SHAVING DAILY

Today, in the morning I was trying to practice conscious living while in the bathroom. I was doing all my toilet tasks in a slow deliberate manner and trying to enjoy all the activities. These activities are shaving my beard, brushing my teeth and taking a bath.
All these activities are part of my daily routine and have become almost a second nature for me. In the mornings, I am generally rushed for time as I have to reach my office early. So, I carry out these activities without giving any thought and as fast as possible. My wife is always at hand to remind me to hurry up as I may get late for the office. She is concerned because she knows that I will forgo my breakfast to make up time whenever I am late. She knows that missing breakfast is bad for my health may lead to my suffering from diabetes in the long run.
I have become an expert in shaving my beard in shortest possible time without any nicks and cuts. I am proud of my expertise in this field as after practicing for almost a quarter of a century I can do this task with my eyes closed, without the use of a mirror or without any light to see.
But today it was altogether a different matter. I was on leave and thus not required to rush to the office. I had read an article on conscious living and was trying to feel and enjoy all my activities. Today, even my wife had allowed me time to enjoy myself in the washroom after I agreed to use the bathroom in the guest room of our house thus not hindering her freedom in any manner. As we had been invited to a brunch by our neighbours, she was not under any pressure to finish her task of serving me the breakfast before the arrival of the maid for house cleaning.
It happens very rarely in our lives when all the stars are in our favour. When all our stars align in an auspicious manner, we can be sure that something magical will take place. After all, Newton also discovered gravity while sitting under an apple tree free from all pressures of the world.
Similarly, I had my “eureka” moment while trying to raise lather with shaving brush after applying shaving cream on my face.
The enlightenment dawned on like Buddha. I realised that I have been enslaved by the shaving material producing companies. I have been conditioned to shave daily; to use their products daily so that I create a demand these products. This habit of mine helps them to sell their products like the shaving cream, shaving brush, shaving razor and after shave lotions to me and to make their profit.
These companies have slowly so moulded the way of life of humans that we don’t feel comfortable without shaving daily. This has been done through a sustained advertising campaign over the years. Now a person is not seen as well groomed if he has not shaved in the morning. The companies are now advocating that we should now shave a second time in the evening in case we are attending a social function.
This habit of shaving is costing us dearly. The humongous amount of water is wasted in shaving all over the world. Just imagine the amount of energy that is being wasted to pump in this water to our bathrooms and carbon footprint of the same. Imagine the huge amount of chemicals from shaving cream that is being pumped into our water streams or ground water. We are now using disposable razors. It is mind boggling to even think of the amount of waste that is being generated by our disposal of razors daily. These razors are made from plastic, a non-bio-degradable material that is going to pollute our lovely planet and continue to do so some many decades.
God has given beard to men for a reason but in case the modern man wants to play God, he can do so by removing the beard and shaving once in a week or so. This will keep us well groomed as well as save the planet. A change of this habit will give us more time to enjoy life in the mornings.
So today, I have decided to shave once in a week on Sundays and to reduce my carbon footprint. Let us all join in this movement and save the planet from global warming and save ourselves from being fooled by the big bad boys of shaving industry.

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OFFICERS’ INFANTRY BATTALION

OFFICERS’ INFANTRY BATTALION

Introduction.

