Shortage of leadership and shortage of officers in the Armed forces

Newsroom24x7 Feature

Several years ago, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, MC (3 April 1914 – 27 June 2008), who was the chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, while speaking at St Xavier’s College had spoken at length about shortage of leadership in the country.

Today India’s Minister of State for Defence,  Subhash Bhamre told Parliament that there was a shortage of 7298 officers in the Indian Army, 1606 officers in the Indian Navy and 192 officers in the Indian Air Force.

The Minister told the House that the Government was continuously making efforts to reduce the shortage of officers in the armed forces. He said that there has been sustained image projection through career fairs, exhibitions and publicity campaign to create awareness among the youth on the advantages of taking up a challenging and satisfying career. The Government has also taken various steps to make armed forces’ jobs attractive including improvement in promotion prospects in the Armed Forces.

If one closely follows the content and the gist of what Field Marshal Manekshaw had stated while hitting the nail on the head on the leadership issue, it would be amply clear that the Government has no clue about what is really required when it comes to building leadership qualities among the youth so that a large number of them with “reasonable common sense and decency”, if they come forward to join the armed forces as officers there would be no dearth of leadership in uniform.

Speaking at St Xaviers, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw had said: “For a long time, I have been watching the scene in India very carefully. Where ever I go, whenever I pick a newspaper, I find there are shortages. There is a shortage of fuel, there is a shortage of food, there is a shortage of foreign exchange, there is shortage of housing, shortage of schools, colleges, everywhere. And everybody talks about these shortages But the one shortage, which is responsible for all these shortages is generally glossed over, which is the shortage of leadership.

….dont misunderdstand me. and gentlemen of the press, please don’t misquote me, which you are always capable of doing and which you continue doing. When I talk of shortage of leadership, I do not mean just political leadership. I mean leadership in every walk of life – whether it is political, administrative, in educational institutions, in our sports organisations, in our industry, amongst labour, amongst the law and order contingents – there is shortage of leadership. I do not know whether leaders are born or leaders are made. There is a school of thought that says leaders are born.

…we have a population of 780 million people and we procreate at the rate of one Australia every year and yet there is shortage of leadership.

So if those of you who think that leaders are born and contribute to that theory, may I suggest you throw away all planned parenthood and really let yourselves go.

If leaders are not born, can leaders be made? It is my view that give me a man with reasonable common sense and decency, you can make a leader out of him.

What are the attributes of leadership?

There are many attributes. The cardinal attribute for leadership is professional knowledge and professional competence. Now you will agree with me that you cannot be born with professional knowledge, even if you are the child of a Minister, the son of a Member of Parliament or the progeny of a Field Marshal. Professional knowledge has to be acquired the hard way. It is a constant study. Professors, Engineers, architects, lawyers, solicitors, doctors, they all stody their profession continuously. they all contribute to magazines, to news prints to all sorts of things but we in India, as soon as we reach positions of power – whether its ministerial, secretarial, armed forces, or anywhere else, we think we are the repository of all knowledge….”


The details of strength of Officers in the three Armed Forces (excluding medical and dental), force-wise are as under:-

Service Authorised Strength Held Strength Shortage

(As on 1.1.2018)

49933 42635 7298

(As on 1.7.2018)

11352 9746 1606
Air Force

(As on 1.7.2018)

12584 12392



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