Monday, July 15, 2013

Is “Izzat” still the USP of the “Fauj” (Army Navy Air Force) ?

Is “IZZAT” still the USP of the Defence Services (Army Navy Air Force)?

I keep seeing media reports that there is a shortage of officers in the Army Navy and Air Force.

I wonder why bright young men and women are reluctant to join the Defence Services.

Sometime ago, during an interaction with young engineering students, I asked the students, boys and girls, if anyone was was keen on joining the navy, or the defence services.

I thought that there would be at least a few young boys and girls keen on a career in the technical branches of the navy, or maybe in the army or air force.

But, I was quite shocked to hear that no one wanted to join the defence services. 

Yes, not even a single student, boy or girl, wanted to opt for a career in the army, navy or air force.

Since the students were talking to me in a frank and friendly manner, I decided to delve a bit more and explore the reasons for the unpopularity of a career in the defence services among the smart young people of today. 

During my interaction, I discovered that the students were well-informed about the career prospects and way of life in the defence services, especially about the army, and were fully aware of the pros and cons.

I was also surprised to see that quite a significant number of students were children of defence service officers and personnel, while many others had relatives or friends in the armed forces.

My question as to why no one wanted to join the army, navy or air force evoked the standard responses (which I expected to hear):

Lifetime Employment (you can’t leave once you join – no opportunity to job hop for greener pastures)

Frequent Transfers (unstable family life, problems of long distance marriage in case of a working spouse or for children’s education)

Regimentation (modern youngsters do not like curbs on their lifestyle)

Restrictions (freedom of speech, marriage, appearance)

Modest Career Prospects (slow seniority based promotions, no incentives for high achievers, moderate salary, early retirement)

There was nothing new in all this. 

I am sure you have heard all these reasons too.

One boy said that nowadays most girls were career oriented and because of this the marriage prospects of army officers got limited since working girls do not prefer an army boy (and maybe vice versa too).

One girl even went on to say that, in order to avoid a long-distance marriage and to have a good family life with her husband, an army wife had only two choiceshomemaker or teacher.

The girl was studying computer engineering and she was interested in a serious full-time career in the IT Industry where there was a good chance of going abroad for work and she even had the option to settle down abroad if the opportunities were good - but all this was not feasible if she married an army officer.

So Limited Marriage Prospects was another reason for the unpopularity of a career in the defence services.

There was nothing new in all this. 

I am sure you have heard all these reasons too.

Then, suddenly one smart young boy said something I had not expected to hear.

He said: “Sir, there is no izzat in the defence services any more. Nobody respects defence officers any longer. That is why I don’t want to join the army.”

For a moment I was taken aback.

Then, as I thought about it, I realized that the youngster did have a point.

There was a time when “Izzat” was the USP of the defence services.

I cannot define it precisely, but we know what “izzat” means.

Translated in English, “izzat” is a combination of status, respect, prestige, honour, dignity, power, reputation, social status, standing in civilian society …

I do not know about other places, but at least in urban metros like Pune and Mumbai, which have been overwhelmed by the post-liberalization wave of consumerism and materialism, there has certainly been a decline in the high izzat that defence officers once enjoyed in society. Nowadays, only money speaks - and an honest fauji certainly does not stand a chance.

“Sir, there is no izzat in the defence services any more. Nobody respects defence officers any longer…”

That is what the smart youngster said.

Do you agree?

Is this the main reason why youngsters are reluctant to join the defence services? 

Or is there some other reason?

Do comment and tell us your views.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
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A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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sugandha said...

Vikram I completely agree with the person who spoke about izzat.

I have many friends who thought about joining Indian military and were ready to sacrifice of lifestyle, relationship, money issues. But all of them often wondered that even after sacrificing they dont get the respect that they should it isnt worth it.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Sugandha
You are right - the armed forces no longer enjoy the respect they once enjoyed (the reasons are many - internal and external).
That is why youngsters are not keen on joining

Shaivi said...

Strange that what was now considered a golden career opportunity now has virtually no takers. A lot can be attributed to the govt's management and lack of role models.

Debarati said...

Hello sir .. You have portrayed the common scenario very nicely.Though the points the boy mentioned is certainly right.But I guess still there are few youngsters too(Like me)who have Deep and Intense respect for Army Personnels.

Vikram Waman Karve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Debarati
You are right - compared to the rest of society the army is indeed and honorable profession

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Shaivi
Yes, with so many career opportunities available the charm of a military career has dwindled