Friday, September 26, 2008

Pay parity battle: Navy, Army chiefs meet cabinet secy

The armed forces continue to wage their battle against the notification of the new pay scales. Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Army chief General Deepak Kapoor met cabinet secretary K M Chandrashekar on Thursday to seek urgent corrective steps to resolve their pending "core issues". 

With the armed forces seething with anger at the delay in restoring their parity with their civilian and paramilitary counterparts, defence minister A K Antony was virtually forced to write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to seek his personal intervention in the matter. 

This came after the finance ministry rejected the "core issues" raised by the armed forces, including the main one connected with Lt-Colonel rank officers, without giving any reasons. The government has so far only indicated its willingness to restore the earlier 70% "pensionary weightage" given to jawans, overruling the 50% recommended by the 6th Pay Commission. 

The top military brass, in turn, is upset with "bureaucratic attempts" to drive a wedge between their officers and PBOR (personnel below officer rank). The military leadership, in fact, has sent a message down its ranks that the battle is being fought for both officers and PBOR in "a united, cohesive" manner. 

While civilian government employees will get their new pay scales and 40% arrears on October 1, the armed forces are holding firm that they will continue with their old pay scales till the matter is resolved. The armed forces are particularly angry that the "extant parity" of Lt-Cols has been lowered by retaining them in Pay Band-3 (Rs 15,600-39,100), while raising similarly placed civilians and paramilitary officers to PB-4 (Rs 37,400-67,000). 

The "lowering of status" of Lt-Cols and their equivalent ranks in IAF (Wing Commander) and Navy (Commander) is of major concern since these ranks constitute the bulk of the fighting force among officers. Almost 18,950 of the 54,770 officers in the 13-lakh strong armed forces, after all, are Lt-Col rank officers. 

Another core issue is that all directors-general of police and their equivalents have been placed over Lt-Generals by the creation of a new "higher administrative grade-plus". The forces want all Lt-Gens to be placed in this grade. 

source : The Times of India

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