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Rid army exams of corruption

Bengaluru, March 14, 2017, DHNS 1:12 IST
The cancellation of an army recruitment examination following the leaking of question papers at some centres of western India has yet again brought the focus back on corruption-ridden, deeply-flawed hiring systems. What is more worrying is that the cancer of corruption has not spared even the armed forces, which are, by and large, known to stand on the pillars of discipline and merit. The scam came to light when the Thane police in Maharashtra raided some places and caught around 350 candidates writing exams in lodges, two days before the actual exam was to be held. The leaked papers were allegedly given by the lodge owners, who ran coaching classes. Raids were conducted in Goa also, and the police have so far arrested 18 persons, including many ex-servicemen. The Army Recruitment Board, which was holding the nationwide examination for some lower-level posts such as soldier clerks, strongmen and soldier tradesmen , went ahead with the tests in other centres, presumably because there were no further reported ‘leaks.’ The Defence Ministry has ordered a CBI inquiry into the leak. It should be concluded as soon as possible and the guilty brought to book.

From corruption to malfeasance to fake encounters to increasing cases of indiscipline across the country, they give an impression that all is not well with our military establishment. In the Sukhna land scam, a few lieutenant generals who were reportedly involved, were promptly court-martialled, while Adarsh housing scandal revealed the blatant involvement of some in the highest echelons of the army. Dozens of army officers were chargesheeted by CBI in 2015 in the recruitment scam at the prestigious National Defence Academy (NDA), where the complicity of a long chain of persons up to the commandant of NDA, led by his staff officer, has been established. Even the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, which nurtures future officers, has not been spared of corruption as CBI filed cases against three lieutenant colonels in a recruitment scandal involving Grade C&D cadres.

Such instances of manipulation of recruitment processes are disturbing considering that the military is no longer the preferred option for many bright aspirants. A study conducted by the army headquarters sometime ago, about the system of selection for entry into the officer cadre, revealed that a career in military has become less attractive. It’s high time that recruitment in the military is handled by an UPSC-like independent body.

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