Country report and updates: India

Last revision: 27 Mar 1998
27 Mar 1998

1 Conscription

conscription does not exist

Conscription has never existed since independence in 1948.

There is no known legislation providing for conscription. According to one source conscription may become compulsory in time of national danger. This was in fact the case in the 60s when there was conscription took place into the National Cadet Corps. (see: History) [2]

Recent reports indicate that the Indian armed forces may find it difficult to get the requisite number of recruits, especially recruits suitable to become officers. A commandant at the Indian military academy was quoted in 1996 as saying that if the present officer recruitment shortfall continued, this could pose a national problem. The government was said to be considering military salary increases, while army-officials have argued in favour of introducing conscription. [4]

There are, however, no definite plans to introduce conscription. Throughout India's history such a move has never been seriously contemplated on the grounds that it would be too expensive. [3]


Legal enlistment age is between the ages of 18 and 25. [1]

There are several paramilitary forces, such as the Railway Protection Forces, Home Guards and Civil Defence Forces. Recruitment policies of these paramilitary forces are not known. [5]

2 Conscientious objection

There is no known legal provision for conscientious objection.

3 Desertion

No information available.

5 History

Since independence there have been several systems of compulsory military training for university students and school pupils.

In 1948 the National Cadet Corps (NCC) was established in order stimulate the interest of youth in the defence of the country. In 1962, following the invasion of Indian territory by China, certain emergency recruitment regulations were introduced. All college students (male and female) aged 16 were required to take part in NCC training, which included handling arms and ammunition and meant being attached to the regular armed forces during summer holidays. This scheme was continued after the 1965 conflict with Pakistan, but was abolished in the mid-1970s. [1] [3]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces are 1,145,000-strong - that is, 0.12 percent of the population. [5]

The paramilitary forces have 1,088.000 members. [5]


[1] Rädda Barnen 1998. Information provided to CONCODOC, January 1998. [2] Eide, A., C. Mubanga-Chipoya 1985. Conscientious objection to military service, report prepared in pursuance of resolutions 14 (XXXIV) and 1982/30 of the Sub-Commission of Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. United Nations, New York. [3] Prasad, D., T. Smythe 1968. Conscription: a world survey, compulsory military service and resistance to it. War Resisters' International, London. [4] Asian Defence Journal, 3/1996. [5] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London.

Recent stories on conscientious objection: India

01 May 2008

How do armies outside Europe/North America recruit?

Although Europe and the United States might have their armies all over the world – and if not their armies, they surely use economical “cooperation” and development “aid” backed by their military force to maintain their political and economical influence – they are not the only countries with Armed Forces. In fact, most states in the world maintain Armed Forces. How then do other major military players recruit for their Armed Forces?

01 Feb 2008

India's chief of the army Kapoor hinted on 14 January 2008 on the possibilty of conscription to solve the shortage of officers in the Indian army. He said: "If things don't improve, the government may have to take a view on it." However, he also said that "we have not come to that stage yet".

According to official figures, the Indian army is facing a shortage of 11,238 officers, against a sanctioned strength of 46,615 officers - a staggering 25% shortfall. And it's not the army alone that is confronted with a dearth of officer corps.

01 Jan 2008

India boasts the third largest armed forces in the world, with 1,3 million active troops in the Indian Army alone. While recruitment is voluntary, the economical situation in the country - with more than a quarter of the population officially living under the poverty line - guarantees a high number of potential recruits.

According to information provided by the Indian Army, an infantry private (sepoy) receives a starting salary of between Rs. 3050 and Rs.

01 Dec 2006

According to a report in the Hindustan Times from 25 November 2006, the Indian military is short of about 12,000 officers in the army. Chief of Army Staff General Joginder Jaswant Singh said: "The reason for shortage of officers is because of new units coming up such as Rashtriya Rifles, which have to be manned by officers from regular army. As a result, there is a redirection of officers in the combat units".

01 Mar 2002

Militarism has been the traditional target for the peace movement's nonviolent action. But keeping in mind the issues discussed in WRI's 1999 Seminar, "The Changing Face of the Military", we must remain vigilant of changes. The dictionary definition of militarism includes references to: