There comes a moment in everyone’s life when they are desperate to serve in the Armed Forces, but can’t do it because of some perennially existential circumstances. Well, the Indian Army has a solution for them. Through “Tour of Duty”, they can serve in the Army for a fixed period.
Indian Army is zeroing down on the modalities of Tour of Duty. The final structure could be ready as early as the end of May 2022. After the dossier is ready, it will be sent to the Defence Ministry. After that, the onus will be on the Modi government to either approve it in letter and spirit or usher it in with some chops and changes.
What is the Tour of Duty
It is a new initiative by the Indian Defence establishment to get as much manpower as needed. Under this scheme, soldiers will be recruited mainly for a brief period of at least 3 years. Plans are in place for putting a fixed percentage of these new recruits for 5 years. One-fourth of the recruits will serve for three years while another 25 per cent will serve for 5 years. Plans are being formalised to provide permanent commission to 40 per cent of recruits under the scheme.
But there are procedures in place for recruitment, then why this initiative?
The latest initiative is the brainchild of former CDS Bipin Rawat and former COAS General Manoj Mukund Narawane. Being experienced Generals, they had witnessed substantive manpower shortage in the army. Add to that, the Army had virtually stopped conducting its recruitment rallies, owing to the humanitarian catastrophe of Covid. It conducted only 4 recruitment rallies in 2021-22.
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Taking a lesson from the Indo-China war of 1962 (Officers were recruited on an emergency basis), the Army floated this proposal in 2020. The recruitment is supposed to make up for the shortfall of more than 1 lakh soldiers and Junior Commissioned Officers in the Army.
How will it benefit the Army?
There are mainly two benefits that the Army can foresee. It will help in curtailing the enormous Cost to the exchequer. Currently, the Indian Army spends around ₹ 5.12 crore on an officer deployed in the Short Services Commission. For 4 more years, it jumps up to ₹ 6.93 crores. Add to that the pension expenses incurred by our establishment. Currently, nearly 30 per cent of the country’s defence budget is spent on providing pensions to veterans.
With the ‘Tour of duty’, the total cost which our government spends on an individual military man/woman will come down to ₹ 80-85 lakhs. For those serving 5 years in the Army, it may go further to more than 1 crore, but it will still be substantially less than the ₹ 5.12 crore. With the current proposal to recruit 100 officers and 1,000 Jawans, India will save ₹ 11,000 crores. Over the period of time, India plans to fill 40 per cent of our soldiers who will be recruited through this process. The savings are going to be enormous and will be reinvested in the modernisation programme of the Army.
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Moreover, catching them young always helps in the domain where physical fitness and mental fitness work in tandem. Just when their body and mind will be ready for the new experience, the Army will be able to teach them valuable lessons about nationalism, work ethics and discipline. It will ensure that the Army gets an efficient and dedicated bunch of youth, who do not need to be taught out of their upbringing. This is the biggest problem of the current batch of officers recruited through the Combined Defence Service. The ethics of their liberal tilted University and Army are exactly the opposite. So, the trainers have to go out of their way to teach them.
What is in it for the volunteers?
Though, serving the nation is a selfless duty, it is also the responsibility of the establishment to provide rangroots with better facilities and take care of them even after they leave the Army. Government is in talks with the private sector to engage these ‘early retired’ soldiers in reputed jobs in companies. These companies would welcome disciplined individuals with open arms as modern youth lack self-discipline more than technical skills.
This has been standard practice. Army’s Short Services Commission has provided many dignitaries to the Private Sector including Major Gaurav Arya and Major Raghu Raman among others.
Tour of duty is a wonderful opportunity for nationalists devoid of opportunity to serve their nation. It is a win-win situation for both Defence Forces as well as the people devoid of a disciplinary approach towards life.
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