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Friday, 15 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 15 Aug

Wishing everyone a happy Independence Day.

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Pay hike for soldiers but will it woo young guns

Vishal Thapar


RAISING THE BAR: Sixth Pay Commission promises a 21 per cent pay hike for over 50 lakh employees.

New Delhi: Arun Negi qualified for the Indian Military Academy but broke from his family tradition of joining the military and joined the corporate sector. Negi found the military paid peanuts as salary.

"I love everything about Army life but the fact is that my father, when he retired from the Army a year ago after 35 years of service, was earning less than me," says Negi.

The defence services may now attract people like Negi after the government announced on Thursday the implementation of Sixth Central Pay Commission report, which promises a 21 per cent hike in salaries for over 50 lakh government employees with effect from January 1, 2006.

The pay commission’s report was given to Finance Minister P Chidambaram on March 24. The defence services were sharply disappointed and launched unprecedented political-style street protests. The three service chiefs had told Defence Minister A K Antony the commission’s report had not met their expectations.

The government listened to them and has sought to placate two key categories: the foot soldier and the middle-rung leadership.

The hardship allowance for the below officer category has been doubled to Rs 2,000. This has pushed the entry-level pay for jawans, who comprise 99 per cent of the military, to a princely Rs 9,300.

The Government has promised at least three assured promotions for all defence forces personnel and civilian employees under the modified assured career progression scheme.

The other beneficiaries are the cutting-edge leadership in battle, the colonels, many of whom were queuing up to quit. Along with brigadiers, they will now be put in a higher pay band earlier meant exclusively for two-star generals: the Rs 39,200 to Rs 67,000 pay bracket.

Lieutenant generals who missed promotion as army commanders due to lack of residual service would now get the grade of army commander.

The military leadership has endorsed the announcement. "All the concerns of the defence forces appear to have been suitably addressed. Increase in military service pay of personnel below officer ranks and compensation for middle-rung officers is particularly heartening,” said Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta.

The government may remove discontent in the defence service over salary, but there is catch: the next salary hike may come after 10 years.


* 21% pay hike for central, defence staff

* Girja Shankar Kaura

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led UPA government lavished a bonanza on the country’s civil and defence staff on the eve of the country’s 61st Independence Day by approving a wage hike higher than that recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission.

As per the announcement there would be an average increase of 21 per cent in salaries of over 50 lakh government employees with effect from January 1, 2006, which was recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission.

The announcement from the government came after the meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister gave its approval to the proposal for hiking the pay of the government employees.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, information and broadcasting minister P.R. Dasmunsi said more details would be announced by the Prime Minister during his Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort tomorrow.

The bonanza would be particularly sweet for the over 50 lakh employees, as apparently the Prime Minister shot down finance minister P. Chidambaram’s suggestion that the new wage be effective from January 2007 instead of January 2006 because of the heavy run on this year’s Budget.

The finance minister had also wanted that the past dues be parked in the general provident fund to be provided as pension after the retirement of the employees so that this year’s outgo from the Budget would be limited to Rs 12,500 crore.

Reports suggest that the Prime Minister shot down all such suggestions and gave an approval for the new wage bill to be effective from January 1, 2006. However, the actual pay-out would come in November only after the monsoon session of Parliament in September passes the finance ministry’s supplementary Demand For Grant to fund the wage bill.

The wage hike would increase the financial implication for the Centre by Rs 17,798 crore annually and the arrears with effect from January 2006 would cost Rs 29,373 crore, Dasmunsi said. There were also reports that the payment of arrears would be made in cash.

The government increased the minimum entry level salary of a government employee to Rs 7,000 against Rs 6,660 recommended by the commission headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna, who submitted the report in March this year.

This would mean that the employee at the lowest level would have a salary that would be beyond Rs 10,000, including allowances. The government also increased the rate of annual increment from 2.5 per cent as suggested by the commission to 3 per cent. The raise takes into account the commission’s miscalculation of the dearness allowance - absorbed in the new basic pay as 74 per cent whereas it should have been 83 per cent.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Wednesday held a meeting with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, defence minister A.K. Antony and finance minister P. Chidambaram to discuss the pay commission report and the recommendations of the empowered committee of secretaries that went into it.

In the defence sector, it approved at least three assured promotions for all defence forces personnel and civilian employees under the modified Assured Career Progression scheme.

While civilians would get this after 10, 20 and 30 years of service, defence forces jawans would be promoted under the ACP after 8, 16 and 24 years.

