Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A raw deal for men in uniform

Praveen Swami

The Sixth Central Pay Commission recommendations devalue the security forces. Some of them, the personnel claim, are outright insulting.

Back in October 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid out perhaps the most lucid exposition, ever made by a politician, of the importance of internal security. “Our economic programmes and development,” he explained, “are wholly contingent upon upholding the rule of law in the country. The police thus have a very vital role to play in the development of the nation.”

But less than three years on, all three organisations responsible for security —the police, paramilitary forces and the military — are seething. The Justice B.N. Srikrishna Sixth Central Pay Commission report has infuriated women and men in uniform.

One part of the problem is a new grade-pay system, which in effect increases the disparities between the Indian Administrative Service and a security-focussed cadre like the Indian Police Service. While stating that it wished to retain the edge the IAS has by tradition enjoyed — some two years over the IPS, for example — the CPC has ended up significantly enhancing it.

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