The National Defence Academy at Khadakvasla, an entry-level institution in the Indian Army, has 300 vacancies every year; the number of cadets who got selected this year: 190. Number of vacancies at Indian Military Academy in Dehradun: 250; number of gentlemen cadets who joined this year: 86. In other words, the world’s largest voluntary army in the world is no longer attracting able-bodied young men for a career in the armed forces.
The tough life, the frequent transfers, poor career progression, and the greater perks in life outside are all being attributed for the shortfall. To combat the talent crunch—the Army is said to be facing a shortage of 11,238 officers—the Indian army chief General Deepak Kapoor has hinted that compulsory military service, like in Israel among other countries, may be considered if the present trend is to be checked and reversed.
Questions: Is the Army’s manpower shortage real? Is conscription a good idea? Are Indians in the consumption era willing to put nation before self? Will it work? Should the Army try to woo the best and the brightest with better pay and career prospects rather than requiring all young Indians to serve in the Army? In a democracy which has maintained a health distance from the armed forces, could compulsory military service end up militarising the country, with disastrous consequences like in Pakistan?
Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Combat roles for women?
While accepting the yeoman service our jawans are doing, I have serious doubts about this proposal for compulsory military service.
Won’t this drive Indian Democracy the Pakistan way?
Won’t this compulsory service be a brake on the creativity and vibrancy of our system?
Compulsory training should help instil some discipline in the younger generation. I don’t think military training should hamper creativity at all.
military training should be made compulsary. service should be made optional. if perks are increased there should be no complaints of shortage of people taking to armed forces.
people expect defence personnel and doctors to work round the clock to attend emergencies, which they do without complaints but inturn what they are getting paid is peanuts compared to IT BT, this will lead to talent drift resulting in serious problems in defence and health services. GOVT SHOULD ACT.
Why can’t the Govt increase the pay of defence personnel and doctors to match that of IT BT?
Actually, I think the problem is that we have an army that is too large.
Our army would be great if we wanted to fight the 1965 or 1971 War again, but that’s not happening any time soon.
Having a “big” army these days is a pretty big liability because:
1. It presents a nice target for nukes.
2. It presents plenty of targets for militants
3. It is a terrible drain on our resources to keep that army outfitted.
Sure, having lots of men on street corners in Kashmir, Assam and the North East is a great way to keep these areas under control, but it is not sustainable for long periods of time. Eventually the death toll, the fatigue and the stress of occupation will tell on any army. So “troublesome” areas is simply no justification for having a large army.
Besides, compulsory military training or service do nothing to redress the shortfall in officers. Sure, it is great to develop a militaristic mindset in the population and generally try to whip the youth into shape (especially if you want to be like pre-WW1 Germany), but it is useless for trying to get more people to join the Officer Corps.
Historically, the Army has been an avenue for young men seeking advancement not available in other areas, and when such advancement is available through those great ESOP offers, the prospect of low pay, tough posting, repeated transfer and a good possibility of dying young will not seem so enticing. So the Army will have to use its head to come up with something to make a career in the army seem worthwhile (and this does not include getting Hrithik Roshan to star in a Kargil War movie!)
dr. ramesh said,
‘people expect defence personnel and doctors to work round the clock to attend emergencies’.
Same thing is expected of IT and BT. That is why they have shifts. And they do it very efficiently and money thus saved by efficiency and a general minimization of bureaucracy is passed on as salaries to the employees.
And why equate health services to compulsory defence service. Are you suggesting compulsory medical training for everyone too?
BTW IT – in the form of computing is becoming all pervasive in medical and defence sectors too. Whether it is the formulation of new drugs or complex surgery most new breakthroughs happen with the aid of computing. Better if you embraced this instead of seeing it as an enemy.
It appears from your post that you want the government to somehow punish the IT/BT crowd – at least by making them serve compulsorily in the military :)
As much as I love our military culture and watch the Republic Day parade, beating the retreat etc. as much as possible, I tend to agree with Alok. Our army basically is stuck in the past. We have on our hands a standing WWII fighting unit. Modern warfare is tending more towards states taking on non-state actors. Even when a war is fought between states, the intention is more to prove a political point for which a good air-force and navy will do. An army is good for occupying territory which is no longer all that important (unless a country has expansionist ambitions which India doesn’t). As such, having millions of soldiers and tens of thousands of officers to manage them doesn’t make sense.
Since our country needs more law enforcement and we usually end up using the army for that role anyway, I think vacancies in these institutions should be thrown open to the police forces with suitable changes to the curricula.
Mandatory military service is as asinine as implying that military service somehow is superior to other types of service to the country. Besides, Gen.Kapoor must be suffering from a Musharraf complex when he “hints” at compulsory military service. Pray who gave him the authority to decide that in a democracy?
but army is needed for defence.
It is required, but not for the mission that it is currently designed for.
I agree with GK3S. We need to find ways to trim the Army–make it lean and mean. We should constantly review our tactics and make Army work more efficiently.
Sacrifices made for country do not count. We do not respect them. Kumarswamy had time to meet Haneef who was kicked out of Australia but not to a Valiant officer who made supreme sacrifice & whose dead body reached Bangalore same day.
Compulsory military service is out of question in my opinion. That’ll be quite a slap on the world’s largest democracy. Plus right now, we aren’t at war.
However, we do need to worry about the shortage of officers. It will have to be tackled with better financial perks. No one quite sees the non-monetary benefits – subsidized canteens/medical facilities/education – but – I guess it doesn’t matter for our generation unless it’s valued in money.
For a generation that fights about regionalism and has forgotten that they are Indians before they are North/South/East/West Indians, it’s too much work to “serve the nation the tough way.”
Youth now a days are going astray as either there are no proper teachers to guide them or thre is no proper syllabus which can help them learn the finer things of life and society. A stint in the Armed Forces, will do a lot of good to the wavered youth today, who apparently lacking a proper motivation, are adrift in the ocean of life without suitable goals or aims.
An exposure in the Army and experience will widen their horizons and make them more patriotic and nation-conscious’. In order to create a casteless and creedless society in India, every child must be made to undergo a compulsory military training for six months between the age of fifteen and eighteen.
This, I hope would certainly help the youth, who are tomorrow’s citizens to take the country in the right path to some extent.