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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Staffers of the Income-Tax department wishes Justice BN Srikrishna 'Get Well Soon'

 

Justice BN Srikrishna

If Justice B N Srikrishna finds the postman ringing his doorbell again and again and again in the next few days, here's why: nearly 50,000 staffers of the Income-Tax department, upset by what they say is poor pay revision by the Srikrishna-led Sixth Pay Commission and inspired by Lage Raho Munnabhai, have decided to send one lakh 'Get Well Soon' cards soon to his Chembur residence to register their protest.

Their card, inspired by Sanjay Dutt's Gandhigiri towards Boman Irani, carries a graph showing the discrepancy in the salary revision for I-T officers of Grade I and other grades and simply says, in big, bold letters, "Respected Justice Srikrishna, Get Well Soon!" At the bottom, right, is a slot for every employee to write his 'name' and 'designation' before dashing off the card.

Though for now, the card will go out from members of the Income-Tax Gazetted Officers Association from Mumbai circle, who came up with the idea, the Association has also appealed to staffers in other government departments to send similar cards.

"Some staffers will present the card to Justice Srikrishna personally by visiting his residence on May 1," Rajesh Menon, all-India general secretary of the Association said.

Justice Srikrishna, who led the panel carrying out the unenviable task of recommending revised pay scales for government employees, submitted his report this month. The report has received criticism from most sections of government employees.

The I-T Gazetted Officers Association's complaint is that while the report recommends a 39 per cent to 81 per cent hike for Pay Band-4 officers of the I-T department, Pay Band-1, 2 and 3 officers have been recommended a hike of 15 to 41 per cent.

The common complaint of government staffers is that the report is skewed in favour of IAS officers.

An I-T official who did not wish to be named said, "IAS officers have got the best out of the Sixth Pay Commission as they stand to get basic pay ranging from Rs 39,000 to Rs 67,000 while all other officers right from entry to senior level are placed in a lower bracket."

Following opposition from government employees, the government has formed a high-level committee to look into the Panel's recommendations and suggest corrective measures.

But for the I-T Gazetted Officers Association, that clearly isn't enough; they want to register their grievances through the post.

The specially-   printed card that income tax staff will send en masse on May

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pay panel report: Change in work practices required

The introduction of performance related incentive scheme (PRIS) in the Sixth Central Pay Commission(CPC) Report is to be welcomed. However, its implementation presents challenges that need careful consideration. Moving from an annual bonus system, which is more gratia than a reward for performance, to a strictly monitored system of measuring performance has less to do with policy changes and more with changes in the mindset of employees across hierarchies.

The pay commission report has covered almost all aspects of introducing such a scheme from using SMART goals, developing an objective score card based performance management system, leveraging ICT and MIS and a focus on building the corpus through internal savings resulting from process improvement. However, the aspect that will need most attention is the on-the-ground implementation of a system that is not only easily understood and acceptable but supported by other related initiatives that guarantee its success and sustainability.

A change in work practices will be required. Building a system which discourages inefficient use of time and rewards high productivity, would need to be supported by adequate communication of what constitutes performance. Overtime, for example, is more a norm than an exception — a component of compensation that proves highly lucrative for most employees. On the one hand internal communication, messages, workshops that demonstrate the benefits of productivity need to be introduced. On the other, strong and smart planning processes needs to be put in place to drive a culture that appreciates work life balance, encourages achievement of more in less time and looks down on inefficient practices such as regular use of overtime.

'Measurable indicators' relevant to job holders would need to be defined. While performance for the government employees goes beyond profit to include social goals, the challenge is to determine the extent to which the achievement of these goals is controlled by the employee being measured and rewarded. For example, how can a reduction of crime rate or reduction in infant mortality rate be attributed to the performance of an individual?

A further exercise of cascading these end outcomes to actual measurable goals within the purview of the individual employed is necessary to make the measurable indicators relevant. The stated performance objectives at the macro level need to be broken down and contextualised to the actual job at hand for an individual employee, to ensure performance can be predicted and controlled.

While this can be easily achieved for roles primarily into execution, there are roles at the higher echelons that focus on work like policy making. What parameters would be used to define the outcomes of these roles and how would they be measured? Another dimension would be those working in functions like quality, finance, personnel and administration, where outcomes may not be easily seen. The key challenge anticipated in these jobs is in identifying 'measurable indicators'.

And then there is the voice of the citizen. Measurement of performance of government officials who serve citizens cannot be limited to internal parameters only. Mechanisms to capture public feedback need to be introduced and relevant inputs need to be considered in measuring performance. The CPC report does propound the multiple assessor concept and makes a reference to the Sevottam model. However, since most of this feedback would be based on perception, the challenge would be to define the parameters to make them measurable.

The existing performance measurement system (or the lack of it) revolves around confidential reports (CRs) that are used mostly for career growth programmes – and not for measuring performance. If these CRs are to be replaced by balanced score card-based PMS having SMART goals, adequate sensitisation and training of all involved in the process is necessary. More often than not a well-developed system does not meet its objectives because the end users are unable to leverage its benefits. The goal setting activity, for example, cannot be top down. It needs to be mutually decided in an open discussion, include realistic and achievable goals, accepted by all involved with mid course corrections to ensure that individuals are not demotivated with excessively stretched goals or given too soft targets.  

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Monday, April 28, 2008

A General's letter in anguish to the PM Manmohan Singh

Retired officers of the Indian armed forces took out a rally in Gurgaon, Haryana, on Sunday to protest against the sixth Pay Commission report. The rally was held in Gurgaon as the Central government refused to allow it to be held in New Delhi and didn''t even allow them to lay a wreath on India Gate to pay homage to soldiers who gave their lives for the country.

Commodore Uday Bhaskar told rediff.com, "The Sixth pay commission's recommendation, if implemented, will not help raise the morale of the armed forces. The Indian fauj (forces), once the noble 'profession of arms', will be reduced to a ignoble 'profession of alms' by a callous politico-bureaucratic elite."

General Nirmal Chander Vij, former Chief of Army Staff, wrote a letter in anguish to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against the adverse implications of the sixth pay commission on the armed forces.

The army's foremost strategist and a Kargil war-decorated soldier, General Vij was country's 21st Chief of Army Staff. The letter written on April 17, 2008, speaks volumes about the armed forces' dissatisfaction, which no government can ignore.

The copy of the letter written by N C Vij to Dr Singh is reproduced below.

Adverse implications of sixth Pay Commission report on the armed forces

Last week I had gone to Amritsar to attend a regimental function. I was surprised to note the intense disappointment and despondency in all the jawans, officers and their families as they spoke vociferously about how let down they felt with the sixth Pay Commission report. The services chiefs have already met the Hon'ble Raksha Mantri (defence minister) and expressed their deep concern.

As a former chief, I feel morally duty-bound to bring this fact to the notice of the Hon'ble Prime Minister in my personal capacity. I take heart from the fact, that it is under your leadership, that, in my tenure, the government went for a major improvement in the 'operational posture by sanctioning South Western Command and 9 Corps HQs with full complements and also for some restoration of self esteem of the young officers through addressing their delayed promotions-cum-service conditions, by approving Part 1 of Ajay Vikram Singh Committee report'. 

If this had been followed up, through a balanced PCR and implementation of Part II of the 'AVS Report', things would have reasonably improved, but unfortunately the very opposite has happened.

The PCR has hurt the Armed Forces on the following major accounts:
Military Service Pay - (X Factor): The Military Service Pay, which has now been introduced, is intended to compensate service personnel for intangible difficulties and risks, which they experience during their service careers. While this is a welcome step, the jawans who face the greatest privations, have been given a paltry amount of Rs 1000/-. 

As recommended by the three services to the Ministry of  Defence, this compensation be fixed in the following manner; (i) for jawans and Junior Commissioned Officers (below Lt rank), MSP should be 62.5 per cent of their basic pay (ii) for officers, MSP be fixed at 56.5 per cent of basic pay (iii) since there is no justification for excluding Maj Generals and Lt Generals from this pay (just 300 in number), they should also be included. (iv)Lastly, as these difficult service conditions have been existing all along, the arrears must be paid wef Jan 1, 2006, as in the case of other recommendations of the Pay Commission. All these recommendations have already been made by the Defence Services.
Depressed Pay Scales and Lowering of Status of Officers: (i) In determining the grade pay of officers of the rank of Brigadiers and below, the Pay Commission has excluded the rank pay, from the scale of officers, on the ground that rank pay is an element of Military Service Pay now proposed.  The exclusion of the rank pay from the pay scale has led to depressed grades of pay and lowering 'Services' status in different ranks by one rung below the extant position. This will cause immense functional problems not only for inter-se functioning vis-a-vis the civilian/police counterparts etc but also within the Armed Forces, wherein a large number of civilians are working.

