The Indian Territorial Army (TA) is to make its courses flexible to attract experts and specialists in various fields. The Additional Director General Territorial Army (ADGTA) Major General K.V.S. Lalotra said this while making a presentation on the TA to an audience comprising of some 30 mostly young Members of Parliament (MPs) at the Ministry of Defense on Tuesday.
“If you are taking in an expert then you do not have to give him that much training,” said Lalotra.
Normally, TA officers have to undergo four months of training initially and two months training/deployment in successive years. According to the new scheme, which is still under discussion, officers with expertise in fields like law, engineering or information technology would have to train for only one month and serve for 14 days in subsequent years in peace time.
MPs at the presentation asked for the proposed flexible training program to be extended to include them as well.
Muhammed Hamdulla Sayeed, the MP from Lakshwadeep, who is also India’s youngest MP inquired about island-based or coastal territorial army units in the island group. According to the ADGTA, while there is a ‘Home-and-Hearth’ locally-raised TA battalion in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, there is no such unit in Lakshwadeep and such a unit would be raised there only if a need was perceived.
But Sayeed was still enthusiastic. “Yes, of course I’m joining,” he said after the presentation, when asked whether he was interested.
The TA held other attractions to other MPs. The MP from Kurukshetra industrialist Naveen Jindal inquired as to whether officers would be issued personal firearms and could retain them. Later Jindal admitted a fascination for firearms that made the TA attractive. “I’ve been a shooter. I’m a part of the national team. My interest is not only sports-related but also with respect to self defense. I do plan to join but it will depend on when the next recruitment is held and whether the flexible training that has been discussed is made available to us,” he said.
He also came out in favor of women joining the TA infantry battalions, saying, “The issue of women in the regular army notwithstanding, I think the recruitment of women in the TA should definitely be encouraged.”
But there were other MPs who would need to get used to the discipline and punctuality of the armed forces. Kalikesh Singh Deo, the MP from Bolangir in Orissa, arrived for the presentation almost at its conclusion. Interestingly, Brigadier KP Singh Deo served in the TA and was also awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM).
Lalotra said the presentation was also made to MPs to get them on board the exercise for raising awareness and driving recruitment to the TA. The force recruits citizens in the age group of 18 to 42 years.