Having observed and lived amongst men in olive green, I often used to wonder and ask myself, why are the armed forces of India, the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard so unique and special? Why do they occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of the Indian people? And most importantly , who are these young men and women and what goes into making them?
Firstly, the selection criteria and process is quite rigid and competitive. Contrary to several rumors, there is no partiality or preference given to any candidate, if he is a ward of a serving or retired officer. Nor do officers have any power to influence the selection of a candidate. This is in contrast with several lower grade government jobs where bhai-bandhu raj still exists. The armed forces are the only organisation where there is absolutely no reservation. The national security of the country merits such an unbiased selection procedure.
Secondly, no other profession entrusts you with the kind of responsibilities the army does. Newly commissioned officers are as young as 21,and to take life and death decisions affecting scores of men under your command requires supreme leadership skills. The army trains you to be a leader. Where else would be able to fly a 60 million dollar jet except the Air Force? In which other career would a single decision of yours drastically affect the course of Action and outcome of a battle? This is where the impeccable training and ethos of the army play a role in shaping the outcome of any conflict.
Thirdly, officers of the armed forces LEAD FROM THE FRONT. Whether it’s a battle, an operation or a rescue mission, they’re always led my officers. A soldier is required to obey the commands of the man above him, and the leader of the team is the first to face the enemy. What better an example of their courage and selflessness?
Fourthly there is no identity based discrimination in the forces. Our country is a melting pot of several cultures, ethnic groups, languages etc. Yet the army is a shining example of an organisation where you are not classified by your identity but by your paltan(battalion) and regiment. The brotherhood and camaraderie between course-mates and unit members is a fabled one. Even after three decades, the memories and incidents of intense training and ragda are afresh in my father’s mind.
Separation, cancelled leaves and less family time together while growing up has been a part of most fauji families. Yet we do not let that make us melancholy, we learn to live with it! And that is exactly the spirit of the Army. To keep going no matter what.
‘When you go home, tell them of us and
say :For their tomorrow, we gave our today’
The writer is a fourth generation army aspirant. He is a travel and adventure enthusiast and likes to read on India and its rich military history.
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