Qualification Grant and Technical Allowance
A lump-sum Qualification Grant is paid to officers who qualify in various specified courses. The present rates are as under:
|Category I Courses||Rs 30000|
|Category II Courses||Rs 22500|
|Category III Courses||Rs 13500|
|Category IV Courses||Rs 9000|
|MNS Officers||Rs 9000|
The general demand is to increase the rate to four times of the 2008 rate. Besides this, extension of the allowance to JCOs/ORs and Medical Officers has been sought. At present, there is a condition of two years having elapsed between two consecutive claims. Removal of this condition has been requested.
Technical Allowance is admissible to Defence Forces officers belonging to the technical branches for qualifying certain Tier-I and Tier-II courses. The present rates are as under:
|For Tier-I courses||Rs 3000 pm|
|For Tier-II courses||Rs 4500 pm|
|For both courses||Rs 7500 pm|
Defence forces have asked for a four-fold increase in the rate of this allowance, and sought extension to all officers and JCOs/ORs who undergo specified courses irrespective of the arm/service/branch of all three services. There are demands from the civilian side too, that this allowance should be extended to all civilian employees. Personnel of Indian Coast Guardhave also asked for this allowance.
Analysis and Recommendations
Regarding Qualification Grant, the Commission has carefully studied the list of various courses that fall in each of the categories and has the following observations:
1. In each of the four categories, the mix of courses is such that it does not lend itself to any pattern by way of level of difficulty, uniformity in duration or relevance to one’s field of work.
2. There is a fair degree of overlap between the list of courses under Categories I-IV and the broad list circulated by DoPT for the grant of Higher Qualification Incentive for civilians.
3. The quantum of incentive for civilians is at present significantly lower than the Qualification Grant for Defence employees.
Regarding Technical Allowance, the following observations are made:
1. The allowance for Tier-I courses is admissible to all technical officers from the day they complete their professional qualification training and become available for full time professional employment in the service. Tier-II comprises various technical courses from recognized institutes in India or abroad.
2. There is a vast difference in incentive provided to Defence officers vis-à-vis civilian employees for acquiring higher technical qualifications. Two factors stand out:
a. To be eligible for the grant of incentive, the civilian employee should not have been sponsored by the government, while there is no such restriction for Defence officers, and
b. While the highest amount of lump sum incentive for civilian employees is Rs 10,000 (for acquiring Ph.D. qualification) at present, Defence officers are entitled to a monthly allowance of Rs 4,500 even for much lower level courses.
Having considered the existing structure as brought out above, and particularly in view of the point 2(b), there is a strong case for bringing the entire structure of qualification related incentive/grant/allowance on a more equitable footing. Accordingly, the following is recommended:
1. Considering the difference in process of recruitment of Defence employees compared to their civilian counterparts, and the varying service conditions, the Technical Allowance for Tier-I courses may continue to be paid on a monthly basis at the existing level.
2. The list of courses under each category of Qualification Grant needs to be reviewed by an expert committee and only Defence specific courses need to be retained. It may be clarified here that the Commission is all for acquiring higher qualifications for the growth of an individual. However, the areas in which incentive is given should be such
that they are directly relevant to one’s chosen field of occupation. Courses like M.Phil in any subject (presently a Cat-I course) or Bar-at-Law (presently a Cat-II course) are generic in nature and may be reviewed. Similarly, the desirability of including a course like Long Cookery Course (presently at Cat-II) should also be re-examined.
3. The list of courses under Tier-II of Technical Allowance also needs to be reviewed by an expert committee with a view to retaining the relevant ones only.
4. Once the reviews are completed, the list of courses which are to qualify for continuation of the incentive should be graded into five categories. They should then be combined into a single Higher Qualification Incentive for Defence Personnel with the following rates:
|Grade I courses||30000|
|Grade II courses||25000|
|Grade III courses||20000|
|Grade IV courses||15000|
|Grade V courses||10000|
5. Summing up, only Tier-I of the Technical Allowance will continue to be paid on a monthly basis. Tier-II of the Technical Allowance as well as the Qualification Grant will be merged into Higher Qualification Incentive for Defence Personnel and will be paid as a lumpsum amount, on similar terms and conditions as Higher Qualification Incentive for Civilians.
6. Like civilians, this incentive will be applicable to all Defence forces personnel. Similarly, the incentive shall be limited to maximum two times in an employee’s career, with a minimum gap of two years between successive grants.
7. For Defence employees who have already availed of the full incentive now proposed,future payments should be stopped. For employees who have availed of the incentive only partly, the remaining amount should be paid as a lump sum immediately. No recoveries should be made for those employees who have already received more than
the full amount.