Wednesday, 5 October 2016

In Hot Pursuit of Promises: A Reality Check



In Hot Pursuit of Promises: A Reality Check

          Angst over the state of pay, allowances, pensions, and retirement benefits of serving personnel, Veterans, and widows of deceased personnel of the Armed Forces respectively has become, not unreasonably, in recent times a perennial condition. It appears that the Govt which is also the Competent Authority in bureaucratic language, does not find the restricted fundamental rights, and sacrifices of Armed Forces personnel adequate enough to justify matching by positive action the promises of equality and justice in benefits.

The marginal improvements in compensation often after protracted deliberations on files, some times nudges of the Courts, do not match the glory of those whose lives and limbs were lost or were at stake for the sovereignty of the nation.

The CLASSIFICATION, CONTROL & APPEAL RULES, 1965 definition is as follows: -
In exercise of the powers conferred by proviso to article 309 and clause 5 of article 148 of the Constitution read with Rule 6 of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965, and in supersession of paragraph 2 of the notification of the Government of India in the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms number S.O. 5041 dated the 11th November, 1975 as amended by the notification of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training) number S.O. 1752 dated the 30th June, 1987, and after consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in relation to the persons serving in the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, the President hereby directs that with effect from the date of publication  of this order in the Official Gazette, all civil posts under the Union, shall be classified as follows :-
Sl.No.
Description of Posts
Classification of posts
1.
A Central Civil post carrying a pay or a scale of pay with a maximum of not less than Rs. 13,500
Group A
2.
A Central Civil post carrying a pay or a scale of pay with a maximum of not less than Rs. 9,000 but less than Rs. 13,500
Group B

The file –pushers found it very simple and easy to bestow benefits like the Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (colloquially known as NFU) on themselves quoting the 6th CPC, and smug in the satisfaction that they made the recommendations, they ‘examined’ it, and they found it worthy of selective implementation with a definition of Organised Group ‘A’ services tailored to keep out the officers of the Armed Forces vide OM No. I-11019/12/2008-CRD issued by DOP & T on 20 Nov 2009. The ‘surgical strike’ in this OM was Para 1 (iii) “At least 50% of the vacancies in Junior Time Scale (JTS) in such services are required to be filled by direct recruitment.” JTS is the scale into which newly commissioned officers enter. In other words, does it mean that only 50% of vacancies will have to be set aside for newly commissioned officers and the rest will have to filled by promoting Gp B (JCOs) to JTS? 

Sadly, the Competent Authority (whether UPA-1 or UPA-2 or NDA-2) has not challenged this prejudice against the Armed Forces, the one institution that has defended the Nation’s sovereignty and integrity at the peril of their lives.
         
The growing disenchantment in now being reflected on the politicians who, though the Competent Authority, are led by the bureaucrats. The disenchantment is reflected in appeals before the Armed Forces Tribunals, High Courts, and the Supreme Court. It is also the reason for fratricide and disobedience of rules, regulations, even misappropriation. Shorn of the aiguillettes, collar tags, and dialectics, an objective analysis on CPC related matters shows that it is some what like the sequel to movies (the box office success ones) or serials on TV (that rely on TRPs), with one difference, the continuity is apathy.

Episode - 1 was the 2008 edition post the 6th CPC. The then Chiefs of the Armed Forces expressed their anguish and sought permission of the Govt not to implement the Govt’s orders (Resolution) on inconsistent recommendations of the CPC pointing out 46 anomalies (some of which are actually demands). The then Raksha Mantri gave assurances of redress and corrective action. The Govt went ahead and implemented the Resolution and left the Armed Forces and Veterans and Widows to approach the AFT and the Courts for redress.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by then External Affairs Minister considered the apprehension and rendered a report. In the face of festering discontent, the UPA constituted two Committees chaired by the Cabinet Secretary (CSC) to consider the issues. Members of CSC 2009 and CSC 2012 quoted the report of the GoM quite extensively to back up their “Not Recommended.” Nothing more could have been expected from two committees of bureaucrats, even if headed by the Cabinet Secretary, for it would be blasphemous to think out of the ‘precedent’ box (that foundation of the bureaucracy) let alone think differently from a GoM.

