Reducing the size of Indian Army: Good Idea but comes at a Cost
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Polity & Governance
3rd May, 2022
Debates have arisen on account of new proposal for a three-year “Tour of Duty “(ToD) for Indian Army jawans.
What is the “in” the proposal?
- This plan was brought in by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane in 2020. Recently, there has been a briefing on this in the Ministry of Defence.
There is already a shortage of 1.1 lakh soldiers in the Army at present with the suspension of recruitment rallies in the last two years. This is increasing by about 5,000 troops every month.
- The proposal has been put forward by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) for non-commissioned personnel or jawans of a 3-year ToD.
What is Tour of Duty (ToD)?
- A ‘Tour of duty’ or short service is usually a period of time spent in combat or in a hostile environment.
- Simply put, it is refers to the recruitment of some soldiers for a fixed period of three years.
The current method
- Currently, the only option apart from regular permanent commission into the armed forces is the Short Service Commission, in which officers are recruited for a period of 14 years.
- A large number of SSC officers eventually opt for permanent commission, subject to eligibility.
Salient features of 'Tour of Duty'
- Initially, the number of vacancies in the Indian Army would be around 100 which could be expanded later.
- The draft of the scheme states that all soldiers in the Army would eventually be recruited under the model.
- Around 25% of them would serve in the Army for three years and 25% troops would serve for five years.
- The remaining 50% would continue to serve in the Army for the full term till they reach their retirement age.
- Proposal states that 50% of soldiers released at the end of three and five years will be included in National Pension Scheme.
- Such soldiers will be given certain medical benefits, applicable to Armed Forces veterans, for a fixed period.
- A Tour of Duty Army officer will be earning somewhere around Rs 80,000 to Rs 90,000 per month salary.
The other method of induction
- The ‘Inverse Induction’ model is based on a 2019 discussion document by the think-tank Takshashila Institution, authored by Lt Gen. Prakash Menon (retd), a former military advisor to the National Security Advisor, and Pranay Kotasthane.
- The model aims to look at bringing personnel recruited by CAPFs into the armed forces’ fold for about seven years, before they go back to their respective recruiting organisations.
What is the need for the proposal?
- Evolution: The move make the case for reduction in the size of the army as necessary to push a hidebound Indian Army to evolve in meeting the requirements of agility, combined arms warfare, and high tempo operations.
- Huge saving on economic front: The move aims to curb the burden of salaries and pensions on the government’s budget and using it for expanding army’s technological advancement and training.
- The total cost (from pre-commissioning training up to severance package) for an SSC officer serving for a 10-year term works out to 5.12 Crores and for a 14-year term it climbs up to 6.93 Crores.
- If an officer gets the PC, the liability for his pay and allowances up to an age of 54 years is another 3 Crores while about 9 Crore is spent in pensions up an age of 75 years.
- Compared to the above, the end-to-end cost of a Tour of Duty combatant is being projected as 80-85 Lakhs.
- Lack of fund for capital expenditure: The Indian Army consumes a significant part of its allocated budget leaving little for capital expenditure or money for new weapons and platforms impacting the equipment modernisation of the services.
The overall defence budget for 2022-23 is Rs 5.25 lakh crore, of which Rs 1.19 lakh crore has been earmarked for pensions.
- Door for opportunities: This will be an opportunity for the youngsters to experience military life.
- This will also be an opportunity for those who want to join army as a profession but wish to experience the military life for a temporary duration.
- Improvement in personal sphere: An officer or soldier after completing one year of training and three year ToD is likely to display visible improvement in self-confidence, teamwork, responsibility, initiative, stress management, innovation and social skills.
What about after service?
- Intact economic opportunities: Under this arrangement, after completing 3 years of service, the Army will help the soldier/officer to be recruited in other services. Employment opportunities will be provided to them.
- Easy return to the corporate world: The students from prestigious institutes like IITs who are highly technical will be attracted to the Army for a short period to help them expand the technology in the Army. Later these students can easily return back to the corporate world.
- Bridging the gap in state police forces: The lack of police personnel in the states, there is the demand for more officers to serve at ground level.
According to the data of 2015, there are 554 people under 1 police personnel, which has slightly reduced till 2019.
What can be the negative impacts of the proposal?
- Unemployment: The ToD will lead to decommissioned personnel to take up arms because they would be unemployed.
- Harming the unity: It will undermine the Indian Army’s corporate identity premised on “naam, namak aur nishaan”.
“Naam, namak aur nishaan”- The group unity of Indian Army
‘Naam, Namak, Nishan’ are the core ethos of me in the uniform. And the concept has held good across ages. Loosely translated, it means:
- Naam – Name/Reputation of your country, Name/Reputation of your Regiment or ‘Paltan’
- Namak – Fidelity to the salt you’ve partaken
- Nishaan – Ensign, Flag or standard. This can be the Indian flag and the Colors of the regiment. In older times, the regiments carried the Regimental Standards/Colors into the battle and it would be considered an utmost disgrace if a Regiment was to lose their Regiment Standard/Colors. Men rallied around their flags and would make ultimate sacrifice to protect it from falling into enemy hands.
- Over militarization of police forces: resorting to excessive force consequent to the recruitment of ex-soldiers, it is incumbent upon proponents to over powering the local police personnels.
- Discrimination to small range personnels: the ToD is subjected to only decommissioned personnels and not to the officers hence they are facing discrimination based on ranking order of army. They may face exploitation during this tenure.
- Burden on other services: The 10% of all recruits the Indian Army were to be absorbed by the Group B of CAPF which includes the central police forces, central industrial police forces and the border security forces. If it will not happen it has a high probability of personnels to rage against the department.