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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

From Today's Papers - 14 Apr 2010

2,000 ex-servicemen to train CRPF 
New Delhi, April 13 The government will recruit about 2,000 ex-servicemen specialised in commando and jungle warfare tactics to impart cutting-edge training to the CRPF personnel.  The recruitment of these ex-servicemen, which will begin next month, assumes significance as 75 para-military personnel were massacred by the Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada recently, raising questions on the operational strategies of the force. Those servicemen, who retired as Sepoy and Havaldar, will be drawn from the Army regiments and Corps like infantry, mechanised infantry, armoured, artillery, intelligence and engineering Corps for the purpose.  In order to ensure that the CRPF personnel get the best training, the government has made it mandatory for these ex-servicemen to be trained in specialised courses like ‘Ghatak’ commando training, weapons, the IED and bomb disposal, dog handling and the counter insurgency and jungle warfare (CIJW). It is also mandatory for these ex-servicemen to have served in the insurgency-hit areas and had stints at Army training schools.  “These men will be deputed to train our personnel at the various CIJW schools in the country which are facing shortage of trainers. It is a fact that a good trainer can only bring out the best in an individual,” a senior CRPF officer said. The ex-servicemen will be recruited on a contractual basis for five to seven years on a total remuneration of Rs 12,625 plus other incentives.  Initially 1,950 men will be recruited and the numbers could be enhanced in the future. The all-India recruitment will begin in May and would finish by June after which the ex-servicemen would undergo initial training and briefing before they start the job, the officer said. A board of senior CRPF and Home Ministry officials will conduct the “open rally” recruitment for which an applicant should be under 40 years of age. There will not be any criteria for physical and educational background of the ex-service personnel. — PTI

Army to purchase more lethal Arjun tanks
pril 14, 2010 03:43 IST Tags: Arjun, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Arjuns, HVF Avadi, ERA Email this Save to My Page Ask Users Write a Comment  The success of the indigenous Arjun main battle tank in desert trials last month is generating additional army orders for a tank that is emerging as a notable research and development (R&D) success. Meanwhile, the Arjun is becoming more capable; the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which designed the Arjun, says that all future Arjuns will incorporate major improvements, including the ability to fire missiles.  Business Standard had reported on March 25 that the Arjun tank had conclusively outperformed the Russian T-90 -- the army's current frontline MBT -- in trials conducted in early March by the Bikaner-based 180 Armoured Brigade.  The army is still evaluating that trial report to decide how many additional Arjuns it should order, over and above the existing order of 124 tanks. But, the question before the army is no longer whether to order more Arjuns; rather, it is how many to order? Highly placed Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources confirm that the army is moving away from its staunch opposition to the Arjun.  The DRDO, meanwhile, is working overtime to sweeten the deal. S Sundaresh, the DRDO's Chief Controller for Armaments and Combat Engineering, has told Business Standard, that all Arjuns now ordered will fire anti-tank guided missiles through the tank's main gun; provide extra protection for the tank's crew through explosive reactive armour, or ERA; be fitted with thermal imaging panoramic sights that allow the Arjun's commander to scan his surroundings even by night; and incorporate at least seven other improvements over the current Arjuns.  "We had test-fired the Israeli LAHAT missile through the Arjun gun as far back as in 2005", pointed out Sundaresh. "It will take us about six months to integrate the LAHAT's designator into the Arjun's fire control system."  The addition of two tonnes of ERA will increase the weight of the Arjun to just over 60 tonnes, making it one of the world's heaviest tanks. But, the DRDO claims that its powerful 1,500-Horse Power engine easily handles the extra weight.  "The ERA will protect the Arjun's crews from enemy missiles. Initially we will fit the same Russian ERA that protects the T-90 and the T-72. But, we will also develop our own indigenous ERA."  An early order from the army would be crucial, says the DRDO, for continuity in the Arjun production line at the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) near Chennai. The current order of 124 Arjuns will occupy the production line until end-2011. For the next order of Arjuns to hit the production line then, the order would have to be placed now. That would allow 18 months for provisioning of components, such as armour sheets and sub-systems that are manufactured by ancillary suppliers. That period also caters for the purchase of foreign systems, eg the engine from MTU, Germany [ Images ].  "Continuity is vital for quality control", explain officials from HVF Avadi. "We have instituted systems for quality control in the current order of Arjuns, which is why they performed so reliably during trials. These systems will wither away if the production line shuts down for lack of orders."  Since the Arjun's assembly takes 12-18 months, a fresh order of Arjuns will start being delivered 30-36 months after the order is placed. Thereafter, HVF will deliver 30 Arjuns per year if it operates with just one shift of workers; 50 tanks per year with two shifts.

Army agrees to acquire indigenous Akash missile
K. V. Prasad
Purchase of Ultra Light Howitzers from U.S. also cleared  The Army has finally agreed to acquire the indigenous two-stage ramjet ‘Akash' missile. The ‘in-principle' agreement came at a meeting in the Defence Ministry last week. While the Army has given its nod, induction will depend on the delivery schedule Bharat Dynamics Limited, which makes the missile, is able to maintain. For, the public sector undertaking is already processing orders for six additional squadrons from the Indian Air Force.  Top sources in the Ministry said Army Chief General V.K. Singh gave his ‘in-principle' agreement at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council. The meeting also gave its final clearance for acquisition of Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH) from the United States through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.  In 2008, the IAF placed orders for two squadrons of the Akash Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MR-SAM) for Rs. 1,222 crore. This was the first-ever contract from the defence services for an indigenous tactical weapon system of this class.  In February this year, Defence Minister A.K. Antony announced that the council had cleared an additional six squadrons of MR-SAM for the IAF at a cost of Rs. 5,000 crore.  As the order book is already full, a timeline for the Army inducting the missiles is yet to be determined, according to the sources. Public sector Bharat Electronics Limited is the nodal production agency along with Bharat Dynamics, with a large number of industries in the public and private sectors involved in the manufacturing process.  The ground-based air defence system has an interception range of 30 km at an altitude of 18,000 metres. It has both track and wheeled platforms, and multiple targets handling capacity with a digitally coded command guidance system.  Meanwhile, the move to purchase 140 M777 ULH for the Army from the U.S.-based entity of BAE Systems through the FMS, government-to-government route, was cleared after amendments in the Staff Qualitative Requirements.  The deal, estimated at around Rs. 2,900 crore, will have to go through the grind in Washington, with the U.S. administration seeking Congress permission to sell these howitzers to India.  The Army has been pressing for the ultra light field guns which can be flown across difficult terrain by helicopter. Last year, its quest for procuring these guns through an open tender resulted in a single-vendor, Singapore Technologies, remaining in the fray. However, procurement was put on hold by the Ministry following a CBI probe into allegations of wrongdoings by the company.

Transparency International for check on Army procurements 
Wednesday, April 14, 2010  By Usman Manzoor  ISLAMABAD: Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has written a daring letter to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani asking him to direct the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) to implement the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) 2004 rules to bring transparency in its procurements.  The letter to General Kayani dated April 1, 2010 titled, “Pakistan Armed Forces reputation is at stake due to the action of a few army officers of DHA, HIT, FWO, NLC and other Army procuring agencies in violation of procurement rules” mentions that corruption by armed forces officers endangers the very existence of the country which may result in the procurement of sub-standard arms due to conflict of interest, and for personal gains over the national cause by a few individuals.  It is worth mentioning here that TI has written numerous letters to DHA regarding implementation of PPRA 2004 rules and DHA had replied that DHA was a corporate agency and government rules did not apply on it.  The latest letter states: “A letter sent to the administrator DHA Islamabad on 27 Match, which contains following two blatant violations being committed by DHA Islamabad. PPRA has also asked for clarification from DHA Islamabad on 01.4.2010, on these violations.  1. According to DHA Islamabad Ordinance 2007, though DHA Islamabad has not been authorised to make construction byelaws and shall follow CDA construction byelaws, under the Article No 8 of Defence Housing Authority Islamabad Ordinance 2007, 8 powers, duties and function of executive board, (2)(a) provided that in such schemes in Islamabad Capital Territory, the authority shall observe the rules, regulations, byelaws etc. framed by CDA. DHA Islamabad may be ordered to use the above rules, and observe byelaws of CDA in all its construction projects, including compliance of EPA Act.  2. According to Article No 8 of Defence Housing Authority Islamabad Ordinance 2007, powers, duties and function of executive board, 8 (2) (f), on page 5 DHA can enter into contract or any type of arrangement with any local or foreign entity for carrying out the purpose of this ordinance. Government rules on the subject will be observed. DHA Islamabad may be ordered to observe Public Procurement Rules 2004 in all procurements.  But administrator DHA has been committing gross violation of DHAO 2007, Article 8(2) (f), and refusing to comply Public Procurement Rules 2004, which are the only Federal Government Procurement Rules w.e.f 9 June, 2004. S.R.O.432(I)/2004.  TIP repeats that corruption is a cancer, and corruption by armed forces officers endangers the very existence of the country. This may result in the procurement of sub standard arms due to conflict of interest, and for personal gains over the national cause by a few individuals. Indian Armed Forces are also not free from this cancer, but there actions are taken against such elements.  TI Pakistan expect from you a definite change in procurement culture of armed forces, which according to law of the land shall only be based on the Public Procurement Rules 2004, as no one is above law, and DHA Ordinance 2007 makes it mandatory on DHA Islamabad to observe these rules.”

Pehele aap, mantriji
Jug Suraiya, Apr 14, 2010, 12.03am There is pressure from some sections of the public that the defence forces be brought in to take on the Naxal threat, which is fulfilling PM Manmohan Singh's prophetic pronouncement that the Maoists pose the biggest challenge to India's security, more so even than adversaries across the border. Indeed, newspapers and TV headlines have already described the confrontation between the Naxals and the Indian state as a 'war'. But whose 'war' is it, and who ought to fight it, and how?  That the army chief, General Vijay Kumar Singh, has said that the army should not be enlisted in this conflict indicates that there have been moves to bring the defence forces to the forefront of anti-Naxal operations. This would not only be morally wrong - an irrelevance in the vocabulary of realpolitik - but also strategically wrong. Before even thinking of calling in the army, we should spare a thought as to the nature of this 'war': who are the belligerents, and who started it?  According to so-called intelligence reports so-called because India's 'intelligence' agencies have seldom demonstrated that attribute in terms of information-gathering, whether it is in the context of cross-border terrorism, or in that of the long-drawn insurgencies in the north-east there are no more than some 13,000 'hardcore' Maoist cadres, spread over some 160- to 180-odd districts spanning half-a-dozen states. The rest of the so-called Naxal 'forces' consist of a ragtag bunch of villagers and tribals many of them no more than children who out of coercion rather than conviction have been made to rally around the red flag of revolt.  Home minister Chidambaram was confident that this motley rabble ill-equipped, untrained and unmotivated would be routed in no time. His confidence was tragically misplaced. The Maoists and their cohorts have shown themselves to be more than a match for the paramilitary forces sent out to deal with them. How is this? Could it be that the Maoists represent people who are the most dangerous people in the world: people who have nothing left to lose?  CRPF personnel have complained that they are being sent to fight the Naxals without adequate food, water or medicine. But lack of all three is what the majority of people in the Naxal-infected areas have been living with for generations, thanks to a state which has remained resolutely oblivious to their most basic needs and rights.  Which raises the question: did the Naxals and their supporters declare 'war' against the state, or has the state been waging an undeclared 'war' on the so-called 'reds' for years? Who is responsible for the genesis of the conflict: murderous peasants and tribals, or criminal neglect on the part of state?  The real battleground of this 'war' is not in the forests of Dantewada; it is in the political seats of power, in the central and state capitals. The Naxals pose a political, not a military challenge. To call out the army against them would be abdication by our political class of its constitutional responsibility in a democracy. From J&K to the north-east, our politicians have, through shameless lack of governance, created messes which the army has been left to clean up. This is as bad for our democracy as it is for the morale of the armed forces, who are forced to fight against their fellow citizens.  Instead of sending jawans into the badlands, why not a contingent of netas to talk to the rebels and find out exactly why they're rebelling? After all, it was the netas' neglect that created the problems in the first place.  Army? No way. Pehele aap, mantriji.

