Sunday, July 27, 2008


This is in response to allegations by certain individuals that the Defence Forces are corrupt. Also, that the Defence forces are paid body guards for the nation and are already getting more than they deserve.
Everything in this world is relative - the good old theory of relativity. I am an ESM and can say this first hand that the armed forces morally and ethically operate on a much higher plane than the ordinary educated class that comprises the urban population of India. Our rural masses are true Karma yogis, and have no time/ money to ponder over issues like corruption and the like. They are too busy trying to make two ends meet. These are honest, hardworking people, and are also the ones who send in their sons into the armed forces to fight and protect the Indian nation state - if and when the need arises. It is urban folk, I suspect, that feel that the armed forces are just another job, like someone said - a paid bodyguard's job. They probably have never seen any of their near and dear ones in the armed forces. Donning the uniform is an honour, and comes with a number of responsibilities (including the responsibility to lay down one's life to protect India and its core values), which an ordinary citizen cannot even dream of, let alone fathom. Yes, everyone joins of his own free will and has to take it or leave it, but do you know that you cannot even leave at your own free will. You can only serve, or leave, at the pleasure of the President of India. Can you fathom this? The armed forces are not fighting for a raise. They are irked about a principle - a principle of representation at the decision making body. Civilian control of the military is very well understood by our armed forces. You only have to look around in the neighbourhood to understand this. However, in India, civilian control has more and more come to mean bureaucratic control. This is not desirable, or good, for the military as well as the country. Civilian control implies control of the military by the ordinary citizens of India, of course through their duly elected representatives. This is slowly but surely being eroded. In case it continues to worsen, it can only bode poorly for the country and the armed forces. Nowhere in the democratic world do the armed forces get the highest salaries but they surely do get the appreciation of their countrymen. Maybe those democratic nations have fought two world wars and have a majority of their citizens who have lost near and dear ones during war. An all volunteer military force is a big boon for any country. In case the country cannot muster enough people to join the military, the citizens through their representatives will have to legislate to conscript. This should not be a major problem considering that we have a large population. However, it may be a problem for able bodied men/ women who have a very distorted idea of the military.
I do believe that the military community does not want the riches, but surely wants the nation to understand what they do, or are willing to do in times of need - the ultimate sacrifice that any living being can give for the nation - one's life. Where else would you find people climbing the Himalayas with bullets flying in their face? I have lived through times when I was ready for the ultimate sacrifice, and when I quit the uniform, many a times I have wondered 'to protect what'. I also do believe the nation is much larger than a few politicians and bureaucrats but I do wonder what is it that galvanises 'we, the people' of this nation? I have got more respect, as a soldier, in countries that never benefited from my soldiering. I got this because they respected their own military and found me to be one with the same values and ethos as them. Those nations lived through world wars, events where probably each family lost a loved one and appreciated the value of that sacrifice. Do we need a world war for Indians to appreciate the sacrifices made by their fellow countrymen in uniform?

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