The RM disappointed the Armed Forces by being too insipid and timid, but things have not improved considerably. His classic was “Wait” when NFU issue was referred to him in minute on MoD file provided in a reply (F No. 35 (11)/2013/D (Pay/Services, received vide ibid reply date 08 Oct 2013).

 The UPA Govt announced approval for One Rank One Pension (OROP) on 17 Feb 2014. OROP was presented, perhaps as a reaction to the pre-election promises which raised hopes and aspirations from September 2013 onwards.

Implementation of OROP is cited as one example of ‘caring for Armed Forces Veterans’ by this Govt and though it was denied for 67 years by the previous governments including NDA–1, (which brings me to that mischievous thought – if OROP was prevalent till 3rd CPC as is bandied about, how is it 67 years!) 

Some Veterans raised aspirations, often coloured in hues of misrepresentation [before 3rd CPC pension was 70%, that OROP was in existence when actually it was Standard Pension i.e One amount (Rs 300) for One rank (Capt) irrespective of the qualifying service above 20 years)], and mis-quoting of Koshyari Committee report’s recommendation on annual equalisation (The Koshyari Report only records the  submission made by Army and Air Force representatives for either a 5 yearly equalisation or Pay Commission to Pay Commission equalisation. Neither of them is in the recommendations of the Koshyari Committee Report at Para 11) and much else.

for information through the RTI Act, 2005 brought out the script, the screenplay and the comments and opinions of various officers up the chain in the decision making apparatus known as MoD. It will, if the pattern of Episode – 1 persists, show that Armed Forces placed a list of anomalies/demands, the Govt/MoD conceded some, the Govt/MoF overruled some of those, and finally a sagacious decision will be taken to pass the responsibility to the 7th Central Pay Commission for a ‘holistic view.’ On reads how ‘holistic’ that view was.

History will, however, record a first to the credit of this Govt. It is the setting up of the One Man Judicial Commission (OMJC) to adjudicate on Govt order on OROP. The OMJC is an improvement on the Cabinet Secretary Committees (CSCs).

So, other than OROP (or its diluted or adulterated version, depending on the opinion of reticent or vociferous critics) what are the other promises that this Govt has fulfilled? Pension fixation w.e.f 1.1.2006 instead of 24.9.2012? No, that was a consequence of a Supreme Court ruling in S-29 pensioners’ case. What about deletion of the pro-rata deduction for pre 1.1.2006 pensioners as it was applicable to post 1.1.2006 pensioners? No again, it was the Supreme Court’s order in the MO Inasu case. 

Episode – 2 is the 2016 edition, with one change in the script. The present Chiefs of the Armed Forces express their anguish and have sought permission of the Govt not to implement the Govt’s orders (resolution) on inconsistent recommendations of the CPC pointing out another list of anomalies (some of which may again actually be demands). The Raksha Mantri gives assurances of redress and speedy corrective action. The Govt goes ahead and issues the Resolution and leaves the Veterans and Widows to approach the AFT and the Courts for redress. The one change in the script is that a serving officer has approached a High Court for redress.    

          Future requests for information through the RTI Act, 2005 will bring out the script, the screenplay and the comments and opinions of various officers up the chain in the decision making apparatus known as MoD. It will, if the pattern of Episode – 1 persists, show that Armed Forces placed a list of anomalies/demands, the Govt/MoD conceded some, the Govt/MoF overruled some of those, and finally a sagacious decision will be taken to pass the responsibility to the 8th Central Pay Commission for a ‘holistic view.’

          It will need the Govt’s decision, like the strike on terrorist launch pads, to achieve any effect on the bureaucracy. In the strike on the terrorists’ launch pads, the Govt trusted the capability, the ability, and the intelligence of the Armed Forces to deliver the desired results, befitting a Govt that means what it says and is ready to take a hard, deliberate, and well thought of decision, including using the perfect tools (the Armed Forces in this case). The Armed Forces vindicated the confidence of this Govt.

