As of now, it is not. And the simple reason for that is - our huge population.
That has always ensured that there are enough volunteers to enrol themselves, every time vacancies come up. In fact, ditto for China (PRC) as well. Hence no need is felt to make anything really 'compulsory'. Hence, no rigid conscription.
But it's a great idea and can help India in several ways.
- Dignity of labour - Most young women and men (18 yrs +) hardly understand the value of manual labour, or any labour for that matter. Getting educated formally, and landing a cushy job is all that's aimed for. It will change in a big way. Young ones will become far more sensible.
- Pride for the nation - Almost instantly, there will be a change in perspective for most. Their approach may undergo a radical overhaul.
- Huge extra manpower at low cost - The nation will benefit as it'll get a huge workforce full of energy (tens of millions each year) at minimum cost.
- Wide variety of work - It's not essential to put everyone on the front, so to speak. They can be trained in hundreds of work profiles, most being back-end ones.
- Skilling problem solved! - A huge headache for India right now is to skills the young ones. We have failed at it miserably so far. This is a solution that will work. The problem now would be - to create an entirely new class of master-trainers & tools to handle this huge influx (Of course, more specific trade-skills will be needed later, but a start would be made)
But this is nearly impossible to do in the present context of India. Why?
- First, as there is no "real need" (from security point of view), hence there is no national consensus on this as of now, and no debate of this nature.
- Income disparities are so huge, that the moneyed classes will find a way to stall this legally, and/or ensure monetary payment instead, to get their kids out of it. (Not all, but many will)
- Again, the disadvantaged classes may want their kids to make this the permanent career(s) - which is not possible for the armed forces or the police (the sheer numbers!)
- Making a law - given the present nature of politics - will be some time away.
But a great idea, nonetheless!
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