Defence Ministry suggests standards’ dilution for officers

July 18th, 2008 - 9:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) Failing to woo the youth to the Indian armed forces, the defence ministry has suggested a one-time waiver in the qualitative requirements (QRs) for officers to fill up the growing middle-rung vacancies in the forces - but this has not gone down well. “The waiver is one of the suggestions from the ministry to the armed forces and their opinion has been sought on it,” a defence ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Defence ministry Special Secretary P.K. Rastogi has made the suggestion in a letter to the chiefs of the army, the navy and the air force.

The armed forces have reacted to the suggestion with dismay.

“There cannot be a one-time waiver in the QRs as this will set a precedent and could affect the armed forces’ decision-making process in the long run,” an officer said, also requesting anonymity.

The armed forces have been maintaining that there is no dearth of people applying for recruitment as soldiers, with about 10,000 to 15,000 applications received for every vacancy. For the officer corps, however, there is an immense shortage of candidates with the right aptitudes and skills.

The defence forces need to take in 2,100 officers annually. But, against a sanctioned strength of 67,540 officers, the armed forces are currently short of a staggering 14,264.

The problem has further been aggravated with as many as 3,000 officers seeking premature retirement from just the army in the last three years, with most of them moving to the more lucrative corporate sector.

The defence ministry has also suggested the armed forces take a fresh look at requests for early retirement, as also consider re-employing retired officers.

“The forces have been asked to give their opinion on the reemployment of retired officers,” the official said.

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