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Govt to Revive Spy Networks With Better Pay and Perks

Govt to Revive Spy Networks With Better Pay and Perks

NEW DELHI: The NDA government at the Centre is on a reform spree and topping its list are India’s intelligence agencies. Top sources said Union Home Ministry has prepared a proposal with the approval of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revisit the salary structure and risk allowance of spies in Central Intelligence Agencies—Intelligence Bureau and R&AW—which was drastically reduced due to rampant red tapism plaguing the system. It is learnt that an anomaly was introduced by bureaucrats in the 5th & 6th Pay Commission which made the spies no different from a clerk working in the ministerial cadre.
The proposal suggests that “Intelligence has specific requirement and they should be treated as Special Cadre,” said a source, adding that in-principle the decision has been taken to submit the recommendation before the 7th Pay Commission.
The NDA has agreed that the function of an intelligence agency is different from other government departments and it cannot be made to work in fixed bureaucratic format drawn by bureaucrats.

Sources said that bringing the salary and other benefits of intelligence agents at par with the state police and clerks was a big mistake. The risks undertaken by spies are unmatched and the field staff is expected to work 24X7. Many of the spies have been working undercover in insurgency hit states of Jammu & Kashmir and the North-East. R&AW officials are often posted in the conflict-ridden hot zones, facing potential risk to life.
“Intelligence officials are unarmed and take risk in venturing into hazardous and conflict zones to generate inputs. R&AW agents are handling covert missions in strategically important countries. The Ministry feels the intelligence officials were also not given enough respect by comparing their salary with that of beat police and clerks in the ministerial cadre,” the source said.
It is learnt that the risk allowance in both the Intelligence Bureau and R&AW was also reduced to 15 per cent whereas Central agencies like CBI get at least 25 per cent risk allowance.
“The risk involved in IB & R&AW operations is much higher than any other agency, including CBI and police. The government will have to re-energise the agency by showing it cares for them,” an intelligence officer said adding that Intelligence Bureau had to face intense scrutiny and its cadre were completely demoralised during the ten years of UPA rule.
The government is set to substantially increase the risk allowance by placing IB & R&AW into a special category. Sources said the Centre is looking at providing comprehensive benefits, including benefit to the families of intelligence officials to ensure they are confident and motivated.
Looking back at the decision which brought disparity, a serving intelligence official said, even the benefits to the field agents, the backbone of any intelligence agency, were drastically reduced.  He further said that it takes almost 10-15 years to get an official accommodation for the officers when they are back in a metropolitan city from a dangerous posting.
Officials maintained that due to less lucrative perks and benefits, the domestic intelligence agency is facing a shortage of over 7,000 skilled professionals to generate and disseminate crucial intelligence input.  According to government figures released in 2013, IB had only 18, 795 personnel against the sanctioned strength of 26,867 officers. External spy agency R&AW has a strength of around 9,000 officers, including field agents serving on deputation. The R&AW cadre is shrinking by the day and in 2012 the agency was forced to seek the help of Department of Personnel & Training to tide over the manpower shortage.
Although, the government has allocated `1196.43 crore in the 2014-2015 budget for the IB to meet establishment-related expenditure, the amount will have to be substantially increased once the recommendation of 7th pay commision is executed by 2016.

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