An institutional mechanism can be implemented wherein the veterans are co-opted in training as well as in the administration of these NCC units.

 

There are various resources that collectively shape a nation. Youths constitute the most important and critical resource for nation building. In a federal structure as prevalent in the country to a large extent, both the Central government as well as state governments/union territories run programmes to educate and empower the youths for their participation in nation building. In addition to the structured educational inputs, various other programmes in the form of National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS), Bharat Scouts and Guides etc., are also available for character and capacity building. Now that the country has celebrated 75 years of Independence, it is time to look at a fresh road map towards all these youth organisations and their programmes. It may be better to have a centralised approach at the directional level with a decentralised approach at the execution level. Some of the measures necessitating the rejuvenation of NCC are as under:
* SINGULAR NATIONAL SCHEME: When NCC commenced in India in July 1948 after Parliament Act XXXI of 1948 was passed in April 1948, the responsibility to nurture the NCC was given to the defence forces as they were thought to be most capable to instil the requisite values in the youths and the same continues till date. While all other youth empowerment schemes are also making positive contributions, they need to be amalgamated in NCC with the syllabus being suitably reviewed. The syllabus could be standardised or may have two parts, one common, whereas the second could include variable content to continue with wider scope of domain coverage. While some effort was made towards this direction in the past but it has not fructified in a singular scheme. A unified approach will not only provide standardisation but will also save substantial infrastructure and overhead costs which can be utilised for capacity expansion.
* REMOVAL OF CAPACITY CONSTRAINT: While NCC may not be made mandatory but it should be available to any government/private school/college/university without any restriction on the number of vacancies. Such an approach will expand the requirement of trainers and the training infrastructure but that can be provided if NCC becomes a mandatory certificate for recruitment in the defence forces, paramilitary forces, state police forces or any other organisation needing trained youths capable of adding value as well as security content. The time, energy and funds spent can be fully leveraged in the training duration, syllabus and method of training by the user organisation, thus making the best utilisation of national resources.
* LEVERAGING THE VETERANS: Close to 60,000 personnel of all ranks from the three Services retire every year. The majority of these personnel are in the younger age profile. An institutional mechanism can be implemented wherein the veterans are co-opted in training as well as in the administration of these NCC units. Some efforts were made/thought of earlier but its optimisation is still a distant dream. Co-option of a large number of veterans will not only ensure quality training and development but will be an inescapable resource especially when the capacity constraint is removed. This effort will also make a large number of regular combatants available for war fighting.
* GEOGRAPHICALLY MESHED ORGANISATION: The whole country should be treated as a single entity without any other consideration except location of runways for air force training, waterbodies for naval training and military installations for leveraging them for training infrastructure.
* EMPOWERING AGNIVEER ASPIRANTS: After the launch of the Agnipath scheme, a number of issues were raised by various stakeholders. One of the issues raised was related to the reduced training duration of the recruits. Though the syllabus of training is being revised to address this challenge, the ultimate resolution will come when NCC training is made mandatory QR for the recruitment. The time at which it is made mandatory should also factor in that those prior to QR modification get a level playing field which is fair. The end state of current day NCC training is reasonably good in terms of physical training, drill, small arms firing and military subjects. It will be good to leverage this for the national good.
* SYLLABUS RESTRUCTURING: Invariably, NCC training is undertaken over and above the academic curriculum, which puts additional strain on academic institutions, students and NCC trainers. While NCC has been accepted as an elective subject in some institutions, the arrangement is not uniform. Taking NCC as an elective subject could be considered as a mandatory requirement as it will unleash quality training and thus become more contributory for entry in the defence forces, paramilitary forces and state police forces.
* NCC TRAINING ACADEMIES: Since it is the responsibility of the concerned state to provide training infrastructure, it varies based on the priority of the state concerned towards NCC. To make NCC training really useful, training academies need to be opened in all states. The number of training academies should depend upon the number of NCC cadets as it should facilitate their annual training camp requirements and all other training needs in an organised manner. Adequate staffing should be factored. Underutilised/non-utilised state assets should be leveraged for this purpose to reduce the input cost. Since the government keeps funding free rations to a large number of beneficiaries in the country, all trainers in camps/NCC training academies should be given free rations for this purpose. These academies could also be used as a platform for inter-state youth exchange programmes for forging better national unity.
* OUT OF THE BOX OPTIONS: While the current day NCC training is extended to schools/colleges/universities, it should open another entry for non schools/colleges/universities to impart modified training as this segment will then address the private security needs including being armed if required. A larger trained manpower will be available for generating employment in the country and abroad. It will also reduce the training needs of multiple organisations and thus optimise the national resources and financial expenditure.
* WAR TIME ROLE: India is facing collusive threats from China and Pakistan. Cross-border terrorism and proxy war by Pakistan continues. In addition to the need of qualitative surge in the defence forces, additional numbers may also be needed as wars are less likely to be short and swift as emerged from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. While reserves can be leveraged to some extent but its efficacy is yet to be rehearsed and dovetailed in war fighting. It will be a more appropriate decision to allocate all rear area tasks to NCC trained personnel so as to relieve the large number of combatants except the nucleus staff. This will create a national capacity surge in the defence force without bringing these youths on a regular roster.