Govt buys time, sets up panel to address pay commission irregularities

As a retired expert said on Headlines Today a short while ago, the government's decision to set up a three-member panel to resolve "all outstanding issues" over the 6th Pay Commission before Diwali seems principally an exercise to buy time. This isn't the first Committee that's been set up since the 6th Pay Commission recommendations were first made public earlier this year, so the general hoopla about a victory for the armed forces may not be warranted yet. I suppose "cautious optimism", one of those boring stock-analyst phrases, would apply in the circumstances. The panel, headed by Pranab Mukherjee does have to submit its recommendations by the end of October, and they're under instructions directly from the Congress chief.

Secondly, it is election time, let's not forget -- not the sort of time you want to push the disenchantment of over a million beings cleanly into the realm of all out mutiny. That would be disastrous, unless of course everyone universally recognises that the impact that the pay commission has had since March on the faith of the armed forces, has been one long, meticulously stretched out disaster. In one sense, the damage will remain even if the government buckles and makes a blanket acceptance of all outstanding demands. Words like discipline, honour, prestige have been abused into nothingness these last few months, the armed forces dehumanized to the extent of being portrayed as hard-hearted, vacuous, elitists who won't be happy with anything.

What the government has ensured beyond any reasonable doubt, is that the armed forces cannot function under the present bureaucratic system -- and they will not.

The three service chiefs did splendidly by making a calculated risk of defying gazzetted government orders -- at least for a bit. It made its point forcefully and without looking like an act of open, dangerous insolence. And it has also shown to the rank and file that their chiefs are no push-overs. They may have been failed infintely by the government over decades, but these three chiefs -- neither of them especially known for locking horns with the government -- have proved that fiddling with the livelihoods of their men and women is taking things too damn far.

Will Pranab Mukherjee deliver the goods, and stem this deeply troubling aloofness by the government to armed forces concerns? Maybe, maybe not. This is the one chance the government has to make things right. Like everyone in the armed forces quietly knows, there is no such thing is a second chance.

Meanwhile, Chief of Naval Staff and Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Sureesh Mehta is in Leh today on a visit to the forward areas. In his interactions with troops on our frontlines, he will be assuring them that the Chiefs of Staff Committee is mounting persistent pressure on the government to accede to its from the 6th Pay Commission.

Photo ┬ęCopyright Shiv Aroor / Livefist / Pranab Mukherjee and Gen JJ Singh at Op Desert Strike in Pokhran in 2005

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