The Pay Commission has upgraded the DsG of certain police forces and certain specific posts in other civil services. It is important to note that (i) Lt Generals and equivalent comprise just 0.13% of the Services Officer Cadre as against at least fifteen-twenty times more posts at that level in civil/police services and more than a hundred times in the IAS. Furthermore, the creation of posts of Special Secretaries like the earlier Additional DGP will further upset the entire status equation. The promotions in the Services are achieved (if one escapes the most extraordinary degree of supercessions) with much longer service. For example at the lower level, a Brigadier is promoted after 28 years service and a Major General with 33 years service, whereas their counterparts (in non-military services) get these promotions with 14-16 and 20 years service resulting in huge disparities. The service officers thus suffer both on account of status and total take home salary to the tune of 30-40 lakh and more.

In order to restore parity, I, therefore, strongly recommend that:- (i) ideally, the rank pay should be restored or in the very least, grade pay be linked to the length of service equivalent to that of the IAS, since the promotions in services are much slower and;(ii) For protecting the status equation of 'Lieutenant Generals' it is recommended that they must remain above DsG of Police forces and equivalent to five DsG of the PMF.  It may be mentioned that in the Warrant of Precedence, all 'Lt Generals' have been placed in Article 24, whereas, DsGP are in Article 25. Hence, any disparity in pay structure will lead to an anomalous situation.  Similarly, the status equations finalized in the Fifth Pay Commission for all levels must be maintained. Any further erosion of status will undermine the military leadership in the eyes of their own subordinates.
Introduction of Running Pay Band and Adverse Impact on Junior and Middle Piece (Majors to Colonels) and Brigadiers level Officers: The new scales now introduced have hurt officers of these levels very badly and are resulting in virtually negligible benefits amounting to just 10 percent or so. This aberration is likely to start a trend of resignations of large number of officers, in these ranks soon on completion of the mandatory minimum 20 years service. I gather that already more than approx 650 officers have been waitlisted for premature release. The Services, which are already heavily undersubscribed, cannot sustain this exodus. One additional pay band is required to be introduced here to ensure suitable benefits to officers at all levels. There is, thus, a need to have two pay bands, one between Lt to Lt Colonels and the other between Colonels to Brigadiers with suitable raise linked to the length of service.
Lateral Shift and Assured Second Career for Men-'A Myth':  The Pay Commission recommendations for the Services hinge, largely, on the successful implementation of the lateral transfer of the service personnel, into the PMFs/Central Police Organizations (CPOs).  Thus, these recommendations have been 'based on and got eroded' in the garb of a possible future lateral shift and assured second career. The scheme of lateral transfer, if not implemented or delayed, would negate the most core underlying concept/assumption of these recommendations. I may submit here, that this particular recommendation has been attempted for implementation for decades (included in the Fifth Pay Commission Report also) but with no success earlier. Nor will it succeed in future for the obvious reasons. All Pay Commission recommendations thus need to be re-examined in the absence of this basic assumption of lateral transfer. The lateral transfer was also considered earlier actively and dropped, when I was the Vice Chief.
Safeguarding of Interest of the Pensioners: Over the past two decades, the government has been able to achieve some parity in the pensions of the current and past retirees. 'One rank one pension' was more or less achieved for the men, and in the case of officers, some minimum parity was brought in by grant of pension at the bottom of scale of the rank in which they retired. However, with introduction of running pay bands and the absence of top and bottom of the scales for any rank, the parity with specific bands, achieved over some time now, will be lost. There is, thus, a need to protect the interests of the past retirees by suitable modifications and thereby ensuring enhanced pensionary benefits to the tune of minimum 30%.
'Anomalies Committee' is Unlikely to Succeed in Addressing the Grievances of the Armed Forces: I have read in the media that an Anomalies Committee has been set up to look into the issues raised by everyone.  This will not solve the problems of the Armed Forces for two reasons: (a) The Lack of Sensitivity/ Understanding -- This committee, which does not even have representatives of the armed forces as their members, will never be able to achieve a deep understanding or be sensitive enough to their problems. It is for this reason of lack of sensitivity, that the status of the Indian Armed Forces has undergone constant erosion with every Pay Commission Report. (b) Problems are of Basic Principles and Not Mere Technicalities -- The anomalies committees can address the technicalities but our problems are on account of the core concepts and approach and not merely of technicalities. The problems of the Services can be solved, only with the involvement of the leadership of the country. Therefore, a 'Group of Ministers' alone will be able to address these issues.
Summary of Recommendations:
(a) Lateral Shift and Assured Second Careers for Men: Since all recommendations for the men are based on an assured second career, which is likely to be a non starter, a time limit of one year be fixed for implementation of the proposal of 'lateral shift'.  In the interim, all related recommendations for men be reviewed and made applicable as suggested in this paper based on the existing scenario.
(b) Military Service Pay: As recommended by the three services to the Ministry of Defence, this compensation be fixed in the following manner (i) for jawans and Junior Commissioned Officers, MSP should be 62.5 per cent of their basic pay (ii) for officers at all levels, it should be fixed at 56.5 per cent of their basic pay (iii) since, there is no justification for excluding Major Generals and Lt Generals from this pay (just 300 in number), they should also be included for benefits as all other officers. (iv)Lastly, as these difficult service conditions have been existing all along, the arrears must be paid wef January 1 2006, as in case of other recommendations of the Pay Commission.
(c) Depressed Pay Scales and Restoration of Status of Officers:  In order to restore parity, the recommendations are (i) ideally, the rank pay should be restored or alternatively the grade pay be linked to the length of service equivalent to that of the IAS, since the promotions in the services are much slower and fewer. (ii) with a view to protect the status equations of Lt Generals, they should be above DsG of Police forces and be equivalent to that of the five DsG of the PMFs and remain in Article 24 of the Warrant of Precedence and lastly (iii) the status equations finalized in the Fifth Pay Commission report must be maintained in all the ranks.
(d) Introduction of Running Pay Band and Adverse Impact on Junior and Middle Piece Officers: To offset the disadvantages of virtually no benefits to junior and middle level officers and also the factor of much delayed-cum-fewer promotions, an additional pay band be introduced. There should, thus, be two pay bands; one for Lt to Lt Cols and second for Colonels to Brigadiers with suitable raise linked to the length of service.
(e) Protection of Pension for Past Retirees: Fixation of pension scale for the past retirees be done in a manner that their interests are protected and they get raise in their pensions to the tune of minimum 30 percent.
(f) Group of Ministers: It is recommended that a GOM be appointed to examine the grievances of the Services. Till the time, their recommendations are finalized, the Pay Commission Report for the Services be held up.

Conclusion
Sir, you yourself hail from a state, which has traditionally produced soldiers. You would have often wondered, as to why a supremely fit jawan/JCO who retires at the young age of 42-48, ages and grows old so fast. It is because he has no resources to fall back upon to ensure a decent living for his family after his early retirement. This problem gets further accentuated with the constraints of even poor farming conditions. Why should a soldier retire at this early age (other services serve upto 60 years) and why this man who has served the Nation so valiantly not be given a second career by way of 'lateral transfer', which alas will never come about.

The service conditions have become even tougher and more risk prone today than what they were when we joined the service in 1962, because of the pressures of 'insurgency'.  Insurgency poses nearly as much physical danger as a war. A soldier is thus exposed to constant risks and yet he retains the motivation to build a 'fence of 650 km length at varying altitudes upto 14000 ft' in six to nine months flat, to successfully defeat the infiltration. The foreign armies are studying the underlying reasons of such a high level of motivation and dedication.

In the Indian Armed Forces, a jawan/officer serves almost every alternate tenure of three years in the insurgency environment, whereas all other armies in the world are not being able to sustain even one 'nine months' tenure. Officers and their jawans do it for the izzat (honour) but this raison d'etre is now getting deflated with such Pay Commission reports, and all their expectations are being shattered.

