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What does NFU Entail for Us?

Money may not be everything but money is also required. Perks and power wielded by higher ranks is what one motivates officers to strive, work hard and get promoted. It is not the pay of the rank that matters. Just ask a wife of superseded officer of her feelings why her husband, though brilliant, could not be promoted due to lack of vacancies where as the lowest in merit list in IMA/OTA got promoted as vacancies are plenty in the Combat Arms.

by Brig CS Vidyasagar (Retd) (from the April ’19 edition)

I have been reading all connected papers on Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU) including 6th CPC  Report and all seeing the comments on this subject in social media. NFU is recommended by the 6CPC for a simple reason – to reduce the pay disparity between IAS on one hand and other Organised Group ‘A’ services like IPS, IRS etc.

IAS being very close to politicians since the time of independence have been encroaching into fields which do not belong to them. Today, you see IAS  officers even in states tenant appointments which have no relevance to their training and field of activity. Every new corporation created is headed by IAS officer. Coffee Board in Bengaluru is headed by IAS Officer, Tea board in  Kolkata is headed by IAS officer. All Port Trusts Are headed by IAS officers. All ministries are headed by IAS officers. The economic counsellor in Indian embassies and high commissions are headed by IAS officers. Present RBI governor Shaktikant Das is a MA History from St Stephens Delhi and yet he is holding a post for which he has no qualification. Many posts in UN are grabbed by IAS where as it should have been preserve of IFS.

An IAS officer whose qualification is English literature is heading Civil Aviation Ministry, Health Ministry and all other ministries. What knowledge they gain in their service moving from ministry to another? They are jack of all trades and master of none. The socialist philosophy of Jawahar Lal Nehru and his khandan encouraged state control meaning control of each and everything by bureaucrats mostly IAS. Create corporations and head them by IAS.

The number of vacancies available to be tenanted by IAS is so many every IAS officer with just 16 years ground service (one year training in Lal Bahadur Shashtri National Academy of Administration, Mussorie is also counted as service) become Jt Secy equivalent to Maj Gen when only 2% of Army Officer can hope to become Maj Gens at 32 to 35 years of service. Only 0.08% become Lt Gens where as 100% IAS officers get promoted to Addl Secy and even if they do not then they drawn pay of Addl Secy. IAS officers draw higher pay from 16 years’ ground service till they retire whereas Officers from Armed forces draw higher pay for just four to five years.

Is this Gross Injustice Acceptable?

If you see the linkage of Organised Group ‘A’ Services getting pay of Jt Secy two years after their IAS batchmates are empanelled, means only the former is to get benefit of Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU). The 6th CPC report nowhere mentions that if one IAS officer is empanelled as Addl Secy then all IAS officers of that batch are to be given pay of Addl Secy on non-functional basis. IAS has been convincing every CPC that they being superior to  other Group ‘A’ services must have an edge over others by two years. The Secretary of CPC is always an IAS officer, hence he gets everything for his siblings.

The Organised Group ‘A’ services found that their batchmates had been climbing promotion ladder at much faster, easier and at much earlier length of service where as they were languishing in the same post for many years without any promotion due to lack of vacancies in their cadre. Their demand to give them compensation if they cannot be promoted due to lack of vacancies is very well justified in my view.

I do not agree to the view that NFU is unethical and immoral. It promotes mediocracy. It is all a false notion. Let us see what happens in the Army:

All Gentlemen Cadets pass out from IMA, Dehradun or OTA Chennai and allotted various Arms and Services. They get time scale promotion till Lt Col at 13 years of commissioned service. The Army adopted the policy of 0-1-2 to see Infantry, Armd Corps and Mech Inf officers get their promotion boards held two years earlier over officers from Services like AOC, ASC, AMC, EME. What is the crime the officers of services have committed that their batchmates of combat arms get two year advantage in promotion in every promotion board right from Colonel to Lt Gen?

