India's Vanishing Officers

Article excerpt

INDIA'S ARMED FORCES ARE among the largest in the world, with more than 1.3 million troops on active duty. But they are facing a crisis: They can't find enough qualified and willing candidates to fill their junior officer ranks, reports doctoral candidate Dinesh Kumar of Monash University in Melbourne.

The shortage is not entirely new, but today it is worse than ever, in part because the opening of India's economy has created new avenues for upward mobility. In addition, new officers face the unappealing prospect of being shipped off to the country's counterinsurgency missions against separatists in the province of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1997, when the Ministry of Defense first hired an advertising agency to burnish the militates image, the army faced an officer shortfall of nearly 13,000, more than 25 percent of the slots it was seeking to fill. Three years later, the shortfall reached 31 percent. The navy and air force have smaller but growing shortages. …

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