A senior veteran sent to me, an extract from the Report of the
Sixth Central Pay Commission
(Pages 138 -143)
I went through it. I realised while ignorance is bliss, knowing and ignoring facts is a crime.
It for the Rakhsa Mantri, Chiefs of Services, Defence Secretary and AS DMA to have look at this report and reflect – Does this mirror organisational ignorance or ‘knowledgeable’ ignorance?
In my opinion, the answers to many vexing questions regarding Agniveers and the Agnipath Scheme are in this report which has been accepted by the Government.
The rest I leave for the nation and conscience of those in chair to decide their ‘Path’ . Are we reinventing the wheel or destroying it? The wheel has been kept static and not turned since long!
Lateral movement of Defence Forces personnel
2.4.1 Defence Forces have been facing a shortage of Officers. Resettlement of retired Personnel Below Officers Ranks (PBORs) is also an issue that has been engaging deep attention of the Government. The short tenure of Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSCOs) and PBORs in Defence Forces acts as a disincentive for many eligible candidates joining the Defence Forces. The Commission is also of the view that while a good compensation package is essential for the morale and quality of officers and men in the Defence Forces, the same will also, to a large extent, depend on those personnel being provided a life time career.
2.4.2 The problem of short tenure in Defence Forces has to be viewed in the context of ever increasing role of the Defence Forces in anti-terrorist and counter insurgency/related duties. These functions primarily lie with Central Para Military Forces (CPMFs) that have been specifically raised for performing duties relating to maintenance of law and order, carrying out anti-terrorists/counter insurgency operations, etc. However, help of the Defence Forces is also enlisted frequently for these duties.
2.4.3 In recent years, the size of CPMFs has increased by a large percentage to meet the increased internal security threat to the nation. The Government is presently recruiting a large number of personnel in various CPMFs and training them before they can be utilized for security related duties in the various para military forces. At the same time, a large number of personnel from the Defence Forces retire at a relatively young age when they are fit enough to discharge duties in CPMFs that are slightly less arduous than those required in Defence Forces. Further, these retired personnel are likely to have performed anti-terrorist and counter- insurgency duties while working in the Defence Forces. The Government is faced with an increased pension burden for these retired Defence Forces personnel who are still in their prime. It also has a responsibility of rehabilitating these trained personnel who still have a long, productive working life and are too young to take complete retirement from all work.
2.4.4 The twin problems of locating suitable trained manpower for induction in various Central Para Military Forces and providing sufficiently long tenure for the Defence Forces personnel can be addressed in case the recruitment to Central Para Military Forces is done by lateral shift of the Defence Forces personnel. This is not a new concept. Even at present, 10% of the posts of Assistant Commandant in various para military forces are reserved for ex- servicemen. All posts in defence security corps are exclusively reserved for ex-servicemen. The Fifth CPC had recommended increase in percentage of posts reserved for the retired service personnel in Group C and D in Central Police Organizations (CPOs) to 25% that were recommended to be filled by lateral transfer of the retiring service personnel to CPOs. The Commission had also recommended filling up of 25% posts of Assistant Commandant in CPOs by lateral shift of Defence Forces personnel with this facility being made available in particular to the Short Service Commissioned Officers. The Fifth Pay Commission had also suggested setting up a joint recruitment board comprising representatives of CPOs and Defence Forces headquarters that would jointly select officers/men who would render 7 years service in Defence Forces to be followed by lateral shift to CPOs.
2.4.5 The recommendations of the Fifth Central Pay Commission are even more relevant today and need to be further extended so that all posts in different CPOs are filled by lateral shift of Defence Forces personnel. A similar dispensation needs to be extended for filling up the civilian posts in Ministry of Defence which should also be filled by lateral shift of the Defence Forces personnel. The average yearly discharge from the Defence Forces personnel is approximately 40,000. Assuming that a majority of these personnel would opt for lateral shift, around 35000 posts would be required annually to accommodate these personnel in CPOs/defence civilian organizations. The size of the various CPOs is approximately 7,00,000. The number of defence civilians in Ministry of Defence is around 4,00,000. The total number of average annual vacancies in CPOs and the various cadres of defence civilians would be around 35,000. Thus, the potential to allow lateral shift of nearly all Defence Forces personnel to CPOs and various cadres of defence civilians exists.
2.4.6 The Commission therefore is of the view that a scheme needs to be introduced for lateral shift of Defence Forces personnel to CPOs (including CPMFs) and defence civilian organizations. It is, accordingly, recommended that in future, all recruitments to the posts of Short Service Commissioned Officers and Personnel Below Officers Ranks in the Defence Forces, CPOs and various defence civilian organisations should be made with the selected candidates serving initially in the Defence Forces for some period before being laterally shifted to CPOs/defence civilian organizations. The lateral shift of the Defence Forces personnel to CPOs shall be operationalised in the following manner:-
i) Common recruitment shall henceforth be made to all the posts in Defence Forces, CPOs and defence civilians in Ministry of Defence.
ii) The recruitment shall be made by Recruitment Boards in Defence Forces.
iii) All the successful candidates recruited by this Board will initially render minimum 7 years of service in the Defence Forces. The span could, however, be extended to 17 years depending upon the vacancy position in CPOs/defence civilian organisations as well as the requirement in Defence Forces.
iv) On completion of the tenure in the Defence Forces, the personnel shall be laterally shifted to an analogous post either in any of the CPOs or in one of the defence civilian organisation. The lateral shift to a specific CPO or a defence civilian organisation will depend on the availability of post as well as the choice and medical fitness of the concerned Defence Forces personnel.
v) During the lateral shift the pay fixed in the pay band and the grade pay of the employee shall be protected. Once the lateral shift is made, the military special pay will no longer be payable. However, while fixing pay in the corresponding pay band and grade pay on the civilian side, the Military Service Pay will also be taken into account so that there is no drop in the salary.
vi) The lateral shift, whether in CPOs or in one of the defence civilian organisations, will be to a post carrying same pay band and grade pay as being drawn by the concerned person in the Defence Forces at the time of lateral shift .
vii) The Defence Forces personnel would have the option not to opt for the lateral shift. In such a scenario, the personnel shall retire at the stipulated age prescribed for the rank held by him/her in the Defence Forces. Pension as per the normal pension rules will then be payable. Since life time appointment would be offered under the scheme, no special pensionary benefits that were being given to compensate for the short tenure in the Defence Forces would henceforth be available.
viii) The seniority of the concerned personnel on being laterally shifted to CPOs/defence civilian organisations will be determined on the basis of the date on which they were appointed in that specific pay band and grade pay in the Defence Forces. Thus, the seniority shall be fully protected during the lateral shift to CPOs/defence civilian organisations. In accordance with the extant rules, the Defence Forces personnel laterally shifted to the CPOs/defence civilian organisations will continue to be governed by the pension scheme which governed them during their tenure in the Defence Forces. Consequently, they will fall outside the purview of the New Pension Scheme.
Benefits of the proposed scheme
2.4.7 This scheme will not only make available sufficient number of trained manpower for CPOs as well as defence civilian organisations but will also curtail the pension bill of the Government significantly. It is estimated that the Government spends nearly Rs.100 crore per annum on recruitment and training of personnel for CPOs and defence civilian organisations. This expenditure will be completely saved. Further the Government will have to pay pension to the retiring Defence Forces personnel only after 30/33 years of service as against 17 years of service at present. This will result in a further saving of Rs.700 crore per year. These savings will grow cumulatively for a period of 13 years. Therefore, at the end of 13 years the annual savings on this account will be to the tune of Rs.7800 crore at constant price index. The Government will also not have to provide for special measures and find means of providing rehabilitation of ex-Defence Forces personnel. This will have other side benefits because the trained manpower of the Defence Forces will be engaged in a life time employment and no subversive elements will be able to misguide them for anti social activities.
Reservations expressed against the Scheme and analysis thereof
2.4.8 The issue of lateral shift of Defence Forces personnel in CPOs was discussed by the Commission with officials from Ministry of Defence as well as Ministry of Home Affairs. Whereas the former were generally in favour and in fact welcomed the scheme, the Ministry of Home Affairs had expressed several reservations. The Commission has analyzed these reservations of MHA as under:-
i) MHA argument – The age profile of the CPOs will be hit adversely by this lateral shift.
Analysis – – Presently the average age of recruitment in Defence Forces is 19 years. As against this, in CPMFs personnel upto the age of 26 years are recruited. After that such persons have to be trained. This on an average takes one year. If the recruits in Defence Forces are laterally shifted to the CPOs after a stint of 7 years, their average age at the time of entering the CPOs will be around 26 years. Moreover, they will be fully trained. As such, the age profile of CPOs will not be hit adversely by this lateral shift.
ii) MHA argument – The training of Defence Forces personnel is different from that of CPOs. Defence Forces personnel are trained to kill whereas police forces personnel are trained to control and not kill. Therefore, lateral shift of Defence Forces into CPOs will lead to operational problems.
Analysis – It is fallacious to assume that training procedure of Defence Forces will not be effective for rendering service in CPOs. In fact, Defence Forces are highly disciplined and are trained to take action as per the orders given and as per the demand of the situation. This is evident by the fact that Defence Forces are now being used in a major way in all the counter insurgency operations which earlier were being carried out by the CPMFs and CPOs. Defence Forces are increasingly being used for various kinds of duties in the interior of the country which are far removed from protecting the borders from the attack of foreign enemies. The ex-Defence Forces personnel are also given employment in State Police and CPOs. In fact there is a 10% reservation for ex-Defence Forces personnel to the post of Assistant Commandant in CPOs. Nobody has every complained that the ex-Defence Forces personnel recruited in various police forces/CPOs have not performed as well as any other CPMF personnel. The argument, therefore, is not sustainable on facts.
iii) MHA argument – The scheme will curtail the available employment opportunities.
Analysis – This argument will need to be seen in the light of the fact that the scheme will provide life time employment to the successful candidates who will serve for a few years in the Defence Forces and thereafter be laterally shifted to CPOs/defence civilian organisations. Presently, persons recruited in the Defence Forces get a service of only 17 years. Consequently, re-employment has to be found for them once they are discharged from the Defence Forces. The new scheme will resolve this problem effectively. Therefore, no real loss in employment opportunities will occur due to implementation of this scheme.
iv) MHA argument – There will be problems about career progression of existing recruits who are directly inducted in the CPMFs because Defence Forces personnel on lateral shift to CPOs/defence civilian organisations will retain their seniority and will, therefore, become senior to these personnel.
Analysis – This problem will exist for some of the existing personnel who are recruited directly in CPMFs. However, the current scheme of running pay bands and the modified assured career progression scheme will ensure that none of the existing direct recruits in various CPOs/defence civilian organisations stagnates at any point in his/her entire career. Further, the problem will not exist for a very long time because eventually all the recruits in CPOs/defence civilian organisations will come through the Defence Forces personnel which will automatically resolve this problem.
v) MHA argument – It will be difficult to establish one to one parity between different posts in Defence Forces and CPOs/defence civilian organisations.
Analysis – While it is true that no clear-cut parity had existed in Fifth CPC pay scales between different posts in Defence Forces and CPOs/different defence civilian organisations in the revised scheme of running pay bands and grade pay being recommended, a complete one to one parity has been established between posts in Defence Forces vis-à-vis those in CPOs/other civilian organisations. Hence, the problem has been effectively addressed in the revised scheme of running pay bands being recommended by the Commission.
that the scheme of lateral shift of Defence Forces personnel in CPOs/various defence civilian organisations is extremely viable, beneficial and no real drawbacks exist in effective implementation of this scheme. This will not only result in substantial financial savings for the Government but will also guarantee a life time employment to the Defence Forces personnel. The Government will also benefit by getting an abundant supply of trained manpower for induction into various posts in CPOs/defence civilian organizations. The scheme, therefore, should be implemented in its entirety without any delay.