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Monday, December 22, 2008

Govt agrees to most of the armed forces' pay hike demands

While rejecting uniform grade pay for military officers on par with their civilian counterparts, the government seems to have more or less agreed to the other three demands of armed forces over their new revised pay scales.

The "decision'' of the three-member ministerial committee, headed by foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, is to be officially announced in the next few days.

Sources, however, said there were indications the government had given the go-ahead to the elevation of Lt-Colonel rank officers to a higher pay scale; placement of a majority of Lt-Generals in the new "higher administrative grade-plus'' with police DGPs; and restoration of the reduction in pension for jawans.

The government, however, has apparently rejected the fourth "core demand'' of granting uniform grade pay to officers of armed forces on par with civilian officers, said sources.

As reported earlier by TOI, the armed forces blame "bureaucratic subversion'' for introducing "far more serious anomalies'' in their pay scales rather than resolving the ones present in the 6th Pay Commission report.

The armed forces, in fact, hold that their extant parity with their civilian and paramilitary counterparts had been "destroyed'' by the new pay scales. They were particularly upset over the "extant parity'' of Lt-Col rank officers being 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) hit the armed forces the most since they constitute the bulk of the fighting force among officers. Almost 18,950 of the 54,770 officers in the forces, after all, are Lt-Col rank officers.

New HBA policy being delayed

The economic downturn seems to be delaying the announcement of a new home loan policy for Central Government employees as recommended by the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC).

Known as the house building assistance (HBA), it’s a key interest-bearing advance given by the government to its employees to construct/acquire house/flats of their own.

The HBA is given to all permanent employees, members of All India Services (IAS, IPS & IFS) deputed to the Central government, public sector undertakings (PSUs) under control of the Centre, international organisations, autonomous bodies etc. The advance is to assist acquiring a plot and constructing a house thereon, building a new house on a plot already owned singly or jointly with spouse, enlarging living accommodation in a house, purchase of a ready built house/flat etc.

According to existing rules, the cost of the house (excluding cost of land) should not exceed 134 times the basic pay (and dearness pay taken together) subject to a maximum of Rs 18 lakh and a minimum of Rs 7.5 lakh.

Although this advance is interest-bearing, it has an inherent subsidy since interest is has to be paid only after the principal has been repaid and simple interest is chargeable on the advance. The rates of interest, therefore, are somewhat lower than existing market rates.

The Sixth Central Pay Commission in its report said: “It is desirable to provide only for the element of interest subsidy and make available various interest bearing advances to government employees through arrangements with public sector banks. This will not only give the government employee the freedom to approach the specified bank for a loan but would also simplify the existing procedures saving a lot of administrative work which is presently being done in government offices for grant of loans and servicing thereof.”

The CPC recommended the government should enter into an agreement with leading PSU banks to extend this facility at pre-determined competitive rates to its employees. The employee shall take the loans/advances directly from the bank with the approval of the sanctioning authority in the government and repay installments directly to the bank.

The Sixth CPC also said: “The eligibility for taking the advances should also be removed because the repaying capacity would, in any case, be considered by the concerned bank at the time of processing the loan application. This will also extend to the ceiling of Rs 18 lakh presently prescribed on the cost of house for purposes of house building advance. Therefore, this ceiling should also be removed.”

But this policy has not been implemented till date. The Ministry of Finance in a notification dated October 24 said: “The implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission relating to interest bearing advances granted to government employees is under consideration of the government. Meanwhile, pending finalisation of the new arrangement, the existing provisions for interest-bearing advances to purchase motor car, motorcycle, scooter, moped and personal computer would continue to be in operation.” But it was silent on the HBA.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hyundai extends discount scheme for govt employees till Dec

The country's second largest car maker Hyundai Motor India today said it has extended the discount scheme for government and public-sector units employees till December this year on account of 
encouraging response from the consumers. 

"We value the government employees and are pleased with the tremendous response that we have received from them. We have extended the scheme so that more and more government employees can be benefited," Hyundai Motor India Senior Vice President (Marketing and Sales) Arvind Saxena said in a statement.

Under the scheme, special pricing and attractive finance options are available to enable the government employees and this would be in addition to the full benefit of the reduction in CENVAT by four per cent.

This scheme, applicable to the entire product range of Hyundai, would also include exchange bonus of up to Rs 20,000.

The company would offer a total discount between Rs 22,200 and Rs 46,660 on various Hyundai cars, the statement said.

To provide finance options, Hyundai has tie-ups with State Bank of India, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank, it added.

SC comment : The  prices of the cars may come down further. Just wait for some time as no scope of increase in near future.

Govt panel for sacking of babus if found unfit after 20 yrs service

In an attempt to make bureaucracy accountable, a radical system of assessment has been mooted by an official panel allowing government servants to be sacked after 20 years of service if they are found unfit to continue.
The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily recommended unprecedented and far-reaching changes in the service rules of government servants and suggested two intensive reviews to make civil servants accountable.

The first of its kind report in 150 years suggests far-reaching recommendations, including removal of non performing bureaucrats and perhaps even a formal degree in public policy.

