Admiral Arun Prakash's letter to the PM on the 6th Pay Commission

I'm sure a lot of you have already read this. If you haven't (like me), here's former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash's letter to PM Manmohan Singh over the Sixth Pay Commission, a letter he wrote in May this year:

Honourable Prime Minister,

Even in the relative isolation of Dehra Dun, I have come to know from heavy traffic on the Internet about the extreme discontent amongst our ex-Servicemen (ESM) vis-a-vis the recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission.

I am also aware that one or two former Service Chiefs have written to you on this subject, reiterating the complete disregard shown by the Commission for the special conditions of service of Armed Forces personnel, which has manifested itself in the form of glaring anomalies and aberrations. This was inevitable, given the fact that the Commission did not have an Armed Forces member who could render specialist advice and guidance so essential for fair and balanced decision-making. The ESM are also greatly agitated that many of their long-standing demands have been ignored by this Pay Commission too. Not according representation to the Services, even in the recently convened Review Committee has only aggravated the prevailing sense of grievance.

As Chairman COSC, I had taken up the issue of the nomination of a Service representative on the 6th Pay Commission with Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the then Raksha Mantri, on a number of occasions. Since he expressed his agreement in principle, I had followed with a proposal in writing on 12th April 2006 (copy of the letter enclosed). After some further discussion whether the Services should have a full-time or co-opted member, I had written again to the RM on 16th June 2006, forwarding names of suitable nominees. A copy of this letter is also enclosed.

During subsequent discussions, the RM gave me to understand that he was facing opposition from his cabinet colleagues regarding the nomination of a full-time Service member on the Commission. Nevertheless he expressed optimism about finding an equitable solution to the problem. Regrettably he was given a change of portfolio in September 2006, and no response had been received from the MoD till my own retirement a few weeks later, regarding the requests of the Chairman COSC.

Without labouring the minutiae of issues involved, I just wish to bring to the notice of the Hon'ble Prime Minister that:

• Holding of public demonstrations, dharnas and hunger strikes by ESM goes against the ethos of the Armed Forces. Any such displays will not only erode their own self-respect, but what is infinitely more damaging, have a deleterious impact on the discipline of our serving personnel.

• The Armed Forces have consistently upheld the nation's secular democratic traditions and have remained the stoutest pillar of security and stability of the Indian State. Under no circumstances must the GoI allow this invaluable national institution to be devalued or demoralized .

• That the disciplined ESM have been driven to such steps in extremis is a most disturbing development, which should be recognized by the GoI as such.

I would strongly urge the Hon'ble Prime Minister that even at this late stage, a clear signal of reassurance be sent out to the ESM that their grievances will receive the urgent attention of the GoI, and that inputs from the Service HQ will be taken fully into account before a final decision is taken on the 6th CPC.

In conclusion, may I convey to the PM, the prevailing sentiment amongst the ESM (especially PBOR) that in the matter of the 6th Pay Commission, they have been let down by their own Senior Officers. This evokes a very real danger that the tradition of faith, trust and mutual respect between the Officer and Jawan of the Indian Armed Forces, going back 250 years, may suffer a break down.

This is a tradition which will be very, very difficult to re-build.

With the highest regards,
Yours sincerely,

Admiral Arun Prakash

Labels: , , , ,