The Tribune - Spectrum

, August 18, 2002

‘Military elite’ hold the key to development
Vijay Oberoi

Military Elite and National Development
by Major General P.C. Jerath. New Delhi, K.K. Publishers & Distributors, 2002. Pages 176. Rs 250.

Military Elite and National DevelopmentMAJOR General Jerath’s book should appeal to all those who believe that there is a need for rapid development in our country, especially in the rural areas.

A fair proportion of the book deals with how the fraternity of retired military personnel can be used to make a radical difference in the development of the country. The thesis of the author is that the talent and skills of retired military personnel can be utilised in many fields, particularly in developmental projects. In this well-researched book, the author explains how training imparted in the defence services to officers, junior commissioned officers (JCO’s) and men, not only makes them good leaders and soldiers, but also inculcates skills and values which make them ideal for employment in developmental schemes. The author has proposed the setting up of an organisation, named the Dynamic Development Administration (DDA) for carrying out developmental activities in towns and villages. The administration of the organisation would largely be in the hands of ex-servicemen.

The author has highlighted the need for the nation to utilise the services of military personnel after their retirement from military service. He calls these personnel ‘military elite’ and emphasises the skills and, more importantly, the values which they imbibe during course of their service.


The book is divided into two parts. Part I is essentially a dissertation which the author had written in 1984. It mainly makes three points. Firstly, the ‘military elite’, who retire at comparatively young ages, have many productive years left which they can to devote to nation building. Secondly, he identifies specific spheres of development where the ‘military elite’ can contribute to the maximum extent. He cites the example of Land Armies, which did excellent work in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. The third point highlights the positive traits of the ‘military elite’, which need to be exploited for the good of the nation. The data and statistics used in Part I of the book are only up to the early eighties, hence this part is somewhat dated. If updated statistics had been used, they would have added to the intrinsic value of the book and would have further supported the thesis of the author.

Part II, on the other hand, is topical and up-to-date and deals with the subject in a more comprehensive manner. The author laments the fact that although the bulk of our population is still rural, our villages have not developed, are poor, and lack even the basic necessities of life. He bemoans the lack of infrastructure and goes on to suggest the employment of the ‘military elite’ in projects, which would substantially enhance infrastructure and bring prosperity to our villages.

The issue of human resource development in the Army is discussed in this part. The author concludes that military personnel not only have skills, intellect and leadership qualities, but also virtues like discipline, dedication, integrity, honesty and self-reliance. He adds that if similar training is imparted to our youth it will give a major boost to nation building. He suggests making NCC compulsory for all students and forming a number of cooperatives by ex-servicemen.

In Part II a detailed analysis of various schemes and programmes initiated by the government for employment, housing, area development and so on, has been carried out by the author and a host of data provided. A large number of schemes have been covered, for instance Jawahar Rozgar Yojna, Million Wells Scheme, Self-employment and Entrepreneurial Development Programme, Ganga Kalyan Yojna, Indira Awas Yojna and so on. However, the author laments that on account of lack of effective monitoring, implementation and accountability, the schemes have not produced results. The author proposes the establishment of self-reliant villages and a Dynamic Development Administration (DDA) for the rural areas. The creation of Land Armies has also been stressed.

The author has also briefly touched upon how the ‘military elite’ can contribute positively to urban development. He cites the example of well-administered military cantonments vis-a-vis towns and cities administered by municipal corporations.

The book also gives examples of how other nations have developed their rural and urban areas. The book contains statistical data and appendices which add to its value. However, the editing is not up to the mark.

Commenting on ex-servicemen, General S. Padmanabhan, the Chief of Army Staff, has stated in his message that ‘the book will not only highlight to the government and NGOs the gross underutilisation of a vast human resources, but also enable them to adopt innovative methods to garner this valuable resources towards nation building and development’. General Jerath’s labour of love would have achieved its aim if what General Padmanabhan has stated, does, in fact, come about.

The book is recommended reading, not only for serving and retired defence forces personnel, but also for decision-makers in general and those dealing with nation building in particular.