The report on 'Refurbishing of Personnel Administration' said the first review at 14 years would primarily serve the purpose of intimating to the public servant about his or her strengths and shortcomings, while the second review at 20 years would mainly serve to assess the fitness of the officer for further continuation in service.

"The services of public servants, who are found to be unfit after the second review at 20 years, should be discontinued. A provision regarding this should be made in the proposed Civil Services Law," the second ARC said in its latest report released today.

To ensure better accountability, the 377-page report said that for new appointments, it should be expressly provided that the period of employment shall be for 20 years. "Further continuance in government service would depend upon the outcome of the intensive performance reviews," it said.

"The ACR will not exist in its present form," M Veerappa Moily, who heads the panel, told reporters at a press conference where he released the report.

In the aftermath of Mumbai terror strikes, as political heads roll, the report is being seen as the government’s effort to bring babus within the accountability umbrella.

Sensing massive public outcry, the politicians have closed their ranks to send a positive message to the people that they are united in their war on terror. Hence the pressure is on the babus to follow suit.

Following are the three key recommendations of the panel:

 

The officers can be removed within the 14th and the 20th year of an officer’s tenure.

To encourage bright candidates for a long stint in the services, the upper age limit is also being lowered to 25 years for general candidates.

A formal degree in public policy and management is also being proposed.

"The first review will be held after 14 years and the second one after 20 years. It will assess whether the officer is fit to continue. If the recommendations are followed it will end the politician- bureaucrat nexus,” says Administrative Reforms Commission Chairman, Veerapa Moily.

Among the high-profile bureaucrats getting to complete their tenure is the troika responsible for maintaining internal security: National Security Advisor MK Narayanan, Intelligence Bureau Chief PC Haldar and Research and Analysis Wing chief AK Chaturvedi.

"The time has come for bureaucrats to put their hand up and be counted,” says ex-IPS officer Ved Marwah.

Key recommendations:

Government servants could lose their job after 20 years of service if they failed to come up to the expectations of their superiors.

The report on 'Refurbishing of Personnel Administration' said the first review at 14 years would primarily serve the purpose of intimating to the public servant about his or her strengths and shortcomings, while the second review at 20 years would mainly serve to assess the fitness of the officerfor further continuation in service.

To ensure better accountability, the 377-page report said that for new appointments, it should be expressly provided that the period of employment shall be for 20 years. "Further continuance in government service would depend upon the outcome of the intensive performance reviews," it said.

It also said that performance appraisal should be year round and provisions for detailed work-plan and a mid-year review should be introduced for all services.

Noting that a good employee performance appraisal system was a pre-requisite for an effective performance management system, the Commission suggested making appraisal more consultative and transparent.

The report said the annual performance agreements should be signed between the department minister and the secretary of the ministry or heads of departments, providing physical and verifiable details of the work to be done during a financial year.

The actual performance should be assessed by a third party with reference to the annual performance agreement, it said.

For motivating civil servants, the report said, there was a need to recognise their outstanding work.

It said selections of foreign assignments should be made on the basis of recommendations of the Central Civil Services Authority.

On disciplinary proceedings, it said the proposed civil services law should have a provision that the present oral inquiry process is converted into a disciplinary meeting or interview to be conducted by a superior officer in a summary manner without the trappings and procedures borrowed from court trials.

On relations between political executive and civil servants, the panel said there was a need to safeguard the political neutrality and impartiality of the civil services.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cabinet approves pay revision for central public sector enterprises

The cabinet Thursday approved the recommendations of the second Pay Revision Committee for central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) but there will be no additional cost to the government as the enterprises will bear the cost, a minister said."There will be no additional cost to the government as the enterprises will bear the additional cost from their internal resources," Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan said.

"It is for this reason that I cannot tell you what the additional expenditure will be," he said in reply to a question while briefing reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"The revised pay scales would be implemented by the issue of a separate Presidential Directive in respect of each CPSE by the concerned administrative ministry or department," Chavan said.

While the revised pay scales will be effective Jan 1, 2007, the payment of house rent allowance, perks and allowances based on the revised scales will be from the date of issue of the Presidential Directives, he added.

The Pay Revision Committee had been established as CPSE employees were not covered by the Sixth Pay Commission that earlier this year recommended increased pay and allowances for government servants.

Cabinet to decide on judges’ pay hike

The Union Cabinet is expected to take a call on the issue of hiking the salary of the Supreme Court and High Court judges on Thursday.

The cabinet is meeting amidst reports that the plan has not found favour with the Union Finance Ministry. 

As per media reports the Finance Ministry, although seems inclined to approve a hike but is unwilling to do so as per the recommendations proposed by a three-judge committee constituted by the Chief Justice of India (CJI). 

Once the Cabinet takes a call on the issue, a Bill would be introduced in Parliament as the legislatures nod is required for any change in the salary structure of higher judiciary. 

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, in a letter to the ministry in July, had sought a hike of two to three times the present monthly salaries of judges of the higher judiciary. 

He had pointed towards the pay revision proposal for government employees under the Sixth Pay Commission and built a case for salary hike for judges as well. 

The CJI, at present, gets a monthly salary of Rs 33,000. The letter had suggested raising it to Rs 1.1 lakh. 

