Saturday, May 24, 2008

Scientist form body to oppose CPC recommendation

A group of scientists belonging to the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Space on friday said the revisions announced by the Sixth Pay Commission have fallen short of their expectations. To add insult to injury, their compatriots in the teaching line and bureaucracy have galloped past them in terms of gross monthly pay, they claimed, adding that this results in huge variations between the salaries between different professionals as they go up the hierarchy.

"While a babu can reach the highest tier, Pay Band IV, within 15 years of service, a scientist would have earned only two promotions after joining as a scientific officer," said S Joseph Winston, a senior scientist at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam.

Their growing discontent has prompted a group of scientists to band together to form the Confederation of Atomic and Space Scientists/Technologists (COAST), an umbrella organisation that has vowed to take up the issue to the higher authorities.

Both the departments come under the Prime Minister who had earlier assured the scientists of a hike of 40 per cent.

However, the actual revision has only been around 18 to 35 per cent, complained the scientists, adding that the highest hike was limited to the PB IV category.

"While about 50-60 per cent of the bureaucrats fallin the PB IV, the figure for us scientists is only 5 per cent. Most scientists slog in the labs for years together, and retire before they can ever reach the highest pay structure," said Winston, the president of COAST This disparity, said Winston and his colleagues, was a blow to the morale of the scientists who were working on projects of great strategic importance and symbolic value. "There are big investments in the fields of nuclear and space research. It is in these scientific fields where the country proved its might. But when it comes to managing human resources, these shortcomings could have serious consequences. If this situation continues, the country will face a dearth of serious researchers and scientists in the near future," warned Winston, who believes that the Sixth Pay Commission is precisely the sort of policy that causes "brain drain" from premier institutes.

"When there are avenues for them to go abroad and earn manifold of what the Government is offering, none of the 'creamy layer' from institutions like the IITswould come forward to join service here," said a scientist.

(Appeared in Indian Express 24/05/08)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

MSP to be doubled to Rs 2000 for jawans

Jawans set to get a hike beyond Pay panel advice

In the face of mounting pressure from the Armed Forces, the Defence Ministry has asked the Committee of Secretaries looking into the Pay Commission recommendations to double the Military Service Pay (MSP) for soldiers from Rs 1000 to Rs 2000. The MSP will be merged with basic salary and form the basis on which other allowances will be calculated.

With Defence Minister A K Antony putting his weight behind the move, sources said, the suggestion is likely to be accepted as informal consultations have already happened among relevant officials. The issue will be elaborately discussed and firmed up when the three service chiefs meet Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekhar, who heads the CoS, over lunch on May 5.

While the Armed Forces were keen to treble the amount for certain categories among personnel below officer rank (PBOR), sources said, the hike in MSP along with other allowances will make up for a “healthy” salary. Moreover, the CoS will submit the report to the Cabinet which can consider further review in case finances permit.

The pay panel, it may be recalled, had suggested MSP of Rs 1000 for PBORs — there are 13 lakh PBORs — and Rs 6000 for officers up to the rank of Brigadier. Sources said there will be no revision in the MSP recommendation for officers even though the Armed Forces are keen on extending MSP to officers beyond the rank of Brigadier.

However, some of the other demands related to pay parity among senior officers and their counterparts in the civil is likely to get a favourable view. The pay panel recommendations have caused a strong protest from within and among the Armed Forces. Former Army Chief Gen N C Vij, who now heads the National Disaster Management Authority, even wrote to the Prime Minister expressing anguish and making demands for revising the suggestions.

(Appeared in the Indian Express on 01/05/08)