1. In this age of force multipliers just imagine the capabilities of an infantry battalion manned by only officers. Yes, it seems like a utopian dream in the present day context when the Army is short of about 14000 officers. But please suspend your practical judgment for a while and dream of an infantry battalion manned by officers exclusively. Imagine that there are no riflemen but rifle officers. Visualize a section being composed of all young lieutenants, with platoon commanders being captains and the company commanders being majors. This battalion being commanded being a young lieutenant colonel, full of energy and enthusiasm. Such an infantry battalion will certainly be a force multiplier in the complete spectrum of conflict ranging from the sub conventional to the full out nuclear war.
2. The force multiplier effect will result from the ability of the rifle officers to operate sophisticated surveillance devices, fire multiple types of latest weapons, to direct air and artillery fire on targets, communicate using latest IT and communication devices. The effect will also be the outcome of the initiative of the officer and his ability to take impromptu decisions thus exploiting all fleeting opportunities. He will be able to operate in small teams, navigate his way around the battle field and be capable of planning and executing operations under extreme conditions without waiting for orders. With revolution in weapon technology there is a need to revolutionize the man behind the machine. Infantry battalion of officers will be a revolution of this kind.
3. There is a very strong case for the desirability of having an infantry battalion manned by officers exclusively. The real point of discussion is whether it is possible to raise such an infantry unit or is it possible to train the infantry soldiers to act, behave and operate like an officer. It seems like an impossible task initially but it is certainly not unimaginable because they say “what can be conceived, can be achieved”.
Aim
4. The aim of this paper is to suggest measures to enhance the capabilities of the infantry soldiers to a level where they can operate like officers.
Preview
5. The paper had been laid down in following parts:-
(a) Part-I. Capabilities of present day infantry officers.
(b) Part-II. Comparison of capabilities of officers and soldiers.
(c) Part-III. Training required to be imparted to the soldiers to enable them to perform as officers.
(d) Part-IV. Changes required to be undertaken in a battalion to enhance the effectiveness of soldiers.
PART –I: CAPABILITIES OF PRESENT DAY INFANTRY OFFICERS
6. Present Day infantry officers are being sourced from either the Indian Military Academy or the Officers Training Academy. The gentlemen cadets of the Indian Military Academy are either direct entry (DE) candidates from the civil colleges or the graduates of the National Defence Academy (NDA) or the Army Cadet College (ACC). The pre-commissioning training of officers’ from the Officers Training Academy is of nine months duration which is equal to the training period of an infantry soldier. The military training period of the other entry schemes (Direct Entry, Ex NDA and Ex ACC) is about one and a half year or the double of the training period of the soldiers. In addition, to the difference in the training period the officers possess the following qualifications which make them distinct from the soldiers:-
(a) The officers’ minimum educational qualification is graduation in either the science, commerce or arts stream.
(b) The officers are able to speak and write in English language or at least the officers possess workable knowledge of the English Language.
(c) The officers are trained to behave in a formal setting of an officers’ mess or have been trained to use table fork and knife while having their meals.
(d) The officers have been tested by a service selection board (SSB) comprising of a psychologist, a group testing officer and an interviewing officer for their suitability to be an officer in the army.
7. It is evident that the officers are distinct from the soldiers because of some quantifiable qualifications and some soft skills. It is easy to replicate the quantifiable qualifications of the officers in the soldiers by providing them the opportunity to pursue the degrees while in uniform. Such quantifiable qualifications of the officers are:-
(a) A graduation degree.
(b) Knowledge of English Language.
(c) Nine months of additional military training or training to be effective platoon commanders in war.
8. The soft skills or leadership skills of the officers which are replicable but would require change in the mind set, additional training and the way of operating of a battalion are:-
(a) Leadership qualities
(b) Initiative.
(c) Integrity.
(d) Sense of being the chosen one.
(e) Team spirit.
(f) Intelligence.
(g) Sense of sacrifice.
PART-II: COMPARISON OF THE CAPABILITIES OF OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS
9. After having studied the officers and soldiers in an infantry battalion both during war and peace, in a Rashtriya Rifle battalion, at NDA, in a regimental centre and at the Infantry School Mhow, it can be deduced that there is very little difference in the capabilities of a good soldier and an average officer except the knowledge of the English Language. Some of the NCO instructors at NDA, IMA and the Infantry School are capable of taking on the role of the officers with little training. This fact has been recognized by the organization also and hence selected NCOs are commissioned in the army after testing and training. There is vast difference in the capabilities of the bad soldiers and average officers. This difference comes about because of the difference in the upbringing and education.
10. Some of the abilities where the soldiers are better than the officers are as under:-
(a) Physical Fitness. Soldiers are generally physically fitter than the officers. They can carry more weight and walk and run faster over longer distances.
(b) Perseverance. The ability of the soldiers to face hardship and operate under extreme condition of deprivation and shortages is well known. Because of their philosophical view of life and Hindu culture the soldiers willingly operate at Siachen Glacier and the deserts of Rajasthan. In fact this capability of an Indian soldier to give too much and ask for too little has been lauded in the pages of this magazine too frequently.
(c) Firing. Notwithstanding the silver medal of the Lt colonel Rajvardhan Rathore at the Olympics, soldiers are better shot than officers.
(d) Discipline. Soldiers are more disciplined than officers and generally follow all laid down orders and instructions.
(e) Ability to perform hard labour. The soldiers have little inhibition in performing hard labour as they have not been exposed to the colonial mindset of the officers. Soldiers willingly perform the duties of sahayak to even a bad officer.
(f) Turnout and Bearing. Soldiers have stricter physical standards for recruitment. Hence their bearing is more soldierly and they are better turned out for ceremonial parades than the officers.
11. The officers are better than the soldiers in the following fields:-
(a) Education. The officers are minimum graduates as per the recruitment norms where as the soldiers are only matriculates.
(b) English. Most of the paper work in the army is carried out in English. Officers have better knowledge of the language.
(c) Social Skills. The officers generally come from middle class and the soldiers are drawn from the lower class. The officers therefore have better social skills and ability to interact with other government officials.
(d) Soft Skills / Leadership Skills. The officers are imparted concentrated training of the subject and hence they are better in this area.
PART-III: TRAINING REQUIRED TO BE IMAPRTED TO THE SOLDIERS TO ENABLE THEM TO PERFORM AS OFFICERS
12. On recruitment a large number of soldiers have the abilities similar to officer candidates joining NDA. In fact the recruits have a better built and are physically fitter than the NDA cadets. It is the recruits training at the regimental centre which kills this potential. To fully exploit this resource available with the army there is a requirement to select these soldiers as early as possible or catch them young. This can be done by putting all the recruits through the SSB on joining the regimental centre. There after these selected soldiers need to be provided with necessary training opportunities similar to NDA /ACC to enable them to perform to their full potential. These soldiers need to be provided with opportunities to acquire the following educational qualifications / training:-
(a) Education up to the graduation level.
(b) Written and spoken English training.
(c) Nine months of additional training as being imparted in the officers training college or the last two terms at the IMA.
13. It is proposed that at least one battalion per regiment be nominated as officers battalion. The soldiers of this battalion be redesignated as officers. These officers should be selected by a service selection board immediately on their recruitment to the regimental centre. This battalion should be treated as a special force battalion and no menial tasks or working party details must be given to this battalion. In place this unit could be tasked to provide instructors for courses and other training cadres. In war the battalion should be utilized as a force multiplier. In counter insurgency operations the battalion could be tasked to operate in small teams to fight a gorilla like a gorilla.
PART-IV. CHANGES REQUIRED TO BE UNDERTAKEN IN A BATTALION TO ENABLE THE SOLDIERS TO BE AS EFFECTIVE AS OFFICERS.