For other apex court judges, the CJI had suggested a monthly salary of Rs 1 lakh and favoured a similar pay for Chief Justices of High Courts. The chief justice had proposed a monthly salary of Rs 90,000 for High Court judges. 

Seeking better perks, the CJI also talked about raising the medical reimbursements for judges from the higher judiciary. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Many govt employees still to get pay arrears

Many of the five million government employees are yet to receive the retroactive portion of a salary hike that came into effect from January 2006 after the Union government implemented the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations.
The employees started getting a new salary from 1 September, but the delay in clearing the so-called arrears is causing some angst among employees, many of whom live in states where elections are being held now.
The Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government announced an average increase of 21% in the salaries of government employees in August. But only the employees of Union ministries have received their payouts so far.
The government had planned to disburse 40% of the Rs29,373 crore as arrears during 2008-09 and the remaining 60% in 2009-10.
"The arrears have been received by the employees working in the Union ministries and the main (Central) secretariat. However, the employees working in field offices and attached organizations or offices of the ministries are yet to get the arrears. There were no such problems at the time of arrear payments for the Fifth Pay Commission," said an official in the Union ministry of information and broadcasting, who didn't want to be named.
"While the ministries employ less than 10% of the workforce, the balance work with these offices. The pay and account offices of these organizations have been demanding money for the payments."
"Most of the subordinate bodies in the ministries are yet to receive it," said another government official, asking not to be named.
Senior officials in the ministries of power, petroleum and natural gas, shipping and road transport, and highways confirmed that the arrears have been received by their personnel.
"There have been some incidents of Central government employees posted in the states not getting the arrears payment. I think employees who have not received their money even now should protest," says M.K. Pandhe, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Such incidents have been sporadic and "there have been no large-scale instances of employees not having been paid arrears", he added.
"The orders for the arrears payment has been passed in keeping with the recommendations cleared by the Union cabinet. From our end, everything has been done. If there is a problem, it could be a minor bureaucratic problem at the execution level," said a senior finance ministry official, who didn't want to be named.
While the wage hike has increased the financial burden of the government by Rs17,798 crore annually, it has also increased the rate of annual increment from 2.5% to 3%.
The government has also raised the minimum entry-level salary of a government employee to Rs7,000 against Rs6,660 recommended by the commission, headed by justice B.N. Srikrishna, which submitted the report in March.
Drawing and disbursing officers prepare the bills and pass it on to pay and account officers, who then process the payment and record it on a computer software created for the purpose, called Compact. While the Controller General of Accounts is of the opinion that the computerized process cuts down delays, there are still some allegations that there is potential for graft at the pay and account offices stage.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Government Clarifies : No change in retirement age

The Cabinet Secretary K. M. Chandrasekhar today informed that there is no plans to revise the retirement age for Central Government employees. After the sixth pay commission implementation, employees were hoping for the rise in pension age, as doing so can reduce the burden of the additional payment to some extend. However the government decided other stopping all the rumours associated.

Shri. K. M. Chandrasekhar  clarified that the government has no intentions in changing the retirement age and the current system will be followed.

"I tried to find out. But there is no file in (Department of) Expenditure, no file in DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training). There is nothing. It is more of a wishful thinking," he said in an interview.

At present the retirement age for the Central Government employees is 60.

He also added that there is no plans to unify the retirement age of the state government staff across the states.

"The states will decide their own retirement age," he said. All states have their own retirement age - starting from 55 years (Kerala) to 60 years (Uttar Pradesh, Assam etc). The Madhya Pradesh government teachers retire at the age of 62 years.

Source : Economic Times

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

List of Government of India Holidays during the Year 2009

List of Government of India Holidays during the Year 2009 for Delhi / New Delhi Offices.

List of Government of India Restricted Holidays during the Year 2009 for Delhi / New Delhi Offices.

Download http://staffcorner.com/2009/holidays2009.pdf

Revenue Officials agitating over 'Raw Deal'

At a time when the government is facing an economic downslide with lower or negative tax collection, it is facing serious unrest in the ranks of departments assigned the job of mopping up resources with thousands of customs, central excise and income tax officials being up in arms against anomalies in their pay scales and bleak promotional avenues.

Thousands of customs officials struck work on Tuesday and took to the streets against the delay in their promotions, in what can set back government’s already difficult task to realise the revenue target. Customs and central excise officials from across the country gathered at Jantar Mantar in the Capital on Tuesday, to march up to barricades raised at Parliament Street police station.

The protest comes even as income tax officials, another revenue gathering arm, have already resorted to a ‘go slow’ to insist on removal of pay anomalies and for better prospects of promotion

There has been no official announcement yet. But officials of the income tax department, sources say, have been dragging their feet on the surveys that are crucial for detecting tax evasions and tax collection. Sources said all field formations of income tax have stopped sending Central Action Plan (CAP) dossiers since August to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).

The CAP is a vital report generated on a monthly basis that gives a summary of scrutiny assessments, demands raised and collected, arrears collection and manpower deployment, besides helping in collection of data for micromanagement of the economy.

