As talked about in earlier articles of SIG-HR different facets of Human Resources have been discussed, from making students aware about the selection processes to different concepts of HR. We have also read about the roles that an HR personnel performs amongst which one of the most important task is Recruiting and when it comes to Armed Forces it becomes extremely vital issue because the army’s strength has always been it’s soldiers. It has been aptly said that institutions do not transform – its people do; platforms and organisations do not defend the country – soldiers do. The Indian Armed Forces, stands the second largest force in the world is known for their professionalism, bravery and valor. Most of us think, lethal the weapon systems more is the damage done but what is more vital are the men behind the weapons, who truly execute the mission. This is where all the principles and the policies of Human resources come to test. The enormity of this task can be easily gauged from the fact that the Armed Forces has about 14 lakh serving soldiers and it also has to cater to the needs of over 22 lakh of its veterans who have retired from service. The Armed Forces has been facing a shortage of soldiers and this shortage is not of recent vintage. This shortfall ranged from 10-15 percent in the 1950’s to 1980’s era and staggeringly increase to around 22-25 percent in more recent years. Adding to the problems of shortage of soldiers are arduous working conditions, stress and strain due to prolonged deployment in difficult areas, disruption in family life, lesser pay packages and perks are some of the other contributing factors in making the Armed Forces ‘an unattractive career’. Jawans posting videos and photos of the harsh conditions and their constant complaints is a proof of all these problems. So the main question here is: What should be done to change this? Last year after an annual Commander’s conference the Army decided to reorient its human resource policy considering 'rapid' societal changes to battle these rising complaints relating to service matters from its personnel.
At this conference a broad range of issues including grievances relating to promotions, salary and Sahayak system were talked about and a more pragmatic approach was taken to solve these problems. Decisions regarding changing HR policies were made keeping in mind the core values of the army. Measures to enhance transparency and inclusiveness have been taken which will lead to greater equability. Army Chief even called for a more “participative” form of policy formulation directing army headquarters to initiate wide ranging interactions on the problems and their possible solutions. Modernising the army was also one of the top agendas of the meeting. Giving an example of this change that the army has enforced is that it has tweaked the promotion policy. In the residual service clause for the appointment of Army Commanders (C-in-C) which it is the balance service before retirement. It used to be 24 months when the vacancy arises; it has now been reduced to 18 months. More such changes related to the problem of promotion have been made. The agenda behind this topic is: Are these changes sufficient enough? The answer to this cannot be given but these changes are certainly a step towards improving the HR policies of the Armed Forces. Yes, it will take some time to see a drastic change but better late than never.
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