So we hear talks of the Pay Commission recommending a significant hike (of about 35%) in the salaries of Defense personnel. With ongoing talks between the Commission and the Chiefs of the Defense Services, an issue that sprouted long back and has now come into light is that of the lack of officers in the Indian Army. It’s not something trivial for we are short of more than 11000 officers. I wonder, whatever happened to the zest and spirit of the Indian youth that we talk about? Are we just hypocritically patriotic or does the glorified image of the Army no longer have the magnetism to pull youngsters to itself?
Reports say that the National Defense Academy, Pune, which has a vacancy of 300 cadets, actually has only 190 cadets currently. There isn’t a shortage of people applying to get in, but there is a severe shortage, in people who are physically and mentally fit to do so. The present generation is greatly motivated by the corporate sector which is perceived to have the following advantages over the army. Firstly, the corporate sector pays better. That explains the intensified rat race and competition to get into IIMs or to achieve an MBA degree. Secondly, through various sources of rumours, Indians have started thinking that the Army does not allow one to grow professionally and curtails one’s ability to reach their full potential in their field. Moreover, the army is now believed by many to be an institution of corruption, wherein one needs to be a sycophant rather than a hard worker.
In spite of all this, we do hear very so often of the successful operations of the army at the front and at the border, as well as at local levels. “Jawans capture 2 militants in Rajouri district”, “Colonel and his men rescue 2 year old from tube well”…….The media, specially Indian cinema has glorified the army in such a way, that it is now seen as an instrument of heroic and dramatic deeds, instead of the highly complex, organized and resilient group of men that it actually is.
A lot of civilians, who wish to join the army, do so because they want to be called “Captain” and think it an effective method to attract the opposite sex, especially when they are in their uniform. On the other hand, a lot of boys, who are the children of Army officers or have had a good amount of exposure to the Army life, cannot imagine themselves in any other kind of lifestyle but the Army, and join to satisfy the craving for reverence, respect and admiration that comes with the uniform. Further, a lot of young men who have a sense of adventure and passion, see the Army as an outlet of their masculine traits. Very few are genuinely patriotic or have in mind the welfare that they will bring to the country.
This explains the fact that most of us tend to think of Army officers as passionate, frustrated angry young men displaying valour, whereas, actually they are the products of a very efficient and well planned out system that is capable of achieving exceedingly difficult missions in the harshest of climates, in the toughest of situations in a limited span of reaction time. No doubt, a man’s skills and mental strength are tested in the Army just as much, if not more, as they are in any other occupation. And where the question of hypocrisy and corruption comes, I only have to say that these problems are prevalent in all stratas of society, and if a person does indeed have the willingness and drive to reach the peak of his professional abilities, nothing can stop him.
No other profession offers such adventure, risk, self growth, support, lifestyle, confidence as does the Indian Army. Let the young men know, that it is a tough job, but one that gives immense satisfaction and fulfillment, after every successfully carried out task or duty. What better can you do than handle the immense responsibility of the security of your countrymen? Indeed, be an Army officer: Be a winner for life. The question is- ‘Do you have it in you?’
Sharanya Misra Sharma
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