Now, a proposal to reduce Army personnel in NCC by 75 per cent

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As part of the ongoing exercise to ensure optimisation of manpower in the Army, a proposal has been moved to cut down deputation to National Cadet Corps (NCC) by 75 per cent and make up the deficiency by hiring ex-servicemen on contract.

In a letter dispatched to all NCC directorates on May 27 this year, the NCC Directorate General in New Delhi has sought comments on the move. With a decrease in manpower of the Army by around two lakhs being expected to be regularised, there are similar manpower reduction proposals being examined at many other establishments.

As far as NCC is concerned, the directorates down the line have been asked to give their response to the proposed reduction of the instructional staff from the Army so that the challenges and problems which can arise can be discussed and understood. The directorates have also been asked to recommend what percentage of reduction may be permissible and can be done without compromising the functional efficiency of a NCC unit or sub unit.

Commenting on the move, a senior officer serving in the NCC, on condition of anonymity, said that there are not a large number of personnel serving in any NCC unit and, as it is, there are barely enough to meet the requirements. “A NCC unit is not like a normal Army battalion with hundreds of troops. There are barely 16-17 odd serving military personnel in the unit and these are just enough to manage the requirements,” the officer said.

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The officer added that if such a reduction of 75 per cent is effected, there will only be three or four personnel left in one unit effectively. “With leave, courses or attachments due to various reasons this number will come down even more. NCC is one of the few peace time establishments where officers, JCOs or jawans are normally posted on compassionate grounds as these units are often very close to their hometown and help in mitigating their adverse circumstances. It will be extremely unfair to take away this avenue from them,” the officer added.

Another senior officer with NCC said that while ex-servicemen may be available in large numbers to fill up the vacancies, but their level of accountability will not be same as that of those still in service. “We are talking about handling children in NCC, including girls, in schools and then young adults in college. How will a retired person’s accountability be established if there is any misconduct? Right now the defence personnel serving in NCC are covered under the Army, Navy and Air Force Acts as the case may be and these are not applicable on retired personnel,” he said.

There has been a concerted effort at the apex level of the government to cut down on flab in the military in order to control the increasing pension budget and to have more cash to spend on capital budget and technological acquisitions. The proposed Tour of Duty scheme of recruitment, which envisages hiring soldiers on contract for four years and retaining only a fraction of them for pensionable service, is also a step in that direction. However, senior retired military officers have expressed their reservations at the new method of recruitment and have recommended that this be test-bedded before being implemented lock, stock and barrel.

Resulting vacancies to be filled by hiring ex-servicemen, as per the proposal

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