Services upset over Manmohan I-Day speech

Much to the disappointment of men in uniform, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday did not announce the much-anticipated changes in the pay structure of service personnel ostensibly because a government panel, which was examining the anomalies, is yet to submit its report.

“Our government has set up a committee to examine issues relating to pay and pension of armed forces personnel. This committee will also look into matters concerning pension of retired men and officers and family pension being paid to their families. We will take prompt action on the recommendations of the committee, once they are received,” Singh said in his Independent Day address.

The panel headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajith Seth was to submit its report on August 8. This has been now delayed for reasons unknown.

Other members of the panel are principal secretary to the Prime Minister, defence secretary, expenditure secretary, secretary (ex-servicemen welfare) and secretary (department of personnel and training). Absence of any representative from the three services, however, attracted criticism from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The three chiefs were, however, given opportunity to present their case before the panel.    

The armed forces claimed to have spotted 39 anomalies in the sixth pay commission report. Following the complaints, the Seth committee has been mandated to look into such issues along with the long-pending and politically-sensitive demand of one-rank, one-pension from the armed forces and veterans.

The issues in front of the panel include a decision on a common pay scale for all junior commissioned officers and soldiers; putting all three star officers in higher administrative grade plus pay scale and granting non-functional upgrade to commissioned officers.

Currently civilian officers in Border Roads Organisation, Military Engineering Service and Postal Service get NFU -- an additional component in their salary structure as per the sixth pay commission -- which put them in higher salary bracket and create problems at the functional level between the military and civilian bureaucrats working in these organizations.

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