Army chief must lead from front  Ashok K Mehta 
While the new Army Chief, Gen VK Singh, has set his own priorities, he has received a fair amount of advice from military veterans and newspaper editorials. On their own, Service chiefs can’t do much by way of introducing change: They can tinker — which they usually do — or they can make grand resolves. But somewhere down the line it dawns on them that the system is too deeply entrenched and vested interests so embedded that it is not worth trying in the first place.  Still, some have succeeded in creating a spectacular mess in the name of change and innovation. One Army Chief started his innings with what was described as “reaching out to officers” with a personal letter encapsulating his vision of an Officer and a Gentleman. When he realised his ethical guidelines could not be implemented he forgot about it. The last incumbent discovered unpleasantly that the Army Chief, if he wishes to oblige, can be pushed around by his Minister to the detriment of that high office.  Gen Singh’s first task is to restore the image of his office allowing no one to interfere in his chain of command and ensuring the principle percolates down the line. He must make known that he will protect and promote the health, prosperity and operational effectiveness of the Army whatever the stakes.  Most issues are best addressed collectively. Strength is in numbers too, as the Services discovered from the unified approach to the Fifth and Sixth Pay Commission. Why should the three chiefs allow the Ministry of Defence to divide and rule? A priority task for Gen Singh is to get hold of Admiral Nirmal Verma and Air Chief Marshal PV Naik to forge a united front. This will be easy as all three are of the same vintage and identical professional background.  Following the Dantewada massacre last week, the Army and Air Force Chiefs made some relevant professional comments on the CRPF-Maoist encounter in response to questions by the media. They were in good company as a couple of Ministers had also made critical remarks. Promptly the Cabinet Secretary issued a directive authorising only the Home Ministry to speak on the Maoist problem, forgetting that the Army and IAF are already involved in training and logistics support of the State and Central police forces.  While exercising care in what is said, the chiefs must not allow muzzling of legitimate views (including dissent) especially in relation to operational readiness, morale and welfare of troops. It was heartening to learn that Air Chief Marshal Naik has no objection to the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff provided the model is appropriate. This is a breakthrough of sorts as in the past, it is the Air Force which has blocked the creation of the CDS’s post. The Group of Ministers approved the appointment of a CDS in 2000 after the Kargil intrusions, but the Government has stalled the appointment, saying there is no political consensus.  Gen Singh and Admiral Verma must settle with Air Chief Marshal Naik over single malt whisky on the right model for CDS. The blueprint is there. All that needs to be done is for the Service chiefs to accept one model, take it to the Prime Minister and President, and tell them this is what they want.  The Big Three must similarly attend to the festering sore of underutilisation of capital budget for defence modernisation. Over the last decade, around Rs 60,000 crore could not be spent (and an additional one-fifth was misspent at the last minute to beat the March syndrome) due to a variety of reasons. Very recently, Vice-Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal PK Barbora, stated at an international conference that politics was hurting India’s defence and that political parties use defence procurement deals to settle political vendettas.  Defence Minister AK Antony, who has set saintly standards in probity, has ensured that one-fifth of capital funds go unused and back to the treasury to balance the fiscal deficit. The Service chiefs must ask for a Group of Ministers to end this farce. A separate committee, headed by a professional/strategic analyst — as was done recently in the UK through the Bernard Gray report — should be established to energise defence acquisitions, ensuring operational readiness supersedes probity and lengthy procedures.  As Eastern Army Commander, Gen Singh chaired a multi-faceted study on the operational preparedness of the Army so that he could implement the recommendations when he became Chief. In the Army’s Military Operations room and its think-tank, Centre of Land Warfare Studies, impressive power-point presentations are made about the two-and-a-half front doctrine and cold start with the entire spectrum of conflict compressed on to two slides.  Such intense professional orientation to conventional and nuclear conflict in a network-centric environment underemphasises the nature of battle that the Army has been and will be fighting for the foreseeable future. It is Low Intensity Conflict where the stellar role is played by the Infantry soldier whose modernisation has been ignored since 1985 when the first 15-year Army modernisation plan was drawn. India has not fought a conventional war since 1971 though the Army, notably the Infantry, has not ceased fighting since independence. The infantry modernisation (‘Infantry Vision 2020’) was approved only last year and Gen Singh has to put this on fast track.  The Service chiefs who are accountable for the actions and outcomes of their warriors have not had a matching role in decision-making. This too, needs to be corrected and their access to the political leadership must not stop at the door of the National Security Adviser or the Cabinet Secretary. Gen Singh must lead the way in reopening access to the Prime Minister for institutionalised meetings as was the practice in the past.  In the mid-1980s the triumvirate of Gen K Sundarji, Admiral R Tahiliani and Air Chief Marshal D Lafontaine functioned admirably as a tri-service entity. The Army and Air Force accepted voluntary cuts to accommodate the Navy’s requirements for additional funds, such was inter-service cooperation. No opportunity was given for bureaucracy-induced discord. It was boom time for the Services and requires to be reinvented.  As the primus inter pares, Gen Singh has to help build the triumvirate of Service chiefs speaking in one voice for the greater good of the armed forces and the country.

Sentinels of sentiment
Prakash Belawadi Tuesday, April 13, 2010 10:25 IST
Here is a good quiz question: “Name three people of Karnataka origin who made it to the top posts in the armed forces?” I think most would get Field Marshall KM Cariappa and Gen KS Thimayya. We have learnt, of late, that Gen Gopal Gurunath Bewoor, too, had roots in Bagalkot. Gen GG Bewoor succeeded Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw as chief of staff, Indian Army, in 1973.
It should be mentioned, churlish or not, that not one of them is from Bangalore. It would be fair to admit that the inspiration to serve in the armed forces came to Gen Thimayya and Field Marshall Cariappa primarily from the Kodava tradition and the former state of Coorg and no thanks to Karnataka, which didn’t come together till 1956. To join the armed forces is not a Kannada custom and certainly a very, very rare option for the kid that grows up in Bangalore.  A bit puzzling that. The historic Bangalore Cantonment of the Raj, famous sappers of the Madras Engineering Group and Centre, the logistics’ experts of the Army Service Corps and Centre, the defence research and development establishments in the city, the roads — Artillery, Infantry, Cavalry — nothing seems to move the standard issue: a young person from Bangalore to serve in the defence of the nation.  I’m not much of a nationalist and plead guilty on the count myself, but I bring this up because of the extraordinary fuss that is sought to be made about the setting up of a war memorial at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park. War veterans and former men in the services have been quoted: “Only four eucalyptus trees and one Ashoka tree will be cut for the memorial.”  Apart from the now demolished Cenotaph in front of the BBMP headquarters and the war memorial at St Patrick’s the colonial masters had built, this Indian memorial is the first to be built in the city by the state government. It is in the memory of 1,843 young men from Karnataka who have lost their lives in battle. “We want this memorial... it will be an honour for ex-servicemen and war widows,” says one retired major general.  It is no secret that many wonder and few do snigger that Bangalore, which is such a visible military station in India, does not breed patriotism among its citizens. Two years ago, when the state government promised about six acres of land in the musical fountain site for the building of a war memorial, it seemed like a good plan. It would move its boys and girls to build dreams housed in locations other than BPOs and call centres.  But some residents of the city are upset that the said trees will have to make way for the memorial. The musical fountain park sits in posh Bangalore, surrounded by prime spots on Vasanth Nagar and High Grounds. The annoyed residents have moved court and obtained a stay on the felling of trees. We hear that Mohandas Pai of Infosys, who lives in the neighbourhood, and other citizens, including Congress leaders VS Ugrappa and NA Haris have urged Governor HR Bhardwaj to direct the government to move the memorial to another location.  Where, on to defence land? Could it not be argued that people of Bangalore and Karnataka tend not to aspire to life in the armed forces precisely because the defence institutions in the city are alienated and alienating? And what is the real objection — cutting of trees? Haven’t leading citizens of Bangalore come to terms with the astonishing process of ‘raste agalikarana (road widening)’ where trees are coming to chop, chop, chop all the time? Most recently the green canopy on the margins of the magnificent golf club, the very same locality?  If there is a real issue of chopping down dozens of trees, the case begs a protest. But, honestly, four eucalyptus trees! For a war memorial! Patriot or not, I think we may havebrought upon ourselves a case of excess. I would urge the agitated citizens to reflect upon it a little more before pushing the confrontation to its logical limit.  It also needs to be said that the armed forces are sitting on plenty of real estate in the heart of Bangalore. There have been soft arguments offered at cocktail parties and clubs that the military areas have truly preserved the lung spaces of Bangalore.  I’m afraid that seems neither the intention nor the pride of the military establishment. If they want to put up ghastly buildings with heavy-footed architecture, they will not see the need to consult our government or the citizen groups in the process. Here is an opportunity to bring about a reconciliation between the very vocal civil Bangalore and a completely hidden, but very real military Bangalore.  My vote is for the memorial at the fountain.

Indian Army -an unattractive career for the youth? 
Posted by Nimmy on April 12, 2010  This was a HRM case analysis assignment and I got 15/15 marks :-p  Case Analysis  Indian Army -an unattractive career for the youth?  There is no shortage of patriotism in our country but why is it that there’s such a shortage of officers in the armed forces? The Indian army has launched a massive awareness drive to get young people in the armed forces. Despite glossy advertisement campaigns like ‘Be an Army man: Be a winner for life’, the armed forces continue to face a serious shortage of officers.  1. Major and Minor problems in the case  Major Problems:      * The Indian Army is grappling with an acute shortage of officers. Despite the recession, it has been unable to attract more talent and contain their outflow. The army’s sanctioned strength is 46,615 officers, but it has been facing a shortage of 11,238.In 2008, the army was able to take in 1,500 officers – but over 1,800 left the force. The army now faces a shortage of 11,238 officers.     * India’s army, the world’s fourth largest, is failing to attract enough youngsters with “officer-like qualities” for its 1.13-million strong Army. The authorized strength of Indian Air Force is 12,136, whereas the Indian Navy has an authorized strength of 8,797 officers. Indian Army is facing a massive exodus from its ranks, with more and more officers opting for premature retirement. The problem was aggravated when about 3,000 officers sought premature retirement in the last three years. Most of them moved to the lucrative corporate sector. Inability to retain the trained personnel is a major issue.  Minor Problems:      * Today’s knowledge-based youth seeks not just superior salaries, but the freedom to retain mobility in the career market.     * Poor service conditions and the other compensatory packages too make career in Army an unattractive one.  2. Assumptions Made      * The service conditions, promotion prospects, job satisfaction and post-retirement provisions for Indian military officers have deteriorated in relation to other forms of available and comparable employment.     * Merely raising military pay will address the issue of officer shortages     * Life in the forces enables a person to face any challenges in life boldly.     * Makes a person disciplined, law-abiding citizen.     * Army has severe promotional bottlenecks     * In contrast to the existing system in army, today’s marriage dynamic demands an environment for husband–wife working opportunities.     * Today’s youth seeks a corporate culture which values people  3.Basic causes for the problem      * Frequent transfers     * Isolation from family      * High levels of stress     * Low pay in comparison to the risk involved     * Slow promotions     * Military’s tough lifestyle     * Post-marriage, life in the forces are not comfortable.     * Family accommodation is inadequate.     * Level of corruption too high but it remains difficult to expose.     * Despite the existing harmony, there exist divisions based on religion, language and geographical locations.     * Only very few would opt for life time career in armed forces as frustration crops up due to lack of transparency in promotions.     * One can be successful only with Pleasing the Boss attitude.     * Limited choices only are available to plan children’s education and their career.      * Rough life in forward areas  Alternate Solutions  A strong, professionally led military controlled by capable leaders having impeccable credentials, strength of character and integrity is vital to the national interest.      * Now, the army is hoping the financial crisis and the Sixth Pay Commission — which has increased their salaries — will help bring in many more to the armed forces that is facing a shortage of middle-rung officers in particular. Even though the salaries of armed forces have substantially increased after the 6th Pay Commission, the youngsters still find them less compared to the private sector. This consideration is put forth especially if one takes into the account of the life of a soldier which is tough and risky.     * Several steps have been undertaken by the three services to fill up the vacant posts. They include seminars, presentations, campus interactions, recruitment drives and sustained publicity efforts.     * In addition, the commitment and bravery of the armed forces is consistently projected through the electronic and print media.     * Aimed at fostering the spirit of adventure and attracting the youth towards the defence forces, Indian Army launched a paragliding, cycling and sailing expedition from Chennai .     * The approval of the Union Government to open a second Officers’ Training Academy (OTA) at Gaya in Bihar marks a major step to solve the problem of shortage of officers in the country.  