Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rank Honour and Status of Armed Forces Reduced

Ref: click here

Some of the veterans may disagree with what I have to say on the episode of rank inapporopriateness by the serving Air Force officers but I am compelled to state my views.

Sachin Tendulkar being conferred with the rank of Group Captain, though honorary, by the IAF is an example of how serving (high ranking) officers try to focus limelight on themselves through cheap publicity stunts. Any serviceman, whether a commissioned officer or NCO will bear out the fact that entry into the service is earned through a tough selection process and after that ranks and promotions are obtained through merit, hardwork and dedication to the service. What criteria did the IAF consider while Tendulkar was made a Group Captain? I have all respect and admiration for Sachin for his excellence, achievement and dedication in the field of cricket , but I say that he has not done anything for the cause of any of the defence services or nation to deserve this honour from one of the defence forces. He could be conferred with any of the civil awards like Arjuna award for sports but not a military honour.

To cap it all, the Air Force has gone head over heels to please the aam (cricket mad) janata by promising to give him the "Wing" simply after one sortie in a Sukhoi aircraft as a passenger! As an engineer, I have flown as a passenger in a fighter aircraft but that did not make me eligible to get a wing. Some of the engineers do get their "official" wings but only after being selected for the "pilots course" and earning it after undergoing the regular necessary pilots training course like other aspirants for the "F" branch. Many of my "F" branch friends will aver that a wing has to be earned -many aspirants are denied this if they fail to meet the crucial flying proficiency tests- and cannot just be bought cheaply in a camp tailor shop and pinned on to the chest.

And another thing. Those who have seen the photograph of the Air Force chief with Sachin Tendulkar in the Times of India (Mumbai edition, 04 Sep, 2010 in the section "Times Nation") saluting him after getting his tapes, will notice that the chief is returning the salute without (R) without his cap ON !!! A good example of service etiquette to be publicly displayed before the service personnel under himl! I had never seen that so far.

Sorrowfully, this is one of the many instances of why and how the prestige of the Armed Forces is lowered. Why blame only the Babus if we ourselves do not want to hold it high?
Shashank Bendre
Wg Cdr (Retd)

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