In 2006, the Indian army made the right decision by refusing to accede to the demands of a few politicians who sought to obtain information on the number of Muslims in the Indian army base.
The Indian Armed Forces have always risen to the occasion of all calamities, natural or man-made, with extreme distinction, whether in rescue and relief after the tsunami that shook the Indian coasts on December 26, 2004 or the Gujarat earthquake of January 26, 2001, or assistance to the civil authorities in the aftermath of possible communal riots, in addition to defending the country’s borders whenever the need arises, which is his primary task.
Indian armed forces are commissioned when all other options like diplomacy, civil administration or police force have failed.
One of the main reasons is that the soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces work and train as one cohesive unit where no political or religious ideology plays any role.
When we recall instances where political and religious trends have affected the Indian Armed Forces and in turn the nation as well, this past history does not inspire confidence. One of the main reasons for our defeat in the to the Chinese Army in the 1962 India-China War, and is a stark reminder of the havoc that political affiliations can play in the Indian Armed Forces.
In the recent past, just a few years ago, the then Chief of the Defense Staff chose to attend a reception at a school run by a religious institution with the Chief Minister of a state, without attending the Navy Day celebrations on 04 December. As CDS and tri-service chief, Navy Day should have been more important than attending a function of a politically charged religious institution. Obviously, there were other factors at play.
In the Indian Army, there is Sarva Dharam Sthal which brings together all the religious institutions of a military regiment in one place and under one roof. It is common to see a Sikh Granthi performing the Tuesday Arti when the Hindu priest is on leave, or the Muslim Maulvi performing the Sunday Mass when the Christian pastor is away.
Indian Army religious teachers are trained together at the Institute of National Integration which is located at the College of Military Engineering, Pune. The name “National Integration Institute” itself expresses all this.
Since independence, retired officers of the Indian Armed Forces who served as governors or ambassadors after retirement were rare and even these few instances were not well regarded among serving and retired personnel. The Indian Armed Forces has always prided itself on being an apolitical and secular organization and the same was expected of its personnel after retirement by the troops they once commanded.
The tendency in recent years of Indian Armed Forces officers to join active politics soon after retirement is not a good indicator for the organization as it motivates many serving personnel to consider politics. as a second career after retirement. This would encourage them to go overboard during their service to prove their political and religious credentials so that they would be recognized by those who matter in political circles, hoping for a smooth transition into politics soon after retirement. This is bound to affect their functioning in an apolitical and secular organization for which the armed forces are so well known.
Those who say that a military man will clean up Indian politics as some members of the armed forces believe to justify their political and religious leanings over the past few years are in all probability forgetting that no military man will ever be appointed chairman of a political party and nor will any career politician allow them to be given a substantial appointment, which can clean up Indian politics.
And for those who say that officers in the armed forces rose to become the presidents of the United States so that this could also happen in India, it must be remembered that for most of the 20th century, military service was compulsory for United States while it never was in India. . For several generations, most American voters came through military life and were closely associated with military personnel in active politics. This is not the case in India.
Even in tightly knit armed forces groups, the cracks are visible, as there is constant debate and discussion about political and religious ideologies. So much so that many serving officers and veterans who vehemently displayed their political and religious ideologies stopped attending any of the meetings/meetings.
When asked why they were candid enough to share that they don’t want to meet others who differ from them in political and religious ideologies. It has now started to affect friendships and relationships for over 30 years and that too among those who are so well educated and trained and who have been together in many combat situations. Obviously, the rumblings among the fraternity of serving and veteran Indian Armed Forces over political and religious ideologies began.
If these rumblings grow, the day is not far off when appointments to the Indian Armed Forces will still be based on political and religious leanings, much like what is happening with our adversary on the western border. This will then mark the end of the best organization in the world, of which not only the nation, but the whole world is proud.
Every political party wants to win the elections and come to power. They do not understand the Indian Armed Forces as much as the community of veterans and veterans of the Indian Armed Forces. The serving and veteran community of the Indian Armed Forces owes it to the nation and organization to keep it apolitical and secular.
In my opinion, no active or veteran member of the Indian Armed Forces should join active or passive politics after retirement. There are plenty of other ways to give back to society after retirement, and politics should definitely not be an option for someone who has ever worn the halo uniform of the Indian Armed Forces.
And if anyone still wants to join politics after retiring from Indian Armed Forces then he should only enlist 10 years after retiring so that no connection can be made during his uniform service and membership in a political party.
After all, uniformed service was never meant to be used for political affiliations, while there is no connection between a person’s decision to join politics and the uniform they once wore. .
Lieutenant Colonel JS Sodhi, who retired from the Corps of Engineers, is an alumnus of NDA, Khadakwasla and IIT Kanpur. He holds an M.Tech in Structures and has also done an MBA and LLB and is a prolific writer. Opinions expressed are personal