The argument put forward to persuade young men to join the Army is that it’s not about the money, but about the prestige; that’s it’s about one’s sense of pride in protecting one’s nation. However, patriotism is a hard sentiment to shore up in the disillusionment surrounding the idea of nation – after all, ‘nation’ has come to be associated with governments, rather than territories.
In contrast, it was only after the Sixth Pay Commission that the salaries of Army men were hiked, and by a much smaller percentage than the bonanza that the MPs chose to give themselves.
While the Indian government has been pleading for restraint on the issue of incursions, for fear of damaging diplomatic ties, China appears to have no such concerns. If the past is anything to go by, they won’t be daunted by this either. Our eastern neighbour was able to overcome a PR disaster ahead of the Beijing Olympics, putting down Tibetan protests ruthlessly.
In this context, we need to put forward a more aggressive stance, before we lose any more territory to China. But we can’t afford to take that stance without being adequately prepared in terms of military might. A start to that would be to increase the benefits given to the Army, especially the soldiers who patrol our borders. What price would we place on our sovereignty?
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By Nandini Krishnan
The author is a writer based in Chennai.
She blogs at http://disbursedmeditations.blogspot.com and tweets at @k_nandini