Thoughts that originate deep within

Degradation of the Armed Forces: Who does it? And Why?

When we were in school two and half plus decades back, we were told then that a Second Lieutenant (2Lt) in the Army was equal to an IAS officer. When the 4th Central Pay Commission (CPC) was announced, I was probably training at the National Defence Academy. Even after commissioning, none of us knew the implications of 4th CPC or for that matter 5th CPC till many many years later.


In the Army, discussing of Pay (Money), Women and Politics are forbidden. It had good reasons too. These were the three things that could easily create a divide within the forces. We in the Forces, had to be strong and united so that nothing distracts us from our aim when we fight the enemy, and we shall fight till we die – The Last Man – Last Bullet.

Most of us therefore grew up ignorant and isolated to the happenings in the corridors of power. We trusted our seniors at the Army/ Navy/Air Force HQ or the Services HQ and believed the Govt would look after the Armed Forces. After all we were the only Govt Arm that is directly placed under the command of the President of India. How wrong we were!

In those days, the pay was meager. Having been brought up in an environment where there was paucity of equipment, vehicles, ammunition, and austerity measures etc., a life filled with shortages was taken as normal. We were happy with food on the table, kids in school and a roof over our heads. The lower pay was taken in our stride too.

4th & 5th CPC. India’s liberalisation, economic growth and progress in communications gave us the much needed information that showed us that Armed Forces have been short changed right from 1973. It is only many years later when Maj Dhanapalan took the Govt to court over the “Rank Pay” case we realised that introduction of Rank Pay in 4th CPC, was cunningly done which reduced the rank pay from the Basic pay, and it reduced the status of the Armed Force Officers with respect to the Police and other civilian officers of the same grade. The 5th CPC did not bring in any major changes.

6th CPC. The 6th CPC increased everyone’s salary, but quietly degraded the Armed Forces by fixing comparatively lower Grade Pays as compared to the rest. The Grade Pay became symbol of status equivalence amongst Central Govt employees. A civilian Director who was earlier in lower pay scales than a Lt Colonel, was given the higher Grade Pay equivalent to a Colonel. In fact Armed Forces officers who worked alongside civilians in organisations like DRDO, Service HQ, MES, DGQA etc., suddenly found themselves demoted. In addition, the complete bureaucracy, despite having much faster promotions, awarded themselves the benefit of still higher pay by means of Non Functional Upgradation (NFU), yet kept the military out of it partly due to poorly informed senior lot in the Armed Forces itself.

7th CPC. The 7th CPC further deteriorated things as bureaucrats transited to comparative higher Pay Levels by including NFU to their pay scales, besides downgrading the allowances of military personnel, especially with respect to Disability Pensions.

Ex-servicemen's OROP agitation

There are a whole lot of issues like OROP, NFU that Armed forces have been affected since 1973. You must have noticed old veterans sitting in Jantar Mantar for over 500 days now asking for their dues. The Govt has only given a partial OROP and the anomalies are being looked into by a One Man committee which submitted a report in the last week of Oct 2016.

Recently while the Nation was rejoicing on the success of the Surgical Strikes, a letter from Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 18 Oct 16, further gave a body blow lowering the status of officers as compared to their civilian counter parts. That got me thinking. Why and who is responsible? Let us find out.

Degradation. Who is Responsible? In the Armed Forces HQ, a Civil Services Officers cadre was introduced in 1968 at Group B level to help man bureaucratic posts in the lower and middle levels. They provided the required continuity because Armed Forces Officers were posted out every 2-3 years.  The issue arose when the civilian officers realising that the military officers serve only for short tenures and have NO SAY in decision making in Ministry of Defence (MoD) started positioning themselves in key posts and ensured their cadre progression by disproportionately increasing the higher posts on their own, without involving the three military Services HQ in the process.

