After rigorous and hard training of one and half years, third termer cadets get the opportunity to have a glimpse of the lighter side of Army officer’s Life on ‘IMA Ball’. Cadets are allowed to invite their Ball partner for this ball night. “IMA Ball’ is held at the end of every term. This event make cadets realize that they are now ready to step into the world as an officers of Indian Army. Showcasing the bravery in the battlefield is also complemented by their decent, respectful and noble behaviour in the social gatherings which make them a ‘true gentlemen’.
This time IMA Ball took place on 28th May for the spring term, two weeks before the Passing out Parade, which is going to be held on 11th June 2016. This event is also termed as ‘Break-Up Party’ for the third termers. Display of officer like qualities e.g. Courtesy, Chivalry, Gentlemanly were at peak during this event. These qualities are imbibed in gentlemen cadets during the entire course of training in IMA.
Commandant of IMA, LT. Gen. SK Saini, YSM, VSM set the ball rolling and the evening of joy began with energetic Gentlemen Cadets (GC’s) displaying their talent on the dance floor. Highlight of the event was the selection of Mr. and Miss IMA. Miss Deepika Rawat was adjudged as Miss IMA and GC Aman Dhaka was declared as Mr. IMA. Gift hampers were given to the winners.
With this, count down to the Passing out Parade has begun, the day when these GC’s will be commissioned into Indian Army as officers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Video Courtesy: indianexpress online (Youtube)
Video Coutesy: India Today (Youtube)
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.
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.
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.
Services Selection Board (SSB) is the interview for the officer’s rank in the defense forces of India. This interview is stretched for five days at a particular SSB center. Thousands of defense aspirants for various officers training academies of different wings, after clearing entrance exam of UPSC level appear for SSB. Out of the thousands only a handful candidates get recommended for the officer rank.
Here are some common traits of every SSB aspirant:
Day Dreaming starts once interview letter is received. They start presuming themselves as an army officer. Lakshya becomes the favorite movie for all the aspirants of Defense forces. Candidates start seeing themselves as the transformed Hritik Roshan as shown in the movie.
They act as if they belong to the elite class of citizens. ‘Josh’ as the term named for enthusiasm in NDA is always at a high.
While boarding a train for the respective SSB center it seemed as if they are going for a duty at forward areas or on a war. Feeling inexpressible.
After reaching the MCO office all the candidates get together at a place. Repeaters start sharing their experiences and bitching about SSB selection starts. Freshers seem to be listening attentively.
One can easily separate freshers from the repeaters while loading and unloading of luggage on the army bus. Freshers try to show themselves as the most co-operatives, while repeaters know the entire game, so they silently choose laid back approach.
After entering the SSB center, every candidate is one step closer to their aim, they start behaving as if they are officers of the Army. Some repeaters, who visited the center before, start gathering the thoughts of their previous visits to the center. And the most commonly candidates are given Chest Numbers, which are their identity throughout the selection procedure.
Sleeping early and getting up early is part of the routine of all the candidates at the SSB center. Waiting for a long time outside the conference hall or at the GTO grounds before the commencement of the test gives goose bumps and increases nervousness amongst the candidates.
The repeaters are denoted by the ranks of the defense officers depending upon the number of times they have appeared in the SSB. Greater the number of attempts, higher the rank.
Recommendation creates divide. Before the day of the final result all of the candidates are on the same level, but as soon as the result is announced, the recommended candidates seemed to get differentiated from the rest of the lot.
Speculations of the candidates who will probably be selected is the common matter of discussion amongst the candidates.
‘The enthusiasm – the Josh’ of the rejected candidates vanishes immediately. And every one starts bitching about the process. Even the opposition could not have criticized the government policies as the rejected candidates criticize the entire SSB process.