Are Indians Losing the Respect for the Armed Forces?
The views put forward by Mr. Jug Suraiya (Enlist Criminals to Beef up Armed Forces – Times of India, dated 24 Jan 08) were horrifying. It was really inappropriate to consider the job of a soldier as similar to that of a surgeon or a commercial pilot. By saying this, I do not mean any offence to either jobs but there’s a difference in the qualifications, techniques and emotions under which all of these work. To suggest that we should outsource the job of Armed Forces just like doctors, investment bankers and pilots is an insult to the very nature of defence forces. Does the writer really think that a surgeon, performing the heart surgery of a patient in the eyes of several other people, with absolutely no risk to his own life, is equivalent to the job of a soldier who can be dead any second?
Or does he consider a soldier crouched in dark on the lookout for an enemy, with the gun in his hand as his sole friend, equivalent to the banker sitting in his plush, air-conditioned office, juggling money around with the maximum risk to him being a mere financial loss? No sir, they are poles apart. Sure, given an option, a soldier would like his work environment to be more comfortable, but ask a commercial pilot earning a six-figure salary per month-would he go and put his life at risk to guard the life of people he doesn’t even know? I am yet to meet an individual who says yes to that.
It’s really appalling at the way Mr. Jug looks at the work of a soldier. Therefore, I request him to have a look into the life of a soldier who has defended his motherland, the way he feels for it, the emotions that rise when he sees the enemy in front of him, the same enemy who is responsible for dead countrymen, for dead comrades, for orphaned children, for crippled Indians. I am sure near or far, Mr. Jug can find some defence personnel in his family itself. Sir, please try and listen to their part of the story.
As for foreign nationals serving as Indian Armed Forces Personnel, let me ask one thing-how much would you risk guarding the life of some unknown people, in an unknown land, for the sake of earning your living? Trust me, you won’t be doing any good to either yourself or to the people you will be working for. And the only reason behind this is that a soldier does his duty not by the thoughts of the monthly paycheck but by the sentiments he has for his country. He fights the enemy by the power of the emotions rising within his heart. He defends his motherland by the passion he has for his fellow countrymen and his comrades, who he knows, will suffer, if he fails in his duty to keep the enemies at bay. So, in my view, the suggestion of hiring foreigners in the Indian Armed Forces is totally irrational and foolhardy.
Then there’s the absurd thought of criminals being inducted into the armed forces. I am really surprised that an educated person can even advise something like that. Is it that the writer considers the number of enemies of India outside the country not sufficient in number that he is suggesting bringing in adversaries within the Forces? Let me put it this way- a criminal, a proven foe of the nation, present within the Armed Forces, backstabbing the organization, will be tougher to deal with, compared with an entire group of terrorists firing all guns from the front. If they can commit violent actions against their countrymen, injuring or killing them for financial or personal gains, wouldn’t they compromise the security of the citizens of India for saving their own lives? Not only this, it would also degrade the very image of the Indian Armed Forces. Whatever little manpower it has been getting till date would also vanish after the men in uniform are clubbed with the men in stripes.
It is common knowledge that Indian Armed Forces are facing a severe shortage of men. And even though the idea of compulsory military service may seem like a far-fetched, unacceptable thought, it is exactly the process, developing countries like India might be forced to adopt in view of the rising demand of engineers, doctors and MBA holders. The situation is even worse in India because the younger generation, under the influence of western living trends, and having the potential to excel in the demanding fields of Computer Science, Information Technology, medicine, etc has swerved towards the heavy pay packages and comfortable lifestyles. It is all good for them but the problem of the country’s defence still remains. In the current scenario, it won’t be long before the government is forced to make a tough call and that call might very well be compulsory military service.
This was a letter I wrote to the Times of India in response to an article by Mr. Jug Suraiya which was never acknowleged or printed. So I am publishing it here!