Will this Govt issue orders for another ‘surgical strike’ on the anomalies/issues by engaging directly with the Armed Forces and leaving implementation to the bureaucracy. 

Will the Govt to live up to the promises made to the Armed Forces by another ‘surgical’ decision? 

Hold your breath & watch this space.

Jai Hind, Jai Jawan

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26 comments:

  1. Dear sir. However hard we try the government aka the beaurocrat will never relent as far as doling out more moolah to the Armed forces goes. They used the words 'economic realities' in court also. The large number of Officer level employees in Armed forces(60000) cannot be accomodated in the largesse as compared to the much smaller number of IAS(6000), IFS, IPS(5000) etc. Earlier they weren't so brazen and followed the philosophy that if we cant accomodate them lets also not take it. About a decade or so back the ambassador cars of politicians gave way initially to toyotas and now to even higher end cars. This brazeness had to percolate to the beaurocracy also. This is what we are witnessing now.

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  2. In the old adage they say, "the history repeats itself." So as you brought out the way things happened in Episode 1 will repeat exactly in the same way in the Episode 2. The ESM Associations and the individual veterans have to fight for their rights keeping the courts busy for the next 10 years or more. Mr Modi dreamed of a fast track governance, but the sad truth is he too is bound by the bureaucrats influence. We can inflict a surgical strike on Pakistani terrorists, but not on these hardened blue collar criminals supported by the ever scheming politicians.

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    1. blue collar ??? or, white collar ???

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  3. Hi,
    7th CPC is being implemented as an interim relief,the SAI/SFAI/SBI are expected to be issued by 17oct.This is based on a note to Def Secy by CAS,mentioning inter alia the in principle approval of the RM for interim relief.You must have seen the note in circulation on SM.What is ur take on this ? Regards

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    1. Sir, I am a confirmed, chronic, incorrigible cynic. Apropos your "interim relief," just go back 8 years to 2008. The Chiefs sought permission not to implement 6th CPC based MoD resolution etc etc as stated above in Episode 1 and then the SAI/SNI/SAFI 1/S/2008 and 2/S/2008 were issued as 'interim relief."

      If it is a repeat then SAI/SNI/SAFI 1/S/2016 and 2/S/2016 will be issued. Is there an assurance that SAI/SNI/SAFI 3/S/2016 and 4/S/2016 will be issued with improvements like SAI/SNI/SAFI 3/S/2008 was issued for moving Lt Cols from PB-3 to PB-4?

      Remember the big bad wolf and Red Riding Hood and the words, "I will huff, and I will puff and I will blow your house down" ?

      This is my take.

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  4. Sir I tend to agree with ur very realistic assessment.However since I am a die-hard optimist,would like to believe that major glaring anomalies would have to be resolved.Present day Faujis will not accept such injustice,are aware n well informed.Veterans will certainly move courts n try to resolve anomalies.

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    1. May I know what the "major glaring anomalies" are?

      Has the Anomalies Committee recommended and the Govt accepted that NFU will continue for civilian employees but not for Services? Then there is an anomaly!

      Has the ibid Committee recommended and the Govt accepted the slab rate of disability benefits for the Armed Forces? Then there is an anomaly!

      How does it matter if the 6th CPC stated that only those drawing GP Rs 10000 are entitled to ac taxi? Which taxi comes today without a built-in ac? If a tax is hired for a Brig and he asks for th ac to be switched on will the driver refuse because his GP is Rs 8900/- Is that an anomaly?

      I am fully, completely, whole-heartedly in agreement about present day Faujis. They are more aware of the world of anomalies than I am.

      I could go on

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  5. COSC has informed PM/RM to keep 7 CPC in abeyance till some anomalies are settled. If it (COSC) back out now, will they be able to face their Generals down to Sep. level? Or these Chiefs put in their papers as "Face saving formula"? Your take Sir

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    1. Kalra saab, Let me take the tail first.

