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General Punjabis The Martial Race, Shying Away From Army


Apr 3, 2005
by Ishpreet Bindra
The Indian army is seeing the worst crunch of officers ever and worse still those who are joining are not the right material. Since time immemorial the army has had its best officers from the martial races and clans of Punjab. The Punjabis have been an integral part of the army and have done so with pride. But today out of the total of 250 seats in IMA only 86 got filled and out of those who have joined the IMA this year the number of Punjabis is at its lowest ever. The matter is of grave concern for all. The shoe has begun to pinch now and it is pinching the most where it used to fit the best.

From the times of the British rule when the army did not have Indians as officers, the Indian army saw maximum recruitments from the province of Punjab. By the end of the 19th century Punjab and its border lying areas had the maximum strength of jawans in the army. This was the reason why many Britishers believed that the martial races of India were concentrated in the north western region. They regarded Punjabis as the most martial of the group.
The Punjabis too stood up to their reputation through the years to come. The independent Indian army has had many Sikh and Punjab regiments. They are known for their velour, bravery and daredevil attitude.
Yet today when the nation is in dire need of officers we see this martial race shying away from the uniform. Why has the land of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the likes forgotten the words -“jo tau prem khilen ka chahon ,sir dhar tali gali mori avoh.” meaning - if you want the love to blossom you have to come to me with your head in your hands, which means total sacrifice of body and mind. That is the level of dedication expected from this race. Then why today the land of this brave race has become barren suddenly when it comes to sending sons for the motherland?
Today the best paid jobs are available in the corporate world. All that the army offers other than low pay is stress, tough lifestyle and slow growth.
“People are not ready to send their children to far off places and harsh setups. This was there earlier also but then the pay and difficult lifestyle tradeoff was still balanced. Now it is not. The young generation weighs all this and takes the decision otherwise.” said a newly recruited officer.
Despite being the 4th largest army in the world the Indian army today is experiencing a shortfall of 13000 officers. The army chief General Deepak Kapoor blames the private sector for this. He feels that it is difficult for the government to compete with the private sector in terms of pays and perks. As a result they hire the best talent and the army is left with poor pickings.
“Another worry for the forces is that most of those applying are not the right material” says the General.
It had been a known fact in Punjab that every household had members joining the forces. If one son was a farmer the other went to the army. But today the ‘jai jawan jai kisan’ slogan is fading away in Punjab. Farmers are selling their land to go abroad and fathers no longer want their sons to don the uniform.
Has the nation too failed them somewhere? Is the government too to be blamed for this change in attitude?
“Why not?” asks an ex army officers’ wife from Punjab,” they fight for the nation, give up their lives and when they look back what do they see? Dirty politics, coffin scams, unsung heroes, helpless families? When the government doesn’t know how to respect its warriors then what examples are we setting for the young generation. Why should they join the army?”
This year 62 out of the 148 college graduates who passed out a separate military entrance test for officers opted out and sought jobs in private sectors. Punjabis are known for their extravagant lifestyle and fun loving attitude. Status and money have been the two most important criteria for the Punjabis. Earlier the two were some way or the other being balanced out in the army. However, pays in the army today no longer support such lifestyles. When compared to their counterparts in the corporate world the pays do not measure up to any standards. People are thus going abroad in search for jobs which pay well.
“Perks alone do not suffice, today’s generation needs hard cash to spend, which is absent in army.” said Harjot Singh an engineering student from Chandigarh.
The government needs to seriously think on this aspect in the sixth pay commission. For a job with such a high risk profile, instability and mental as well as physical stress the payrolls have to be justifying.
However, at the same time our younger generation too needs some introspection. What about the thoughts of joining forces for the thrill and adventure of it all. What about the thoughts of patriotism? What about the motherland?
Think about it for our land has always responded every time the nation has called out. It’s time our mothers again sent their sons in the service of the motherland. Time the fathers again proudly patted the uniform clad shoulders. Time the warriors of the nation took their rightful place as the protectors of the nation.
Think, for there’s time still.
Think, before it’s too late



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