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Unjust Humanity
Armed Forces: The battle and the enemy within 27 February, 2015
"You are a soldier, you are commissioned to kill, you are to follow orders without questioning them and you are not to disrespect your seniors by disobeying their orders". This is the rigor with which Indian army officials and soldiers are trained. Also mostly, most armies and armed forces across the globe are also trained with this rigor and discipline.
And it is a requirement too. Until and unless a disciplined and coordinated army guards the boundaries, the protection wouldn’t be efficient. A rag-tag army can be defeated very easily. Also, war strategies cannot be decided by one and all. There needs to be a core group that devises war strategies and a strong, disciplined, dedicated and coordinated execution team that converts the strategy into reality.

However, this discipline and rigor has a slippery slope. With near zero accountability and being autonomous institutions, often these armed forces become hotbeds of oppression, violation of human rights and institutionalized slavery. The senior officers take it for granted and grappled by their arrogance start to think that they can control the lives of their junior officers to the extent of influencing and entrenching into their personal space as well.

Given the strict code of conduct within the armed forces, often these junior officers have no other option but to take the diktat of their seniors even if it isn’t about professional duty as the promotion, job status, court martial etc. all is in the hands of seniors and not many junior officers can risk their job also.

Also, officers are made to fill 15 years or 20 years bond and if they leave before that, it can have serious repercussions on their life and career including court martial resulting in dishonorable discharge from duty. All in all, in this setup, the junior officers survive at the mercy of senior officers and everything depends on the goodwill of the seniors.

The armed forces are trained to combat. They are provided with specialized training in identifying enemies and in decimating them. But these battles are external and the enemies are well marked. How does one counter the battle and the enemy within?

However, before proceeding further on this discussion, let’s have a snapshot of the slippery slope of power and authority wrought with authoritative arrogance that interferes into the personal space of people.

Ajith (name changed) is a highly passionate and dedicated junior commissioned officer of Defense base at Cochin and is married for the past 3.5 years. And since the last 3.5 years, he has also been silently tolerating the torture of his abusive wife who beats him at regular intervals for no fault of his, picks up fight with him unprovoked and also disturbs his office atmosphere by creating ruckus there. She abuses him and insults him in front of his colleagues and seniors and he has no option, being a man, but to tolerate it.

Ajith does not want to stay with his wife as he is now unable to bear her daily tortures but his senior officer has told him that he cannot leave his wife and he must stay with her, come what may. He also challenged his manhood and asked him what kind of a man he is who cannot ‘adjust’ with his wife?

In a similar case in Delhi, Sameer (name changed) was ordered to pay Rs. 30,000 per month to his abusive wife after she approached the “Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA)”. The AWWA just did not listen to him and passed the order on merely hearing the wife’s version.

The reality was that she was anyways spending all his salaries since he was posted in Siachen and she had all the access to his banks and ATM cards. However, when he wanted to travel back to Delhi for attending the last rites of his grandfather and found his account empty, he was shell shocked. He paid the price of confronting his wife over this by being made to stand before the AWWA, who passed the order based on the crocodile tears of his wife.

Mahesh (name changed) was posted at the Lucknow regiment. His senior constantly humiliated him in front of his sister-in-law to impress her and when Mahesh could no longer take the abuse and answered back, he was thrown into the army jail on a false petty charge and his career was ruined.

The stories are replete and those of Ajith, Sameer and Mahesh are just examples to highlight not only the discrimination men face within the cadres but also the authoritative high-handedness with which senior officials act.

The high number of suicides happening in the armed forces and declined interest of the youth (evident from the recruitment drive armed forces are doing these days) to join the armed forces is no surprise.

1. Why would a man join the armed forces when the cadre cannot even guarantee him basic domestic safety while he risks his life for the country and the people?

2. Who would a man go to if the enemy is within, the battle is internal and as a man and as a junior officer, you are disarmed for defending yourself?

3. Every war has a rule of fairness and attacking an unarmed enemy is akin to cowardice. My question to the armed forces wives welfare association and other senior officers who seek to control the lives of their junior officers - “how is your act not an act of cowardice when you misuse your superiority and disarm your junior from defending himself?”

4. If you are so much of a man of valor, give a fight of equals rather than using authority, power and control over one’s career and life to exercise your superiority.

5. Yes, we all are proud of the armed forces for the services they all are providing towards the security of our homeland but it needs to be pondered upon that if these incidences and uncanny show of power, authority and internal politics carry on unabated, are we not degrading the morale of the youth to join the forces?

6. Or should we need to revise the training of army officers to teach them to combat the enemy within and win the internal battle?

7. Or should WWAs (Wives Welfare Associations) do some introspection on their behavior before passing monumental maintenance orders against men by hearing one sided stories?

8. Or will the armed forces take this on a serious note and mend their attitudes and biases?

9. Or would the junior officers and the men continue to suffer bias and authoritative extremism owing to their vulnerable position in the hierarchical structure?

The questions are galore while the answers are awaited.

However, till that time, we will continue to hear such stories of injustice and violation of basic human rights to a peaceful existence.

The internal battle of the armed forces with the enemy within goes on unnoticed.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Virag R Dhulia, a software professional, has been a prominent men's rights activist. He has been engaged in creating awareness about the abuse of men and their families through anti-male and gender biased laws like Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act etc. He has been instrumental in networking with fellow men's rights activist both across India and abroad and has played key roles in organizing events to create awareness about abuse of men by the society. A book titled, 'The Secrets of Manhood' authored by Virag has been published. This book is a collection of short articles which focus on issues and problems faced by men and how men are victims of social stereotypes.
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