The recent suicide of Capt. Megha Razdan again brings to the forth the pertinent and tragic issues of fragging, chronic depression and mass desertions, which have been marring the Indian Armed Forces since long. Even though the death of Capt. Megha Razdan is yet to be confirmed as a suicide, that there is a grave problem with the armed forces of our country cannot be ignored.
In the last year itself, it has been reported that almost 100 soldiers have taken away their lives. In addition to this, another 32 have been killed by their colleagues. In fact, the spate of suicides, particularly within the Army, had been on the rise. Reports state that since 2004, of the 408 soldiers that died, around 333 killed themselves. International media too has put forth the concern that Indian Army is loosing more soldiers by the way of suicides than fighting on the borders. So what has gone so wrong that soldiers who were supposed to guard the nation against contingencies, have started pulling the trigger on themselves?
Empirical studies have shown that most of the suicide (civilian) cases across the world are on account of self- created crisis. But, when it comes to the Indian Army, the reasons have just been the reverse (in most of the cases). Most of the suicides have been on account of the crisis created by the nation itself. And of all the other crisis, the life-taking one had been the ‘attitude’ of the government towards our armed forces, and everything around it. It is no secret that Indian Army for long has been taken for granted! The popular convention has been - Army is meant to guard the nation from exigencies; it is their duty so they might as well do it, at any cost! It is their duty, no doubt about it, but what our government has forgotten is the fact that they were not born with this duty; rather they valiantly chose to do this duty of serving the nation and they, under any given situation, don’t deserve this treatment. It is this very ‘taken for-granted’ attitude of the government that has metamorphosed into multiple problems that our armed forces face today. For whatever they do for the nation, even to the extent of giving away their own lives, remains thankless and often even criticised. It is an extension of this very attitude that the polity continues with their hollow rhetoric, waste thousands of crores through dud schemes and by killing time in the parliament, hold on to power till their last breath, and avail all the amenities at the State’s expense, still it does not matter to them that the poor jawan of the Indian army or the paramilitary forces is made to go through an ordeal of an 18-hour long stressful duty. And mind you,
, this duty that they are performing is not to sort any of their personal vendetta but mitigating a national crisis which most of the times is political in nature, and that too the duty is not a one in the air-conditioned environ of some corporate office but in some of the roughest of terrains of the country where he can be blown to pieces any moment by a grenade or by a shower of bullets. It is again on account of the very same attitude that the polity is completely indifferent to the fact that all this jawan does for a pittance of a salary that he draws which, for all the risk that he takes, is not even comparable to the fourth or third grade clerk of any government department. (The same is true for the commissioned officers too, whose salary comes nowhere near to what their peers might be earning in the private sector. This coupled with a bleak future of promotions in a pyramid structure leaves them with no option). And it is this attitude again that make the polity audacious enough to initiate a national debate when it comes to restructuring their salaries!
This is not just about the Army. The same holds true for the other two wings as well, and the conditions are even worse for the paramilitary forces. In the army. after every two three years of field posting, they are transferred to peaceful areas. But nothing like that happens for the CRPF, which is now entirely responsible for the internal security of the country. So after postings in a grueling Kashmir, chances are high that the tired, fatigued jawan would be posted to face the wrath of the Naxals in some remote area of Chattisgarh. And the compensations in case of their death are much less than even what an army jawan gets, as if there is some difference in the cost of their lives! In addition to this, the lack of leave, and being away for long -drawn periods creates further strains and makes them even more vulnerable to err. So they end up taking away their own lives or that of their colleagues, or they end up committing other forms of crimes, like rape and molestation, which is also on the rise!
In fact, our treatment towards the forces is in no way any different from Hitler’s inhuman consideration of Jews being as lesser humans. Given the state of affairs, no amount of intervention, be it psychiatric or spiritual can help arrest this crisis, if at all it has to be arrested then the only solution is mandatory conscription for every Indian!
- 15 July 2007 |