New Delhi: In what is being seen as a reflection of the disenchantment affecting Indian Army soldiers in their relation with their officers, more than 10,000 soldiers took pre-mature retirement from the force last year.
Elaborating on the issue in Parliament, defence minister AK Antony said that 10,315 soldiers opted for premature retirement in 2011, while the figure for 2010 and 2009 was 7,249 and 7,499 respectively.
He said that the jawans, who are better educated than in the past, retire around a productive age of 35 years to look out for greener pastures instead of continuing in the force.
With two major incidents of scuffles and stand-offs being reported this year - one in Ladakh and another in Samba sector of Jammu & Kashmir - the defence establishment has taken a serious note of the growing discord between officers and jawans under the hierarchical system adapted from the British Army.
Antony said the government has taken a number of steps to keep up the morale of the jawans. The ministry is also undertaking a review of the system of appointing ‘sahayaks’ (called Batman in army parlance).
Sahayaks are actually combatant soldiers who are attached to senior officers for doing their personal work, from polishing his shoes, to maintaining his uniform, taking children to school, doing gardening and assisting the officer’s spouse in her chores.
The Army in April had recommended the abolishing of this colonial-era system and recommended recruitment of civilians for such odd jobs. The proposal has evoked a positive response from the defence ministry but a nod is yet to come as the South Block is reviewing the extra financial burden that the recruitment of civilians will incur.