Shortage of Officers in Indian Army

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Ranks and badges of Indian Army

India has the second largest army in the world with the strength of 11.77 lakh.  Still Indian army is facing shortage of around 11,000 officers. Allotted strength for officer ranks is around 48000. Maximum shortage of officers is in the ranks of Lieutenant, Captain, Major and Lt. Colonel. Indian army has three academies where gentlemen cadets are exposed to the rigorous mental and physical training to get finest officers of the army. There are two Officers Training Academies, one in Gaya and another in Chennai. Besides these two Indian Military Academy is operational since 1933. Above all there is tri-service National Defense Academy (NDA) in Khadakwasla, Pune.

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Gentlemen Cadets graduation from National Defece Academy, Pune

There are various reasons for this shortage.

Firstly, though officers are getting handsome pay, but their fellow friends are earning more in private sectors. Officers joining army through short service commission prefer opting for retirement after completing their mandatory service period, rather than extending their service. These officers are generally of the rank of Major or Lt. Colonel. After leaving the services they get higher salary packages in Multi-national companies.

Secondly, the selection procedure of an officer in defense forces is very tough. After clearing a written exam, every candidate has to undergo SSB interview.  SSB –Services Selection Board interview has the toughest selection procedure. It is the interview extended over the duration of 5 days. More than physical, mental toughness is put under scanner and suitability of the candidate for handling pressure of defense forces is taken into consideration. Yearly more than 4 lakh candidates after completing 12th apply for NDA for 900 vacancies. There is Combined Defense Service entry for graduates to join as an officer in army. Besides these there is technical entry for engineering candidates. But the problem is the number of intakes during SSB. Being on the higher side, only five to seven percent of the candidates clear SSB and medical examination to join training academies.

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This selection procedure is age old procedure. The argument which defense officers involved in the selection process put forward is that, they believe in taking the best and suitable talent in defense forces rather than filling the vacancies.

Lastly, Risk of life is higher in defense forces, so today’s youth prefer risk free life. Materialistic approach wins over the feeling of patriotism and servicing the nation.

There is an option of Territorial Army (TA), which gives opportunity to the civilians to voluntary serve in the army for two months in a year. Again for being an officer in Territorial Army, clearing SSB interview is required and in addition to this NO Objection Certifica6te (NOC)  is required from the company where the person is employed in public or private sector. This is the main deterrent in inviting maximum applications, as various private sector firms do not give NOC to the applicants.

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Now government and defense forces are trying their best to reduce the shortfall of officers. Women officers are allowed to be part of combat regiments, which is a brave move and hence will help in reducing the shortage.

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Women Officers commissioned as Lieutenant in the army 

Government has the aim of reducing the shortage to 12 percent till 2021. Through giving celebrities honorary rank in the Indian Defense forces, government is attracting more youth to join the forces.

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Mahinder Singh Dhoni and Abhinav Bindra were commissioned into territorial Army

Officers of Territorial Army should be utilized more in the role in administration and officer work, hence utilizing the main army for more strategic roles. The procedure for joining Territorial Army should be made simple by directing the MNC’s and private firms to give NOC to the TA applicants.

Indian Army – Live life less ordinary

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One Rank One Pension – Forgotten Promise?

 

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Demad for One Rank One Pension (OROP) has made our veterans, who protected our national, to come out and protest for getting their right. Now let us first understand what is OROP? One Rank One Pension is giving equal amount of pension to the retired defense personnel from the same rank irrespective of their year of retirement. eg. If we look at the present situation, a colonel retired in 1975 is getting 50% of the pension of his last withdrawn salary, whereas same rule applies for the colonel retired in 2015, but the difference is in the amount of pension they are withdrawing. Salary during that time was less, so the pension is also less. This created disparity in terms of monetary gains between the persons serving the country for the same period of time.

 

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Ex-servicemen returning their medals as a protest for not getting One Rank One Pension

Secondly, in most of the cases soldiers retire at the age of 35 years, so they receive pension which is almost 30% of their last withdrawn salary. This provision was brought up by the 3rd pay commission.  These soldiers will get benefits of only one or two pay commission recommendations in their entire period of service. Neither these soldiers are getting preference in private sectors after retirement.

