A study by the United Service Institution (USI) of India has found that more than half personnel of the Indian Army are going through severe stress. The study has also highlighted that the Army is losing more men due to suicides, fratricides and untoward incidents than of any enemy or terrorist activities. United Service Institution of India is a national security and defence services think tank based in New Delhi.

The study was conducted by Col. AK Mor, Senior Research Fellow at the USI during 2019-2020, and presented at a webinar entitled "Prevailing Stress Levels in the Indian Army due to Prolonged Exposure to Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism Environment" held in October 2020.

One of the major findings of the study highlighted that "there has been a significant increase in stress levels amongst Indian Army personnel during approximately last two decades due to operational and non-operational stressors." The study further noted, "Prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI/CT) environment has been one of the contributory factors for increased stress levels."

Indian Army Tour of Duty

Lower job satisfaction among officers

One of the most concerning findings of the study was related to job satisfaction among the Army personnel. The overall job satisfaction found to be high among Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and Other Ranks (ORs). In contrast, "It seems to be a growing matter of concern amongst Officers, requiring urgent interventions from the highest levels of Government."

Although military personnel have understood and accepted operational stressors, the study states that non-operational stressors add "compound adverse effects on soldiers' health and combat performance and thus often affect their respective units."

Major cause of stress

Compared to JCOs and ORs, officers face comparatively much higher accumulated stress levels and the stress causative factors are also different. Inadequacies in the quality of leadership, overburdened commitments, inadequate resources, frequent dislocations, lack of fairness and transparency in postings and promotions, down gradation in pay and status, inadequate promotional avenues, lack of motivation amongst juniors, non-grant of leave, indifferent attitude of civilian officials and short command tenures are some of the causes for high stress among officers.

Soldiers of the Indian Army

But for the ranks of JCO and OR, "delay and denial of leave, excessive engagements, domestic problems, humiliation by seniors, lack of dignity, unreasonable restrictions on use of mobiles, lack of recreational facilities, conflict with seniors as well as subordinates, health problems, the inadequacy of train reservation, inefficient administrative support, financial problems, lack of transparency in promotions, non-adherence to unit tarteebs, delay in crediting of financial claims and poor quality of rations as well as cooked food," are among the cause of stress, found the study.