Military seethes at Pay Commission suggestions - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 24 March 2016

Military seethes at Pay Commission suggestions

Resentment stems from the widespread belief that civilian officials are whittling away at the military's relative status

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 24th March 16

The Seventh Central Pay Commission recommendations, handed over to the government in November, have aroused bitter resentment within the military. On March 11, the three service chiefs made a presentation to the “Empowered Committee of Secretaries”, a 13-member panel headed by the cabinet secretary, which is looking into the recommendations. The army, navy and air force are waiting to see if this panel will tone down clauses that former army chief, General VP Malik, has termed “a killer for the military.”

This impression is rampant amongst soldiers, sailors and airmen even though the Seventh Pay Commission has raised baseline military salaries by about 15 per cent, taking the pay of a lieutenant (the entry grade for officers) to Rs 56,100 per month; and that of a sepoy (the entry grade for ratings) to Rs 21,700 per month. This is significantly lower than the 40 per cent hikes handed out by the Fifth and Sixth Pay Commissions. One of the Seventh Pay Commission members, Rathin Roy, underlining the imperative to curb government spending, has admitted unapologetically: “We are the stingiest pay commission, ever.”

In addition to pay, soldiers get a special allowance called “military service pay”, which exists in most militaries in forms such as the British army’s “X-Factor Pay”. The Seventh Pay Commission raises it for officers from Rs 6,000 to Rs 15,500 per month; and for persons below officer rank from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,200 per month.

In addition, soldiers get a “risk and hardship allowance”, based on the profile allocated to every military station. The highest grade on the matrix is Rs 25,000 per month, but serving on the Siachen Glacier and Antarctica entitles a soldier to a special grade of Rs 31,500 per month.

Totting up these allowances, the Seventh Pay Commission chairman, Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur, in an interview to The Economic Times on December 20, claimed he had recommended 30 per cent higher salaries for the military than civilian services would draw.

His logic was based on the dubious premise that military service pay constitutes a component of salary. In western military salary structures, such allowances are not salary, but compensation for the “intangible hardships” of military service. These include long separation from families, wives being unable to work, and children changing schools frequently and growing up without their fathers, et cetera.

During its deliberations, the Seventh Pay Commission commissioned a study by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), which compared military salaries in India with those of major foreign armed forces. While the IDSA study was relatively unbiased, the Seventh Pay Commission chose to interpret them selectively, applying purchasing power parity (PPP) to boost the value of Indian military salaries; and then comparing them with the per capita income of the concerned country. Given India’s abysmal per capital income, military salaries look good by comparison. The Seventh Pay Commission uses this to argue that India’s military is paid very well by international standards.

It’s the comparison, stupid!

Since the hefty raises of the Fifth and Sixth Pay Commissions, few soldiers claim they are poorly paid. Even so, festering resentment stems from the widespread belief that civilian officials, particularly from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) conspire to whittle away the military’s relative status. Soldiers point to a host of generous allowances, and assured promotion benefits that are triggered for entire civilian batches as a result of the first officer of that batch getting promoted. A key element of this was instituted by the Sixth Pay Commission through a mechanism called “non-functional financial upgrade”. This mandates that when an IAS officer from a particular batch (everyone who joins service in a particular year) is promoted to a certain rank, all his batchmates from some sixty Group ‘A’ central services also start drawing the higher pay scale two years later, irrespective of competence or vacancies in that rank. The military had taken up a case for a similar upgrade, but this was not agreed to. The Seventh Pay Commission does not recommend its extension to the military either.

Thus, while practically every civilian central service officer would make it to the top pay grades, the army will remain a sharply pyramidal meritocracy, where less than one per cent of officers are promoted to lieutenant general rank (higher administrative grade, in pay commission scales). Those soldiers who do not make the cut --- including meritorious officers, who are held back only because of limited promotion vacancies at each rank --- are entitled to neither the power nor the pelf of higher rank since the army has no non-functional financial upgrade. The military’s demand for parity has been one of the five “core anomalies” of the Sixth Pay Commission; and was strongly pressed before the “Empowered Committee” last week.


Adding to the bitterness amongst soldiers is the argument, increasingly voiced by civil service officers, that soldiers’ emoluments should be evaluated in terms of “cost-to-company”, taking into account all their emoluments and facilities. Top generals argue that the armed forces constitute “the cheapest gun fodder”, since they incur the least lifetime cost to the government. They point out that soldiers incur the lowest induction cost, since they do not get paid salary during their training period, unlike civilian officials and Central Armed Police Forces. They have the lowest retention cost, since they retire early, thus drawing salaries for less time than civilian counterparts; and they also have the lowest advancement cost, since relatively small numbers are promoted to higher rank, leaving many languishing at lower pay grades. Finally, soldiers also incur the lowest pension costs, since their pensions are fixed at 50 per cent of the last pay drawn --- at lower pay grades in most cases.

The army has slowly --- and sullenly --- come to terms with the “first amongst equals” status of the IAS, which has been inexorably institutionalised since the Third Pay Commission noted that “an IAS officer gets an unequalled opportunity of living and working among the people, participating in planning and implementation of developmental programmes, working with the Panchayati Raj institutions, coordinating the activities of government departments in the district and dealing directly with problems of law and order.” Given this, the Third Pay Commission granted the IAS (and the Indian Foreign Service) three extra increments at each of three successive seniority grades --- “senior time scale”, “junior administrative grade” and “selection grade”, to which IAS officers are promoted at four, nine and 13 years of service respectively. Since the other services got just one increment at these grades, IAS/IFS officers accumulate six extra increments by the time they served 13 years. This lead in emoluments continued through their service.

However, successive governments have ensured the military remains the “first amongst uniformed services.” The Seventh Pay Commission now upsets this balance by recommending that: “the criticality of functions at the district administration level holds good equally for the IAS, Indian Police Service (IPS) as well as the Indian Forest Service (IFoS).” It recommends that six additional increments be extended also to the IPS and IFoS.

The military chiefs have argued strongly before the “Empowered Committee” that the military --- which they term “the instrument of last resort” --- does not have the option of “handing over an adverse situation to any other government agency”. They have argued that, while police and CAPF personnel often lay down their lives, including in cross border firing, they incur a “lower level of risk” compared with the armed forces, which “actively seek encounters with terrorists and close combat with the enemy, despite the high risk of death”. The chiefs have argued that military service demands higher levels of proficiency, commitment and sense of sacrifice.

There is little to suggest, however, that the government is listening. The anomalies of the Sixth Pay Commission still remain unresolved --- including five “core anomalies” that include the military’s demand for non-functional financial upgrade. A committee of secretaries that was constituted in 2011 heard the military for a month and then tossed the ball into the lap of the Seventh Pay Commission. There is little to suggest the military’s current representations would be treated with greater sensitivity.

Comparative chart of benefits

All India Services/ Central Police Forces
Defence personnel

3 increments for 3 promotions up to 13 years service for All India Services

Variable, up to 6 increments for DRDO personnel
Only one increment for each of these 3 promotions, which places military personnel six increments behind AIS/CAPF
Similar increment structure demanded for military personnel as for All India Services

Non-functional financial upgrade (NFFU)
When the first IAS officer of a batch gets promoted, his batchmates in Grade “A” Central Services start drawing the salary of that higher rank 2 years later. This is termed NFFU.
Military officers have a stringent selection procedure for colonel rank and above, with no NFFU benefits. Just 1% of military officer draw pay of Hr Administrative Grade (HAG).
7th CPC is divided on NFFU. One member says the military deserves NFFU. Another recommends doing away with NFFU, leaving IAS lead intact.

