India's Territorial Army which has served the nation in times of war and peace, has entered into the 75th year of its existence, and recruited a batch of Mandarin language experts.
The batch of five experts will also play a role as interpreters between India and China sides during border personnel meetings, sources said.
Besides, the Territorial Army is also engaged in "advanced stages" of discussion and has "identified criteria" for hiring some cyber security experts, they said.
"The TA was raised on October 9, 1949, and now we have just entered into our 75th year of existence, and have served the nation in times of war, and in humanitarian and environment protection works through its eventful journey over these decades," a source said.
It was raised on the concept of being a 'citizen soldier's army'. Besides augmenting the organisational requirements, the TA also provides an opportunity to able-bodied volunteer citizens of India, especially those who are over age for enrollment in the regular army, to serve the nation in uniform.
Keeping pace with changing times, the TA units (currently about 60 units) are also evolving and undertaking various steps to transform to "remain current and responsive to the emerging environment," the sources said.
One such step is the recruitment of five "Chinese (Mandarin) language experts this year," the source said.
"The process to hire these experts in the first phase began in January and the process was completed a few months ago. The process was rigorous and entailed both a written and oral examination of various candidates who have expertise in Mandarin language," the source added.
And, the "best in the country" in this field of language have been hired. The average age of these hired experts is 30 years.
They will play a role as interpreters between Indian and Chinese armies during border personnel meetings. But, they can be deployed in jobs other than at BPMs too, another source said.
The move comes nearly three years after the eastern Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake areas.
The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an over three-year confrontation in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.
The two sides hold Border Personnel Meetings at five points -- Daulat Beg Oldie in northern Ladakh, Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh, Chusul in Ladakh, Bum-La near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and Nathu-La in Sikkim.
Usually, both sides resolve various operational issues at the BPMs.
In addition to security-related duties, TA units are actively involved in "perception management" towards winning the hearts and minds of the local populace, including in the Jammu and Kashmir region, the sources said.
TA units have also played an important role in providing essential services and establishing rehabilitation campuses in strife-torn Manipur this year, they said.
Certain TA units are also deployed in conjunction with Border Roads Organisation and the Ministry of Railways for the protection of under-construction road or rail alignments in remote and sensitive areas.
There were six Railway TA units, out of which five have been disbanded and one is currently existing. The decision to disband those units had come from the railways, the sources said.
Besides their operational role, the TA has also contributed to the protection and preservation of the environment.
The first Ecological Task Force was raised in 1982, to address the severely degraded hills of Mussoorie (Uttarakhand) due to intensive and incessant limestone quarrying and deforestation. Today, the TA has ecological battalions deployed along the length and breadth of the country, they said.
Various Ecological Task Forces of the TA deployed across India have jointly planted approximately 9.38 crore saplings in approximately 88,400 hectares of land across the country. The units have constructed 29 new water bodies, besides rejuvenating many existing ones, the sources said.
A specialised TA Ecological Battalion, namely Ganga Task Force, is deployed along banks of River Ganga and has been working towards its conservation and rejuvenation in conjunction with the ministry of jal shakti as part of the National Mission for Clean Ganga.
The unit personnel have also been employed in Delhi to assist in the ongoing efforts to control pollution in the river Yamuna.
On the 'Nari Shakti' front, the TA had commenced commissioning of Women Officers in TA since 2019.
In a major development, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had approved an amendment to existing cadre management provisions for women officers of the TA, the sources said.
This progressive policy measure is aimed at enhancing the scope of 'Nari Shakti' and also meeting their professional aspirations since women will now serve and train under the same conditions as their male counterparts in a wider range of units and appointments including serving in challenging field conditions and important staff appointments, the sources said.
TA is fully integrated with the regular Army, and in apt recognition of nation-building efforts and contributions made during war or conflicts, numerous individuals have been honoured with gallantry as well as distinguished service awards in the TA, they said.