Economic Downturn: Harvesting Time for the Services
The first half of the 21st century has taken the world by a storm. The corporate world is often hit and hit severely. Receiving pink slips or being put on the bench has become so common nowadays. The recession for instance symbolized an identical situation of the 1970s and early part of the 1980s in India when choice for employment was few and Government jobs attracted multitudes. The present economic crisis is also a grim rejoinder of how social responsibility is conveniently put on the shelves. The corporate sadly does very little to rehabilitate the unemployed who make the exodus. The financial meltdown often makes survival difficult and in the process a talented work force is being lost forever.
The forces should salvage its lost pride by showcasing the quality of life that the services have to offer and finally pen down the message that ‘We Care’.
It would be appropriate under the circumstances to study how the Services are faring in comparison to their civilian counterpart. The serving soldiers’ expectations have been largely met by announcement of the 6th Pay Commission report. The men and women in uniform have
reasons to cheer, they have been given their long awaited dues and both the military leadership and the Government deserve kudos for championing the warrior clan legitimate aspirations.
The financial meltdown is perhaps the most opportune moment for the military leadership to attract talent in the Officers cadre and make up its deficit of 13000 officers and as reported in The Hindu dated December 10, 2012.
The global crisis has made the young generation in India largely despondent, uncertainty looms large and hence the right atmosphere has been created for the military to pitch in. There was a time not long ago when everyone held the soldier as a gentleman. To receive a commission in the Indian Armed Forces was regarded as one of the highest honours that could be conferred on a citizen. The forces should salvage its lost pride by showcasing the quality of life that the services have to offer and finally pen down the message that ‘We Care’.
Military spokesman need to adopt a more aggressive image projection policy by liaising with the Government to incorporate the learning lessons of 1962, 1965, 1971 wars and Kargil conflicts as an essential part of school curriculum. Study of contemporary history would then serve meaningful purpose and this will also help to generate greater awareness amongst the student community to be strategically awake to thwart communal forces that prove detrimental to national security. With due reverence, the Mughal emperors can still continue to dominate the annals of history but it is high time that our war heroes are felicitated and are given their rightful due. The sacrifices of people like Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and many others should not go unrewarded, unhonoured, and unsung.
The benign human and soothing touch makes the Indian Armed Forces one of the finest institutions in this world. It is now time for the services to plan strategically such that the tide of recruitment can be garnered to this advantage.
Aggressive image projection can be done with the help of ‘Marketing Strategy’. It should begin by targeting the young during the formative period of their life. Coining the term ‘Marketing’ for inducing the young to join the forces would be appropriate here because the 4 P’s or the pillars of Marketing (as proposed by McCarthy) i.e. Product, Price, Place and Promotion, should be employed in the Services too. The Product is the golden opportunity to serve the Nation for one’s entire lifetime. Price is the compensation both monetary and non-monetary for the service rendered. Place is the geographical coverage to pool talent by disseminating information. Finally Promotion is the effort to communicate and inform people about the benefits that would accrue once they become a part of such a glorious Institution. The Armed Forces websites, advertisements through media, NCC, visits to schools and colleges and campus interviews are the strategies that are being presently employed to market the services as a Product. The methods though appropriate only yield short term benefits, thus necessitating a need to view marketing from a larger perspective by appealing to the time tested ideals namely Honour, Prestige and Pride in uniform. The services are known for its limited use of Television for marketing. Defence publicity is restricted to a few advertisements which can be utilized to more fruitful purpose. It is time that the Services have their own channel which can be used exclusively for telecasting the life style of a combatant. The services also need to form alliances with prestigious B schools such that faculty and student interaction programme can be get the desired visibility to create a win win situation. The Promotional campaigns initiated in schools and colleges can become the long term measures for achieving strong conversion ratios.
Apart from the 4 P’s the 5th and the most relevant P is People. Since, Services are intangible and are rendered by People so People play a significant role in Services too. In order to entice more and more People, the Services should promote its rich tradition and culture and the lives of the Martyrs. Apart from highlighting their struggle to vanquish the enemies; the laurels and respect the service personnel earn need to be depicted. Since, the services foresee a competition from the corporate it must leverage its stronghold by depicting the quality of life its personnel enjoy and bring to the fore the associated monetary and fringe benefits admissible to its members while serving, or on retirement and to families even after death. How many civilians for example are aware that the period of hospitalization for service personnel is construed to be on duty? Free medical facilities for self, spouse and dependents are some of the benefits that every service personnel enjoy.
The spirit of adventure, the opportunity to visit foreign lands, the thrill of leading from the front are some of unique features of the services which needs to be conveyed by branding the services as a product.
We all know that the services provide a wonderful social platform of social interaction and it tends to become ‘a home away from home’. The benign human and soothing touch makes the Indian Armed Forces one of the finest institutions in this world. It is now time for the services to plan strategically such that the tide of recruitment can be garnered to this advantage. The nation will do well if its young generation can be motivated and inspired to join the services.