Military fails to woo; 108 NDA seats vacant

May 4th, 2008 - 1:58 pm ICT by admin  

By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Even as the Indian Army is grappling with acute shortage of middle rung officers due to their mass exodus to the corporate sector, the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadagvasla in Maharashtra has fallen short of 108 quality cadets for its latest batch. This year only 192 cadets turned up to join NDA, a premier joint services institution to train cadets for the three defence forces, as against the sanctioned strength of 300 for the batch.

“It is true that the number of cadets this year has fallen drastically. The NDA has got only 192 cadets,” a senior army official told IANS.

Commenting on the shortage of officers, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had said on April 29, “The shortage is a reality. The government will take positive and active action in consultation with the army to lure youngsters to join the army.”

But all the efforts, including a vigorous media campaign, concentrated at making a career in the army lucrative for those between age group 18 to 25, have failed to yield results.

“There is no dearth of people applying for the post of soldiers, with about 10,000 to 15,000 applications coming for one post. But for officers there is a shortage of candidates with the right aptitude,” the official added.

Besides NDA, the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, has also not been able to attract enough candidates for its course. This year, only 86 have signed against a course strength of 250.

“The problem is that quality candidates are not coming to join the academies and the standards laid down for the officers cannot be lowered,” the official said.

Annually the defence forces need 2,100 officers. It is currently facing a shortage of 11,238 officers. A total of 46,615 is the sanctioned strength.

“If we start filling up the posts today, it is going to take another 20 years to make up for the shortage,” the official added.

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

“Earlier, corporate houses used to give good offers to army officers. But now they are literally catching the capable candidates when they are young,” another senior official said.

“Many of the corporate houses are going to the villages and luring the candidates who have been selected for training to join their organisation at a high salary,” the official added.

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