While these figures are not a definitive indicator that Bengalis do not opt for military service in large numbers, they definitely show that 150 years after the first war of independence in 1857 — which was commemorated last year — the “non-martial races” continue to be poorly represented in the armed forces. Ex-servicemen are registered with the Rajya Sainik Boards and the Zilla Sainik Boards. The defence ministry is urging police and paramilitary forces to recruit ex-servicemen in larger numbers for internal security duties.
In Bihar, the government has raised the Bihar Auxiliary Force to combat Maoist militants. The state has recruited 5,000 ex-servicemen in November and December.
Are Ex servicemen mercenaries?
Around 500 ex-servicemen from Kerala, who had served in various fighting units of the Indian Army, have been recruited from the central districts of Kerala for deployment in Iraq as security guards.
Termed as the first ever 'Indian regiment' to work as a mercenary force for the US, the recruitment was done by a Kuwaiti company working for the US Army without the knowledge of the Central Government and other bodies responsible for the welfare of ex-servicemen. We need, first of all, to understand the scenario with some clarity. There are many categories of Indians in Iraq today. There are those, for instance, who have been working there even before the war last year — some of whom have been living in Iraq for decades, even generations. A lot of these people would have lost their jobs in the upheaval caused by the war and its aftermath, and would be looking for sources of subsistence and employment in a country now mired in lawlessness. There are also many who have recently gone to Iraq in search of jobs, either legally or otherwise, either through contractors or independently. The emoluments on offer — going by the hazards involved — are much higher than normal. Many, therefore, are willing to risk their lives in order to get these jobs, which are in great demand. A single US contractor has 100,000 applicants on its waiting list!
A sepoy/ Jawan (private) is being offered as much as $750 a month, a captain $1,250, major/ lieutenant-colonel $1,750, a colonel $2,500 and brigadier $3,500. A serving brigadier in the Indian Army earns much less than $1,000 a month - a Jawan about $150 a month. Most of the ex-servicemen chosen are below the age of 55 and medically fit. Preference is given to those who have been involved in counter-insurgency operations, fighting guerrilla attacks in northeast India or experience of war.
Why should Ex servicemen, known for their professionalism and discipline, be branded as mercenaries when in reality they are only used as Security Personnel to guard Iraq assets from Terrorists attacks? They are akin to any other Indian Worker in the Middle East!