National

Army proposes 3-year stint for civilians

Representational image

Representational image   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

Proposal meant to reduce financial burden on Army and free funds for its modernisation

In a first of its kind proposal. the Army plans to take civilians on a three- year ‘Tour of Duty’ (ToD) or ‘three-year short service’ on a trial basis to serve in the force as both officers and other ranks initially for a limited number of vacancies and then expanded later.

This is expected to result in significant reduction in pay and pensions and free up funds for the Army’s modernisation.

“The proposal is under consideration. If approved, it will be voluntary and there will be no dilution of criteria in selection,” Army sources said.

The overall purpose of the ToD concept is ‘internship/temporary experience’ and so there will be no requirement of attractive severance packages, resettlement courses, professional encashment training leave, ex-Servicemen status, ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) for the ToD officers and other ranks.

Analysing the cost of training incurred on each personnel compared to the limited employment of the manpower for three years, the proposal calculates that it will indeed have a positive benefit. It states that the cumulative approximate cost of pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, proposed severance packages, leave encasement and other costs is nearly ₹5.12 crore and ₹6.83 crore respectively on a Short Service Commission (SSC) officer if he or she is released from Service after 10 and 14 years. The overall cost goes up even further as 50-60% of the SSC officers opt for Permanent Commission and continue in Service till 54 years and thereafter get pension benefits. “Similar costs for those released after a three-year ToD is just ₹80-85 lakh,” it states.

Similarly, estimates for a jawan with 17 years of service as compared to a ToD jawan with three years service shows that the prospective lifetime savings of just one jawan is ₹11.5 crore. “Thus, savings for only 1000 jawans could be ₹11,000 crore, which could be used for the much needed modernisation of the Army,” the proposal states.

Advantages

Highlighting the advantages of this scheme, the sources said this scheme was for those who did not want a full career in the Army but still wanted to put on the uniform. Individuals who opted for ToD would get a much higher salary than their peers on an average who started a career in the corporate sector and would also have an edge after leaving the Service and going to the corporate sector. The Army hoped that this would attract individuals from the best colleges, including the Indian Institute of Technology.

The proposal states that as per an initial survey, corporates favour individuals who have been trained by the military at 26 or 27 years of age after ToD. The proposal suggests several measures to incentivise this scheme like a tax-free income for three years and a token lumpsum at the end of three years of about ₹5-6 lakh for officers and ₹2-3 lakh for ORs.

The Army’s pay and pension bill has been increasingly steeply over the years, accounting for 60% of its budget allocation. In the last five years, though the growth in the defence budget has been 68%, and for defence salaries 75%, defence pensions have increased by a staggering 146%.

The proposal adds that in addition “the nation and the corporates are likely to benefit from a trained, disciplined confident, diligent and committed men and women who have completed the ToD.”

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 9:11:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/army-proposes-3-year-stint-for-civilians/article31575718.ece

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