Special Duty Allowance (SDA) for J&K and NE
AIS get 30% of basic pay, i.e. 60,000 to 70,000 rupees for mid-senior officials

CAPF get 10% of basic pay as SDA. Can choose between SDA or Risk & Hardship Allowance
Risk & Hardship Allowance capped at Rs 31,500/- for officers in Siachen and Antarctica. No option for SDA
Civil service or CAPF officials in Leh/Guwahati draw higher allowances than military personnel in Siachen and Antarctica

Deduction of allowance during leave
No deduction for up to 180 days
Deducted for any absence beyond 28 days

Grant of pay and seniority on promotion
Granted for entire batch, the same day the first officer of batch is promoted
Each officer gets pay/seniority on the day of actual promotion/posting
Should be brought on par

Allowances for gallantry and distinguished service awards
7th CPC has raised allowances for police medals and awards higher than military
Military awards allowances not raised, have now become lower than police medal allowances

Training period salary
Training period is counted as service, and full salary paid
Not counted as service and no salary paid
7th CPC has not commented on this

Disability benefits
Covered fully under Disability Act, 1995. Govt bound to retain in service till 60 yrs
Act not extended to defence personnel. Can be boarded out of service with or without pension
Should be adequately compensated by adding disability component to pension

Entitled rations
Authorised to CAPF, no change to authorisation
4th CPC authorised entitled rations to military. 7th CPC recommends this be discontinued in peace stations
Authorisation had been granted for the exacting physical standards that military requires to maintain, including tests every quarter

Military Service Pay (MSP)
Not authorised to AIS/CAPFs
Authorised to compensate military for the “intangible hardships” of service
MSP has been used by CPC as argument that military pay is more than civilian counterparts.


  1. Its a good time to get out of Dodge leaving this ungrateful nation behind.

  2. Indeed a well written article . I wish he had brought out the low salaries and few number of promotions available to the JCOs and Other Ranks also, in comparison to their civilian counter parts..

    A Sunder Rajan

  3. The writing is clear on the wall. If one still can't see it, one is to blame. We soldiers and ex soldiers must not see it entirely from our view point. See it from the point of view of the nation. Isn't it clear that ours is the losing party. Why be a part of it? Even if they listen to our woes and give us 10% more, will it change how they treat us? No one is born a fauzi - we become one by choice. Why not choose to become part of the winning group i.e a civilian. Will that affect national security? Why bother, since they don't bother for you. Never be a sucker.

  4. For the people who are interested in joining defence services, PLEASE DO NOT EVEN THINK IF YOU ARE AMBITIOUS AND WANT TO RISE TO THE LEVELS IN CIVIL SERVICES. I think the government will realise all the training institutes will become empty and no new recruits will be joining whether as officers or sepoys. Why don't we think on theses lines!!!! We will be outsourcing the security to the PAKIS.....

  5. Superbly written article. Will the govt take notice and act ?

  6. SaibabaThadiboyina.24 March 2016 at 07:28

    How did this Committee of Secretaries come to be termed as "Empowered" ? It is contrary to logic to refer the anomolies to the very same gang which was behind the down gradation of the armed forces. Is there any rationale behind such an exercise ? First they deliberately create the anomolies on a selective basis, and then appoint themselves as Empowered Committee to go into those anomolies, making it ridiculous for the Services Chiefs to argue their cases. Can any justice be done ? The Chairman of the 7th Pay Commission, Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur has done great injustice to the defence forces, and unless these are rectified, it would be tantamount to doing great harm to the country.

  7. Wonderful article, but will it be read in the right spirit, or will the downward spiral continue...

  8. We are grateful to the author for his well analysed article bringing out the comparative salary structures and the unashamed bias of successive CPCs in determining the pay structures of Govt servants. We request the author (or someone knowledgeable) also to publish a separate article comparing the pay and allowances of personnel below offrs ranks and the corresponding level staff in the civil services. This will help us understand where we are and also in similar debates that was hosted by NDTV recently. The ignorance level of offrs and men of armed forces on the comparative scales of pay & allowances and pension is very high which had been stealthily exploited by the powers that were at the giving ends. No doubt, knowledge is power which we forgot over a period of time. Let's hope our Chiefs could say this time, "Thus far and no further".

