SHARE OUR BRAINWARE
Brig K Hari Kumar, Dean FIET, MCEME, Secunderabad
“For every pair of hands, a free brain”.
Empires of the future are empires of the mind” – said the visionary Sir Winston Churchill, four decades ago. The military might of a nation lies directly in its organised military establishment and its leadership, as well as in its arsenal. It rests indirectly on the entire complex of human, material and organisational elements making up the national mosaic. Such elements would include factors like geography, manpower, industrial base, technology, ideology and the staying power of the economy for keeping the logistic channels open for sustained operational effectiveness. The trajectory of knowledge no longer emanates exclusively from the barrel of a gun. In the “terra incognita” of tomorrow, wealth is going to be increasingly dependent on brain power. It is therefore imperative that we strive towards a synergic interdependence model for the industry and the Armed Forces of our country.
The Profile of the Army
The Armed Forces ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our nation. Our National Security could be looked upon as a guaranteed state of being interference-free to nurture and pursue national aspirations and way of life, as affecting culture, ideology and economic development. The Armed Forces have come a long way from the “military incompetence” attributed to it by Dixon – We cannot afford any more to continue ourselves by training for the last war. Today, the defence forces in our country reflect a “congealed mind” as stated by Alvin Toffler, the eminent futurologist and social scientist. They reflect knowledge embedded in weapons and surveillance technologies. From satellites to submarines, modern weapons are made of info-rich electronic components. But war is only a part of the spectrum of defence. The totality of defence management encompasses other areas – particularly those pertaining to forecasting and planning defence requirements, relating them to threat assessment measuring them against external relations, the economic potential and the industrial base. The Armed Forces of India have contributed significantly to the industrial capability and self-reliant development of our nation. The Indian industry is well placed and endowed to promote this process in the present environment of liberalisation.
There is no single organisation in any country that could match its Armed Forces not only in numbers but in the scale and spectrum of activity. From the earliest times, the military leader has always been cast in the mould of a professional manager. The Army and its 10 lakh plus manpower with its large infrastructure for applied research, development, engineering, tech production and logistics represent a very formidable brain bank which the indigenous industry can hardly ignore. However, it is a pity that we still lack the desired “Connectivity” for joint working, utilising the pool of trained manpower – about 10,000 engineering graduates and 4 to 5 times that number supervisory cadre in the technical branches alone, not to talk about the able administrative manpower in the fighting and supporting arms with a multi-disciplinary exposure and expertise . They wither away into oblivion after their necessarily limited contractual engagement phase in military service while the civil industry struggle themselves to enlist the right human material in their establishments through time-consuming selection, recruitment and induction procedures. While the large techno logistic infrastructure created for strategic superiority by the Army go under- utilised during peacetime, the industry spends its large share of investments on creation of similar facilities for their captive requirements – an infructuous and avoidable exercise by any means. When a vast array of efficiently run training establishments with the latest facilities exist with the Armed Forces, the industry runs from pillar to post to arrange off-the job training and development programmes through costly contracts. A stage has therefore been reached, when we must shed our mutual inhibitions, be more transparent in our interactions and share our brainware for mutual growth and benefit, besides giving more than his rupee worth to the taxpayers of this country.
Business, Industry, Community groups, Army organisations of every kind -.can be and should be proactive. They can combine the creativity and resourcefulness of the constituent elements to create a proactive culture within the organisation. The organisation does not have to be at the mercy of the environment, it can take the initiative to accomplish the shared values and purposes of the components involved. Defence Forces should no longer remain in the stand-alone mode and labelled a non-plan entity. They should alongwith our industry generate the necessary synergy through such a strategic partnership.
Areas of Cooperation
Various areas for co-operation and joint working are discussed in the succeeding paragraphs.
Training and Development:– The Armies of the World had counteracted the Peter’s Principle long before it was enunciated, through the medium of constant training, upgrading skill levels, which served the dual purpose of consolidating the old and developing the new. It also served the purpose of maintaining a continuum of stability, without its self destructive short-coming of stagnation. The peacetime role of the Army is to train for war. Training, in whatever sphere it is attempted, aims at changing either patterns of behaviour or state of knowledge or else the very pattern of thinking. The induction training in the military would include obstacle courses, endurance runs and the rifle range – an overall toughening process to equip the soldier to meet the challenges of a stressful battlefield environment. This physical and mental conditioning has enormous advantages in the industrial sphere especially in the highly competitive business environment. The skilled personnel in the Army also undergo their basic technical training spread over 2-3 years prior to their deployment in functional areas. It may not be widely known to many in the Industry that there are as many as 100 or more basic and ancillary technical trades in the Army, many of them in the multi-disciplinary high-tech areas. Even at the managerial level there are more than a score of functional disciplines and specialisation existing in the Armed Forces, in the engineering, logistic or administrative cadres. The military manager has to finally emerge from the performance area” into the area of “Planning for Performance” which calls for atributes and talents like innovation, creativity, conceptual flexibility and mental mobility. There are more than 40 training establishments spread all over the country to cater for the requirements of the Army alone and this enormous modern facility can gainfully be ütilised by the Industry for their training and development needs. Similarly, the Army can conveniently include the expertise available with the industry for training their engineering, technology, management and administrative cadres. Better capacity utilisation, co-operation, knowledge sharing and team building which will accrue if we follow this path can in the long run create an atmosphere of mutual trust and comaraderie. This measure can also postpone skill obsolescence by both the partners.The CII [Confederation of Indian Industry ] with its strong infrastructure and organisational structure can be an effective catalyst for this venture. A Defence Academic, Engineering, Administrative and Technology Trust could be created with appropriate funding to create, maintain and sustain such a HRD Bank for the country.
Cross Functional Deployment of Manpower:– One of the vital needs of the industry is trained manpower at minimum acquisition cost. Here is an opportunity to meet this need effectively. Every year, more than a few thousand trained soldiers and officers superannuate after their necessary limited military service and get thrown into the society at large. It is a national waste to let this reservoir of knowledge fade away un-utilised for social well being. It is natural for the industrialists to show their legitimate reservations to absorb and induct these personnel into their fold, the main reason being that of cultural adjustment problems. This situation can be redeemed to a great extent, il periodical mid-stream cross functional two way deployment of manpower between the Army and the Industry on a volunteer basis is explored in various related functional areas. For this purpose, the government may institute a study to identify the areas where such deployment could be resorted to. The needs of either organisation, their culture, concept and practices could be assimilated for mutual trust, if we promote such joint working and knowledge sharing. This will, in addition, bring in the desired transparency between the two constituent partners.
Research and Development:– No industry worth its name and image can ignore the importance of fundamental and applied research for product development, environmental friendliness as well as for competitive advantage. The defence R&D spends large sums in the fields of material research, and identification of new technologies to maintain the “cutting edge” in our overall defence preparedness. A number of research laboratories have been set up all over the country for this purpose and these are manned by a group of dedicated and professionally competent scientists, engineers and technologists. The range of activities include food to fiber optics and structural engineering to software technology. The industry also invests exorbitant amounts in research and development for their own use or for broad-spectrum research for growth in related fields or for diversification. More often, the civil end use of military knowledge bank or vice versa is not understood mainly due to the veil of secrecy attached to the former. It is very much feasible to associate each other and share the expertise to cut costs and grow interdependently. A good example of this approach is already available in the philosophy of the Integrated Guided Missiles Development (IGMD) project at Hyderabad which has successíully fielded the Prithvi Missile systems. Even faculty members from our various universities were involved in the design and development of various sub systems. We must capitalise the gains in this field lor national advantage with proper funding, coordination, and control mechanisms and organisational structure. We must network our knowledge pools with adequate provisions to maintain and protect the security aspects of such ventures.
Selection, Recruitment and Placement:– Over the years, the defence forces have more or less perfected their selection, recruitment and placement systems. The overall quality and merits of this system have been widely acclaimed everywhere. Many a times, the candidates who have been selected by the Army for commissioning are hijacked by the industry for managerial jobs promising greener pastures. A detailed and well conceived psychological research has backed up the currency of the Army selection process. With the advent of software technology and various application banks created by the industry using such software, it is essential that we “marry-up” our mutual assets for common benefit. While the Armed Forces can gainfully assimilate the latest software available with the Industry, the industry can benefit greatly by the depth of psychological research carried out by the Army. It is true that the end uses vary significantly but the stress induced in battle conditions have many parallels in business situations of the future. The Army may also think of enlisting the services of industry consultants for the recruitment of technical hands in a large measure.
Consultancy Services:– The personnel of the Defence Forces with their long years of service, professionalism, leadership qualities and maturity are ideally suited to run consultancy services for placement, project management, safely, security services and for a number of issue-based studies or research work. In order to utilise such knowledge, the industry and the Director General of Resettlement of the Army must come together and identify opportunities. We may very well extend this philosophy, for enlisting the services of each other even for organisational partnership incorporating the academics also in the process. As the new accelerated system for wealth creation is increasingly dependent on the exchange of data, information, and knowledge, no knowledge exchanged means no new wealth created. We can ill-afford such a future state of knowledge poverty
Joint Ventures, Project Teams and Task Forces:– While the war time employment of the armed forces takes for granted the orchestration of our national capabilities, the peacetime potential of such a ‘brain trust’ is not correctly perceived either by the industry or by the government . By the sheer force of nature, inclination and attitudinal strength, the personnel of the armed forces, the soldier and the supervisory or managerial personnel are richly endowed with the spirit of sacrifice, social responsibilities and above all a healthy service orientation. The excellent performance of the Armed Forces in internal security duties, civil affairs, medical relief, disaster management, ecological protection, and various aids rendered from time to time to help the civil authorities bears ample testimony for this purpose. What is needed now is only to benefit from such rich expertise by formulating the concept of a Knowledge ‘ Triad’ and structuring it for optimum utilisation whenever and wherever necessary, with the Armed Forces, the industry and the Academic Community forming the three triad points. The government should become the focal point of the triad in a facilitating role. The Government and the industry through the Cll should come forward and take the initiative to utilise the brain power which may be unleashed by such joint ventures.
Synergy is everywhere in nature. It catalyses, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers in people, organisations and enterprises. The challenge here is to apply the principles of creative cooperation, which we learn from nature, in our “knowledge transactions” for mutual growth and prosperity. We can exercise the courage in interdependent business situations to be transparent, to express our ideas, to share our knowledge and experiences in a way that will empower our ‘People’ to scale greater heights in our national endeavour – the economic health and well being of our country. To remain stationary at the same place, one must now run at a faster pace. The fast pace of economic activity demands that the Army and the Industry come together forthwith and share the power mosaic of brainware for national prosperity and health.