I strongly urge you Sir, to appoint a 'GOM' for the armed forces and withhold the implementation of this report, for the defence services, till the justice is given to them.  The armed forces cannot sustain any continuation of poor intake of officers and also current wave of resignation requests. Already, the Indian Military Academy and OTA, Chennai are reporting a drop in the intake by over 70 per cent. In case of jawans, this recruitment trend will continue yet for a few more years, but their level of motivation will drop. The country cannot afford either of these situations.
N C Vij

This story originally published in Rediff.com

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ex-servicemen hold silent rallies

Several thousand ex-servicemen are holding silent protest rallies across many cities in the country against the raw deal handed out to the armed forces by the Sixth Pay Commission.

A lone veteran, Major General Satbir Singh went up to the Amar Jawan Jyoti on Sunday morning and laid a wreath to kickstart the silent protests.

The main function scheduled at India Gate was cancelled because the Home Ministry denied permission for a gathering of ex-servicemen.

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BSNL employees’ body demand ‘fair salary hike’

National Federation for Telecom Employees (NFTE) has demanded that the management of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited should talk to the employees before second salary hike. They have also demanded a temporary hike of Rs 5,000 applicable from January 1, 2007 unless the issue regarding 'fair hike in salary' gets resolved.

The NFTE recently staged protest at BSNL’s corporate office. The employees were unhappy over recommendations of the sixth pay commission.

"We have been demanding to stop outsourcing of work. Instead, we are ready to learn new techniques. Our issue of pension is also pending for the last eight years. We also demand action against injustice done in transfers," said the employees

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Country-wide protest movement planned on June 5

Taking serious note of the possibility of disbanding recruitment of group D employees in the State following adoption of the Sixth Pay Commission and decrying the provision as incorporated in the Sixth Pay Commission for 'reduced salaries' to group B and group C employees, employees of the State Government have decided to join the country-wide protest movement planned on June 5 .

The scheduled protest movement is also in protest against the inaction of the UPA Government to check inflation in the name of economic reforms.

The decision to launch this massive country-wide movement was adopted during the second National Delegation Conference organised by the All India State Government Employees Confederation at Chennai on April 19 and 20 .

The conference was also attended by vice-president of the All Manipur Government Higher Secondary Lecturers Welfare Association Debendra Mangshatabam, treasurer N Arunkumar and member Th Premkumar.

Briefing media persons at Johnstone Higher Secondary School here this afternoon, Arunkumar conveyed that during the Chennai conference, basic problems of the Manipur Government employees whose number stand at around 60,000 was tabled and deliberated.

With the State Government still dilly-dallying implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission fully even as there were strikes by employees, Higher Secondary lecturers are fighting a case in the Court till today, he said.

The Sixth Pay Commission, while sidelining group B and group C employees, gives multiple increment to the salaries of bureaucrats in the most unbalanced manner, observed Arunkumar.

A 15 point charter of demand was also drafted during the conference for submission to the Union Government.

The main points of the charter of demand included provision of pension as usual without deducting from the salaries, maintaining the interest rate of GPF at 12 percent, fixing income tax ceiling at Rs 2.50 lakhs and non-prohibition on recruitment of employees etc.

It was also agreed that prohibiting recruitment of group D employees would create serious issues in backward States of the North East including Manipur, Arunkumar informed.

During the conference, the delegates from Manipur also urged for recruitment of a regular Director in Education (Schools) from among the qualified higher secondary lecturers and to solve the insurgency problem in Manipur through political means, they conveyed.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Govt rules out separate pay commission for armed forces

Rejecting suggestions for a separate pay commission for armed forces, government on Friday told the Lok Sabha that whatever grievances the Services have will be examined by a Committee of Secretaries.

Replying to questions, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the government had asked the Committee of Secretaries, which is studying the sixth Pay Commission, to hold frequent meetings so that it can give its recommendations soon.

"There is no provision for separate pay commission for armed forces. If there are any grievances of armed forces and para-military forces, these are being examined by the Committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary," he said.

He was responding to suggestions by some members that a separate pay commission be set up for armed forces as they are feeling aggrieved by the recommendations of the sixth pay panel.

Without spelling out the time-frame by which the sixth pay commission report will be implemented, Chidambaram said whenever it is implemented, it will be effective from January one, 2006 as recommended by the pay panel.

Later, during the Zero Hour, Deputy Leader of Opposition V K Malhotra raised the issue saying there was "unrest" within the army and police forces as they find that only IAS cadres benefit from the recommendations of the pay commission.

He suggested that a separate pay commission be set up for the armed forces.
Armed forces and IPS officers have already made their unhappiness over the pay commission's recommendations known to the government.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Military pay scales may be delinked

Concerned over officers leaving armed forces for lucrative employment in private sector, the government is looking at delinking pay scales of defence forces with those of central government employees.

The demand for delinking payscales, raised by armed forces and lawmakers, ''will be looked into,'' Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha.

Officers, particularly in the non-select rank who lead soldiers on the ground, leaving armed forces for lucrative employment in private sector was a matter of concern but not alarm, he said.

After the submission of Sixth Pay Commission report, Defence Minister A K Antony has pressed for re-examining the scales particularly for non-select rank officers (captain, major and lieutenant generals) and soldiers, the minister said.

The defence forces are unhappy at the hike recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission.

Raju said the issue of giving women Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSC) a permanent employment was also under consideration.

''As of now, rules permit only men (SSC) to be given Permanent Commission,'' he said. ''We are looking into the matter of inducting women (SSC) into the Permanent Commission.''

The total number of SSC officers at present in army is 3312, those in Navy is 1257 and in Air Force 1771.

Asked about the shortfall in recruitment of officers in the Army, the minister said the shortfall was due to change in the socio-economic environment and resultant changes in career preferences, better employment opportunities in other sectors, tough selection procedures and service conditions of the defence forces.

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MPs call for fatter purse for defence

Parliament members today demanded higher salaries for soldiers and a fatter purse for the defence ministry. This was the first time in 10 years that defence grants were discussed in the Lok Sabha. Defence grants were "guillotined" (passed without discussion) in consecutive years.

India's defence allocation crossed the trillion mark (Rs 1,05,600 crore) for the first time this year. Despite the massive sum, however, defence officials were sceptical about the real increase in Chidambaram's budget. The concern was reflected in Parliament.

The BJP's T.P.S. Rawat, a retired lieutenant-general, said the Indian government allocated less to defence as a percentage of GDP than Pakistan and China. Despite the 10 per cent hike in this year's budget, defence allocation has fallen below 2 per cent of the GDP for the first time. Rawat said the air force and the navy were not able to keep force level to the authorised limit.

He also demanded an advanced air defence system for the army, full squadron strength for the air force and at least 140 warships for the navy. Without these force-levels, India's military risked its credible deterrence capability.

Rawat, the CPM's Rupchand Pal and the Samajwadi Party's Mohan Singh also asked the government to address concerns that the Sixth Pay Commission had not given the armed forces the salaries they wanted. They wanted the government to give soldiers more than what the Sixth Pay Commission had recommended.

This issue has already been taken up by the Prime Minister. Speaking to civil services officers yesterday, Manmohan Singh had said he favoured increasing the salaries of military personnel.

Rupchand Pal said the government should take steps to check the brain drain from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, whose scientists were finding offers abroad and from the corporate sector more lucrative. A similar trend is also evident in the armed forces. There are 11,000 officer vacancies in the army currently.

Pal said a decision to allow 49 per cent foreign direct investment in defence production could be counter-productive. A parliamentary standing committee had counselled against opening the sector to FDI. He also warned against alleged pressure from American companies to soften the defence acquisitions policy in favour of them.

The Bahujan Samaj Party's Ilyas Azmi said that about 10 per cent of the soldiers killed in the 1999 Kargil war were Muslim. He urged the government to increase the intake of minorities in the armed forces.

Military pact

In his hour-long reply to the debate, defence minister A.K. Antony said India "will not enter into any military alliance with any country". However, it would not tone down or give up its growing engagements with countries like the US and Russia as these were aimed at increasing the capabilities of the Indian armed forces, he added.

"We are following an independent foreign policy," Antony said.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bonanza backfires

Any political mileage the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had hoped to gain out of announcing the Sixth Central Pay Commission recommendations as a pre-poll bonanza has been neutralised, at least for the time being. Almost all sections of Central government employees are up in arms against the recommendations, which are apparently skewed in favour of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The government has now been forced to constitute a high-level committee to look into them and suggest corrective measures.

The committee, led by the Cabinet Secretary, will have as members Secretaries of Home, Defence, Revenue, Expenditure and the Department of Posts, the Secretary (Security), the Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General, the Financial Commissioner and the Member Secretary of the Railway Board.

