Now that our Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister), Shri AK Antony, has, like all politicians before him and probably after him, shown aversion to talk to his service chiefs we need to examine why is it so. Even our bureaucrats are used to putting the uniformed personnel in their place. We have reached a situation in our country when the collective neglect, indifference and aversion of the government, administration and police towards the armed forces has made this honourable profession one of the least attractive of all professions in India for the youth of the country. One would think that the countrymen, at large, would hold the armed forces personnel, resplendent in their uniforms, in awe and esteem. Yes they do. But, eligible men don’t want to join the forces and eligible women don’t want to marry faujis. When I was in the school, there was a popular Punjabi song whose words were: “O, fauji nu bayaah de babula, chaahe boot sanhe lat maare.” (O Father, I want to get married to a soldier even if he kicks me with his boots). In contrast, a decade back, a survey done amongst eligible brides showed that they ranked armed forces personnel as the tenth choice for marriage.

It is really not understandable because Indian Armed Forces rank amongst the finest in the world in achievements, training, caliber and efficiency of their personnel. In comparison, the Indian politicians, bureaucrats and police personnel, who might just have begun from the same stock in schools and villages, are ranked amongst the worst in the world. And yet, an Indian Police Officer, for example, reaches the rank of a DIG in about 12 to 14 years of service but his armed forces equivalent requires twice as much service.

Could it be that in India that is increasingly become materialistic and dumbed down, money, power and status, together with stability of posting near one’s home place, are considered more important than honour and dignity that comes with having a President’s Commission? Also, since the levels of commitment, rectitude and training in the armed forces viz-a-viz their civilian counterparts are extremely high, the latter feel that the former and their impractical fauji ways should be kept at several arms’ lengths.

The awe is obvious when civilians – used to their environment of filth, chaos, casual dresses and chalta hai (couldn’t care less) attitude – are suddenly exposed to order, discipline, efficiency, shining uniforms and professionalism of the armed forces.

A Raksha Mantri, many years ago, was visiting the Indian Flagship Vikrant (an aircraft carrier; now a museum ship). After the forenoon’s intense flying operations, as he came to the wardroom for drinks and lunch, he had the Master Chief Petty Officer Steward, looking smart in his tunic and pants (worn for the ceremonial occasion) serving him small-eats from a tray. The RM looked at the MCPO Steward and decided that he must be a very senior officer (most of them have no idea of ranks in the armed forces, let alone in the Navy). So he took the tray from the nonplussed MCPO and offered to him the delicacies in return by saying, “Pehle aap” (You first). The senior sailor nearly died of mortification.

I am also reminded of two boys who grew up in the same town and studied in the same school. The politician’s son hated the other who wanted to join the navy. Their hatred and aversion continued till well after they finished their schooling.

 Many years later, the politician’s son had himself become a politician of some fame – nay notoriety; whereas, the other had become an Admiral. One day the Netaji (politician) or Mantriji (Minister) saw the Admiral, resplendent in his uniform in the lobby of a hotel. Mantriji recognised the latter straightway when the latter wasn’t looking and with the power that came with his post, wanted to show down the Admiral. So he called him thus, “Bell boy, please get me a taxi.”

The Admiral turned around and confronted his boyhood bête noire, saw the shabby attire and the belly that many Indian politicians have, which looked like that of a pregnant lady, and responded, “Certainly ma’am; but, in your condition should you be traveling?”

© 2011 – 2017, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.

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  1. sir, we know the problem and you have stated it correctly, but what is the solution. its a little respect that we are looking for and not a share in their pie. Military plays a major role in national security interests, economy and many more being secondary to the security interests. shouldn’t the experienced naval officers like you do ‘anna hazare’ to these people..

  2. There is a famous joke we heard in young days,a police officer asked an army man u guys are away
    on borders and ur ladies are in ur native places being visited by u one in a year on annualleave, then how r u sure that childern born to them r urs, army fellow replied when we go back we count the days up to delivery if we r doubtful we send him for enrolment in police, otherwise he joins army as a tradition

  3. Sir, your blog is true and interesting. You have rightly lamented general apathy and jealous attitude of so called Netajs (who profusely swear – they represent common man but want a battalion of Black Cat commandos to keep the same common man at bay) and Babus (many of whom relentlessly proclaim how only the creme-de-la-creme join the Babudom but happily bend backwards to connive with Netas – even illiterate ones – for short term gains) towards AFPs. But having served in AF myself, I have seen how our own Flag officers take great pride in demonstrating their subservient behaviour to wards Netajs & Babus. How many Flag Officers have put in their papers – or at-least threatened to do so- every time a service chief was pushed lower down in the the order of protocol ??????????

  4. On joining the NDA in 1965 joining the Forces was the second choice,but when I returned as a Squadron Commander in 1979 it became the 7th choice.
    But with the hike after the pay commission wonder what is their choice today.

    1. Now that I am on the civvies street, Sir, I have seen how the Police and other services are seen by youngsters as more attractive choices because of their standing in the society. Armed forces get respect, admiration etc only when the chips are down and they are required, eg, in Uttarkhand now.

  5. Reading your Admiral &…………., one reads the same old stuff that is being written ad-nauseum. Its actually disheartening to know that it has been allowed to continue for so long. We faujis, whenever, where ever possible don’t miss the opportunity to say that we deserve respect, equality, parity, etc, from the Netas, Babus, and so on. As the saying goes, it canNOT be demanded as is being seen to be done. If we call ourselves the best Strategists and have leaders of Integrity, valour etc, then why are we lacking in the so often quoted ‘Leadership by Example’. It is not such that our military leadership is ignorant of the Malise that has set in, THEN what is stopping these SHARP Shooter who claim to ‘SHOOT to KILL’, coming up with not one but a dozen Tactical initiatives that firmly deal with prevailing challenges?? Maybe we are still not sufficiently, critically together in this………………

    1. Thank you for your comments. In another forum – my group on Facebook called Humour In And Out Of Uniform – I have already said so and I agree with you. We don’t read mourners; we need people who can lead without thinking of their personal interests.


  7. It is painful to see how defence services are marginalized over the years. I remember my father and grandfather discussing how in 1947 a choice was given to defence officers to join civil services and none joined IAS that point of time. But later after 2/3 years when again a choice was given all of them joined civil services.
    This shows how slowly after independence the psyche evolved. But the downward slide was really steep in last 10/15 years.
    I do not know how and when this trend will be reversed.

    1. Thank you dear Kamal. We have such proud heritage of our armed forces. The swift victory in 1971 that sorted out the problem of East Pakistan in just 12 days is taught in the military schools of Russia and USA as the finest example of campaign planning and implementation. And yet, our civil leadership, at every available occasion shows down the armed forces. We are really in a sorry state. Some part of the country, eg, J&K, are held together only by the commitment of our armed forces. And yet, the government assiduously keeps them from having any say in matters of governance.

  8. The problem lies with us. The military tradition, honour and character have been eroded by no one else but we in uniform. We had one DKJ in half a century.

    1. I agree that we ourselves have to share the blame. One of the ways that the netas and babus manipulate us is by knowing that there are issues on which the three services don’t see eye to eye. We allow ourselves to be divided and they rule.

  9. sir,
    a side line!my parents had an arranged match. the 1st time my mom saw my future father she was stunned! she complained that she could not envisage a life with a man who sported such a shabby growth on his face!some how the old man came to know of this and the next day he promptly showed up at my grandfathers’house clean shaven. my mom said she fell for him hook,line and sinker!

  10. We must thank God for MCPO STD Sahab that he could survive withstanding the sudden honour thrusted upon him directly from heàven with a hidden WDS …. Instantly. And how about the Pegnant Lady’s desire for a taxi was punctured while tyres of taxi n her ballooned stomach remaining intact. Denegeneration of defense dignity to a extent caused because BRASS did not shone as it should had n have been