The Indian army has been on their best toes ever since Lt Gen R.P. Kalita took over as the Eastern Army Commander. The fortification of the northern borders as was manifest in the Yangtse affair of 9 December 2022 (see below for an earlier rendering by this author) or the manner in which the Assam Rifles in Manipur has been able to control the insurgency in the Hills and Valley of the state has been capital.
In Manipur the Assam Rifles organised a number of confidence-building conferences that proclaimed the Indian state’s robust efforts to flag off the Act East Policy as well as signal that the border province is “future ready”. The military leadership in Imphal has been particularly steadfast and forward looking.
This author’s visit to the “Land of Emeralds” in April and October 2023 (with a goodly visit to Somdal in Ukhrul thrown in) was an eye to the manner in which the force is conducting itself in an expanse that had otherwise been reeling from the ill effects of not only the Hill-Valley Divide but the military takeover in Myanmar and the attendant aspects that accompanied it.
Indeed never before had this author witnessed the professionalism of the Assam Rifles in the entire North East—the Manipur chapter clearly showcased what an organisation can achieve when its headship is competent.
Indeed it would be worth the Indian army’s while were it to carefully study the close management strategies that the Assam Rifles in Manipur adopted for CI-CT operations and perception management.
Not so long ago a Myanmar army visited Imphal to work out a course correction exercise with their counterparts in Manipur-Nagaland. The Manipur chapter of the Assam Rifles was in the forefront of this pioneering effort.
In Assam the Gajraj Corps—relieved of much of its Internal Security Management duties—did not rest on its past laurels. Even as it continued with its correct vigil of the Northern Borders it took on aspects that sought to brace Assam for a more full-bodied future.
To that end it began—at the behest of its noble son, Gen. Kalita—training and enabling the youth of Kamarupa for entry into the National Defence Academy and the Combined Defence Services.
The 4 Corps has been tasked to substantially increase the state’s entry into the ranks of all the Army, Navy and Air Force. It was discerned that the share of youth from Assam in the officer cadre is marginal.
A need was, therefore, felt to lend guidance and mentorship to empower youth to make the necessary grade.
To that end, the Gajraj Corps is seeking to play a catalytic role in capability enhancement of potential youth. They are attempting to do this by providing the sons and daughters the requisite platform, training & guidance to enable their selection in premier institutes of NDA and IMA.
The project to identify and train eligible youth for selection into NDA/CDS will be undertaken as a tripartite model with the financial support being provided by a corporate partner and training being imparted by qualified professionals provided by an identified training partner. The Gajraj Corps would act as facilitators for conduct of the project.
The novel project will be aimed at identifying and preparing suitable candidates over a 21 month duration starting from April 2023 up to December 2024 in order to enable them qualify for the NDA/ CDS batches of June 2024, December 2024 and June 2025.
In order to ensure focused, result oriented, quality preparation, each batch of trainees will comprise only 60 high quality candidates each for NDA and CDS batches, selected after a rigorous screening process.
A deliberate exercise is under progress for selection of suitable aspirants/ beneficiaries. This includes an extensive media publicity campaign and wide outreach to premier colleges and schools.
The screening and scruitinising of applications would be carried out based on eligibility criteria laid down by the UPSC and also considering the inclination of aspirants and his/ her family towards serving the armed forces. Screening process would include conduct of written exam, interview and medical exam.
The exercise is being aimed at imparting training to 90 CDS and 90 NDA aspirants over a 21 month period.
(Jaideep Saikia is a celebrated Conflict Theorist and Author of several bestselling books. He was also the sole Asian Fellow of West Point, USA in 2022)