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Monday, August 20, 2018

Pull of the Lanyard



lanyards

The Regimental system is one of the cornerstones of the Indian Army. Regimental spirit is the glue that binds fighting arms together in a unique bond of loyalty, camaraderie and selfless service. The spirit transcends decades, seniority and other barriers to bring all ranks of a regiment together, professionally and personally. In war and under adverse situations of all kinds, it is the thought of keeping the flag of the regiment flying high – “paltan ki izzat” – which makes men go beyond the call of duty, put their lives at peril and perform remarkable feats of valour. It is this spirit that brings aged veterans, barely able to walk, back to the unit to celebrate a ‘Battle Honour Day’ year after year.

However, like everything else, when such a spirit reaches excessive levels, it can be damaging. An example of this is an item in today’s newspaper – “Army Chief favours his regimental officers”. Apparently the Chief has played a role in facilitating all officers of his Regiment – Rajputs – preparing for the Staff College Exam, to be able to go to Infantry School, MHOW, and stay there to prepare.

On the face of it, there seems to be no big deal – no harm done. After all, there is a Rajput Battalion there, which will take care of their officers. As it is, a large number of Infantry officers do go there every year under their own arrangements to prepare for the exam, and the results generally show the wisdom of such a move. However, there’s a catch. At what rank or appointment does an officer stop being merely a regimental officer and start taking a broader perspective – taking ownership of the organization beyond regimental affiliations? After all, isn’t the Chief of Army Staff the Chief of the entire army? Shouldn’t he therefore, be equally concerned about the performance of all officers appearing for the exam? Should he really be seen going out of his way to make such arrangements for ‘his’ officers? What kind of a message does such a narrow focus send to the rest of them?

It is not without reason that the Army has a system of officers beyond the rank of a Colonel no longer wearing the regimental cap badge and shoulder titles.  They are not expected to confine their thoughts and actions to regimental level, and are supposed to identify with the Indian Army as a whole. From here on, they command formations where units of all regiments and arms are under their command. They are therefore supposed to rise above regimental loyalties and be fair and impartial in their dealings with all of them.

It is rather sad that in the recent years outright favouritism motivated by a misplaced sense of regimental loyalties has become par for the course for most senior officers. So, a number of important appointments in the key branches at Army Headquarters have been held by officers belonging to the same regiment (or arm, in the case of Artillery) as the incumbent Chief. Similar preferential treatment has been accorded when it comes to the move of units or foreign postings. A statistical analysis of the results of promotion boards and redressal of complaints against ACRs or Non-empanelment is also sure to show an unmistakably skewed pattern in favour of the flavour of the day in terms of regiment.

Unfortunately, this is a self perpetuating trend that gets accentuated as time goes along. And while the ultimate benefit to individuals or to a particular regiment may be short lived, the overall damage being caused to the organisational fabric of the army as a whole is long term. It is up to the sagacity of senior officers to differentiate between healthy regimental spirit and outright parochialism, and chose the former over the latter.

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6 Responses “Pull of the Lanyard”

  1. sunny
    13 Apr 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Indeed disappointing to read something like this.I wonder why and how can chief stoop so low.Things like these will raise doubts in the minds of other officers who are preparing hard for the competitive exam.May be Chief would also like to display his Regimental spirit by letting RAJPUT officers know the important questions too……lets wait for the results.

  2. Rai
    25 Apr 2011 at 1:14 am

    Unit izzat and Lanyard spirit at times has been taken to absurd limits. As army men our focus should be only the organisation. I am in an org where I feel and see this on a regular basis. I am with you aggro -100%.

  3. Adiabun
    10 Jun 2011 at 4:18 pm

    That’s really shocking and would demoralize people preparing from difficult areas

  4. tushar
    05 Nov 2011 at 2:32 pm

    We are worse than Mayavati. Arms make sure no services officers go for un missions except as det cdr irrespective of their qualification. then inf makes sure all officers of other arms in general cadre are sealed at the earliest. then in inf also you have regtl chiefs now. we must remove rank general now and they should be called mp’s from rajput or Gurkh so on and so forth.Since they only cater to their constituency.

  5. Velayudhan
    08 Nov 2011 at 10:58 am

    Why? This sort of things always happen!! When you empanell officrs for promotion to next rank to a brig, then you have to wait for a vacancy in that corps only and if the vacancy doesnt come before he attains the age of the present rank for a colonel which is 52 and now its 54, you are superannuated in the col’s rank and you have no chance of looking back on any body as the services dont have any so called maibap. But it doesn’t happen in arms as they have lot of maibap. But my question is if you are empanelled for Brig and if there is no vacancy in say for example AOC, WHY THAT OFFICER CANNOT BE PROMOTED KEEPING IN VIEW OF THE OVERALL VACANCY EXISTING AT THAT POINT OF TIME/DATE. So many officers have gone home like this without picking up the empanelled rank due to lack of so called maibap/Regimental spirit. I wish some body should resolve these issues in the right perspective.

  6. ajay
    08 Nov 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Nothing surprising!!!! Pull is not limited to lanyard only. We have RIMC pull, georgion pull, Squadron pull, Beret pull. A particular DG who supports maroon beret has all his staff offrs from maroon beret fraternity as if blue beret offrs are not worth his confidence.

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