Tuesday, October 21, 2014


“IZZAT” – No Longer USP of the “FAUJ” 
Is there “IZZAT” in the Defence Services (Army Navy Air Force)?
Ramblings of a Retired Veteran

For the past few years, we keep seeing media reports that there is a huge shortage of officers in the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Despite all the jingoistic hype and glitzy recruitment advertisements, there are very few takers for a career in the Armed Forces.

Being an Officer in the Defence Services is no longer a preferred career choice.

Why are bright young men and women 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 choices:

1. To be a homemaker (and help her husband’s career by being a good army wife).

2. To work as a  teacher (and that too in the cantonment military school).

The girl was an “army brat” and did not want to marry an army officer.

She was studying computer engineering.

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 etc

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 used to once enjoy in civilian 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 declining IZZAT the main reason why youngsters are reluctant to join the Defence Services (Army Navy Air Force)? 

Or are there some other reasons that youngsters do not prefer a military career?

Do comment and tell us your views.

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