The Indian Army, the armed forces, have a rich history and a glorious past, dating back to even more than a century. It had participated in a number of battles around the world and earned honors, both before and after Independence. Within the organization the culture that prevails, offers very less opportunity to raise voice or oppose things. But from outside the picture looks rosy and the culture is ideal. Even a minor improvement will pay rich dividends to the society and the nation. After so many years of independence, we must analyze these problems.
After going through rigorous training, and days of hard work, when a soldier joins the Indian army, his spirits are high and his ambition is clear – die for his motherland. But during his time serving the army, there are many problem domains which are very pressing for him, both physically and emotionally. The challenges vary. It could be military practices, culture, own well-being, work-life balance and healthcare system. No human being is exempted from stress, and the soldiers are no exception. They face many non-combat related risks, which might include an array of different threats to health, like infectious diseases, non-battle related injuries, severe heat and cold exposure, and psychological stress leading to more casualties, war after war.
Stresses faced by soldiers are entirely different from those faced by civilians, both in nature and intensity. Civilians, usually, face stress related to material things or societal issues. On the other hand, soldiers face both physical and emotional stress, and cannot look forward to family support in their hour of need. They have to bear it all alone. This inability to be with parents and family in times of domestic emergencies weighs heavily on the minds of many soldiers. Their absence in the home towns also leads to lack of social and physical security of their kith and kin.
Military services are a long term commitment. A soldier cannot switch over to a new job if unsatisfied, unlike a civilian. Sometimes an unfair and ill-informed criticism by their countrymen also makes them disheartened and forces them to think whether the nation considers their sacrifices, making them more vulnerable to adversities. Moreover, the nation remembers them only during a crisis or when one is no more and their bodies are brought to their town or village. Other times, their services remain unnoticed. At multiple occasions the martyrs are exploited for mere political gain and their families are deprived of what they truly deserve.
They have to continuously guard long boundaries shared by our neighbors, and thus withstand the dangerous environment with heavy commitments. For instance, they are often posted at high altitudes, that is isolated, lonely and oxygen starved, which affects both their psychology and physiology. Since the army offers unduly short command tenures they always suffer from excessive workload. They have to prove their performances in a small duration of time, and hence, any relaxation can spoil their career prospects. Also they are continuously engaged in the field of exercises, demonstrations, training camps, sand model exercises etc. with very less leisure time and less eligibility for leaves. Troops get exhausted and with no respite.
Apart from this, the Indian army is also grappling with certain grave issues, despite being led by very component officers. This also hinders the performance of the soldiers. One of them could be lack of modern technology, modern weapons and defending armor. Also, procurement deals take a very long time. We also lack endogenously built equipment. Presence of latest warfare is very essential for their soldiers to prove their mettle in the battlefield.
Indian army, the world’s fourth largest, is still failing to attract enough youngsters and talent. The country’s youth still has inhibitions in joining the army even at the officer level. Many times, the motive behind joining the army is poverty, and not the passion and patriotism. The army must carry out certain campaigns so that more passionate soldiers enter. Another issue could be that most of the time the army requires prior permission for many operations and support from their political superiors. They can’t take their own decisions which again affects the morale of the soldiers and can discourage them. On the ground level there may exist differentiation between superior rank officers and the soldiers, and consequent conflicts arising out of it lead to lack of teamwork.
Before the problems begin to assume mammoth proportions, they need to be addressed. We need to remember that welfare, motivation and stress intensity in a soldier’s service to nation are closely interlinked and mutually interdependent. A soldier whose professional, social, financial and domestic needs are met adequately remains motivated to give his ultimate to the nation. So, the call of the hour is quality leadership to motivate their soldiers in thick and thin, and attain the peak efficiency in their performance.
– By Divyansh Kaul