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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Armed Forces as a career option

Recently the Army celebrated it's 62nd Army Day on January 15, 2011.

The question that prevails is "What relevance does the armed forces have -- for today's youth as a career"

As per a recent statistical survey done" India ranked 3rd in the largest number of engineers" This is indeed a good sign for a nation as vast as ours. But are the statistics too good to be believed or is it another case of a well written constitution which is good on paper but not in practice.

One example i would like to quote with reference to the constitution is that while Article 21 provides the "right to live" and the Article 19 gives us the right to preserve religious practices which are essential to a particular religious community. If this is the case why is the constitution silent on Santhara or Sallekhana as practiced by the Jain community, which is nothing but euthanasia. I know i am making a controversial issue over here but something has to be done in this regard.

Coming back to the main topic, yes of course we are seeing a boom in engineers, MBA's etc. Companies today want to hire people with management acumen according to Infosys( India's premier IT company). It is now planning to hire 1000 MBA's the year of 2011.

All of us have read about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Now from a perspective of a youth it would appear something like this

In a recent interview i conducted on an informal basis, i found out that today's youth was very much interested in a interesting and challenging career option. No longer one wanted to be tied down to a desk job.
The interesting point to be observed was that they shared the passion for adventure, thrill.
The rise in youth channels like MTV, Channel [v], UTv Bindass etc provide evidence to the above mentioned fact.

Contrary to popular belief the Armed forces does not face a shortage of applicants for it's officer cadre. Infact there are over a lakh candidates applying for a few hundred posts. The APR ratio ie. Applicants per post ratio in fact is quite high. According to a army official " the quality of youth over the years has deteriorated.

Now this brings us to the question so as to what is the real quality.
1) Is it the quality of education being delivered at the so called accredited institutions
2) Morality and relativity index of today's youth.
3) Religious commitment etc.........

Well some of the above mentioned questions are worth writing a research report on :)
But who is to blame.

Can we blame it on our current education system, which right from early school days stresses on securing high percentages in the dreaded AISSE and AISSCE exams.

Blame it on low remuneration, tough working conditions and, above all, high risk to life, the armed forces today is not an enviable career choice. The forces are not only short of thousands of officers but also troubled by a high attrition rate. Officers’ shortage is acute now and seriously affecting the Army, in quantity as well as quality. The reasons, well known, have been discussed on several occasions in public.

Or even blame it on the Media.... they are equally prompt to cover the Army ( at times like R day , I day, Army day) but where is media when the Army rescues people in times of crisis(Read:Indian Army rescues 273 stranded civilians in Leh-Srinagar Highway in J&K ).

At time when the Indian media is still coming up with a code of ethics, i believe the media cannot be entirely blamed.

When TRP ratings of programs like Big Boss, Splitsvilla, UTV Emotional Atyachaar are higher that any other programs, we should quite understand so as to what is the deeper reality.

Well the Govt of India has been trying hard to motivate the youth of today by way of seminars, presentations, campus interactions, recruitment drives and sustained publicity efforts. Also the recent addition of icons like Sachin Tendulkar, who was made a honorary Group Captain of the Indian Air Force is sure to inspire the youth to think of a career in the Armed Forces.

At times when our Army is dealing with corruption and other problems, be it
1) Sukhna land scam
2) Adarsh housing society scams
3)Fake killings
4) Recruitment scams

Well although it is true that a few black sheep doesn't make the entire Army corrupt, but still i think major branding exercise is necessary to establish a strong image in the youth's mind.The Ministry of Defence and the Govt of Indian can sure take a cue or two from the US Marines and the methods they followed to attract the youth.

The Govt can definitely use the VI pay commission to it's advantage. At times when starting salaries of mass recruitment companies in engineering colleges are hovering at around 4-5 lacs CTC. Army salaries are attractive. I duly understand that a career in the armed forces is not always about the money but more of passion, a sense of patriotism. But of course in today's era when petrol rates have reached as high as Rs 65.8 in the city of Bangalore, a good pay package will atleast ensure a decent standard of living for all the officers.

A strong, professionally led military controlled by capable leaders having impeccable credentials, strength of character and integrity is vital to the national interest. A strong military serves as an instrument of deterrence and supports the other arms of the government. Indian Armed Forces are the pride of the nation. This is the time to give them what they deserve. The government should address the problem seriously otherwise the situation will get out of control in coming years.

Hoping for a prosperous career for all of you..
Jay Hind


Ashish Dangua
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