Srinagar: Indian Army has proposed a three-year “internship” for youths, both as officers and soldiers citing “resurgence of nationalism and patriotism”.

Quoting an internal note, The Indian Express has reported that the short, voluntary “tour of duty” is for youths who “do not want to make defence services their permanent vocation, but still want to experience the thrill and adventure of military professionalism”.

“The proposal is a shift from the concept of permanent service/job in the Armed Forces, towards ‘internship’/temporary experience for three years. Unemployment in our country is a reality, however, there is a resurgence of nationalism and patriotism,” says the note.

However, the entry criteria for such candidates will not be relaxed. Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand confirmed that such a proposal is being discussed, and emphasized that, if accepted, the “tour of duty” will not be mandatory. The “major crux”, says the note, lies in making the proposal “attractive to the government, Armed Forces, corporates and most importantly the individuals” who opt for it.

For this, it proposes that the individual’s earnings for the three-year period could be made tax-free, and he/she could be given preference in public sector jobs as well as post-graduate courses.

“The government may not make ToD (tour of duty) as a compulsory criteria for central/state jobs, however, any edge in terms of qualitative/quantitative/supernumerary criteria will give the scheme a boost,” it says.

Listing the benefits for the services, it says it will bring in savings from salaries and pensions, and “decrease the frustration” of officers who are released after 10-14 years of short service, when they are in their mid-30s.

Pointing out “immense financial benefits to the organization due to reduction in pay and gratuity payouts”, the Army has said the cost of a three-year service per officer will be a fraction of the cost incurred on Short Service Commission (SSC) officers.

It says the cost incurred on an officer, who leaves after 10 or 14 years, is Rs 5 crore-Rs 6.8 crore, which includes the cost of pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, leave encashment among others.

The Army estimates that the corresponding cost for a three-year service will be Rs 80 lakh-85 lakh.

It adds that SSC officers have the option to join the service permanently, which further increases the cost incurred, including pension bills.

For soldiers, who usually serve for 17 years, the Army has calculated a lifetime savings of Rs 11.5 crore per person, as compared to a three-year service.

Saying that it will help to “channelize the youth energy into positive utilization of their potential”, the note adds that “rigorous military training and habits inculcated will lead to the healthy citizenry”.

It says that the entire nation will benefit from “trained, disciplined, confident, diligent and committed” young men or women who have done the three-year service, and an “initial survey” has indicated that the corporate sector will prefer to hire such youths rather than fresh graduates.

Noting that the proposed scheme will be on a trial basis with limited vacancies, the Army has said that “it can be expanded further if found successful”.

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