Answer to specific questions  Question 1:  Of the four main criteria for selection to the officer cadre –– education, aptitude, medical & physical condition and moral character –for selection to the Indian Amy Officer, which criteria does the Indian Youth lack?  Answer :  The army has four main criteria for selection to the officer cadre –– education, aptitude, medical & physical condition and moral character (read no criminal record). Aptitude and leadership traits are judged through proven psychological tests, where not many make the grade. A good engineer or manager does not necessarily make a good officer. Neither Indian Institutes of Management, engineering and medical colleges, nor multinational apply such filters. Majority of the applicants fails in this level of criteria-aptitude. This issue mainly arises due to lack of proper orientation being provided to youth, at lower classes.  Question 2:  Do you think the lack of marketing and innovative efforts are the real problems in attracting the Indian Youth to Army?  Answer :  Marketing is an irrelevant metaphor to explain the military’s challenge in attracting talent, since even market-based organizations do no better. A McKinsey & Co led report, ‘War for Talent’ published in 2007, confirms the best MNCs are facing challenges in attracting and retaining top-quality talent, despite savvy marketing strategies. The fact that the Indian Army has a shortage of over 11,000 officers, which is a little under a quarter of its sanctioned strength, is a stark and irrefutable indicator that the Indian state is unable to attract the kind of talent required to ensure the HR profile that the Army needs. There is a marketing problem by way of being (un)able to convincingly persuade the qualified Indian youth to don uniform, at a time when there are many more attractive job opportunities (which is a familiar socio-economic and HR pattern with economies in transition) but the responsibility is less with the Army and more with the government of India. Marketing alone won’t solve the problem. But as any marketing professional will concede, a product can be packaged and advertised through skilful and innovative marketing only up to a point. If the product is inherently inadequate, mere marketing acumen will not suffice.  Question 3:  Do you think the service conditions and the other compensatory packages for army officers are relatively not comparable to officers in MNCs and Private sectors.?  Answer :  Even though the salaries of armed forces have substantially increased after the 6th Pay Commission, the youngsters still find them less compared to the private sector. This consideration is put forth especially is one takes into the account of the life of a soldier which is tough and risky. Steady economic growth over the last two decades and the emergence of globally competitive IT, financial and manufacturing industries has increased the opportunity costs of joining the Armed Forces. Furthermore, productivity growth in these sectors is increasing wages: A young Indian will have to give up even more to join the Armed Forces, which offer relatively lower take-home salaries. It is tempting to believe that merely raising military pay will address the issue of officer “shortages”. To do so would be to ignore the fundamental changes to the relative abundance of capital and labor in India’s growing economy.  Coming to insurance, no insurance company in the country insures a soldier for war risk. Hence when a soldier dies on duty, insurance companies do not pay at all. The Army has Army Insurance Group Fund (AIGF) where premiums are very high as the group risk is very high. The officer pays a good part of his salary for covering this risk at high premium.  The Indian army, portrays the issues of recruitment and retention as a recent problem unique to this country, while it is a worldwide phenomenon. The shortage of officers in the Indian army has been there for over three decades. To blame it on the poor compensation in relation to the corporate world is only obfuscating the real issues– internal problems besetting the Army that make it unattractive. There are larger social factors at play with the opening of the economy. The private sector, with its humongous compensation packages, is facing a similar talent crunch as well. The government needs to look at social remedies — of education and training — to redress these anomalies. It cannot be achieved by throwing a few more crumbs at the soldiers.  Question 4 :  Suggest some innovative strategies to improve talent scouting for army officer positions  Answer :      * Today, there is no freedom of mobility in the job market for an army officer. The exit policies are archaic and the officers are akin more to a bonded labour, than a government functionary. The bogey of national security has allowed the military to get away with blatantly illegal and unethical exit policies for its soldiers for a long time. The long-term damage of an exit- barrier ending up as an entry-barrier has not even been considered by the military.     * The armed forces need to view their splendidly trained officers as national assets rather than bonded labour. It needs to be understood that once a young man weighing various job options knows that he is free to leave the army whenever he wants to, he might well be attracted to getting trained and groomed as a leader in a military institution, if only in the realistic hope that it might enable him to get a better job in the market than he would get after doing simple graduation/post graduation from a university elsewhere. If he chooses to leave after training, the Army should be happy that it has created a quality national asset who will prove his worth somewhere else. That limited, insulated mentality has to be shed to internalize and accept this thought. Though some might leave immediately after training, many will choose to serve as officers for varying lengths of time     * Presently, cadets passing out from the NDA get a graduation degree. They have to undergo further training in the training institutes of respective services before they become officers, but their academic qualification remains graduation. This additional training period plus an additional year or so of distance education after commissioning should enable all officers to get a post graduate degree in some disciplines. This will not only help increase their self esteem but also equip them to get better jobs and even pursue further studies should they choose to at any time.     * The SSC acts as the support cadre to the regular cadre, which is twice its strength. A new proposal seeks to reverse the proportion. According to an internal report the shortfall of 11,000 army officers would be bridged in 20 years. The proposal is to take two short service officers for every permanently commissioned officer. This will help make up the shortfall in due course without affecting the promotion aspects caused by the pyramidal structure of the army. The army has sought to make SSC more lucrative by increasing the number of serving years from five to 10. Another proposal is to give them a two-year study leave at the end of their service to help them find a better second career option.     * Another probable reason for the Armed Forces not getting the right type of youth for their officer cadre is that youth from rural background and less developed states like UP and Bihar are not able to qualify in the selection process it being very scientific and tough. Instead of waiting for end product in these areas, the Armed Forces may identify the potential candidates when the students are in Eighth standard through the medium of National Cadet Corps and then groom them to come up to the right standards. These young minds should be taken to various remote areas where Army is deployed on adventure trips and made to see for themselves how the love for the country and adventure makes the adrenaline flow faster in the blood stream. Here, NCC can play a stellar role.     * Remove stagnation at the middle level and thus improve promotion opportunities of the officers, close to that of civil and police services; After entering the army, an entry level officer must wait up to 10 years before donning the flashes of a lieutenant-colonel. 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 hardships in the field areas; bridge salary and compensation gap between the private sector and government services, to the extent possible.     * The Armed Forces will have to emulate the big IT companies and set up their own training academies—take the relatively rougher diamonds and polish them in-house. In other words, instead of trying to look for people with “officer-like qualities”, the Armed Forces will need to create them.  Conclusion  The contours of the problem and the need for a holistic redressal have to be acknowledged in the first instance. This is imperative and must merit the attention of the Defense Minister and his cabinet colleagues. Pro-active, creative thinking is somehow not encouraged/ possible in the rigid, hierarchical and bureaucratic structures that are found in most departments of the government, including the military. Other nations when faced with a similar predicament had appointed a dedicated Armed Forces Commission drawn from the most eminent persons outside the government to make appropriate recommendations. That time has come. There are many eminent persons in Indian civil society whose talent and expertise can be tapped for this purpose. The task ahead is to recognize the nature of the problem and improve the product sincerely–not just address the ‘marketing’ alone.

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