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Upgradation of Education Standard in Indian Army

The future war fighting environment is likely to be complex, ambiguous and inundated with plethora of high technology, modern and complex systems. Anticipation of such undefined threats in technologically intense environment, predicates the need to enhance the current intake educational standards of Indian Army (IA) and induct human resource which is capable of optimally exploiting the available niche technology.

Presently, the minimum educational qualification for intake of Soldier (General Duties) is matriculation, which has remained unchanged since more than two decades. Efforts to modernise the force without enhancing the intake educational threshold would prove calamitous and prevent optimal exploitation of modern weapons and equipment existing in the India Army inventory.  

Review of Minimum Education Qualification for Recruitment

To meet the challenges of future war fighting, a soldier is required to be technologically savvy, adaptive, multi skilled and aware. He should be capable of executing the assigned operational tasks efficiently in a technologically intense environment. This demands for better education standards with requisite aptitude and intelligence quotient at the intake level. In view of the same, there is a mandated requirement to review the present intake of education standards and enhance it from matric to minimum Intermediate (10+2). The aspect of availability of literate manpower pool for recruitment and related issues are covered in the succeeding paragraphs.

National Literacy Growth. The literacy rate of India grew almost six times from 12% to 74% since Independence, thus ensuring availability of adequate literate HR pool for recruitment. The details are as given under:-






361 million














1210 million


Level of Education. Out of the total literates in the country, approx 25.8% are educated ‘Below Primary’ level, 26.2% up to ‘Primary Level’, 14.1% have attained Matric / Secondary Level education and there are 37 million persons in the country who are ‘Graduates & above’. Each yr over 3 million graduates and post graduates are added to the Indian workforce for employment in various sects.

Literacy Standards in Rural / Urban Regions. One out of every three individuals who have completed at least graduation in the age group of 15 to 29 years has been found to be unemployed. In rural areas, the unemployment rate of graduates and above is estimated to be 36.6 %, while in urban areas, the same is approx 26.5%. Thus adequate HR pool is available in rural areas for recruitment, hence the rationale that increase in educational qualification would have adverse impact on intake from rural areas is unfounded.  Statistical details also indicate exponential increase in number of secondary schools which grew from 7,416 in 1950-51 to 1,16,820 in 1999-2000, with villages getting their proportionate share.

Relevance of Matriculate Certification. As per the latest government policy wherein the board exams in Matriculation have become optional, the uniformity in standard of education and curriculum have been greatly compromised. Various educational institutions across the country to showcase better results and higher pass percentage have grossly downgraded their educational standards and degree of difficulty of matric examination.

Intake Criteria in Indian Navy, Indian Air Force & Central Armed Police Forces

(a) Indian Navy & Indian Air Force. The minimum education qualification for induction in Indian Navy (Sailors) and Indian Air Force (Airmen) is ‘Passed Intermediate (10+2) in Science stream’. The intake education criteria of musicians and other administrative trades (Cook, stewards etc) is matriculate.

(b) Central Armed Police Forces. The Central Armed Police Forces who are equipped with majority low technology, vintage equipment and operate in a templated environment have the same minimum intake education qualification as IA. 

Availability of HR Pool. Adequate HR pool is available for recruitment in the IA. On an average only 3 to 4 aspirants per 100 successfully clear all recruitment formalities with significant number of them being 10 + 2 (Intermediate) passed / graduates.

Need For Review

The modernisation of the Army would steer directly from the visualized contours of the future wars and battle field milieu. While IA is giving adequate impetus to induction of niche technologies, however, the intake standards of HR to operate these systems remain vintage, leading to mismatch between the requirement and availability. The experience of modern defence forces in recent conflicts indicate that while technology may enhance the capability to some extent, however for its optimal exploitation, the need of an aware and technologically empowered HR is indisputable. As the  age old dictum says ‘the primary instrument of war is man and on their quality depends the outcome of the battle’.


To meet the challenges of future war fighting and ensure optimal exploitation of modern systems, there is a need to enhance the educational and technical threshold of IA. In view of the same, the following is proposed:-

  • Enhance the minimum intake education qualification for soldier (General Duty) (All Arms) from Matriculate to Intermediate (10+2) in a graduated manner. Each year incrementally 20% of recruitment vacancies to be upgraded to Intermediate (10+2).
  • Minimum 50% of recruited candidates to be from science stream (Physics, Chemistry, Maths & English).
  • Equipment intensive Corps to have minimum 85% soldiers from Science Stream.
  • Deviation from intake Qualitative Requirements, if required to be done judiciously and on case to case basis. Certain quota of vacancies may be kept at Matric level to ensure enrolment of outstanding sportsmen etc. 


As the world progresses into the 21st Century, the dimension of security and its management appears to be in midst of a revolutionary shift. The future wars will be fought in all six dimensions of land, air, space, sea, under surface and cyber space, characterised by proliferation of state of the art technology. There is thus, a mandated requirement to shift the intake pattern of HR from unskilled to semi skilled / skilled, having higher education and technical qualifications to meet the challenges of future war fighting. The greatest error we can make towards development of a modern and lethal force is to take our Army based on HR standards of 1990’s into 2025.

The author is Senior Fellow at CLAWS. Views expressed are personal.


1. http://censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/Census_data_finder/C_Series/Literates_and_educational_level.htm

2. http://censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/data_files/mp/07Literacy.pdf

3. http://indianarmy.nic.in/Site/RTI/rti/rect_procedure_offrs&or_army.pdf

4. http://www.nausena-bharti.nic.in/selectionproc.php

5. http://indianairforce.nic.in/show_page.php?pg_id=135#ELIGIBILITY  CRITERIA:AIRMEN

6. http://www.delhipolice.nic.in/home/recruitment.htm

7. http://bsf.nic.in/en/career.html#

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Harjit Hansi
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