Monday, April 7, 2008

65 army officers quit after pay panel report

Unhappy with a pay panel’s recommendation, 65 officers of the Indian Army have put in their papers in last two weeks, an official said Monday. “Sixty-five officers of the army has resigned since the Sixth Pay Commission’s report (submitted) on March 24,” a senior defence official told IANS.

“The officers have sought a voluntary retirement and their applications will have to be processed before approval,” added the officer, who did not wish to be identified.

Most of them are of the colonel and lieutenant colonel ranks.

The large number of resignations in a span of just two weeks have come at a time the army is facing a shortage of 11,200 officers. Earlier, around 3,000 mid-level commanders had sought voluntary retirement to move to the lucrative private sector.

There has been a large-scale resentment among the rank and files of the armed forces over what they see as disparity between them and civil officers.

The officers’ representatives had a meeting with members of the Pay Commission April 4.

India’s military chiefs had April 1 met Defence Minister A.K. Antony to covey their disappointment over the pay scale recommendations.

Led by the Indian Navy chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor and the Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major met Antony in his South Block office and submitted their memorandum against the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.

This was the second such meeting in a week, with the service chiefs having met the minister March 27.

The defence ministry has now decided to take up the grievances of the forces with the Anomalies Committee of the finance ministry.

The pay commission, headed by former Supreme Court Justice B.N. Srikrishna, has recommended a 40 percent across-the-board pay hike for armed forces personnel, doubling their allowances and military service pay (MSP) for officers up to the rank of brigadier and equivalent, as also for PBORs.

Apart from pushing the case for PBORs, the forces had pointed out that after taking into account taxes and other deductions, the wage hike in real terms would amount to only 20 percent.

Then, the demand for parity of armed forces personnel with civilian employees has not been addressed, the memorandum says.

The recommendations translate into a take-home package - before tax - of Rs.25,760 for officers at the entry level of lieutenants and equivalent and rising to a maximum of Rs.65,090 for lieutenant generals and their equivalents.

The vice chiefs of the three services and army commanders and equivalents - also three-star officers - will get a fixed salary of Rs.80,000 per month.

In the case of PBORs, the commission has recommended that at the entry level, sepoys (privates) and their equivalents receive a minimum of Rs.7,860, rising to a maximum of Rs.40,600 for subedar majors and their equivalents.

The commission has also recommended military service pay of Rs.6,000 for officers up to the level of brigadier and equivalent and of Rs.1,000 for PBORs.

The recommendations will entail additional annual expenditure of Rs.63.86 billion ($1.5 billion) in the defence sector, the commission said in its report. It also said the exchequer would stand to save Rs.18 billion if its other recommendations are implemented.

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