Sources said revenue secretary P V Bhide has called a meeting of all 18 chief commissioners of I-T at North Block on Wednesday to deliberate on the slowdown in the tax collection. With a few CBDT members having already raised the issue of discontentment in the rank and file over the pay anomalies and its impact on the tax mop up, the revenue department boss is likely to address the matter.

The discontentment over the ‘alleged’ raw deal from the 6th pay commission is not only restricted to the IRS cadre officers, but spread even to the ranks of inspectors, superintendents and promotee assistant commissioners who feel they have been ignored. The lower rungs feel discriminated even from their top bosses in the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) and CBDT.

Ravi Malik, an office-bearer of the All-India Association of Central Excise Officers which organised the march, alleged that the higher-ups in the CBEC had deliberately delayed promotions for superintendents and others eligible to be promoted in Group A. “Even when promotions are granted, they are in the Junior Group A level and many of those promoted remain without a posting for a long time,” he said.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Planning to Buy House? Just wait

Makes sense to wait as prices will fall further; desperate builders are not finding many buyers.
Housing Loans : Interest rates expected to come down, so wait a while; good time to pre-pay part of the loan if it is not tax-efficient. [Source : Outlook]

Future economic historians may remember the month that just ended as Black September. Lehman Brothers collapsed; the Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch; AIG was nationalised; banks such as Washington Mutual and Wachovia were wiped out. As credit and finance markets around the world tumbled like ninepins, so did stock markets in India, with the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index (Sensex) falling 3.35% or 469 points on September 15. The worst affected was the realty index which dropped 7.6% on the same day. Since then, while stocks prices in India have seen massive swings, shares of real estate firms have remained depressed, falling a total of 20% as of October 1.

In addition to housing stocks, home prices are taking a beating. By some estimates, prices have dropped by 25% in certain urban markets. While in the US -- and also in Britain -- the subprime mortgage mess has seen home prices fall dramatically, in India, such slowdowns have been rare -- at least in the past. Prices may soften, sales activity may slow and occasionally a distress sale occurs, but there has not been an overall fall in home prices. [Source : Sify]

Lenders force builders to start selling :

MUMBAI:Financiers have started talking tough with Indian property firms in trying to salvage the money they had lent. “Sell-before-it’s-too-late” is a point that some of the big lenders are driving home, while a few overseas funds which had committed equity investments in tranches have gone into arbitration to wriggle out of the promise.

Most builders were prompt with interest payments till September 30. But lenders now fear that many would default in the December quarter or may be even earlier. A large builder has already failed to pay interest to a foreign fund, which had purchased the structured securities at the peak of the property boom.

Banks and institutions have lent over Rs 75,000 crore to Indian builders. This does not include around Rs 25,000 crore worth of bonds and debt papers which mutual funds had bought. While the total value of land and properties held as collateral is more than the outstanding loan, it’s still cold comfort. If builders start defaulting in a big way, the lenders will be left holding huge tracts of land amid crashing property prices.

The lenders said that in some cases, loans coming up for repayment in October and November will not be rolled over — a threat they feel could push some builders to sell properties at a lower price and service the loan interest.

Some of the loans are on a rental discounting model, which means the builder pays the loan interest every month out of the rental income from commercial properties. For construction finance, the loan is cleared in equal quarterly installments, where the amount — like individual home loans — consists of interest and part-principal. A trickier situation is where properties are lying half-built or have been nearly completed, but potential tenants like brokers and finance firms have backed out with the downturn in the market.

But lenders know that they can’t push too hard. “We are targeting to meet the borrowers separately to assess their respective cash flow positions. We have to take a case-by-case approach,” said a banker. What’s worrying them is the huge leverage in the real estate sector, with most builders bringing in relatively little money as their own capital to borrow big-time against land banks. [Source : India Investment Property]

Indian real estate sector in recession mode :

Presently, the impact of recession in US economy has caused mammoth impact on Indian real estate market as well, as it is witnessing the recession. Till now, the real estate industry was a booming industry, which were in pace with information technology (IT) industry. Accordingly, the demand for IT space and commercial spaces has been grown. Also, the high net worth of individual investors has created a very fast pace of demand in Indian real estate sector, which has a very high impact image of investing in India.

As the money was coming in terms on investment in from non-resident Indians as well as private equity funds, the well-known developers and real estate players have grown their portfolio as well many small sized players have also created in Indian market. It has provided a very high supply of real estate segments either in residential or in commercial or in office space. Special economic zone (SEZ) has also creates a very good opportunities for investors as well as corporate to invest and get benefited from Indian real estate market. So, the booming market has created a niche as modern living and created a very mass employment in Indian segment.

The recent changes, which happened in American market such as bankruptcy of Lehman Brother (one of the oldest financial firms of American market) and sell process of PE firm Merryl Lynch by the largest US bank, Bank of America, has created a very fast drops/recession in financial industry and created a crisis in all over US economy. Both of these firms were invested their more part of funds into real estate sector without having the proper analysing or effect.
They also have given the funds for mortgage industry of US, which is currently facing the hurdle of sub prime lending and have affected many players to bankruptcy.