  9. Is this hedging Mr Shukla ? You left us long time back ??

  10. Great Job Colonel!--Sjsu, Ex-NDA 59, now in LA.

  11. Superb Article bring out Major Anamo;ies. Why Our 3 Cheifs Initially Behave Like "Gandhiji's 3 Monkeys" and Then Run Back to Govt and Same Secys to Resolve Festering Problems they Allowed to Be Created - An OSTRICH STANCE these three have Perfected. But Gen Mallik and Other Mil Offrs present on Recent TV show on NDTV on 20th Mar '16 totally Failed to Point out the majot Anamolies Pointed Out Here And Known to Indian Defence Forces and Justify Why IDF personals want Parity - IF NOT MORE - with AIS. Senior Def Offrs Feel That They Are the Only One Who Have Worked Hard to Reach the Rank They Wear. But Withour ACK that It is The Support and Lots of Effort of Al Others in Unit, From Offrs to Jawan Who Have Assisted their Promotion. These Seniors Offrs Do Not Their Peers and Juniors to Get Higher Rank and Pay to Justify Their rank and Staus. 1st the Def Forces have to Clear their Thoughts and Work out Sytem Where Maximum Bebfits Can be Passed to Our JCOs and Jawans and then too Offrs. Then present these as Only Solution and 'fait-accompli' to Govt and call IT Internal Administration on Line of AIS Gp. Or Create Permanent Think tank / Org to Keep Presenting Cases to Govt, i.e. PM and RM and Why Should Chief have to Tell Def Secy - who is Jr in Srvice and Post and Meet RM Directly. If they are Allowing him to Act Pricy Then it is Upto them to Side Line Him. Do they Have the courage, If Not, Then # * Chiehs Will Continue Representing After the Horse has Fled????

  12. Excellent article colonel. Our political class and abysmal civil service do not want a strong armed force. When was the last time anybody heard of an IPS officer dying in the line of fire.
    This government has enough money for everybody but its soldiers. Disgraceful that our Service chiefs are not able to articulate this enough in public. Where are the news services now. They are always around when one of our brave young soldiers dies for this ungrateful lot

  13. i think military deserves heirarchy always discriminates with lt col & below as untouchables.

    1. Need not gloat over this Paki.This is our internal matter in our open society.We will deal with you regardless.

  14. Defence Minister, Mr. Manohar Parrikar are you listening ? Do you care ?

    Two things will fix this :

    1. In terms of Pay and financial promotions all govt services must be equal. this will remove money as an incentive and only those who have professional ambitions and merit will rise to the top.

    2. All Older or superseded Military personnel who do not have career prospects in the Armed forces but have served honorably must be allowed to make a One way - Non returnable transfer to any All India Government Service/Central Armed Police Forces/State Police Forces/IB/RAW/Coast Guard etc.

    Military personnel are highly skilled and experienced people with a lot to contribute to society.Imagine if our police worked at the competency and professional levels of the Armed Forces. OROP will only be for The ones that stayed in the Armed forces. The others will get the pensions according to the new service they have joined. In both cases Military service years will be counted.

    Apart from armed forces, All govt Services personnel will retire at the age of 60, Irrespective of Rank.

    Benefits of Such a System :

    - Younger,Fitter and aggressive Military Profile.
    - Wiser, Professional, capable and experienced Government service profile.
    - Civil Military relations will be at an all time high.
    - Public services delivery and satisfaction levels among the public will skyrocket, people will be happy with the government.
    - Law, Order and Public Safety will rise to make India one of the safest countries in the world.
    - India will become a super efficient nation, which every country would like to invest in.

    1. WeLL I hope it happens.. Good solution.. but these babu lot thinks they r super efficient. That's why a mob in Haryana overpowered them

  15. Time to ponder wether to serve the nation in its swordarm.It is diffcult to understand as to what has gone wrong with the nation

  16. Army of a country is mirror image of the country,a happy army means a happy nation alas the contrary is also true,in any case we as nation were ruled by Mughals,Britishers for centuries but have failed to learn our lesson.History is a teacher and time will again teach us to learn from history and past mistakes,but fools are known to commit the same mistake again and again.

  17. Money is important but izzat can not be compromised. Through the entire 68 years all agencies of the govt have systematically whittled down the izzat of the fauj. They treat us as enemies not saviours. While they carved the territory within on linguistic, caste basis for their own selfish short term gains, they cleverly abuse the fauj. A dispassionate analysis reveals that we have lost all that Sardar Patel gave us. The idea of the Nation is under serious threat.

  18. Why get sentimental, learn to hand over the situation as is done by the AIS. The political class has made its position on responsibilty very unambiguos. The Defence Services must also ensure the Republic Marches on Rajpath in the order of Service Precedence ....... Why keep up this Charade and fool the General Public. The Cabinet Secretary must lead the Republic Day Parade as he leads the Nation everyday..... After all India is different from the Rest of the world in more ways than one!!!

    1. Mr Verma, Is the Def Secretary also going to lead the troops in a highly specialized counter insurgency ops or in a war?

  19. Dear Ajai, I get the feeling the CPC is not as independent as made out to be. Needless to say the short changing to the IA Forces is likely based on directions from thee political hierarchy. But why so? Could it be because of the grouse in which the OROP was handled? And now its payback time?

  20. Unless the Nation recognizes the Armed forces as beholders and not as fodders we will continue exchanging mails and reading articles like this.

    Those occupying higher positions should thank almighty for having reached that because of our selection process which govt is very well aware and should learn to thank the system and try to take stand to get what armed forces deserve.

    These articles will not help getting any thing out from the govt. The govt has formed their opinion about our utility and lately the Home ministry appears to have taken over lots of responsibility from the armed forces.

    People is senior places have to act.

  21. SK says.... Article is good enough to bring the anomalies/injustice being meted out to defence officers. It would have been better if the case of Personnel Below Officers Rank (JCOs & ORs) also discussed, who are suffering equally. Is it going to PMO/MOD for their information or remains an ornament for discussion in the blog to get laurels of the retired community?

  22. Superb Article but like you and the readers of this blog the nation does not have any strategic culture so it does not fully understand and appreciate the peace that is brought by the Army always and every time the government asks it to bring in disturbed areas etc. As majority of the law makers did not serve in the Armed Forces and more importantly non of the the political scions served in the military (except Capt Amarinder Singh) like the UK Royal Family and even after someone like Jaswant Singh who was a Defence and Finance minister both about a decade ago could not change the status quo and because in the current cabinet at least 2 distinguished former officers of the Army are Ministers of State..............the decline of the status of the Armed Forces seems to be Fait Accompli...........God have mercy on this nation. Jai Hind !

  23. Even as OROP anomalies are yet to be sorted out, some of the recommendations of 7 CPC relating to pensions of defence services veterans appear to be potential anomalies in the making.

    Services HQs, the media and veteran associations need to take these issues up for resolution.

  24. RS
    Pay peanuts you get monkeys. Armed forces downgraded below CAPF. OK. Country will get matching
    performance. Only desperate job seekers will join now.Risk averse individuals to whom getting monthly salary is more important than anything else.They will stay alive and reach pensionable service by following a simple CAPF motto "Hukum modna nahin, Te dakka todna nahin". The state of this country 5/10 years down the line I shall leave to your imagination.

  25. This cost to Govt argument is reaching absurd levels.It is only in the case of profit oriented factories that you evaluate the cost to profit ratio . How can you evaluate the cost to govt factor in case of a say "FIREMAN OR A SECURITY GUARD" .YOU JUST HAVE TO USE ONLY COMMON SENSE. how do you evaluate the cost of a life saving surgery in a hospital.These are imponderables.
    it appears that the folks indulging in these sort of reasoning are doing it only for arguments sake.

