“Don’t make me chase you, even doves have pride” :Prince (When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, 1984)

Regular readers would remember this post of December 2009 where it was discussed as to how the MEA was imposing a self-calculated status equivalence on commissioned officers and also those of Group A services other than the IFS.

Well, even at the time when the above post was published, the anomaly had already been corrected to a degree vide an MEA letter dated 18-02-2009 wherein equation of non-IFS officers, including military officers and those from the State Govts and Universities, was fixed vis-ŕ-vis IFS officers based on Grade Pay. This was the status equivalence promulgated vide the ibid letter :-

Officers with Grade Pay (GP) of Rs 5400 and above but less than Rs 6600 were to be equated with Third Secretaries.

Officers with Grade Pay (GP) of Rs 6600 and above but less than Rs 7600 were to be equated with Second Secretaries.

Officers with Grade Pay (GP) of Rs 7600 and above but less than Rs 8700 were to be equated with First Secretaries.

Officers with Grade Pay (GP) of Rs 8700 and above but less than Rs 10000 were to be equated with Counsellors.

Officers with Grade Pay (GP) of Rs 10000 and above were to be equated with Ministers

This in a way checked the anomaly of equivalence as well as allowances since military officers were earlier being granted status and allowances much below their actual standing and service.

But now, on 10-12-2010, the MEA has issued another order in supersession of the above one, reiterating the rank equivalence mentioned above, but with the following rider in Paragraph 4 :-

“The rank equivalence of military officers on assignment or deputation under any programme of the govt of India will be determined on the basis of their military rank as per the existing system”.

So there you have it, while the anomaly stands corrected for all other services, the incorrect status equation remains for the men and women in uniform. In fact, the status in a way has further been downgraded. To take an example, an officer of the rank of Colonel who enjoys a Grade Pay of Rs 8700, and who is actually equivalent to a Counsellor in foreign missions, would remain clubbed with officers with Grade Pay of Rs 7600 (First Secretaries) who are junior even to a Lt Col. There are organisations within the Govt of India where civil officers with the GP of Rs 8700 are reporting to Colonels who are also writing their ACRs, and if hypothetically both such officers were to be deputed to a mission abroad, then the junior civil officer would be equated with a Counsellor while his actual senior in India, the Colonel, would be outranked and equated with a First Secretary while on foreign shores. There are also examples wherein for certain purposes, senior serving Lt Cols and equivalent are being forced with an equation with Second Secretaries who at time comprise of officers with only 4 years of Group A service in case of direct appointees, an even worse, Group B officers just promoted to Group A with less than even a single year of Group A service.

Why the entire exercise seems more absurd is that even officers of the State Govt have been granted the correct status in accordance with their Grade Pays while the military has been left out.

The services must take this up strongly with the MEA otherwise this would have far reaching ramifications on the already depressed military status. Such undemocratic one-way letters are also uncalled for. All such letters must be issued after taking every stake-holder, in this case the military establishment, on board.

Meanwhile, the doves cry.