By Girish Linganna
The Army Day parade, which has been taking place in Delhi until this point, was moved to Bengaluru’s Parade Ground, MEG & Centre, for the very first time this year. Since the celebrations began in 1949, this was the first event to be conducted outside of Delhi – the 75th Army Day.
The head of the Army, General Manoj Pande, presided over the parade and handed out valour awards. The parade was then followed by a daredevil performance by the Army Service Corps (ASC) Tornadoes, a skydiving demonstration by the Paratroopers, and daredevil jumps. The Army Aviation Corps also performed a fly-by with their helicopters.
Army Day is celebrated every year on January 15 to remember the day in 1949 when General (later Field Marshal) KM Carriappa took command of the Indian Army from General Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher, the final British Chief of the Indian Army, to become the first Indian army chief. The Army Day parade used to take place on the Cariappa Parade Ground at Delhi Cantonment. This tradition continued till 2023.
To facilitate a stronger engagement with the population, the parade was held in various field commands around India. The Pune based Central command of the Army led this year’s parade. On April 1 of the year 1895, this command was initially constituted.
And according to the material that is available to the public, this command comprises two corps, each of which has its own headquarters located in Jodhpur and Bhopal. Along with a large number of logistical and training facilities, as well as the seven states of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, the region of Central Command also includes 18 Regimental Centers.
The Army invited people from various areas of life, including high school and college students, cadets from the National Cadet Corps (NCC), and orphans. During the pre-event displays before the parade, there were approximately 8,000 spectators present. Shifting the parade outside is intended to boost visibility, stimulate a greater level of participation from citizens, and attract young people.
The report submitted to Lok Sabha by the government in December 2022 indicated that the three services as a whole were suffering from a shortfall of 1.35 lakh personnel, with 1.18 lakh vacancies existing in the Army alone.
Every year, there are roughly 60,000 open positions throughout all three military branches, of which approximately 50,000 are available in the Army alone. There is currently a shortage of 1,08,685 jawans in the Indian Army due to the COVID-19 issue, which led to the suspension of recruitment rallies over the past two years.
The government has put out a call for applicants for the role of Agniveers, which is anticipated to bring the deficit down, albeit not by a significant amount. When the government announced the new scheme in June 2022, it marked a major departure from the military’s decades-old recruitment system, which was discontinued when the new scheme was introduced. The Agnipath model is for the short-term induction of soldiers into the three services.
It is only intended to recruit soldiers for four years, with the provision that 25% of those soldiers will remain in regular service. The young people of India have a strong sense of patriotism, yet they are not interested in pursuing a career in the military. The government hopes to change this by introducing the Agniveer scheme.
They will be hired at a starting wage of Rs. 30,000. Additionally, the Agniveers will each make a monthly contribution to the PM Seva Nidhi, and the government will match that amount with a contribution of an equal or greater value. After the candidates have completed their four year service terms, they would be eligible to receive a one-time payment in the amount of Indian Rupees 10.4 Lakh. Over 600 volunteers from the Agniveers took part in the Mini Marathon that was held on January 14 at the Artillery Center in Hyderabad as part of the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Army Day.
Not just the parade, even the Aero India 2023, the country’s biennial aviation exhibition and air show, will take place from February 13-17, 2023, at the Air Force Station in Yelahanka, in Bengaluru. It will further boost the visibility of the Indian Armed Forces among the population in the south of India.
In addition to job opportunities in the armed forces, the government has also announced defence corridors in various states for defence production by private companies, which will offer jobs to the youth.
This is not the first time the armed forces have moved their traditional celebrations to other locations. The Indian Air Force moved its annual Air Force Day fly-past and parade from the Hindon air base near Delhi to the Chandigarh airport last year.
Author is a Bengaluru based Aerospace & Defence Analyst.
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