Now, this is not to diss the respected arm of the nation. It is a recent news item that needs to be examined.
Major Yogesh Sayanakar, 27, posted in Jammu and Kashmir wanted to marry in 2009. The lady of Indian origin is a US citizen. Army rules state that either she has to become an Indian citizen or his services will be terminated and he would have to refund the cost of his training. However, the lady did not want to give up her US citizenship.
The Major had petitioned the HC after the army repeatedly denied him permission to leave the services. The couple had the blessings of their parents, but the army was not convinced that he wanted to leave the army to marry a foreigner.
Yesterday, the Bombay High Court gave its verdict: He could go ahead and get married and will have to furnish proof of that marriage to the army.
What does it tell you? That once you join the army you become captive. In some ways, it does encourage fealty. But how many army men are posted in the same place for long periods? Do they get an opportunity to understand their terrain well enough?
It is time for the army to realise that, as in any other profession, people are disgruntled and they do look for better opportunities and career challenges, either within or outside. Such suspicion says more about the army than the people wanting to leave. Let us not question their patriotism since many capitalistic enterprises are in charge of how nationalism is perceived anyway, so if they get into the corporate sector they might end up holding the flag higher and with more perks.
There is unlikely to be a shortage of people who join the forces because of unemployment and due to an inherent attraction towards the profession. I also find it rather unfair that people have to pay the army for their training. Such training must be given to all willing citizens so that the pressure on the forces is less during civic strife or when the army cannot reach immediately.
There is the argument about security risk. It would wash had there been a squeaky clean image. The armed forces are as tainted as any other profession – from real estate to rape to encounter deaths to torture to corruption to spying to involvement in bomb blasts to political affiliations, many officers have been indicted for these.
Incidentally, what happens if an armyman is abroad on vacation and his pregnant wife delivers her baby there and the child naturally becomes a US citizen? Will the armed forces insist that the child will need to give up that citizenship before the soldier resumes duty?
And surely the seniors in the army are aware that there are cases where people fake certain illnesses to quit. An epileptic seizure is all it takes. I don’t think a man will risk something as seismic as marriage just to get out.