By all accounts, the 7th pay commission recommendations for the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force are less than thrilling. What should have been a pay increase that could possibly have brought defence jobs closer to parity with civil jobs and made the services more attractive to young people looking to start out in their careers has failed to do this or to satisfy current defence personnel.
Each of the three arms of the Indian military rejected the Seventh Central Pay Commission’s recommendations for salary and emoluments because of the continuing problems of parity and the three service chiefs issued separate letters to their commanders and troops clarifying this decision.
The basic problem remains: each rank of services officers has lower pay scales than their counterparts in the civil administration and the police. The anomalies continue to be unresolved.
According to one commentator, this is the problem: Where military personnel were earlier on par with the IAS and IPS, they are now on par with the para military forces. There has been a down gradation by successive pay commissions.
Each rank of defence service personnel now has lower pay scales than central government employees because of the formula used for calculating the basic pay.
Not only does the individual sign up to potentially make the ultimate sacrifice for the nation when required, there is also the fact that military personeel are required to relocate regularly, frequently, often at short notice and to remote locations.
In a bid to keep the military fit, young and operationally lean, the retirement ages are low and getting promotions very difficult. Because they may be superseded by juniors or for other reasons, the average defence personnel retire from their commissions in their 30’s and 40’s. With (probably) aging parents and children in school or college, they now have to make a lateral shift of career which their counterparts in civil settings are not required to do.
There is the strong perception amongst the military that the bureaucracy continues to further their own agendas at the cost of the country’s soldiers and the politicians either don’t care or don’t have the will to resist. The Defence Minister Mahohar Parrikar’s response to the concerns raised was essentially this: what has been decided by the government has to be implemented and grievances, if any, can be taken up later.
In a statement issued yesterday, the service chiefs have indicated that they are happy with the Defence Minister’s assurances that the anomalies will be corrected. Did they have a choice? Our military has always worked within the framework of our constitution; our military is not the Pakistani Military after all.
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