The government for the first time also approved military service pay for armed forces personnel, under which officers would get Rs 6,000 over and above their pay per month. The military service pay for the personnel below officer’s rank (PBOR) would be Rs 2,000.

There would also be a significant improvement in the salaries of Brigadiers as the government agreed to put them in pay band 4 (Rs 39,200-67,000) as against the suggested pay band 3 (Rs 15,600 - 39,100). Besides, senior Lt-Generals overlooked for promotion as Army Commanders due to lack of residual service would now get the grade of an Army Commander (secretray’s grade).

In the case of existing Major-Generals/Lt-Generals, the MSP would be taken into account notionally for the fixation of pay as on January 1, 2006.

For the Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service, relief would come in the form of abolition of the Deputy Inspector General scale. There would also be no discrimination between Group B and Group A service officers in the form of a differential basic pay at the time of joining, as suggested by the commission. They would both start at the same scale, as is prevalent now.

As a replacement of the pay scale of Rs 24,050-26,000, a separate pay scale has been carved for the DGPs, PCCFs, GM (Railways), members of the boards of income tax, customs and central excise, postal and ordnance factories among others, who were in this pre-revised scale. This would take them to the level of Rs 80,000 in two years as against three years in the pre-revised scale.

Further, the IPS Pay Rules and the Indian Forest Service Pay Rules would be appropriately modified to provide in each state cadre one post of DGP and one post of PCCF at the apex level of Rs 80,000 for heading their respective forces.

The financial implication of the Pay Commission on the General Budget would be Rs 15,717 crore and Rs 6,414 crore on the Railway Budget in 2008-09.


* A 20 per cent raise over the pay bands suggested by the commission with an average increase in pay at 21 per cent uniform

* 3 per cent raise in basic pay every year.

* New wages to be effective from January 2006.

* No Cabinet secretary rank for Intelligence Bureau chief, the three service chiefs or the chairman, Railway Board.

* Group D personnel to stay (peons in ministries and porters in the Railways).

* Military service pay for persons below the officer rank (POBR) will be Rs 2,000 per month.

* Significant hike in salaries of Brigadiers: They move to pay band 4 (Rs 39,200-67,000) from the suggested pay band 3 (Rs 15,600-39,100)

* DIG-scale abolished in IPS and Indian Forest Service.

* Arrears to be paid in two installments — 40 per cent this fiscal and 60 per cent in the next financial year.

* Minimum entry level pay raised to Rs 7,000 from Rs 6,660 per month recommended by the commission.

* Financial implication of Pay Commission on General Budget will be Rs 15,700 crore and Rs 6,400 crore on the Railway Budget in 2008-09.

HAL to Make 57 More Jet Trainers for IAF, Navy

The Indian defence acquisition council has approved procurement of 57 additional Hawks, the advanced jet trainers (AJTs), for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the navy from the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major said here Thursday.

Of the 57 additional Hawks, to be manufactured by the HAL aircraft division in its Bangalore complex, the air force will induct 40 and the navy 17 of the naval variant in phases.

“The fresh order will strengthen our Hawk fleet, which will have 66 aircraft by 2011-12, including 24 in fly-away condition from its original manufacturer British BAE Systems and 42 to be built by HAL over the next three years. HAL will also maintain the fleet,” Major told reporters here after taking the delivery of the first indigenously-built Hawk AJT from HAL chairman Ashok K. Baweja at a function.

Major and Baweja, however, did not disclose the cost of the additional acquisition as price negotiations were still on.

For the present deal, the Indian government paid Rs.80 billion ($1.85 billion) to buy and produce the aircraft under the license agreement signed in March 2004 after years of negotiations and evaluation process.

“We have been conducting the Hawk training course for our rookie pilots to transcend from sub-sonic to super-sonic frontline fighter aircraft since March with the first batch of eight AJTs delivered by BAE. The induction of more Hawks will enable us to train more pilots to the complexities of operational combat flying,” Major pointed out.

The Hawks will replace the Russian-built MiG-21 jets currently being used for advanced training at operational units of the air force.

“The induction of Hawks is based on the recommendation of the La Fontaine committee, which found the co-relation between the pattern of our training and the aircraft accidents. It had then (1982) recommended the acquisition of suitable operational transitional aircraft to bridge the performance gap of the pilots to fly the frontline fighter aircraft,” Major recalled.

The procurement of additional Hawks also assumes significance, as the IAF is evaluating bids of global aerospace majors to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) at an estimated $10 billion in place of the ageing MiG-21 fleet and its upgraded versions - MiG-27 and MiG-29.

