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Friday, October 17, 2008

Military Reservists, Where are they ??


There is no dearth of legislation on the subject

Territorial Army was raised 59 Octobers ago. The nation is today involved in a proxy war which has kept our Army occupied in roles it is not traditionally meant to perform, an engagement which has resulted in dilution of basic defence functions. Countries which are militarily strong rely upon a strong base of reserve forces in which ordinary citizens contribute, which unfortunately is lacking in our case. The concept of citizen-soldiers for local territorial defence is as old as the Army itself, and today it is a need that is staring us in the face.

We in India have a wonderful organisation called the Territorial Army (TA) which is a part-time voluntary force. As a concept, it is the greatest thing that could happen to a country like ours that has a large population at its disposal. TA is citizens’ Army. The TA is meant to be a reserve organisation of part-time volunteers employed in different professions on the civilian side, who receive military training for a few days in a year so that in the event of a national emergency, they may volunteer to bear arms for the nation’s defence. The legislature wanted this organisation to be used as a second line of defence in wars and as an assisting force in internal defence duties in case of national emergencies. At present, unknown to many, the TA is performing a variety of duties rather well including ecological protection and counter terrorism and is on its way to fast expansion since at just about 3% of regular army strength, there is a requirement for its augmentation in order to be an effective component of the overall defence set up.

Favourable is the fact that our law makers had long back realised the importance of voluntary military training organisations and reserve forces and hence there is no dearth of legislation on the subject. With Low Intensity Conflict all around us, what we need immediately is a large trained pool of volunteers who can be mobilized for short periods to provide localised territorial defence with minimum dislocation of their civil careers.

Unfortunately while there is no dearth of laws on reserves and military training, the implementation has either been discontinued or such laws have not been executed at all. Some of such legislative Acts are :-

1) The Lok Sahayak Sena Act, 1956 : The object was to provide for constitution of a National Volunteer Force by imparting military training to adults to inculcate a sense of discipline, security and self-reliance with no military service liability.

2) The Territorial Army Act, 1948 : Aimed to provide a second line of defence in wars. Provided for training of gainfully employed civilians in their spare time so they could volunteer to bear arms in case of a war or national emergency. Members have a military service liability of a few days in a year, or more in case a member volunteers with the consent of his civilian employer, if any.

3) National Service Act, 1972 : Provides for compulsory national service for individuals with certain technical qualifications in case called out by the government to serve with the armed forces or otherwise.

4) Reserve Forces Act, 1888 : Regular Army personnel have reserve liability for a particular period or till a particular age after they retire from regular service. Under this Act, former personnel can be re-called for periodical training or service in case of war.

5) National Cadet Corps Act, 1948 : This affords providing basic military training to school, college and university students to enable them to become better citizens with no military liability.

6) Civil Defence Act : This Act provides for establishing civil defence mechanism by the civil administration for assistance in times of need.

7) Navy Act, 1957 : Apart from governing the Regular Navy, the Navy Act has provisions regarding creation of Naval Reserve Forces. Naval personnel can also be called out on active service after retirement in case of a national need.

8) Reserve and Auxiliary Air Forces Act, 1952 : This Act provides for creation of three different kinds of forces, firstly, the Regular Air Force Reserve which provides for re-calling of retired Air Force personnel, secondly, the Air Defence Reserve that involves maintenance of a register and a list of trained personnel who can be called out in an emergency, and thirdly, the Auxiliary Air Force which provides for enlistment of civilian volunteers for part-time Air Force training - the Air Force equivalent of the Territorial Army (TA). Training was to be arranged in such a fashion that it caused minimum dislocation or interference in civil vocations.

The need of the hour is to reduce the regular standing Army and give a boost to reservists with more cutting edge efficiency and to utilize these legislative provisions. Almost all these Acts provide for an “employment protection” clause which means that whenever reservists are called out or they volunteer for active duty, their employment is protected and their employers (if any) are legally bound to place reservists in the same pay, grade and position as they were, when they return to their actual professions. Apart from being of use to a national cause, reservists are also an asset to their parent organisations in their civilian careers since they pick up unmatched leadership and discipline skills from the forces. Time and again we also hear of initiation of a mechanism for making part time military service compulsory for civil servants, not being aware that the TA Act, 1948 already empowers the government to call out civilian employees for compulsory military service whenever required under Section 6-A of the Territorial Army Act. The concept of reserves would magnify our resources of fighting men and women without being a burden on the exchequer. In recent times, while there has been no dearth of applications for officership in the forces, there has been a lack of the correct talent and the correct motivational level resulting in fewer candidates being selected at the commissioned officer level. But, people who do not want to serve the Army full time or those who do not want to make the Army their profession and want to continue in pastures greener than olive green, may have no problem in becoming part-time reserve officer-volunteers by dedicating a few days in a year for military refresher capsules. This way they can be a part of the nation’s defence in case of a dire need and can also continue with their respective employment and vocations.

India has a large population at its disposal and it is not that people are not oriented towards national service; it is only that such concepts need to be effectively encouraged. Adequate measures need to be adopted to give effect to provisions that have been long lying dormant and semi-implemented in books of law. India can emerge as strong economic and military power if citizens are made a part of the country’s defence since protection of the frontiers or interiors is not only the domain of our brave armed forces, each and everyone of us should contribute. After all, an Army alone never goes to war, the nation does.



Aditya said...

Navdeep, its odd that you should post this blog just now! I was trying to figure out a way in which I could contact you to ask about the TA. You see, Im appearing for the exam and PIB this November in Chandigarh, and I was wondering whether you might have any tips. Disclosure: I work in the management of a multinational publishing company, which was cool enough to let me do this! What can I expect?

Anonymous said...

TA though there for a good cause...i m aware that the ta battalion for SIGNALS was disbanded because the DOT became an corporate and the dot people were no more interested to work or contribute to ta battalion

i ve heard that ta had also org something at parliament for mps to join ..and none of them came forward..

probably they were aware of 6th cpc results...

Anonymous said...

A comment on whispers...

If you have difficulty understanding the current world financial
situation, the following should help...
Once upon a time in a village in India, a man announced to the
villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10.
The villagers seeing there were not many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.
The man bought thousands at $10, but, as the supply started to
diminish, the villagers stopped their efforts. The man further
announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of
the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.
Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer rate increased to $25 and the supply of
monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey,
let alone catch it !
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since
he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now act as buyer, on his behalf.
In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: 'Look at
all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will
sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can
sell them back to him for $50.'
The villagers squeezed together their savings and bought all the monkeys.
Then they never saw the man or his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!

Anonymous said...

Dear friend
It only shows how poor are u in "economics and interpretation of statistics by giving analogous examples ". I will advice u to catch some monkeys now even at Rs 50 and it would be selling @ Rs 500 just after three years. I am very sincere in what I am advising.
Wish u good luck

Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh said...

Good go ahead.
PIB comprises of two papers - GK and essay, followed by an interview the next day and then SSB just like the regular army after about 2 - 3 months.
In the first year however, you would have to spend three months at IMA according to new rules.
What's your age ??

bill said...

It would be good for the nation if our future Netas join the TA & do ACTIVE duty in it for some duration,say a couple of yrs.Rahul G,Sciendia,Sachin P,Jindal & all young gen upcomings should do this.It would be great to have a PM(RAHUL)& other Imp Ministers with Military service background .May be some of our Babooz will follow suit to keep themselves in good books of these Netas.

yogesh said...

Instead of 3%, TA component should be raise to at least 25%; which may help in building downward outer periphery of pyramidical structure. It will also be economical to nation.

Anonymous said...

May I through this blog request all brother officers to give their views on course of action to be adopted if govt turns down our justified demands.
1.Be objective.
2.Keep org constraints in mind.

Aditya said...


Is it in the 1st year that one must attend the IMA? I had read that this rule applies in the first 4 years of commissioned service! Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. Im 26, incidentally. Is there an email address at which I could contact you for further info, should you be willing to continue this discussion? I can be reached at Aditya DOT Puar AT Gmail DOT COM.
Thanks for your time.

Anonymous said...

Dear Maj navdeep,
its good to encourage the youth to join TA, but how many of us are allowed to get away from our regular jobs in order to fulfill our TA duties? i cleared my SSB for OTA in 2000, did not join due to family reasons, decide to apply for TA, went to Pune GRP HQ TA, CO there advised me to be gainfully employed only then could i have applied, so i tried finding a job that had the provision of allowing their staff to go for TA duties, NONE. i spoke to the HR maanger of the coy i worked for who happened to be a SS officer and even he said a big NO. sir, in the US any person who fits the medical and testing crieteria can first enrol in the reserves then go find himself a job, why can we also do that? the army crys foul for not having enough officers, but r v saying in a population of 1 b v cannot find enough sould to take the resposnsibility? may be the system needs to change, dont compromise on the selection quality just make it easy for the guys to get to the slection.

i trust for your esteemed adviced in thsi matter