14. It is well known that soldiers make the supreme sacrifice in war for their honor or izzat. The officers in a battalion are given more izzat or honor and that motivates them to lead from the front and lay down their life to successfully complete an assigned task. The honor or the izzat of the soldiers gets eroded because of their living conditions, social standing and type of work assigned to them. To enable the soldiers to have izzat or social standing equal to the officers there is a requirement to the change the conditions for the soldiers. Some of the conditions or procedures that need to be changed fast are:-
(a) Rations. The quality and quantity of entitled rations for officers and soldiers are different. When both of them are expected to fight shoulder to shoulder in war and perform similar tasks in peace, a time has come to remove this distinction. This will greatly add to the prestige of the soldiers. The food habits of officers and the soldiers are not different any more as they hail from the same strata of the society.
(b) Cook Houses / Langars. The army can not afford to feed its soldiers like labourers any more in the company cook houses / langars. Time has come to stop the segregation of officers in officers’ messes, JCOs in JCO mess and the other ranks in cook houses. We need to make a concerted effort to elevate our soldiers to the level of the officers’ messes. The infantry battalions should have only soldiers’ messes at the scale of one per company.
(c) Working Parties. The use of infantry soldiers as labourers should be stopped immediately. The soldiers should not be tasked to perform any menial tasks. In case of an urgent requirement, dignity of labour is a good thing and the senior officers should show the way in this regard.
(d) Automations. All kind of labour saving devices are now available in the market. These must procured and used in the battalion to save time and energy as well as to boost the morale of the soldiers. Some of the machines which were procured and successfully used by one infantry battalion are as under:-
(i) Laundry machine for the battalion to be used by the washer men.
(ii) Washing machines for the companies.
(iii) Grass cutting machines.
(iv) Motorised lawn mowers.
(v) Chains saw for wood cutting.
(vi) Fork lifts and pallets for shifting heavy stores.
(vii) Mopping and floor cleaning machines.
(viii) Vacuum cleaners.
(ix) Tea / coffee vending machines.
(x) Chapati /Puri making machine.
(xi) Atta/ kneaders.
(xii) Hot cases to keep the food warm in the kitchen.
(xiii) Refrigerators for all the company cook houses.
(xiv) Micro wave ovens for the cook houses.
(xv) Dish washers.
(xvi) Extra large size pressure cookers.
(xvii) Electronic hair trimmers.
(xviii) AC and generators for company dining halls.
(xix) Huge dustbins with automatic garbage disposal trucks.
(xx) Electric sewing machines.
15. This not an exhaustive list. We need to think continuously to reduces manual labour for our troops and make their life as comfortable as the officers. The soldiers should there after be encouraged to utilized the new free time to learn English language or acquire education. These activities will enhance the prestige of the soldiers and will make them more effective soldiers and better citizens of the country.
Conclusion.
16. A 1.5 million army can not afford to waste the costly human resource at its disposal. It is a national loss. Rather than enabling the soldiers to rise in their jobs, to enhance their capabilities and provide them the opportunities to stretch their imagination to make their life more meaningful, the army tries hard to make them robots who follow the orders without any discussions. The situation becomes even worse when their officers are not capable who then try to assert their supremacy through class distinction. This is already leading to conflict and can be cause of lot of trouble for any unit. It is right time to usher in the change which will go a long way in meeting the aspirations of our soldiers.
17. The elite soldiers will not only add capability to the battalions but will also lead to a more egalitarian society.
18. India is going to a developed country with in the next decade. Indian Army has to transform itself from a colonial army to the army of a developed nation within this time. We need to study the armies of the developed world and modify our work culture accordingly otherwise we will find ourselves out of tune with the future generation. The young and educated people of developed India will not be ready to serve in the present day army any more.

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MOBILE PHONE AS PHOTO IDENTITY CARD

1. The general elections to fourteenth lok sabha have just got over. The voter turnout during the elections was very poor. Use of voter identity card during the election is one of the reasons for poor turnout as this precludes large scale bogus voting. The technology is thus helping the nation to conduct free and reasonably fair elections. Can the technology be used to increase the voting percentage? Can the technology be exploited to reduce the expenditure on elections? Can we now harness technology to prevent loss of life and disruption of normal life during elections? All things are now possible using mobile phone technology to identify an individual and to enable him to cast his vote. It is well appreciated that huge costs will be involved in providing mobile phones to all voters for casting their votes using mobile telephony. Prevention of bogus voting and ensuring that only an authorized voter gets a chance to cast his vote is also a challenge. So, proper identification of the voters and ensuring that he is casting his vote without fear or favor is of paramount importance.
2. Proper identification of all citizens of the country is also an urgent requirement from the security point of view. The nation has already started a pilot project to issue identity cards to people living in border areas and the project will be extended to the whole county soon. The issue of identity cards to citizens has become critical to our successful fight against terrorism. Can we use this project to also enhance the security of our vital installations and improve our electronic surveillance capability to trace the terrorists? It now possible to achieve these aims using radio telephone as electronic identification cards.
3. It is proposed that the citizens should be issued with mobile telephones with a unique telephone number by which a citizen shall thereafter be recognized, in place of identity cards. These mobile phones should have a pass word, voice recognition software, IRIS scan capability and finger print recognition capability to avoid their use by any imposter. The screen of the mobile phone should bear the photograph of the holder and all his desired particulars should be stored in a temper proof form in the phone. This will ensure that the phone can only be activated by the authorized holder only.
4. It is well understood that such a device is likely to be very costly but he cost can be offset easily if it could be used for a number of things. Some of the proposed uses of the device can be as follows:-

? Use as Identity card.
o Use as a debit/credit card.
o Use as a voters card.
o Used for paying toll tax through remote device.
o Ticket for air, metro rail and train travel.
o Use as a driving license.
o Used as registration papers for vehicles.
o Used as library card.
o Used as a ration card.
o Used for paying electricity, telephones and various other bills.
o Used for conducting census and various other surveys.
Used to permit or deny entry through automatic gate to be installed to protect vital installations.

