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Need to check shortage of officers in Indian army
Indian army is short of as many as 11238 officers and it is increasing year after year. The reason is that officers leave the army on superannuation or take voluntary retirement to join more lucrative jobs in private or multi-national companies.
AN ARMY officer is a leader of soldiers he commands. He leads them into battle. On his, foresight, patience, perseverance and moral courage depends the outcome of a battle. If the officer is physically fit, mentally alert and spiritually robust and well trained to handle his job, has acquired leadership qualities, then he will command the respect of soldiers he leads. They will have implicit faith in him and carry out his orders even if they have to risk their lives for it. It is the officer who leads his soldiers from the front, practices what he preaches and keeps the honour, safety and welfare of his country first always and every time. He cares for men under his command in the same way and puts his own safety and welfare last always and every time.

An army officer of this calibre is trained at the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. On successful completion of his training when a gentleman cadet passes out of his alma mater he is a perfect model of an officer and a gentleman.

Locating officer material

Where is the officer material found? Well, find the potential officer among citizens of India in average homes in towns and villages and train him to perfection. An officer is not born but made. In the medieval age it was believed that officers come from among the royalty alone or from the ruling classes or the so-called martial classes. However, the two world wars proved that only the aforesaid specified classes cannot provide the large number of officers needed by the armed forces. The common folks rose to the occasion and provided good officer material that was trained to become fine officers and leaders of men who won battles. So far so good. Now in the 21st century, our Indian Army is facing an acute shortage of officers and many units are so deficient of officers that their battle efficiency is adversely affected. It has so happened because over a period of time the officers in the army lost luster and were down- graded in the social set up. It is unbelievable but true.

As of now, the Indian army is short of as many as 11238 officers and does not know where to get them from. The shortage of officers is increasing year after year. The reason is that more officers leave the army on superannuation or take voluntary retirement to join more lucrative jobs in private or multi-national companies. In the year 2008, there was an intake of 1500 officers but as many as 1800 officers said good bye to the uniformed service. It was hoped that the economic recession and shrinkage of job opportunities elsewhere will reroute talented young men to the officer cadre of the army. Sadly it did not happen. The youth don’t find the army service attractive enough to make a bid for it in preference to becoming an executive in a multinational company or joining the Indian administrative service to become administrators. It is understood that big money lies there and not in the army service. Of course, patriotism attracts the youth to the army to defend the motherland. With a rise in external and internal threats and Islamist terrorism gaining ground, some young men feel that joining the army is a step forward towards patriotism.

The Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations and their implementation provide a silver lining to the dark cloud. The pay and perks are now fairly attractive and it is hoped that the youth will now prefer the army to a non-cushy job in the civil.

Mental make up of men and women

The school syllabus may have to be moulded in such a way that patriotism, defence of the nation and stories eulogising gallantry and heroic actions of our leaders of soldiers in the past like Maharana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, men of principles and action of our legendary past like Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram and Yogeshwar Shri Krishna are taught to mould minds of young men and women. Such motivated men and women will not only join the armed forces but also motivate others to follow suit.

Young women who don’t join the army have another important role to play. They may opt to marry army officers and encourage their female friends to follow suit. If pretty young women in large numbers come forward to marry army officers, the stock of army officers in social circles goes up. This in turn provides indirect motivation to other young men to join the corps of officers and serve the nation. One should remember that marriage is the bedrock of happy family life. A happy family is the basic unit that makes a nation happy. A happy nation thinks well, acts well and does problem solving effectively. Thereafter, winning a battle becomes a matter of battle procedure and the overawed enemy either turns tail or lays down arms in surrender. Thus a correct mental make -up that leads to happiness of the family is a battle winning factor. An army that comes to be known as a winner attracts more young men who are good officer material. Thus, it is a chain reaction of the good attracting the good leading to the better and the best in life.

Amelioration of hard living

A whispering campaign among young nubile girls in colleges has had adverse effect on army officers finding good brides. The whisper pertained to the hard living conditions in non-peace stations and hard peace stations. The newly-wed couples don’t mind living in one-room tenements in hard peace stations as it is quite cosy. In some stations these are called ‘honeymoon quarters or mercy quarters’. However, some who stay in transit camps find the fixed menu, the bill of fare rather a bore and an appetite killer. Once a bride complained of repeat bill of fare and got a polite reply “Madam, this is a transit officers mess. Here the officers change, not the menu.” Jokes apart. One needs a good will power to survive on that kind of food for a long time.

With the passage of time, children born and grow up. The problem of education arises. Fortunately, the army schools have ameliorated the educational hardship quite a bit but not wholly. The higher education is also now being looked after by the army in medical and technical fields. This should be made known to rank and file so that all concerned know that the army life is now liveable and the anti-publicity is a legacy of the lingering past. It will indeed put paid to civilian establishments stealing the talented youth from the army. Guarding its youth pool and putting a stop to brain drain will enrich the corps of officers day by day.

The army should keep the media, both print and electronic, on its right side so that the good word is spread to every nook and corner of the country. The good word is: the Indian army looks after its personnel and the future of the new generation is bright. Join the corps of officers of the Indian Army and believe in the dictum  

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