September 12, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether military service should be mandatory for Indians. We also look at Kerala’s finance issues, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Should military service be mandatory for Indians?
Amidst the recent Agnipath scheme that involves a tour of duty scheme to recruit soldiers, there have been various conversations regarding whether military service should be made mandatory in India.
With a strength of over 1.4 million active personnel, the Indian army is the second largest military army and also has the world’s largest volunteer army. Several Indians favour compulsory military training and conscription, modelling their preferences based on countries like Singapore and South Korea. However, can compulsory military service be mandatory in India? Moreover, is it normal or even democratic?
India has never had any conscription laws, and joining the Indian armed forces has been voluntary. Article 23 of the Indian constitution provides a clause allowing the union government to mandate conscription to secure the nation’s interest and the public’s broader well-being. This constitutional loophole has not been implemented by India yet. Conversations surrounding conscription in this country were heightened after reports since 2008 indicated a lack of recruits for the army, especially those who were suitable to become officers. This recruitment shortfall can pose a national problem.
While conscription in this country is not mandatory, since Independence, there have been various systems of compulsory military training for those in public schools and universities. Founded in 1948, the National Cadet Corps (NCC) stimulated youth interest in defending the country. China invaded Indian territory in 1962, leading to the introduction of certain emergency recruitment regulations. During the summer holidays, all college students (male and female) were required to participate in NCC training, which involved handling weapons and ammunition. Following the 1965 conflict with Pakistan, this scheme was continued, but it was abolished in the mid-1970s.
VIEW: Military service should be made mandatory for Indians
Let’s look at the various forms of military conscription that exist in the world. In Singapore, boys are made to do two years of military service after school, and in Israel, both boys and girls are exposed to compulsory military service. One can argue that conscription has led to an overall improvement in national discipline and patriotism. In Singapore specifically, conscription has helped with overall national cohesion and integration as its highly diverse, ethnically different immigrant population all have to be conscripted in the same military service, fostering feelings of patriotism and nationhood that are hard to conceptualise in other ways. In many ways, India is similar to Singapore as an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation with various cultural identities. Military conscription may act as a binding agent and foster feelings of patriotism and ‘one-ness’ that are difficult to have in a country as diverse as India.
Furthermore, looking at the various skills and abilities that military training may provide to individuals. There is no doubt that stress is one of the greatest maladies afflicting the generation today. People who undergo army training are put through a regime that puts their mental health to the test. After such intense training, any challenge that an individual will consequently face in life, they can manage with zero stress, aiding them to combat difficult situations in the long term. Military training also empowers trainees with strategic planning and decision-making skills. Virtues of teamwork, loyalty, trustworthiness and understanding of the value of time are some skills that can be employed in various spheres of life and benefit individuals who have undergone military training.
Mandatory conscription may also help in fostering a strong sense of civic duty and engagement that may benefit the nation and communities in various ways. The complete stripping down of caste and class in the Indian army paves the way for the thinking that is more collectivised and equal, aiding the removal of social inequalities.
COUNTERVIEW: Military service should not be mandatory for Indians
The fundamental definition of a democratic nation like ours is to provide freedom of choice and will to every individual. Mandatory military service violates the people’s right to exercise their free will, as it does not account for an individual’s opinion on whether someone actually wants to participate in military training. This means that mandatory military service is undemocratic and cannot exist in a nation that claims to be a democracy.
Another important factor to account for when considering mandating military service is the amount of risk young individuals are put through. Casualties don’t just happen in actual combat or battlefield; they also occur during training. An article published in 2017 by the Times of India states that India loses almost 1600 soldiers yearly to accidents, ailments and non-combat related reasons. Mandatory military service, which mainly enlists able-bodied young people, may put the youth of the country and the coming generations through great harm.
Mandatory military service requires every citizen to join and serve in the armed forces, but not everyone has the mental and physical capabilities that are suited for the army. Whether it is a mental or physical issue, the demands of working in the army are high, and not everyone is cut out for the toll it can cause. Factors like anxiety, depression and the like should be carefully considered. The fear and guilt that is associated with potentially killing someone is something that every person who was drafted into the military struggles with in their own way. A study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America showed that approximately 40,000 military members who returned from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And that rate is three times higher among those who were deployed in combat than those who were non-deployed.
