Fewer jobs for ex-servicemen despite quota

The job market is not exactly hot for ex-servicemen in the Other Ranks (ORs) and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs).

“Approx 60,000 personnel retire each year, however, only a small percentage transit to a viable second career befitting their several years of service and experience,” are the words used by the Indian Army on its website about the job prospects for its honourable discharged soldiers. Reservations and age-limit waiver have helped ex-servicemen form a large cadre of staff in banks, financial institutions, PSUs and Central Armed Police Forces. But the steps are clearly not enough.

As the debate over Agnipath recruitment scheme into the armed forces rages, the job prospects for ex-servicemen show the challenges the retired Agniveers will face. “There are plenty of job opportunities for ex-servicemen. However, a large number of them are in the security field. There are examples of ex-servicemen who have become top officials in other industries,” says Colonel P. Ramesh Kumar of Sainik Welfare.

He draws attention to the official network that cushions the exit of soldiers from the armed forces. “We have Directorate General Resettlement that takes care of rehabilitation of ex-servicemen in civilian life. We have reservations in various fields,” says Mr. Kumar. The DG Resettlement tracks the welfare of ex-servicemen. The apex body for the welfare of former soldiers is the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Ministry of Defence. The Kendriya Sainik Board, Rajya Sainik Board, and Zila Sainik Boards manage the resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen at various levels.

As on May 2022, the number of ex-servicemen working in RPF is 3060, in BSF the strength of ex-servicemen is 1186 out of 228201 or about .52%. In the banking sector, 9.10% of the staff is ex-servicemen in the Group C cadre and 21.34% in the Group D cadre. While 21.34% might appear like a large percentage, the number of ex-servicemen is 22,839. In the Public Sector Undertakings, the ex-servicemen hold 4.67 of Group B jobs, 1.15% of Group C and .30% of Group D jobs.

It is tough going for ex-servicemen who don’t secure a permanent job within a few years of exit from the forces. They have only the security field open to them. “The salary ranges between Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 40,000 depending on the generosity of the security firm. If an ex-serviceman has a weapon’s license, then he can expect a starting salary higher than Rs. 40,000,” says A.V. Rao, a retired soldier who now works as a security in-charge at an office. The security staffing firms and their intake has increased over the past few years in urban areas.

“The scenario was different 20 years back. Now, the opportunities for ex-servicemen have increased. Many of them have become executives in banking firms. Some have become judges,” says K. Jaganatham, who retired from IAF after 38-year service and is the general secretary of National Ex-Servicemen Coordination Committee (Telangana State).

Ex-servicemen get identity cards under as ex-servicemen (officers), ex-servicemen (PBOR), War Widows, war-disabled, and widows of ex-servicemen. These identity cards open a number of avenues for rehabilitation into civilian life. However, according to the notification issued for Agniveers they “will not be eligible for any kind of pension or gratuity, neither will they be eligible for Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), Canteen Stores Department (CSD) facilities, Ex Serviceman status and other related benefits.”

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 3:07:17 am |