On promotion from Group B post by a Civilian Officer, the normal equation of ranks initially were as given in the table:-

Serial No Armed Forces Officers AFHQ Civilian officers
  Rank Service in Years Designation Service in Years
1. Lt/ Capt 2-3 Deputy Director On promotion to Gp A
2. Major 6 Joint Director 5
3. Lt Colonel 13 Director 10

However slowly the AFHQ Civilian officers started equating Deputy Director with a Major and Jt Director with Lt Colonel, by issuing letters through their own officers posted in the office of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). The CAO further promoted themselves twice up the chain by issuing letter on 18 October 2016 wherein it sought to equate Jt Director with a Colonel, Director with Brigadier and Principal Director with a Major General (who is supposedly equal to a Joint Secretary).


These acts were in gross violation of the Warrant of Precedence (WoP) issued by Presidents Secretariat. The applicability of WoP for Brigs and below has been clarified by Ministry of Home Affairs in their letter dated 26 Dec 1966 and again in 14 August 2007 as as shown below

Serial No Defence Rank Civilian Equivalent
1. Lt Colonels Supdt Engineers/ IAS of 18 years’ service
2. Colonels Chief Engineers/ IAS of 23 years’ service
3. Brigadiers IG Police

The MHA in their letter dated 24 Jul 2007 have also confirmed that no other Govt document exists for establishing equivalence between Defence Forces officers and civil or para-military officers.

Action by Forces. Post 6th CPC, the issue lower Grade Pays to Defence personnel was brought to the forefront by the Services. A Group of Ministers set up through Prime Minister’s Office Note of 27 Sep 2008, headed by the present President Shri Pranab Mukherjee, clearly stated that Lt Colonels were placed higher than Deputy Secretary/ Joint Director. Various court judgement from Supreme Court and Central Administrative Tribunal, too are very clear on the status of Lt Colonels being equivalent to Supdt Engineer/ Director.

Despite all these clear policies, the Babu’s of the MoD issued thatpicture1 letter on 18 Oct 2016, lowering the status. They even had the temerity to issue press statement that the letter was justified as it was an internal arrangement. It also stated that the letter had the approval of the Defence Minister. This clearly shows that the Defence Minister was misled, which is why he has now referred the issue to an anomalies committee. A similar case has snowballed in the Military Engineering Service where the civilian Engineers have placed themselves above the serving military officers. A clear case of the Tail wagging the Dog.

So, How does it happen?  One is left wondering as to how such things could happen repeatedly. It is a combination of various factors, the constant posting in /out of Officers in the Service HQ with no continuity, vested interests overriding the decision making process, Civilian Officers Association mounting pressure on the political bosses etc. No military personnel are presently being involved in decision making in the MoD, despite recommendations by numerous committees. Politicians depend heavily on the bureaucrats who are doing the damage quietly. This is adequately amplified in an article in TOI by Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd).

Is it about money? No! For people in the Armed Forces it is not about money. If it was, then many would have joined the corporate world where there were lucrative pay packages. Then what is it? It is about honour/ izzat. That is where it hurts most when you see a civilian officer much lower in service being upgraded just because they have an association and can push their way through the political bosses while the Armed Force guy, being politically neutral, suffers without any association or a group that he could join.

What should be Done? It is high time, the decision making process in MoD is set right wherein the Chiefs and the Defence Minister should rectify the anomalies to stop this degradation. This would give the much needed morale boost. A soldier should never be short changed. Because if he returns the favour in kind, then the borders would be unguarded. The enemy within has to be identified and stopped before they damage the Armed Forces further.

The Armed Forces as a profession has to be made more attractiveindian-army-national-flag-2. Status, Pay and Perks are the issues that should be set right. After all Armed Forces are the only Govt service which, when demanded, are ready to sacrifice their own Life.

I pray that good sense prevails to Support the Soldier and Give him his rightful place and dues.

Do stand with them!

Jai Hind



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89 thoughts on “Degradation of the Armed Forces: Who does it? And Why?