All of these changes in the US economy have affected Indian economy as well as real estate segment as most of the Indian players have their liquidity funded by both of these firms. The IT segment, which was mainly funded by the PE firms or have their export to US markets have noticed very sharp drop of net worth of their firms. This recession also affected the Sensex, which is bullish and brings down the net worth of the leader of Indian real estate player very low. The impact can be shown in share price of DLF, Unitech, GMR group, Reliance Group, Wipro, Satyam etc groups. All of these sudden changes in Indian and US market created a point of thinking to investors and individuals that where it will go and what will be the best option in real estate investment. The market rates in India are also dropped by 10 to 30 per cent in most of prominent as well as upcoming cities and the trend appears to be still continuing, till it recovers from the ill effects of financial crisis. [Source : Meri News]


For Chandrayaan Details - http://chandrayaan-missionmoon.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 20, 2008

DRDO facing attrition problem: Antony

Country's premier defence research organisation DRDO is facing the attrition problems as 785 defence scientists have resigned in the last three years.

The government has offered various incentives for scientists in the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) report, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

"A number of incentives were recommended by the CPC, which have been accepted and implemented by the government," Defence Minister A K Antony said in a written reply to a question on exodus of scientists from DRDO.

Incentives to arrest the attrition rate in DRDO include providing career enhancement opportunities to scientists by granting them study leaves, sending them to attend conferences and seminars and long term training courses.

"DRDO is providing study leaves to scientists for acquiring higher qualifications like PhDs, Masters Degrees. Scientists are sponsored to go and attend conferences and seminars and for long term courses for research both within and outside the country," Antony said.

The minister added that a lot of stress was being laid upon by DRDO to mentor young scientists along with improving their work environment and social life in DRDO campuses.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Any govt decision on pay issue will be good for country: Army

As the committee headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is looking into the armed forces’ grievances over their new pay scales, the army on Wednesday said any decision by the government on the issue will be for the good of the country and the Services.

“The pay anomalies issues is currently with the Cabinet and I am sure it will take care of it. Whatever it decides, it will be for the good of the country and the armed forces,” Vice-Chief of the Army, Lieutenant-General M L Naidu, said on the sidelines of an Army Postal Service Awards ceremony ihn New Delhi.

“They (the committee members) are our national leaders and they will keep all issues in mind before taking a decision. It (pay issues) is not a matter of our expectations,” Naidu said, replying to a query on the course of action the armed forces would take if all their expectations are not met by the Mukherjee committee.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had late last month set up the Mukherjee committee with Defence Minister A K Antony and Finance Minister P Chidambaram as members to consider the four “core issues” raised by the armed forces on what they called a “discriminatory” 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC) report.

In fact, the issues had snowballed into a controversy over the armed forces’ reluctance to implement the Cabinet decision on the CPC taken last month.

Consequently, the 1.5 million armed forces personnel took home their old pay scales in October, while their 3.5 million civilian counterparts got their revised pay scales under the CPC.

To another query, Naidu said pointing out some discrepancies in the CPC was not “defiance”, but professional duty (of the armed forces).

The armed forces are demanding that the government place Lieutenant-Colonels and their equivalents in Pay Band-4, ensure parity in Grade Pay of officers from Captains to Brigadiers with their civilian counterparts, accord the Higher Administrative Grade Plus status in pay scales to Lieutenant Generals and restore 70 per cent pensionary benefits to jawans.

To another question over the misuse of army’s combat fatigues by paramilitary and police forces, Naidu said the army had already informed the Centre and the state governments about it.

“Now, the state governments have taken very strict action, because they have realized that by not insisting on this, it is causing some confusing. Now they have done it (enforce laws against misuse of army uniforms). And hopefully it will be sorted out,” Naidu said.

Asked about the uniforms and camouflages being freely available in the open market, the army vice-chief said as far as clothes, low-quality products are concerned, they were available (but not the Army’s).

“A solution is being worked out and the Home Ministry is doing what is necessary to curb such sales. By law, sale of military uniform in the open market is banned. It should not be available. If it is, there is a separate enforcement agency working on curbing the sale of military uniform. In J&K, they are very actively curbing the sale,” he added.

Pay issue to be resolved shortly : Mr. Pranab Mukherjee

A ministerial committee, set up to look into the armed forces' grievance about pay “anomalies”, is likely to sort out the matter soon.
External affairs minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the three-member committee, today said he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and defence minister Mr AK Antony.
“Shortly, I am going to discuss with the finance minister (P Chidambaram),” he told reporters here when asked about the issue.
Without giving details of his discussions with the Prime Minister, Mr Mukherjee merely said: “I do hope we will be able to sort out the issue shortly”.
The committee, which also includes Mr Antony and Mr Chidambaram, was set up by the Prime Minister on 25 September in the wake of deep resentment in the armed forces, who complained that there were “anomalies” in the 6th Pay Commission recommendations and that it had lowered the status of their officers.
After the government notification was issued on 29 August, the issues of “anomalies” in the pay for officers was first raised by Air chief Fali Homi Major in his letter in his capacity as acting chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).
Chiefs of Navy and Army too have been voicing their resentment.
Mr Antony has strongly favoured resolution of core issues raised by the three services chiefs in their representation to the government. He wrote to Mr Chidambaram, raising issues of disparities”, including the ones relating to Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBORs).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pay issue of armed forces to be resolved soon: Pranab

A ministerial committee, set up to look into the armed forces' grievance about pay "anomalies", is likely to sort out the matter soon.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the three-member committee, on Monday said he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony.

