Paramilitary forces living on edge: IIM study
A study by the IIM, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on the working conditions of the central paramilitary forces has highlighted their stressful and dismal living conditions round the year as they don’t have a concept of peace posting like the armed forces.
IIM-A submitted this study on “performance related incentives in government” to the Sixth Central Pay Commission.According to the study, the forces are required to put in long working hours (invariably 12-14 hours a day) and perform additional duties of guarding the camp without sufficient rest and respite in difficult terrains, hostile environments and face regular threat to life.
The report said: “They always remain on call and have round-the-clock commitments throughout the year, without any consideration for leave, gazetted holidays, weekends, festivals, personal commitments and social obligations. This leads to very high levels of stress and imbalances.
Repeated physical ailments in far-flung areas of deployment and absence of medical facilities for diseases like cerebral malaria, Hepatitis B, liver cirrhosis, chikungunya etc render working conditions hazardous. Stress compiled with unhygienic living conditions leads to high instances of chronic diseases and (premature) death among force personnel.”
The study has further noted their social isolation after living in camps for a lifetime. Their unavailability for social and family commitments like marriages, functions, death etc of near and dear ones almost leads to their social boycott in the family and their society.
The report further added: “The problem of social isolation is compounded by the fact that their entire career is spent in hard areas and they don’t have a concept of peace posting (as in the armed forces).”
The report also mentions about their increased personal expenditure as they are forced to maintain two or more establishments due to separation from family and the need for education of their children. The report said: “He is forced to undertake journeys to home to sort out domestic exigencies, which cost him additional money.
Regular need for communication with their families adds to their costs and it’s made worse by the fact that at many places of their deployment, they only have satellite phones which cost a fortune.”The IIM-A team further mentioned: “Separation from family is a serious problem.
We met somebody who has not lived with his family for the past 37 years and said that ‘my children don’t recognise me’.”
The report makes another important observation on the food provisions for the forces. It said: “Food is the most basic human need and the related provisions are widely perceived to be unfair and highly discriminatory which adversely affects their morale. Ration money paid out to force personnel is perceived to be inadequate, especially for their places of deployment where ration is always more expensive. Levy of income tax on this effectively reduces the amount of calories that money can buy.
There is a urgent requirement for the government to sanction various allowances like Paramilitary Service Pay (PMSP)in line with Military Service Pay (MSP), technical pay, higher ration money, school transport, communication facility and host of other allowances to make life comfortable for these men in Khaki.
In the officer cadre there is a urgent requirement to shift Second-in-Command and its equivalent in various paramilitary forces to the pay scale of PB-4, as the existing workload of these officers is much more than carried out by Lt. Colonels in the Battalion. It is pertinent to mention that promotion to this rank of Second-in-Command is by selection unlike defence forces where it is time bound promotion. Going by the general principle a selection post is always treated senior to time bound promotion posts.