The way government functions appears strange sometimes. A small group of junior level Indian Information Service (IIS) officers are fighting for the last many years to get a paltry salary hike of just Rs. 400 a month. It would translate into burden on exchequer of a few lakh rupees a year.
But, the government is not willing to provide the relief even though the sixth pay commission had recommended the increase by merging the junior grade with the senior grade. The pay commission wanted one grade for junior level IIS officers to make administration of the cadre easier.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry initially decided to merge the two levels — three and four of IIS — in 2010 but had a change of heart within a few months. The apparent reason was insistence of the finance ministry that such a merger cannot take place.
The finance ministry did not agree with the I&B ministry that the merger would help better management of cadre and insisted on continuing with the junior cadre as an induction point for officials to work under senior level IIS officers.
The aggrieved IIS officers of these grades describe it as injustice to them and say that the government has failed to implement the six pay commission recommendations approved by the Union Cabinet.
"We left our journalistic career to join government service thinking it would lead to career growth. But nothing like that has happened," said one of the IIS officers. For many, stagnation at one post for years is a reason for losing interest in work which primarily handles government's publicity.
These officers about 140 in number believe that the senior IIS officials were against the merger as it would have resulted in lesser promotion avenues for them. In the Indian pyramid type bureaucratic system, the posts at the senior levels are directly proportionate to the persons employed at the lower levels.
If there are more people at the lowest level, then there can be more posts at all the levels above. That is an apparent reason for I&B recent recruitment at the junior most level in the information service and in official parlance it is described as cadre management.
The entire exercise has left a small group of IIS officers feeling cheated.