Special Instructions on 6thPC issued to forces, Rank Pay speedbump

Special instructions have been issued by the MoD to all three services notifying the 6th Pay Commission. The Army instruction (see snapshot) was issued on October 11, the Navy and IAF instructions a few days later. These instructions initially caused a bit if a furore because they incorporate the recommendations that the three service Chiefs were up in arms against. In reality, it had been agreed at the time the three-member Group of Ministers was set up last month, that the instructions notifying the 6th Pay Commission as-is would be issued so as to remove the perception that the chiefs had been "defiant". It was agreed that the GoM's recommendations (which are to be announced a day or two before Diwali) would be incorporated either as a corrigendum to the special instructions already issued, an amendment to the instruction, or fresh special instructions that will supersede the ones issued this month.

The only snag, and one that has already seriously irked everyone in uniform all over again is the fact that the Ministry has attempted to define Rank Pay once again, and in that effort, effectively classified it as exclusive from Basic Pay (which, as per, previous definitions, is very much a part of Basic Pay). This has seriously aroused suspicions of more shocks for defence officers just lurking around the corner.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi personally asked the GoM to ensure the issue is resolved amicably before Diwali. But by all accounts only two of the four core demands (Lt Cols in PB-4 and reinstatement of pensionary benefits for PBORs) are by most accounts likely to me acceded to for now. So has a compromise of some sort been struck between the GoM and the three chiefs? Has the GoM decided to recommend just these two, since they're perceivably more emotive than the other two. That's unclear so far. But there's talk that the three Chiefs are pretty much unwilling to accept anything other than all four core demands met. What then? Will they quit? Will they quietly accept, after what has surely been a gruelling and tense time for their leadership? The way things have gone so far, it's hard to say at this point.

In the meanwhile, the ex-servicemen (ESM) community shot off a letter today to President Pratibha Patil appealing to her to intervene and get one-rank-one-pension and other veteran demands implemented through the Prime Minister immediately. From what I've heard, the demands of ex-servicemen are unlikely to be met at this time. Hopefully I'm wrong. Watch this space.

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