BJP MP Anurag Thakur was recently commissioned in the Territorial Army. What are the roles, responsibilities and benefits of TA personnel?
What is the Territorial Army (TA)?
A military force that can be mobilised for the defence of the country in case of an emergency. It is composed of volunteers already gainfully employed in civilian professions, but who receive military training for a few days in a year. The TA Act was passed in 1948, and the TA was inaugurated by C Rajagopalachari on October 9, 1949. Its origins lie in the Territorial Army raised by the British in 1920 through the Indian Territorial Act, 1920. The British TA was organised into two wings: ‘The Auxiliary Force’ for Europeans and Anglo-Indians, and ‘The Indian Territorial Force’ for Indian volunteers.
Is TA a part of the regular Army?
Yes. Its role is to relieve the regular Army from static duties and assist the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities. It is also tasked to maintain essential services in situations where the life of the community is affected or the security of the country threatened. The TA also provides units in support of the regular Army as and when required.
How many men currently serve in TA?
TA currently has a strength of approximately 40,000 first line soldiers, and another 160,000 second line troops. They serve in departmental TA units such as Railways, IOC, ONGC, Telecommunications and General Hospital, and in the non-departmental TA units of Infantry (TA) and Ecological (TA), which are affiliated to various infantry regiments of the Army.
How is the training in TA organised?
Training in non-departmental TA is carried out in urban and provincial systems. In the urban system, training is over weekends and on holidays. Four hours of training is counted as one day of training. A minimum of 30 days of training, extendable to a maximum of 60 days, including a camp for 14 days, has to be completed during the calendar year. All officers are required to undergo 10 weeks of post-commission training within two years of their commissioning. In the provincial system, the annual training is for a continuous period of two calendar months in the first and subsequent years.
Who is eligible to be an officer in TA?
Any Indian graduate, between the ages of 18 and 42 years, can apply in response to advertisements issued twice every year. After clearing a preliminary interview board, the candidate has to successfully go through the SSB Interview, Medical Board and Police Verification to be granted commission as an officer in the TA.
Cricketers M S Dhoni and Kapil Dev were earlier granted commission in TA. Did they go through the selection process?
No. They were granted ‘honorary’ commission to act as brand ambassadors for the Army. That is more of a decorative role. But others like former Union Minister K P Singh Deo, former MP Manvendra Singh, former Union Minister Sachin Pilot and the current BJP MP Anurag Thakur have been selected after going through the due process.
Are TA personnel entitled to benefits like canteen services etc.?
Yes. They are entitled to all benefits applicable to regular Army personnel, including medical care during embodiment for training and in case of war. Gratuity, pension and other benefits are applicable depending on the years of service and on matching other criteria.
When can they wear military uniform?
Only at certain occasions, including recruitments/training, military parades as spectators, functions where uniform is prescribed, weddings/funerals at which regimental military officers and gazetted civil officers wear uniform, when summoned by a regular Army officer, etc.