Most of the staff appointments in the Army are cornered by these so-called meritorious officers from Combat Arms as if officers from Combat Support Arms and Services are second or third class citizens. Do you think the guys who passed out at the same time from IMA or OTA should gain such advantage in promotion just because they joined combat arms and others were forced to join Combat Support Arms and Services suffer at every stage of promotions?

I am sure you know AMC, AD Corps and RVC officers of the rank of Lt Col with 23.5 years service get pay and pension more than Army Cdr. Do you think these medicos do not strive to get higher ranks in their own corps? If you are given a choice to become Army Cdr or AMC Officer and retire in the rank of Lt Col but draw more pay and pension than Army Cdr, what would you choose?

Money may not be everything but money is also required. Perks and power wielded by higher ranks is what one motivates officers to strive, work hard and get promoted. It is not the pay of the rank that matters. Just ask a wife of superseded officer of her feelings why her husband, though brilliant, could not be promoted due to lack of vacancies where as the lowest in merit list in IMA/OTA got promoted as vacancies are plenty in the Combat Arms.

Promotional Prospects in the Army

The higher hierarchy manage to grab disproportionate number of vacancies for officers from Combat Arms as if they are God’s children. Even a mediocre officer from Combat Arms gets a higher chance to become Maj Gen and Lt Gen where as a brilliant officers from Comb Support Arms and Services do not even become a Lt Col (TS) just because vacancies are limited. You also see how officers are promoted. It is mostly based on ACR grading. Every tom dick and harry in Armd Corps gets 8 point and brilliant guys in Combat Support Arms and Services cannot hope to get 8 pointer.

Do you think MS branch has same cut off for all Arms and Services of same batch in promotion boards? Just how fast a mediocre guy from Combat Arms rise to the rank of Lt Gen and how brilliant officers from Comb Sp Arms and Services also reach the rank of Lt Gen? I am sure the gap is almost four to five years. The Comb Arms guys enjoy higher ranks for longer periods whereas Officers from Combat Sp Arms and Services tenant higher appoints if they are lucky to reach and hold them just one or two years.

Therefore the talk of merit is all absolute and unadulterated nonsense. I am happy NFU removes the linkage of vacancies to promotions. Why should a Lt Gen in Combat Arm feel bad if his batchmate gets pay of Lt Gen after putting 31 years service and Maj Gen if he puts in 19 years service?

Trust the Service HQ dominated by Combat Arms to frame policy on NFU. They will ensure lion’s cake goes to their sibling in Combat Arms. We need few more Mukul Devs to go to the Supreme Court to fight our own Service HQ to see NFU is implemented in letter and spirit. Let me also state that NFU is not linked to your coursemate. It is linked to a batch of IAS officers who are junior to you by two years getting empanelled as Jt Secy and Addl Secy. Even a superseded Major with 19 years gets pay of Maj Gen if IAS batch two years junior to him get empanelled as Jt Secy. Why should I or anyone feel aggrieved someone is compensated financially if the system has not given him promotion due to lack of vacancies?

What motivation is there for superseded officers to strive and prove his merit if he is not compensated? I strongly support NFU to Armed Forces so that the gross and unacceptable discrimination between Combat Arms and others is over once for all. OROP has helped lower ranked officers also get higher pension. The gap in pension between an Army Cdr and Lt Col is now very much tolerable unlike pre-OROP days.

When NFU is implemented, the pay of one batch of officers irrespective of their Arm or Service is going to be same. Therefore the average pension of all Officers retiring in the same calendar year say 2013 or 2018 will not arise as all of them are going to get same pay and on retirement in pension in NFU. Therefore it becomes much easier to work out OROP after every year. The facile argument that equalising pension every year is accountant’s night more is no more valid. NFU helps us to get true OROP.

The earlier retirees will always lag behind in pension compared to the latest retirees. NFU ensures it does not if OROP is yearly revision.

I am ready to face flak from the so-called meritorious and brilliant ‘God’s children from Combat Arms’ over ‘Godforsaken Officers from Combat Support Arms and Services’

Brig CS Vidyasagar (Retd) is President of Tri Services Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (TSEWA). He can be reached at Email: brigvidya.tsewa@gmail.com