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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

7th Pay Commission and the military - By Nitin Gokhale

Indian Military Veterans

7th Pay Commission and the military - By Nitin Gokhale

Since 29 June, the day when the Central government announced the acceptance of the 7th Pay Commission report, there have been quite a few voices of concern, anguish and plain anger have been emanating from military veterans over the issue of continuing degradation of the military’s status in the overall government hierarchy. Most of the anger is justified but some of the contentions are not, simply because they are not based on facts as they obtain at the moment.

Take the case of allowances and the case of non-functional financial upgrade have NOT been accepted by the government and remain on table for discussions and their eventual resolution. Unfortunately, in absence of the actual notification, the old issue about disparity in allowances to be given to a civil service officer posted in the north-east vis-a-vis a soldier posted in Siachen continues to be cited as fact when in reality, the government has refused to accept this anomalous recommendation. However, many write-ups, discussions, WhatsApp and Facebook messages continue to harp on this single point, creating confusion in the minds of majority of serving and retired personnel.

The need right now is to have patience and not hasty conclusions, past experience notwithstanding. The 7thPay Commission had made some completely absurd recommendations which, the government, after proper analysis aided by the three service headquarters, has NOT accepted. Contrary to several emails and WhatApp messages going around, rations to the military personnel have NOT been discontinued. Neither has the disability pension been reduced. But many of seem to ignore this. 
Yes, several anomalies carried over from the 6th Pay Commission continue to remain unresolved; yes the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are becoming increasingly vocal demanding parity or even higher status from that of the military; yes, the bureaucrats will try their best to degrade the military. But, like their predecessors, the current military leadership is doing its best to fight the onslaught. Some battles will be won; some others will result in stalemate and a few will be lost. The trick is to lend full support to those who are leading the battle and not ridicule them.
But I am sorry to say many seniors are—wittingly or unwittingly—running down the current leadership across the three services without full knowledge of what they are trying. The best course forthe moment, in my view, is to hold the horses and wait for the notification to be available in writing before rushing to pronounce judgement.
I write this even as I get an earful every week from my 84-year old father—who retired as Subedar Major in 1982, for those who don’t know—for not being able to find out why his bank account does not show any enhanced pension more than six months after the announcement of the One Rank One Pension award! Despite my so-called reach and contacts, I am still waiting for a satisfactory answer from the department of Ex-servicemen (non) Welfare. That personal frustration notwithstanding, I feel the need is to wait a little more before deciding on the next course of action and not forward half-baked posts and ill-informed opinions without application of mind.
If considered judgement is not applied, the military community will once again look foolish as it did in forwarding—on a large scale– a fictitious interview with former IAS officer Vivek Rae (who was member of the 7th CPC), which ostensibly displayed his total contempt for the uniform. That is just one instance. As someone who has had the privilege of reporting on the government and especially on the MoD for over three decades, all that I can say is: don’t play into the hands of those inimical to the services. By making rash comments, sweeping generalisations and fictional charges, the military community is only aiding those who wish to see a servile, subservient and demoralised military.
This post is sure to anger many seniors and the perpetually ‘on the boil’ veterans but please view this issue in a broader perspective and introspect whether hasty conclusions are in the best interest of the organisation all of you had the privilege of serving.
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.

(The writer is one of South Asia’s well-known Security & Strategic Affairs analysts)

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