Sunday, August 31, 2014


Ramblings of a Retired Veteran

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


“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 she looked icily at the Army Veteran and said: “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 people have so many facilities and enjoy the best lifestyle, but you still want more concessions and special treatment everywhere …”

I smiled to myself.

The lady 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 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, some staff cars parked brazenly in no parking zones, with the police not daring to question the uniformed drivers, while the army officers and their wives and families went around shopping.

On a few occasions, her friend and erstwhile school classmate, who was married to an army officer, had taken her to the CSD canteen, the club and then to her well-appointed house in the posh cantonment and boasted of the facilities she enjoyed in the army.

She 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 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.

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


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 army officers 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, 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.

Is it not high time the army projects this true face of military life to civilians?

Only then will uninformed naive civilians, living comfortably in urban India, appreciate the hardships and challenges of military life, and they will think twice before saying: “The Army is like any other job”.

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All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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