In my humble opinion, extending Short Service Commission from the earlier applicable initial terms of 5 years to the now applicable 10 years (extendable to 14) was a blunder and has had just the opposite result of what it was meant for, that is, attracting better talent.
There are many reasons why I say so :-
A. There is no seniority protection in the civil services for former SS officers anymore, which means that an ex-SSCO starts his/her civil career alongwith civil direct recruits 10 years younger to him/her and atleast two ranks junior to his/her former status in the Army.
B. If joining the corporate world, the ex-SS officer again starts at a point of the ladder where he/she competes with youngsters who already have had a head-start which the former SS officer missed out due to his/her joining the Army.
C. Ex-Servicemen benefits are entitled only on completion of terms of engagement which means that the said benefits which were earlier available after 5 years, are now available after serving for 10.
D. 10% of appointments at Assistant Commandant (Lieutenant equivalent) level in the CAPFs are reserved for SSCOs. There is no protection of seniority. Hence, ex-SSCOs of Major and Lt Col level are expected to join at Lieut level (GP 5400) in the CAPFs which makes the entire reservation redundant.
E. After completing 10 years of service, an SSCO is in his/her 30s and to expect him/her to then look around for a fruitful career, in my opinion, is otiose.
So what can be the solution ?
Well, the Govt has been outright discriminatory with SSCOs in this regard and it seems that even the Services HQ have not been able to see through this or else they would never have allowed the initial terms to be extended from 5 to 10 years.
Why discriminatory you may ask ?.
Because, on the civil side, in accordance with Rule 49 (2) (b) of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, civil employees become eligible to earn pension after serving the govt for 10 years, whereas our SSCOs are released without a pension and are only granted a gratuity even after serving 14 years. After the 6th CPC, civil employees are now entitled to full pension after serving 10 years under the ibid rule (it was 33 years for full pension prior to 6th CPC). Of course the civil 10 year rule only applies to those who are released or retired after completing 10 years and not to voluntary retirees.
If the govt is so concerned about making SSC attractive, then why not have similar provisions for our SSCOs. This would not be a favour but only placing them at par with civil employees. Why place them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis civilians? Not only would this provide them with financial protection, but would also encourage them to become self-employed, self-sufficient and to clamour for better placements in the civil sector rather than opting for junior appointments on the govt side only of the purpose of financial protection or pension. But I’m sure the thought process of some of us would be – If we grant pension to SS officers, then why would they opt for Permanent Commission? Well, losing a dollar while looking for a dime.