The selection procedure for the officers is more stringent in terms of a written test and psychological evaluation at the Services Selection Board (SSB).
By Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd)
The recent announcement by the Government of India to induct civilians into the Indian Army for three-year tenure is probably to fill in the deficiencies at all ranks. While it may augment the depleted manpower, there are questions that need to be answered. The Indian Army has time tested procedures for recruitment of Other Ranks, in certain cases Junior Commissioned Officers as Religious Teachers and the Army Education Corps and Officers through NDA, IMA and OTA. The training period varies from forty-four weeks for men to four years for an officer passing out from IMA through NDA.
The selection procedure for the officers is more stringent in terms of a written test and psychological evaluation at the Services Selection Board (SSB). Many critics have commented on the procedures of the SSB as archaic and not conforming to the best Human Resources practices being followed by Multi-National Companies. The proof of the pudding lies in its eating. Over the years and even this day the selection procedure has stood the test of time in many operations that the Army has been involved in whether conventional operations, counter-insurgency/counter-terror operations or humanitarian aid to civil authorities or representing the country at International Sports events, the Indian Army has done it with élan and has always made the Nation proud. To add on here the Special Action Group (SAG) of the National Security Guard (NSG) and the Assam Rifles (AR) is led by the officers of the Indian Army, which is a force under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It needs to be amplified that the DG NSG is normally an IPS and other groups within the NSG has volunteers from the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
The front line units of the Indian Army are cohesive, honed fighting machines with years of camaraderie built over the years from the training academies to the present day. The training philosophy is “The more you sweat in peace, less you bleed in War”. The characteristics of each man and of the officer is known and the commanding officers know; the weakest link in the chain if any.
Para dropping of a select few in the ranks of the army is a step to the dilution of a strong cohesive combat force. A new inductee may be professionally very strong, but he/she must be able to pull his weight in a given situation.
Some of the Western Army’s follow this short term induction, but their performance vis-à-vis ours is miles apart. The youth may think its “fun and games” the lure of the Services Life seems a very green pasture but then it’s nurtured with a lot of sweat and blood. An internal survey from the units of the Indian Army needs to be done before this policy is implemented.
The route of the Territorial Army is an option for this recruitment, which is a support to the combat units in guarding of vulnerable areas/points thus releasing troops for their primary tasks.
To sum up, a young officer/soldier inducted in a unit is put through professional training in particular to the arms/service before he/she is qualified to lead the best troops of the world in combat or any other exigencies of service. It’s “Fauj not Mauj” the mandarins of South Block need to think through this one.
(The author is Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal.)