1. The uses of such a device could be numerous and can be limited to the limits of our imagination. The cost of such a phone can thus be shared by numerous agencies using the facility. In fact the government should bear the cost of issue of sim cards only for the vast majority of the population who can afford to buy a mobile phone and who as it is be keen to own fancy devices. The population below the poverty line could be issued the phone and sim card free of cost and the cost be borne by the state.
2. The scheme will create some problems initially in terms of loss/damage to the equipment, charging of the phone and training the illiterate villagers to use the same. Suitable measure will have to be put in place for repair and replacement of the mobile phones. The ownership of mobile will also go a long way in breaching the digital divide and will also enhance the awareness level of villagers living in remote areas. This may even contribute towards enhancing their prestige and sense of responsibility.
3. This phone could there after be used to cast vote also using SMS format. People will be quite willing to do the same from their drawing room. The need for having electronic voting machines, creating polling booths, and travel of poll staff can thus be avoided. The chances of bogus voting or booth capturing will thereafter become a thing of the past. Some political leaders are now required who can lead us in making this a reality as the telephone companies will be too eager to ensure its early implementation.

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Car Ya Bekar

CAR YA BEKAR
1. I want to write about the car I own to highlight some of my thoughts on personal financial management. I was able to fulfill my dream of retiring at 45 because of good management of my personal finances. I saved a nice sum of money which along with the army pension is sufficient to meet my reasonable expenditure and is likely to last me for my entire lifetime.
2. I have been frugal in life but I have enjoyed almost all the good things of life that a normal human being aspires for. However, I have been careful in spending my hard earned money. I have been happily married for 20 years now but I did not spend a lot of money on my marriage celebrations. I had a simple marriage and we invited very few guests. We did not demand any dowry in spite of it being an arranged marriage and the bridegroom being a respected army officer with high market demand. This simplicity on part of my family was highly appreciated by my bride’s family and the relations between the two families have therefore been very good. The money saved by me during the marriage was invested by me in my provident fund account which grew to a handsome amount when I retired. I know that this was not an investment which gave me very high returns however it was a very safe investment. The safety factor was important as I was not ready to play around with my retirement funds.
3. This zeal on my part to steadily accumulate retirement funds motivated me to stay away from unnecessary expenditures. This also prompted me to buy a second hand car. A customer pays a very high amount of taxes while buying a new car. The tax portion in a price of a car is around 20%. A customer saves on this unnecessary expenditure while buying a second hand car. He also saves money on the registration of a new car. The savings continue even after the purchase of the car as the amount of insurance premium for an old car is far less then a new car. Some people will argue that the repair and maintenance cost of an old car are more than that of a new car. But on detailed examination of repair and maintenance cost of both the vehicle it is clear that the repair and maintenance cost of new car paid as extended warranty fee to the car dealer is more than the maintenance cost of an old car. The automobile technology has now advanced so much that a car generally does not have very frequent breakdowns. The spare parts of a new car and its denting and painting costs more and the mechanics tend to charge more the repairs of a new car. So except for some psychological considerations and the push by the car manufacturers there is little logic in buying a new car.
4. The car companies know this fact and are therefore spending big money on advertisements to convince a common man to buy a new car. We see Shahrukh Khan advertising for a Hyundai Motors car I-10. This is a small car targeted at a middle class family. Mr Shahrukah Khan is a big star and not a middle class person in any way. He probably does not own this brand of car and has never been seen driving around in this car. Even if he owns a car of this brand then probably his servants drive this car. But a common man is psychologically nudged to buy this car as he sees Mr Shahrukh Khan driving this car daily on his television set. This once again proves that human beings don’t make all their decisions rationally.
5. This irrationality is evident in the amount of money parked by the normal people, money running in to millions of rupees on the roadside. In my housing society there is a fight over parking slots almost daily because the number of cars is more than the available parking slots. A high percentage of cars parked here are used very rarely and whenever used are used for traveling over very short distances. So educated people are paying EMI to the banks for just parking a car, owned by them only on paper as the real owners are the banks, on parking slots bought by them along with their houses. Similarly the parking charges in our cities are going to be costly and will make car travel a costly preposition.
6. I am similarly amazed to see rich and educated people lugging around additional steel where ever they go. If we see a person carrying an empty suitcase around with him where ever he goes we will certainly take him to be a mad person. But the car owners are happy to carry around an empty boot of their car along with them just because they may use it some times. Here I am trying to highlight the foolishness of driving around in a three box car or a SUV. A small car can easily serve the requirement of traveling around in comfort and a big taxi can be hired whenever so luggage has to be carried along. A 800 CC engine car will serve the purpose well as the average driving speed in any of the Indian cities is not more than 40 KMPH and even a Ferrari is useless in such traffic conditions.
7. I own a second hand Maruti 800 Car and I am proud of the same.

