The great divide
Ajay Banerjee

If the existing supremacy-driven divide between the IAS and the IPS officers of the country was not enough to manage for the government, the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission – announced three weeks ago—have led to a virtual vertical split between the two services. It has raised serious questions, even as fears of polarisation are being expressed.
Dissatisfied: The police and paramilitary forces too feel shortchanged
Dissatisfied: The police and paramilitary forces too feel shortchanged  

Officers from the Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMF) as well as IPS officers drawn from various state cadres are at the middle and the top levels in the central forces. They think the financial gap between the CPMF and the Army is unwarranted. Officers argue that the CRPF, the BSF, the CISF and the ITBP were losing more men than the Army in internal security duties hence they deserved to be treated at par. The BSF and the CRPF were doing active duty in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir and the Naxalite-ridden belt of Chhattisgarh. The IPS Officers Central Association has demanded that “Police pay” should be paid to jawans and officers of the CPMFs on the pattern paid to the Army jawans.

All sides have a viewpoint that is backed by strong logic. The IPS officers say that despite handling a low-intensity war against militancy, insurgency, drug cartels, organised criminals and the under world, they have not been given their due. The police personnel face a risk to their life and also work under pulls and pressures of the political system — this should result in a better pay package.

Conversely, a Punjab cadre IAS officer has an opinion on this and says, “All of us took the Civil Services Exam collectively and the IPS were placed behind the IAS in the merit list. Hence, the protest is not justified and neither is the demand for equal salary”. Countering this, a young IPS officer from Uttarakhand, Abhinav Kumar, while airing his views on the pay panel report, has likened it to the Manusmriti which promoted the caste system in India. In this case, the privileges of birth have been replaced by privileges of the UPSC exam where higher the merit means a better pay package for life. The IPS also believe it will strengthen colonial legacy when the Indian civil services held sway during the British Raj.

According to a UP-cadre IPS officer, A.P. Maheswari, who is on deputation to the CRPF and was a part of the deputation of IPS officers that met the UPA President Sonia Gandhi and also the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil two weeks ago to protest the lower wages, “It was brought to the notice that the police has the toughest roles in society today besides the risk to life”.

In Punjab, the IPS Association Chief J.P. Birdi has shot off a letter reminding how many policemen, and specifically IPS officers, lost their lives in countering militancy. He says after 30 years of service, going by the recommendations of the commission, an IPS officer would be earning nearly Rs 70 lakh less than his IAS counterpart. In Haryana, the DGP Ranjeev Dalal and other senior officers have sought the help of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Same is the case in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam and Madhya Pradesh where IPS officers have petitioned the respective chief ministers.

The Central government has already set-up an anomalies committee that has three secretaries, however, the IPS lobby is not satisfied. The IPS (Central) Association has now passed a resolution demanding that a group of ministers look into the matter. They believe the group of secretaries is loaded with IAS officers and hence justice was not expected. Maheshwari and his fellow officers have also advocated ‘at par’ salary for officers of the Director-General rank. The Pay Commission has recommended a pay band of Rs 80,000 to the DGs of CPMFs. The responsibilities and problems dealt by DG of state police are in no way less than those faced by the heads of CPMFs . There should not be any difference in the pay at the level of the Director Generals of police whether he is in Central Paramilitary or in a state, IPS officers have argued while demanding the apex grade for all the DGs. The DG of state has the responsibility of the entire state and its citizens. The pay difference between the IPS and the IAS starts off but the biggest difference comes at the DIG-level when the wage of the DIG will be Rs 32,240 while an IAS in the corresponding seniority will get Rs 48,200. And as long as the DIG continues in his/her scale the gap increases and reaches a level that the IPS will get Rs 17,100 less than the IAS.

At the top, the Additional DG or the DG will get paid less than the IAS of the same seniority. The gap will be between Rs 5,900 and Rs 10,90. The Pay commission, it seems, has generated a new controversy and with the police being the “need of the hour” for the political masters, this is not the last word on the commission and its report.