Monday, May 10, 2010

Indian Military: Abolish Sahayaks

Par panel asks Army to abolish Sahayaks for officers
New Delhi: A Parliamentary Committee on Defence on Thursday asked the Army to take a leaf out of the Navy and the Air Force to abolish the "demeaning and humiliating" practice of employing jawans as sahayaks of officers.

The strong recommendation from the committee comes after the Defence Ministry in its reply to a 2008 report on "stress management in the armed forces" had virtually rejected the suggestion that the sahayak system be done away with.

In an action taken report tabled in both the Houses of the Parliament, the committee said it was unable to comprehend why it was necessary to continue with the sahayak system that "lowers the self-esteem of a jawan" when the Navy and Air Force have abandoned it.
Par panel asks Army to abolish Sahayaks for officers

Join the Army, be a Batman
There’s no denying that our Army is professional and well-trained and prides itself on its war record. But fighting abilities somehow don’t seem to go with dish-washing talents. But with an employment crunch staring India in the face, perhaps institutions could come up with diplomas in sweeping, gardening, car-washing, dog-walking etc and the gentlemen holding these diplomas could get a direct entry as brave Batmen ready to show 'courage under fire'. I guess the only fire some of them may face may be in the kitchen.

The army feels an officer gets a sahayak for the upkeep of his uniform, weapons and other equipment, as also act as his radio operator and ‘‘buddy’’ during combat. So, let me get this straight. An Army officer, who undergoes such rigorous training and is responsible for a large body of men under his command, can’t even take care of his own uniform? He needs his ‘sahayak’ to polish his shoes and iron his clothes? Anyway, why would your 'radio operator' be with you 24x7 dusting your drawing room or getting 'baba' from school. Maybe he'll radio from school to inform 'sahab' that his son has reached school.

I don’t want to deride the courageous officers of the Indian Army. We all know how bravely many of them fought on the borders. But that doesn’t mean his perks should include treating a fellow soldier as a personal servant. All Army formations have been told to ensure sahayaks are not employed for ‘‘menial household work’’ since as combatant soldiers they should not be used for anything which adversely impacts their dignity and self-respect. Question is who’s following this new rule?

In the late 90s, I was staying in Army Cantonment, Jaipur. The Army Chief came on a visit and in his speech advised the officers to avoid treating soldiers as orderlies and misusing Army rules and benefits. At that very time, barely a km from the venue, three tents had been set up outside a 'separated family accommodation'. In these tents were staying 4 soldiers of a particular regiment sent from J&K by the commanding officer of their unit to look after his family in Jaipur. What medals would they have taken home?
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Join the Army, be a Batman

Manas Gupta believes an article is incomplete without a dose of humour. An Assistant News Editor with the Times of India. His interests include defence, cricket and the bizarre world of international news.

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