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Changing Socio Economic Ties And Its Effect On Officer Men Relationship

3285 words - 14 pages

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.1
The last time the Indian soldier featured prominently in the collective consciousness of the nation was when the Kargil skirmish broke out in the summer of 1999. As images of the conflict were beamed directly into our bedrooms for the first time, a patriotic fervour swept the nation.

As the body bags ...view middle of the document...

While the size of the Indian middle class is variously estimated between 200 and 300 million, a new, ‘aspiring middle class’ is fast emerging on the periphery of the ‘Great Indian Middle Class’. This class of people (with an annual income in the range of Rs 90,000 to Rs 2 lakh) is now estimated to be roughly 34 per cent of the population, according to one study.
5

This rise in the aspiring middle class has brought about change in the age-old structure of the Indian rural and semi-urban society. Aspirations have undergone tremendous changes too. The youth, even from the rural areas, have higher ambitions, sometimes even way beyond their capacity. The hitherto underprivileged class has been politically empowered. Joint large families have mutated to become nuclear. Politics has become the new short cut to material success and power. The economic and political transformation of India over a decade-and-a-half has brought in its wake a much wider basket of career options. Soldiering as the first-choice career is being pushed down the priority list in many areas.

Although the numbers in Army recruitment rallies have not declined so far despite these alternate choices (on the contrary, the participation in the recruitment rallies in far-flung areas seems to have risen), the quality of intake is certainly deteriorating.
6 It is against this great ferment in Indian society, triggered by massive socio-economic upheaval, that this article attempts to focus on its impact on the Indian armed forces. 

The Indian Soldier
Jawan as he is affectionately called, India’s soldier…represents all of India…he is a microcosmic model of India.
                                                                                                                General S. Padmanabhan, Former Army Chief
7

When the former Army Chief wrote this, the Indian Army was fresh out of the Kargil experience. Caught on the wrong foot by the intrusion by Pakistani forces disguised as irregulars in the Kargil–Batalik–Mushkoh sectors in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Indian Army troops fought valiantly and wrested the control of many heights occupied by the Pakistani Army. The victory came at a great cost though: 524 killed and 1,363 wounded.
8 But the fading pride in the armed forces was restored. Kargil helped cement the bond between the Indian public and the Indian soldier. 

Traditionally, the Indian Army has never found itself facing a shortage of manpower in the lower ranks since many young men from agrarian societies took up the profession of arms as a means of self-actualization. The post-independence era offered very satisfactory terms and conditions of service to fulfil these needs. The monetary benefits were higher than most other professions. A military uniform guaranteed higher status in the largely feudal society. Social support...

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