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  1. Major Vinoy Krishna(Retd) on said:

    Please publicise these self styled actions by so called ‘BABUS’ in Public, so that we get back our honour/Izzat.


  2. Col AS Bais (retd) on said:

    A well analysed, informative n thought provoking article. Not in too distant past, commanding a Bn was desire of an offr, anything more by way of promotion was a bonus. Now a days, there is cut throat race to reach the top. Even if it means pulling the chair away from Lt Gen SK Sinha or Bakshi.

    Then we have surprising argument by Def Minister Manohar Parrikar stating that, in case seniority is the only criteria, then even a computer could announce the name of next service chiefs. Very true, then why the same yardstick is not applied for judges and also IAS Babus.

    No wonder that we have fence sitter generals who leave behind the past, and also welfare of def pers, but always eager to catch the bait ( post of governor, ambassador). Pliable generals n cunning IAS Babus make lethal combination.

    No wonder, withdrawal of ration, disability pension fiasco, Rs 72000 allce to IAS Babus in north east etc is like music in ears to them while def bosses turn a deaf year to such trival issues


  3. Col VV Asolkar on said:

    Interesting read


  4. Col Arun Kumar on said:

    Some people at top level from three services should go for mass resignation/PMR and next in herarchy should not take over till govt amends all anomalies
    Spunk and balls required for the above but will settle the matter for good
    Politicians have exploited the Services for too long
    They play divide and rule policy with the Services


    • Major Vinoy Krishna on said:

      Very good and a viable suggestion by Col Arun Kumar, but then, who will bell the cat?


    • Kamna Cowasjee on said:

      Col Arun Kumar, couldn’t agree with you more. My thoughts too & stated something to that effect more than a year ago, on FB when the first lathi charge at JM took place. It was withdrawn from FB however that is possible.


  5. Col b m sabhlok on said:

    Time for chiefs to act.Babus are turning too powerful and getting decisions on file from political bosses.
    Need to study these nothing’s of morally corrupt bureaucrats.Matter of moral integrity.


  6. The motivation for Indian fauj to fight is only izzat not religion or anything else. By degrading us these guys are destroying the only last institution the people of India trust in case of any emergency including riots and natural calamities. In a wider sense by destroying the morale of the Armed forces the concept of India as a country will be finished. As we will be broken down both internally and by external enemies. Just read history


  7. Col T K Chatterjee. VSM on said:

    Nation loves soldier. Time has come to place correct facts straight way. Since 1947 to till date incl RAM RAHIM baba episode in providing Aid To Civil Auth. justify leadership traits commitment of soldiers.
    Org created Para Mil bn raised to replace Army all yeild non substantial results vacancy of Babus without accountability raised occupied. Let PM announce replicate commitment of soldier in governance as soldier saved nature on all calamities. It kill NFU stand of govt declearimg Army Navy Air force group B service.


  8. We live in a democracy and the Defence Forces have a defined place in it. The Defence Forces come to fore only in cases of national emergencies.

    In the developed nations, the Defence Forces do not enjoy the same privileges or stature as that of their civilian counterparts.


  9. Col MS Chahal on said:

    The time has come when the people in uniform should take support ot the constitution to redefine the status of Armed forces and their equivalents. Any Babu issuing any instructions contrary to that should be challenged. What prevents Armed forces HQs in Delhi to issue letters giving out our equivalents in the civil services which is supported by valid authority. Armed forces need to have special Branches in the HQs at Delhi to monitor and safeguard these sensitive issues.


  10. Sad state of affairs. Does not do any good to any one in the long run.
    No good person will join fauj & shall not recommend to others to join.
    Its like ‘Farmers’ – who do not want Agriculture to be taken up as profession by their sons.
    Hence we may end up importing food for all .
    Here we may have to out source Security to third party.
    Politicians & Babus are too busy making money to think about such issues.


  11. Time to catch the bull by the horn . Someone in the top brass should fight for a cause like this and not for ammendment of personal date of birth.