      With your so many years in service, if the superior authority gave you an order and you found your resources not as per your plan, and you informed and yet were ordered, did you put in your papers? Surely, everything was not as perfect as you wanted, yet you placed the country first, the Service next and yourself last, am I correct?

      Why should the Chiefs be different today? They have informed the Govt. The Govt has assured them that the concerns will be addressed and in the interim, implement the Resolutions 1(E) and 2 E).

      If the Chiefs still insist in putting in their papers nothing will happen. As it is both Army and Air Chiefs superannuate on 31 Dec 2016. The Govt might accept the papers. Some one will prevail to subtly/overtly/covertly inform the public that when there are repeated terrorist attacks, national interest is being compromised.

      Like I wrote, I am a cynic but I am also living in this real and imperfect world, where nothing much happens just the way I want it.

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  6. Why a qualified and experienced person forced to retire at the age 37 yrs sub major X group four years served as AGE
    Tech and AGE B&B and even officiated as GE for few days

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    1. Master Warrant Officers (equivalent of Sub Maj) superannuate at age of 57 years.

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    2. In the army no JCO serves till the age of 57. Sub Maj serves for our years in the rank of Sub Maj and retires. No one serves for more than 33 years in the ranks.

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  7. Shameless democracy! A president unable to walk,a politician,in wheel chair and a chief minister who is in coma stage can rule the country,but a soldier can not serve upto 56 years of age.After completing the pension service, every time a soldier has to beg the commanding officer to get 2 more years extention.If the CO wants he can grant it,but he would not .What is the use of blaming bureaucracy and the Goverment.Did any politician or IAS Or minister explicitly ordered a commanding officer not to allow the soldier to serve beyond 37.It utter nonsense and disgusting to witness all these hide and seek game.

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    1. Is that the policy in the Army?

      In Air Force it was (when I was ACAS Personnel (Airmen and Civilians)a centralised system where only the Air Force Record Office had the final say, based on AR and performance. So MWOs retire at 57 years of age.

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    2. Well said even in navy its same beg for your extension, it may or may not be granted totally at his mercy co pathetic still under colonial rule real colonials have changed them selves but theeesse 12th grades won't change themselves and blame bureaucrats hide behind them

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  8. Sir, The reluctance of parts of the Government to facilitate a grant of NFU to armed forces is one thing, but very little has emerged on all web based forums as to how it will be implemented, if and when it is made applicable to armed forces.

    For instance, questions arise would the grade pay enhancement, and in the case of VII CPC matrix, the level enhancement, of armed forces take place two years after their former IAS peer received his elevation? That would probably ensure a better parity with Group A services than if the enhancement took place 2 years after the batch-mate of an armed forces officer was promoted to the select rank of Colonel.

    NFU also gives rise to the consideration as to what would happen to the Lt Col who received NFU two years after his Col batch-mate gets promoted to the rank of Brigadier some years later. Would the Lt Col, if he's still not promoted to Col, also get a NFU to the matrix level of Brigadier 2 years after his batch-mate gets promoted to the rank of Brigadier?

    As to how pensions of pre NFFU pensioners would be fixed so as to ensure parity, with pensions of post NFFU pensioners with equal service, could be complex issues to resolve.

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    1. Now we are treading into space no APCC member (name on demand) wants to. Only ridicule that I do not want NFU to be implemented is the verbal reply my questions on how will the NFU, if granted.

      What IAS peer?

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    2. Sir, by that concept of IAS peer I'd meant a QS based starting point, like there is for AIS Gp A Officers. The date of commissioning for an armed forces Officer and the nearest date the QS for newly inducted civilian Officers commences at 0 could be a starting point, with the first grant of NFU to armed forces Officers getting applied at the time when AIS Gp A Officers get their first NFU to their equivalent of matrix level 13, corresponding to what used to be "Band IV".