“The Hawk meets our long-standing desire to fill the gap in training our pilots for present and future needs. It will go a long way in improving the quality of our pilots and prepare them well.

"In the operation of the modern state-of-the-art fighter induction, we expect the Hawk to smoothen the process of transition from a trainer aircraft to frontline fighter by providing the pilots with progressive increase in performance and execution of complex acts,” Major pointed out.

For the manufacture of 42 Hawk Mk 132 aircraft, BAE has supplied to HAL fuselage, kits for equipping them, wings, accessories and materials for 20 defined assemblies. HAL's avionics divisions at Hyderabad and Korwa will provide the integrated navigation and attack system.

Armed Forces Welcome Pay Commission Bonanza

New Delhi
Military service just got more attractive with the government approving Thursday the revised recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission. The armed forces welcomed the cabinet decision, saying their demands seem to have been “suitably addressed”.

“Even as more details are awaited, prima-facie, all the concerns of the defence forces appear to have been suitably addressed. The increase in Military Service Pay of PBORs (personnel below officer rank) and compensation for middle-rung officers is particularly heartening,” Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said. Mehta is the current chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The cabinet Thursday cleared the revised recommendations at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, granting substantial hikes to five million government employees, with special attention being paid to military and paramilitary personnel.

The prime minister will announce the details Friday during his address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day.

The revision translates into a 20 percent hike over the 40 percent across-the-board increase the pay commission had recommended.

At least three promotions have been assured for defence personnel and civilian employees under modified assured career progression (ACP) scheme. Civilians will be assured of promotions after 10, 20 and 30 years of service while junior and non-commissioned officers and personnel below officer rank (PBOR) would be eligible for this after 8, 16 and 24 years of service.

“At first instance, it seems that all the demands of the defence forces have been addressed but things would be more clear once the finer details are known,” a senior army officer said.

The Military Service Pay recommended by the pay commission has been enhanced from Rs.1,000 to Rs.2,000 for PBORs and has been retained at Rs.6,000 for officers up to brigadier's rank.

Middle level officers - colonels, brigadiers and equivalent - are now placed in the highest pay band of PB-4. Lieutenant Generals overlooked for promotion as Army Commanders due to lack of residual service would now get the grade of an Army Commander.

The report of the Sixth Pay Commission, headed by Justice (retd) B.N. Srikrishna, was submitted to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram here March 24.

It immediately raised a storm of protests from both civilian and defence personnel, following which the government had appointed a committee under cabinet secretary K. Chandrashekhar to study the representations received.

The three service chiefs, on their part had made a joint representation to Defence Minister A.K. Antony saying their expectations had not been met. On Wednesday, the prime minister had chaired a high-level meeting to consider the Chandrashekhar committee's recommendations with regard to the armed forces.

Thereafter, official sources said, finance ministry bureaucrats had burned the midnight oil to ready the revised package for both civilians and defence personnel and finished the task only by 5 a.m. Thursday.

Antony says that Armed Forces are being modernised

New Delhi

Thu, 14 Aug 2008:

New Delhi, August 14 (ANI): On the eve of India's 62nd Independence Day, Defence Minister A.K. Antony today said that various steps have been taken to modernize the Armed Forces.

He also detailed the various steps being taken to improve the service conditions of the Armed Forces personnel. He praised t Armed Forces for their role in combating militancy in some parts of the country, but asked them to be sensitive to human rights, as it would help in building trust between the forces and the civilian population.

The Sadbhavana programme, he pointed out, merits recognition in ushering development in remote places

"The nation will remain ever indebted to you for the constant vigil you maintain on our borders in remote and extremely inhospitable places," he added.

The Defence Minister praised the milestones achieved by the Navy, like the induction of Landing Platform Dock INS Jalashwa and Landing Ship INS Kesari.

"Thirty-three ships and six submarines are being built in various shipyards that would add muscle to the Indian Navy," Antony said and added that the Navy is also expected to get its second aircraft carrier INS Vikramidtya by 2012.

He further added, "The first batch of MiG-29K fighter jet to be based on the carrier is expected to arrive shortly. Moreover, a proposal for acquisition of a Long Range Maritime Surveillance Aircraft for the Navy would soon be finalized."

Antony proudly pointed out, "Many warships are now being equipped with the anti-ship supersonic cruise missile Brahmos."

"A naval academy with contemporary facilities would be commissioned at Ezhimala next year," Antony said and added that the Navy has also undertaken a comprehensive network centric process.

While referring to the induction of the Advanced Jet Trainer Hawk this year for fighter pilots Antony said that the Air Force is being laced with the most modern aircraft and weapon systems.

