As the video of ex- Adjutant General, Lt Gen Ashwani Kumar’s recent interview to a private news channel was being repeatedly shared on social media, a disgruntled viewer commented if it is the worst time to be a soldier or rather a veteran. AG’s statements have not gone down too well within the fraternity. The last couple of years have been tough for the soldiers of the Indian Army, serving and retired both, for the reasons we all are well aware of. The AHQ seems highly insecure and has ended being up and against its very own soldiers. Why?
Nothing justifies treacherously targeting their brother officers and taking away their hard-earned honour. With seemingly strong leadership, we expected the Indian Army to further strengthen the force to reckon with! An army that believed in itself and its soldiers.
An army where every family felt secure and well cared for! An army where the trust in the organization ran several notches higher than the God himself! But what we get to see is a deeply resentful army. Peeved at the way some decisions have been taken, restrictions issued, without taking into consideration that it would impact the morale of the soldier on the ground; many soldiers have taken to social media to express their disappointments. From demonizing the disabled soldiers to intemperate statements in media to the down gradation of our soldiers who defended the sovereignty of the nation to unfounded allegations to having a code of conduct for our veterans, demeaning our men in Olive greens seems to be the flavor of the season.
In the name of restructuring the army, the soldiers are being hit where it hurts the most. A deep divide is being made between the serving and the retired, the top brass and the junior ranks. Indian army is no longer one big happy family, it used to be. And that is where the biggest damage lies. In times when the country is facing threats from in and outside, shouldn’t it be our priority to be well prepared and comprehensively improve the morale of our soldiers to ensure they come back as winners whenever; whatever the situation is! For this, greater involvement of veterans will come handy. Imagine a group of highly skilled workforce deeply rooted in the military ethos, mutual respect and their commitment towards the organization which goes beyond any financial gain. Shunning them will certainly not help.
No, it is not the worst time to be a soldier. It cannot be. We should not let views of a select few deter us. We cannot. And I will quote the famous Urdu poet Rahat Indori Sahab, here-
“Jo aaj saahibe masnad hain kal nahin honge
Kiraaydaar hain jaati makaan thodi hai”
We should aim to become a major global military power. Enhancing Defence capabilities should be our focus area.
Soldiers are trained to be a part of something greater than themselves and for them, nothing is greater than their country. The onus lies on the top brass of our coveted organization to stop sending such adverse messages and treat the entire fraternity as a family.
Concerns regarding the honour and dignity of soldiers can certainly not be resolved until the officers in the higher ranks of the Indian Army remain indifferent and apathetic. Together we can and we will become the best military power in the world. Othering each other will only strengthen the enemies of the organization, address the soldiers, address the issue, don’t let it simmer. Let the country before self, be our cementing factor.
Best is yet to be.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.