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National service is a common name for mandatory government service programmes (usually military service, also known as conscription). The term became common British usage during and for some years following the Second World War. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes. Compulsory military service typically requires all citizens, or all male citizens, to participate for a period of a year (or more in some countries) during their youth, usually at some point between the age of 18 and their late twenties.
United Kingdom 
Wartime national service in Britain required the whole population to register with the government's Ministry of Labour, which could then direct people where to work. Most men aged 18 to 51 were "called up" for military service, except for those in "reserved occupations" or "essential services": Farming, Railways, Medicine, Skilled Tradesmen in war industries, Firemen, Policemen, Coal Mining and the Merchant Navy, and unmarried women under 30 could be directed into war industries such as munitions factories, the Women's Land Army or the Women's Timber Corps. Coal shortages 1944-45 meant that thousands of the last wartime conscripts were drafted into coal mines (the "Bevin Boys", named after the wartime Minister of Labour). Conscription for women ended with victory in 1945, it continued for men but was reorganised in 1947 as an 18-month term, then for two years. Compulsory military call-up ended in 1960 and national registration was discontinued (except as required for social insurance.)
Other countries 
National service is the usual term for compulsory military service programmes in countries including Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece, Guyana, Israel, Malaysia, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Finland, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Philippines, Switzerland and Turkey. Conscription in the United States was called Selective Service and obligatory service was required until 1973. In the Netherlands, conscription was called "service duty" (Dutch: "dienstplicht"), and continued until 1996. After 1996 service duty was suspended in the Netherlands but not abolished, and although unlikely, it may be reinstated at any time by the Minister of Defense. Most NATO countries discontinued obligatory military service in the 1970s. Israel was the only country to conscript young women as well as young men for military service in the late 20th century.
India has a separate program called the National Service Scheme (NSS) in which students from primary level to graduate level participate. In some Indian colleges (like IITs), it is a compulsory part of curricula.
See also 
By country 
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
|Conscription by country|