Sunday, 29 November 2015

Pragati Maidan available for Defexpo, says ITPO

Discontent grows at MoD plan to shift Defexpo and Aero India to Goa

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 29th Nov 15

As opposition mounts in Goa to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s plan to shift India’s two biggest defence exhibitions --- Defexpo and Aero India --- to that state, it now emerges the controversial decision to move to Goa is based on a flawed premise.

The defence ministry had said Defexpo 2016 was shifting to Goa because the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) would be renovating Pragati Maidan next February, when the Defexpo was scheduled.

Yet, ITPO officials contacted by Business Standard confirm that Pragati Maidan would be available in February, if the defence ministry reconsiders its plan to shift.

“We are keen that the defence ministry holds Defexpo in Pragati Maidan, rather than Goa. It is our most prestigious exhibition, and our grounds and facilities will be available to them as usual,” says RP Dhusia, Deputy General Manager (Civil), ITPO.

Besides its prestige, Defexpo is also ITPO’s biggest revenue earner. Meenakshi Singh, who handles marketing for ITPO, said Defexpo 2014 earned Rs 13 crore for ITPO, more than 10 per cent of its annual revenue of Rs 125 crore.

Dhusia says ITPO has had long-standing plans to renovate Pragati Maidan, which the defence ministry is aware of. However, no work is imminent since the government has never accorded financial sanctions.

While the defence ministry has cited renovation of Pragati Maidan as the reason to move Defexpo to Goa, no rationale has been offered for also shifting Aero India --- which was held in Bengaluru on odd years, while Delhi hosts Defexpo on even years.

The decision to shift Aero India has stirred up a hornet’s nest in Goa, with civil society bodies alleging that this was part of a major land scam. They have credibly argued that the need for a new runway for Aero India would trigger further land acquisition.

Business Standard has reported (November 23, “Land acquisition cloud on Manohar Parrikar”) that Goa NGOs like United Goans Foundation (UGF) have launched a popular movement to block the state government’s transfer to the defence ministry of 150 acres that Panjim had earlier acquired from the Naqueri-Betul panchayat for the Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), citing the need for job creation.

Goan suspicions are further inflamed by contradictory statements from Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, who is widely regarded as a political placeholder, who allows his predecessor, Manohar Parrikar, to pull the strings from backstage.

Goa newspaper, Herald, quoted Parsekar as promising that the defence ministry would only use the land only temporarily, for the duration of Defexpo and Aero India. However, documents obtained by the Naqueri-Betul panchayat through the Right to Information (RTI) act, suggest Parsekar was not being truthful.

The documents, which Business Standard possesses, include a personal letter from Parrikar to Parsekar dated June 12, asking for “allotment of about 150 acres of land on the coastline which can accommodate 10,000 Ft (feet) Runway along the coast so that a permanent venue for conduct of Aero Show and Defexpo can be set up (sic).”

The GIDC noting sheet on which Parrikar’s request was quickly granted, explicitly sanctions “a permanent venue for conduct of Aero Show and Defexpo…”

In an editorial, Herald has lamented, “(J)ust one letter by the Defence Minister asking for land… was treated not as a request but an order by the Parsekar government.”

In addition to the discontent in Goa and the ITPO, arms corporations planning to exhibit in Defexpo complain bitterly about the ad hoc decision-making. “It takes a year of planning and crores of rupees to participate in a major exhibition. First it was decided to move Defexpo from Delhi to Goa. Then, because making Goa ready would take time, it was postponed from February 17-20 to March-end.”

Pragati Maidan, a 123-acre complex in the heart of Delhi with more than 61,290 square feet of covered exhibition area in 16 display halls and 10,000 square metres of open display area, offers a far better option say international exhibitors than the empty land in Goa, on which the DEO plans to set up a tented show.

The defence ministry did not respond to Business Standard’s written request for comments.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Parrikar gets experts’ report on improving civil-military relations

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 26th Nov 15

On Tuesday evening, close by where military veterans are staging a long-running protest to support their “one rank, one pension” demand, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was handed a 509-page report by an expert committee on measures needed to repair relations with serving and retired soldiers, sailors and airmen.

With civil-military relations deteriorating over the years, and with a communication gap widening between the military and the ministry, Parrikar has identified the need to correct this as one of his priorities.

If the committee’s 75 recommendations are accepted and implemented by Parrikar, the military will start recognising and catering for ailments peculiar to soldiers like “post traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD); and “disabilities due to the inherent stress and strain of military service”.

In a revolutionary change to the culture of military discipline enforcement, informal interactions and face-to-face conversations will replace the highly formalised courtroom culture in which accused get little opportunity to convey their viewpoints.

A chapter on “military justice reform” recommends a transformation of the currently ad-hoc dispensation of military justice through institutions like the “court martial”. If these recommendations are accepted, “courts martial” will be permanently established in specific military stations, so that they are guided primarily by institutional norms, rather than the personality of local commanders.

Further, the committee has recommended cutting down on almost 17,000 pending military cases by eliminating unnecessary appeals. “We have recommended that court decisions in favour of employees should be respected by the ministry, with the verdict appealed in only exceptional cases”, says one of the committee members. Currently, the ministry appeals almost reflexively against all adverse verdicts.

In a nod to social media and modern communications, the committee recommends that commanders run blogs “to promote an interactive process with the rank and file.”

The committee has attempted to attract more “short service commission officers” (SSCOs) to the services, who would serve for 5-14 years, thereby providing junior battlefield commanders who do not stay on to compete for higher rank vacancies. It has proposed to entitle SSCOs to the “ex-servicemen’s contributory health scheme” (ECHS) for the rest of their lives, and to a contributory pension scheme.

Since there are just about 10,000 retired SSCOs, this is not expected to have any major effect on the ECHS which caters for 3 million retired personnel and dependents.

Many of these recommendations will be considered revolutionary by conservative government officials, as well as by the conservative military hierarchy. However, Parrikar, in his constitution of the committee, made it inevitable that he would get unorthodox, even radical recommendations.

In contrast to the garden-variety defence ministry committee peopled by politicians and bureaucrats, this unusual five-member committee included: Kargil war veteran and limb amputee marathon runner, Major DP Singh; military jurisprudence expert Major Navdeep Singh; former top military judge, Major General T Prasad, and two well-regarded retired lieutenant generals, Mukesh Sabharwal and Richard Khare.

In a statement after submitting their report, the committee members thanked Parrikar “for not just being willing to take the bold step of identifying these issues which have caused major heartburn but more importantly for ensuring that only apolitical personalities with domain knowledge were a part of the Panel.”

The committee, constituted in July, has submitted its report in four months. According to the committee: “The process of consideration of the Report would be initiated (by the ministry) after 25th December 2015.”

In a statement, the defence ministry has acknowledged: “The Committee has postulated practical, workable, reformatory and gradual solutions.”

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A hammer blow for the military: it is the biggest loser in the 7th Pay Commission

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 24th Nov 15

Where you stand on the recently released Seventh Central Pay Commission (7th CPC) report depends upon where you sit. Macro-economists, viewing the report through the lens of fiscal prudence, might conclude the Commission has been overly generous. Surprisingly, many central government employees who are beneficiaries of this largesse would partially agree. Viewing remuneration through the lens of cutthroat inter-service competition, most would complain the Commission has given too much to rival services and too little to their own. Even more than absolute benefits, each service wants to gain relative to rival services, since this determines relative seniority and status. Employees of Service X would applaud a Rs 5,000 raise, in tandem with a Rs 3,000 raise for Services Y and Z, more than they would a Rs 10,000 raise across the board.

In this relative sense the clear gainers from the 7th CPC are the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFoS), assuming the government implements the CPC report in toto (historically, governments have added benefits to what CPCs recommended). The biggest relative loser is, once again, the military. Historically, even while it has demanded parity with the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the army has been equated with the IPS, much to its chagrin. Now, even worse, with the 7th CPC places the IPS (and, almost in passing, the IFoS) on a level with the IAS.

To see how this so, let us start at the beginning. There are two main categories of central government employees: the “All India Services” --- the, IAS, IFS, IPS, IFoS and the military. The second is Organised Group ‘A’ Services --- Customs & Excise, Railways, Border Roads Organisation, Indian Ordnance Factory Service, and a host of others.

The 3rd CPC, which was convened in 1970 (and was the first without a military member), formally granted the IAS and IFS superiority over all other services. In justifying this, the 3rd CPC argued 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 responsibility, the IAS and IFS were granted an extra increment at three successive seniority grades --- “senior time scale”, “junior administrative grade” and “selection grade”, to which IAS officers are usually promoted at four, nine and 13 years of service respectively. Thus, by the time IAS/IFS officers had served 13 years, they had three increments more than contemporaries in other services. This lead in pay, seniority and status continued for the rest of their service.

The 7th CPC’s bombshell recommendation, tucked away on Page 151, is that this relative advantage enjoyed by the IAS/IFS, should be extended to the IPS and the IFoS, leaving the military out in the cold. After having hotly debated this issue, the 7th CPC report notes: “The Chairman is of the view that the fundamental principle for determining the remuneration for any position is that it should be based on the complexity and difficulty of the duties and responsibility of the job in question. The criticality of functions at the district administration level holds good equally for the IAS, IPS as well as the IFoS. Therefore, some additional remuneration, in the early stages of their career indeed is justified not only for the IAS but also for the IPS and IFoS.”

Furthermore, the advantage over the military will now be doubled. The Chairman has recommended the IAS/IFS edge “may continue in the form of two additional increments @ 3 percent each (sic) in the proposed pay matrix. The same is being recommended for Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service as well. In so far as the Indian Foreign Service is concerned, the existing dispensation shall continue.”

Effectively, this means IAS, IPS and IFoS officers would get six additional increments by the time they complete thirteen years of service; while the IFS would continue to get three increments. The military gets nothing, apparently in the continuing belief that its functions are not as complex, difficult and critical as the other four All India Services.

With the IAS advantage threatened, Vivek Rae --- the former IAS official on the 7th CPC --- has dissented on this proposal. His six-page dissent note justifies a continued financial edge for the IAS, since its officers “occupy the commanding heights of the civil service structure not through patronage, but through a highly competitive and transparent selection process.”

This false notion of a difficult selection process is rejected by the third member of the 7th CPC, Rathin Roy, who correctly points out that IAS/IFS officers are selected in a common selection process with the IPS and IFoS. Roy concludes that no special attributes can be ascribed to the former, and that “no edge should be granted to any service purely by virtue of belonging to such.”

This unprecedented discrimination against the military is being justified in a trickle of newspaper articles that argue untenably that the military benefits from attractive allowances, especially military service pay (MSP). However, the figures tell another story: there are less than 50 military allowances, compared to about 90 for civilian officials. Moreover, a large number of military allowances have been subsumed into a “risk-hardship matrix”, in which every military posting gets a standard allowance based on the “risk” and “hardship” profile. The Siachen Glacier, which has the highest degree of both risk and hardship, brings soldiers posted there an allowance of Rs 31,500 per month. In contrast a civilian bureaucrat from the All India Services draws 30 per cent of his salary as “hardship allowance” when he is posted anywhere outside what officials regard as a comfort zone. For example a senior IAS official posted in Guwahati will draw Rs 70,000 per month as “hardship allowance”, compared to Rs 31,500 per month drawn by military officers in Siachen.

Military personnel draw MSP, like other militaries the world over, to compensate for the “intangible hardships” of military service, including separation and risk. In the UK, where it is called “X-Factor Pay”, it is calculated at 15 per cent of salary. In India, where MSP is only paid to brigadiers and below, it is under 10 per cent for most. There was similar heartburn over “entitled rations” that military personnel drew. But no longer; the 7th CPC withdraws “entitled rations” in peace stations.

IAS bureaucrats like to argue that pay and status are not linked. Yet, in practice, pay determines status. Already, senior police officials in Jammu & Kashmir decline to attend meetings of the United Headquarters (UHQ), a top-level body that meets to synergise army, police and bureaucratic efforts to tackle extremism. The policeman’s logic: they are senior to the UHQ chairman (the army corps commander) because they draw higher salaries. Once the 7th CPC is implemented, and the IPS unprecedentedly elevated above the military, such problems will only be compounded.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Parrikar faces Goa storm over land acquisition for Defexpo and Aero India

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 23rd Nov 15

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s home state, Goa, is seething with resentment at their former chief minister’s initiative to obtain for the defence ministry 150 acres of priceless land in Betul, Goa.

Parrikar wants the land for shifting India’s two major defence exhibitions to Goa --- Defexpo (land and naval systems), and Aero India (aerospace). On July 30, Business Standard broke the story that the defence ministry had decided to shift Defexpo 2016 to Goa (“Defexpo 2016 moves to Goa from Delhi”).

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Parrikar’s successor and a political acolyte, is willing to hand over the land. But a local NGO, United Goans Foundations (UGF), is leading the resistance against what its leaders allege is a thinly disguised land grab.