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Introductions

I am a 46 year old voluntarily retired colonel of Indian Army. I have taken voluntary retirement to carry out an experiment to “design my own destiny”. My blog will be an attempt on my part to report my experiments and my thoughts during this journey. I plan to take up blogging as a hobby.

My present hobbies are reading and running. I run for at least six kms daily in the morning. I have picked up these hobbies very late in life. I was extremely lazy in my school days and stayed away from all kind of physical activity. My idea of playing sports was a “game of playing cards.”  I was pretty good at playing cards and had to give up this “useless waste of time” when I developed migraine headaches. The doctor treating me was surprised to learn that I was an average student who scored around sixty percent marks by devoting about ten percent time to studies. He was further foxed to know that reading was not my hobby. He then asked me to tell him the subject that requires so much of my concentration that I had developed this dreaded disease. After raking my brain for considerable time in spite of the migraine headache,  I realized that it is my whole hearted devotion to playing cards that is responsible for my troubles. The headaches were so severe that I got scared of playing cards. It was probably Gods way of weaning me away from this useless hobby.

It was probably another of Gods way that put me on the route to take up reading as a hobby. I wanted to join ordnance branch of Indian Army to enjoy a comfortable life. But God had some different plans for me. I was allotted Infantry as my service which did not figure anywhere in my choice of arms. Then I had remarked that “Ordnance has lost a good officer and Infantry has got a bad one.” I tired my level best to be a bad infantry officer but the people in my unit were so good that their goodness rubbed off on me and I also became a normal officer which meant ‘a good officer’. I became good because I was sent to the remotest defence post along the line of control where not many officers were willing to serve. I stayed at this post for a long time and here I developed the hobby of reading. I initially read erotic books and magazines and in the absence of the same I read even old news papers. The unit did not consider it worth while to send newspapers to this remote platoon post but the washer men of the unit sent me newspapers quietly by wrapping my washed clothes in the same. I not only read these papers but read the same a number of times. Thus reading became my hobby and now I am proud of the same. Now I have realised that everything in life happens for a reason but we can ‘connect the dots’ only while looking backwards.

Now looking backwards I realize that it was the fear of migraine headaches which forced me to pick up running as my hobby. I started developing headaches again while I was forced to concentrate hard on my studies during my preparation for staff course entrance examinations. I wanted to drop the idea of appearing for the entrance examination because of the headaches but I happened to read some where that the best method to overcome stress or headaches induced by stress is though physical exercise. I therefore took to walking / jogging in the morning and now I am grateful to God for letting me pick up such a good hobby.

These hobbies have taken away all the boredom out of my life and love nothing more than the company of a good book after a long and tiring run.

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TO SERVE OR TO LEAVE THE ARMY AFTER 20 YEARS