      I know that is stretching the concept a bit, considering even getting NFU for, say a Flying Branch Wg Cdr 2 years after his Flying Branch batch-mate has been promoted to Gp Capt (or a ground duties branch Wg Cdr 2 years after his ground duties branch batch-mate) seems a bit impossible presently.

      But, as I have seen on your blog and blogs of others as well, when a concept is examined online some sort of clarity begins to emerge even at the speculative level.

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    3. Suggest you read the Promotion policies of the Army, Navy and Air Force and you will find that they have different time frames. Isn't having a common start point the first requirement?

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    4. Sir, The promotion policies of the three services will certainly have a bearing on the matter.

      Apart from that, there would be a need to collect and put together all the pieces of the NFU jigsaw puzzle, as well as to get a sense of all shades of opinions and views about the matter.

      A few initial speculations that I have tried to put together would barely scratch the surface. But, perhaps, with some search a clearer picture could emerge a little later. https://goo.gl/KDxFVq

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Bit of a problem there! Course commissioned 2000. Inf offrs considered 2016 and promoted. AD batch mates waiting for 2017 and ASC/AOC batch mates waiting for 2018 for first consideration respectively. Will all batch mates, even Services be eligible for NFU, (the latter even if not empanelled?

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    2. Sir, Actually, that problem cited by you is very genuine. There will be variations in the Navy and Air Force as well.

      But, the point is, if date of commissioning is the basis for implementing NFU, then that problem will be solved. The very fact the promotions for different streams are not due at the same is, in fact, one justification for NFU.

      2 years after the date the first batch gets promoted to Col, all others , regardless of when their boards are to be held, can get NFU. It is financial up-gradations they will be getting, not ranks.

      Now if the boards for other arms/services/branches, or even subsequent 2nd and 3rd boards for the same arm, are held a year, a year and a half from the date of promotion of the first batch of selected lot with the same date of commission, it'll be fine from the point of view of the officers who get selected for promotion. The others will get NFU 2 years after promotion of the first lot.

      Wait periods for empanelment for a promotion board need not really be a hurdle for granting NFU 2 years after the first batch.

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    3. @corona8
      You are absolutely correct.It is"NON FUNCTIONAL FINANCIAL
      UPGRADATION". Rank/Appt/bd/selecton/approval etc have NO relevance whatsoever.It is just the Financial part(upgradation)which is done.It could be related to year
      of commission/seniority eg 2 yrs after the first offr of say Yr 2000 seniority gets promoted,All offrs of that year seniority (irrespective of arm/service or type of entry or date of commission) get the financial up- gradation .Between Batch vs Yr of Seniority,it may be easier to implement the latter.

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  10. Dear Air Marshal,
    1. Your persistent view that there is no need for a yearly review of OROP does not seem to have been correct. Your contention that equalisation of pensions for same rank and service at each pay commission obviates the need for a review till next pay commission was short sighted. Govt orders for 7CPC pensions have been published. There is no equalisation and we start with one rank many pensions.

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    1. Thank you for your personal comment.

      2. If you wish to refer to GoI orders/Army Pension Regulations 2008 etc, w.e.f from 1.1.2006, pension is 50% of the reckonable emoluments i.e Pay in the Pay Band + Grade Pay + MSP drawn on the date of retirement.It is no longer an average of reckonable emoluments of 3 years or 24 months or 10 months prior to retirement date.

      Your pension has been equated to the pension of another officer who has same number of years of service who retired in 2013 i.e after 1.1.2006 i.e his 50% of reckonable emoluments. His RE does not increase in 2014 because he will not get an increment because he is no longer in service. Hence his pension remains constant and will increase only when the next pay commission or any other review recommends and the Govt approves.

      OROP is unfortunately an average of the highest and lowest pension drawn by those commissioned on the same date and retired with the same years of, because some retired ARMY officers asked how can a Lt Col or Col or Brig who has been in that rank for more years say 3 years than his course-mate get the same pension of the officer who has been in the rank for lesser number of years say 2 years.

      That is why, you have lost sight of the fact and resorted to vent your frustration.

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