"Shortly, I am going to discuss with the Finance Minister (P Chidambaram)," he told reporters here when asked about the issue.

Without giving details of his discussions with the Prime Minister, Mukherjee merely said "I do hope we will be able to sort out the issue shortly".

The committee, which also includes Antony and Chidambaram, was set up by the Prime Minister on September 25 in the wake of deep resentment in the armed forces, who complained that there were "anomalies" in the 6th Pay Commission recommendations and that it had lowered the status of their officers.

After the government notification was issued on August 29, the issues of "anomalies" in the pay for officers was first raised by Air chief Fali Homi Major in his letter in his capacity as acting Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

Chiefs of Navy and Army too have been voicing their resentment.

Antony has strongly favoured resolution of core issues raised by the three services chiefs in their representation to the government.

He wrote to Chidambaram, raising issues of disparities", including the ones relating to Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBORs).

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The service chiefs’ protest

A similar scene is now being re-enacted in a democratic India. The three defence services, in unison, have refused to accept the orders of the Union cabinet on the Sixth Central Pay Commission award. The three service chiefs cited “the larger interest of the services” in an open communication to the rank and file.

The defence services have two main grouses against the current pay award: reduction in status of military officers and lower pay than their civilian counterparts. While the pay commission and the government have gone by existent parities, the services refer to the extant Warrant of Precedence. The issue of salaries of lieutenant colonels is being projected as the main bone of contention by the services. Yet, this ignores the fact that while a lieutenant colonel used to lead a battalion of nearly 1,000 soldiers three decades ago, today, he only leads a sub-unit of 150. We have come to this pass due to a lack of appetite—both among civilians and among the Armed Forces—for fundamental military reforms that would make the profile of the Armed Forces consistent with the rest of the economy. At the heart of this unfortunate controversy lies the fact that the government has gone about dealing with the issues of military pay and procurement independently, without considering them within the overall context of root-branch reform of the Armed Forces.
The arguments of the Armed Forces are often couched in emotional terms—unstable family life, staying at far-off places and risk to life. While these are valid, the pay commission has already considered these aspects. It has allocated an additional component called military service pay to the members of the Armed Forces. Tax-free liberal compensatory allowances for postings at Siachen and other difficult locations stand doubled after the pay commission report. In contrast, paramilitary forces and civilian officials working in corresponding areas do not enjoy these benefits.
The recent acts of the service chiefs on pay threaten a prudent constitutional balance

It is understandable that the Armed Forces should think they deserve more. However, instead of using the institutional mechanism for redressal, they have indulged in a game of political brinkmanship, raising demands publicly through the media.Ex-servicemen, who have no locus standi in the matter, have unconscionably taken up the cudgels as a public front for the defence services.
After announcing a ministerial committee headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee to address their demands, the Union government asked the service chiefs to notify the new pay. In direct defiance of government, the defence services delayed the notification. And far from nipping the tendency in the bud several months ago, defence minister A.K. Antony let the situation drift to this extent. This precedent cannot be a good sign for civil-military relations at a time when India has an acute need to rethink and modernize its Armed Forces.
India is an exception among the countries that gained independence from colonial rule in the last century. It has not experienced a spell of military rule due to the vision of its founding fathers, who devised an effective model for civilian control of the military. The Armed Forces, as envisaged in the Constitution, are a technical arm carrying out the policies of the government, responsible to the Union cabinet through the defence minister and its bureaucratic staff. In any modern democracy, the military commanders—those who actually have operational control of troops—are outside the governmental system, while there are some uniformed members in the government in the role of specialist military advisers. Parliament, through the Union cabinet and the defence ministry, has the last word on military policy. That our parliamentarians generally do not take too deep an interest in defence policy should not come in the way of appreciating the value of ensuring that civilian control of the Armed Forces remains robust and unchallenged.
The recent acts of the service chiefs threaten this prudent constitutional balance. While the government must make every effort to address the genuine grievances of the Armed Forces, they must also accept that the Union government has the final authority on this matter. The Union government must rein in the service chiefs and ensure the sanctity of the established civil-military relationship. Indeed, Mukherjee’s group of ministers would do even better to seize this opportunity to set the ball rolling on the comprehensive reform of India’s defence services. Respected voices in the strategic establishment have been calling for a blue ribbon commission that would conduct a comprehensive review of Indian defence policy. The unfortunate incidents of recent weeks are an urgent reminder of the need to heed that call.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Teachers' bodies not happy with pay commission report

Various teachers' organisations have expressed resentment over the UGC-Pay Review Committee's recommendations, saying the report has fallen short of
their expectations as it has several "anomalies".

The Delhi University Teachers' Association has said major demand of teachers for higher pay scale to lecturers so as to attract talent to the university system has not been accepted.

"The demand for introduction of professorship/professor's grade in all colleges to retain talent has not been considered by the committee headed by Prof G K Chadha," it said.

