I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell. ~Harry S Truman
This blogger considers itself to be no expert on the SCPC and had largely assumed, by popular perception, that the SCPC had handed a raw deal to the military officers. The commonly held view is that the Committee of Secretaries also perpetauted the wrong on Lt Colonels by placing them in a lower grade pay and a lower scale, compared to their pre-SCPC status.
It did trigger a contrarian thought when the much maligned Indian Express editorial said:
The pay commission held sharply differing, and more rational, views on what constituted an equivalent rank.
When a commenter, Prakash, asked this question of pre-SCPC salaries and their equivalence now (here and here), there appeared a need to revisit the SCPC report and understand their logic. Prakash had asked:
So my point is that even if I dont consider my Rank pay, still my Basic pay is Rs 13500/-, so how is it that 6 PC fixed me in Grade Pay of Rs 6600/- which as per SSPC para 2.2.18 was given civilan with basic of 12000-375-16500 (S-21).
…And now when Lt Cols grade pay was enhanced to 7600 then what was the need to shift both S-21 and S-22 also to 7600/-.
A cursory glance at the SCPC report provided the answer. As per Paragraph 2.3.10 of the SCPC report:
(ii) Special Disturbance Allowance was given to the Defence Forces officers in 1950 as a temporary measure to improve their earnings without interfering with the pay scales introduced as per the recommendations of the Post War Pay Committee which had brought down the pay scales of many Indian Commissioned Officers (ICOs).
(iii) An edge was provided by the Third CPC in the Defence Forces officer’s pay scales because the Commission had converted the then existing Special Disturbance Allowance into an edge in starting pay vis-à-vis the civilian group A officers.
(iv) The Fourth CPC had continued this edge in devising the running pay band for Defence Forces officers up to the rank of Brigadier and had revised the integrated pay scale taking in account the time taken for promotion to different pay scales. The element of rank pay was carved out of the pay scales so revised after giving the edge vis-à-vis civilian group A officers.
(v) The Fifth CPC maintained this edge even though it reverted from running pay bands to individual pay scales for various officers’ ranks in the Defence Forces.
The logic of Military Service Pay, as per the SCPC, is actually about the edge in payscales provided to the service officers in the IIIrd CPC, because the IIIrd CPC had disbanded the Special Disturbance Allowance and merged it as an edge in the starting basic pay for service officers. Thus the starting basic pay of a Gp A service officer in the Vth CPC was Rs 8000/-, while that of a Lieutenant was Rs 8250/-.
When this edge in basic pay, that had been provided to compensate the loss of Special Disturbance Allowance, has been restored as the MSP by the SCPC, the basic pay equivalence of Vth CPC doesn’t hold good any more. If parity on the basis of basic pay has to be restored, then it has to be after reducing that edge. The equivalence of a Lt Colonel to the erstwhile S-21 ore S-22 grade, in the same grade pay, emanates from this logic.
The aim of this analysis is neither to condone the actions of the government or the SCPC nor to berate the service officers. Remember the words of Sun Tzu-
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
One can only counter the opposing counsel’s logic if one understands it threadbare. The question now is – How can it be countered?
The major lacunae in the SCPC’s logic is the veracity of the conversion of this Special Disturbance Allowance by the IIIrd CPC in to an edge in the starting basic pay. Someone in possession of that document can verify that contention and the methodology employed to calculate this edge. Does that edge/ SDA get fully compensated by the MSP now?
The SCPC, in effect, claims that they are restoring the parity of service officers prevailing before the IIIrd CPC. What the SCPC leaves unsaid is that this equivalence of status is after considering the damage done to the status of military ranks by the cadre reviews and the AVSC.This is amply evident in the SCPC report, when it talks about the lateral movement of military officers to the CPMFs.
For smooth assimilation of PBORs and SSCOs on completion of their stint in the Defence Forces in CPMFs, similar pay scales along with one to one co-relation of analogous posts in the Defence Forces and CPMFs would be necessary. The normal stint of SSCOs in Defence Forces is 7 years. After 7 years of service, an officer in the Defence Forces will be in the rank of Major/equivalent. In CPMFs, a direct Group A recruit with 7 years of service is likely to be in the scale of Rs.10000-15200 carrying the post of Deputy Commandant. Even otherwise, the posts of Major/equivalent in the Defence Forces and Deputy Commandant in CPMFs need to be treated as analogous because a direct recruit officer takes minimum 6 years to be promoted to this post in both the organizations. The Commission is fully aware that start of the pay scale of Major/equivalent (Rs.11600-325-14850) in Defence Forces is higher than that of Deputy Commandants (Rs.10000-15200). This, however, is on account of the edge prevailing in the Defence Forces which will continue till the time the officer serves there in form of Military Service Pay (MSP).[Paragraph 2.3.11]
The final issue is of the damage done to the services by carving the Rank pay out of the Basic Pay in the IVth CPC. It was done of the own volition of the services headquarters and it continues to haunt the services even today. While the services pay commission cells proclaimed it as an achievement – as compensation for vagaries of military service – it has turned out to be an unwieldy complication, which the services are unable to untangle now.
Enough water has flown under the bridge since those days but the arguments of the services, serving officers and veterans continue to be based on emotions, past glories, wishful thinking and personal idiosyncrasies. The services can only win this debate by pure logic, basing it on the fundamentals of the pay commission and principles of equity and parity. Any bright ideas?