Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Chiefs of Staff
Admiral RH Tahiliani (Retd.)
In our Armed Forces, if the three Chiefs stand together, I have always believed, that the nation will never deny the services what is fair for the Armed Forces in terms of emoluments and other benefits. This was amply demonstrated during the IV Pay Commission in the mid-1980s.

During the days of the British rule the Armed Forces were given scales of pay which were marginally higher than the Civil Servants in the country.

After independence, during the second post war Pay Commission and the Third Pay Commission, these were brought down drastically.

A Joint Secretary in the Government of India was equated with a Major General and equivalent in the Armed Forces, although the former had only 17 or 18 years service. This seemed to me and my colleagues most unfair because it took an officer about 27-28 years to become a Major General.

I became Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee after late Arun Vaidya retired on 31 January 1986, since Lakshman Katre had, sadly for the Air Force and the country, passed away on 1st July 1985. I remained Chairman for 22 months out of my three years tenure as Chief of the Naval Staff. I was lucky to have colleagues like late General Sunderji and late Air Chief Marshal La Fontaine, who thought the way I did.

I had decided that if I did not get justice from the IV Pay Commission then I would resign. I asked my two colleagues whether they were with me. One of them said without any hesitation that he was with me and he would also resign. The second one had no choice but to agree! We asked for a running pay band and not scales of pay which were linked to particular ranks.

I recall the FA (Defence Service) coming to plead with me that we should accept Rs. 50 less for a Brigadier compared to Joint Secretary. I had to see the Prime Minister a couple of times to plead our case. I requested that pay should also be governed by length of service and not merely by the rank and appointment. Late Justice Shinghal, who was the Chairman of the Pay Commission was gracious enough to ring me up and say that the Pay Commission had approved our proposal.

To cut a long story short, a Brigadier on promotion got Rs. 6150/- or Rs. 6300/- depending upon years of service whereas a Joint Secretary’s pay was fixed at Rs. 5900/-. Because we dug our heels in, the award for the Armed Forces was given in May 1987, three months after the award for the Civil Servants.

I was scheduled to visit the U.S.A. in early May 1987. I was apprehensive that behind my back the Government may issue a notification putting us on par with the Civil Servants as hitherto.

I left my letter of resignation with my Vice Chief to be used in such an eventuality. I am happy that the letter remained unused.

I wish the Armed Forces had dug their heels in with subsequent Pay Commissions also to get what is only fair for the uniformed fraternity, but that is another story.


  1. Yes ! If chiefs take a stand ,there is no choice with GOI ,but to accept.It is so simple -quick and easy.

    Also look at other such depts of Govt both at center and states ,such as police ,civil services....etc ,they simply derive -as seen from existing edge , they have gained over AF.

    Where as Chiefs have remained passive and silent , when so many disparities and down gradations were thrust on AF.


  2. Had IVCPC recommendations been analysed thread bare and compared with civil side before issue of notification, AF in general and AF offrs in particular wouldn't have suffered. The back ground for recommending integrated scale for 2Lt to Brig was stagnation which i feel was myopic.

  3. Admiral Sir, Why at this stage?? If you had guts and concern for the people you commanded you should have done something then and there. But you were naïve enough or rather selfish enough not to speak up ---- like the present lot of chiefs !!!

  4. I think Maj Danaplan has done more for the AF than the three chiefs put together and it is not that the chiefs did not want to do anything for the AF its just that they did not know their beans like Maj Danapalan did. The situation has not changed much even now else the chiefs at the time of the VI pay commission would have consulted Maj Danapalan . Their big egos do not permit them to take advice from a retd Major .I would be surprised if any chief has ever met Maj Danapalan