Goa newspaper, Herald, which first reported these developments, has titled this: “Parrikar’s Battle of Betul”.

Documents obtained through Right to Information (RTI) applications, which Business Standard has accessed, show that Parrikar personally wrote to Parsekar on June 12, asking for “allotment of about 150 acres of land on the coastline which can accommodate 10,000 Ft (feet) Runway along the coast so that a permanent venue for conduct of Aero Show and Defexpo can be set up (sic).”

Parsekar cleared this in quick time. A noting of July 8 shows that the government of Goa had already given the green light to the defence ministry.

The documents show that, in meetings on July 15 and 24, Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) granted “in principle” approval for allocating 150 acres in Quitol Industrial Estate to the defence ministry. This falls within the Naqueri-Betul panchayat.

UGF chief Ashish Kamat says: “The decision to hold these exhibitions in Goa came as a shock. Land is precious in our tiny state, and there was already resentment over the acquisition of over 23 lakh (2.3 million) square metres of land from the Naqueri-Betul panchayat for the GIDC, promising jobs for locals. No jobs have materialised, nor will any arise from these exhibitions which are held for one week each year.”

Kamat says locals fear that the initial acquisition of six lakh square metres is only the thin end of the wedge, which will be followed by further demands for land. This is because the Quitol Industrial Estate land proposed to be handed to the defence ministry allows a maximum runway length of 1.5 kilometres, just half of the required 3 kilometres.

“Either they will acquire more land, or this becomes the world’s first runway with a U-turn in the middle”, quips Kamat.

The jibe about a U-turn runway is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Parrikar, who many Goans disparage as “U-turn minister”. Parrikar had publicly promised, when he was chief minister three years ago, that no more Goa land would be handed over to the Centre.

On November 17, a signed analysis in the Herald pointed out that “3,000 metres of runway length with a runway strip width of 300 metres (as per ICAO standards) is 900,000 square metres (225 acres) and the land required for taxiways, apron, massive exhibition halls, hangars, terminal buildings, control tower, space for other structures like fuel tanks, fuel dumps, emergency fire service and infrastructure would be many times over the requested area.”

The article goes on: “It looks like Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has totally lost his bearings or a land grab scam with a huge hidden agenda is in transition”.

The UGF (a politically non-partisan body) has also criticised the bypassing of an “environment impact assessment” for a project on the ecologically sensitive coastline. Nor has there been any “social impact assessment” relating to this project.

The land acquired for Quitol Industrial Area was earlier community land, which, in Goa, is governed under the “Code of Communidades, 1961”. Locals are bitterly resentful at the lack of jobs and benefits that has accrued from the GIDC so far.

Kamat also points out that, if this land is acquired and an airfield built, Goa will then have three major airports: Dabolim, the naval air base that has doubled as a civil airport; Mopa, the controversial new airport that is proposed; and Quitol, which will be used for just one week in a year.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Afghan-India strategic agreement being operationalized; Modi visit to Kabul on the cards

Afghan minister, Hekmat Karzai, says New Delhi will host next Heart of Asia conference

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 22nd Nov 15

Afghan deputy foreign minister, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, who has been in New Delhi since Monday, says his main task was to operationalize the Indo-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), and discuss an agenda for a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Afghansitan.

Speaking on Thursday to a Delhi think tank, Karzai made it clear that President Ashraf Ghani’s honeymoon with Pakistan was over, and that Kabul was back to business as usual with India.

After Ghani assumed the presidency in September 2014, he had sent ripples through New Delhi’s strategic establishment by first visiting China and then Pakistan, even calling on that country’s army chief, General Raheel Sharif, before meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

During that brief honeymoon with Islamabad, Kabul forswore arms supplies from India, even though the SPA explicitly provided for that. Karzai now reveals a fresh “wish-list” of weaponry was given to New Delhi earlier this month by visiting Afghan National Security Advisor, Hanif Atmar.

“We had our National Security Advisor who came here a week ago. He had extensive conversations with his counterpart (Indian NSA Ajit Doval). Much of what is referred to as the “wish list” was discussed in detail”, said Karzai.

Pointing to a growing role for India in regional peace efforts, Karzai revealed that New Delhi would host the next Heart of Asia Conference, a prestigious conflict resolution initiative for Afghanistan. This year’s Heart of Asia Conference is being held in Pakistan on December 9. It remains unclear whether Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend.

