Officers against any move to restore parity with services such as IPS and IRS
New Delhi/Hyderabad: Apprehending that the seventh central pay commission may restore parity between different government services in terms of compensation and career progression, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers have shot off many letters to the department of personnel and training opposing any such move.
More than 100 letters from IAS officers of different cadres and batches have been sent to the secretary of department of personnel and training in the last few days, just a few weeks before the seventh pay commission submits its report to the government, according to two people familiar with the development.
Mint has seen a few of these letters, which highlight the deep rivalries between the cadre of various All India services.
The seventh pay commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Mathur, is expected to submit its report in the third week of November.
The common thread across these letters is a demand to maintain the edge that IAS officers get when it comes to pay and empanelment compared with other serviecs such as the Indian Revenue Service and Indian Police Service.
Dismissing the argument by the other services that they too qualify for recruitment after taking the same exam, IAS officers point out that they were empanelled in IAS as they performed better in the Civil Service Exams than their counterparts in the other services.
“Equality of opportunity to perform is the backbone of healthy competition but equality of rewards irrespective of one’s performance is an antithesis to the whole idea of competition,” said one of the letters.
Another letter drew parallel to the recent world championships where Jamaican Usain Bolt won the 100 metres race by 0.01 second. “Can the silver medallist now claim that he should also be given a gold medal because he lost out so narrowly?” the letter questioned.
There are around 4,500 IAS officers and a majority of the country’s top policymaking positions currently are held by officers of this cadre. Most of the posts of joint secretary and above are dominated by IAS officers.
IAS officers also pointed out that they did not bargain for pay and rank parity when they chose the service that requires them to work long hours, and often in remote locations. They added that it will be unfair if the latest pay commission and the Union government decide to apply parity among different services “retrospectively” because they did not bargain for it when they opted for IAS.
One of the two persons cited in the first instance pointed out that 99% of civil services aspirants target the prestigious IAS cadre. “But if the seventh pay commission recommends bringing all central services on par with IAS, its charm would be lost and administrative service will no longer attract the brightest talent,” he said.
To be sure, officers who belong to other services such as Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Forest Service (IFoS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) and others do not agree with this claim of their IAS counterparts having an “edge”. The officers from these services have been actively demanding pay parity with IAS and Indian Foreign Service Officers and have made representations to the seventh pay commission.
As per their arguments, an IAS or an IFS officer gets Rs.4,000-5,000 a month more than officers belonging to other services after four years of service, which goes up toRs.15,000–16,000 per month by the 14th year and Rs.18,000-20,000 per month by the 17th year of service.
That’s because IAS and IFS officers are accorded additional increments at 3% each over their basic pay.
In its representation to the seventh pay commission, the Indian Civil & Administrative Service (Central) Association, the representative body of IAS officers, demanded that the salary structure of the officers should be comparable to private sector packages. The letter proposed benchmarking the salaries of the officers with the private sector’s salaries but with a discount to factor in the “public service” component.
“It is a matter of opinion as different services will have different opinions (about pay parity and opportunities for higher posts). But there is a sound case for reforming the colonial system (of services), which we continued with after independence. Even today, some people who are eligible for IAS in civil services examinations prefer customs and revenue for more money,” said constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap, referring to the corruption that’s associated with those services.