CiviL - military divide ─ Mind the gap
Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
17 September 2015
[The OROP crisis highlights the long-simmering distrust between the
government and the defence services. This is dangerous. Seemingly
little things can trigger disaffection because the world view of the
civilians is opposed to that of the defence personnel.]
Pakistan Army originated in the Indian Army, their bureaucrats and
politicians were once ours. And yet, a breakdown of relations
between them has led to terrible consequences.
Virtually the same thing happened in Myanmar.
Servicemen, of all nationalities, believe that politicians are
driven by a hunger for power; bureaucrats by a thirst for the
privileges of tenure in office.
Similarly, netas and babus, worldwide, are convinced that Servicemen
are uniformed dolts, fit only to carry out orders and become cannon
OROP imbroglio is the result of these skewed perceptions.
is not a new problem.
Warriors of many societies, throughout history, tended to associate
with other like-minded people. They were the artisans of war as
others were specialists in construction, copper crafting, medicine
Professionals tended to cluster together, share technical secrets,
intermarry and form themselves into guilds.
the late Vedic period in our land, these professional guilds
coalesced into exclusive castes. This proud exclusivity is the
source of the problem.
Defence personnel have evolved into an exclusive guild, a jati.
Their cohesion is insured by self-contained, sequestered,
environments, adherence to revered customs and traditions, and
unquestioning loyalty to their comrades. When your life depends on
others, trust is obligatory. It cannot be bought because no one will
put a price on his or her life.
was brought into sharp focus during one of the annual cruises
organised for Members of Parliament by the Indian Navy.
asked one of our officers, “For a poor country like ours, don't
you think you are being paid too much?”
Lieutenant smiled at the politician “What price do you put on
your life, sir?”
neta was taken aback.
“How can I put a price on my life? How can anyone?”
young officer nodded, “Exactly. When your life is threatened by
an enemy, we put our lives on the line to protect you. My salary is
your life insurance, sir”.
MP smiled wanly and waddled away.
Service personnel face frequent transfers, retire young and are
unable to put down their roots long enough to acquire the wealth of
their peers in other professions.
They have had to find another ballast to give purpose to their
They are sustained by the driving power of honour.
Japanese samurai had their bushido code, “the way of the warrior”,
valuing honour more than life.
Rajputs had a similar code.
Rajput warriors faced certain defeat, their women and children
immolated themselves, while the men rushed out armed and naked
welcoming the glory of death on the battlefield as a matter of
They were not paid to die: they were inspired to die.
traditions gave rise to guilds of professional fighters, eventually
forming the Kshatriya caste of hereditary warriors.
OROP imbroglio is an auto-immune affliction born out of the
guild-caste stratification of our society.
British structured their Indian Army on such variations.
mores of our Armed Forces glorify these distinctions,while
widening the gap between servicemen and civilians.
has also given rise to a conflict of perceptions.
The Defence Services tend to see the world in terms of black and
white, right and wrong.
is no time for doubts on the battlefield.
civilian counterparts, however, spend their lives adjusting and
is difficult for one to understand the other, or not to have a
mutual contempt for each other.