- Army worried about antique weapons in its arsenal
- It spends just 17% of budget on infrastructure, weapons
- Job cut plan will only reduce hiring, not serving soldiers: Sources
Worried about antique weapons in its arsenal, the army is seriously thinking about a proposal to shed up to 1.5 lakh jobs. By doing so, the army would save between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000 crore which could be used to bump up its capital expenditure account used to maintain and replenish the stock of weaponry that it currently holds.
At the moment, 83 per cent or Rs 1.28 lakh crore of the army's total budget goes towards its revenue expenses - day-to-day running costs and salaries. This does not include the army's annual pension pay out which is independently accounted for. Just 17 per cent of the budget, Rs 26,826 crore, goes towards capital expenditure - a figure the army finds wholly unsatisfactory. By shedding flab over the next few years and adding up to Rs 7,000 crore, the army may be able to raise its capital budget to between Rs 31,826 and Rs 33,826 crore.
In March, the then Vice Chief of the Army, Lt General Sarath Chand told a parliamentary panel, "The state today is [that] 68 per cent of our equipment is in the vintage category with just about 24 per cent in the current and 8 per cent in the state-of-the-art category."
What's more, the modernisation budget of the army, used to procure new systems essential in increasing firepower is woefully inadequate. "Allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payment of Rs 29,033 crore for 125 on-going schemes and emergency procurements," said Lt General Chand in his deposition to the parliamentary panel.
Sources in the army have clarified that the proposal being looked at to reduce manpower is still to be accepted and that there is no question of laying off serving officers and soldiers. 60,000 personnel retire from the army every year. If the army were to reduce it manpower, it would do so by cutting down on its annual recruitment spread over a few years.
At the moment, four senior Lieutenant Generals of the Army are preparing reports looking into how the Indian Army, the fourth largest in the world, can be made into a more efficient force. The reports look at army headquarters restructuring, restructuring of the Indian Army, an officer cadre review and a report looking into the terms and conditions of service of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), soldiers who have a lower status that officers who are fully commissioned.