Military-Bureaucracy Brinksmanship

There is a widening civil-military "gap" in India today which stems from developments on both sides of the divide. The liberalisation and rapid growth of the Indian economy over the last 25 years have considerably increased the gap between the economic profi les of the civilian and military personnel.

The face-off between the government and the service chiefs over the implementation of the Seventh Central Pay Commission’s recommendation once again underscores the deep-seated problems in our civil–military relations. Coming on the heels of the bitter controversy over One Rank One Pension (OROP) (Raghavan 2015), the latest episode shows that it is impossible any longer to brush these problems under the carpet. The situation demands urgent attention not just of the political leadership, but the citizens as well.

The fracas over the Seventh Central Pay Commission was no bolt out of the blue. Soon after the commission had submitted its report in December 2015, the three service chiefs wrote to the defence minister pointing out several problems with the recommendations. Fundamentally, the suggestions made in the joint memorandum submitted by the services to the commission had been glossed over. In particular, all the major problems that the armed forces had with the previous pay commission had been brushed aside. The defence minister reportedly assured the service chiefs that their concerns would get a full hearing. In the months since, the chiefs had written to him several times. The matter had also been formally brought to the notice of the Prime Minister in July 2016.

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