  12. lt col surèsh chandra verma( ic 11027) on said:

    Briefly, its a sad state of affairs. Things are becoming from bad to worse with our top leadership only interested in flagging off Tte swach Bharat campiign, laying out the yoga mats and so on. Thank God l am 83 yrs old and wont have to be a witness to all this much longer ( hopefully).we are loosing respect among our men. hope there is no war in the near future


  13. Darshan Dhillon on said:

    Very well broght out facts. We all know it highlighted during orop stuglle too but our own esm MPs ditched us. Never made any efforts to raise these issues in palimanent . We are ditched by our own facts are known to hiher ups but they keep quite as they keep getting their perks even after retirement


  14. cdr Raghvendra Chaturvedi ( retd) on said:

    While all is ok , one major reason which has been missed is the silence of our Chiefs and senior officers in MOD , who have witnesses this degradation and stood silent for reasons known and unknown . This along with non cohesiveness between the 3 services on issues concerning pay and promotion prior to 7 CPC has contributed heavily to what levels we have reached now .


  15. Leo Chaudhary on said:

    I commend Mr Reji Koduvath for his vast knowledge on the Subject of Democracy & the role of of Defence Forces in them as well as in Developed Countries. It is quite apparent that neither he himself nor anyoneno in his relation or even faint acquaintance have ever been associated with the Profession of Arm’s. May we request the eminnent personality to also shed some some light on the role of Politician’s & Babu’s in our Democracy other than looting the coffers, making a fool of everybody, creating devisions among the people, inilaterally taking decisions against the interest of the people & Nation as a whole. The job of tge Forces is not to clean up their Mess each & every time. It is desirous that they also deliver on a few occasions rather than complsining of Chest Pain & getting admitted in the nearest Hospital whenever the going gets tough & returning to enjoy the Privileges, enjoy accodates & Awards surprisingly for their failures when situation is brought to normal by the Forces. Look anywhere in the Public Sector & all you will ever encounter is Utter Chaos & Mess. There are however no prizes for Guessing who all are Presiding over it since Independence.


  16. Sajan, as always wonderfully penned.


  17. Ranjan Keron on said:

    Well written, precise and hard hitting ! @Sajan, it is a pleasure to read all your posts ! The gradual but active erosion of the Def Services stature and honour by the mala fide actions of Babus at MoD and the seeming ignorance of our Top Brass to justify our cause is an injustice towards the soldier community as a whole. The issue needs to be resolved AND SET RIGHT IMMEDIATELY ! The consequences of such malicious actions to degrade the Nation’s LAST BASTION does not bode well for India ….


  18. Mere circulation of such msg will not grind the axe. Senior lot should take cognizance of the issue with due seriousness. If the govt does not listen we should approach to the judiciary. But, in any case our generals must push the case ahead. Issues will get quick redressal by there involvement. They are our mouthpiece, they must speak and act now. If economy is the backbone of a country then defence forces are the strength of a nation. The nationality is preserved by us in its true spirit. The bureaucrats along with the politicians are eating up the strength of this nation.


  19. Balasubramanian Ranga Iyer on said:

    An eye opener well brought out. Who will bell the cat? Trust our senior officers are listening!


  20. Charudatta on said:

    Mr Reji Koduvath seems to have made a statement without ascertaining any fact. Mr Reji could you please explain the ‘position’ of the armed forces in a democracy. Also do kindly give us info of the developed country which treats its armed forces in a demeaning manner.


  21. Anjan Kumar on said:

    When I joined , my aim was to command my Battalion & it took me precisely 7yrs to realise that it’s not worth it. Either just earn money and complete your 20yrs OR just leave asap and join a job outside with greater pay. That’s what is the effect and it’s not me but most of my buddies.


