India's armed forces, it has emerged, is set to implement a new programme through which in excess of 4,000 JCOs, or 'junior commissioned officers' will be provided with training in the area of psychology. The move is an effort to combat the mounting number of cases where members of the Indian military are suffering from stress and, ultimately, kill themselves.
"We know that some of our personnel are stressed and there are several reasons behind itâ, said the Armed Forces Medical Servicesâ Director General, Lieutenant-General Yogendra Singh.
He continued: âThere are around 60 psychiatrists in different armed forces hospitals and we are in the process of training over 4,000 psychological counsellors. We will train our JCOs as psychological counsellors but they will do their regular jobs as well."
After a 12-week-long training period, said Singh, the counsellors would be sent to areas of high-stress, including those in Kashmir and Jammu. âThey will receive 12 weeks of training at six major armed forces hospitals, including Pune, Kolkata, Udhampur and Delhiâ, he detailed.
âSo far 46 JCOs have received training. We hope we will train all these people in two-three years' time."
110 Suicides within Indian Military Last Year
110 Indian military suicides were carried out in 2007, ten fewer than in the preceding year. Since 2003, 410 cases have been recorded within Indiaâs armed forces, within which one-and-a-half million personnel serve.
"We (the Indian armed forces) have a huge strength and some of them are in tough conditionsâ, said Singh. âBut the stress level among our forces is less than that among our counterparts in several countries. Even civilians have a higher stress level.
"Recently two of our personnel committed suicide soon after they returned from holidays. Marital discord and family problems were the main reason behind the cases. What can we do about these?", he queried.
Another factor highlighted by Singh was that of the availability of a spiritual leader to every fighting unit â there to provide advice and guidance. Such figures, say military officials, assist Indian soldiers with redeeming their dignity through the power of religion. "After they fall martyr, these religious gurus perform their last ritesâ, one source said. Â
âTheir religious dignity is valued by our force.â
Source â Armed Forces Internationalâs Asian Correspondent