Army’s Tour of Duty ill-conceived. Neo nationalism will only create political militias
A leaked report of the Army’s internal study of a recruitment plan is basically military hierarchy using media as a sounding board for its ‘hunch and gut’ ideas. Indian Army Tour of Duty
The leaked excerpts from an internal study of the Army advocating the concept of three-year Tour of Duty is yet another reminder that the military hierarchy revels in using media to make politically loaded statements and as a sounding board for its ‘hunch and guts’ ideas, often in complete disregard of the repository of knowledge available. Most of these ideas come to a naught after a detailed examination.
The Tour of Duty proposal, which aims to reduce the burden of defence pensions and make up for the shortage of officers in the Army, is more in tune with the current Right-Wing flavour of the nation and carries political undertones. “Unemployment in our country is a reality, however there is a resurgence of nationalism and patriotism,” reads the proposal.
It should be clear to the discerning reader that the Tour of Duty is a poorly conceived scheme, which falls short of both individual and organisational needs. Internal surveys of the armed forces over the years have indicated that patriotism is not the main motivation for joining it. A stable, well-paid job is. Since the Israel model of three-year military service is a favourite of the right wing, it is conscripted mandatory national service and not driven by patriotism per se. To even think of neo-nationalism as a motivator is most dangerous. We will only end up creating potential political militias.
As the Tour of Duty should be for a minimum of five years to enable the individuals to earn gratuity as per government policy. It should be covered by the National Pension Scheme and 50 percent intake should be based on this. The Narendra Modi government should make the scheme as attractive as its finances allow and through preferential treatment in all spheres of government activity post-retirement. The terms and conditions should be very clear and withstand judicial scrutiny.
Essential of the leaked excerpts:
Basically, the proposed model of the ‘Tour of Duty’ will induct officers and soldiers for three-year tenure. The pay scale will be at par with the regular Army without any pension or mandated “severance package”. However, battle casualties and disabled soldiers will be treated at par with regular soldiers.
The very nature of the scheme will ensure that a trained, disciplined, confident. Diligent and committed workforce is available for government jobs and to the corporate world. The leaked document hopes for it to happen but accepts that the Modi government may not make the three-year Tour of Duty a mandatory criterion for central\state government jobs. Salaries may be tax free, and a token retirement grant of Rs. 5-6 lakh may be given to officers and Rs. 2-3 lakh may be given to soldiers, with an advisory-for preferential consideration for jobs in academic institutions and public sector undertakings.
The main advantage of the Tour of Duty is the exponential reduction in the salary and pension bill once the scheme takes off. The scheme will also improve the career prospect of regular soldiers and officers.
A soldier is the most costly element of the military budget. Governments generally provide the best for them, from the time of joining till their death. A soldier’s spouse continues to get 50 per cent of their pension and other benefits.
Short service schemes, voluntary or mandated, have been in vogue for centuries. It is the most cost-effective measure to reduce military budgets. At times, when there is a shortage of people to join the force due to low population like in Israel or due to lack of volunteers during prolonged wars, governments resort to conscription- mandatory military service for a fixed tenure.
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