Hire defence veterans

Asset for nation building

The country can benefit if this readily available human resource is harnessed into an organisation to empower the government.

Narendra Modi is firmly in the prime ministerial chair. He promises revolutionary strides in industrial activity in order to create millions of jobs for the aspiring youth of the country. This can only be done by giving a major fillip to the manufacturing sector. But that is where we encounter serious trouble. 

India has a huge work force both skilled and unskilled. Those without skills are not employable and those with some skills lack a good work culture. They seem to want employment but not work. Resultantly, the employer skirts around problems of labour unrest and low productivity by resorting to low paid contract labour leading to their exploitation at the hands of shady contractors. 

How do we, therefore, energise the manufacturing sector? How do we provide quality work force to industry and how do we provide quality training facilities to train the millions of our unskilled youth and turn them into productive human asset. The Government of India has indeed launched a huge skill development initiative. Large amounts of money is allocated to states for training an arbitrarily assigned number of workers and they in turn parcel out funds and targets to government run industrial training institutes (ITIs) and fast mushrooming private skill development centres which are often no more than money making enterprises. Success of the scheme is measured in terms of money spent and students awarded certificates of training. It is, however, well-known that the exercise remains a mere matter of statistics.

At the very core, lie two problems. One, lack of quality training infrastructure -- Our Industrial Training Institutes, our Teachers Training Institutes and our training facilities for paramedics etc have rotten infrastructure. Campuses are in decay. Machines and laboratories are outdated and largely non functional. The syllabi are obsolete and do not correspond to industry needs. Faculty is ill trained and demotivated. The second problem lies in our attitudes to work. Government jobs have come to signify pay for the mere fact of holding a letter of appointment. You do not have to ensure output in order to get paid. Very often, trainers and trainees do not even need to come to class. There is no discipline on work or output.

Where do we begin resolving the problem? The answer is indeed obvious, If only we are prepared to look beyond our nose. The Indian defence forces; Army, Navy and Air Force are institutions that operate in real-time environment backed by a web of disciplines and organisations, training institutions and establishments both technical and non-technical. All these have been conceived and moulded into a task-oriented, time bound, technology driven work-culture.

Web of disciplines

From brick layers and plumbers to town planners, from operators of earth moving plants to civil and naval architects, from motor vehicle drivers to auto mechanics and lathe operators to electrical and mechanical engineers. From radio mechanics to electronic engineers, from data entry operators to computer programmers and hardware engineers, from airplane mechanics, pilots and air traffic controllers to aeronautical engineers, from railway drivers to signalling and track maintenance specialists, from nursing assistants and ward masters to technicians, paramedics and hospital managers. From store keepers to purchase, storage, inventory management and supply chain managers. From naval ship operators and navigators to deep sea divers. You name one area of human endeavour and you will find that the defence forces have it all. No wonder the defence forces are the final answer to all national activity in times of crisis.

 Defence forces recruit raw man power and through its well designed training concepts, methodology and practices convert them into a highly skilled, responsible, dependable, productive and disciplined human resource. 

Every year some 50,000 armed forces personnel retire in the age group of 38 to 42 years with at least two decades of useful life ahead of them. A large number of them belong to a wide range of technical and semi technical disciplines. Many of them are qualified  and experienced trainers and training supervisors who return  to their homes in  small towns and villages spread across the country. Amongst this pool of trained manpower, a unique cadre of multi specialty trainers, supervisors and training managers is available. What is more, they are a readily available combat resource against potential emergencies and they are available in all regions of the country including the unsettled areas of the North East, J&K and states covered by the red corridor.

Governments and society have traditionally looked at this man power pool of ex- servicemen as a problem requiring welfare and rehabilitation. Does it make any political, administrative or economic sense at all to waste this highly valuable trained and disciplined human resource? This is indeed criminal. 

The country can benefit hugely if this readily available human resource is harnessed into an organisation to empower the Narendra Modi government to achieve the national objective of providing quality human resource for speedy transformation of its manufacturing and service industries. The idea needs urgent follow up at the highest level. Will the government accord priority to this idea at par with its priority of creating a million jobs every year? Our soldiers can substantively help in the task of nation building while continuing to provide a strong spine to secure it against terrorism and natural calamities. 

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