Will India Make Military Service Compulsory For The Youth?

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In times when India stands divided on various political, social, and economic issues, mandating military service for the youth might build bridges, few experts have opined. India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee, the Defence Ministry, and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which is a wing of government administering and drafting policy for government employees, have recommended making military service of 2 years compulsory for the youth. 

The most prominent reason behind this recommendation is the shortage of personnel in the Indian Armed Forces which includes the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force. While the Indian Army is short of around 7,000 officers and 20,000 men, the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force are facing a shortage of 150 officers and 15,000 officers. 

However, the government does not intend on making it compulsory for the youth to pursue a career in defence. 5 years of military services will be made compulsory for all those young individuals who wish to join the Central and State Government Gazetted services directly. 

Some parts of the society have, however, reflected concerns over this recommendation. As India is a democratic country, forcing its citizens to take up a profession they don’t wish to pursue goes against the ethos of democracy under the principle of “freedom of choice.”

Further, making military services compulsory might just lead to the militarization of the country. It is important to note that the evil of unemployment is stinging a country that has the highest youth population. This said, providing compulsory military training to the youth might set them on a path of violence or other negative elements that are undesirable. 

So why is the government inclined towards making military service compulsory? 

As mentioned earlier, there is a shortage of personnel in the armed forces. Another major reason for this is to bridge the divide created over various issues and unite the youth for one common cause, i.e the protection and safeguarding of the country. Making military service compulsory will instill the fervor of patriotism in the heart of the youth. 

Reiterating the fact that the goal of military training will not be linked to combat, but will aim to skills the individuals, build their personality and foster personal development which will help them in securing jobs in other careers as well. Moreover, the youth will realize their duty towards the nation even better. 

Although a well-structured plan of what this compulsory military service program will entail hasn’t been drafted, the government has highlighted the key points: 

To enroll in the 2-years Compulsory Defence Services, those who are 12th-grade pass outs and/or those above the age of 18 years, will be eligible. The program will be part-skills and part-diploma. Those unwilling to pursue a career in defence, will have a diploma in hand, and those wanting to enter the defence forces can finish their diploma into a degree or even PG. Those who wish to discontinue after completion of the 2 years program will emerge to be self-disciplined, strong-minded, professional, and will easily be able to secure a job. Those who choose to continue will serve the nation and become part of the defence service. 

Though there are concerns revolving around this recommendation, if the government chooses to take it up, the right implementation of it will definitely yield beneficial results for both the youth as well as India. 

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