DUTA representatives on Monday met UGC Chairman Sukhadeo Thorat to air their grievances, its president Aditya Narayan Mishra said.

Democratic Teachers' Front, a teachers' organisation in Delhi University, said the recommendations of the Pay Review Committee with regard to pay scales and service conditions failed to reflect its objective of making the teaching profession more attractive.

It said the UGC had earlier suggested 25 per cent higher entry pay for teachers in comparison to the Group A services and three promotions for all teachers so that teachers could have parity with Group A services in terms of career earnings.

The college teachers have been explicitly downgraded by the recommendations which denied them promotion till professor's grade, it claimed. The DTF demanded a review of the report.

Delhi University Principal's Association, which had asked for senior principals' scale for those principals who have already completed eight to 10 years of service, said the committee has remained silent on the issue.

The Committee has recommended "Sabatical Leave" for college teachers but has not mentioned about "principals" categorically, it said.

Professors' posts have been created in colleges having post-graduate teaching in respective subjects. Similar provisions should be made for colleges offering honours programmes, its president S K Garg said.

Indian National Teacher Congress has said teachers have been denied the third promotion in colleges in the form of professorship/professor's grade as demanded since the last 20 years.

The committee's chairperson Rashmi Bhardwaj will meet HRD Minister Arjun Singh to apprise him the anomalies in the pay structure.

Meanwhile, the UGC members on Tuesday started a two-day meeting to discuss the recommendations. UGC will submit the report to the government by Thursday after its consideration.

The UGC-Pay Review Committee, which submitted its report to the UGC on Friday, has recommended a whopping over 70 per cent pay hike with additional allowances and new positions to academicians.

As per the recommendations, at the entry level, a faculty member will join as an assistant professor, not as a lecturer as earlier, and his new pay band will be between Rs 15,600 to Rs 39,100. The teacher at the entry level will be entitled for a grade pay of Rs 6,600. At present, a lecturer's pay scale is between Rs 8,000 to Rs 13,500.

A teacher will be entitled for annual increment of three per cent of the basic salary with compounding effect. Certain teachers with good performance record can get four per cent annual increment.

Similarly, the committee has recommended a new band pay between Rs 37,400 to Rs 67,000 for professor against the existing scale of Rs 16,400 to Rs 22,400.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Performance-based incentive scheme now on a voluntary basis

The department of science and technology (DST) that took the lead in formulating a performance-related incentive scheme for research organizations it funds, now plans to implement the scheme on a voluntary basis because some beneficiary organizations are still not convinced of the efficacy of the scheme.The dept of science and technology proposes to scrap annual confidential reports

The Sixth Pay Commission had carried out a study through the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, on a performance-based incentive system, to ostensibly improve the performance outputs of Central government employees.
The study, according to the official website of the pay commission, was aimed at working out a model whereby a base salary is attached to each post based on skills and responsibility and simultaneously, a second component would be payable over and above the salary on the basis of the productivity and performance of employees, either individually or as a group.
The study recommended an annual bonus of up to 20% to employees whose achievements exceed certain targets, which has been accepted by the cabinet.
The government has also given in-principle approval to contractual postings in government departments of employees hired from private sector.
As reported previously in Mint, a finance ministry official who didn’t wish to be identified had recently said that DST has already moved to put in place an incentive-based system.
“Once DST implements it, we expect there will be pressure on other government departments to follow suit,” this official had added.
“Some people aren’t convinced yet and so we will be implementing this on a voluntary basis,” said a senior official in the ministry of science and technology, who didn’t want to be identified.
DST is the largest funder, excluding the atomic energy and space ministries, of basic research programmes in the country. It is the most important source of funds for nearly 17 autonomous organizations that are working in a range of fields from astronomy to biology.
“But I’m confident that once a few adopt, the rest will come around,” the same official added.
One major change the scheme proposes is to do away with the current annual confidential reports and bring in annual performance management reports.
Here a 12-point criteria matrix would be drawn up, that evaluate criteria such as the number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals, impact factors of the journals, (These measures refer to how often a particular research paper is cited by peers in the field, and the frequency of well-cited research papers appearing in a particular journal) and the quality and impact of new schemes initiated (by scientists on the managerial side).
“One of the measures suggested for annual review is impact factor of a journal, and citation indexes. However, it would be unfair to use the same scale to compare output in veterinary sciences to (that in) nanotechnology, as nanotech is a much hotter field than vet sciences. A good paper on vet sciences will never be highly cited. That’s how the system works,” said a scientist, who didn’t want to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue, at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, one of the autonomous research institutes funded by the DST.
Another proposal in the scheme that hasn’t gone down well is to have independent experts from other institutions rate scientists, which, the formulators of the scheme say,will help remove bias and infuse transparency in the rating system, said a DST official familiar with discussions on the scheme.
Moreover, the scheme is expected to be budget-neutral, meaning no extra funds will be provided. “Finance committees are extremely tight anyway. So obviously the extra money will come from cuts in laboratory tests, and stricter controls in procuring equipment,” the scientist from the Wadia institute added.
The department currently plans to allot Rs60-70 crore in the first phase, beginning this year.
However, many scientists seem to be receptive of performance incentives, as the only way they can hope for substantial increments is to get promoted.
In government labs, scientist grades vary from A to G, the latter being the highest, and on an average it takes about 20 years to go from A to G.
“I think it would be welcome. Even at F and G, pay hikes are not substantial. There are more perks like allowances for subscribing to journals, and increased funds for attending international conferences,” said Madhavan Rajeevan, a scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation and formerly with the India Meteorological Department, which follows a pay structure similar to DST.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

UGC Pay Review Committee submits report

The University Grants Commission-appointed pay review committee, headed by Prof G K Chaddha on Friday recommended over 70 per cent pay hike with additional allowances and new positions to academics in the higher education sector. It also recommended 65 years as the retirement age, which can be extended up to 70 years.

