As the shortage of officers is primarily in the ranks of Captain and Major, the solution apparently lies in a revamped short-service entry scheme which offers lateral induction into civilian Jobs after five to eight years of service in the Army. It would do the budding central services officers a world of good to do some national service in the armed forces for about five years during which they would be exposed to a disciplined way of life, gain hands-on experience of man-management and good leadership, imbibe values and ethics and learn to be officers and gentlemen.
The endemic shortage of officers in the armed forces — approximately 13,000 in all —- continues to have a deleterious effect on their war-fighting capability, particularly on the Army’s performance in counter-insurgency Operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern States. Innovative measures need to be adopted to overcome the endemic officers’ shortage.
As the shortage of officers is primarily in the ranks of Captain and Major, the solution apparently lies in a revamped short-service entry scheme which offers lateral induction into civilian Jobs after five to eight years of service in the Army. Such a scheme would confer the twin benefits of filling all the vacant positions and reducing the pension bill. The second measure could be to offer contractual service of three to five years to volunteer veteran officers of the rank of Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel in a scheme that would overcome the disadvantages of reemployment as prevalent today.
A few years ago, the central government was reported to have considered a proposal to select aspiring Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Allied Services candidates after the 12th standard with a view to catching them young for a career in the bureaucracy. Nothing came of this idea. Presumably, a new academy will need to be established for this purpose because the Mussoorie academy has a different charter. The best option and one that is readily available is to train the young cadets at the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla, Pune, which provides the finest all round education at the under-graduate level in India, for a subsequent career in the bureaucracy.
In fact, it would do the budding central services officers a world of good to do some national service in the armed forces for about five years during which they would be exposed to a disciplined way of life, gain hands-on experience of man-management and good leadership, imbibe values and ethics and learn to be officers and gentlemen. They would also contribute handsomely to national security and help to reduce the officers’ shortage in the armed forces.
the most pragmatic option would be for the central government to absorb all the officers scheduled for early release from the three services. The best method with multifarious benefits to the nation would be to make “military service” compulsory for all aspirants for the central services, including the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS) Other Allied Services, the Central Police and Paramilitary Forces (CPMEFs) and other similar Organisations.
Recruitment to the IAS, IFS and the Allied Services should be channelled only through the armed forces, for men as well as women. Entry into the Army, Navy and Air Force should be through the Combined Defence Services examination for the National Defence Academy (NDA) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). On graduating from the NDA, the cadets should receive further training at the respective academies of the three Services and then join these as commissioned officers. After five years of service, all volunteer officers should be given three chances each to appear for the UPSC examinations and interviews for lateral transfer into the IAS, IFS and the Allied Services. Those who do not wish to leave or do not qualify would continue to soldier on in their respective service.
Assuming that the bait of the option for eventual transfer to the central services would be a lucrative enough inducement for talented young men and women to join the armed forces, such a step would not only completely eliminate the shortage of officers over a few years, but also considerably enhance the quality of the junior leadership of the three services and, later, of the central services.
Veteran officers who are offered an opportunity tor contractual service are likely to accept if they can serve as Civilians without having to continue to bear the exacting responsibilities of military service even after retirement. They could be posted to peace stations to fill up some of the existing vacancies. [hey would be extremely useful in relieving the battalion’s regular officers from undertaking mundane duties that are important but take up too much time. These include duties like General Finance Officer (GFO), Field Officer of the Week, presiding officers of Courts of inquiry, Summary of Evidence, Boards of Officers, organising VIP visits, secretary of the officers’ mess, conducting Battle Physical Efficiency Test (BPET), Power Point Presentation Test (PPT) and education tests, supervising games and sports, duties of company Second-in-Command (2IC), liaison with the civil administration and a host of similar peace-time duties that keep officers busy and prevent them from concentrating on their primary responsibility of training the men under their command.
A disciplined way of life, highly advanced and pragmatic man-management techniques, a no-nonsense approach to problem solving and active secularism, have helped the Services to avoid falling prey to the maladies afflicting the other organs of the state. The officers transferring to the central services from the armed forces will carry with them these impeccable attributes and will undoubtedly succeed in transforming the manner in which the bureaucracy conducts the business of administration. Simultaneously, veterans on a second innings will contribute immensely to the battalions that they serve with. The two measures together provide an innovative solution to a perplexing challenge.