Indian Army Personnel Under Stress: Delhi based Think Tank(USI)

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News Desk

More than half of Indian Army personnel seem to be under severe stress and the Army has been losing more personnel every year due to suicides, fratricides and untoward incidents than in response to any enemy or terrorist activities, according to the findings of a study by United Service Institution of India (USI), a Service think tank. According to United Service Institution of India (USI), Prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to CI (counterinsurgency)/CT (counter-terrorism) environment has been one of the contributory factors for increased stress levels.


The United Service Institution of India was founded in 1870 by a soldier scholar, Colonel (later Major General) Sir Charles Mac Gregor. It is a national security and defence services think tank based in New Delhi, India.

It describes its aim as the “furtherance of interest and knowledge in the art, science and literature of the defence services”. USI operates centres for research in various areas of national security. The USI Journal, published quarterly, is the oldest defence journal in Asia.

Maj General (Retd) B K Sharma is currently the director of the USI. The USI’s website says that the three service chiefs – General M M Naravane, Admiral Karambir Singh and Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria – are its Vice Patrons. Its president is Vice Adm R Hari Kumar, who is Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chief of Staffs Committee (CISC).


There has been a significant increase in stress levels amongst Indian Army personnel during approximately the last two decades due to operational and non-operational stressors.

Units and sub-units under stress are likely to witness an increased number of incidents of indiscipline, unsatisfactory state of training, inadequate maintenance of equipment and low morale that adversely affects their combat preparedness and operational performance.

“This loss is substantially greater than the operational casualties suffered by the Armed forces.

In addition, a number of soldiers and leaders have been affected by hypertension, heart diseases, psychosis, neurosis and other related ailments.”

Job satisfaction and pride in uniform:

The study observes that the overall job satisfaction and pride in uniform remains high amongst JCOs and ORs. “Despite harsh and challenging service conditions, Indian Army personnel remain highly motivated to serve in CI/ CT areas voluntarily. However, the Officers lack a similar level of trust, faith and confidence in their leadership that JCOs and ORs demonstrate,” it states.


  • Inadequacies in the quality of leadership
  • Overburdened commitments
  • Inadequate resources
  • Frequent dislocations
  • Lack of fairness and transparency in postings and promotions
  • Insufficient accommodation and non-grant of leave


  • Delay and denial of leave
  • Excessive engagements
  • Humiliation by seniors
  • Lack of dignity
  • Unreasonable restrictions on the use of mobiles
  • Lack of recreational facilities and conflict with seniors as well as subordinates
  • Poor quality of rations as well as cooked food


Soldiers posted in forward or “field areas” also undergo tremendous stress for not being able to take care of the problems facing their families back home, which could range from property disputes and harassment by anti-social elements to financial and marital problems.


The study highlights that various management measures implemented by the Army and Defence Ministry in the last 15 years have not been able to achieve the desired results.

Calling for an institutionalized approach, the study recommends that stress prevention and management should be treated “as a leadership role at Unit and Formation level.”


The Army, however, rejected the study, stressing that the sample size for the survey was too “miniscule” to arrive at such “far-reaching conclusions”.

“The study has been done by one individual, with a sample size of around 400 soldiers. I don’t know the methodology involved but it does not stand to logic,” said a senior officer.

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