Armed forces demand representation on Central Pay Commission for better deal
Angry with the step-motherly treatment meted out to them by successive Central Pay Commissions (CPCs), which they feel largely pander to the interests of the civil services, the Armed forces have demanded “full representation” on the 7th CPC to address their long-pending pay and pension “anomalies”.
Air chief marshal N A K Browne, in his capacity as the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, has written to defence minister A K Antony that the Army, Navy and IAF should get “full representation” on the 7th CPC since its members may not be able to “fully grasp” the “unique challenges” of military service, sources said.
In the letter written on September 13, after consulting Army chief General Bikram Singh and Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi, the IAF chief said Antony should “press for this justified demand of the Services”. The 7th CPC will holistically be able to address the concerns of the Armed forces over “status, parity and equivalence” only if it includes members from the three Services, he added.
Sources say the Armed forces have rejected the recommendation of a separate pay commission for them since it was felt that bureaucrats might further queer the pitch for military personnel if that was done. The government was rattled by the widespread anger in the Armed forces in 2008-2009, which continues to some extent even till today with ex-servicemen continuing to hold rallies and return their medals to demand the implementation of the one-rank, one-pension.
The massive ex-servicemen rally at Rewari on September 15, with BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and previous Army chief General V K Singh sharing the stage, seems to have further set the cat among the pigeons.
Defence ministry officials on Wednesday acknowledged that “everybody had agreed” that there will be no separate pay commission for the Armed forces but held that the “modalities” on how to give representation to the Armed forces in the 7th CPC would be decided at a later stage.
In June last year, Antony had himself written a frantic letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express serious alarm over the “growing discontentment” among the Armed forces due to “various anomalies in the fixation of their pay and pensions”. A committee, headed by cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, was then constituted to resolve the matter.
But there are still many pending grievances of the Armed forces, who feel their extant status and parity vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts has been systematically downgraded right since Independence.
In the run-up to the general elections next year, the government has some reason to worry since the defence community of 14 lakh serving and 23 lakh retired military personnel swells into a sizable – albeit diffused – votebank of around 1.5 crore people if family members are also taken into account.