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Friday, 20 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 20 Nov 2015

 The Seventh Pay Commission Report can be downloaded from Navdeep's Blog 

Central staff salaries may go up by 23%
7th Pay Panel proposes to raise pension by 24%, virtual OROP for civilians
Sanjeev Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
In a windfall for Central Government employees, the 7th Pay Commission has recommended a hike of 23.55 per cent in salary and allowances which will entail an expenditure of Rs1.02 lakh crore on the government.

Justice AK Mathur submitted the 7th Pay Commission report to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today. The Central Government constitutes the pay commission every 10 years to revise the pay scale of its employees. The Union Cabinet had extended the term of the panel in August by four months, till December. The 6th Pay Commission was implemented with effect from January 1, 2006.

The Finance Minister said the government would look into the report before its implementation.

The report has implications for 47 lakh employees of the Central Government and 52 lakh pensioners.

While the impact on the fiscal deficit will be 0.65 per cent, putting strain on government finances, analysts say the pay panel bonanza will lift consumption in the economy with increased spending on automobiles, consumer durables, real estate and discretionary items. The minimum pay in the government is recommended to be set at Rs 18,000 per month. The maximum pay has been set at Rs 2.25 lakh per month for apex scale and Rs 2.50 lakh per month for Cabinet Secretary and others at the same level.

The recommended date of implementation is January 1, 2016. The total financial impact for 2016-17 is likely to be Rs 1.02 lakh crore over the expenditure.

The impact on the fiscal side entails an increase of 0.65 per cent points in the ratio of expenditure on to the GDP compared to 0.77 per cent in case of the 6th Pay Commission.

Of the total financial impact of Rs 1.02 lakh crore, Rs 73,650 crore will be borne by the General Budget and Rs 28,450 crore by the Railway Budget. A new pay structure has been recommended by the commission. The report says in light of the issues raised regarding the grade pay structure and with a view to bring in greater transparency, the present system of pay bands and grade pay has been dispensed with and a new pay matrix has been designed. Grade pay has been subsumed in the pay matrix. The status of the employee, which was earlier determined by grade pay, will now be determined by the level in the pay matrix.

The rate of annual increment is being retained at 3 per cent. The report has made the performance benchmarks for MACP more stringent from “good” to “very good”.

The commission proposes against grant of annual increments in case of those employees who are unable to meet the benchmark either for MACP or for a regular promotion in the first 20 years of their service. The Military Service Pay, which is a compensation for the various aspects of military service, will be admissible to the defence force personnel only. As before, Military Service Pay will be payable to all ranks up to and inclusive of Brigadiers and their equivalents.

Short Service Commissioned Officers will be allowed to exit the Armed Forces at any point in time between seven and 10 years of service, with a terminal gratuity equivalent of 10.5 months of reckonable emoluments. They will further be entitled to a fully funded one year executive programme or an MTech programme at a premier institute.

The commission has recommended a revised formulation for lateral entry and resettlement of defence force personnel, which keeps in view the specific requirements of organisation to which such personnel will be absorbed. The panel has recommended abolishing 52 allowances altogether. Another 36 allowances have been abolished as separate identities, but subsumed either in an existing allowance or in newly proposed allowances. Allowances relating to risk and hardship will be governed by the proposed risk and hardship matrix.
India, China to form first-ever ministry mechanism on terror
Beijing, November 19
India and China today agreed to form a ministerial-level mechanism headed by their home ministers for the first time to step up cooperation and coordination on a host of security-related issues, including cross-border terrorism, smuggling and drug trafficking.

The decision to form the ministerial mechanism was agreed upon after Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s talks here with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Interior Minister Guo Shengkun.

The ministerial mechanism, which would be followed by a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the security-related issues to be worked out, will become operational during Guo’s visit to India next year, Singh told the media here after his meetings with Li and Guo.

The committee will handle issues like terrorism, security and law enforcement related issues, trans-border crimes, cyber crimes and drug trafficking. “From now onwards all the issues will be handled by the committee, co-chaired by both the home ministers,” he said. The committee will meet every year to review the progress, Singh said.

“There is a common recognition by both sides that terrorism is a common threat. It is a transnational and transborder threat which requires our joint response,” he said, adding that the point was also highlighted in talks with Li. The decision by the two countries to deepen cooperation relating to terrorism comes in the backdrop of the Paris terrorist attacks and killing of Chinese and Norwegian hostages by Islamic State terrorists.

