More than 80 percent soldiers retire at the age of 36/37 years and their yearly number is almost fifty thousand. They do not even get up to the midway point of their pay band, miss out on increments, consequently get pension based on the point in the pay band they are retired, missing out 24/23 years of higher pay, were they, like all civilian government employees, to serve upto the age of 6o years. Consequently they suffer multiple disadvantages. Retired too early, thus missing out on increments and pay for the remaining years ( upto 60 years age ) and given inadequate pension. Loose out on the largesse of atleast two subsequent Central Pay Commissions. Though of late, small monetary relief in their pension has been granted, it does not compensate for the monetary loss due to early retirement etc. After taking the best years of a soldier’s life, we throw him out to fend for himself in the harsh realities of life in the mean street: to find a job at midlife.
Some of the recently retiring soldiers can be gainfully employed to tackle Maoist problem, which has acquired menacing proportions.
The defence minister has finally realized that ex-servicemen, do need an alternate career. According to him they could be accommodated in Central Police Organisations, ( CPOs- inappropriately called paramilitary ) government jobs etc and that he will also write to the states to employ ex-servicemen. Surely he should know that instructions to the states and CPOs already exist to that end, but are not implemented. Simply because implementation of orders, enforcement of laws, timely completion of projects etc are poor in this country. Above all there is so much money to be made in fresh recruitment!
This trained manpower instead of being taken as a national asset is simply being wasted, resulting in ever increasing number of disillusioned, and short-changed veterans. The government must work out a comprehensive scheme to absorb this trained and disciplined manpower into gainful employment. Some percentage must be taken into, based on their qualifications and skills, into government jobs, CPOs, railways, other police forces and so on. Some others given technical training to fit them to run their own little establishments or joint industrial force. Funds and facilities could be made available to army’s Regimental Centers to organize such training during the last six months of their service. These schemes will be implemented, only when an Act of Parliament to this end is passed.
…policemen of all hues, ill trained as they appear to be, are being routinely killed in large numbers, while their officers do not figure even amongst the wounded!
Some of the recently retiring soldiers can be gainfully employed to tackle Maoist problem, which has acquired menacing proportions. CPOs presently deployed against Maoists and those special state police units created to deal with Maoists, no matter how fanciful a name one may give them, have simply not been able to measure upto the job. Reinforcing those CPOs , presently fighting Maoists, with retiring military soldiers, will not do. The latter will soon acquire habits and work culture presently prevalent in these units. Moreover the deficiency with these units is of leadership, willing to lead and share the risks, daily faced by their constables etc. Thus policemen of all hues, ill trained as they appear to be, are being routinely killed in large numbers, while their officers do not figure even amongst the wounded! How come in every ‘fire-fight,’ Maoists are always successful in carrying away their dead!
There are serious fault lines in our response to terrorist problems. Police combating Maoists are poorly trained, are routinely targeted in ambushes, raids and killed in large numbers. There is failure to infiltrate these groups with intelligence organisations own operators,( moles ) so that our actions are pro-active and not surprised every time.
Raising more CPOs and state police units in whatever form, will not do, as these units have simply not been able to meet the Maoists challenge. In fact raising of all such units presently underway should be stopped and instead financial resources earmarked for these raisings be deployed for the betterment of people in Maoist affected areas. The practice of out sourcing anti Maoist operation to SPOs and Salwa Judum groups must be ended. Such groups tend to become law unto themselves, settle personal scores, indulge in contract killing, kidnapping etc as it happened in Punjab during the eighties and early nineties. Such vigilante groups are no solution for combating insurgencies.
Raising more CPOs and state police units in whatever form, will not do, as these units have simply not been able to meet the Maoists challenge.
It appear to have finally dawned on the Ministry of Home Affairs that the CPOs and those fancy named state police forces are simply not upto the demands of the task on hand and is now seeking deployment of the military. On its part, military is reported to be working on raising upto two Corps with Rashtrya Rifle ( RR ) units. RR battalions have been formed by milking regular units. This has resulted in serious deficiencies in the regular units, particularly of officers. This shortage is seriously impacting the training, administration and operational fitness of these units. Raising more RR units will aggravate this problem all the more. It amounts to dealing with one problem and in the process creating another, far more serious. Further, situation in J and K does not appear to be stable enough to pull out RR battalions for redeployment against Maoists.
Perhaps the answer lies in creating military units from out of retiring soldiers, who number around 50000 every year. These units should be officered by short service commission and other officers who are retired early and are willing to take up this assignment in these units. It may be advisable to take some retired and otherwise young brigadiers and even maj-generals who have vast experience of counter-insurgency operations. This should be taken as their second career, spanning five( for officers ) to ten years (soldiers), with pay and gratuity in addition to emoluments earned earlier. For cohesiveness and integration of personnel into well organized units, it would be preferable to form them out of their original groupings i.e, Dogras, Jats, Kunaon, Artillery Regiment etc and these units organized at respective regimental centers.
Where possible officers for these units too should be from the same groups. To command and control such units, brigade and divisional headquarters be raised with two corps headquarters for overall conduct of anti Maoist operations. Here again some of the retired, officers, clerical staff and personnel from field intelligence units be recruited into bde/div/corps headquarters.. Preferably the personnel for intelligence units should be from the areas where Maoists are active. This force should be mandated to operate across state boundaries and work in consonance and in coordination with CPOs, state police forces, intelligence agencies and state governments. Such an arrangement will prove an effective instrument to completely eliminate Maoist problem in a span of five to ten years, which otherwise has all the portents of spreading. While these new units and formations are given six months to organize, integrate and train at the regimental centers, minimum essential temporary accommodation be built in various locations where these units and formations are to be housed.. Once such a proposal is accepted other details can be worked out.
…the Prime Minister considers it (Maoists) as the most serious threat to internal security, yet there is much delay and procrastination in proper tackling this menace.
Eventual remedy for resolving Maoist problem lies in developmental work i.e. social, economic, issues of forest rights, education, roads, health care, job creation, honest and people friendly administration etc in the effected districts. Therefore, anti Maoists operations and developmental work must go apace, well coordinated and be complimentary to each other. While we go hammer and tongs after the Maoists, every step must be taken to avoid collateral damage and mishandling of innocents and those caught up in the vortex of Maoists violence. Operations should be coordinated amongst all agencies, conducted comprehensively, firmly but with sensitivity and restrain.
Maoists are long suffering and disadvantaged Indians, driven by hunger, extreme poverty, neglect, desperation and for ever victims of corrupt and uncaring administration. It is a problem which needs the most urgent attention. Though the Prime Minister considers it as the most serious threat to internal security, yet there is much delay and procrastination in proper tackling this menace. Left inadequately addressed, it will spread, with grave consequences for the country’s stability and progress.
Article First Published in September 2011