Karzai publicly explained, for the first time to an Indian audience, how Kabul’s rapprochement with Islamabad foundered last year. He said Afghan officials laid down three conditions to Pakistan’s military, which had volunteered to broker talks between Kabul and the Taliban. First, the Taliban should not adopt the symbolism of the “Islamic Emirate”, as the Taliban regime called itself, including declaring the Taliban leader the “Emir ul Momineen”, or “commander of the faithful”. Second, the Taliban should not have any big gatherings in Pakistan and, third, a series of major Taliban attacks planned in Afghanistan should be blocked.

“Unfortunately, all three requests were not complied with. (After Mullah Omar’s death was announced) Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was appointed the Emir-ul-Momineen… There were massive meetings (in Pakistan) that we were aware of to consolidate his leadership. And major attacks took place in Afghanistan”, said Karzai.

“In the light of these, we called off the talks. That does not mean that we have completely shut the door (with Pakistan). But a serious level of trust building needs to take place before we start engaging in these talks”, insists Karzai.

Karzai told Business Standard that, notwithstanding the Pakistan factor, the Kabul-New Delhi relationship “is much stronger than the strategic partnership”.

Comparing the two, Karzai stated: “A country that provides extensive assistance (to Afghanistan), builds dams, builds a parliament building… clearly gets a lot of sympathy… But at the same time, when you see what we are receiving from Pakistan, it truly hurts us… Pakistan is associated with (militant) safe sanctuaries… Our greatest desire and request is that Afghans should be left to their own destiny, to stand on their own feet, but sadly that is not happening.”

While the US has slowed its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, undertaking to retain 9,800 troops in that country, Karzai says Kabul knows it will have to be responsible for security in the country. He says the international community can only provide support, which will be finalized in two major conferences next year.

“In July 2016, the NATO conference in Warsaw will look at financing, training and supporting Afghan security forces in next three years, that is 2018-20. We expect the international community will continue to provide the support we are looking for.”

“In October 2016, we will have the Brussels conference on civilian assistance. We will put forward our development agenda… so that, instead of just looking at the military, we also have a civilian development agenda”, said Karzai.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Book Review: Crouching dragon, kneeling tiger

Title         :   Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)
Author     :   Bharat Karnad
Publisher :   Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Pages       :   552
Price        :   Rs 875/-

Followers of this country’s strategic and security policy know well that to read Bharat Karnad is to imbibe the most hawkish Indian worldview and perspectives outside the Sangh Parivar. Over the years, Karnad has steadfastly advocated staring down China (India’s real rival, he asserts), ignoring Pakistan (irrelevant to a major power like India), developing, testing and deploying thermonuclear weapons (the final arbiter of power), establishing military bases abroad in areas like Central Asia (to outflank China and Pakistan) and a muscular, outgoing foreign policy (a la Israel) that tells any antagonist that she messes with India at her own peril.

A few lines from the first page of Karnad’s latest book sums up what he throws at you for the next 551 pages: “The United States did not become a globe-girdling country by staying behind the moats of the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans nor Britain ‘Great’ by restricting itself to the Dover Strait; Czarist Russia obtained strategic weight by extending its reach to the Pacific; Prussia was a truculent Central European kingdom until Bismarck used the Prussian Army to unify the Germanic states and elbow Austria and France out of their pivotal position in continental Europe; and Japan would have remained a small group of islands in the Asian Far East but for the Meiji Restoration and the vigorous policies it sparked. Great power-wise, the twenty-first century is no different than the previous ages in that a combination of widely defined interests; an outgoing, agile, and proactive foreign policy backed by economic might and military prowess; and the ability and, especially, the will to power and the determination to use it still matters.”

Those who dismiss Karnad as a right-wing crackpot are usually guilty of focusing mistakenly only on his more outrageous suggestions (more on that later). In fact, Karnad brings to his work a wide-ranging reading of history --- though some would contest his interpretation of it --- a compelling and often elegant writing style, and an unapologetic drive to conclusions that do not seek shelter behind caveats. Karnad’s expertise straddles the fields of strategy, diplomacy, nuclear weaponry and doctrine, and, importantly, defence planning and warfighting. This raises him above the bevy of former diplomats and intelligence officials who lord it over India’s think tank community without any clear idea of the grey realm where diplomacy shades into military coercion. This perspective imbues Karnad’s writing with an certitude that comes out in sentences like: “The problem in a nutshell is that the Indian government, military, and the policy circles are habituated to aiming low and hitting lower.”

