Indian Army

Army’s Tour of Duty ill-conceived. Neo-nationalism will only create political militias

The leaked excerpts from an internal study of the Army advocating the concept of three-year Tour of Duty is yet another reminder that the military hierarchy revels in using media to make politically loaded statements and as a sounding board for its ‘hunch and gut’ ideas, often in complete disregard of the repository of knowledge available. Most of these ideas come to a nought after detailed examination.

The Tour of Duty proposal, which aims to reduce the burden of defence pensions and make up for the shortage of officers in the Army, is more in tune with the current Right-wing flavour of the nation and carries political undertones. “Unemployment in our country is a reality, however there is a resurgence of nationalism and patriotism,” reads the proposal.

It should be clear to the discerning reader that the Tour of Duty is a poorly conceived scheme, which falls short of both individual and organisational needs. Internal surveys of the armed forces over the years have indicated that patriotism is not the main motivation for joining it. A stable, well-paid job is. Since the Israel model of three-year military service is a favourite of the right wing, it is pertinent to mention that it is conscripted mandatory national service and not driven by patriotism per se. To even think of neo-nationalism as a motivator is most dangerous. We will only end up creating potential political militias.

Also, the Tour of Duty should be for a minimum of five years to enable the individuals to earn gratuity as per government policy. It should be covered by the National Pension Scheme and 50 per cent intake should be based on this. The Narendra Modi government should make the scheme as attractive as its finances allow and through preferential treatment in all spheres of government activity post-retirement. The terms and conditions should be very clear and withstand judicial scrutiny. Here’s why it’s important.

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