Growing gap

A crippling shortage in the officers’ ranks of the Indian armed forces that is likely to persist beyond 2020 is reason for serious concern. It could severely undermine the efficiency of the country’s armed forces. The armed forces are facing a shortage of 15,004 officers with the army confronted by the most serious shortfall. While the army is short of around 12,349 officers, the navy and air force have a shortfall of 1,818 and 837 officers respectively. The shortage in the army is particularly serious — over 25 per cent of its sanctioned strength. Not only has the shortfall in officers existed for years but also the gap has grown.

Low salaries, high stress and slow promotions in the armed forces are among the reasons why youngsters are not drawn to a career in the armed forces, especially when compared to a job in the private sector. So unattractive has a career in the forces become that seats in the military academies are going unfilled year after year. Those who do give it a shot and enter the forces are putting in their papers before long. The armed forces are suffering from high attrition rates.

Some have suggested forced conscription to address the shortage. This is a bad idea as it will not make for a motivated force. Besides it goes against India’s ethos of democracy. The government has been saying that it is taking remedial measures to deal with the shortfall. It has said that all officers including those in the short service commission (SSC) will be eligible to hold substantive ranks within a few years of reckonable service. The tenure of SSC officers has been increased too. Efforts are on to attract youngsters through advertisements. However, these measures are at best superficial. What is required is a complete overhaul of the salary structure and of the promotions policy so that good officers are motivated to remain in the military and the best and brightest are drawn to a career in the armed forces. In its effort to improve the fighting capability of the armed forces, India is investing billions of dollars in modernising military hardware. It is however neglecting the problem of shortage of officers. The latest weaponry alone will not make our borders safe. We need the right personnel to plan and lead from the front.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry