet okayed two additional increments for the IAS in the fifth year of service. This would put them ahead of other streams vis-a-vis salary till the completion of sixteen years, after which there is pay parity across all services.
- However, while interpreting the new pay band system, the IAS lobby slipped in an additional two increments in the tenth year as well.
- The bureaucrats have also ensured that the pay edge they have got over others remains till they retire. There will be no cutoff after the 16th year in service.
State associations of IPS and Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers have sent in strong protests and representations, demanding not only a reversion to the original intent of the cabinet but also action against the officials responsible for "misinterpreting a cabinet decision."
In response to a fax to the Union finance ministry, an official associated with the pay commission told Outlook that the intention of the cabinet was to continue with the advantage for the IAS and IFS at three levels. "This was discussed at several meetings and has the sanction of the government," the official insisted, and pointed out that "members from the other services, including the IPS and the IFS, were present, they were fully aware of the implications, and gave their stamp of approval." However, the meetings took place on July 2, much before the issue came up before the cabinet.
Besides awarding themselves additional increments, the bureaucrats have also arbitrarily awarded themselves a higher salary structure than what was recommended through several arbitrary means. While the commission recommended Rs 9,000 as grade pay for joint secretary level officers, it has been increased straightaway to Rs 10,000.
The justification runs thus: an IAS officer of the director rank is equivalent to a colonel in the army or an SP in the police. The next step up the ladder makes a bureaucrat a joint secretary, equivalent to a major general or inspector general of police. However, police officers and those in the army and other defence services have to pass through one more rung—the brigadier-DIG level —before they are on par with a joint secretary. The commission's increment for DIG-level officers meant a grade pay of Rs 8,400—just Rs 100 more than an IAS director. The former protested and the grade salary was raised to Rs 8,900. This upset the joint secretaries, as their grade pay was Rs 9,000. The IAS lobby promptly raised it to Rs 10,000.
The cabinet mandated that the IAS has an edge over other services at only 3 middle levels, with 2 additional increments. But the new notification means that IAS officers get 4 additional increments, which continue throughout their career.
The other services have also been crying foul at the way grade pays have been fixed for them, while keeping the IAS at an advantage. In representations to the Centre, other service associations have pointed out that their increments have been proportionately much lower than that of their IAS counterparts. While increments for other ranks have been higher, for the DIG/brigadier level the ratio has been kept at a measly 0.14. This has led to IAS officers at a lower level drawing more than DIGs and brigadiers.
Similarly, an IAS officer drawing Rs 15,100 today will now get Rs 39,690. But his counterpart in the other services, drawing the same salary, will now, inexplicably, get Rs 38,500. "It is not just about money," a police officer says. "Pay structure also decides seniority, perks and powers. By ensuring the superiority of one service at the cost of all other services, you are ensuring bad governance. This will mean that other services will remain subservient to the wishes of the IAS. Is that desirable in our framework of good governance or in view of the efforts that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is making to bring about more professional delivery of governance in India?" he asks.
In the end, even as bureaucrats bestow increments and sops on themselves, can citizens expect better governance? All government employees associations have rejected a key recommendation made by the commission: to link twenty per cent of annual increment to performance. So, while the exchequer is drained at the expense of the common man, the babu has ensured that he will continue to reap benefits—even as he short-changes the government he is supposed to serve.