I voted for Modi government last elections and man am I regretting it? All those foreign endeavours can not justify the hypocrisy shown by the government towards its own armed forces who are dying everyday on the borders these days due to decision taken by the government itself. Is it some kind of jinx that war happens during BJP governments or it has something to do with some bad policies? And this is also true that the second government to be formed after the war is to be of BJP. All that surge of patriotism and nation loving slogans result in mass euphoria of pseudo nationalism who likes to roar out loud about the achievement of re winning the lost lands or evacuation of infiltrators. But they all forget that it’s just not the ministry approval of war but the skill, preparation and morale of armed forces during the peacetime that pays off the result. And how do the government pays off the valour and the blood spilled by their own citizens who are defenders too in return? By reducing the status, cutting down the sanctions in the form of disability pension, 7th Pay commision or one rank one pension at the times when a good morale boost to the armed forces are desperately needed.
According to a circular issued on 18th october 2016 a principal director with the Armed Forces Civil Services who was equivalent to a brigadier will now be at the same rank as a major general. A director-rank officer(14 yr of service), who used to be at the level of a colonel has been equated with a brigadier(24 yr of service). A joint director is now the same rank as a colonel, instead of lieutenant colonel.
It has been further stated in the circular that these changes have been drawn up on the basis of duties and functional responsibilities and ends with “the approval of the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri”.
Now the statement in reply to this sudden rank parity from the Mod states that ”
“There has been no downgradation or any change in the existing equivalence of the Service ranks whatsoever.The existing functional equivalence as clarified in 1991 and further reiterated in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2005 has only been re-affirmed and continue.”It is further clarified that the present reiteration of rank equivalence, is only for matters of assigning duties and functional responsibilities as is already existing in different offices of the respective Service HQrs of Forces having both army personnel as well as civilian officers working in the Armed Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service. This is not applied on the officers working outside the HQ and there is no change in the rank structure and status of armed forces personnel.
But it has strongly been opposed by the armed forces and continues to upset them. The army personnels were already fuming over issues regarding 7th pay commision,disability pension etc that this came into light.
Giving Army Officers Their Due (source the quint )
- Circular issued by the MoD on 18 October on rank-equivalence irks army personnel as the govt equates defence officers with civil service officers.
- A civilian principal director at par with a brigadier has been equated to a major general; hierarchically major general’s rank is higher than a brigadier.
- Anomalies in pay structure across ranks due to the exclusion of rank pay from the basic pay, an issue not addressed even by the sixth pay panel.
- Govt panel tried to address the issue of parity as Lt-Col officers were under the Pay Band-3 while civil officers were elevated to Pay Band-4.
- With Supreme Court saying, rank pay shouldn’t be deducted from basic pay, govt should set up a defence board that can address wage-related issues.
After URI Attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and surgical strikes the situations at the border are tense than ever. Everyday someone is getting martyred and the commanding officers and military leadership is struggling to keep up the morales of troops. The armed forces leadership is busy making plans and preparations for everyday to reply back to the pakistani force and in case the war happens.
A major on conditions of being anonymous stated “ We are sacrificing our leaves and sleep over protecting our country. There are no festivals for us this year and our families are trying to keep up with the current scenario. Our job is to protect our nation without questioning the decision making body of our country and we are doing it in the best possible manner. Such news at such times especially proves to be very demotivating.”
Another army officer at Lt. Col level said ” My batch mates from school and college are earning seven figure salary working in the comforts of AC in their officer abroad while I am keeping up with the calculations of how much I am getting even after 7th Pay commision.Government has mandated disability pension for armed forces to be given in 3 slabs instead of %of basic, as done for others. Finally it all has been referred to the anomaly commissioned. The problem is that MoD civil officers are hell bent on downgrading armed forces at every step and BJP is not able to keep a check on them.”
One more Lt Colonel said “ We can not go down on streets and protest but It’s not a rocket science even if the statement has been issues for Armed forces HQ then too how can you equate the civil officers to the military officers on the basis of duties and functional responsibilities. The Babus are appointed to provide secretarial support whereas the armed forces officers have executive powers and exercise command over men in peace and war along with substantial judicial power. It is crazy!”
The Defense minister is in contact of top lawyer and working towards resolving the issue as soon as possible and we can expect a clear statement within a day or two. At one side you show extreme affection and botheration to the armed forces and send Sandesh2Soldiers this diwali: A tribute to Indian Army and on the other side you downgrade their ranks as diwali gifts. Whatever they do I hope they do understand that in Military status and pride is weighed above pay structure and perks. The forces fight for their respect and officers boost their morale on name of country and countrymen. Hope the country also does not disappoint them.
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