'Big fat' pay packets better than uniforms?

Published: 31 October, 2011 08:46 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon |

Citing low remuneration and a disciplined life, youth opt for higher paying jobs over army, leading to a massive staff crunch

Citing low remuneration and a disciplined life, youth opt for higher paying jobs over army, leading to a massive staff crunch 
Thanks to globalisation, GenY today has a wide array of careers to choose from, and is opting for lucrative career options. However, in doing so, they are neglecting the conventional ones. And the army is one such sector that losing out. According to a report, over 12,000 officers' posts are lying vacant in the armed forces. Retired army officials say that it's all due to the big fat 'salary packages'.

The crunch
The officers confirmed that currently, the army is facing a shortage of 12,349 officers against its sanctioned strength of 46,500. At present, the Indian Army is 1.3 million-strong. According to these officials, a shortfall of officers has been observed among the non-technical wings such as the infantry, artillery and armoured corps.

Commenting on this shortfall, a senior army official said, "The young blood today, is more ambitious and wants to grow in his/her profession faster without much physical strain, which is not the case in the armed forces. Today, MBAs earn much more at their entry levels, in comparison to an entry-level officer in the army (see box)."

"Besides, today's youth wants to enjoy their freedom and experiment with their life, which is not possible in a disciplined force. There is always an uncertainty in the armed forces of getting transferred from one place to another or being posted across the LOC. Thoughts about living in adverse situations also compel the young generation to stay away from the army," said a Pune-based high-ranking officer.

Here, a serving officer added, "Army is no more a coveted service. With globalisation, a lot of new areas have opened up and these new avenues are luring the youth."

Former war veteran Col S N Nikam said, "These days, only the children of army officers are keeping the tradition of joining the force alive, as the culture is embedded in their genes. GenY is not interested in maintaining strict discipline. They want to enjoy money and power at a tender age. Moreover, during our time, we had fewer options, and true love for our motherland compelled us to join the force and serve the nation, which is not the scene today."

Admitting that today's youth has a wide spectrum of careers to choose from, Defence Spokesperson Captain Manohar Nambiar, said, "We have our own tested system for selection and those who qualify on the basis of merit are also expected to clear the medical test before being short listed. Usually, large numbers of youths respond to our recruitment drive advertisements, but very few manage to clear the same."

Rajeev Dak, a senior level management staff, with a reputed corporate firm, said, "In the army or any government job, recession or economic condition of the market does not have an immediate impact. However, immediate effects are seen in the private sector, resulting in cost cutting of departments and even layoffs."  

Pay package (fresh MBA grad)
>> Annual pay: Rs 30 to 40 lakh per annum for toppers from A grade institutes (B grade: Rs 10 to Rs 15 lakh; C grade: Rs 8 to Rs 10 lakh; D grade: over Rs 4 lakh)

>> Recession: Highly susceptible (pay cut or laid off)

>> Perks: Conveyance, performance incentives,  reimbursements, etc.

>> Post-retirement benefits: Provident Fund

Pay package (entry-level officer)
>> Annual pay: Over Rs 4 lakh 
>> Recession: Minimal impact of economic meltdown on the profession
>> Perks: Massive discounts on travelling, essentials available at subsidised rates, medical facilities, amongst others
>> Post-retirement benefits: Pension

Recruitment drive
For the first time in 15 years, all the seats for both male and female officers in Indian Army's training institutions would be fully subscribed to help meet the shortfall.

This year, nearly 2,300 officers will be recruited at training academies, including the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun and Chennai. If the recruiting continues, then the Army would be able to meet the deficit in the next few years.

Moreover, on July 18, the Army started a new training academy at Gaya in Bihar, which has the capacity to train 700 officers a year.

Besides, all those candidates, who clear the Services Selection Board (SSB) process and are not getting through in the technical branches are being given the option of joining non-technical arms, which is working well, stated an officer.

No of officers' posts lying vacant in the armed forces

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