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Defence Services as a Career Option 13 December, 2012

Retd. Lt. Col. K. K. Nair
Retd. Lt. Col. K. K. Nair

Retd. Lt. Col. K. K. Nair addressed students as part of Online Gurukul on 13th December 2012 on “Defence Services as a Career Option” via A-VIEW.

General Perception of the Services

A lot of students are not willing to join the defence services these days. Even parents are not willing to send their kids to the services. As a result, we face a shortage of 11,000 officers today in the army alone. Some of the reasons that seem to prevent our youth from wanting to join the services in large numbers is the perception that life in the services is too risky, Service officers are generally all brawn and no brain, as a breed, they are hard drinkers and smokers and life is hard on the families. Nothing could be further from the truth.

National Security or Money?

Also, youngsters today seem to prefer high paying jobs in the corporate and the importance of national security have bypassed them. By and large they seem to have only one obsession – get a job where you can make money, plenty of it, even by hook or by crook.

Col. Nair talked about the 5 wars we fought in the last sixty years. We have fought Pakistan four times and China once. Practically we have had a war every 12 years.

“We are now embroiled in a proxy war being waged by Pak in J&K. It is in both these countries interest to ensure a weak India. I do not doubt the patriotism of our youth; but in the rat race they find themselves in they can think of little else but make money,” said Col. Nair.

Services as a Way of Life

When you join the services, it not just another job, it’s a way of life. A high level of competence is expected from our officers, because in combat a bad decision could mean the loss of many lives. Officers need to be physically and mentally tough.

The daily routine of a young army officer in a peace station is rather interesting. It is not much different in the Navy or the IAF. The day starts early at 6 AM with 45 minutes of PT or Drill. After a hearty breakfast, he is back on parade at 8 AM for an hour of equipment maintenance. From 9 AM to 1 PM is training and administrative duties. Lunch and rest till 4.30 PM. Games till 6 PM dinner at 8 PM and he normally hits the sack around 10 PM or 11 PM. Wednesdays and Saturdays are half days. Saturdays are club nights.

“Compare this with a day in the life of an IT professional? I know what I would choose any day,” remarked Col. Nair.

Job Satisfaction

Lack of job satisfaction leads to tremendous frustration and results in job-hopping. Jobs in the civil world whether with the government or the corporate leave one with no alternate avenues if stuck with a frustrating portfolio or setup. On the contrary, the sheer variety, sense of purpose, responsibility and pride, negate any job dissatisfaction in the Army. The service also offers opportunity for courses and postings abroad. The Indian Army is renowned all over the world and interaction with foreign armies is extensive. Service with UN Forces provides exposure and travel opportunities across the globe.

Job Security

For an effective career, a long-term strategy is essential and this is possible only if continuity and job security is assured. The Army has been structured to ensure that its personnel work with unhindered dignity. Additionally, statutory rules and regulations exist to safeguard the interests of the servicemen adequately both while in service and after retirement.

Economic Stability

Consequent to the Sixth Pay Commission salaries have shot up. While the pay and the allowances of an Army officer may superficially appear to be at par with other Central government services, and may be less than that offered by the corporate sector, the quality of life and non-inflationary nature of the perks, which the Army offers outshine the other services. Government job entitles you to many hidden perks, which you may NOT quantify while calculating remuneration. Apparently, there are about 61 types of facilities, benefits and allowances that are applicable to Army in general. In fact if one were to work out the remuneration of a service officer vis a vis a comparable job in the private sector, on the basis of ‘cost to company’ one would be astounded to find the returns of an Army man to be more if not the same.

What compromises “Quality of Life”? On one hand is a job with a thick pay packet but without the drudgery of a 9AM to 9PM schedule, no avenues and time for extracurricular activities, no scope for adventure and excitement, no social status, lack of family life, threat of being terminated with a month’s salary. On the other hand is a job which offers you challenge, adventure, excitement, honour, prestige, self respect, whole some family life, safety and security for the family and to top it all the love, respect and esteem of our countrymen. In the somewhat chaotic social and economic conditions that prevail in our country, Army life is an island of sanity and social order that is the envy of our countrymen. Quality of life is an important attribute of Army life, and has no parallel in any other service.