With pensions and salaries being the biggest spending factor of the defence budget, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) is in the process of finalising an increase in retirement age and also commonality among various officer ranks across the three services.
Once these changes are brought in, the concept of re-employment in the armed forces will also come down, sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint adding that the shortfall of officers will also reduce.
The sources said that work is also on to tweak the re-employment responsibilities so that re-employed officers can work at the same level as their rank, rather than the current practice wherein while the officer draws the salary of his rank, his responsibilities are of much lower rank.
Sources said that increasing pension and salary bills have been a concern because it meant that while the defence budget itself is big in terms of numbers, the actual money spent on modernisation is less.
India had earlier this year emerged as the world’s third-biggest defence spender, after US and China. India outranked Russia, on which it is heavily dependent for defence equipment.
Sources said that the main issue is at the ‘Colonel’ rank since the three services have different ages for retirement, with the Indian Air Force having two different retirement ages depending on whether one is from the ‘flying branch’ or not.
In the Army, a Colonel-rank officer retires at the age of 54. In the Navy, his counterpart, a Captain, retires at the age of 56. In the IAF, their counterpart is a Group Captain. If a Group Captain is from the ‘flying branch’, he retires at the age of 54, while all Group Captains from ‘ground duty’ branches retire at 57.
Similarly, while a Brigadier in the Army and Commodore in the Navy retire at the age of 56, their counterpart in the IAF (Air Commodore) has a retirement age of 56 and 58 years, respectively, depending on whether he is from the flying branch or not.