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Though personnel joined after 2004 in public organization will not get pension except in defense forces . But Non-Financial Upgrade (NFU) scheme implemented by UPA government is a reward for Civil Services Cadre with automated time bound promotions to Higher Administrative Grade (HAG). HAG is equivalent to Lt.General in Army, Vice Admiral in Navy and Air marshal in Air-force. This drags the higher ranks of defense officers, of the rank of colonels, brigadiers and major generals  on a back foot, due to diluting their authority by raising the status of the ranks in Civil Services. This scheme further fueled the protest for OROP. These HAG’s gets pay grade amounts to Rs. 80,000. Armed forces officers are excluded from this scheme.In defense forces hardly 1% of the officers reaches to the rank of Lt. Generals, Admirals or Air Marshals, where as in civil services 100% cadres will get to HAG, getting the Apex grade pay of Rs. 80,000

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BJP after coming to power in 2014 haven’t paid any attention to the demands of defense personnel for including them in NFU scheme. Neither the issue of OROP is solved in spite of being promised by the NDA government. According to the government RS 8,000 crore – Rs. 10,000 crore will be the total expenditure incurred if OROP is implemented in its true sense. Soldiers taking voluntary retirement are not covered through the OROP implemented by the government.  Though announcement has been made to implement OROP, but it is not yet implemented actually. The another reason is being that government fears that personnel from other security organization like BSF, CRPF will demand OROP as they also serve in forward areas.

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Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar addressing a press conference

More than a financial gain, demading OROP is for ‘pride’ and ‘respect’ for which these ex-servicemen are fighting.

Jai Hind.

7th Pay Commission – Demoralizing the Defense Forces

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Indian Soldiers serving in Siachin Glacier

Armed forces are on a losing side because of the recommendations of the 7th Pay commission. The main is the disparity in the hardship allowance in defense forces and their counterparts in civil services. For armed forces, Siachin glacier is considered as the hardship area, where as for the IPS or the IAS ranks,  areas like Guwahati, Andaman and Nicobar islands are termed as ‘Hardship Area’.

In terms of monetary benefit an army officer is getting Rs. 31,500 for serving in Siachin and a jawan is getting Rs. 21,000 for the same, whereas an IPS officer is getting additional one-third of his/her basic salary, which amounts to Rs. 55,000 for serving in the areas outside their ‘comfort zone’

If we talk about weather condition in Siachin, it is very adverse climate for the humans to survive. Siachin is the highest battle field in the world. Temperature falls down up to -45 degrees. Soldiers die here not from the bullets of the enemy, but from the adverse weather conditions. As reported in the online article of Indian Express dated 11th Feb 2016, it is mentioned that 879 soldiers had lost their life while serving in Siachin till 11th December 2015. In the same report it is mentioned that India army had spent 7504.99 crore in the last four years for the military operations. In February we lost 10 army soldiers in an avalanche in Siachin.

Chief of three wings of Defense forces met the defense minister Manohar Parrikar during the naval fleet held in Vishakhapatnam earlier in the February this year and raised their concern over the recommendations of the 7th pay commission and the effect on the moral of the defense forces.

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Three Chiefs of Indian Defense Forces with Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar

On discussion with Ex IPS officer, he stated, “that it is true that hardship allowance which defense personnel are getting is low, but in addition to this they are getting other facilities too, like free ration, pension after retirement, and more importantly defense personals can easily get jobs in private and public sector with handsome salary. These facilities are not available to IPS or IAS officers after their retirement.”

Now the question arises that does this argument hold its ground and rationalize the disparity in the hardship allowance which our soldiers are facing?

It is very sad that our soldiers have to fight with the enemy at borders, as well with the own government for their rights. Ex- soldiers are already protesting against the government for getting One Rank One Pension (OROP), and now the issue of disparity in the hardship allowance. If these issues are not solved at the earliest, these will demoralize the soldiers. Before situation goes out of control, government should take necessary measures to uplift the morale of the soldiers of the country.

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Veteran of Indian Defense Forces during the protest for OROP