1 A soldier in every nation is considered as a priceless asset who Essay

1. A soldier in every nation is considered as a priceless asset who is never off duty and can always be relied upon. A soldier is trained to be resilient and adaptable to any situation, but the other side of this coin is what is easily ignored. The fact that even this priceless asset needs to be nurtured and supported for him to be able to support us back is conveniently forgotten. The Indian Armed Forces need to focus and review the support that is extended to the workforce through the welfare policies in place.

The chapter will focus on the subject whether, the policymakers are doing enough for the human resource development of the armed forces personnel, during their service tenures and beyond that.

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2. The human resources of an organisation are the most difficult and at the same time the easiest to manage. All of which depends on the effective designing and implementation of various practices, policies, procedures and programs. The key is to develop knowledge, skills, creativity, aptitude, talent etc.

and to be then able to use it optimally. All of these aspects are primarily linked to training. The armed forces of India are one of the most demanding employers of human resources. It is a massive organisation where the soldier remains pivotal, thus any issue related to human resources inevitably assumes great significance. The rich organisational culture of the Indian Armed Forces has evolved through a generative process and organisational learning over a long period. The forces are a fountainhead of leadership and management tenets. It is ensured that the learning objectives keep getting integrated into the culture of the defence forces. It is often said that the armed forces are not a job but a way of life. Then what is the quantum of learning required to make it a way of life? To be able to convert a semi-literate individual into an efficient soldier who reaches that ultimate point of self-actualisation, that does not deter him from making the ultimate decision when the time comes.

3. Today the very nature of human resource management has changed. There are a large number of new trends and new issues in the HR field as well, which need to be studied to arrive at the absolute HR doctrine for one of the biggest Human resource factories of the world – the Indian Armed Forces. While the policy makers continuously strive to improve the existing framework there are many challenges and a few obvious shortfalls prevalent in the system.


4. Size. India has the world’s third largest armed force and thus a huge pool of human resource that needs to be supported. Being the third largest forces in the world also has its drawbacks. To manage a force that runs into millions is not easy by any standards and is a major challenge. Any change in policy will have to cater for numbers especially if it involves the building of infrastructure. Even a small change has a domino effect of multiplying into big repercussions. The strength of the defence personnel is approximately 1.4 million and growing . This number is only of the serving personnel and does not include the retired personnel who are also governed by the HR policies in force. The size of the Indian armed forces poses a major challenge in implementing even the most simple of the policies.

5. Change in Society. There is an evident change in the expectations of employees due to the drastic change in society. To be able to change as per the requirements of the modern soldier is a daunting task. There are occasions when the obedient soldier/ sailor or airman may turn around and ask logic behind a given order. The awareness and education levels have empowered the defence personnel with the understanding to demand more than what was being offered so far. There are individuals who ask more questions than giving solutions, and most of these questions are logical and need to be addressed. In today’s golbalised world, even in the armed forces, every individual wants his presence to be felt. Every soldier wants to be empowered and demands equality. Previous notions of managerial authority need to give way to trust building and team influencing . These terms are easier said than achieved in today’s society and thus pose a major challenge.

6. Work-Life Balance. The armed forces are the most stressful job not only in India but also in the whole world . The work life is demanding in many ways and needs continuous focus towards the job at hand even during off working hours. Regular and remote transfers, separation from families, child resettlement, etc. are issues that are peripheral to the stress which defence personnel faces at work. The work environment, established a danger to life and the continuous requirement of being a multitasker only augment this issue. The issue is further amplified when the husband and wife are both working and have competitive careers. Also the possibility of both the husband and wife pursuing the most stressful job in the world – the armed forces. Balancing work and life of the workforce, or at least directing avenues for it, is a major HR challenge.

7. Managing Diversity. The problem of having a diverse force which comes from different states, speaks different languages, from different backgrounds, different economic status, different religious beliefs and even celebrating different festivals makes the issue a complex one. The challenge is experienced at all levels of all services. Unlike other organisations where different individuals having diverse opinions may be allowed to operate in isolation, it is simply not possible in the armed forces. It may be easy to put this variety of a human resource in a single uniform but extremely difficult to satisfy them by a similar HR policy. The varied culture and beliefs make it an enormous task for the HR team to encounter.

8. Competition Against Corporate. There is a definite shift in the thinking of the young generation in terms of deciding to serve in the defence . The services have to ensure that the best in the society continue to join the armed forces. The competition today is between patriotism and lucre. The corporate companies offer a comfortable work environment and better pay packages. The youth cannot be blamed to be inclined towards working in a place with less stress and more stability. The image and the status of the armed forces is not the same in the society as it was just after independence. “Soon after Independence, exploiting the inexperience and gullibility of the then military leadership, bureaucracy took two major steps – one, put the services out of the governance regime by making Service Headquarters as departments of the Government, and secondly, perpetuated the notion that civilian control of the military is synonymous with control through the bureaucracy” . There have in addition been a large number of policy changes which have further reduced the standing of the armed forces. “The army has accumulated a shortage of 13,000 or so officers. In a recent book, Harvard scholar Stephen P. Rosen concludes that this is because the relative material incentives to become an officer have declined” . The choice for the young mind is becoming more and more one-sided and this presents a major challenge.


9. The Indian Armed Forces have a satisfactory HR department and include positive policies pertaining to welfare for personnel. However, there will always be scope for improvement, which can be done by genuine feedback from the man on the ground. An individual who is affected by these policies will be the best judge for their efficacy and relevance. There are many complaints relating to service matters and this emphasises the fact that the soldier requires a change in the existing structure. “Data accessed by The Indian Express shows, that in cases related to promotions, discontent and disability pension, in the Army alone, a total of 10,645 cases were pending in various benches of AFT as on July 1, 2015” . The broad spectrum of grievances relating to salary, promotions, perks, accommodation etc. have to be first identified and then resolved. Some of the shortfalls identified during the course of the research are discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.

10. The Basic Needs. As per the Maslow’s theory of needs to attain the ultimate self-actualisation, the basic needs have to be met . Today the armed forces face a shortage in even the basic needs required for survival. The issue of limited accommodation is a serious problem that has continued the trouble almost every serving personnel . Every soldier is trained to accept hardship of serving at remote locations, sub-zero temperatures, rough seas and isolated deserts. All duties are performed with full dedication and fervor. However, add to this the knowledge of discomfort of the individuals family back home, an ailing parent or an expecting wife due to the non-availability of entitled accommodation, the individual’s morale in severely affected. The government’s recent decision to rework the rations for the defence personnel is also a blow to the basic needs of the workforce . The present stalemate of the decision to either give rations or money has left the soldier with neither. There exists a strong sentiment amongst the forces to revert back to the status quo at the earliest to resolve this particular issue .

11. Sudden and Frequent Transfers. All of the armed forces personnel are mentally prepared to serve in different locations during their service tenure. The troubling fact is that the majority of them agree that these transfers are too frequent and at times with little notice. In the experience of the researcher, there have been instances when individuals have had to shift base four times within 40 months. It is an accepted norm in the Indian Navy to shift base every one year for the mid-level officers between their ninth to twelfth year of service. The issue is of inadequate stability in life, the nuances of settling down in a new city where accommodation is allotted at least after one month, all accumulates and adds to the stress levels of the individual and their families. The continuity of children education is disturbed and they have to be transferred to new schools maybe even in the middle of an academic year. It is also pertinent to mention that the professional career of a working defence wife, not only in India but the world over is also severely affected. In many cases, the spouse chooses to let go of her otherwise successful career to be able to continue living with his/her family .

12. Unprepared for a Second Career. 60000 personnel retire from the armed forces every year and they add to the already existing pool of people governed by the policies made for the defence. There is a requirement to take stock of the number of personnel being absorbed immediately post-retirement in jobs that have perks at par or better than that of the defence forces. These numbers will give an actual figure and enable us to judge how the policymakers are performing in terms of focusing on the human resource development of the workforce. The status of personnel from the navy and air force involved in more technical billets is still better, but the worst affected are the jawans from the army . The early exit of these individuals is a two-fold loss to the nation, as on one hand the armed forces lose valuable trained manpower and on the other hand these men add to the unemployed or underemployed numbers of the nation. The present policies severely lack in assisting this transition, which involves training, skilling, psychological conditioning and creating opportunities for officers and men.

13. Motivation. As discussed earlier the status of the armed forces in the society is not the same as it was a few decades ago and thus the soldier is also not as motivated enough. The armed forces are keen to draw the youth to the services and promote life in the defence as a tourism ad with quotes like “join the navy, see the world”, “the Indian Army a life less ordinary” and “ the Indian Air Force – a cut above”. However, the focus towards maintaining the youth motivated after joining the forces needs deliberation. The toil in their daily routine, schedule and hectic lives the defence employees tend to look past one of the most essential of the HR policy’s to keep the workforce motivated.

14. The challenges and the shortfalls discussed in the chapter are some of the indications that the defence forces have a credible HR structure but will always have scope for improvement. One of the methods in which the system can be made more robust and fulfilling for the workforce would be to learn from the successful policies of other organisation. A study of such identified policies has

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