The committee was announced following opposition from non-IAS Central government employees, including defence personnel and Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, to the recommendations. The discontent among the defence personnel was so grave that the Chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force intervened on behalf of their staff.

IPS officers – even chiefs of the police in the States – apparently planned a protest march from Vijay Chowk to North Block, the seat of the Home Ministry, in New Delhi. The discontent is simmering; officers up to the rank of Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) are said to be contemplating surrendering their medals if they do not get justice.

The "pro-IAS" stance of the Commission has left over 14 lakh railway employees, nearly five lakh defence personnel and over 12 lakh other Central government employees seething with rage. A joint consultative machinery (JCM) of these employees will meet in New Delhi on April 25 to chalk out a plan of protest action.

Significantly, defence personnel were among the first to voice their discontent. Though the Justice Srikrishna Commission has been generous with the three services chiefs – their salaries have been trebled and brought on a par with the topmost civilian salary of Rs.90,000 a month – its recommendations for middle-level officers and jawans have been inadequate. For instance, the increase in the salary for middle-level officers would only be 15-20 per cent as against 40 per cent, which they expected.

The special military pay recommended for jawans is Rs.1,000 a month whereas a junior officer would get six times that though both work in similar conditions on the border or in areas affected by terrorism and insurgency. To cite another instance, an Army havildar who draws Rs.11,000 after 15 years of service would get only Rs.13,000 to 14,000 a month after the revision.

At a time when joining the defence forces is not a preferred option for youngsters, it is feared that the Pay Commission recommendations will make it more unattractive. The Army is short of nearly 1,200 officers. The Navy and the Air Force, too, are beginning to feel the heat as many officers have applied for premature retirement. The three service chiefs, who met Defence Minister A.K. Antony shortly after the Pay Commission recommendations were announced, told the media that "there are some anomalies that need to be corrected".

Officers of the IPS are demanding parity with IAS officers at all levels in terms of pay, promotion, pension and service conditions; transparency in the implementation of the recommendations; and a Group of Ministers (GoM) to look into their grievances. Their fight is for "rightful respect and dignity" in view of their role in national security and development.

At a meeting of the IPS Association in New Delhi recently, where a resolution voicing these demands was adopted unanimously, it was also decided to constitute a media committee, a review committee and a legal committee to follow up the demands. "The legal recourse is open to us if nothing else will work. The report comes at a time when the police forces are already demotivated," said O.P. Singh, Inspector-General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a former secretary of the IPS (Central) Association.

According to him, what angers IPS officers most is the short shrift given to State Director Generals of Police (DGPs) and officers of the DIG rank.

While chiefs of paramilitary forces such as the CRPF, the Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Sasashtra Sena Bal (SSB) have been given Rs.80,000 a month (fixed), State DGPs have been put in the pay band of Rs.39,200-Rs.67,000. In a memorandum submitted to Home Minister Shivraj Patil, the IPS Association says the "responsibilities and problems faced by Director-Generals of States are in no way less than those faced by the Central paramilitary forces" and hence the Pay Commission recommendations are "unfair and likely to violate the principle of equity and equitability between the services".

The IPS Association has also taken exception to the fact that its long-standing demand to upgrade the level of the post of DIG has not just been ignored, but the post has actually been downgraded from the previous pay scale of Rs.16,400-20,000 to Rs.15,600-39,100. The association has demanded that the DIGs' pay band be merged with the Rs.39,200-67,000 pay band.

The association also points out anomalies in grade pay allotted to IAS and IPS officers. For instance, the grade pay for senior time-scale for IPS officers has been fixed at Rs.6,100 as against Rs.6,500 for IAS officers, and the grade pay for junior administrative scale has been fixed at Rs.6,600 for IPS officers and Rs.7,500 for IAS officers. The selection grade scale for IPS officers is Rs.7,600; it is Rs.8,300 for IAS officers.

The Pay Commission has justified this discrimination in these words: "As the initial postings of IAS officers are generally in small places, they face frequent transfers, and the pulls and pressures they have to stand up to early in their career are much more intense. The slight edge in the initial stages of their career would, to an extent, neutralise these problems."

The IPS Association counters this argument by saying that "if the principle of postings in remote places, frequent transfers and pulls and pressures applies most to any service, it is the IPS. IPS officers need to be given the same grade pay exactly similar to the recommendations made for the IAS."

The IPS association has also demanded a hardship or risk allowance for the entire police force as it is more often engaged in arduous and difficult duties on internal security. It has also demanded a police service pay similar to the military service pay.

According to a senior police officer, at a time when the police forces are facing newer and harsher challenges on the internal security front, the government cannot afford to ignore them because a demotivated force can hardly "become a partner in development", as the Prime Minister would want it to be. "A force of 2.2 million, led by 3,200 IPS officers, cannot be sidelined by any government. It can do so at its own peril," said another officer.

Other sections of Central government employees, except defence personnel and railway employees, are also annoyed that two-thirds of them have been given a pittance by the Pay Commission. "Barring the top-level bureaucracy, that is Joint Secretary above, nobody has been given a fair deal," says K.K.N. Kutty, general secretary of the Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers. According to him, the Fifth Pay Commission had recommended a better minimum pay in 1997 as it had taken the net national product into consideration, which this Pay Commission has ignored.

Kutty says the Sixth Pay Commission has given a 181 per cent hike to Grade A officers and just 28 per cent for the rest. "The disparity between Grade A officers and the rest has gone up tremendously. For example, there is no change in our transport allowance even though we travel in our own vehicles or by bus. But the transport allowance to an IAS officer has been hiked to Rs.7,000 a month, which is even higher than the minimum wage of an employee," he says.

Railway employees are particularly miffed at the lower-level staff being totally ignored by the Pay Commission. According to a spokesperson of the railway employees' union, the hike in the pay scales for Group D and Group C staff was only Rs.997 and Rs.1,537 respectively, while it is Rs.6,575 for Group B and Rs.6,160 for Group A employees. Officers at the level of Secretary and Cabinet Secretary would get a hike of Rs.31,640 and Rs.32,040 respectively.

With the joint consultative machinery planning direct action, the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations are turning out to be the proverbial albatross around the UPA government's neck. If the government implements them in their present form, it would antagonise a whole section of its employees. A review of the recommendations, on the other hand, will have massive financial implications.

The Pay Commission's liabilities are already estimated at Rs.12,561 crore in 2008-09. The net financial burden for the year would be Rs.7,975 crore after taking into consideration the savings of Rs.4,586 crore that are likely to accrue on account of the various measures suggested in the report. In addition to this will be the Rs.18,060 crore to be paid as arrears.

While the government may have worked out ways to meet this expenditure, as the Finance Minister announced in his Budget speech to the thumping of desks, it is doubtful whether it will be able to mobilise the additional resources if the Pay Commission recommendations are revised. No wonder, the high-level committee has been given no time frame to submit its report.

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Let House panel go into pay panel report: JD(U)

Prabhunath Singh (Janata Dal-United) on Monday recommended the setting up of a parliamentary committee to look into the Sixth Central Pay Commission recommendations, in the wake of grievances aired by employees particularly defence personnel and the IPS cadre.

Raising the matter in the Lok Sabha during a special mention, he said the recommendations, if implemented, would create an imbalance in society resulting in serious consequences for the country.

The presence of IAS officers in this, or any other panel, often tilted the outcome in their favour. A parliamentary committee would do justice to all, Mr. Singh said.

Hannan Mollah of the CPI(M) demanded the setting up of a special commission to look into the grievances of Bhopal gas leak victims. He said the entire world attention would be on Bhopal next year, which will mark the completion of a quarter century of the tragedy.

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Hint of relook at pay report

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday hinted that the concerns of the armed forces regarding the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission would be addressed. Addressing bureaucrats on civil services day, the Prime Minister said that the country's civil and defence services should be properly rewarded. He added that the government has already set in motion a mechanism for hearing and redressing the grievances of government employees.

It may be recalled that there was widespread resentment among the armed forces after the sixth pay commission recommendations were submitted to the government. Soldiers are disappointed since the Sixth Pay Commission has thought it fit to recommend only Rs 1,000 per month as military service pay (MSP) for them.

Middle-rung officers are also angry and say that the ranks of colonel and brigadier should have received a separate salary band in the report instead of clubbing these ranks with the junior ranks. Several middle-rung officers are now reportedly keen on quitting the Army. The Army has a shortfall of about 11,000 officers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I want better pay for defence, civil services: PM

The armed forces need to be paid more. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday endorsed the demand of the services for better pay.