  1. Most of the officers of the defence forces don their uniform at a very young age of 20-21 years. These officers, in fact actually start wearing the uniform at the tender age of 17-18 years when they join the National Defence Academy. This decision, a decision which commits them to at least 20 years of service in the armed forces is made when they are studying in their 12th Standard. At this stage they are not yet eligible to vote, marry or to drive a vehicle. But strangely they are considered mature enough by the nation or the powers that be, to decide to serve in one of the most demanding jobs in which they might be called upon to make the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. The nation is certainly not being fair to these youngsters. The unfairness on part of the nation is even more grave if the country let the parents of these youngsters to decide their profession for the whole life time. See the irony of the situation that the parents are not permitted to marry them off but are permitted to commit them to virtual slavery for their life time.
  2.     This decision of their parents in most cases or their own decision at an early and immature age haunts them for at least a quarter of a century. During these 25 years the officers are committed to serve in the uniform with no escape route. Even  jail term for most heinous crimes is not awarded for such a long period.
  3. After 25 years when they generally attain the age of 42 years, these officers first time in their life have a chance to decide their own fate. Now at last they have a choice of quitting the service with pension. By this time almost two third have been superseded for promotion to the rank of colonel. Half of the balance of the one third are convinced that they have no more promotion prospects left in the uniform; not because they are found wanting in any manner but due to the steep pyramid structure of the defence forces organisation. So at this stage most of the officers generally sit back and think / wonder about their future and take stock of their lives. The officers along with their wives and kids get a chance to decide whether to continue to serve in the olive greens or to look for greener pastures. This is a very difficult and complex decision. Some of the officers close their eyes to the problem at hand and decide not to give due thought to this decision. This happens probably because they are not inclined to assume responsibility for their lives.
  4. Those who are rational rather than emotional human beings analyse the problem is detail and make a choice after considering various factors. The most important factor in making this difficult decision is the same as the first principle of war – “selection and maintenance of aim”. This in other words could be called as a having a vision for their life. The officers must write their own epitaph or visualize how they would be liked to be remembered by their family and friends after their demise. In case this sounds too clichéd then they could visualize how they would like to be perceived by their son or daughter. Would they like to be remembered as an army officer who did not contribute much to this world but still earned a handsome salary and adequately provided for their family or would he like to be remembered a person who tried his level best to make the world a better place. Once a person decides his vision for his life there after the decision to continue or leave becomes so much easier to make.
  5. The defence officer’s job some how does not provide the desired level of adventure and excitement / challenge once an officer has been superseded. His ego also takes a beating after he is superseded. The experts have found three factors which help in the wow factor of any job. Surprisingly money is not one of these factor. These factors are:

(a)    Autonomy  Human beings don’t like slavery. The history of mankind is actually a history of mankind striving to attain freedom or to take more control of their lives. The vast progress in science and technology has been made by human beings in their efforts to attain more control over their destinies. So any job or service that provides a fair bit of autonomy is preferred as a profession. Hence an officer debating about his future has to evaluate the amount of autonomy being offered by his current job.

(b)   Relatedness.     Man is a social animal. People like to live in groups and are happy when they are part of a group and when they can relate to their fellow workers. The life in an infantry battalion is tough but most of the young people are happy serving in the battalion as they feel related to  each other. This sense of being part of a family gets diluted once the officers finish their tenure of duty in the battalions.

(c)    Competence.    Humans like to strive to achieve the best in their life according to their capabilities. Any job which does not sufficiently provide them an opportunity to grow, to exercise their competence and to enhance their capabilities is not liked much in the long run.

6.       Financial effect. The amount of salaries being drawn is also a factor in deciding our profession. The Army pays handsome salaries till the officers complete twenty years of service. The salaries of the officers are suddenly halved on completion of twenty years. This happens because on completion of twenty years of service the officer becomes eligible for a pension which is exactly the half of his salary. So even though his salary remains the same his net income is halved. One has to therefore decide whether it is worthwhile to continue to do the same task at half the salary. Some officer count and the cost of various perks and privileges while calculating their net income. These perks include the use/ misuse of shayaks, vehicles, telephones, office stationery, office clerks etc. The misuse of these perks is actually the starting point of corruption in uniform.

7.      Social Standing. Indian society accords a very high social status to the defence forces officers. The social standing of a retired defence forces officer is certainly not as high as a serving officer. Officers who have a strong ego and who would not like to treated as commoner should not give up their ranks and status. However they must take into account their lowered social standing in the uniform after being superseded.

8.    Considering the factors discussed above it is evident that it makes no sense to continue to serve in uniform after completion of twenty years of service. It is our fear that keeps most of the officer going. It is the fear of loss of identity, the fear of loss of social standing and the fear of facing the unknown which is a deciding factor for continuation of service. The senior politicians and the civil servants also know this fear and that is why the defence forces are ignored while issues of national importance are debated.

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