Do we really understand the officer-jawan relationship?

By Karn Singh Rathore

This article originally appeared in The Rational Hindu.

So, a video of a personal rant of an alcoholic BSF Jawan with a history of repeated cases of insubordination and breaking of ranks has gone viral. And all the hyper-nationalists are jumping up and about. I would sincerely ask them to keep their emotions in check.

I have been part of the army my whole life. I used to get food through my sahayak bhaiya (jawan) from langar (jawan and other ranks’ mess). Chicken on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays for dinner, dosa and idli on Sunday mornings and puri-sabji on weekday mornings. They are very tasty. My dad has been posted on field and semi-field duties near the border.

Do we really understand the issue?

I have accompanied my father while on semi-field duties, but not on field duties as families are not allowed there. And even while on a modified / semi-field duty I have noticed that the food was good.

However, the problem with front-line areas sometimes is that supply lines are pretty weak and food supply can become scanty due to transportation issues relating to difficult terrains and bad weather.

To say that officers at the battalion level are “syphoning off” jawans ration to make a few thousand bucks extra is a pretty idiotic “theory.” To begin with, since most officers are handsomely paid, no officer would risk his career and the prospect of promotions in the future just for a few thousand extra bucks (punishment for financial irregularity is Court Martial).

Moreover, the jawan in question has lost respect in my eyes because he broke the chain of command. Almost all complaints, addressed to the officer and submitted by the jawans, are always taken care of.

If at all, it is a localised problem within a certain battalion or company, and not a pan-Indian problem within the forces.

Armed Forces live on the basic concept of “Naam, Namak and Nishaan” and “izzat” is paramount. Now, to go beyond the chain of command and compromising on the “izzat” of your “faction,” even if it is just the BSF, is highly selfish and is also unbecoming of a wardi-waala.

The officer-jawan relationship is the backbone of our army, which in turn is the backbone of this country. Any imbecile person who tries to undermine or disrespect that relationship, like the said jawan here, for whatever reasons it might be, is not just an enemy to his fellow jawans, but also to my country and thus to me as well.

Jai Hind!

This article originally appeared in The Rational Hindu.