Sunday, October 9, 2016

Do “Techies” (IT Nerds) enjoy better Status and Respect than “Faujis” (Defence Personnel and Military Veterans)...?

Do *TECHIES* (IT Nerds) enjoy better Status and Respect than *FAUJIS* (Defence Personnel and Military Veterans)...?
Musings of a Veteran
By
VIKRAM KARVE

NB: 
1. The generic terms “Fauji” and “Soldier” refer to all Military Personnel (Officers/Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen) and the term “Faujan” refers to all Military Wives.
2. Also – the generic term “Army” includes all the three Armed Forces – Army, Navy and Air Force

Yesterday – I posted a story on a Foodie Forum. 
The post got a tremendous response. 
Dear Reader – Please read the story first – then – I will tell you about some responses – positive and negative... 
I will add a disclaimer that this Foodie Forum mainly comprises Pune Foodies – so – the views and responses pertain to Pune in particular and the urban context in general – and may not be relevant to other cities or mofussil towns.

Food for Thought for My Foodie Friends
(especially Restaurant Owners) 

This afternoon we had a sumptuous lunch at a famous restaurant in Pune.
The waiter brought the bill - and - he asked: "Corporate Discount...?"
I did not understand.
However - a *Techie* in our group understood.
(The *Techie* aka *IT Nerd* works for a premier Software Company)
The *Techie* produced the Company ID Card - and - the restaurant gave a 10% discount on the bill.
On learning about this "corporate discount" - I asked the Restaurant Manager: 
"Do you give any discount to Military Veterans...?"
"No, Sir..." the Restaurant Manager said.
"Do you give any discount for serving defence personnel...?" I asked.
"No, Sir..." the Restaurant Manager said.
Think about it.
It is not a question of *discount*
It is the *gesture* that matters.

MORAL OF THE STORY 

In Pune:
*Techies* (IT Nerds) enjoy better status/respect than *Faujis* (Defence Personnel and Military Veterans)
In Civilian Society - is the so-called *respect* for *Faujis* mere jingoism...?
Again I reiterate - it is not a question of *discount*
It is good that restaurants are giving *Corporate Discounts* to employees working in the Corporate Sector and Information Technology (IT) Firms.
But - why not a similar gesture towards Defence Personnel and Military Veterans...?
Aren't small gestures of respect towards *Faujis* more important than loud slogans of jingoism.. .?
Don't Actions Speak Louder Than Words...?
Dear Foodie Friends - Do you agree...?

PS: 
I am a Military Veteran who has served for over 33 years as an Officer in the Defence Forces (Indian Navy)
I do not want any discount.
In fact - Officers can afford to eat out at decent restaurants once in a while.
But - Please think about our brave Soldiers.

Dear Restaurant Owners: 
If you can give *Corporate Discount* to *Techies* working in IT Firms - can't you give a similar *Military Discount* to Soldiers/Veterans...?
Or - how about inviting a few Soldiers for a complimentary meal on occasions like Republic Day, Independence Day or Army/Navy/Air Force Day...? 
(BTW - today - 8 October - is Air Force Day) 

RESPONSES 

I was astonished by the response to this simple *matter-of-fact* post.
As they say in Techie-Lingo – this post went *VIRAL* – and – within  a few hours – there were around 500 *LIKES* – and  more than 100 comments. 
Most agreed with the sentiment expressed in the post.
A few Restaurant Owners announced discounts for Military Personnel/Veterans. 
However – a few disagreed. 
Some felt that *Corporate Discount* was purely a *Business Arrangement* between Corporate Firms and Restaurants. 
Others asked the *Moot Question*:
“Why should Military Personnel/Veterans get special treatment...? After all – the Military is like any other job – and – as it is – *Faujis* get too many *Perks* *Facilities* and *Privileges*...” 
In a democracy – we have a right to dissent with each other’s views.
In fact – I believe that dissent is good – certainly better than  GROUPTHINK   or  ABILENE PARADOX  both of which I have seen plenty during my Navy Days. 
So – I encourage dissent – and – I believe that – on Social Media – you must engage and discuss views and counter-views.
Hence – I engaged with each of the dissenters and tried to counter their disssenting views. 
I told them that defence civilians too enjoyed all the so-called *Military Perks* like CSD etc despite the fact the these civilians enjoyed relatively comfortable lifestyle as compared to the hardships of the men in uniform. 
I also reiterated that is was not merely a question of *discount* but it is the *gesture* that matters.
I succeeded in most cases. 
However – some persons persisted with the quintessential question: 
“Why should Military Personnel/Veterans get special treatment...? After all – isn’t the Military is like any other job...? Even other jobs are tough and stressful... Like *Faujis* – even *Techies* are making a significant contribution to the nation...” 
They also made references to the various facilities *Faujis* enjoy like Service Institutes/Clubs etc.
I promised them that  in response to their comments – I would repost on my blog – an article I had written a few years ago titled: IS THE ARMY LIKE ANY OTHER JOB...?
So – I delved deep into my Blog Archives and pulled out the article.
Dear Reader – Here is the Article I had written and posted in 2014 – more than 2 years ago – after a visit to my bank... 

IS THE ARMY LIKE ANY OTHER JOB...?
TWO FACES OF THE ARMY
Ramblings of a Retired Military Veteran
By
VIKRAM KARVE

(NB: The generic term “Army” includes all the three Armed Forces – Army, Navy and Air Force)

IS THE ARMY LIKE ANY OTHER JOB...?

“The Army is like any other job...” the lady in the bank said.

We were waiting for our pension certificates.

A gentleman identified himself as a retired Army Officer  as a Defence Pensioner.

The lady at the bank counter thought he was trying to jump the queue.

So  – at first – the lady bank employee looked icily at the Army Veteran.

Then  the lady bank employee said to the Veteran: 

“Why do you Army people always want special treatment...? Everyone here is a pensioner  but you defence pensioners always want special privileges  even after retirement. As far as I am concerned  the Army is like any other job. In fact  you Army people have so many facilities and enjoy the best lifestyle  but you Faujis still want more concessions and special treatment everywhere – even after retirement...

I smiled to myself.

The civilian lady at the bank was not at fault.

She lived in Pune  a salubrious peacetime Army cantonment.

So she had seen only one face of the Army – what I like to call the “posh” face of the Armed Forces.


THE “POSH” FACE OF THE ARMY

The civilian lady at the bank had seen the “posh” face of the Army visible all over Pune.

Whenever she went to Pune Camp  she saw Army officers and their families moving around in style  in chauffeur driven Army staff cars and jeeps.

She saw these official Army cars and jeeps parked majestically on MG Road  and – at entrances to Malls and Stores. In fact – she had seen some staff cars parked brazenly in no parking zones  with the police not daring to question the uniformed Army drivers  while the Army officers and their wives and families went around shopping. 

One of her classmates was a Faujan”  a Military Wife  who was married to an Army officer.

The lady at the bank” often visited her Faujan” friend and erstwhile school classmate  who was married to an Army officer.

On a few occasions her Faujan” friend taken her to the CSD canteen for shopping

Her Faujan friend had also taken the civilian lady at the bank” to the club.

Of course – the lady at the bank” had often visited her Faujan friend’s well-appointed house in the posh cantonment  and – during these visits – her Faujan friend boasted of the facilities she enjoyed in the Army.

The lady at the bank saw that Army officers and their families had access to the best of facilities – sports, swimming pools, clubs, golf, schools, chauffeur driven cars, subsidized canteens etc

She saw that the Army provided a full time “sahayak” who took care of all household chores and outside errands too – so her Faujan” friend who was married to an Army officer did not have to do any household work and was free to enjoy social and entertainment activities like ladies club, kitty parties and lead a posh life.

And to top it all – Army officers enjoyed quality time with their families and for various social and sporting activities  because of fewer working hours.

Indeed  the Army provided a good life. 

That was the impression created in the mind of the civilian lady at the bank”.

This is the “posh” face which the Army projects to civilians.


THE “HARSH REALITY” FACE

But the Army has another face too – which it does not project to civilians.

Does the common citizen in a modern metropolis like Pune – know  that  a part of the Army is in a constant state of combat on the borders, LOC, LAC and militant infested areas...?

Are they aware of the stress, dangers and hardships that Army officers/soldiers face in conflict zones and field areas...?

Are civilians aware of the trials and tribulations Army wives and families undergo as a consequence of being in a constant state of stress when their husbands are posted in the field...?

Do civilians living in urban India know about the yeoman’s service that the Indian Army renders in the border and remote areas of India...?

First and foremost – the Army provides security – this is well known to all.

But – does the common citizen know that the Army is involved in virtually every aspect of life in these inaccessible and hazard-prone areas...?

Besides providing medical facilities, medical treatment, mercy missions, casualty evacuation, and rescue and relief missions – even running schools and giving education facilities to local population in these inhospitable areas – it is the Army that delivers Social Welfare and is involved in Community Development and gives succour for population of border and remote areas of India where the civilian administration is scant and people depend on the Army for everything.

Do civilians know that it is this yeoman’s service that the Indian Army renders in the border and remote areas of India which keeps these regions united and connected with the rest of nation...?

Whenever there is a calamity  the Armed Forces are the first to rush in for rescue and relief even at danger to their own lives.

The Indian Army does great things which go unnoticed because of inadequate information dissemination to the public and citizens about the Army’s multifarious activities.

This is the challenging, arduous “harsh reality” face of the army.

Why is the Army projecting only its “POSH FACE to civilians...?

Isn’t it is high time the Army starts projecting the true “HARSH REALITY FACE of military life to civilians....?

There is a need to project the right image of the Army to civilian citizens. 

Not only the organisation  but each and every “Fauji” and “Faujan” must understand this aspect – and – stop “Showing Off” before Civilians – but – educate civilians about the harsh realities of military life.

Only then will misinformed and naive civilians  living comfortably in urban India – only then  will civilians begin to appreciate the hardships and challenges of military life.

Once they appreciate the true face of Military Life – only then  will civilians think twice before saying: “The Army is like any other job”.

VIKRAM KARVE
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