Military & Aerospace

Does India Need Compulsory Military Training
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 05 Apr , 2016

Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names. The modern system of near-universal national conscription for young men dates to the French Revolution in the 1790s, where it became the basis of a very large and powerful military. Most European nations later copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve 1–3 years on active duty and then transfer to the reserve force.

Most European nations later copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve 1–3 years on active duty and then transfer to the reserve force.

In China, the State of Qin instituted universal military service following the registration of every household. This allowed huge armies to be levied, and was instrumental in the creation of the Qin Empire that conquered the whole of China in 221BC.

Conscription is controversial for a range of reasons, including conscientious objection to military engagements on religious or philosophical grounds; political objection, for example to service for a disliked government or unpopular war; and ideological objection, for example, to a perceived violation of individual rights. Those conscripted may evade service, sometimes by leaving the country. Some selection systems accommodate these attitudes by providing alternative service outside combat-operations roles or even outside the military, such as Zivildienst (civil service) in Austria and Switzerland. Most post-Soviet countries conscript soldiers not only for Armed Forces but also for paramilitary organizations which are dedicated to police-like domestic only service (Internal Troops) or non-combat rescue duties (Civil Defence Troops) – none of which is considered alternative to the military conscription.

As of the early 21st century, many states no longer conscript soldiers, relying instead upon professional militaries with volunteers enlisted to meet the demand for troops. The ability to rely on such an arrangement, however, presupposes some degree of predictability with regard to both war-fighting requirements and the scope of hostilities. Many states that have abolished conscription therefore still reserve the power to resume it during wartime or times of crisis.

Historically, the vast majority of conscription measures involve male-only participation. Even today, most countries mandating conscription only do so for males. Men who opt out of military service must often perform alternative service, such as Zivildienst in Austria and Switzerland, whereas women do not have even these obligations.

Nominally gender-equal societies such as Finland and Denmark also employ male-only conscription, as have the Netherlands and Sweden in contemporary times. The onerous time and other commitments involved with conscription, spanning two years in many cases, raises serious questions about the fairness of such programs and how they fit in with expectations of equal treatment irrespective of sex.

The onerous time and other commitments involved with conscription, spanning two years in many cases, raises serious questions about the fairness of such programs and how they fit in with expectations of equal treatment irrespective of sex.

While women, almost always exempt from conscription, are free to pursue work, study and other activities, men’s early career and life prospects can be impeded by conscription.

American libertarians oppose conscription and call for the abolition of the Selective Service System, believing that impressments of individuals into the armed forces is involuntary servitude. Ron Paul, a former leader of the Libertarian Party has said, “Conscription is wrongly associated with patriotism, when it really represents slavery and involuntary servitude.” The philosopher Ayn Rand opposed it because “Of all the statist violations of individual rights in a mixed economy, the military draft is the worst. It is an abrogation of rights. It negates man’s fundamental right—the right to life—and establishes the fundamental principle of statism: that a man’s life belongs to the state, and the state may claim it by compelling him to sacrifice it in battle.”

In 1917, a number of radicals and anarchists, including Emma Goldman, challenged the new draft law in federal court arguing that it was a direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude. However, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the draft act in the case of Arver v. United States on January 7, 1918. The decision said the Constitution gave Congress the power to declare war and to raise and support armies. The Court emphasized the principle of the reciprocal rights and duties of citizens:

“It may not be doubted that the very conception of a just government in its duty to the citizen includes the reciprocal obligation of the citizen to render military service in case of need and the right to compel.”

It can be argued that in a cost-to-benefit ratio, conscription during peace time is not worthwhile. Months or years of service amongst the most fit and capable subtracts from the productivity of the economy; add to this the cost of training them, and paying them. Compared to these extensive costs, some would argue there is very little benefit; if there ever was a war then conscription and basic training could be completed quickly, and in any case there is little threat of a war in most countries with conscription. In the United States, every male resident must register with the Selective Service System on his 18th birthday and is available for a draft.

William James, consider both mandatory military and national service as ways of instilling maturity in young adults.

The cost of conscription can be related to the parable of the broken window. The cost of the work, military service, does not disappear even if token salary is paid. The work effort of the conscripts is effectively wasted, as an unwilling workforce is extremely inefficient. The impact is especially severe in wartime, when civilian professionals are forced to fight as amateur soldiers. Not only is the work effort of the conscripts wasted and productivity lost, but professionally skilled conscripts are also difficult to replace in the civilian workforce. Every soldier conscripted in the army is taken away from his civilian work, and away from contributing to the economy which funds the military. This is not a problem in an agrarian or pre-industrialized state where the level of education is universally low, and where a worker is easily replaced by another. However, this proves extremely problematic in a post-industrial society where educational levels are high and where the workforce is highly sophisticated and a replacement for a conscripted specialist is difficult to find. Even direr economic consequences result if the professional conscripted as an amateur soldier is killed or maimed for life; his work effort and productivity is irrevocably lost.

Jean Jacques Rousseau argued vehemently against professional armies, feeling it was the right and privilege of every citizen to participate to the defense of the whole society and a mark of moral decline to leave this business to professionals. He based this view on the development of the Roman republic, which came to an end at the same time as the Roman army changed from a conscript to professional force. Similarly, Aristotle linked the division of armed service among the populace intimately with the political order of the state. Niccolò Machiavelli argued strongly for conscription, seeing the professional armies as the cause of the failure of societal unity in Italy.

Other proponents, such as William James, consider both mandatory military and national service as ways of instilling maturity in young adults. Some proponents, such as Jonathan Alter and Mickey Kaus, support a draft in order to reinforce social equality, create social consciousness, break down class divisions and for young adults to immerse themselves in public enterprise.

Israel and Switzerland have compulsory military service. So can we implement something like this in India?

It is estimated by the British military that in a professional military, a company deployed for active duty in peacekeeping corresponds to three inactive companies at home. Salaries for each are paid from the military budget. In contrast, volunteers from a trained reserve are in their civilian jobs when they are not deployed. John Palmer: Military conscription isn’t dead yet

In June of 1973, the last man to be subject to military conscription was drafted. Previous to this time men of all social classes could be drafted into the armed services; were put, usually against their will, into uniform, and were sent to Vietnam to kill people in their own homeland, or to support those who did the killing.

The war in Vietnam itself does not, of course, seem foreign to modern sensibilities because it parallels the recent pointless war in Iraq. Neither Vietnamese nor Iraqis had ever attacked Americans but in both cases they invaded and attacked them. No, it is not (alas!) the war itself that seems incredible, it is the fact that the soldier-killers on US side were in some sense, enslaved (forced) to do the job.

Because they do not like to remember these events in their actual, raw form have deceived themselves by building a myth that their fighters were “defending freedom in America (and, by extension, in the world).” And now, since they have apparently given up the draft, they tell that this defense is carried out by an “all volunteer army.”

But how many readers know how many of these “volunteers” are not able to serve a full enlistment term? (Answer: about one-third of them) And how many readers are familiar with the term “stop loss” — a phrase which implies that involuntary servitude — even now — has not yet really been abolished? How many remember that early in the Vietnam conflict it was mostly professionals who died? (In 1965, 16 percent of battle deaths were draftees, but later on it was mostly hapless amateurs. In 1969, 62 percent of battle deaths were draftees.)

It is fair to say that the end of the draft in 1973 was indeed a step forward. But, that said, the current situation is still onerous, unjust and inefficient. The motive of most of  military volunteers has more to do with economic necessity than with love of country — and, once they are in, many can’t make it and those that can make it might be held in longer than their contracted time..

Compulsory military service can give person a sense of discipline and patriotism.

One hundred and fifty years ago slavery was ended in the United States; this was indeed a great humanitarian step forward and will never be reversed. Forty years ago military conscription was ended in the United States and this also was a clear humanitarian victory. But in this case, the outcome could be reversed. Young men (but not women — feminists, where are you?), must still register for the draft. It is, as they say, the law. Scoffers may claim that the days of forcing men into uniform, and giving them weapons to confront other men whom they do not consider to be their enemies, are clearly over. Well … maybe. But then some of us who were subject to the draft thought there would never be another Vietnam. Iraq proved us naïve.

The time may arrive again when a megalomaniac comes to power in the United States. Once again we will hear of striking blows for freedom against nefarious enemies! And once again young men may learn to dread the ironic words “selective service” just as their grandfathers did. Palmer, of Charleston, served in the U.S. Air Force in South East Asia in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Should India implement compulsory military service?

Can you imagine every Indian man and woman over the ages 18 attending 2-3 months of military school or even attending compulsory military training? Israel and Switzerland have compulsory military service. So can we implement something like this in India? Will it be of any benefit?

After military training, the person should be given a choice of joining the armed forces or doing 6 months of compulsory social work. This will provide the armed forces with trained volunteers and the volunteer will get valuable experience

It’s definitely a good idea to have a well trained civilian as well as a trained army. Compulsory military service can give person a sense of discipline and patriotism. The army also offers numerous chances of basic as well as higher education. Compulsory military training can be taken up after graduation and should be completed anytime before graduation. The training period can be of 6-12 months depending on which branch the person shows a capacity for. After military training, the person should be given a choice of joining the armed forces or doing 6 months of compulsory social work. This will provide the armed forces with trained volunteers and the volunteer will get valuable experience that can count for school credit as well as an impressive resumé.

However, many are of the opinion that we don’t really need bigger armed forces. Every year, there’s a huge rush of youths competing with each other to enter the armed forces. And why not? The army offers good education opportunities, good salaries, housing for the officer as well his family, and don’t forget the army canteens which provide essentials at discount prices. For India’s vast collection of unemployed youth, the military is a good calling. So there is currently no shortage of soldiers, but a shortage of educated officers. The educated youth don’t really prefer the army as a profession as they know they have a ready market for their talent.

Is mass recruitment through alternate channels like compulsory service the best way for the army to get higher caliber officer cadets? Will the best still leave? Or will the training provide the hook needed to rope in the best brains for the officer cadre?

So this is where we get stuck! Compulsory army training is a good idea but we have the right to choose and the government can’t really force the choice. Do you think there’s a middle path here?

Admiral(Retd) J G Nadkarni  says only limited conscription can end army’s manpower woes

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The command chief engineer had a glib answer for everything. Hauled on the mat by the commander-in-chief for the poor maintenance of base buildings, he said, “Well Sir, it’s like this. The maintenance money has more or less remained fixed. It is based on an old formula derived many years ago. We have to both pay the maintenance staff as well as the materials out of the total maintenance grant. As you know, the outgo on pay has kept on increasing with doses of allowances and the DA — today I am paying 90 per cent of the grant in pay and allowances, leaving me little to buy the paint. How can I maintain anything?”

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Brig Amrit Kapur

former  Commandant of Counter- Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, Vairengte, Mizoram.

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45 thoughts on “Does India Need Compulsory Military Training

  1. Sir we need to make our citizen strong both physically and mentally .So they don’t depend much on police in extreme times (specifically girls).
    To achieve this every body has to learn at least basic training as a part of right to education. And people in reserve force might give training only in government schools making it different from others . Any how I have passed my school and I will train myself but my coming generations will be of much better quality if it’s implemented.

  2. As someone who is an SSB reject. Here is my two cents. I was in the NCC, LOTSSSSS of guys had set their heart out on a career in the Army, /Air force. I have personally seen people break down in tears when not selected in SSB.
    WHAT exactly is your criteria in selecting or rejecting people in SSB? I presume you look for “natural born leadership qualities”? Throw people in a situation, the natural leaders will shine through? REALLY? Short service commission, followed by IPS/Intelligence Bureau/RAW was my dream career. James BOnd anyone?

    My second choice, was Sales/marketing. Let me tell you , I was a VERY successful as a front line sales manager, LEADING a team of salesmen in the battlefield of the market place. I am not boasting, but guys in other divisions of the company used to try their “jack/vaseela” to work under me in my diivision.

    Leadership qualities anyone? Hell forget combat roles I would have been happy even in AOC/ASC etc, support roles. Just wanted the glamour of the uniform. And the title of captain/Major before my name. Check Israeli army system. HIGH intellligence/medical profile go for combat roles, second profile go for armoured corps etc. Lower than that for support roles. Why not the same in INDIA?
    shotage of officers, my ass.

  3. The author claims the army has surplus 80000 jawans oho so much hippocratic. When you have 100000 jawans working as personal servents of the officers(Sewadar/Butman). This is gross missuse of menpower. in the times of ‪#‎Skill‬ India you are equating the Robust Indian Jawan to a Jhaduwala of municipality and writing off/discarding Thousands of jawans every year after completion of their initial engagement period of 15-20 years. Why the colonial blue blooded people do not want the jawan to be promoted and become an officer, is a thing to wonder. They are worried if the AAM AADMI will become officer then their colonial empire will fall and ‪#‎SainikSwaraj‬ will begin. Not a single Indian Officer has ever written about human rights violations in the Indian Armed Forces. The 1.5 million discardable manpower that the author is talking about have guarded this nation ever since independence.

  4. It is funny when we have such a serious subject being authored by someone who just copies and takes references from the google. The funny author is so much worried about so called deficit of officers than about facts. Less than 1% jawans are promoted to the ranks of commissioned officers!! A robust Desi fellow is not good enough huh?? Than The author claims the army has surplus 80000 jawans oho so much hippocratic. When you have 100000 jawans working as personal servents of the officers(Sewadar/Butman). This is gross missuse of menpower. in the times of #Skill India you are equating the Robust Indian Jawan to a Jhaduwala of municipality and writing off/discarding Thousands of jawans every year after completion of their initial engagement period of 15-20 years. Why the colonial blue blooded people do not want the jawan to be promoted and become an officer, is a thing to wonder. They are worried if the AAM AADMI will become officer then their colonial empire will fall and #SainikSwaraj will begin.

  5. A noble idea, however not workable in the Indian context. We have a large standing Army and there is no shortage of manpower. Shortage is only there at the officer level. But what I suggest is that we need to have “Targeted” military service in certain categories of Government Service. Specially so in the case of the Officer cadre. These could be as follows.

    We should have a Combined Services Academy. All aspirants for the officer cadre of CPOs, BSF and IPS should be put through the NDA ( non graduate) and the IMA and OTAs for the graduate stream. Its their choice go to NDA as a non graduate or IMA and OTA for those who graduate. The Number entering can be modulated to strike a balance. On commissioning they will do 3 years compulsory service with the Army Units as commissioned officers In the rank of a Lieutenant and then move on to their respective streams of service.

    For the IAS there should be 1 year of training at the IMA and 2 years of service with Territorial Army and various Army units.

    People from various streams of the corporate world should be encouraged to do 2 years of service in the Armed forces administrative wings/ logistics wings after 6 month’s of military training. By ‘Law’ their service should be counted towards their corporate experience. All corporate houses and various industries should be encouraged to nominate their personal for 2 years with the Army.

    Short service intake should be increased. There should be 2 streams in SS. One those who aspire to become regular officers and the second – those who just come for 5 years only. These aspirants should be given preference in employment in Government Service.

  6. The difficulty is that India has no conception of military matters or martial culture beyond the Mahabharatha and the Ramayana now that the King’s Commissioned Officers have all retired after delivering the 1971 military victory for the Neta Babus to squander. Our Generals and Admirals rise over thirty years to reach the level of a Devyani Gobra Gadi with some seven years of distinguished diplomatic service in a Bombay Adarsh apartment. We are a Nation of Durgo Poojos and Ganesh Chathruthis. So, the main thing, is six months of preparation for Republic Day and six months of recuperation from it. There is a longer life cycle for Fleet Reviews like the Kumbh Mela. Yes, we do fight when we it is pushed on us within our own borders and offer up soldiers who are “paid to die”. They are better off than our farmers who are not paid to die. Jai Jawan Jai Kissan. Otherwise, where would we find recruits? But we never carry a fight to the enemy. You see, India has no enemies. As within, so without. Those who steal and slaughter our cows, rape our women and denigrate our Spiritual leaders are our best friends and privileged citizens within India. Why not outside India as well? This is Gandhism in action. Truly, in India, Khilafat Gandhi has fathered the depravity of his dreams. After a Century of dismantling the spirit of adventure and eradicating the “Savarna” “People of Dharma” who the PANGOLINs * considered to be as much their enemy as the Army, where do we begin?

