For a million homemakers in the Capital, it was supposed to be pouring money this Monday. In the end, it only rained cats and dogs for some, drizzled for most and didn’t rain for the others.
The national Capital, with all the Central ministries, departments and autonomous bodies, houses the largest chunk of babus in India. So when the Sixth Pay Commission submitted its recommendations on Monday, it meant the end of two-year-long suspense for close to a million families in the heart of babudom.
“Our office was abuzz with speculations for the past one year about the probable ballpark figures. When it was finally out on Monday, it was kind of a letdown. For those in my grade, the hike in basic pay will be only around Rs 800,” said Ananta Ganguly (name changed on request), a mid-level Finance Ministry official.
For Devendra Kumar, a Group-C employee of Indian Railways, the jubilant calculations had already started by evening. By 7 pm, his college-going daughter had set her heart on buying a pink scooter and Mrs Devendra Kumar had zeroed in on a bigger television set.
What was notable in the reactions in the wide range of government servants was that the crème of the lot, the top officials celebrated a windfall, while for the mid-level ranks it was a bubble burst.
Take the example of Delhi Development Authority under the Union Urban Development Ministry. The gross salary of DDA’s Vice Chairman, who by rank is an additional secretary-equivalent, and that of an Engineer Member and Finance Membes, will go up from Rs 53,000 to Rs 73,000. The salaries of other senior officers will also go up substantially. But lower down, the net hike in “take home” will not be more than Rs 3,000, officials said. They pointed out that the new pay packet might lead to middle-level officials joining the private sector.
For MCD officials, the previous pay panels had brought better news in the past. “The fourth and fifth commissions far outshine the present report. Inflation has outpaced Dearness Allowances in the meantime and the present proposed hike does not address that as far as the 1.2 lakh MCD employees’ paychecks are concerned,” said a senior MCD official.
Why is this disparity in distributing the pie?
SC Panda, head, Department of Economics, Delhi University, said, “This looks like the government’s efforts to retain talent at the upper and middle levels of the administration where quality human resource is becoming increasingly hard to find. Corporate sector’s salaries are much fatter so people at these levels are actually leaving for greener pastures.” Prof Panda quoted the example of Delhi University, which is finding it difficult to fill the posts of Economics lecturers. “Our own students prefer corporate sector for better pay,” he said.