The 10-yearly pay scale revision has always been a useful exercise on the part of the government to give the central employees their dues and look into their needs and wants. The 7th Pay Commission that has been cleared by the union cabinet and announced by finance minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday, although aimed at wooing the middle classes back into the Congress fold, is nevertheless a welcome development, particularly for its purported inclusion of the ex-army servicemen in the scheme. The new pay panel, which will become effective from 1 January 2016, will not only benefit about 80 lakh of the central government employees, with the arrears going into their salaries, allowances and pensions, but it will also try to palliate the grievances of the ex-servicemen of the armed forces, whose pensions had not been up to the mark as compared to their counterparts in the civil services.
While the armed forces had backtracked from their demand of a separate pay commission, their inclusion in the 7th pay commission should be able to soothe the open wounds of all three wings, with a full representation now in fray. This, along with the hike in dearness allowance to 90 per cent, from the earlier 80 per cent, is going to be not just the government’s attempts to woo the central employees, who constitute a small but substantial chunk of the middle classes and had been enamoured by the Narendra Modi-led BJP’s focus on clean and effective administration. Moreover, despite the BJP’s opposition to the new pay panel, on the basis of it being an additional burden on the government exchequer, the Congress-led UPA has clearly scored an electoral goal with the scheme.