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The spate of viral videos showing the grievances of army men led this author to share her own, different point-of-view.
Recently, a BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav complained about getting “bad quality food without butter and jam at such winters.” A CRPF jawan Jeet Singh said that they serve in jungles, there is no welfare and also demanded parity in pay between the army and paramilitary. One more army jawan Lance Naik Yagya Pratap Singh, posted in the 42 Infantry Brigade in Dehradun, said that he has written a letter to the PMO last year about the mistreatment of ‘buddies’.
The end result is that people who have never worn a uniform or know anything about the army have started a debate. I feel that this is very divisive to the armed forces. The Army is a way of life and not just not another institution! The rules are a bit different here. Once you wear the uniform you automatically lose your civil identity and swear to follow it’s own code of conduct.
Do you find all these cases similar? Well, you would if you are not acquainted with the armed forces in real life and rely mostly on bollywood movies and TV serials like POW for your ideas about armed forces. However, it is sad to blame an entire organisation over one video that went viral on social media. So let’s have a brief idea about the forces first.
CRPF: The CRPF basically serve in the jungles against Naxals and other such elements in the rural areas of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bengal etc. where their families are not allowed; they do visit their families during their leaves.
BSF: Border security forces serve as the first line of defense at the borders and move back into the line once army takes over in the event of of war. They fight against insurgency at the borders and maintain an almost entire desert area.
These chaps are doing many more jobs than the Army itself but frankly, they are not glamourised as Army and they surely have poor infrastructure and lower pay packages than Army. Now the question arises: Who is responsible for it if someone complains on social media regarding their situation?
There could be a lack of camaraderie here, because these units lack the historical context of pride for what they do back to the country. The Gurkha Rifles shout out aloud ‘Bravest of the Brave’; a simple army services arm, EME which is involved with repair and maintenance of equipments has an identity of being ‘Eagle’. ‘Jaalim Khanjar’, ‘Saidav Pratham’ and many more logos and tag lines are associated with various arms based on real operations which keep them motivated.
But do we have something like that in the CRPF or BSF? Even the top brass in BSF or CRPF may be sometimes an IPS officer from outside which is never the case in the Army where a general has taken the same lessons from IMA and knows his men very well.
The officers in the Army are taught to keep the benefits of the chaps they would command above all since their initial days in the IMA. In fact there is this whole quote engraved into the walls of the IMA: “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.”
So you see, no other force can be compared with the army; these wings are less structured and organised than the army so the problems which arise are mostly lack of infrastructure, less pay package, no welfare measures and extreme survival conditions. Now the question is, who is responsible for all this?
It is not only the officers but the government and entire organisation which needs to be questioned if such allegations surface on social media. Perhaps the entire system, their training, their working morale and mottos -all should change with changing times.
Now these cases cannot be compared with the allegation of a Jawan in the Army whose prime concern is the mistreatment and misutilisation of a jawan. To my knowledge, no Jawan in the army ever complains about poor infrastructure or lower pay package.
And do you know why? Because army officers and the wives who have been severely dragged into all the allegations of mishandling of the buddies are involved in maintaining this wonderful life that the Army offers a Jawan who is usually a high school pass out.
Yes, it’s not the government, not the PMO, not the PM who are directly involved in the betterment of jawans’ life; it is the personal interests and motto of the organisation that create a beautiful life for jawans in the army where they can live peacefully with their families. How, you may ask…so read ahead carefully!
The list of such works is endless. A handful of officers and highly qualified army wives (8-10) who could have gone out and earned handsomely for themselves instead look after hundreds of Jawans and their families.
So yes, there are buddies who willingly serve the families for various activities, and assist them not, though necessarily the way these viral videos blame. I have seen buddies who have served under one single officer over the years because Saheb proved a better pillar of support than his own dad and Memsahib taught his wife better than his own mom. Sometimes buddies are comfortably serving in some peaceful place whereas the officer might be directly at the LOC facing death every day. Officers die too along with the jawans! This bonding can not be described in words.
The entire organisation works like this where everybody has a role which might not be written in the rule books or paid for. But they do it to sustain this organisation and support each other to create an invincible Indian army!
I believe that the media should not just promote news only for the sake of TRPs. So men dying at the border don’t make news but the age old buddy system does. Do they realise how it hampers the morale of the rest of the men who are serving alongside in a jungle or chilly mountain at some sub zero temperature?
The result is that the average viewer believes that that every jawan is mistreated and he/she is a genius in military matters. All officers are bad and misbehave. One has to ask as to who then who is standing there at the borders! Do they realise that they are trying to dislodge the mantle of trust between jawans and officers which has been established over decades?
There is a reason that Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that ‘social media can be used both ways’ and that those using it would be punished. The Army plays by different rules which can not be compared to any other civic institution. The internal grievance cells which are highly effective and functional should be used rather than talking on social media.
I firmly believe that we can’t damage the morale of our troops and let politics enter into the much loved forces of the country which protect us from our enemies who are eagerly awaiting our forces to crumble and disintegrate.
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First published here
Image credits Tracy Hunter, used under a Creative Commons license 2.0
Author of Soldier's Girl : Love Story Of A Para Commando
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