Army proposes ‘Tour of Duty’ for the youth

New Delhi: The Indian Army has suggested an activity known as the ‘Tour of Duty’ for the youth, not thinking of military as a career, but as a wish to experience the soldier’s lifestyle. Under this scheme, any youth can join the army for three years. This will allow them to live a soldier’s life, and the youth will be able to develop qualities like self-confidence, responsibility, courage and concentration. Proposal to transfer the soldiers from the paramilitary forces and the Central Reserve Police to the military for seven years is also under consideration. The military is also working on making the short service commission more attractive.

In some countries, it is obligatory for every citizen to serve the national military or undergo military training for a certain number of years. There has been a demand to start this practice in India to inculcate discipline in the citizens of India. Although the ‘Tour of Duty’ proposal is not mandatory for every citizen, the doors of the military have been opened for the youth who are interested in spending some time in the military and experiencing the lifestyle of a soldier. The military currently offers a Short Service Commission. But the ‘Tour of Duty’ is a different concept. The youth planning to have a different career can spend three years in the military. This, if cleared, could become a revolutionary decision in Indian history.

Youth joining under ‘Tour of Duty’ will have to undergo the rigorous nine months training, just like a soldier. Thereafter, they could be posted in logistics, camps or even on the border. This will be a kind of military internship. There will be concessions for entry into the military for the internship. However, the army will not compromise on quality under any circumstances. Written exam and interview on the lines of the Short Service Commission will be a part of the recruitment process. Colonel Aman Anand, the spokesman of the Indian military, said that physical fitness would be a priority.

The youth joining under the ‘Tour of Duty’ scheme will be eligible for full salary. This salary could be tax-free. But they will not qualify for any retirement pension and allowances. But these youth may get preference for post-graduate courses and public sector jobs. It is claimed that this will reduce the cost burden on the military.

Meanwhile, Indian Defence Chief, General Bipin Rawat, expressed confidence that even if the Tour of Duty proposal is implemented, there will be no effect on the Short Service Commission. Youth taking up the Short Service Commission retire from the army at the age of around 34, after serving for anywhere between 10 to 14 years. The military is also considering to start specialised training programs for the soldiers with the Short Service Commission so that they can make careers in other disciplines, post-retirement. Moreover, it is also under consideration whether these soldiers can be offered post-retirement benefits like other soldiers. General Rawat had spoken regarding the efforts for making the Short Service Commission more attractive.

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