The Prime Minister has assured the military that it will get a better deal than that recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission.

"I would like our civil and defence services to be properly rewarded. I also believe that the tax payers will not grudge anyone of us better remuneration as long as we are serving the best interests of our people, most efficiently," Manmohan Singh said.

He made this comment while addressing top bureaucrats on Civil Services Day. The modest pay hike recommended by the Pay Commission has caused widespread disappointment in cantonments across the country.

He said that the Government has already set in motion a mechanism for hearing and redressing the grievances of the Government servants.

In the wake of the criticism over the recommendations, the government last week announced the setting up of a high-level official committee headed by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar to process the report of the sixth Pay Commission.

There have been reports of over a hundred military officers having put in resignations after the Pay Commission submitted its report on March 24.

This is the first time that the political leadership has signaled that the Pay Commission report has failed to meet aspirations.

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Pay panel report to be processed by Secy Panel: Govt

In the wake of sharp attack from men of the forces, police and employees, the government on Friday announced constitution of a high level official committee to review the report of the Sixth Pay Commission.

The Union Cabinet discussed the pay panel report, that recommended an average 40 per cent high in pay packets, and decided to set up a committee of secretaries.

Considered as 'inadequate' by employees associations, the Panel had suggested a pay packet of Rs 90,000 for the top bureaucrat and Rs 80,000 for secretaries in the recommendations that cost the exchequer over Rs 12,000 crore.

The Empowered Committee of Secretaries will be headed by Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting on Friday.

The committee will mainly function as a screening committee for the pay panel's report and submit its final recommendations to the Cabinet for approval, Sibal said.

The government has already constituted a committee headed by Finance Secretary D Subbarao to look into the grievances of armed forces and IPS officers.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sixth Pay Commission recommendations to be implemented by September

The Finance Ministry is understood to have set up a cell to implement by September, the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations that is awaiting government approval.

Sources said Finance Minister P Chidambaram approved setting up of the Implementation Cell "to process and implement the accepted recommendations of the Pay Commission by September." The six-member cell set up in the Department of Expenditure, will be headed by a Joint Secretary and will complete its work in six months with effect from April 1, 2008, sources said.

The government had earlier set up a Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary to process the Sixth Pay Commission report before giving its final approval. Once the Cabinet approves the report, the Implementation Cell will implement the report, the sources said.

Ever since inflation rose to a three-year high of over 7 per cent, the government has been eager to implement the recommendations of the Central Pay Commission report at the earliest, sources said.

The pay panel has recommended an average hike of 28 per cent in the salary of the central government employees, which is expected to benefit over 40 lakh persons.

The government is concerned that the armed forces, along with employees of the Railways and other departments are unhappy with the disparities in the pay commission's recommendations and have asked the Cabinet Secretary to submit the report at the earliest. The Implementation Cell is also expected to look into timely flow of funds to all the Ministries, which is estimated at Rs 12,500 crore by the Pay Panel for 2008-09.

The pay panel has estimated that the government would require additional about Rs 18,000 crore this year towards payment of arrears.

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Ex-servicemen to hold rally against sixth pay panel recommendation

Various ex-servicemen (ESM) organisations have decided to take out a protest rally against the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission for the defence services at the War Memorial in Sector 3 on April 27.

The recommendations have proved highly disappointing for the defence services.

"The organisations feel that the Commission has not been just to the defence forces, including the ESM community and the war widows. Our longstanding demand of 'one-rank-one-pension' has been ignored yet again, as has been our sacrifices for the nation. Therefore, nine ESM organisations have come out on one single platform to protest against the Commission and the fact that its review committee has no representation of the defence services. This is despite the fact that the defence forces are facing a huge manpower crisis at present," said Col (retd) S S Sohi of the Ex-Servicemen Grievance Cell, Punjab.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Indian ESM League, Punjab and Chandigarh chapter, Mohali and Ropar chapter, Defence Brotherhood, ESM Welfare Association (Personnel below Officers Rank), ESM Grievances Cell and ESM Association of Zirakpur and Dera Bassi. All present agreed that they should conduct a peaceful protest similar to the Indian ESM League protest at New Delhi, on the same date and time.

"We want to pay homage to the martyred soldiers of our country before we proceed with the protest at the War Memorial on April 27. We will also mail our demands to the PM and the Defence Minister," said Brig HS Ghuman.

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SAD wing seeks separate pay panel for defence personnel

Alleging that the Sixth Pay Commission has failed to meet their expectations, the Ex-Serviceman wing of the SAD has sought a separate pay commission for the serving and retired defence personnel. The wing has handed over a memorandum to Lok Sabha MP Sharanjit Singh Dhillon highlighting their demands.

Addressing mediapersons after giving the memorandum to Dhillon, Col Partap Inder Singh Phulka (retired) said, "One Rank One Pension issue has been buried by Congress-led UPA government. The Central Government appointed 6th Pay Commission, which has recommended final burial of this long pending 'One Rank One Pension' demand of the ex-servicemen of the country."

Col Phulka said other 'harsh and damaging' recommendations have been tabled in Parliament in the last week of March with regards to defence forces. "Punjab has the largest number of ex-servicemen who will be affected by this new proposal. He said that only the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supported this demand of the ex-servicemen and had included in SAD's election manifesto.

Col Phulka said that besides Ludhiana MP Dhillon, their Wing will also approach other MPs from the state so that this issue was raised in the Lok Sabha.

He said, "We have carried out a detailed study of the report and are of the view that following the 6th Pay Commission recommendations, youngsters might be disillusioned from joining the armed forces and in that case our military basic training academics will close down one day and the country will be left with no choice but to order conscription.

Already the defence forces are facing shortage of 12,000 plus officers and the acceptance of these recommendations will open floodgates of applications for premature retirement."

Col Phulka declared that ex-servicemen wing of SAD will join all future protest marches and rallies besides mobilising their grass root ex-servicemen to teach Congress led UPA Government a lesson in forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

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Commission’s omissions

The Sixth Pay Commission report held no cheer for the majority of oficers of the armed forces. The resentment is most visible in the middle-rung officers between the ranks of Major and Brigadier in the Army and their equivalent in the Air Force and the Navy. It is the middle rung, which forms the backbone of the armed forces. The three service chiefs were left with no option but to approach Defence Minister A.K. Antony for an upward revision in the pay panel's recommendations.

The government has set up an Empowered Committee of Secretaries for reviewing the report. The committee is expected to re-examine the recommendations and make amends in the yawning disparity in pay packets of the supposed–to-be-equals in the government service.

The move, however, has not evoked much hope amongst the personnel of the armed forces. "Despite several proposals, the Sixth Pay Commission gave nothing to the war disabled. This shows the insensitivity of the government towards defence personnel and their problems. As far as this enhanced committee is concerned, nothing substantive is likely to result. For the simple reason that there is no representation of the defence forces in the committee. They are likely to present the same wine in a new bottle, using different words and expressions and coming up with only marginal improvements," says Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi, former Army Vice-Chief.

A majority of the armed force personnel are similarly convinced that the new committee will not have much to offer. An infantry officer adds: "Once again, it was left to the three service chiefs to convince the government in power that the Pay Commission had succeeded in addressing the issues entrusted with as much as a band-aid on a gaping wound. Now another empowered committee is expected to work out a formula that an empowered body of eminent citizens could not in over two years. A fixed monthly sum of Rs 6,000 for officers up to the rank of Brigadier and all of Rs 1,000 for PBOR, This was the answer to the shortage of more than 11,000 plus officers in the Army. The Commission did not try to understand the difficulties faced by men in uniform and the discontentment that has been brewing for quite some time.

For the 1.5 million-strong armed forces, anticipating a hike of 4 to 4.5 times in this pay panel over the last one, the disappointment was understandable. It came as no surprise that since the announcement of the report, many officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force sought premature retirement from service while several others are in line to do so

The pay panel has, however, doled out an attractive pay packet for officers just joining the armed forces. The move was meant to give adequate motivation to youngsters to opt for the armed forces as a career.

Reasons for discontent

It was not the mere 13-15 per cent hike recommmended in take-home packages of officers from the rank of Major to Brigadier which is the only cause of disgruntlement in the rank and file. There are a number of other reasons. Officers who have put in their papers and want to quit are not willing to wait for the government's review of the pay panel's recommendations. For them, the issue is not just about money, it about status, or rather the lack of it. "There is no money, no status, extreme hardships, no promotion. To top it all, they are not even letting us go out when there is still time for us to do something for the family. Serving in the armed forces is like bonded labour," they say.

Which means that in all probability a majority of the applications of those seeking to leave will be rejected and they will continue to serve the nation despite not wanting to. The big question is how will the armed forces ensure that such officers remain motivated.

Pecking order

To a large extent, the growing disillusionment within the armed forces stems from the fact that the status of defence personnel has, over a period of time, eroded considerably. For this, they blame the strong IAS lobby. The disomfort over "lack of stature" results from a disparity with the IAS and Allied Services along with a disparity in pay packets. This is a major morale downer, too.

"Despite being equals in government service, look at the power bureaucrats have. We might be manning the borders of this one billion plus nation and managing assets worth crores but it is the IAS personnel who decide our fates," says a serving Group Captain.

It hurts those from the armed forces to see the "pecking order" go down, year after year. With no money and no status to boot, it is no wonder then that deserving youngsters prefer to join the lucrative corporate sector or opt for powerful civil services than join the armed forces. "It takes 33 long and hard years for a select few to a status which the civilian bureaucrat can take for granted at 18. In comparison, an IAS officer will certainly become a joint secretary in 20 years time. For the military men, careers are truncated at an age and stage that is early for retirement and late for gainful employment. General Oberoi says that the rejection of the inclusion of a representative from the defence forces nominee in the Sixth Pay commission itself should have been an indicator of things to come.

"Bureaucrats have deliberately made recommendations that have reduced not just the pay and allowances of the armed forces at different levels but also their stature. In consecutive pay panels the directive has been of relativity. But relativity is possible only among equal people. How can you compare an orange with a banana? Conditions in the armed forces are not similar with any other government service and there cannot be any comparison. The rest of the government services have a similar nature. Personnel stay in a place and are desk-bound. Even the police, though not desk-bound, cannot be compared with the armed forces. Therefore if not a separate pay commission , the armed forces should at least have a representative in the committee," he says.

"Apparently the adventurous lifestyle did not cut any ice with youngsters any more than the promise of painting the skies with glory. They all said that a fat pay packet was all that it takes to 'buy' it off the shelf. It took all of 60 years, post-Independence, to acknowledge that their status is good enough to absolve them from getting frisked by security at airports," says a Brigadier.

Freedom from babudom

Armymen are clear that if the government wants them to guard the country's borders and airspace, patrol the high waters and fight terrorists, it should be ready to set up a separate pay commission for them. They have sporadic family life, their careers end prematurely and their children's education suffers. The suicide rates are rising amongst them. "The need of the hour," says an Armyman, "is to delink the pay commission of defence services from that of babudom. Till such time, I for one am not encouraging my children to pick up the gauntlet. I choose, like the rest of us, to fail the gallant.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Profs can expect salary hike up to 200%

Top academicians of the country can hope for top salaries too. The faculty members of IITs and IIMs may see a salary rise as high as 200%, to bring them at par with global pay levels. Not just that, the pay scales will be relaxed and a contract system introduced for offering flexible pay packs to ensure that the best brains are not lost to the private companies.
Despite the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations not having a direct bearing on their salaries, the recommendations made by a separate committee formed by the Union ministry of HRD—to be possibly submitted within six months—will have enough clues to take from the Commission recommendations to help country’s top institutes compensate their faculty members in the best terms possible. The exercise is to ensure that the faculty is encouraged, salarywise, to put in their best in shaping up the country’s top talent.
“The recommendations will be based on what has been laid down in the Sixth Pay Commission, as has been the norm. And if this happens, then IIMs and IITs will be in a position to bring salary of faculty members at par with international standard. This will arm these institutions with the flexibility of deciding their own salary,” said senior IIM-A faculty and member of the Sixth Pay Commission Prof Ravindra Dholakia.

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HC judges discuss 10-fold salary increase

On the agenda for discussion at the conference of chief justices presided over by CJI K G Balakrishnan is a recommendation that Supreme Court and high court judges be paid a salary of Rs 3 lakh a month — a 10-fold hike on what they now get.
The government decides on the salaries of judges but the conference, which began on Thursday, is considering the issue in a paper that has been submitted.
It traces the government's "step-motherly" treatment of the judiciary in terms of pay revision since Independence and argues that judges be put in a higher salary bracket than top bureaucrats.
The paper notes that the Sixth Pay Commission, for future appointments of chairpersons of regulatory bodies such as SEBI, TRAI, CERC, CCI and IRDA, has recommended consolidated salary of upto Rs 3 lakh per month.
"The Chief Justice of India, judges of the Supreme Court, chief justices and judges of high courts are professionally qualified, highly experienced persons, who are experts in the field of law and who have sacrificed lucrative practice at Bar to serve the country. They cannot be paid less than chairpersons of regulatory bodies whose orders are challenged before them everyday,'' the agenda paper says.
The argument comes in the wake of the CJI noting recently that the judiciary was not being able attract talent.
The case made out by the paper is that getting bright legal minds to sacrifice sumptuous earnings of a private practice will require some modicum of compensation. Even if this is not on a par with private earnings, the comparison would improve.
The TOI, in a recent report, had pitched for substantial pay hike for judges and had suggested a salary packet of Rs 1.5 lakh for the CJI.
The agenda paper says, "There is an immediate need for enhancement of salaries and allowances and service conditions of superior judiciary in our country after delinking them from the salary of government servants''.
It said the salary of judges was kept at par with secretary-level bureaucrats whereas "the British Parliament had no difficulty in giving a salary of 10,000 pounds per month to the Lord Chancellor (equivalent to the CJI), when the salary of the PM was £5,000 per month''.
The argument of maintaining parity in the salary structure of judges with civil servants does not hold and fails to take into consideration the position existing prior to September 1, 1965, when salaries of judges were more than those of secretaries, it said.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Modification to the sixth pay recommendations

IN A written reply to the Rajya Sabha, union minister of state for finance, Pawan Kumar Bansal has informed MP Shantaram Naik that the centre has powers to modify the recommendations of the sixth Pay Commission in their application. The minister further informed Naik that the recommendations of the Commission are under the consideration of the government and that they have not been accepted so far, states a press release issued by the Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik.

Bansal further informed Naik that there is no proposal before the Government to give financial assistance to smaller states proposing to adopt the recommendations for the employees of the state governments. Bansal has conceded that defence forces have made a grievance before the government regarding the recommendations of the Pay Commission.

Scheme: In another written reply, union minister for tourism and culture, Ambika Soni informed Naik that government has a scheme to give financial assistance to people distinguished in letters, arts and such other walks of life, who may be in indigent circumstances.

Elaborating further, Soni informed Naik that to be eligible under the scheme, a person should have attained the age of 58 years and the personal income of the applicant (including income of the spouse) must not exceed Rs 2,000 per month. His contribution to art and letter etc. must be of significance. The Government has bifurcated the scheme into two parts viz (1) central quota and (2) centre-state/UT quota. Under the central quota the beneficiary is given an assistance of Rs 2,000 per month by the central government and under the centre-state/UT quota the amount of assistance is shared by the centre and the state government / UT administration concerned in the ratio of 3:1 i e centre pays Rs 1,500 per month and balance Rs 500 per month is borne by the concerned state government. The financial assistance is sanctioned/renewed depending on furnishing of life and income certificate by the beneficiaries.

She further informed Naik that from Goa, in 2007-08 life and income certificates were produced by five beneficiaries in central quota and six in centre-state quota, who were sanctioned a total amount of Rs 1,20,000 and Rs 1,08,000 respectively by the central government.

Dam: In another written reply, union minister of state for water resources, Jai Prakash Yadav informed Naik that the chief minister of Goa in a joint meeting held with the chief minister of Maharashtra on April 26, 2006 had given clearance for the minor irrigation dam being constructed near Virdi in Maharashtra. He said that the cost of the project is Rs 4368.17 lakhs and proposed area under irrigation is 1345 hectares.

The minister said that the Maharashtra government has informed that the minor irrigation dam is on Kattika nullah near Virdi and that this nullah flows in Maharashtra only. The confluence of Kattika and Halater nullahs is on downstream of dam site, which flows from Karnataka and then Maharashtra and Goa. The confluence of Halater and Costi nullahs is in Goa. After confluence river is named as Valvot River in Goa.

