Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Army’s officer intake hits new low

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
By Saurabh Joshi

The number of officers being commissioned by the Indian Army annually has fallen for the second consecutive year.

Figures revealed to StratPost indicate that the army commissioned 1374 officers in 2009. While in earlier years, the army has ordinarily commissioned some 1750 officers every year, which is also below par by 250, the intake fell sharply in 2008 to 1506 and has continued its slide in 2009.

Significantly, 2008 also saw a substantial deficit in the annual net intake of officers, with the number of officers being commissioned falling far lower than the number of officers leaving the service due to superannuation, premature retirement or resignation. While in 2004 and ‘05, the army saw a net gain of some 400 officers each year, this number dropped to a little less than 200 in 2006, to a figure of -22 in ‘07 and more steeply to -294 in ‘08.

This is the result of a steep drop in the number of officers commissioned in 2008 from previous years and a concurrent, gradual and continuing increase in the number of officers leaving the service. The number of officers leaving the service annually increased from a little over 1300 in 2004 to 1800 in 2008.

While 2009 did see a net gain of 83 officers, in actual terms, worryingly, the number of officers being commissioned in comparison to earlier years has continued its fall, in spite of the circumstances of the economic recession as well as the enticements of the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. The army has also taken measures in the past to increase recruitment, like easing benchmarks for recruitment and allowing a ten to fifteen per cent over-subscription of the capacity of the military academies in accordance with operational imperatives.

Also, although the number of applications for premature retirement and resignations fell in 2009, largely due to the recession and the recent pay hikes, the army has further tried to stem the flow of officers out of the army by curtailing approvals of such applications. While around 57 per cent of the applications for premature retirement were approved in 2006, the figure fell to around 36 per cent in 2009. Similarly, while almost 50 per cent of resignations were approved in 2006, only 18.6 per cent were permitted in 2009.

Although the second Officers Training Academy (OTA) coming up at Gaya with a likely capacity of around 700, may contribute to beefing up the army’s officer intake, sources in the army say it will take up to 2014 to be established and may be too late for urgent action to be implemented to bolster the strength of the officer intake, especially since existing academies are already running below capacity.

These figures are likely to worsen the shortage of some 11,500 officers in the 1.2 million-strong army that has a sanctioned officer-strength of over 46,000 officers.
Army’s officer intake hits new low

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