Soldiers in non-combat branches to get 2 additional service years
Soldiers recruited to non-combat branches of the Indian Army will be eligible for two more years of service, a move aimed at retaining skilled personnel for a longer duration, reduce pressure on training institutions and pare the army’s pension bill.
The government has “in-principle” cleared a proposal to offer an additional two years of service to such personnel, which will eventually be expanded to cover other army wings, a senior official who did not want to be named said.
Soldiers working with the Army Medical Corps as nursing and medical attendants, drivers attached to various wings of the army, those recruited as clerks and so on will be among the immediate beneficiaries of the move.
In addition, the government has cleared promotion of army jawans to the next rank – Naik - after seven years provided they clear a promotion board, putting them on par with counterparts in the navy and air force. “This will lead to quicker promotion and reduce the age profile of the men in the Indian Army,” a senior army official said. The quicker promotion will benefit several hundreds of thousands of soldiers
Typically, soldiers join the Indian army at the age of 17 years. A majority of them go home at the age of 37 -38. After serving 15 years in the army, a soldiers becomes eligible for a pension.
Under the proposal, after 15 years, an army jawan can opt for an additional two years of service, which would be cleared by the unit he is attached to, meaning that he becomes eligible for a pension after that much longer Some 100,000 soldiers are likely to benefit.
In addition, the Indian army is considering increasing the service span of all jawans in other branches, including combat units, to about 58 years as well, a second senior official said. “The seven Commands of the Indian Army has been asked for their views on increasing the service life of jawans in other wings including combat arms, too,” a second senior official said.
“On average, the Indian army spends three-five years to train a jawan to handle complicated medical procedures before they are deployed in medical units. They get hired by established medical chains as soon as hey leave the military. Increasing the years of service will lead to retaining trained manpower and retaining talent within the organization,” a third senior official who did not want to be named said.
In addition to retaining skilled personnel, lengthening the duration of service will also reduce pressure on training institutions of the army and will help the Indian military cut down its revenue expenditure.
“The burgeoning pension budget of the Indian Army will be arrested to some extent,” a senior Indian army officer who did not want to be named said and added, “increasing the service life of the soldier was conceived by the Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat.”
Importantly, besides retaining talent and cutting down pension bills, “the chief also feels sending jawans home in their late 30s was devised and was suitable for yesteryears when the average life span was shorter,” a second senior Indian Army officer who is aware of the details said.
“It is a welcome move and it is the larger interest of the organization. Our tradesmen, for instance, the nursing staff, clerks etc are extremely well trained,” said lieutenant general Jaswant Sandhu (retd.), who commanded the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps and was also the military secretary of the Indian Army
“There is a benefit to the army as an organization. Retaining a trained workforce and talent reduces cost. Importantly, an additional two years won’t also affect the individual who wants to leave the military for a better opportunity,” Sandhu added.