The minister further said that proposed water utilisation by Maharashtra is reported to be less than the water share, added the press release.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Central Govt employees to protest against Sixth Pay panel

The Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers (CCGEW), Pune, has decided to protest against the report of the 6th Pay Commission as submitted by Justice Shrikrishna to the Government.

The issue will be discussed in the meeting of confederation's Pune branch to hold demonstration at District Collector's office on April 17 from 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm.

The protestors would be protesting against the adhoc and PLB bonus, which will be replaced by performance related incentive scheme; the women employees will be provided with staggering working hours, special leave for child care, maternity leave up to 180 days, increased working facilities like working women hostels etc.

Other areas, which have invited the attention of the protestors are the proposed rate of increment ie 25 per cent may bring about a dip in the quantum of the pre-revised increment in certain cases.

The demand for increment at 5 per cent of pay stands revised.

The increment in all cases will be effective from July 1. The government has been given the discretion to do away with the grade pay even in individual cases as part of introduction of performance related pay scheme.

The minimum wage/salary is fixed at Rs 5,740 and not at 6,600. The CCA is subsumed in the transport allowance and the transport allowance is increased by 4 times.

Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) is replaced by medi-insurance.

The number of closed holidays has been reduced to three and restricted holidays have been increased to 8.

The commission also recommended abolition of Group D posts, which means elimination of 12 lakh posts in the central government services.

The sixth pay commission’s recommendation on wage/salary rise is grossly discriminatory against the employees category vis-à-vis the high level officer.

A large number of protestors from different walks of life are expected to particiapte in the protest.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Officers seek review by GoM

NEW DELHI: Various associations of Group ‘A’ Central Services, the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service have rejected the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission and sought a review of the entire exercise.
At a meeting of their representatives held here, the officers expressed anguish and hurt over the “unfair and biased” recommendations of the panel in regard to their services.
A Group of Ministers (GoM) should be set up to review the recommendations as the bureaucratic process initiated by the government failed to instil confidence in the cadres. They also sought batch-wise parity across all services in pay, promotions, pension and other service conditions.
The government has already constituted a committee of Secretaries, headed by Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar, to screen the recommendations of the Commission.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Possiblity of change of 6th CPC report

It is not hidden now that sixth pay commission report is completely rejected by 98% of government employees. Sixth pay panel was required to renew and improve pay scales, but main work done by 6th CPC is introduction of "pay bands" (without much improvements in salary).

Just imagine how IAS got the best out of the 6th CPC ranging basic pay from Rs 39000 to 67000 while all the officers right from entry to seniors are placed in Rs 15600 to 37000. What does it indicate?Government wants people supports in next election. There is high probability that Sixth pay commission report will be modified to satisfy large number of people.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Govt: PM looking into Lalu's concerns

Lalu Prasad had expressed unhappiness over the Sixth Pay Commission and asked for a review of recommendations. Sources within the government said that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AK Anthony has assured Lalu that they will look into the concerns over the Sixth Pary Commission. Sources added that the PM has asked the empowered group of Secretaries to look into the 6th Pay Commission recommendations and said that the committee will look at comparative suggestions made for Armed Forces, Police and Railway employees versus other administrative services. Government sources also said that the special committee will submit its report to the Prime Minister to be taken by the Cabinet.Lalu earlier slammed the Sixth Pay CommissionThe Railway Minister — Lalu Prasad Yadav earlier said that the recommendations provided by the Sixth Pay Commission, would promote disparity among the different sections of government employees. Terming the Pay Commission report pro-IAS Lalu had said that there was a lot of dissatisfaction among the Armed Forces, Paramilitary Forces, fourth grade employees, middle rung employees, IPS officials in comparison with the IAS officers. Lalu also said that there was unrest among Rail employees, who were threatening to go on strike and has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to have a relook at the recommendations made vis-à-vis Railways. Lalu added that the PM had assured him that a committee has been set up to screen the Pay Commission report and his concerns will be looked into.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lalu, Antony slam pay panel's 'pro-IAS' report

The gathering discontent against the recommendations of the sixth pay commission found a loud echo in the Union Cabinet on Friday, with railway minister Lalu Prasad strongly asking for a review of what he called "a package loaded in favour of big babus in the IAS".

The recommendations were iniquitous and would increase salary disparities among different sections of employees, Lalu said. He added that while secretaries and other senior IAS officers had fared well, other services — police, paramilitary forces, defence services, railways, as well as lower and middle-rank functionaries of almost all central services — had been given a short shrift.

Lalu's strong advocacy received support, according to sources, from defence minister A K Antony, home minister Shivraj Patil and others, leading Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to suggest that the recommendations were not the last word and the government would take a view after a detailed scrutiny of the report and the grievances it has generated.

The Cabinet cleared a proposal to set up a high-level panel headed by cabinet secretary K M Chandrashekhar to screen the recommendations and look into the alleged anomalies.

The 12-member committee will comprise secretaries of the ministries of home, defence, revenue and expenditure.
The secretary of the department of post, secretary of security, deputy CAG, and financial commissioner and member secretary of the Railway Board will be the other members of the panel.

"The final recommendations of the committee will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval," science and technology minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting. The minister did not announce any time-frame by which the committee would submit its report.

Given the widespread grievances against the pay panel's "bias" for IAS, there are doubts whether the agitating sections will accept the recommendations of the panel dominated by the "elite corps".

Meanwhile, The IPS Association has already asked for setting up of a GoM to go into their demand for "principle of parity in pay, promotion, pension and service conditions with IAS". The stand was finalized at a meeting of IPS officers drawn from across the country on Thursday.

"One should not forget what happened to similar committees formed after the fourth and fifth pay commission. The follow-up reports by such panels were merely an eyewash as it hardly addressed the grievances of employees," said a senior IPS officer.

What increases the prospect of a GoM is the sympathy that the political class, ever resentful of the "obstructionist ways" of the "steel frame", has shown for the discontented sections of the government servants since the pay commission unveiled its much-awaited report last month.

Before Lalu, UP chief minister Mayawati had come out strongly for the IPS cadre and the cops can only be expected to step up the lobbying.

The bubbling resentment came out in the open in the Capital on Friday with the Central Secretariat Services Association holding a huge protest demonstration. Members of the association have decided to observe a "protest week", beginning May 21.

There was strong fear of the employees cranking up their protests and was suspected to be the main reason for Lalu's forceful intervention in the Cabinet.

While the government had expected some protests, its willingness to deal with them would be constrained by the looming polls. Sections are wary of the implications of any generosity on the fiscal figures. But it has to balance the concern with consideration not to appear insensitive to the demands of a vocal and organized workforce that has a disproportionate say in influencing opinion.

Then, it also has to reckon with powerful partners as well as the Left who have traditionally been more aligned with the aspirations of the cops and non-IAS sections of the bureaucracy.

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Irked by pay panel, IPS men petition PM

Infuriated over the ‘unfair and unjust’ treatment meted out to them by the 6th Pay Commission, police officials have asked the government to address their concerns and place them on the same footing as IAS officers. This comes against the backdrop of the Union Cabinet forming an empowered committee on Friday, to be headed by Cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar, to study the panel’s recommendations.

An emergency GBM of the IPS Officers’ Association held here on Thursday saw their anger boiling over, with suggestions ranging from taking out a protest march to the PMO to the return of police medals being dished out by the participants. In the end a 7-point memorandum containing their demands was finalised. This will now be presented to prime minister Manmohan Singh.

The government’s proposal to have their grievances looked into by a committee of secretaries was rejected outright by the association on the ground that secretaries were, after all, IAS officials, and hence could not be expected to take an objective view of things. They asked for a group of ministers (GoM) be formed.

The members made it clear that they would not be satisfied with anything less than a complete parity in terms of pay, pension, promotion and service conditions with the IAS “at all levels”. The IPS officers were particularly miffed at the pay panels recommendations on their salary-structure and the discrepancies with the IAS in terms of promotion. They want the government to remove these anomalies.

By all accounts, the GBM was a stormy affair, especially the younger members, pressing for radical measure to get their voices heard. With the pay panel’s recommendations triggering a heated debate, especially among the police officials, central para-military and defence forces, attendance for the Thursday meeting was unusually high. While past meetings were graced by not more than 30-40 members, the latest gathering saw as many as 200 officials.

The churning going on within the police fraternity on the issue is also evident from the fact that their group website (www.IndiaTopCop@yahoogroups.com) has registered a dramatic surge in its membership since the controversy surfaced. While its membership had remained static at 50 when it was formed four years ago, it registered a dramatic increase, with as many as 400 new members joining the group. “Everyday, 10-20 new members are joining the group,” an official told ET.

And officials are not just joining the group, they are posting mails in hundreds everyday, giving vent to their anger and outrage over the injustice inflicted on them by the pay commission. With the police officials going on the warpath, chief ministers of various states have been forced to step in by seeking the redressal of their grievances.

As of today, chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir (Ghulam Nabi Azad), Uttar Pradesh (Mayawati), West Bengal (Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) and Tamil Nadu (M Karunanidhi) have assured them that they’d take up their cause with the prime minister.

The police officials want the government to recognise their role in maintaining national security and development, and accord due respect and dignity to them. They’re also pushing for complete transparency in the procedure to be followed by the pay commission.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Cabinet to constitute screening committee for 6th Pay Commission

In the arousal of harsh condemnation from several parts of the society, several unions of employees and officers as well as arms and police forces over the issue of sixth pay commission’s report, the Union Cabinet in a meeting on Friday approved to constitute an Empowered Committee of Secretaries to review the submitted report of sixth pay commission.

‘The Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar would be the head of the 12-member screening committee’, said Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal to the reporters after the cabinet meeting.

The Empowered Committee would screen the report thoroughly and deeply and finally table its final recommendation before the union cabinet to consider over it.

Moreover, Cabinet has already set up a grievance committee headed by Finance Secretary D Subbarao to look in to all sorts of complaint regarding pay commission’s recommendation.

The government is facing sharp criticism from employees (weather lower level or higher level); the police staff and IPS officers, the defence department and most of the employee sections over inadequate and uneven pay recommendation with argue that the implementation of this recommendation would encourage the disparities among different sections of government employees.

Earlier, as per norms government had set up a four-member committee headed by Justice B N Srikrishna to submit its recommendation report to the cabinet after analysing several factors that influence the salary structure.

The Sixth Pay Panel had submitted its report to government on March 24, 2008 recommending up to 40% salary hike from the current level. But, as per critics: ‘this report favours the ‘babus’ and bureaucrats the most and salary increment rises at much higher rate with the hierarchy.’

For Example, as per sixth pay commission, the central cabinet secretary, the top bureaucrats will get a fixed salary of Rs.90,000 and secretaries will get Rs. 80,000/- per month while the Group D level employee will get only Rs. 6,600 at the beginning level. This recommendation would cost the exchequer over Rs 12,000 crore, if the cabinet approves it in its present form.

Protesting this salary recommendation, a confederation representing employees of ordinance factory, income tax, postal department, railways, customs, excise and other central government offices have decided to submit a MoU carrying their grievances to the Personnel Department very soon while Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor and Chairman and Chiefs of Staff Committee Admiral Sureesh Mehta had met Defence Minister A K Antony and submitted a joint proposals on the recommendations of pay commission.

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Panel to study Sixth Pay Commission report

The Cabinet has announced the formation of a committee of secretaries to study the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations.

Three days ago, NDTV had reported on the government's plans to set up such a committee. The armed forces and the IPS officers are unhappy with the disparities in the pay commission's recommendations and have asked for a review.

On Thursday, the association of Indian police service rejected the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.

The committee will be headed by the Cabinet secretary and has been directed to submit its report to the Cabinet at the earliest possible.
 
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Ex-servicemen plan to take to the streets

Upset at the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, former senior Army officers have decided to take to the streets. They have approached United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking redress of their grievances, said sources who did not wish to be identified.

If permission is granted, the former officers and soldiers, under the banner of an ex-servicemen league, will hold vigil in front of the flame of the unknown soldier at India Gate on April 27.
Review panel

To “add insult to injury,” the government has appointed a review committee comprising three officers from the IAS cadre, the former officers said, pointing out that one of their main complaints was the upsetting of the relative parity with this cadre that had been in place since 1986.

“To resolve the differences among the three principal services, a committee has been instituted comprising the Home Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Finance Secretary. All three members are from the same cadre which has drafted the report. No prizes for guessing the outcome! You can play against a strong team, provided the umpire is neutral,” said a former Army officer.
Positive aspects

While appreciating the positive aspects of the Pay Commission report, the armed forces have whittled down their 27-point grievances to half a dozen glaring anomalies. Apart from the upsetting of the relative parity with the IAS cadre, which affects middle-level armed forces officers comprising 72 per cent of the cadre — Major, Lt. Colonel, Colonel and some brigadiers — the switchover to the ‘running pay band’ is a “can of worms.” When it was done in 1987, it led to several anomalies, some of which are still sub judice, according to the sources.

Though the net gain at the start is good, the benefit dwindles to a low level for middle-level officers, backbone of the armed forces. A young Lieutenant who now gets Rs. 8,250 will receive Rs. 25,760 while his commanding officer, whose current basic including rank pay is Rs. 17,550, will take home only Rs. 44,140. But, in proportionate terms, he should get Rs. 54,790. This depression continues all the way to the Lt. Gen. rank. The gap between what the corps commanders get and the fixed pay of the Army commanders too has become disproportionately large.
Short service

The solution to management of the officers cadre lies in making short service more attractive but there is nothing in this report to address this burning issue. The revision of the commutation value (CV) table was long overdue. But the new dispensation will hit hard personnel below the officer rank. At the age of 35, when many of the other ranks are retired, the CV has been brought down from 16.92 to 9.14. At 60, when civilians retire, the old and the new rates are 10.13 and 8.2 and so the reduction is less significant.

A recommendation was made to grant pay to the cadets at the service academies. This has been rejected without assigning any cogent reason. “It needs to be remembered that a recruit who joins the ranks is treated as a soldier from the very first day in the training centre, while the officer cadet is a civilian for all practical purposes and is economically dependent on his parents,” the sources said.

“We wish to emphasise that Colonel and equivalent ranks are the backbone of the armed forces. They command battalions, captain ships and lead squadrons. If their interests are not protected merely to perpetuate the inequitable functional relativities in South Block, we will be doing gross injustice to the armed forces and the nation which they serve,” the sources cautioned.

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IFS officers seek pay panel report review

The Indian Forest Service Association of Madhya Pradesh has appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to review the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission for the Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers to remove disparities.

In a letter addressed to Dr. Singh, the Association has suggested constitution of a committee, with representation from the IFS, so that parity intended by the pay panel at higher levels could be ensured.

“The Indian Forest Service in the whole country is now at the lowest ebb of its morale due to rampant stagnation at all levels. The recommendations of the Commission further demoralise the officers, resulting in far-reaching consequences for the forests, wildlife, environment and the humanity at large,” the latter signed by H.S. Pabla, president of the Association, said.

The IFS officers want the existing parity with Indian Police Service Officers at all levels to be maintained, the existing pay scale S-26 that is applicable to the Conservator of Forests to be included in Pay Band-4 with a grade pay of Rs. 9,000, as otherwise they will lag behind their counterparts in IAS by about 12 years.

Also, all heads of regional offices of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Central Forestry Research and Training institutions should be kept at the fixed apex scale of Rs. 80,000 and the Director General for Forests should be put in a fixed pay scale of Rs. 90,000, the letter said.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

IPS Asso. asks govt not to accept Pay panel, issues demands

Unhappy at the recommendations of the sixth Pay Commission, IPS Association tonight asked the government not to accept its suggestions as it came up with a list of demands including parity with IAS in terms of pay, promotion and other service conditions.

The association threatened agitation if its demands were not met.

A General Body Meeting (GBM) of the IPS, which met here to deliberate over the Pay Commission recommendations, also demanded formation of a Group of Ministers (GoM) to look into the concerns of the police service.

"The GBM expressed deep anguish at the recommendations of the sixth Pay Commission and urged the government not to accept it," said a resolution adopted at the meeting.

"There should be parity in terms of pay, promotion, pension and other service conditions with IAS at all levels," it said.

It demanded that the post of Director General of Police be made equivalent to the Chief Secretary and sought abolition of the post of Deputy Inspector General.

The Association asked the government to "recognise police in national security and development, thereby giving police its rightful respect and dignity."

It also demanded transparency in procedures to be followed in implementing the recommendations of the pay commission.

At the three-hour meeting, some IPS officers expressed desire to quit the service while some threatened to return the medals given to them by the government if their demands were not met, sources said.

With general elections being just a year away, the IPS officers are likely to mount pressure on the government.

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