Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Pronged Resettlement Strategy for the Ex Servicemen

Transcripts of the Interview
Col P N Khera, Editor-in-Chief Asia Defence News: Resettlementof ex-Servicemen who retire at a very young age, is a major HRD problem being faced by the Indian Army. What steps are being taken for empowerment of ex- Servicemen in educational and vocational fields to lead a respectable life after retirement?
Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, Adjutant General: The Service personnel, especially JCOs /OR retire between 35 to 45 years of age depending on the rank at which they retire. At this stage, a soldier is confronted with numerous domestic liabilities and commitments. The pension of the solders is not enough to meet his basic requirements and hence, he has to take up a second career to sustain himself and his family. With the land holdings reducing steadily, agriculture which was hithertofore an option with most veterans, is not viable any more. The retired soldier is thus forced to seek an avenue in the civil stream, commensurate with his status and needs. Although, the Army has vast reserves of trained, physically fit and disciplined manpower, they lack the skills which the environment seeks. Close to 50,000 trained soldiers retire every year, majority of whom can be gainfully employed in the industry, if they are provided some vocational skills. The vocational training and widelyacceptable certification will make these disciplined soldiers eligible to seek second employment, which they need to meet their domestic commitments after retirement from Service. We have embarked on a two- pronged strategy, which involves, firstly; to recognize the institutionalised training that a soldier undergoes in his Service by awarding a university degree and secondly; to provide Vocational Training though a network of Vocational Training Centres which are being set up in collaboration with various industries. An Army Welfare Placement Organisation has been established that not only provides second career option to retiring and retired Army personnel but to Veer Naris and disabled soldiers also. It has pan-India presence through its network of 13 placement nodes and 48 placement cells.
PNK: What are the major projects taken up for empowerment of Army personnel to ensure them a secure life after farewell to arms?
AG: Empowerment initiative of our soldiers called Samarth, is a major step undertaken by the Indian Army. Under this project we have three broad categories of programmes.
Gyandeep: Gyandeep is an initiative to empower our soldiers by according recognition to the ‘in service’ training done by soldiers and make them eligible for award of Certificate/Diploma/Associate Degree through Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Subsequently, Associate Degree holders can get degrees like BA, B.Com, B.Sc and BTS from IGNOU by clearing elective subjects as per IGNOU curriculum in the third year of the degree course. On the similar lines, an officer can get regular MBA degree. So far 2,30,000 soldiers have registered for Associate Degree with IGNOU.
Kshamta: Kshamta aims at enhancing the capabilities of our JCOs/OR by imparting them two set of skills viz IT or Digital Literacy andSpoken English and Soft Skills. In this regard an MoU has been signed between Army and Microsoft Corporation (India) Private Limited. First round of Kshamta for training of Master Trainers has been completed successfully at all our Regiment Training Centres and we have so far trained around 3000 Master Trainers, who will further train the soldiers in their respective units/centres.
Kaushal: The unique concept of setting up Vocational Training Centres (VTC) at selected Regiment Training Centres/Defence establishments in collaboration with various Public/PrivateSector industries with an aim to impart vocational skills to the soldiers before their retirement and to empower and enhance their scope of securing an assured career post retirement. So far we have set up VTC for IT and Mobility Equipment repair for the disabled.
Higher Studies Programme: This programme involves selected Army officers undergoing full Post Graduate and Research Programme in various fields like Basic Sciences, Engineering, Social Studies, Strategic Affairs, South Asian Studies and MBA. The aim is to allow selected officers to attend courses in universities and institutions with a collaborative agreement and facilitate their placement /employment. We have signed MoU with IGNOU for MBA, with Pondicherry University for varied subjects and with BITS, Pilani for Technology related subjects. All thismhas happened in the last one year and the efforts of the Vice Chancellors concerned is laudable. Prof Rajasekharan Pillai of IGNOU is actively helping us identify other areas of cooperation.

Col P N Khera, Editor-in-Chief Asia Defence News interviews Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, Adjutant General

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