The committee submitted its report to UGC Chairman Prof Sukhadeo Thorat. UGC will meet on October 7 and 8 to accept the recommendations.

According to the committee’s recommendations, at the entry level, a faculty member will join as an assistant professor, not as a lecturer as earlier, and his new pay band will be between Rs 15,600 to Rs 39,100. The teacher at the entry level will be entitled to a grade pay of Rs 6,600. At present, a lecturer’s pay scale is between Rs 8,000 to Rs 13,500.

A teacher will be entitled for annual increment of three per cent of the basic salary with compounding effect. Certain teachers with good performance record will be eligible for four per cent annual increment.

Similarly, the committee has recommended a new band pay of Rs 37,400 to Rs 67,000 for professors against the existing scale of Rs 16,400 to Rs 22,400.

“We have recommended more than 70 per cent hike in the scale of pay for various posts. For certain posts, the proposed hike is more than 90 per cent,” Chadha said.

The hike, if implemented, would benefit more than five lakh teachers in over 400 universities and over 6,000 colleges in the country.

The report says a vice-chancellor will get a fixed amount of Rs 80,000 per month against the present package of Rs 25,000. The committee has also recommended introduction of new ranks like senior associate professor, senior professor and professor of eminence.

Professors of eminence are expected to be experts on their subjects and their package will be at par with that of the vice-chancellors.

At the college level, a principal will be at par with a professor, and draw a salary of Rs 37,400 to Rs 67,000 per month against the current salary of Rs 12,000 to Rs 22,400, he said. The recommendations will also cover librarians and director (physical education).

The committee has suggested an academic allowance of Rs 1,500 per month in addition to house rent, transport, special duty, traveling and medical allowances.

He said the recommendations should be implemented in toto with effect from January 1, 2006. However, allowances excepting DA will be admissible with effect from September 1, 2008, he said.

A. POSTS SPECIFIC TO UNIVERSITIES

CATEGORY

EXISTING PAY SCALE

NEW PAY BAND

GRADE PAY

1

Assistant Professor

8000- 275-13500

15600 – 39100

6600

2

Assistant Professor

(Senior Scale)

10000 – 325 – 15200

15600 – 39100

7200

3

Assistant Professor

(Selection Grade)/

Associate Professor

12000 -420 – 18300

15600 - 39100

8000

4

Professor

16400-450-20900-500-22400

37400 - 67000

11000

5

Senior Professor

New Post Proposed

37400 - 67000

12000

6

Pro-VC

18400—500-22400.

37400-67000

Plus 4 Adv increments

12000

7

Professor of Eminence

New Post Proposed

80000 (fixed)

Nil

8

Vice – Chancellor

25000 (Fixed)

80000 (Fixed)

Nil

9

Librarian/Director of PE

16400-450-20900-500-22400

37400-67000

11000

10

Deputy Librarian/Deputy Director of PE

12000-420-18300

15600-39100

8000

11

Asstt. Librarian (Sr. Scale)/ Asstt Director of PE (Sr. Scale)

10000-15200

15600-39100

7200

12

Asstt Librarian/

Asstt Director PE/Sports Officer/Physical Instructor

8000-275-13500

15600-39100

6600

B. POSTS SPECIFIC TO COLLEGES

1

Assistant Professor

8000- 275-13500

15600 – 39100

6600

2

Assistant Professor

(Senior Scale)

10000 – 325 – 15200

15600 – 39100

7200

3

Assistant Professor

(Selection Grade)/

Associate Professor

12000 -420 – 18300

15600 - 39100

8000

4

Senior Associate Professor

New Post Proposed

37400 – 67000

8700

5

Professor in PG Colleges

New Post Proposed

37400 - 67000

11000

6

a. Principal of UG College

b. Principal of PG College

12000-18300

16400-450-20900-500-22400

37400-67000

Plus 2 Adv increments.

37400-67000

Plus 2 Adv increments

8700

11000

7

College Librarian /

Director of PE/

Sports Officer/ PI

8000-13500

15600-39100

6600

8

College Librarian/

Director PE (Senior Scale)

10000-15200

15600-39100

7200

9

College Librarian(S.G)/ Director of Physical Education (SG)

12000-18300

15600-39100

8000

10

*Senior College Librarian (Selection Grade)Senior College DPE (Selection Grade)

New Post Proposed

37400-67000

8700

* The eligibility condition for promotion for this position may better be decided by the UGC in consultation with the special committee heading by a Senior Professor of Library / senior professor of Physical education