Friday, 22 November 2013

Ranking Them

Before I raise your hopes, let me make it abundantly clear that this post is not about what rank I managed in this semester’s exam, it’s also not about Sachin’s score sheet and it is definitely not about India’s standing in the development index of the world. This post is merely about whether the armed forces dishing out officer ranks to eminent civilians is in fact effective for what they claim it to be or if it is just pompous nonsense.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Let me begin by sharing the names of and honorary ranks of some of the more known personalities who have been honoured this way:

Territorial Army
Honorary Lieutenant Colonel – Kapil Dev
                                                Mohan Lal
                                                Mahendra Singh Dhoni
                                                Abhinav Bindra
                                                Mary Kom

Indian Air Force
Honorary Air Vice Marshal – J. R. D. Tata
Honorary Air Commodore – Vijaypat Singhania
Honorary Group Captain – Sachin Tendulkar

Now, I have nothing against these truly great Indians who have made this country proud in their respective fields, but all this rank-giving led me to think if all this is really necessary.
I mean most of these people have already received awards both, at the national as well as international stage so why give them ‘Honorary’ ranks in the military force of the country?

There is an explanation that I kept running into while researching on this topic. The reason apparently is that when the youth of the country will see their idols get ranks in the military of the country for performing in their own field (read: serving the nation), they will also feel the urge to join the in the nation’s service. It was apparently used as a public relations tactic to recruit more men and women to fill up the vacancies in the military ranks. I know not if this tactic has succeeded.

On the other hand is the reasoning that dishing out stars on the shoulders of those who have not earned them the right way is an insult to all the soldiers who have given up the better part of their lives for the defence of the nation. An insult to those brave souls who stand guard at the gates of our nation, letting us sleep in peace while they lay down life and limb to prevent any harm to this great country.

There is also the point of everyone being good in their own field. Reward and honour them as they deserve but restricted to their field. Why shower these unnecessary trappings, uniforms and prefixes on those who, first of all have no need of them and secondly, it probably makes no great statement other than earning the defence forces the adjective of being pompous and grandiose.

These are the two sides of the argument which I've tried to put across as objectively as I could manage to. Now, I’d like to know your opinion on the same.

Oh, and yes, the following is an article by a retired Brigadier on the same issue. I highly recommend you go through it. 'All Gentlemen can't be Officers.'