  7. Not really. What India needs to do is integrate the National Cadet Corps with the Territorial Army and create an Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve and an Indian Auxiliary Air Force. A tour of part time duties through training and leave vacancy postings with the regular army, air rescue and surveillance and coast guard must be created along the life time of volunteers, subject to physical and mental fitness, into a REAL volunteer Second Line.

  8. No one needs any training. It is very simple and easier than that. All that is need is to provide a hand gun, a machine gun and some bullets to each citizen. The rest will take care by itself..

  9. Hi
    I would like to know how and from where shall I get the certificate that I have not received any military service anyehere in India.I have recently applied for a job in middle east but they asked me to submit such a certificate.
    Appreciate if you could guide me.
    Thanks

  10. One definite advantage of military indoctrination is that the thinking of people or rather the psyche of people gets some sort of mutual alignment. This i feel is really needed whether or not we make them serve in the arms or not. Common beliefs n ideas alone can promote development.

  11. This is still a long time due thing which hasn’t happened in India.

    National Service for 2-3 years must be made compulsory. Imagine our country so vast and having a large pool of young enthusiastic minds who enrolled for NS could easily transform the fate of nation to a stronger force in all paradigms.

    Right time our Parliament passes this bill with ubiquitous acceptance from all the parties.

  12. Students after 12th in india must be given achoice to do national service in armed forces , education , medical industry and all walks including agriculture , fishing , merchant navy , engineering firms , with 6 months apprentice ships when working in schools , hospitals police stations , army , navy airforce and depts of their choice the students get exposure and can then volunteer and take up one profession . compulsory service in armed forces cannot work in india , as the mantries , babus , civilservice police officers , businessmen do not let their wards join the armed forces . for them it must be made compulsory or reservation given . The stakes of development of armed forces are totally bent and only poor families from class two , three towns and cities , farming community in distress or wards of middle and junior servicemenjoin the armed forces . No politcian , Ias ,Ips , or businessmenof 3 crores and above joins the forces any more . With this lopsided model of recruitment India is heading towards a weakened demotivated , poorly equipped armed forces , where the nations elite has no stake except to collect rent and bribes from contracts . The seeds of the nations disintegration have been sown by bothe congress and bjp , WITH RETIRED SERVICEMEN SIGNING PETETIONS IN BLOOD AND GOING ON HUNGER STRIKE . THE SUPREME CDR OF THE ARMED FORCES HAS TIME AND MEETS EVERY CROOK OF THE NATION BUT REFUSES TO MEET THE EXSERVICEMEN . THE ARMED FORCES WILL BE WITHIN THEIR RIGHT NOT TO LOWER THE STANDARD FOR SUCH INDIVIDUALS .

  13. I fully agree and it should be part of the Indian Constitution that every Young man has to serve either in Military or social services for 16 months, without exceptions. National decipline and responsibility towards the nation.

  14. Make it compulsory for all before taking any civil posts including Municipal Councillor,MLAs and,MPs. RM shd be appointed from the lot who hve more service in armed forces.

  15. Sharad Bailur Politician should be allowed to contest elections only if they can prove before the Election Commission that they have qualified by having served in the Armed Forces.

  16. It is humanly impossible to impart compulsory conscription to all young people. However it will be useful to have all the entrants to government service to undergo at least two years of service in operational duties in lower ranks if they have no introduction to NCC and those who excelled in NCC in officer cadre. This will give these government officers a sense of pride and officer like qualities in their future career.

  17. Hi Sir

    This is a absolute need of the hour the training should be made compulsory for a period of 1 year ,along with one month of Hard posting (some difficult area) ,this will train them for the worse conditions also teach them survival skills and more importantly discipline and law obedience ,Also this will make sure that during such process all unwanted elements can also be filtered out and identified

    regards
    Sai

  18. It is really a great idea to implement compulsory defence training in India taking into consideration all its diversities and complexities. Wao what a great idea!! Every Indian should start his day at 5 o’ clock sharp in the morning. He/she should have minimum phyiscal strength to run 2kms at a stretch in 10 mins and last but not the least will have the fire in his belly to raise his/her voice against corruption which knowingly or unknowingly he/she ignores for the lack of courage…..Everybody will be proud to be an Indian.

