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Over half of Army personnel under severe stress: study

Representational Image | Prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI/CT) environment has been one of the contributory factors for increased stress levels, the study noted.

Representational Image | Prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI/CT) environment has been one of the contributory factors for increased stress levels, the study noted. | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

More than half of Indian Army personnel seem to be under severe stress and the Army has been losing more personnel every year due to suicides, fratricides and untoward incidents than in response to any enemy or terrorist activities, according to the findings of a study by United Service Institution of India (USI), a Service think tank.

“There has been a significant increase in stress levels amongst Indian Army personnel during approximately last two decades due to operational and non-operational stressors,” one of the findings says. “Prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI/CT) environment has been one of the contributory factors for increased stress levels,” the study notes.

The research was undertaken during 2019-20 by Col. AK Mor, Senior Research Fellow at the USI, and presented at a webinar titled “Prevailing Stress Levels in Indian Army due to Prolonged Exposure to Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism environment”, organised in October 2020 and uploaded on the website on December 07 last.

Non-operational stressors

While operational stressors are well understood and accepted by Army personnel, the study says that non-operational stressors that add on “have compounding adverse effects on health and combat efficiency of soldiers and thus affecting their respective units too.”

In this regard, officers experience comparatively much higher cumulative stress levels, compared to the Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks (OR) and the stress causative factors are also different.

The study observes that the overall job satisfaction and pride in uniform remains high amongst JCOs and ORs. “It seems to be a growing matter of concern amongst Officers, requiring urgent interventions from the highest levels of Government,” it says.

“Despite harsh and challenging service conditions, Indian Army personnel remain highly motivated to serve in CI/ CT areas voluntarily... However, the Officers lack a similar level of trust, faith and confidence in their leadership that JCOs and ORs demonstrate,” it states.

Management measures

The study highlights that various management measures implemented by the Army and Defence Ministry in the last 15 years have not been able to achieve the desired results. “Units and sub-units under stress are likely to witness an increased number of incidents of indiscipline, unsatisfactory state of training, inadequate maintenance of equipment and low morale, motivation and esprit-de-corps, thereby, adversely affecting their combat preparedness and operational performance,” it says.

Calling for an institutionalised approach, the study recommends that stress prevention and management should be treated “as a leadership role at Unit and Formation level.”

Some of the major organisational causes of stress amongst officers, according to the study, include “inadequacies in the quality of leadership, overburdened commitments, inadequate resources, frequent dislocations, lack of fairness and transparency in postings and promotions, downgradation in pay and status, inadequate promotional avenues, lack of motivation amongst juniors, non-grant of leave, indifferent attitude of civilian officials and short command tenures.”

For JCOs and ORs, some of the perceived organisational stressors include “delay and denial of leave, excessive engagements, domestic problems, humiliation by seniors, lack of dignity, unreasonable restrictions on use of mobiles, lack of recreational facilities, conflict with seniors as well as subordinates, health problems, the inadequacy of train reservation, inefficient administrative support, financial problems, lack of transparency in promotions, non-adherence to unit tarteebs , delay in crediting of financial claims and poor quality of rations as well as cooked food.”


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Printable version | Feb 13, 2022 7:32:24 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/over-half-of-army-personnel-under-severe-stress-study/article33528310.ece