  26. Very well analysed article by Ajay Shukla. While civil service personnel draw salary of the Pay Band, reaching the maximum of the pay band with corresponding length of service, Military personnel draw salary restricted to the scale for their rank within the Pay Band by which they can never reach the maximum of the pay band as their civilian equivalents. This in turn also restricts their pensions unlike the apex scale pensions drawn by every civilian govt employee. I wish Mr Shukla had also included tables showing rank wise and length of service wise comparison of salaries and pensions of Defence and Civilian Govt employees. One way out of this discrimination could possibly be a three or five years military service as a prerequisite for entry to civil govt services particularly the IAS. This will take care of many issues and benefit the country immensely.

  27. I just want to comment that Col Ajay should have done little more home work on CAPF. These CAPF pers move from field to field and always comparable to Def services as far as living conditions are concerned but without pension, without MSP, without MACP equal to Def Forces etc and yes without NFU also. No special increments are given to them. Neither they get 2/ 6/13 assured financial up-gradation and promotion as well like Def forces are getting. Any way the list is endless But please CAPF are actually more suffering because living like Def forces they are treated as civilians and this dilemma............

  28. Retired supreme court judge is appointed as chairman of the pay commissions. The logic and rationale behind this is that no injustice is done to any stakeholder. Here Justice Mr Mathur has completely overlooked this aspect as for as Armed Forces are concerned. It could be because there is no representative from the Armed Forces in the pay commission. Whatever may be the reason, he failed in his duties as chairman of the pay commission. I suggest he should be asked to answer issues raised in the article.

  29. Why only Cost to Government or CTC, the utility to Government or profit to company also be considered!

  30. Secretaries in IAS need to put in their place. Whats their pride? They are less efficient than the secretary in my office.

  31. Its high time the CPC has a military official in its panel & the so called " Empowered Committee" is headed by both FM & RM alongwith three chiefs to redress the problems logically & satisfactorily.
    If we don't retain the hierarchy of the "Armed Forces" at the TOP ; be rest assured the quality of the people joining shall be "as we sow so thy shall reap".

  32. Sir

    I understand we are the only country where armed forces pays for its own insurance as one hears,why not add that to your list.

  33. Brig VAM Hussain(Retd)28 March 2016 at 22:44

    Ajai Shukla succinctly brings out the faulty Recommendations of the Pay Commission.Why are we to compare Armed Forces with other services at all?Imagine India without the last bastion of reliability.When the civil administration crumbles ,be it Cyclone,Tsunami,mountain Tsunami or the great floods in Srinagar and Chennai,you call the Armed Forces to set right the crisis.Dear Members of the Pay Commission ,why are you blindly Recommonding the best for civil and leave out military?Do we take that the Nation can become ungrateful to soldiers due to you?...Now the Govt and the high level committee have a responsible duty to remove the anamolies.Brig VAM HUSSAIN(Retd)

  34. These articles may not have any impact on either babus or on political leadership. Defense forces should move with time. Time is changing and expecting sentiments to change coarse is irrelevant. If forces feel some thing amiss demand it with full determination and conviction. Somewhere half hearted attempts by defense leadership is responsible for ills.

  35. There very simple solution to resolve the issues :-

    (a) pay and allowances should be same and equal to same rank and status working in civil or military .
    (b) Promotion , NFU, allowances and increments also be same of same rank and staus either in civil or military.
    (c) Difficult/remote area allowances to be equal to all govt employees irrespective of rank and status . Reason for eg difficulty in living in siachen and effect of cold is same for everyone whether he is an officer or jawan or an IAS officer. so remote and difficult area allowances should be same.
    (d) Ration allowances and free ration should be same irrespective of ranks in army, there is no logic where officers get better ration when both are living in same area and same physical requirement both have.

    (e) Give only and extra military service pay to diffence personnel , rest everything should be same as civilian counter parts . All will be happy

  36. Well said fogi


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