The Defence Minister further said that the government is making all efforts to promote the welfare of security personnel. He also pointed out that the government has scrapped the individual's contribution towards Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) being run for ex-servicemen, war-widows and soldiers disabled in action.

He said, "We have recently taken a decision to formulate a long-term national policy on Ex-servicemen in consultation with all stakeholders." Antony also said that funds have been earmarked for setting up at least six schools every year for the children of security personnel.

While addressing the problem of accommodation for the armed forces personnel the Defence Minister said, "A decision has been taken to construct around 1,75,000 houses in four phases under the Married Accommodation Project (MAP)."

"In the first phase around 50,000 houses are being constructed in 86 cities which are expected to be completed next year. In addition, we have also approved phase II of the project for construction of 67,000 dwelling units at the cost of Rs. 9,400 crores," Antony added. (ANI)

Kirti Chakra for Kabul embassy attack victims

New Delhi, August 14
Brig Ravi Datt Mehta, IFS officer V. Venkateshwara Rao and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) constables Ajay Pathania and Roop Singh, all killed in the July 7 terror attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, have been awarded “Kirti Chakra” posthumously on the occasion of the 62nd Independence Day.

Kirti Chakra is the second highest peace time gallantry award, next only to the Ashok Chakra. The defence ministry had formally recommended their names for the gallantry award a fortnight after the incident.

This is for the first time that an Indian Foreign Service officer is being honoured with such a gallantry medal. Personnel from Army and paramilitary forces frequently get Kirti Chakras, awarded for “conspicuous gallantry otherwise than in the face of the enemy”, for counter-insurgency operations and other duties. — UNI

Hawk MK 132 handed over to IAF
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 14
The first indigenously produced Hawk MK 132 aircraft of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in a function at the HAL base, here today.

HAL chairman Ashok K. Baweja formally handed over the documents pertaining to the aircraft to IAF chief Fail H. Major in a ceremony that was preceded by some breathtaking display of acrobats by the trainer aircraft.

With HAL chief test pilot Balder Singh at the cockpit, the olive green plane took off from the ground in great style.

After landing, the plane cruised through the tarmac with the smoothness of a luxury car. That was when everyone in the viewers’ gallery clapped to applaud the intrepid pilot, a retired squadron leader of the IAF, who was flying the aircraft.

Later, talking to mediapersons Air Chief Marshal Major said the Hawk would fill in a vacuum the IAF was experiencing with regard to training its personnel for advanced fighter planes. “It will be an intermediary to introduce our trainees from the sub-sonic to the supersonic level of jets,” he said. The IAF apparently did not have the right kind of aircrafts to train its personnel for this change. The Hawk, the IAF chief said, was having features very similar to advance fighter jets and would serve as a platform to introduce young trainees of IAF to the complexities of the Jaguars and MIGs of the IAF fleet.

While the Hawk MK 132 was originally manufactured by UK-based BAE Systems, the aircraft given to the IAF today has been produced by the HAL here. The original manufacturers have supplied fuselage, kits for equipping of fuselage, equipped wing, accessories and material for 20 defined assemblies. HAL has completed equipping of fuselage, final assembly and flight-testing of the aircraft and has also installed the HUMS (health and usage monitoring system) in the aircraft. Calibration and painting of the aircraft has been also done by HAL. The aircraft is powered by a single Rolls Royce engine (Adour MK 871 turbo fan engine).

Armed forces react positively to Centre's announcement

Press Trust Of India / New Delhi August 14, 2008, 17:37 IST

The armed forces, which had initially expressed discontentment over quantum of salary hike proposed by the Sixth Pay Commission, today reacted positively to the Centre's announcement adopting the panel's recommendations.

"All the concerns of the defence forces appear to have been suitably addressed by the government's announcement regarding Sixth Pay Commission," Mehta said reacting to Government's announcement.

The Government today announced an average increase of 21 per cent in salaries of over 50 lakh Government employees with effect from January 1, 2006, adopting the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

In the defence sector, the Government approved at least three assured promotions for all defence forces personnel and civilian employees under the modified Assured Career Progression scheme.

The Government for the first time approved Military Service Pay for armed forces personnel, under which officers would get Rs 6,000 over and above their pay per month.

The lowest limit of disability pension for defence personnel would be doubled to Rs 3100 a month.

Arguing that the Armed Forces deserve a better deal, the Army, Navy and Air Force Chiefs had sought modifications in the Pay Commission proposals including that the military service pay (MSP) be levelled at 25 per cent of the basic pay for soldiers, personnel below officer rank and middle rung officers.

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