A study by a think tank has said that the Indian Army has been losing more personnel every year in suicides, fratricides and untoward incidents than in any enemy action and over half of its soldiers seem to be under severe stress presently, Press Trust of India reported.
“Prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to CI (counter- insurgency)/CT (counter-terrorism) environment has been one of the contributory factors for increased stress levels,” said the research undertaken by Col A K Mor, Senior Research Fellow at the United Service Institution of India (USI) during 2019-20.
There has been a significant increase in stress levels amongst Indian Army personnel during approximately the last two decades due to operational and non-operational stressors, it said.
“Furthermore, presently more than half of Indian Army personnel seem to be under severe stress,” said the study that was uploaded on the USI’s website last month.
“The Indian Army has been losing more personnel every year due to suicides, fratricides and untoward incidents than in response to any enemy and/or terrorist activities,” it mentioned.
Various stress management measures implemented by the Indian Army and the Defence ministry during the last 15 years have not been able to achieve the desired results, the study stated.
Units and sub-units under stress are likely to witness an increased number of incidents of indiscipline, unsatisfactory state of training, inadequate maintenance of equipment and low morale that adversely affects their combat preparedness and operational performance, it noted.
As per the study, the major organisational causes of stress amongst Army officers include inadequacies in the quality of leadership, overburdened commitments, inadequate resources, frequent dislocations, lack of fairness and transparency in postings and promotions, insufficient accommodation and non-grant of leave.
The main organisational stressors as perceived by junior commissioned officers (JCOs)/other ranks (ORs) include delay and denial of leave, excessive engagements, domestic problems, humiliation by seniors, lack of dignity, unreasonable restrictions on the use of mobiles, lack of recreational facilities and conflict with seniors as well as subordinates.
Maj General (Retd) B K Sharma is currently the director of the USI.
The USI’s website says that the three service chiefs – General M M Naravane, Admiral Karambir Singh and Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria – are its Vice Patrons. Its president is Vice Adm R Hari Kumar, who is Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chief of Staffs Committee (CISC).
The Indian armed forces have been losing over 100 soldiers every year due to suicides and fratricides leading to the “grim reality” of one soldier dying every third day, the study noted.
“This loss is substantially greater than the operational casualties suffered by the Armed forces. In addition, a number of soldiers and leaders have been affected by hypertension, heart diseases, psychosis, neurosis and other related ailments,” it mentioned.