May 23, 2007

Indian Defence has its own bag of woes

http://www.centralchronicle.com/ 20070523/2305301.htm

More than 2000 officers opted to leave the Armed Forces prematurely in the last three years for reasons as diverse as being superseded for promotion to more lucrative offers from the corporate sector, Defence Minister AK Antony has said.
More than a thousand scientists have quit defence research in the last five years to join the private sector, the Minister has said in a written reply to a question in Parliament. More than half the number of officers who left the Armed Forces is from the Army 1,119 officers left the force between 2004 and 2006. There were 600 other officers who also wanted to quit the Army but were denied permission.

A total of 3060 officers offered to quit the Army, Navy and Air Force in the last three years. Among soldiers other than officers, a total of 27,865 personal took premature retirement. Expectedly, a bulk is from the 1.1 million strong Army, which is also facing a shortage of officers.

But the sharp rise in the number of air force personnel - from 371 in 2004 to 1,222 in 2006 is notable. It coincides with the growth of the private sector in civil aviation. The lure of the private sector is most prominent in Defence Research and Development Organisation. In a separate reply Minister Antony said 1,007 scientists have left the DRDO for private sector jobs between 2002 and 2007.

The rate of attrition is marginally higher compared to private sector industries. There has been no substantial impact of such attrition on completion of DRDO projects, the Minister has said.

He said DRDO had submitted proposals to increase salaries of its scientists to the Sixth Pay Commission to arrest the exodus. Statistics revealed the Air Headquarters' clamp down on its officers wanting to quit had paid dividends. The number of officers discharged from IAF has been brought down from 238 to 80 between 2004 and 2005.

Mr. Antony said that to check the exodus, the government was allowing time bound promotion to the Colonel (and above) rank. The choice to leave and the permission to leave were granted not only because of better opportunities but also on compassionate grounds or because some officers were placed in permanently low medical category.

Indeed, a major concern has been raised over the declining force strength of IAF and Coast Guards, with both falling woefully short of their projected requirements. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in its 16th report tabled in Lok Sabha in the last week of April this year, has expressed concern over the depleting force strength of Indian Air Force and the major shortage being reflected in Coast Guards (CG).

While the IAF has force strength of 33 squadrons against the authorized level of 39.5 squadrons, the CG is short in its force strength with only 42 ships, 18 boats and 45 aircraft.

The Committee said there were serious shortages in CG especially in view of the assessed requirement of 154 ships, 93 boats and 105 aircraft. It also said that there was inadequate surveillance with CG in various fields. Pulling up the three services as well as the Defence Ministry, the Standing Committee recommended that all procurement formalities should be completed by September each year so that all deals are put on the fast track.

The Defence Ministry has also put on its agenda the difficulties caused by soldier suicides and officer killings before moving on to issues like modernization of equipments. Minister Antony has personally put soldier suicides on top of his agenda since taking over in November 2006.

The Defence Minister further put the stamp of his personal and frugal life style on the Army Commanders' Conference in April this year. He asked the Army to cut down on profligacy and adopt the motto "service with simplicity". Expenditure on acquiring new equipment should be increased and wasteful expenditure slashed.

But, above all, the Minister said the man behind the gun should take precedence. Till the human aspect is taken care of, all attempts at modernization of forces, providing better pay and allowances, training and discipline will not be able to achieve the desired results, he told commanders and senior officers of Defence Ministry.

He said the suicides and soldier killing soldier incidents were of grave concern. Mr. Antony's remarks came against a depressing background for the Armed Forces. Between January 1 and February 28 this year, 20 soldiers have committed suicide while 10 were killed in action. A summary general court martial has also sentenced a soldier to death for shooting an officer.

Antony told the Army Chief, Defence Secretary, regional Army commanders and principal staff officers that it was essential to ease pressure on troops deployed for counter insurgency. The need of the hour is to reduce stress levels among the Armed Forces personnel. Psychological counseling and relaxation exercises too can go a long way in reducing the stress levels on jawans and help reduce the cases of suicide and fratricide.

Shibani Dasgupta, NPA

1 comment:

captainjohann said...

Bureacrats like that of IAS/IRS/IPS/IFS, have other means of getting their pecuniary benefits.A pilot in civil set up is getting about 3to 4 lakhs per month depending upon their endoresements.But the myopic buearacrcy in Defence Ministry will not release the pilots to airIndia,Indian airlines which used to be the norm in 1960s.A groupcaptain or wingcommander from fixed wing had this option. But now nearly 500 Russian/CIS /south american pilots are flying our skies.Security be damned but what about high paying jobs.some of them are paying a percentage to DGCA bureacracy is the rumour.They have a vested interest in stopping IAF pilots to migrate.Previously the difference between IAF and airIndia is the foreign allowance and pay package of about 3 times. But now the pay difference has gone to nearly 20 times without any corresponsing increase in defence perks. People worked for honour in forces.100% quarters and family occomodation in every forward state and central schools in every place will go a long way in mitigating the frustration.