Views of an IAS Offr........ Pay scales for the Armed Forces
We need a permanent solution to this tussle over emoluments so that the armed forces need only confront the enemies of the nation, saysT.R.Ramaswami ,IAS.
In the continuing debate on pay scales for the armed forces, there has to be a serious and transparent effort to ensure that the country is not faced with an unnecessary civil-military confrontation. That effort will have to come from the netas, who are the real and true bosses of the armed forces and not the civil bureaucracy.
A solution may lie in what follows. This country requires the best armed forces, the best police and the best civil service. In fact that is what the British ensured.. By best one means that a person chooses which service he wants as per his desires/capabilities and not based on the vast differential in prospects in the various services.
How much differential is there?
Take Maharashtra, one of the most parsimonious with police ranksthus still retaining some merit - The 1981 IPS batch have become 3-star generals, the 1987 are 2-star and the 1994 1-star. In the army the corresponding years are 1972, 1975, 1979. i.e. adifferential of 10-15 years. While the differential is more with theIAS, the variance with the IPS is all the more glaring because both are uniformed services and the grades are "visible" on the shoulders. First some general aspects. Only the armed forces are a real profession where you rise to the top only by joining at the bottom. < few people have realised this, and its long-term implications when compared to other professional streams....
We have had professors of economics become Finance Secretaries or even Governors of RBI. We have any number of MBBSs, engineers, MBAs, in the police force though what their qualifications lend to their jobs is a moot point. You can join at any level in the civil service, except Cabinet Secretary. A civil servant can move from Animal Husbandry to Civil Aviation to Fertilisers to Steel to yes, unfortunately, even to Defence..
.....But the army never asks for Brigade Commanders or a Commandant of the Army War College or even Director General Military Intelligence, even from RAW or IB. Army officers can and have moved into organizations like IB and RAWbut it is never the other way round. MBBS and Law graduates are only in the Medical or JAG Corps and do nothing beyond their narrow areas.
Every Army Chief - in any army - has risen from being a commander of a platoon to company to battalion to brigade to division to corps to army. In fact the professionalism is so intense that no non-armoured corps officer ever commands an armoured formation, the “first and possibly only exception in world military history" is General K. Sundarji.
Perhaps it is this outstanding professionalism that irks the civil services.
Next, one must note the rigidity and steep pyramid of the army's rank structure. In the civil services any post is fungible with any grade based on political expediency and the desires of the service. For example I know of one case where one department downgraded one post in another state and up-graded one in Mumbai just to enable someone continue in Mumbai after promotion!
You can't fool around like this in the armed forces. A very good Brigadier cannot be made a Major-General and continue as brigade commander. There has to be a clear vacancy for a Major General and even then there may be others better than him. Further the top five ranks in the army comprise only 10% of the officer strength. Contrast this with the civil services where entire batches become Joint Secretaries!
Even the meaning of the word "merit" is vastly different in the army and the civil services. Some years back an officer of the Maharashtra cadre claimed that he should be the Chief Secretary as he was first in the merit list. Which merit list? At the time of entry more than 35 years before! The fact is that this is how meritis decided in the IAS and IPS. Every time a batch gets promoted the inter-se merit is still retained as at the time of entry. In other words if you are first in a batch at the time of entry, then as long as you get promoted, you continue to remain first! This is like someone in the army claiming that he should become chief because he got the Sword of Honour at the IMA.
Even a Param Vir Chakra does not count for promotion, assuming that you are still alive.
In the armed forces, merit is a continuous process - each time a batch is promoted the merit list is redrawn according to your performance in all the previous assignments with additional weightage given not only to the last one but also to your suitability for the next one. Thus if you are a Brigade Commander and found fit to become a Major General, you may not get a division because others have been found better tohead a division. That effectively puts an end to your promotion to Lt. General.
The compensation package must therefore address all the above issues. In each service, anyone must get the same total compensation by the time he reaches the 'mode rank' of his service. "Mode" is a statistical term â€“ the value where the maximum number of variables fall.
In the IAS normally everyone reaches Director and in the IPS it is DIG. In the army, given the aforementioned rank and grade rigidities and pyramidical structure, the mode rank cannot exceed Colonel. Thus a Colonel's gross career earnings (not salary scales alone) must be at par with that of a Director. But remember that a Colonel retires at 54, but every babu from peon to Secretary at 60 regardless of performance.
Further, it takes 18-20 years to become a Colonel whereas in that time an IAS officer reaches the next higher grade of Joint Secretary, which is considered equal to a Major General.
These aspects and others - like postings in non-family stations - must be addressed while fixing the overall pay scales of Colonel and below. Thereafter, a Brigadier will be made equal to a Joint Secretary, a Major-General to an Additional Secretary and a Lt General to a Secretary. The Army Commanders deserve a new rank - Colonel General - and should be above a Secretary but below Cabinet Secretary.
The equalization takes place at the level of Cabinet Secretary and Army Chief.