  19. yes it should be compulsory , but i don’t want it only for male gender it must be compulsory for both genders males as well as female like china . being a women i too want to serve defense, specially i wanna to join Air force cuz my father was also served IAF and i too wanna to do it like him. and it raises women empowerment too.
    plzz plzz i dont want any inequality.

  20. May be in ten years , YES. The statement by Arun Jaitley is correct however it does not mean it cannot be done to create a Indian Generation which is a class apart… as this country needs a better class of people.

  21. Countries that have adopted the model of conscription/compulsory training are short of manpower (person power) : which does not apply in our case. There is no point having quantity over quality. The conscripts could bring values and a culture incompatible with the performance of military duty into the professional armed forces – a contamination we must recognize as a real possibility. Moreover, should we provide military training gratis to some disgruntled individuals who will drift into extremist groups? While the article has a populist ring – it is better to be careful before opening that Pandora’s Box. You cant put toothpaste back into the tube!!

  22. India needs conscription in military services. This is an absolute necessity to re-orient our youth to wards nationalism, ingrain better values and respect ourselves and our country.

    Our ‘citizens’ have never been oriented to be nationalist, instead they are led to believe that people like Rahul Gandhi, Neera Radia, Salman Khurshid, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sonia Gandhi etc. are the role models.

    Our text books, education system, governments and ‘historians’ have been busy portraying India as a nobody and instilling psychological slavery to babudom and ‘sardar and chalis chor’.

    We have been taught to hate our culture and feel inferior.

    This has an over all effect : corruption, nepotism, congressism, economic slavery, and being led by thieves and traitors. Every babu and most of the politicians are busy selling this country, Congress creates a scam every day with help of babus, and each scam is more damaging than previous one. Every journalist is busy covering up congress and implanting false news about nationalists.

    If we have to rise above all this, building a better and more nationalistic culture is the need of the hour. One of the ways is to train the youth by making them join Armed Forces.

  23. Firstly a famous man had said we are a peace loving non aigned nation we need only police for internal security and no military as we have no enemy thus is our foundation of independent India, and with this back drop army has lost its elan and charm amongst the youth. It is said never assault a fort find traitors who will hand over the keys . So, we have plenty of people in hierarchy who have destroyed the fort.So first train & clean your existing system before thinking of expecting todays youth, who are well informed, to join you and waste their time,

  24. While I do not subscribe to the idea of compulsory military training for all and sundry, I do agree that anyone who wishes to join Government Service(central or state services) must under go military service for at least 2-3 years, for then he may just realise the value of time,discipline and service to the nation.Incidentally NCC is no military training;it is adventure training military style.

  25. • 2453 words article. Only 404 words i.e. 16 % related to the topic.
    • These 404 words also do not offer anything substantial at all.
    • There are certain suggestions, which, after initial hearing ought to be rejected outright because of the complexities and non- implementation factor involved. This subject is one.
    • In my opinion, authors ought to be more thoughtful and responsible and not just take up a topic for the sake of it.
    • Yet IDR chooses to publish it. Thoroughly disappointing.

  26. Its really pathetic to think compulsory military training,, it cause new revolution in country n no party is willing to have such rick, cause all party n politicians are happy with their corrupt money looting system, and particularly,, why no party has changed country name “india” into Bharat,, still sticking as colonial name,, how scoundrels these politicians are !
    And fact is,, such low slavery salaries for its soldiers ,, and upper army ppl are happy to get huge corrupt money to support politicians in country, they neither care for country nor think.
    No one can save this country, except GOD.

  27. When there is NCC, why do we need compulsory military service?

    Conscription has always led to more corruption in militaries the world over & has reduced combat effectiveness with the only exception of Israel.

    And that is because that Army is organized according to religion.

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