Tuesday 8 September 2015

Civil-Military Relations | Privileges

Why in news?
OROP Issue.

The Third Pay Commission (TPC), for example, is a favourite complaint of OROP campaigners. In 1973, while implementing the commission's recommendations for pension entitlement, Indira Gandhi's government essentially equalised the proportion of last-drawn salary paid to civilian and military employees of the government at 50 per cent. And the TPC did do away with a "standard rate" pension for servicemen, but this was in order to grant the services' demand that the length of qualifying service should also determine the receipt of a higher pension, not just final rank.

Any uneasy parity that existed was broken, thanks to sleight of hand by the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). Though OROP was not a principle anywhere in the Indian government, the IAS essentially introduced the principle decades after the TPC for those paid on the "apex scale". This was the pay of secretary-level IAS officers, as well as of special secretaries, equivalents in the Indian Foreign Service, and the top uniformed brass, such as army commanders and above. The inequity thus introduced is the root cause of the uniformed service's anger. But such distrust among the military of a democracy for the civilian leadership is dangerous.

Certain privileges enjoyed by each group, as perceived by the other, exacerbated the situation.
Military privileges:
1. Defence enclaves: Special enclaves have been created for their residential purposes. Also throughout their lives live in mansions in cantonment areas.
2. Subsidised canteens: with even branded, luxury items.
3. Defence personnel reservation: many state universities, offer reservation to wards of defence personnels.
4. Army schools and colleges: Preference for admission of children in these schools is always for wards of defence personnels.
5. Orderlies services: Its disheartening to see that higher military personnels avail the facilities of orderlies who are treated as full time servants.
6. Defence grounds and messes: their functions, weddings etc hardly are expensive due to use of defence grounds for functions and weddings purposes.

Civil-Administration privileges:
1. By favouring themselves through the "apex scale", they seriously destabilised civil-military relations.
Also, Civil servant housing societies: they themselves allot lands to their cooperatives and build houses for them in the suburbs.
2. Palatial bungalows: Average monthly rent of a bureaucrat living in chanakyapuri’s bungalow is about 10 lakhs per month. Need to come up with an equivalent housing allowance since there is a big mismatch in HRA received and the houses allotted.
3. Schooling: Their wards get special treatment and are easily admitted to priviledged schools like Sanskriti etc.
4. Civil servant clubs: easy membership of lavish clubs like gymkhana etc is a birthright of top civilian bureaucracy.
5. Global healthcare: They can avail the benefits of global healthcare and the govt bears the cost for their medical trips abroad.Need to come up with a contributory health insurance scheme.

A correction of this behaviour is overdue. The next pay commission should take into account the tendency of the IAS to add to its own privileges. Instead of perquisites and pensions, the IAS, and other leading services, should be moved to a monetisation of current perquisites. Instead of housing, a housing allowance; instead of health privileges, contributory health insurance. Ending unearned privilege would help repair civil-military relations.


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