Dropping Of Pearls Of Financial Wisdom By IDAS Surely To Damage Wings Of IAF Top Guns
By Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces
(an old article published in Jagruk Bharat)
1. The Chairman 7th PAY COMMISSION, Shri A K Mathur, in the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT to the Commission Report, has praised an Indian Defence Accounts Service ( IDAS ) Officer Shri D K Rai, for his intricate knowledge of Defence Financial matters which helped the Commission in determining the Pay Structure of the Defence Services. The Commission got so impressed with his intricate knowledge or PEARLS OF WISDOM on matters pertaining to Defence Ministry’s expenditure on Forces Weapons, Equipment, Ammunition, Clothing, Rations, Fuel, Infrastructure, Housing etc that they used this knowledge in determining the Forces Pay Structure. Thus it seems they completely focused on para2 (g) (ii) of the TERMS OF REFERENCE which says…need to ensure that adequate resources are available for development expenditure and welfare measures…. It seems the Commission got so enamoured by the Financial Pundit that they probably missed out on para 2 ( b ) of the TERMS OF REFERENCE which says….to examine,review, evolve and recommend changes that are desirable and feasible regarding the principles that should govern the emoluments structure, concessions and facilities,benefits in cash or kind,as well as the retirement benefits of the personnel belonging to the Defence Forces having regard to the HISTORICAL and TRADITIONAL parities with due emphasis on the ASPECTS UNIQUE TO THESE PERSONNEL.
2. However on the same analogy, the Commission should have asked CAG for all the details on Govt expenditure on various Ministries and Departments, especially of all the leakages and use this data to fix the pay scales of the Civil Services accordingly.This would have really saved a lot of money for development expenditure. Instead the PEARLS OF WISDOM spawned by IDAS were dropped on the hapless Jawans and Officers of the Defence Forces. HAPLESS yes, because it is difficult to fight someone who is charged with looking after you. With hindsight the Forces must thank the Commission for not asking the Forces to buy their own weapons and equipment.
3. Now it seems,instead of concentrating on their task, IDAS is busy spawning Pearls. Once again PEARLS OF WISDOM are being thrown around by IDAS. This time by Shri Bhartendu Kumar Singh of IDAS, for the benefit of the 11 Member Committee headed by Lt General DB Shekatkar, Retd. This Committee has been appointed by Shri Manohar Parricker for basically recommending improvement in TEETH TO TAIL RATIO,
Saving in manpower, arrest burgeoning revenue expenditure and thus allow more money for capital expenditure. So probably even before General Shekatkar has met all the 11 members of his Committee, the PEARL says ” The Accounts Branch of IAF has 492 members and 7000 men catering to Pay & Allowances matters of 160000 all ranks of IAF. On competitive note same can be provided by 300 people on civilian side very easily “.
4. What Shri Bhartendu has cleverly omitted that where as the IAF Accounts people are deployed with all the WINGS and FORWARD SUPPORT BASES from Leh, Uttarlai, North East and to other remote places, his IDAS people will be ensconced in New Delhi and at the most at locations of IAF Command HQ only. The IAF Accounts people will have limited promotions and retire at early age with ( thanks to Shri Parricker) OROP. Where as all the IDAS officers will retire at HAG+ level and below Officers also at highest pay level of PB2 or even PB 3..Also in time to come this 300 will soon turn into 3000. Further just like the problem faced by the Army in dealing with Pay & Accounts
Offices at Regimental level, with CDAs at unit and Formation level and with PCDA (O) at individual Officers level, IAF too will start missing the INSTANT solutions to their problems at Base level only. No wonder where as the average annual expenditure on each military pensioner numbering around 25 lakhs is just about 1.5 lakhs, that on defence civilian pensioner it is 5.38 lakhs……real eye opening !!!!.
5. I am sure being in Defence Finance, Shri Bhartendu must be familiar with Life Cycle costs when comparing costs of two items of same type. Press and Internet both are full of data on such comparison for Rafael, F18, Grippen and other fighters. So why not the same concept for comparing cost of military / civil staffing. However here I get reminded of a comment from a Defence Finance Pundit way back in 1995 while I was in Leh. He was not happy with daily lifting of fresh vegetables by An 32 from Chandigarh to Leh and Partapur. On the average 30 sorties a month just lifted about 90 tons ( aircraft carried few passengers also), as per him this was very expensive,cost wise of fuel etc. As per him,mere two sorties of IL 76 could carry the entire 90 tons of fresh and thus save a huge amount for the Govt……it did not matter to him that after initial 3 to 4 days troops would be going without any fresh vegetable for the whole month.
6. Therefore General Shekatkar should insist on having a look at the Defence Civilians too along with the military manpower. After all the strength of Defence
Civilians is around 6 lakhs, same size as the Pakistan Army. At least they should not be allowed to behave like them. Every year crores of rupees meant for CAPITAL EXPENDITURE on the Defence Forces gets surrendered..why? Who is responsible for this ? I blame all these so called Financial Pundits.They must be held accountable too. Forget Capital/ Revenue Expenditure, at personal level, who were responsible for depriving the Defence Officers of their hard earned Pay and Allowances by misinterpreting the RANK PAY in 1986 and continuing with it till Supreme Court intervened. The OROP fiasco was again a deliberate act since 1973.
7. Hence Shekatkar Committee must look into the staffing of MES, Defence Estates, Cantt Boards, DGQA, Defence PSUs, DRDO, Defence Accounts and various other defence departments manned by civilians including MoD itself. In all these departments of Defence there should be a judicious mix of Serving Military Personnel, Retired Military personnel on re employment till 60 years of age and Civilians. In fact for all new Civilians recruitment in Central Govt, Article 51 of the Constitution needs to be invoked…. that is all wishing and selected for joining Central Govt Services must render 7 years military service. To start with,this should be implemented in MoD forth with. General Shekatkar must render a report on methodology for this too. Meanwhile IDAS should stop spawning further PEARLS and let the IAF fly without worrying for any cuts to their TA / DA,pay and allowances.
8. By implementing Article 51 of the Constitution there will be huge reduction in defence pension bill and not only lot of money will be freed for Capital expenditure but due to better integration at all levels,MoD will spend it too. Most of the Indians are very happy with the work being done by Shri Parricker. However the corridors of South Block are dark and deep and there are many a miles to go before before RM can think of any sleep.