In a highly analytical piece written in his personal blog firstname.lastname@example.org, (Full Article) Prasant estimates that an IAS or IFS officer in a month gets Rs 4,000 to 5,000 more than officers belonging to other services after four years of service though all pass the same competitive examination. The gap goes up to Rs 15,000–16,000 per month by 14th year and Rs 18,000-20,000 per month by 17th year of service, as IAS and IFS officers are accorded additional increments at 3% each over their basic pay at three grades i.e. Senior Time Scale (STS), Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) and Non Functional Selection Grade (NFSG). “The Transport Allowance and other Allowances are calculated as a percentage of basic salary or basic salary plus DA. So it is anybody’s guess as to what will be the difference in salaries being paid to an IAS/IFS officer and other officers belonging to other Services like IPS, IRS, etc. as a result of two additional increments being granted to IAS/IFS at three levels,” he adds.
Prasant argues that this discriminatory practice has its roots in the erstwhile British colonial administration when the Indian Civil Service (ICS) was an elite cadre of officers comprising predominantly the British nationals or Europeans that occupied top administrative positions. Post-Independence, IAS took ICS’ space.
Prasant concedes that those IAS and IFS officers who got selected before 1979 could be considered of higher merit than those selected for IPS and other Central services, as the former had to clear two additional optional subjects of master’s degree standard. But examination pattern got changed since 1979.
Based on Kothari Committee recommendations of 1976, recruitment to IAS, IFS, IPS and other Central Civil Services was being made through a common civil services examination since 1979. “However, the edge enjoyed by the IAS/IFS over the other Services in respect of salaries is being continued even after 1979 citing one or the other reason,” Prasant writes.
In fact, the question of pay parity cropped up during the earlier pay commissions as well, but the demand was set aside mainly with an argument that IAS officers are still the best talent, and they are generally posted in small places in their initial career. Also, they face frequent transfers, and the pulls and pressures that they have to stand upto early in their career are much more intense. The following is an excerpt from the 6th Pay Commission report that argued why IAS officers should get a better pay: “The role of IAS is still very important in the overall scheme of governance. They have an important coordinating, multi-functional and integrating role in the administrative framework with wide experience of working across various levels in diverse areas in Government. They hold important field level posts at the district level and at the cutting edge at the start of their careers with critical decision making and crisis management responsibilities. The leadership function, the strategic, coordinating and integrative role at this level requires the best talent available. The existing position would, therefore, need to be maintained. It will ensure that IAS officers near the beginning of their career are given slightly higher remuneration vis-à-vis other services and act as an incentive for the brightest candidates to enter this service. This is essential as the initial postings of IAS officers are generally to small places, they face frequent transfers and the pulls and pressures they have to stand upto early in their career are much more intense. The slight edge in the initial stages of their career would, to an extent, neutralize these problems. The Commission, accordingly, is of view that the existing edge for IAS in the three grades viz. Senior Time Scale, Junior Administrative Grade and Non-Functional Selection Grade needs to be retained.”
But according to Prasant, it’s a myth that IAS officers are the best talent available among the candidates selected through civil services examination. And this myth is “perpetrated by the IAS lobby to gain an unfair advantage over the other sister civil services in the country”, he adds.
Analyzing the Service Allocation lists for the civil services examinations from 2005 to 2012, Prasant sums up like this: “All those candidates who are allotted IAS in the Civil Services Examination merit list are neither the toppers of that year’s exam nor the brightest of the candidates selected in that year.”
Further, he calls the 6th Central Pay Commission’s justification of a higher pay for IAS “by citing their initial postings to small places, frequent transfers and intense pulls and pressures” as highly self-contradictory. Prasant retorts: “Initial postings of IPS and Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers are also to small places. The pulls and pressures on IPS officers are much more than on the IAS officers. The frequent transfers are seen more in the case of IPS than in the IAS. IPS officers are at the forefront of combating terrorism and naxalism, which are the biggest security threats the country is facing. IPS officers are working overtime to ensure that public order is maintained across the country. The majority of the Central Civil Services officers belonging to Services like IRS(IT), IRS(C and CE), IDAS, IDES, IRTS and the Indian Forest Service officers are posted in the moffussil towns during their initial years of service. Some of them are posted in the remotest areas of the country like Jammu and Kashmir, North-East, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, border areas, etc.”
So, will 7th Pay Commission look into this "inequality" and give equal pay to all officers across services? What is your take? Which side you are in?