Dear Friends,

Shortage of Officers in the armed forces is a matter of concern to not only the Ministry of Defence, the three forces but also the nation as a whole. Should it not be a reason to brainstorm in the corridors of the South Block, where the powers be?

As per a recent announcement in the Parliament by the Minister of State (Defence) Dr. Subhash Bhamre the Indian Army has and authorized strength of  49993 but has the held strength of 42635 thereby creating a deficit of 7298. The Indian Air Force has  the authorization of 12584 with the actual strength of 12392 leaving a lag of 192. The junior most service the Indian Navy  also has a given strength of 11352, the actual serving officers 9746, hence a difference of 1606 is the need to be fulfilled.

The Minister stated , “ recruitment in the Armed Forces is a continuous process.  The Government has taken a number of measures to reduce the shortages.  These include sustained image projection, participation in career fairs and exhibitions and publicity campaign to create awareness among the youth on the advantages of taking up a challenging and satisfying career.  Further, Government has taken various steps to make armed forces’ jobs attractive including improvement in promotion prospects in the Armed Forces.”

But is this enough? To attract the Indian youth the government can spend millions on wide publicity for recruitment in Armed Forces through advertisement in print & audio-visual media but how attractive have we made it to get these youngsters to dream of this career since their childhood. And if they dare to dream the pass percentages of the youth at all levels including RIMC-Sainik Schools, NDA, CDS and all other entries make it so disappointing that the fear of clearing these exams is instilled in the minds of these children and they feel it is easier to finish their school and get into graduation and then enter the burgeoning private sector which has a job for every one.

This private industry also gives them stars in the eyes and dreams of a career in the lands beyond the seven seas, quick money, easy environs with work from homes and family always with you. So emotions like nation first, save the borders, tough but satisfying life,  families behind to support forever , army is one big family and money is not priority serving the nation is all take a back seat and educated youngsters applying for the services have seen a plunge. Even children of the serving and retired officers find the grass greener on the other side. So we need to catch them as kids and not youth. Also the current financial and non-financial benefits which are superb in the forces , need to be publicised so that the parents while motivating their children also tell them that nothing is better than having a career in the forces.

It is not just the glitter and glamour of the uniform but also a wholesome career which is satisfying from all angles which awaits the youth. Can the parents and the forces together rekindle the stars in the eyes of the youth , like it was with the generations before the current one? It is worth a try . Lets get the best and never feel the dearth of  these men in uniform ever.

Sangeeta Saxena

03 August 2018