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Tough service conditions with relatively poor salaries, high risks, limited promotional avenues, frequent transfers, isolation from family life could be some of the reasons due to wich the indian armed forces are facing a severe manpower crunch. This research has been undertaken to analyse the reasons in depth behind the fading interest of the youth in joining the Indian Army.
The Indian Army needs no introduction. Undoubtedly it is one of the finest armies in the world. The Indian Army is like a backbone to the country. The primary mission of the army is to ensure national security of the country from external threats and aggression and maintaining peace within the country as well. Our soldiers are not only trained and disciplined, but the love and respect they have towards the nation is something that we as citizens of India should look up to and learn. These soldiers guard us day and night, sacrificing their own pleasures for the safety of the nation. However it is rather depressing to see that the Indian youth today is more inclined towards a lucrative job in the corporate sector than becoming a part of the Indian Army. Ask a child what he wants to become and the only probable answers are a doctor, engineer or a CA. According to the World Population Report, India has the largest youth population in the world but it is surprising that the requirement of the Army is still not being met, facing a shortage of about 9000 officers. The Indian Army is in need of young determined citizens who are ready to sacrifice themselves for the protection of the nation.
The patriotism for which India was once known is now diminishing. The youth today are more attracted towards well-paying corporate sector jobs. They look for more of stability and higher pay, none of which is provided by the Indian Army. Frequent transfers, call for both mental and physical fatigue. Joining the Army implies putting your life at stake for the nation. However the compensation or incentives provided to the officers are not at par in comparison to the commitment that is being asked of them. The students who spend a lot of money on their education generally tend to redeem all of it through their jobs and the Indian Army in this case is not the most preferred option. Poor pay scales apart; discontentment with the slow process of promotion is another big reason for this exodus. The stagnancy of rank and prestige puts off today’s youth.
Training to become an officer in the Army begins after one gets selected as a Gentlemen Cadet in National Defence Academy (NDA) Pune after their 10+2 or at Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun if one is a graduate. The cadet in NDA during his three years stay there gets both military and academic expertise whereas IMA during his two years stay caters for specialized training of the Army. After the Cadet successfully completes his training, he joins the battalion as a commissioned officer from where he starts his leadership training and grooming at grassroots level. Unlike other services where after initial training life becomes a bit easy with regular promotions, in Armed forces one continues doing structured training even unto the rank of a two star general. A large chunk of officers fail to make it till the Colonel’s rank due to the army’s pyramidal structure and meticulous selection norms. Only around 15 percent are able to make the cut for the Colonel’s rank. Thereafter the pyramid narrows still further and it can take a colonel having 20 years of service, close to a decade to secure the next rank that of a Brigadier.
The youth today is not much aware of the accomplishments of the army. People outside the army environments have very less knowledge about the lives of the armed forces. Their knowledge remain restricted to a rigorous routine, tough living conditions and nothing beyond that making the youth less eager to join the forces. Adding to this, most of the youth drop out due to the rigid selection process. Selection in the Indian Army is bound to be a challenging one. The candidates are judged on the basis of their intelligence, psyche, physical fitness and personality. But the youth today are less willing to do physical labour which is much prevalent from the rising levels of obesity among children. They seek to live a more luxurious life involving huge mansions, plenty of cars, international trips, etc. They tend to eliminate the option of joining the Army because of the extensive training, lack of security and the risks involved. Also one of the major qualities of the personnel is discipline which is now becoming a diminishing quality among the Indian youth. Apart from this the youth from a rural background or less developed states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are not able to qualify in the selection process due to its scientific and rough nature.
Even many of the parents today want their kids to join IITs or IIMs instead and have a much secure future than encouraging them to join the army due to its risky nature and separation from the family. Many officers in the Indian Army face an unsettled family life living in isolation from their wives and children for months or years at a stretch. Postings lead them to stay in remote areas and harsh climates with hardly any comforts and convenience nearby. What then follows is a lack of willingness and even low self-confidence at times that makes the Indian youth hesitate to join the Army.
A number of misconceptions have been witnessed among the youth – for instance, 63% of youth ages 16 to 24 years believe it is common for a person leaving the military to have psychological or emotional problem. They may go through post-traumatic stress disorders. The same survey revealed that 61% of the youth feel that it is very likely for the officers leaving today facing difficulties in readjusting to their everyday life. 48% believe that a person leaving the military is presumably having a physical injury. Also a very big misconception prevalent among the youth is the existence of gender discrimination in the Army. These misconceptions form a core reason of their lacking interest in joining the Army.
Apart from all the above mentioned reasons, increase in the number of resignations since 2015 have even held back the youth from joining the army. In total around 27,800 jawans /officers of central preliminary forces have taken voluntary retirement and resigned due to the awful living conditions like bad quality food, zero connectivity, etc. Former CRPF chief – K Durga Prasad said that the CAPF personnel work in high stress and don’t get bare minimum facilities.
The contours of the problem and the need for a holistic redressal have to be recognized in the first instance. There can be no long term solution to the problem until the government and society are able to mitigate the following as one of the ex-Army chief said, “ Remove stagnation at the middle level and thus improve promotion opportunities of the officers, close to that of civil and police services; improve opportunities for officers and men to be able to spend more time with their families; re-establish social status and warrant of precedence of the armed force officers at the centre and state levels; compensate adequately the increased level of personal risk and hardship in the field areas; bridge salary and compensation gap between the private sector and government services, to the extent possible.” The youth as well need to understand the honour and respect they become entitled to on becoming a part of the Army. You not only gain leadership experience but even a work-life balance that encourages you further to pursue all your personal and professional goals. Being a part of the Indian Army gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the world. The youth in its own way through books and movies can comprehend how upstanding it is to be a part of such a respectable institution. Movies like ‘URI: The Surgical Strike’, ‘Lakshya’, ‘Tango Charlie’ etc. and various books like ‘The Brave : Param Vir Chakra Stories’, ‘Courage and Conviction ; An Autobiography’, ‘A Soldier’s Diary’, etc. beautifully carve out the life of officers in the Army who are constantly fighting on the borders irrespective of the harsh conditions so that the we can sleep in peace.
A strong, professionally led military supervised by capable leaders having exemplary credentials, fortitude and integrity is vital to the national interest. A strong military serves as an instrument of deterrence and supports the government. Indian Army is the pride of the nation and hence both the Government as well as the youth need to understand its significance and work in cooperation with one another in order to ensure that this vital institution does not face any kind of shortage.
Recent developments show that the government has started carrying out several steps in order to fill in the vacancies like conducting seminars, presentations, campus interactions, recruitment drives and sustained publicity efforts. In addition, the bravery and accomplishments of the armed forces are consistently being projected through the print and electronic media.
After the 6th pay commission, the pay scale of the Indian Army officers has also increased including a rise in multiple allowances as well. The youth of India are also now beginning to understand the seriousness of this honourable institution as can be witnessed during the recruitment drive of Territorial Army where the aspirants were willing to embrace all kinds of adversities to join the army and issues like no infrastructural facilities did not even act as deterrent for those ambitious candidates.
The youth essentially needs to realize that sitting in cabins and making million dollar deals will help them build a future for themselves and their family but by being a part of the Army, in addition to a secure future for their families, they will be the bearer of a uniform which no money can buy, respect which will come from the hearts of a million of Indians, the pride of standing in front the entire nation with their heads held high and a lineage of being a part of a breed that has always been believing that independence does not come for free.
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