Time to make optimal use of ex-servicemen

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l2013012644959The contribution of the different Indian States and Union Territories to India’s Armed Forces is an example of our unique strength as a great nation and every citizen is proud of India’s heritage of war-heroes, heroic deeds of fearless soldiers and their remarkable victories. The nation is blessed with a large pool of trained, competent, disciplined, hard working, sincere and honest ex-servicemen who can make a unique contribution to nation -building.

Unfortunately, some myths spread by vested interests have deprived the governments at the Centre as well as in the States of using this unique resource of trained manpower. It is perceived that ex-servicemen do not have the experience of working with civilian work- force and they are rigid in their approach to problem-solving. Far from it, most have had the opportunity of working with civilians in Supply Depots, Army Base Workshops and station workshops, Ordinance Factories, R and D and training establishments, Areas/Sub-Areas, Command Headquarters, many other static formations and units and of course in Army Headquarters. They can easily adapt themselves to any situation, of course, without compromising their hard-earned dignity and self-respect. Another myth spread by some incompetent civilians is that army personnel have a bloated ego. Not true, in fact, they are civilized and polite with good etiquette and pleasant manners and have a social charm and charisma to win over others.

Misuse and mismanagement of public resources by government servants is a vital issue that any government must tackle immediately. Mismanagement pertains to incompetent and unprofessional planning, decision-making and problem-solving and is a bigger and larger sin as compared to misuse. Organized misuse and mismanagement of public resources is made easy due to flaws and inadequacies in our structures and general lack of sensitivity and national pride. Corruption is the bane and shame of our nation but certain organizations and institutions have to be protected against it at any cost. In an environment in which honesty, integrity and good values of the ordinary civilians have descended steeply downhill and inefficiency, intimidating and cheating the poor and powerless are the personality traits of many politicians and bureaucrats, making use of ex-servicemen offer a hope for good governance.

A soldier is trained to be honest, truthful, and loyal and committed to his profession in which comradeship is the fundamental ethos. He spends his entire service span (in the case of officers between 33 to 40 years) in a clean environment which encourages fair play. A soldier is cast in the mould of discipline and punctuality that is part and parcel of his very existence. Ethical conduct and disciplined behaviour are the two most important factors that define the profession of a soldier. Most of the armed forces officers and men have a tradition of impeccable integrity surpassing belief. Courage, self-esteem, dignity, magnanimity, benevolence, friendship, loyalty and moral values are the very essence of the personality of a good soldier. They take pride in being upright and have the courage of conviction to talk straight and stand up against injustice. That is why a soldier is looked up to by the society as an island of excellence in a rotten system. No upright soldier with good value system inherent in his personality can degrade himself by not doing his very best to come up to the highest standards expected of him. With such unique qualities of head and heart, even the best politician cannot measure up to the high grade of human traits of an average soldier. Throughout history, military organisations and military leaders have been role models for business and industrial organisations. Their contribution to the field of management remains unparallel. If one wants to learn leadership lessons from history, one always turns to the value –based leadership displayed by great soldiers in the past. One thing that has never changed is the officers and men from armed forces being looked up to as the most effective in any situation.

Governments must make optimal use of this unique resource for providing good governance to its citizens. There is no area of governance which cannot take benefit of the expertise of the retired soldiers. However, a word of caution; even the armed forces have a miniscule minority of officers and men who may be frustrated and unhappy because of some reason or the other, as such a suitable selection process must be used for hiring the ex-servicemen for any task. Here is how the government can make the best use of the ex-servicemen:

To start with there is a need to revamp and rejuvenate Department of Sainik Welfare at State and district levels so that they become the nerve centres of all activities related with ex-servicemen. As is well-known most of the appointments made in these organizations are of political nature for the sole purpose of rehabilitating some incompetent favourites of those in power. As such they are de-motivated due to change of guard; also some of the organsations have become stagnant and are on the verge of becoming defunct.

There is an urgent need to select and appoint the best who can act as interface for the well-being of the community they are expected to serve. To be able to tap talent and potential amongst the ex-servicemen, the Department must prepare a detailed directory containing qualifications, experience, skill-sets, aptitude, job preference, location preference etc in addition to the usual name trade, age, service years and address of the ex-servicemen. In today’s world it is not that gigantic a task as it used to be. A good beginning can be made with the available data with government and DGR of various Command HQs.

Some of the officers had undergone professional courses like DSSC/PTSC, LDMC (Long Defence Management Course), Higher Command, NDC (National Defence College) etc while in service. Some of them have also acquired qualifications like PhD, M.Tech, MBA and MCA etc. Officers selected out of this pool can be inducted in the government as part of a think-tank at the policy level.

Governments may consider establishing State Industrial Security Force (SISF) on the pattern of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Not only State run industrial units, Boards and Corporations but also private enterprises could benefit from the services of such an organization. This body could be a major employer of the hard working sincere and honest workforce of ex-servicemen.=

Appointing JCOs and ORs as jail warders is good idea. Inefficient jails management is an issue giving sleepless nights to the State police. Jails have become a safe haven for criminals and most are the hot-bed of many illegal activities including drug abuse.

Ex-servicemen are the ideal choice as jail superintendents and Head Warders/Warders for efficient management of jails Officers from the corps of EME (Electronics and Mechanical Engineering) are trained in management techniques including project management; they can best be utilized for initiating new projects and efficient management of on-going ones.

Veterans from this Corps also have the expertise of automobile engineering having maintained, repaired and inspected army transport and related equipment for many years in a challenging operating environment. They could be the ideal choice for efficient management of Punjab Roadways and its subsidiary units which are bleeding the scarce financial resources of the government.

Efficient utilisation of the allotted funds areas is a problem which deserves a closer look. Suitable selected officers, JCOs and ORs can be positioned at different levels for an honest feedback from departments that can get the best results. They can support the agencies involved in monitoring the fund management, especially in rural areas, which can reduce the farmers’ suicide.

Perhaps, it is time to make it mandatory for government and private schools to appoint suitably qualified ex-servicemen with right aptitude as mentors to improve the quality of education, particularly at primary and secondary levels. The current practice of leaving the management of schools to uneducated businessmen and bureaucrats must stop. There is a need to develop a cadre of education –managers or ‘educrats’ on the pattern of technocrats. Punjab government’s initiative Guardians of Governance, employing ex-servicemen for good governance is a laudable step and the government is bound to get rich dividends. The innumerable problems India faces today are linked with the quality of human resources it has. Most of the officers, JCOs and NCOs are excellent managers of human and material resources and can be employed as managers in various government organizations at different levels.

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