Saturday, January 21, 2017

Self or A Whole Institution!

Past few days had seen quite some activity from Armed forces' and Paramilitary forces' Jawans. And action this time was not against the enemy, but very much within the border limits and against their own system. It was painful to see the way they are treated. And the fact that soldiers had to resort to social media to express, highlights a much severe issue. Hopelessness of justice from the system.

The first video was shared by BSF’s Tej Bahadur Yadav, mentioning scarcity of food supplies and quality of food served. Though Home Ministry ordered an internal enquiry, but BSF seniors were quick to deny the accusation. Even border areas civilians accept, buying supplies from BSF at half the market price. Encouraged by dare of Yadav, Army’s Yagya Pratap Singh shared a video, showing exploitation at the hands of seniors, in getting their chores done. And importantly these are soldiers in uniform.

15th Jan is celebrated as Army Day and Chief of Army Staff heads the occasion. The newly appointed Gen Bipin Rawat used the stage well to nip the rising wave in the bud. He said sharing such videos on social media would invite punishment, as it directly affect the morale of other soldiers. Had the General been actually concerned about the matter, he would have surely, atleast desisted, THREATNING his own men and looked into the matter with grave seriousness. But the whole idea seemed to set the things in place, first time itself before it became a trend, rather than resolving.

He also felt the Sahayak System is a very friendly one.   It’s no mystery that senior army officers actually exploit lower ranked soldiers. To the extent of making them do menial stuff like gardening, shoe polishing, taking pets for walk, cabbing their kids to schools and spouses to malls. Jawans are actually used like servants by own seniors. This practice is a norm in Army. Such exploitation is a very sorry figure for an institution, synonym with patriotism and sacrifice.         I should not discredit the General by not mentioning his instructions to follow the official grievances channel, meanwhile assuring the staff can approach the chief himself if unsatisfied. This appeared nothing but a rulebook protocol, than a sincere effort. Had the system been honest and transparent, would soldiers had to resort to such an option? However, Gen Rawat could not see through this common than common sensical understanding. Or maybe, he chose not to. There was a golden chance for the Chief to pacify his critics and establish credibility among his staff, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.

That age has gone, when likes of Field Marshal Karriapa existed, who refused the release of his captured son when offered by Pakistani army during 1971 war. He insisted either all or none be released. For him all soldiers were his sons. We live in an era when self is above all. In an era, where power and authority score above ethics and humanity.

Sir, nothing demotivates soldiers more than the apathy and arrogance of their own system. Let the army men have the due they deserve, of being a soldier.

Piyush Gupta