  22. anup singh on said:

    Very well enunciated indeed. This degradation must stop forthwith. And the Military has to do it itself. Nobody is going to come to it’s Aid. They just know to request the Military for all kinds of Civil Aid, nothing beyond. And that Civil Aid, which basically comes third in order of priority of profession/work/role/task, for the Military, after Primary Role-Combating External, Secondary Role- Internal Security, sadly has become the Primary Role today. People no longer request for Civil Aid, but brazenly deploy. They take it that it is the bounden duty of the Military to render them aid. The Military they feel is staffed for it, equipped and armed for it. All out of the Tax Payers money, they quote. As if the Other Govt Servants, including the Netas, Babus, Policias are withdrawing money out of their Ancestral Vaults and paying themselves. As if the Military man pays no Tax. Be it Income Tax, GST, Education Cess, take any tax, which Tax does the Military man not pay ?

    Homing on, to the point at issue. Pointless whining. Others will only be too happy to see the Fauji whine, no I am not refering to Pakistan and China etc, even within the Country itself we see the Babus and Policias, CAPFias and the Netas having smirks on their faces, reading/watching the Faujis whining. It gives them a Climax. Some idiots like Kanhaiya etc say that Faujis Rape. God knows whether such fellows are the products of such Rapes and the Fauji left them to fend for themselves. I believe, that if they are such bastards born, the Fauji would never have left them, he may have got Martyred. It is the Govt which is letting down the Martyrs, let them fight their battle with the Govt and get their rightful dues. Why that poor Fauji Martyr? Some Neta says, only the very poor, whose parents cannot make ends meet at home join the Army and then after joining they drink Free CSD Rum. God only knows what forced that blighted Neta became one? If the idiots parents were content and happy and flourishing, why should the idiot have stepped out of his flourishing empire to join the scoundrels gang. Don’t they say that ‘ Politics is the Last Resort for Scounderels ?’. And the idots are encouraging spurious liquor manufacturing in their areas and collecting Hafta and then buying Whiskey and wetting all their pores for free.

    Coming back to the point. Why does the Military not have a Permanent Military CPC, looking into all aspects of Pay and Allces of one and all in the Military ? We have one ? What is the tenure of the personnel posted in this set up ? Why cannot the AG, hire Veterans for the purpose who sped 10-15 years on that Chair? Why cannot the Military Headquarters ( I fail to call is Service HQs not Defence Service HQs, for we are an Offensive Force too. Service ? There are many Service Agencies in the Country. The so to say Three Services, are actually the Three Wings of the Military. Military Service is also a Service, separate from other Services). Yes, why cannot the Military Headquarters, identify and make a Pool of Personnel of All Ranks and post them on a minimum 5 yrs tenure at the Military Pay Commission Branch. Each posted out to return back on turnover, so that continuity is maintained. Their basic/parent wing/arm remains. The Govt has disbanded the Military Pay Commission. Our Military HQs can revive it. The Govt may not give it recognition, but this Branch can be our Internal Branch giving it’s worthwhile and just recommendations to the CPC as and when the Military is required to submit the same. Afterall, how long can a Govt, based on Babu Inputs, turn a blind eye to the Military Pay Cells recommendation ? This Branch must also have a Legal Cell. If the Govt still derides the MPC recommendations, it be sued in Court. A Govt Agency suing the Govt itself is not out of place or unheard of. It is happening even today.

    Bringing this MPC( Military Pay Commission) Branch, into being may invite the Babus wrath. To hell with them. It is our Internal Matter. Yes, they will object to the Department of Personnel and Training or whosoever. That they can only do for Serving Personnel and ensure they are not authorised on the PE. The AG’s Branch as well as similar Branches in the other two Wings have a number of Personnel posted on their PE for various tasks. Task them for this in addition. Enhance their tenures at Delhi. The Veterans could be hired/paid out of Private Funds of the respective Wings. The Babus cannot have any say there. Afterall the Babus, are running a School for their kids on Pancheel Marg, out of Military CSD Profits.

    There is an old song, the starting lyrics go ‘ Whatever You Do Do Well’. The Military is already doing well in all spheres. Let it also do well for itself, for it’s Personnel. Whatever it be do it Well. Do it Yourself , is another old age adage. It should imply Do it for Yourself Too. The Military must take cognisance of it.

    The MPC Branch, must be a thoroughly Professional Branch, with no other Role. They must do indepth studies and Comparisons. It should not be that because of their lack of understanding and restriction of mind, the Military Personnel lose out because the Babus would have churned out better fares for themselves.


  23. AK SINGH on said:

    this is all done because officer in armed forces are selfish in nature and always think about their welfare above Jawans .They are also suffering from ego will reap only what you have planted.this is true if not 100% then 99%


    • If what you said was true, then this great Forces would have crumbled long back. There could be aberrations and they must and should be rectified.


      • Manoj Ranjan on said:

        Well thought and placed beautifully. Hope it falls on correct ear at correct time, to cease any further degradation. Corrective measures be instituted well it time.


  24. sheo singh on said:

    Sorry to say now time has come for ”
    Gandhi ji ke teen Bandaroan ke liye “to see,listen and speak . Gandhi ji is gone,that time is gone and everything is changing very fast so only solution to change with time.


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  26. Jazz Dee on said:

    A great initiative, and a timely one at that. Time our hierarchy sits up and take notice of the devious brinkmanship being indulged in by the babus. A lukewarm response to this machination wud spell disaster for any future initiatives for status restoration. Need to sp this cause


  27. Sgt ranjit on said:

    Respected sir ji
    Sorry, I am not wise as I expected to be, but I believe, degradation of armed forces happen because most of the military officer choose their personal benefits to above and above their soldiers. Although there are many things which are self explanatory of how the top Military officer ensure their betterment on the cost of there sepoy. Look at the case. An officer of 20 years of service gets pension of roughly and more than 1 lac where as an phir of same length gets around 16 thousand. How it should be?
    I am as well a veteran and failed to understand that why no where neither at ex-serviceman society nor from services some one takes courage to remove the despairing .
    But as said , officer are born to government. So who cares………?


    • Check facts Sir. I don’t think there is so much difference. The pension rules are same for all, faujis, civilians – 50%of your last emoluments. So I do not agree to your difference of 1 lakh to 16K. Also an officer of 20 years gets approx 60-65K as pension. Check.


  28. Kamna Cowasjee on said:

    Very well tabulated article by (?)
    It seems to be a year old, but nothing has changed in this time and no progress made to resolve this impasse. What is to be the next step post the recent JM fiasco in Nov 2017?
    Babudom can still congratulate themselves on their successful manipulations while the Service Officers can congratulate themselves on maintaining their “Gentleman” status, while the country gears itself to face another Tsunami, which will then require the Army to come to the rescue, brave & bold while OROP etc etc gets shoved under the carpet. Wake up dear fellow brother officers. Time to strike is now, whether it is knocking on the doors of the SC or the big OR, pleading with the Chiefs to take up the cause in the corridors of power


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  30. N Ravindranathan on said:

    Life is not JUST. Only crying baby get the feed else even the mother feeds the wrong child . In a democracy only Vote Bank & collective bargaining like trade unions get Justice , Soldiers are forgotten after the war . Occasionally one has to show ones importance by once absence and sacrifice . If services genuinely feel aggrieved, ACTION is required & involve sacrifice . Must be ready for legal mass action as when you are dealing with enemy . Also think of constitution , country and the economic burden even as you fight for justice. ADC culture will only make you ADC and being in Rat race A RAT. Vigilance on all fronts are needed. Being slavish for small personal gains will make one a slave..Our chiefs need to be united & also needs to be reminded(like Hanuman was reminded of his capability by Jambavan)) that they are successors of Kariyappa,Thimmayya, Maneksha, Arjun Singh & Pereira ..Good to send the BIG Babus on a study tour to Pakistan,,UK USA etc.on how to treat & what is the cost of freedom, security, war and peace’


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