Amongst thinkers who relish the notion of a non-aggressive, soft-treading India --- and there are many such, especially in the US and in India --- Karnad’s book will spark a fresh round of tut-tuting. His plans for boosting India’s power include abandoning nuclear “no-first-use” and resuming nuclear testing; placing “atomic demolition munitions” (miniature nukes) at Himalayan passes on the Sino-Indian border to block Chinese invading forces; basing nuclear missile submarines in Australia, from where Chinese targets are conveniently at hand; and arming Tibetan and Vietnamese guerrillas to fight China. India’s grand strategy must be to “meet China’s challenge, rather than… fight yesterday’s wars with a lesser foe (Pakistan)”; and to implement an “Asian Monroe Doctrine”, in which India becomes the sole security custodian of the Indian Ocean and other regional waters.

This is disruptive stuff, especially for conservative New Delhi policy elites whose strategy has traditionally accommodated international sentiments. Yet strategic thinkers should read Karnad’s prescription carefully, knowing they bookend India’s most provocative policy options. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi more inclined than his predecessors to assertiveness (though, so far at least, his policies are characterised more by continuity than transformative change), some of Karnad’s scenarios may well come to pass. A key former policymaker, the previous national security advisor, Shivshankar Menon, noted during the book’s release function in New Delhi that many of Karnad’s prescriptions were already part of the Indian governments policy, excepting, of course, the most aggressive and eye-catching recommendations. For the author, of course, this is not nearly enough! He believes India’s “ambition void” is ensuring that the country “is proving to be its own worst enemy.”

After deploring India’s namby-pamby strategy and diplomacy in his initial chapters, Karnad moves on to an equally hard-hitting critique of India’s military planning, structuring and warfighting plans. These latter chapters --- with titles like “Hard Power and the Deficit of Strategic Imagination”, and “Military Infirmities and Strengths” --- analyse in detail India’s defence forces and the military industrial complex that should be backing it with weapons and material. Karnad laments that India’s navy, air force and, especially, army, “haven’t implemented systemic changes to make them capable of obtaining decisive results fast…” Milder observers have been irritated by this comedy of errors; the irascible author, predictably, tears apart the subject with relish.

Amidst this carnage Karnad raises key issues. He dissects the viability of India’s “theatre switching” strategy--- or New Delhi’s option to retaliate to Chinese land strikes into, say, the sensitive Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh (where Chinese invaders would enjoy important advantages); by imposing a naval blockade on Chinese ships in the Indian Ocean (where the initative and advantage would lie with India). While this is a comforting thought for New Delhi policymakers, the author questions the viability of such a strategy: asking whether the navy could react quickly enough, and “is the sinking of a few Chinese warships and the apprehension of several merchantmen the equal of, and enough recompense for, the loss of valuable territory to China for good?”

A strategically and militarily educated reader will both enjoy Karnad’s book and be exasperated in equal measure by the certitude of his pronouncements. Even so, as one of the first studies of India’s security dilemmas to include a keen study of the military apparatus and the industrial backbone that undergirds it, this book will find a place in every strategic scholar’s library. 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Seventh CPC recommends higher salaries, OROP, big incentives to short service officers

Commission divided on “non-functional upgradation” (NFU) to military

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 20th Nov 15

The Seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC) has proposed a minimum 14.29 per cent raise in baseline military salaries, along with a simplified salary structure that merges “grade pay” with the pay band for each rank.

In recommendations that could meet the demands of the “one rank, one pension” (OROP) agitation, the report recommends giving pensioners a choice between two formulations. It proposes major incentives to “short service commission” (SSC) officers, to prepare them for second careers after short tenures in the military.

However, the Seventh CPC is divided on the controversial issue of extending “non-functional upgradation”, (NFU) to the military, which was left out when the Sixth CPC extended NFU to Organised Group ‘A’ Services in 2006.

Salaries raised

The starting salary of a sepoy (from “sipahi”, the army’s entry rank) has been raised from Rs 8,460 (plus grade pay, plus allowances) to Rs 21,700 per month. At the other end of the rank spectrum, a lieutenant general will now earn above Rs 200,000 per month.

