By Prarthana Mitra
All government job aspirants might be mandated to undertake five years of military training if parliament approves a recommendation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence.
According to the report submitted by the committee, which was chaired by B.C. Khanduri, there is an alarmingly large deficit of officers and Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) in the Indian army. All aspirants for direct gazetted jobs under the central or state governments will come under the purview of this new law if it is passed.
Shortages of officers and funds
Another report produced by the committee highlights the alarming figures submitted by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) that show a massive shortage of manpower and large-scale vacancies in the Indian armed forces at all levels and units. The number of army officers is 15% below sanctioned. Similarly, the number of naval personnel and navy officers is 20% and 12% below sanctioned respectively. In the Indian air force, the sanctioned strength of officers is 12,549 while the actual personnel figure is only 12,340.
The committee also revealed that for 2018-19 budget estimates the army has only been allocated a capital of Rs 26,815 crores, which is only 60% of the projected requirement.
Col Sumit Sen (Retd.), who was posted around the country, believes that the officer shortage is due to a number of reasons such as the difficult selection process, the advent of newer professions over the last 20 years and “a diminishing status of military officers under successive Indian governments”. Sen also said that the new policy, if implemented, may bring about quantitative improvement in the armed forces but not a qualitative one. “At the end of the day, something is better than nothing. On the bright side, these people will become more disciplined and dedicated after the training, and do greater justice to their roles as civilian government officers.”
Banking on mandatory conscription as the remedy
The panel’s report comes in response to the Defence Ministry’s recommended to the DoPT that a five-year mandatory conscription be instituted for those interested in direct recruitment to central and state government services. The committee’s report has now been tabled in parliament for final approval this week. Whether this new policy will remedy the recruitment woes of the armed forces woes will depend on how well it is implemented across central and state levels, beginning with a pilot project based on the committee’s recommendations, if the policy is indeed approved by the Centre.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius