Army personnel belonging to any country are usually subjected to harsh military disciplining in order to be able to function as a cohesive team and perform well in extreme situations.
Indiscipline or violation of law of any kind won’t be put up with, in the defense force. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s warnings amid the controversies that surfaced after a Facebook posting by an army jawan alleging discrimination by the officers, is therefore natural and in context. The newly appointed Chief while addressing the Army Day parade in Delhi Cantonment said that when there were regular channels to raise complaints internally, airing grievances through social media to draw public attention was punishable as it affected the morale of the jawans and the army. His remarks came after a Border Security Force constable Tej Bahadur Yadav uploaded a video on Facebook complaining of the low quality food served to the personnel and near starvation they faced. Yadav also alleged discrimination by the officers and using the soldiers as ‘sahayaks’ by the seniors. The post quickly became viral inviting harsh criticisms against the army. Members of the Central Reserve Police Force also lambasted the discrimination prevailing in the army, through the social media. Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat’s remarks come amidst this hullabaloo. At present, there exists an internal system to resolve the problems raised by the army personnel.
However, the recent happenings have led to a situation where we couldn’t claim transparency of affairs as well as smooth functioning in the army. Allegations arose of the jawans being served inadequate and low quality food and also of food substances meant for the soldiers being sold outside. Reports of the soldiers being used as the helpers (sahayaks) for the senior officials and the rampant displeasure of the jawans in doing so, also surfaced. Lance Naik Yagya Pratap Singh of 42 Infantry brigade shared his grievances against the sahayak system (buddy system) in the army, through a video. He spoke of soldiers being forced to “wash clothes, polish boots and walk dogs” for seniors and also said that he was victimised by his seniors for raising complaints against the practice. Pratap Singh had gone on hunger strike due to the hardships he faced while he was posted in Dehradun. The response of his wife when the Army Chief Gen. Rawat defended the buddy system is significant. She said that her husband joined the army for serving the nation and not serving as a sahayak for his seniors. The vast discrimination in the salary faced by the Border Security Forces has also added to the grievances.
The extreme and adverse situations in which army personnel are forced to work should be kept in mind when analysing these complaints. It’s the joint responsibility of the nation to safeguard the jawans by boosting up their morale and providing them with the necessary material facilities for survival. They protect the country battling all kinds of challenges at the border including extreme cold, difficulty in conveyance as well as reaching hospitals in case of casualties, and also the severely cold Siachen snow peaks and similar areas where human habitation is impossible.
The locals in Jammu Kashmir and North West regions where the troops are deployed rightly complain about their atrocities. It should be comprehended that not only are the incidents the consequences of the Special Powers act given to the army but that the mental stress endured by the personnel also lead to the misuse of power. The amount the government has allotted to the defence sector in the last union budget is 2.5 lakh core rupees. Hence the first preference should be to the measures for improving the living conditions of the troops and boosting their enthusiasm. India, being the fourth largest arms buyer in the world, cannot neglect the human hands that are entitled to use those arms in the perfect manner. If the army chief’s directions about the discipline in the troops are to get the desired results, they should first arrange a favourable platform for the soldiers.