Shortage of officers in the Indian Army in 2020?

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India's new Army chief, General Manoj Mukund Narwane, in his first press conference after assuming office, said that the "shortage of officers in the Indian Army continues to prevail".

He said that 'there is no shortage of officers in the Indian Army not because people are not applying, but because the Army has not yet lowered its standards of officer selection.'

According to news agency PTI, Narwane said that "they will give more importance to quality than numbers in Indian Army".

This statement of the Indian Army Chief was discussed on social media and many retired military officers have praised his statement.

How many officers' Shortage is there?

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In August 2018, the Press Information Department quoted the Indian Ministry of Defense as saying that as of 1 January 2018, the Indian Army had more than 42 thousand officers and a shortage of 7298 military officers.

A year later, the news agency PTI reported that this number has increased to 7399. That is, the number of officers of the rank of lieutenant or above is required in the Indian army, 100 officers have been reduced.

There is a shortage of officers in the Indian Navy and Air Force. But the lack of officers in the army is many times more than that.


How difficult is the selection procedure?

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Candidates who failed to get entry at the officer level in the Indian Army say that when the results are announced by the SSB (Service Selection Board) to maintain their morale, the board members say that Amitabh Bachchan, Rahul Dravid, and former President APJ Abdul Kalam also gave this test, but he could not clear it, so do not lose heart.

It is said that SSB examines the academic record of every candidate, his writing ability, methods of debating, ability to work in teams, reasoning ability and decision making.

According to the board, every candidate is evaluated on the criteria of OLQ (Officer Like Qualities). That is, whether a candidate has the chance of becoming a military officer or not, special consideration is used in the selection process.

Retired Indian Army officer and Major DP Singh, who has been called the 'Hero' of the Kargil War, tweeted after the Army Chief's statement that "the maximum number of candidates in SSB cannot succeed because they lack 'sense of responsibility'."

So, should it be said that the number of people qualified for the Army in India has decreased? Or is there some other reason behind this?

At the same time, the question is that due to lack of officers in the Army, too much additional work pressure is there in the military officers deployed on the ground? How big a challenge is it in operating the army? And what is the reason that the shortage of officers in the Indian Army has not been met?

To know the answers to these questions, we spoke to former lieutenant general Shankar Prasad, who led several important military operations of the Indian Army from 1971 to the 90s, and Ajay Shukla, a senior journalist, who knows military strategy. Let's take a view of these two experts:


Who would want to join the army in this situation?

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Former Lt. Gen. Shankar Prasad

India has close to 1.4 million soldiers, including the three wings of the army, who are mainly deployed along the border with Pakistan in the northwest and China in the northeast.

The matter of shortage of officers in the army is being discussed now, but not for more than a decade.

This reduction is at the level of junior officers, such as lieutenant, captain and major. These are the positions that are called the strength of 'Front Line' in the Indian Army and handle the front during any war.

These are the officers who lead the platoon or the company in battle. If they are not, then the big military officers have to hand over the command to the officers of JCO rank, which does not yield such good results.

Now the effect of the shortage of officers, if 20 battalions are authorized in a battalion and only 13 or 15 officers are left in the service, then they have to work for 20 officers.

For instance, in the stressful areas of Kashmir, Siachen and Northeast India, there is no night patrolling without a military officer. The rule is that only an officer will lead him. Now he also has to do the duty of an officer who is less in his battalion.

So the effect of this extra work is that an officer who could sleep on his bed for fifteen days out of 30 days at night, he can only sleep for seven or ten days. This puts mental and physical stress on them.

The Chief of Army Staff is absolutely right that the standard of the selection of officers cannot be reduced.

Any person associated with the army will agree that if the selection criteria are dropped, the leadership of the army at the lower level will be very weak and its decisions will bring disrepute to the army, slander the country.

Therefore, even if there is a shortage to choose the best people, there is nothing to worry about. But is there a shortage of good people? it's not like that at all. There are very sharp boys in the country who are perfect for the army.

