Compulsory military training for youth in India

Ram Rattan Sharma
Defense is an important and integral part of a nation’s life .For centuries wars have been fought among different people. Even in modern times, wars have not been removed from life. In some part of the world or other two nations have been at war with each other during the past decade or two. Many of the developed nations too are spending large amounts for the defense of their borders. In the name of defense they have been accumulating weapons of war. New techniques and new technology are utilized in building up arms. In short ,every nation is interested in strengthening its military power .The preparation for defense have diverted huge amounts to defense while they could have been used for progressive measures and developmental projects. When importance is given to military power by some nations ,it is quite natural that other nations, especially in contiguous parts, should also think of improving their defense .Hence it has become a pertinent question whether India too should go in for the strengthening of its military power and whether military training for her youths should he given without delay. For any country a standing armed force is essential . Every nation has its own army, airforce and navy. Much money is spent on recruitment of people for these wings of the defense set ups for their maintenance and development. These forces are expected to defend the country. But it is felt that a second line of defense would be necessary. Many feel that compulsory military training should he provided to our youth.This is based on the experience in other countries.
Compulsory military training is only one of the means through which youth could make themselves useful to their countries. It is said that in many foreign countries such a training is given, when youngmen reach a certain age. They have to give-up whatever occupation they might be following at the moment and take up a course in military science. The students in the universities or workers in factories may go back to their original occupation if they so desire, after the training is over, or they may take up a regular course in military science. Such a training helps them to defend their country in times of emergency ,when there is pressure on the regular armed forces. This training is compulsory for all able bodied persons. Apart from this aspect, military training is useful in other ways. Life in our country today has become notorious for acts of violence and indiscipline in many walks of life in many parts. Regionalism, communalism and linguist and religious fanaticism, breed indiscipline and chaos. Under these circumstance, military training will be of great value in making every one understand the worth of discipline. The military training is useful in many other ways. The sense of discipline that is instilled into youth . The habit of service, dedication and selfless work help people in peace time activities also, when there are natural calamities like floods ,quakes and drought ,those who serve in the armed forces can do service to the distressed people .They can be expected to be quick and efficient in doing their duty and in the execution of any work that may be given to them. If the country is to derive valuable benefits compulsory military training must be an indispensable factor of life . The advantages of a compulsory military service far outweigh the disadvantages and India ought to legislate this provision .The length of training or refresher is another matter to be considered. There are ways around any impediment, studying the experiences of other progressive nations would help in refining the optimal scheme for our country as nations have traditionally adopted different approaches to conscription, mainly dictated by their Geostrategic compulsion and historical lineage. Pure democracies have tended to opt for purely voluntary military service , which definitely has its disadvantages of a more committed military cadre. But when one looks at the larger context, there appear definite pros to consider compulsory tenure for the young people in our country. There are different formats in military conscription that one sees . We have the Singapore/Turkey model ,where in young boys are made to do two years of military service after school, with some kind of refresher every year .Then you have the Israel model, where both boys and girls are exposed to compulsory military service. India has had the national cadet corps [NCC] in place for eons now and that has had a positive contributions to the psyche of the overall national discipline in our citizenry. But the NCC is not compulsory ,especially in private schools, though the existing format does give a limited avenue for youngsters to pursue a military career later in life . Some nations, such as the US, during the Vietnam war or even in times of peace have had a system where the military service offers certain prerequisite such as higher education or even citizenship for immigrants. From one’s experience, one has seen a considerable boost and discipline in youngsters who undergo military service. While the sense of civic responsibilities and adherence to law is a gainer , one even sees an added respect for the uniform amongst those who wear it and the citizenry that benefits from this measure one even sees young people opting to get married with their uniform on, which to my mind, is a highly desirable thing. Once the powers that be are, convinced about the over whelming plus points in compulsory military service, any number of incentivized Govt. policies could he put in place to promote the scheme from monetary to promotional aspects. We need to consider the bigger aim of inculcating the national spirit and a citizen specific spirit. After the horrors of two world wars and the advent of nuclear weapons , it was believed that all out wars had become pass√© but Ukraine has shown otherwise. It is not without reason that developed modern nations spend wisely on their defense capabilities .What better example than the quantum jump in the defense expenditure by the Germans ,post the war situation in Europe
In order to understand significance of military training, it was the spirit that enabled Sir Winston Churchil, the worthy solider statesman of England to come out victorious during world war II. Napoleon’s daring feats could also be attributed to his military discipline, it was the spirit which moved Maharana Partap and Shiva ji to fight against the nefarious acts of their enemies. Indeed military training is useful in many ways. Therefore, if we really want to make India a great country i.e. free from all the evils of corruption, Nepotism and selfish interests, it is high time that we impart military training to our youth and make the true soliders and saviours of the motherland. This would also serve as the second line of defense during the wars or any unrest or cries. The three attacks of China and Pakistan in 1962, 1965, and 1971 have compelled Indian leaders to think over the problem seriously.
(The author is former Dy Librarian University of Jammu)