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


Ashish Dhingra said...

So you have brought out three issues based on the recent media mongering about forces. I will begin by giving out importance of good and on time meals in Army. Food and Leave on time are the best and most basic welfare soldiers deserve. Army lays lot emphasis on quality of food in 'langars' or kitchen where food is prepared in bulk. Despite the numbers, quality and variety in Jawan Mess is maintained and monitored as well. Army has a very sound logistic system and hence the troops deployed even in Siachien also get the suitable rations. Para Military Forces have different procedures for procurement and if at some places quality of food is not good its a command failure of that particular unit rather than a national problem.

Second non ending debate is regarding buddies of Army Officers. Buddy or Batman or Helper has a very important role in an Army Officers life both in war and peace. In war, he is supposed to take care small jobs for the officer such as maintaining the uniform, carrying the radio and extra stuff while officer is dealing with other bigger issues. These days Army is doing a lot over and above jobs such has Counter Insurgency Operations, Disaster relief, Resolving internal conflicts and contributing to forces like NSG. An average army officer is working for 12-14 hours a day. In this time, his buddy helps the officer with his uniform and upkeep of his accommodation. The Officer-Buddy relationship is so strong that I have also seen an officer playing role of a father in wedding of buddy's daughter. In case there are some aberrations of misuse, it is again individual responsibility and not an organization or national problem.

Thirdly, the issue of reporting and redressal of grievances which was handled very sternly by COAS. Chain of Command is one the pillars of functioning of Armed Forces and any aberration or violation has to be delt with as per Army orders. I agree that there is no e-reporting system of grievance but there exists a very strong feedback system which can be used to raise such concerns at highest levels. We certainly can not encourage posting of such videos as they hamper morale of troops and spread disgruntlement and gossip. There is as it is prohibition of using smartphones in field areas for security reasons which these guys violated other than breaking chain of command.
The bottom line is that we in the Army know while joining that it is not a comfortable life ahead and the role which will be assigned to us. Life in Army has discipline, lose of freedom, inclement weather, inhospitable terrain, separation from family and lots of other hardships but it also gives immense pride, satisfaction and above all the feeling of actually doing something directly for your nation. Jaihind!!

Piyush said...

Though not belonging to forces fraternity, still civilians do acknowledge the hardships soldiers face everyday, as part of their duty. We feel gratified for every soldier's sacrifice. And precisely for this gratification, we are bothered if something doesn't appear good.

While I dont deny the system in place for quality food, leave programs, redressal mechanism. But still many believe, that the buddies are often pushed too much into personal activities, who are actually supposed to support for executing official duties. May be there's a thin line.

There is an element of corruption everywhere, just the degree varies. No department is completely untouched by it. And its not a national problem, but its a national concern. Secondly, I feel, even if aberration is small, still the onus lies with the organization to fix it.

See, if an average Indian, is raising voice today, it's because we aspire for a better society.

Btw, I really liked your positive attitude in above reply. Cheers and Jai Hind.