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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (January 2019)

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India’s largest armed force, and the one that conjures up the maximum brownie points, is making news about its structural studies, as well as solutions being thrown up for the related problems. Indian Army has seen a number of assessments through various committees that have analysed its structures and cadres while recommending remedial steps. Over the years, many reports have been made available that seek to redress the internal manpower management shortcomings. Each report seeks to address the issue from a new perspective, offer new solutions, whether it is in terms of a cadre review, or, a structural assessment.

The problems, however, persist despite much analysis made over the years. Simply because none of the reports care to address the basic issue, major reason being military bureaucracy is more difficult to change than its civilian counterparts. When the military bureaucracy is itself reluctant and resistant to change, getting it to implement well intentioned review reports is a tall order, to say the least. This is not to say that there is something rotten in the system, far from it. The army remains one of India’s most outstanding institutions, largely untainted by the prevailing national malaise affecting everything else.

All militaries are an extension of their national cultures and ethos. They have to be since the same society that supports and sustains them also provides the legs on which the nation moves. So, it is worth analysing the role of society and its cultural impact on the army when it comes to assessing the outcome of all those remedial reports made over the years. And, the same applies to understanding the importance of a policy and clear concept for an effective Reserve system for the army. After all, every report that has been generated over decades has been motivated by budgeting efficiency.

It is a proven fact across world militaries that a well constituted and efficient reserve system is the most important component of good budgeting. In some countries, it has been deployed to such an extent that reserve officers fly combat missions on top of the line fighter aircraft and then return to their daily civilian life on disembodiment. The same holds true for some manning posts on naval combat vessels or tanks in the case of others. All it takes is a national will, ethos, spirit, and the political gumption to put the system in place.

In India’s case all of the ingredients were in place way back in 1948 when late C Rajagopalachari pushed for raising the Territorial Army, with the same motivation that is in place in most of the developed world. Over a period of time, the concept was to include the other two services as well but nothing much happened. And, nothing can happen unless the prevailing national culture encourages it; particularly when it comes to the corporate and government sectors. Both have to be in tandem in order for this concept and policy to gain traction. The benefits are being enjoyed by many militaries worldwide, so there is no logic for India to deny itself the same. It does so at its own costs which are very heavy. Hence, the repeated cycle of new committees producing the same reports.


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