Monday, March 7, 2011

OTA Gaya meandering through MoD's bureaucratic labyrinths

Year later, Gaya OTA plan yet to take off
Rajat Pandit, TNN Mar 6, 2011, 03.21am IST

NEW DELHI: Faced with a crippling shortage of officers in Army, the UPA government in its first avatar initiated the project to establish a second Officers Training Academy (OTA) at Gaya in Bihar. The Cabinet Committee on Security of UPA-II then formally approved the project with much fanfare in December 2009.

But the Gaya OTA, on the lines of the existing one in Chennai, is yet to take off. This when the 1.13-million strong Army is currently grappling with a shortage of 12,510 officers in its "sanctioned strength'' of 47,864.

The defence ministry seems to be sleeping over the new OTA project, with even the "government sanction letter'' yet to be issued for it. "The letter is needed to commence implementation of the project. For instance, the recruitment of the around 200 civilian personnel needed for the OTA cannot be done without it,'' said a source.

Similarly, the long-standing proposal to create a couple of additional Services Selection Boards (SSBs), which conduct interviews and psychological evaluation of candidates keen to join the armed forces as officers, is still meandering through MoD's bureaucratic labyrinths.

It's not as if the Gaya OTA will require major funds or infrastructure build-up. The OTA will be housed in the existing premises of Army Service Corps Centre (North), which is being moved to Bangalore.

With a proposed capacity to eventually train 750 "gentlemen cadets'' per year, the OTA will require Rs 364 crore as non-recurring expenditure and Rs 44.75 crore as annual recurring expenditure.

The Gaya OTA will initially train around 150 short-service commission (SSC) officers per year, which will supplement the 600 SSC officers who pass out of the Chennai OTA. Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun, in turn, trains around 1,000 permanent commission (PC) officers per year.

IMA gets its cadets from the tri-Service National Defence Academy at Kadakvasla, open to youngsters after class XII, as also through `direct entry' for college graduates. The OTA, in turn, is open to college graduates only.

Armed forces want to gradually move towards substantially increasing the number of SSC officers in their ranks as part of force-restructuring to maintain a youthful profile. The eventual plan is to have a 1:2 ratio for PC to SSC officers.

But while salaries have gone up after the 6th Pay Commission, the services are still finding it difficult to attract youngsters with adequate 'officer-like qualities'. The perceived high degree of risk in a service career, poor promotional avenues and frequent transfers which disrupt family life are the main factors behind this.
Year later, Gaya OTA plan yet to take off

Present Shortage
The extent of shortage of officers is around 12,349 in the Army, 1,818 in the Navy and 837 in the Air Force. The shortage of Pilots in Air Force is about 426.

Comment: Bureaucrats perception that SCPC- post 2006 Pay Scales- will attract hordes of students and graduates to OTA, NDA, IMA and other Military Training Establishments has proved otherwise and a lie. In fact the present pay scales is a dampener to the already top heavy Military (thanks to Phase-II of Ajai Vikram Singh Committee Report Implementation). Compounded to this is the gradual degrading of Rank and and Honour. Therefore, infusing the right kind of new and young blood to the Armed Forces is becoming a distant dream. The Politicians have been blinded to the reality and are misguided by sycophants in the MoD and the Military!

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