The Battle For Mind Space

The world approximately grants you the value & self worth you put on yourself, of late a steady demoralization seems to be taking place in the Military rank & file.

The Battle For Mind Space

Despite numerous articles in the media, representations, official letters to persons who matter (read PM & RM) we ( the Military) seem to be adrift regarding our genuine demands for pay/perks/status vis - a - vis the IAS & IPS. This situation if allowed to prevail will have long term impact on morale of men in uniform & future generations of would be soldiers. Does anyone care? If not what is the way out of this conundrum?

I will first state three laws which have a direct bearing on what we are striving for:-

Law of Immediacy:-  The world around (read politicians, bureaucrats & citizens) are engrossed in recent & immediate events.

Law of Self Preservation:-  To avoid becoming extinct, humans have a basic instinct to protect themselves & then gang up & protect their tribe, indirectly safe guarding themselves.

Law of Value & Worth:- What is of value is adorned, feted, respected and treasured.

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Immediacy - Geographical proximity of the bureaucrat to his political master compared to our deployment in far off places away from the daily hub of activity, day to day routine of the common citizenry (school/college going children, office, household chores, elderly parents, medical issues etc) the daily cycle of soft cushy life, keeps a  vast majority occupied with a world view different from the soldier. To counter this, our top leadership (the Chiefs) need to straddle the mind space of the politician who matter, almost on a daily basis. We need to cultivate the media so that programs sympathetic to our cause are aired every day. On leave, our officers need to get active participating in charitable activities like educating children, motivational talks, coaching etc for gratis and draw mileage from each event.  Aim being to occupy the mind space of the citizen in a positive way even when off duty.

Self Preservation - Let us admit that our uniform, the fancy ribbons, standards of professionalism, camaraderie, our messes, clubs, sports, in fact our fitness & health all arouse, a mix of envy & awe in the minds of the bureaucrat ( including the IAS/IPS)The only way they can get even is to slight & belittle the Military by way of pay /perks/status to try & emerge on top of the social pile, the politician plays along as he is overwhelmed by immediate & recent events & has a perpetual fear of a military takeover. The way forward for us is to take the politician on board but disarm the bureaucrat & his ingrained habit of self preservation by insisting on a statute for making inroads into generalist appointments held by IAS /IPS by lateral induction, not relegating ourselves to rear seats while witnessing RD & Independence Day parades (many senior officers are guilty of this) Never allowing a junior civil official to take over decision making functions in “Aid to Civil Authority” situations. In joint Civil- Military conferences winning over the attendees by professional conduct & thorough preparation. Not allowing our young officers in uniform to function as LO’s to visiting civilian officials & so on.

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Value & Self Worth - The world approximately grants you the value & self worth you put on yourself, of late a steady demoralization seems to be taking place in the Military rank & file. This suits many, including our enemies, the common citizen has enormous respect for the Military personnel but his daily grind makes us seem remote & far away. A Colonel is a Colonel period. He is not equal to a DIG or an Addl Secy (or whatever be its equivalent) Seeking parity in rank/ comparison diminishes our stand, it is high time we put our minds together in creating separate badges of rank for ourselves so that we don’t have an IPS/ CRPF/BSF officer turn around & tell us that I am senior to you in rank. When our job content is different, our ethos, duty timings, work culture in fact the basic DNA of what we do & how we do it. Why the comparison?

We can win the battle of the mind space by understanding & implementing these basic laws and not by appeasing but by hard negotiations & strategy to appear as the last bulwark of a Nation being torn by Maoist insurgency, Terrorism & constant threats to its Integrity. 2500 years back no one dared to challenge the mighty Mauryan Army and as a corollary the Mauryan Empire. We are at the cusp of greatness as a Nation, once these niggling issues are laid to rest.

Col Mehrishi, is an ex NDA, & has been an active Infantry combat leader for 28 Years. He is a qualified clinical psychologist, a prolific writer & an author of several books

(Views expressed are the author's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)

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