The real thing is those good boys, they do not want to come into the army. They are going to IIM, doing other professional courses. And there are some reasons for this.

The biggest reason is that there is a lot of physical work in the army's job. The second big reason is that the status related to the army's job is decreasing day by day, facilities and salaries are reduced.


'Children think - what will they get by giving so much?'

The army has been shouting for 25 years that the pay commission should also be an active member of the armed forces, but they do not keep it.

The lowest-paid job in the class-one services is the Army. The chances of promotion are the least in the army because the structure of our posts is very different.

Almost all civil service bureaucrats become joint secretaries or additional secretaries. But 80-90 percent of people in the army retire only after reaching the rank of Major or Lieutenant Colonel.


If there are 10-12 Class-A services in India, then being an officer in the army comes at the end of them.

It is a materialistic era, children have become very clever, everyone sees what they will get in return for so much hard work and time.

Earlier 80-90 percent of the children who used to go to NDA were from good public schools. But now that thing is no more.

In Azad India, as long as there was British rule, the army officer used to get 10 percent more money from the ICS (Indian Civil Service). Then big people used to go to the army

When we were selected in the 1950s, the army's job was still dominant. But now the status of this service has dropped significantly.

The government does not understand that a major or lieutenant colonel cannot do ground duty at 50-60 years of age, his physical capacity is not so much. And if he takes retirement at the age of 45, then where does he go.

At the same time, people continue to work for 60 years in any other class-one service in the country. They have more facilities, salaries, and comfort.

Consider this as an example that a military officer sitting between ten feet of snow in Siachen gets the same hard area allowance as an IAS officer sitting in a heater room in Srinagar. So who will the child choose?

So the government does not understand the specifics of these. If they can understand then they do not want to do anything. And we have seen that even if a political party wants to do something, bureaucracy does not allow it to happen. This is the problem!

70 officers out of 100 are not fit

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Senior Journalist Ajay Shukla

As the promotions in the army grow, senior positions are filled. But there is a shortage of officers at the entry-level, which has remained for the last 30-35 years.


The army chief has once again mentioned this deficiency. This does not mean that any problem has arisen immediately.

But it is a fact that the quality of the Indian army that they want is not coming. Of those who are coming, 70 percent are not fit to be made officers.

Some people say that the Indian youth does not want to join the army, it is not right. Because this is not a problem at the level of soldiers. The problem is at the level of officers.

Several methods have been described to meet this deficiency and they have been discussed at various times.

Many times it is said that recruitment of military officers should be removed and this deficiency should be filled.

But the army has always been of the opinion that they will work in lesser officers, but they do not want bad officers, even if 10 officers have to work for a hundred.

There is a big reason for this, which has to be understood. It is very important to know the man who has been given a gun by the army and there is a contingent of armed soldiers behind him.

It is necessary to have some basic characteristics of a leader and at the time of selection, the army ensures this, otherwise, the lives of many people may be threatened during the military operation.

However, some people say that the standard of admission in NDA has been loosened to some extent in the past years.

At present, youths who are doing well at school or college level want to go to finance service, big banks, civil service, doctor-engineering and do not want to get recruited in the army, then it is very difficult to complete this shortage of officers.


'Short Service Commission: One Way'

Although this situation can be changed, we have to make some big decisions. For example, emphasis should be on 'Short Service Commission', so that new people can quit after some years of service and others can find a job in any field.

There is already a 'Short Service Commission' in the army, but it has to be increased. Right now, after graduation level, people are elected by the 'Short Service Commission', they train for nine months, then work for ten years which can be extended for four years.

Many times people raise the question that the officers will not lack commitment in doing so? So the experience of the army has not been so far.

People from the 'Short Service Commission' have performed well and after completing short service many people have been selected for the permanent jobs again.

While some people completed their short service with great enthusiasm and after that they went to work in big corporate companies.