Proposal aims to reduce financial burden on the force and free funds for its modernisation
The Army plans to take civilians on a three-year “Tour of Duty” (ToD) or short service on a trial basis to serve as officers and in other ranks initially for a limited number of vacancies which will be expanded later.
This is expected to result in significant reduction in the expenditure on pay and pensions and free up funds for the Army’s modernisation.
The overall purpose of the ToD concept is ‘internship/temporary experience’ and so there will be no requirement of attractive severance packages, resettlement courses, professional encashment training leave, ex-servicemen status, ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme for ToD officers and other ranks.
Analysing the cost of training incurred on each personnel compared with the limited employment of the manpower for three years, the proposal calculates that it will indeed have a positive benefit.
It states that the cumulative approximate cost of pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, proposed severance packages, leave encasement and other costs is nearly ₹5.12 crore and ₹6.83 crore on a Short Service Commission (SSC) officer if he or she is released from service after 10 and 14 years, respectively.
The overall cost goes up even further as 50-60% of the SSC officers opt for permanent commission and continue in service till the age of 54 and thereafter get pension benefits.
Similarly, estimates for a jawan with 17 years of service as compared to a ToD recruit with three years’ service shows that the prospective lifetime savings of just one jawan is ₹11.5 crore.
Thus, savings for only 1,000 jawans could be ₹11,000 crore, which could be used for the much-needed modernisation of the Army.
Highlighting the advantages of this scheme, the sources said this scheme is for those who did not want a full career in the Army but still wanted to put on the uniform.
Individuals who opted for ToD would get a much higher salary than their peers in the corporate sector.
They would also have an edge after leaving the service and going to the corporate sector.
The Army hoped that this would attract individuals from the best colleges, including the Indian Institutes of Technology.
The proposal states that as per an initial survey, corporates favour individuals aged 26 or 27 who have been trained by the military.
The proposal suggests several incentives such as tax-free income for three years and a lumpsum at the end of three years of about ₹5-6 lakh for officers and ₹2-3 lakh for others.
The Army’s pay and pension bill has been increasingly steeply over the years, accounting for 60% of its budget allocation.
In the last five years, though the growth in the defence budget has been 68%, and for defence salaries 75%, defence pensions have increased by a staggering 146%.
The nation and the corporates are likely to benefit from trained, disciplined confident, diligent and committed men and women who have completed the ToD.