“In principle we have agreed to a new bilateral document which will provide the contours of cooperation in counter terrorism, security, trans-border crimes and related issues,” Singh said. — PTI
Tearful adieu to Col Mahadik
Parrikar pays homage

    Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was among hundreds of people who converged on a small village in Satara, Maharashtra, as the mortal remains of Colonel Santosh Mahadik were consigned to flames with full military honours
    The 39-year-old martyr laid down his life battling militants near LoC in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. He is survivied by wife and two children, who were present during the cremation
    An officer from the elite 21 Para-Special Forces unit, Col Mahadik was awarded a Sena Medal for gallantry during Operation Rhino in the North-East in 2003
Homegrown Nishant Drone's Perfect Crash Record
New Delhi:  There were meant to be the eyes and ears of the Indian Army - a state of the art unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) meant to give Army commanders high definition images of a battlefield, help designate targets, and provide Electronic and Signal Intelligence information.

Instead, the home-grown Nishant UAV, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is a flop with all four aircraft in service with the Indian Army having crashed. And now, the Army has had enough. They want no more Nishant drones from the DRDO. Each drone had cost the Army Rs. 22 crore.

The last of the four Nishants in service with the Army went down near the Pokhran range in Rajasthan today. According to Army sources, "Today's crash is due to a technical glitch." Just 15 days back, another Nishant had gone down, also for a technical reason. Earlier in April, two other Nishant drones had crash landed near the India-Pakistan border near Jaisalmer.

Under development for two decades, the Nishant, designed to fly for four and a half hours, was first inducted into the Indian Army in 2011 after successfully completing confirmatory trials. Launched by a catapult system, the Nishant is recovered after it deploys a parachute at the end of the each mission.

For their part, the DRDO has blamed the user for poor handling of the system, a point categorically denied by the Army.

The DRDO was banking on the success of the Nishant drone and was also developed a wheeled version of the system called the Panchi. The future of this programme now remains unclear.

India's armed forces uses a variety of UAVs including Israeli built Heron and Searcher aircraft which are larger and significantly more capable that the Nishant in its present state of development. A smaller drone, called the Nethra which was developed by graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology is also in use with the forces and is widely used by police and paramiltiary forces and the National Disaster Relief Force.
IS may join hands with LeT to launch attacks in India: Army
A top Army commander said on Thursday that there was a “possibility” that global terror outfit Islamic State (IS) may join hands with Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba to launch attacks in India.

“Yes, that (IS joining hands with LeT to launch attacks in India) can be a possibility as the motive of the terrorists is to spread their propaganda.

“They want their name and for that, they can do anything. And if they get successful, they can take advantage of it by using any name. Yes it is a possibility,” General Officer Commanding of the 16 corps of the army Lt Gen RR Nimbhorkar told reporters here today.
Indian Army Soldiers In Siachen To Don New Improved 'Made In India' Clothing Soon
The Army is now trying to upgrade as well as indigenise specialised extreme winter clothing for its soldiers deployed in "super high-altitude" areas like the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region, which have to be imported from countries like Switzerland, Finland and Norway in large numbers at high costs year after year.

It takes around Rs 1 lakh to clothe a single soldier for the forbidding Siachen heights, which range from 16,000 to 22,000-feet. Other basic gear like ice-axes, shovels, boot crampons, Stromeyer tents and the like are also being largely imported ever since Indian jawans took most of the "dominating" glacial heights on the Saltoro Ridge in a daring operation to pre-empt Pakistani soldiers by a whisker in 1984.

Sources say the Army has now asked the defence ministry to go in for clothing procurements for super high-altitude deployments in Siachen, Drass, Kargil, Sikkim and Arunachal — which are over 16,000-feet with temperatures ranging from minus 10 to 50-60 degree Celsius — for five years at one go.

"There are eight major clothing items still being procured from abroad. At present, specialised clothing for over 27,000 soldiers is procured for three years at a time. But since the process is long, with complaints of irregularities often further slowing it down, it would be better to buy for five years at a time," said a source.

Concomitantly, attempts are also being made in conjunction with the Indian Technical Textile Association to "tap the technology available within the country" to gradually replace imported winter clothing. Questions, after all, are often raised why a country developing inter-continental ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines, remains incapable of making specialised ECCWS (extreme cold climate weather suit) and gear for its soldiers. For starters, the two items "being indigenised" are rucksacks and thermal insoles, which are currently imported from Norway. "Samples by Indian vendors will soon be sent for winter trials. If they pass, orders will be placed," said the source.

Similarly, Indian vendors have been identified for making the three-layered ECCWS and gloves as well as the four-layered socks. "The overall aim is to improve the products further by reducing bulk and weight to ensure soldiers can be more agile and combat-effective while getting higher thermal insulation from the extreme weather," he said.

Just since 1984, India has lost around 900 soldiers on the Siachen heights. But with better infrastructure being built on the glacial heights, where soldiers are taught to "survive first and then fight", the number of casualties has gone down over the years.

But soldiers still have to constantly battle high-altitude pulmonary odema, cerebral odema, hypothermia, hypoxia and frost-bite in the extremely tough terrain, where avalanches, blizzards and "white-outs" are the norm. Just last week, an Army doctor, Capt Ashwini Kumar, was killed after a patrol got hit by an avalanche in Siachen.

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