Picture courtesy: Indian Army Facebook Page
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence in its report tabled in the Parliament has recommended five years of compulsory military service to those aspirants who want to join central and state government gazetted services directly, the Standing Committee have taken into account the fact that there exists a perennial and alarming shortage of officers and men in the Armed Forces, which need to be corrected. The Parliamentary panel also asked the ministry of defence to push with the DoPT with more vigour and earnestness.
Arguing for it, the Parliamentary panel said that the Indian Army alone is short of over 7,000 officers and over 20,000 other ranks including jawans. Similarly, the Indian Air Force is short of nearly 150 officers and over 15,000 men and the Navy is short of 150 officers and nearly 15,000 men.
While the central government alone has about 30 lakh employees with the Indian Railways, the state governments employ about another two crore people.
The proposal to make military service compulsory for future government servants was moved by the Ministry of Defence as an emergency measure to fill the shortfall in the armed forces.
Though the Army itself is not keen on making military training mandatory. Lt. General Mohinder Puri (retd), former deputy Chief of Army told THE WEEK that shortage of officers is due to stringent selection process, as army do not want to lower down the standards of its selection process. “Certainly, mandatory military training for all those seeking government will make them more disciplined and committed. But, the five year period is a bit long. I personally feel, two years of initial training will work. We have good bureaucrats, but majority of them lack commitment. Initial training will instill good value in them.”
However, on the other side, bureaucrats do not support the idea of compulsory training as a pre-condition to the service. “Having compulsory military training is surely not a pre-condition to a service. But military orientation is good to discipline your life. Ideally, such training should be given to students during their school time,” said Keshav Verma, a retired IAS officer of Gujarat cadre.
More than 20 countries around the world, including North Korea, Russia and Israel, presently have system of compulsory military service for all its citizens, believing compulsory military service would instill a sense of patriotism and make citizens more disciplined and committed.