New salaries in the lowest grades (Pay Band 1) will be 2.57 times higher than the existing base line salaries. This caters for a multiplier of 2.25 for merging Dearness Allowance (DA) into the salary.

According to the report, the sepoy’s raised salary (2.57 times his current salary) “includes a factor of 2.25 to account for DA neutralisation, assuming that the rate of Dearness Allowance would be 125 per cent at the time of implementation of the new pay as on 01.01.2016 (January 1, 2016).”

Higher pay bands will get progressively higher salaries “on the premise that role, responsibility and accountability increases at each step in the hierarchy.” Pay Band 2 (junior commissioned officers, or JCOs) will get a higher index of 2.62; Pay Band 3 (lieutenant to major) will get 2.67; The “senior administrative grade” and “higher administrative grades” (lieutenant colonel to lieutenant general) will get a multiple of 2.72. The apex grade (army commanders) will get a multiple of 2.81, while the three service chiefs will benefit from an index of 2.78.

While parity has been sought between military and civilian salaries, the former would continue to benefit from “military service pay”, or MSP, to compensate them for the rigorous conditions of military service. MSP for military officers has been raised from Rs 6,000 to Rs 15,500 per month; and for JCOs and other ranks (ORs) from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,200 per month. MSP is reckoned as basic pay for the purpose of calculating DA and pensions.


In accordance with its mandate, the Pay Commission has deliberated in detail on military pensions and provided detailed recommendations. It has recommended two formulae for calculating pensions, with the pensioner being entitled to the higher of the two calculations.

In the first calculation, each pensioner who retires before January 1, 2016 (when the Seventh CPC is expected to be implemented) will first be fixed in the new pay matrix, based on the rank at which he retired, as well as his length of service. Then, after adding MSP to that to arrive at his notional salary, his pension will be half that figure.

The second calculation will be based on the pension fixed when the Sixth CPC was implemented. That earlier pension will be multiplied by 2.57 to arrive at the revised pension. The pensioner will then get whichever pension is the higher. Since calculating the first figure might take time, the Seventh CPC has recommended that the pension be paid according to the latter calculation till the former is completed.

As on January 1, 2014, there were 24.1 lakh defence pensioners, out of which 18.6 lakhs were military personnel and 5.5 lakh were defence civilians.

A proposal that the government will scrutinise minutely potentially extends the benefits of OROP to civilian government employees and CAPFs like the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force.

According to the report, “The commission recommends revised pension formulation for civ employees including CAPF and defence personnel who have retired before 01/01/2016. This formulation will bring about parity between past pensioners with current retirees.”

Short Service Commission

The Seventh CPC has proposed important new benefits for Short Service Commission (SSC) officers, who join the army for five-year tenures, extendable to ten years, and then a maximum of fourteen years. SSC officers do not earn pension, which becomes payable only to officers who complete 20 years of service. The army needs more SSC officers, who would leave service early, reducing the already stiff competition for higher ranks.

To make SSC more attractive, the report recommends “severance compensation”, amounting to “two months pay for each year up to 10 years, and four months pay beyond 10 years to 14 years.” In addition, the report proposes “professional enhancement training leave” of two years, to SSC officers opting for another five-year extension.

This would allow SSC officers to obtain skills for second careers after leaving service, and a corpus to establish themselves in that career.

In addition, the report recommends that SSC officers are granted concessions for appearing in civil service examinations, including reduction in the number of papers from eight to four; introduction of military science as an optional subject; and age relaxation of five years.

Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU)

The Seventh CPC has disagreed within itself on the grant of NFU to the military. The Sixth CPC had extended NFU to Organised Group ‘A’ Services, but not to the military. NFU allows officers who are not approved for promotion to draw the salary of higher promotion grades, as their more meritorious batch-mates are promoted to those grades.

The Chairman felt that “NFU should be extended to the officers of the Defence forces and CAPF”. However, Vivek Rae and Rathin Roy, the two members, have dissented with the chairman’s views, opining: “NFU till SAG and HAG level, granted to Organised Group ‘A’ Services should be withdrawn. They have also not supported extension of NFU to Defence Forces and CAPFs, including ICG (Indian Coast Guard”.

The government appointed the Seventh Pay Commission on February 28, 2014. Retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur, heads it and its two members are former petroleum secretary, Vivek Rae; and Rathin Roy, director of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP). Its secretary is Meena Agarwal. The commission was to submit its recommendations by December 31, 2015.