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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Armed forces demand separate Pay Commission

The Sixth Pay Commission report has left the military dissatisfied.

The military top brass on Thursday met Defence Minister AK Antony demanding higher salaries in order to curb attrition.

The defence forces have also demanded a separate Pay Commission to look at their grievances in addition to the present report.

There were no takers for two-thirds of the seats at military academies this year, and the hike addresses that concern. The entry-level officers get an almost 100 per cent jump.

However, the Commission fails the military at its middle rung — the level where many are queuing up to quit. Those with 20 years of service and more, get a real increase of less than 15 per cent.

“We were expecting around 200 per cent hike,” Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor says.

Rankers too are disappointed. The hike they get is between Rs 1000 and Rs 2000.

“What sort of education can a colonel provide to his children with the salary that he takes home, which is around Rs 25,000 – 27,000?” says VP Career Launchers Colonel (Retd) Gopal Karaunakaran.

Another factor that rankles the military is the Pay Commission model, which seeks a balance between military and civil ranks.

A civilian IAS officer takes under 20 years to become a Joint Secretary with virtual certainty.

And it takes army officers 33 years to reach the equivalent rank of Major General, and only three per cent make it to this rank.

Soldiers complain that the comparison is unfair and press for a separate Pay Commission for the military.

“When my daughter was born in Kerala, I was at Siachen. I came to know about it four days later through a telegram. So can you compensate that?” Karaunakaran asks.

Perhaps, the Pay Commission has failed to sense the feeling of inadequacy in a seething military.

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