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Slowdown effect: fauji kin find soldier’s uniform fashionable,again

The global economic downturn has its share of positives too: it seems to have played a constructive role in reviving the patriotic streak in the city’s youth.

Written by Raja Menon | Pune | Published: June 11, 2009 3:42:23 am

The global economic downturn has its share of positives too: it seems to have played a constructive role in reviving the patriotic streak in the city’s youth. With jobs across the private sector fast diminishing and increasingly unstable,a career in the Armed Forces is no longer an unattractive option. This is especially true for those who hail from an army background,who were more inclined to take up cushy postings in the private sector until the slump hit home.

“It is a heartening trend. The Armed Forces always welcome youngsters who are committed to serving the nation. There has been a lull and we were unable to find good people,who were more drawn to jobs in the private sector,with fat pay packages and other perks,” Lt Gen (Retd) R K Nanavatty,former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief,Northern Command,told The Indian Express on the sidelines of the NDA passing-out parade recently.

“Before the slowdown kicked in,our students — most of whom have an army background — were mostly keen on jobs in the IT or finance sector and were concerned over which engineering college they will get admission to. However,this year,at least 75 students — from classes XI and XII — have told me that they are seriously considering a career in the Defence Forces. It’s a remarkable turnaround,” said Binita Punekar,principal,Army Public School.

For over 90 per cent of the students at APS,a tryst with the Armed Forces is a family affair,Punekar said. “We arrange interactions and career counselling sessions with serving and retired officers. Of late,the response has been more enthusiastic than before. A lot more youngsters are suddenly keen to follow in the footsteps of their fathers or other relatives and don the uniform.”

A senior Army officer closely associated with training cadets at the National Defence Academy,(NDA),Khadakwasla,agreed: “Around 30 per cent of the 350-odd cadets here now are second- or third-generation soldiers in the making. They have some relatives in the tri-services who have motivated them to sign up. We expect the proportion to go up in future.”

Meanwhile,still grappling with a shortage of officers,the Army,on its part,is not adopting a ‘wait and watch’ policy. To reach out to the youth,the Army recently proposed to make the Short Service Commission (SSC) a more attractive option by encouraging them to opt for additional qualifications such as a PhD or MBA to enhance opportunities in the private sector when they leave the force.

It had also put forth a proposal to send the SSC officers for higher command courses so that they can continue as permanent officers. Previously,these courses were offered only to regular,commissioned officers.

Another plan is to provide the SSC officers ‘gratuity’ for the 14-year service in the Army that would make some funds available to them as a buffer when they leave the service.

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