- Make military training compulsory for youth – Tribune India
- Making military enlistment mandatory after 12th – JETIR
- 10 meaningful pros and cons of mandatory military service – ConnectUS
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Military service should be mandatory for Indians.
b) Military service should not be mandatory for Indians.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
How A Lagoon In Gujarat’s Toraniya Shows Up The Government’s Fake Claims About The Narmada Project
For the Left:
Modinomics, 13.5% Growth Rate, And How India Raced Past Britain
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Failure of policy on sanitary pads (New Delhi) – Delhi’s scheme to provide sanitary pads for ₹1 is yet to take off as the government has yet to finalise a new vendor for the supply. However, for the past two and a half years, the scheme has been at a standstill. The contract signed with a private company in 2019 expired in March 2020. The government is trying to restructure it to give ten pads for free to about 50,000 out-of-school girls and 20,000 girl students in municipal corporation-run schools.
Why it matters: The scheme was launched in 2019 to tens of thousands of girls. They were given a pack of six sanitary pads for ₹6. Most of those who benefitted were from economically backward backgrounds. It was part of the Central government’s Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS) in which states are given money to spend on sanitary pads. The target was 50,000, but the scheme could cover an average of 30,000 to 35,000 girls.
State finance issues (Kerala) – Ever since the Centre decided to stop compensating states for GST, Kerala has seen an average gap of ₹5,900 crores each month in its income and expenses. Per the CAG, for July, Kerala’s income was ₹8,709.1 crores and while the expenses were more than ₹14,600 crores. From the difference, only ₹4,116.54 crores could be covered through loans. The state’s income is unable to keep up with the necessary expenditure.
Why it matters: Expenses on Onam strained the state’s finances. It touched the upper limit of the Ways and Means Advances from the RBI. The state could be facing an overdraft. The Centre has placed borrowing limits. Combined with the end of the GST compensation, the state could see a ₹23,000 crore reduction in income this financial year.
Drive against communal hatred (Jharkhand) – A social organisation called the Maulana Azad Humane Initiative (MAHI) condemned efforts to target entire religions over instances of crimes against women in different parts of the state. The group plans to have an awareness campaign against certain agencies and parties that have tried to communalise specific incidents. They spoke out against the terms used like Love Jihad against the Muslim community.
Why it matters: According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), in 2021, more than 4.2 lakh cases of crimes against women were reported in India. The organisation’s efforts come in the wake of two incidents in the Dumka district. Several BJP leaders accused the state government of appeasing minorities which led to these acts.
Improper waste management (Maharashtra) – The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has fined the state government ₹12,000 crores as environmental compensation for improper waste management. The bench said it was needed to remedy the continuous damage caused by the shortcomings in solid and liquid waste management. It also said the past eight years since the passing of the order hadn’t provided any tangible results.
Why it matters: The state has been ordered to deposit the amount in a ring-fenced account that will be operated per the directions of the chief secretary. It’ll be used for restoration. This includes setting up sewage treatment and utilisation systems, upgrading systems and operations, and ensuring the standards are followed strictly. If the state continues to violate the orders, it’ll be ordered to pay additional compensations.
Plantable badges (Nagaland) – The Sociology department of St. Stephen’s College, Jakhama, has introduced a plantable badge. Keneisezo Thomas Belho, a postgraduate student of Sociology and founder of the Kenber newspaper pencil, said the programme was to generate awareness about environmental protection and conservation. For the state, these badges were a new concept, and he hopes they become a success.
Why it matters: Other states have similar products that call attention to the environment. In Mangaluru, volunteers made rakhis and badges that have plantable seeds that grow into vegetables when they’re sowed. The eco-friendly rakhis were made using vegetable seeds by Paper Seed Co. They also made badges for Independence Day.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
16,000 – The number of people Myntra will hire ahead of the busy festival season. The company will hire people for various roles, including warehouse handling, logistics, and delivery. Last festive season, Myntra created about 11,000 jobs.