Respecting our Army – 2 lessons from the US

Followers of my blog know that most of my impressions of the US are hardly flattering. But one really must give credit where it’s due. One of the great things about this country is the respect and treatment they extend to their armed forces, and this is something that India can really emulate.

Killings of Indian army personnel on the border are an everyday affair for us Indians. Perhaps because of the sheer number of tragedies, it’s impossible to praise and keep track of every death. But our army faces a shortcoming of quality officers and rightly so. Why would any intelligent and promising young person join up? Apart from patriotism, do they have any other motivation to enroll? True they get certain benefits – cheap food, accommodation, and education for their children. But do they get public respect?

Image Credit: $owmya

Respect for Indian Military Personnel
Respect for Indian Military Personnel

In my year or so of stay in the US, I’ve been astounded by the respect and admiration the American people display towards people in the army. Though it sometimes borders on Jingoism, we can learn much from the Americans in this regard. By following these two simple steps, we can ensure that quality people become motivated to enlist.

1. Mention the Forces frequently in Public gatherings

When people gather together – either in a plane, or in a concert, or a theater, an announcement can be made on the lines of, “Before we start, let’s take a moment to thank our military personnel who are sacrificing their lives for us.” Or “Can we have a big hand for the brave men and women who keep our country secure.” Military personnel can also be asked to stand up and then given a round of applause.

Benefit: This lets them know they are valued and appreciated. It reassures them that their job is important.

2. Advertise Well

Currently enrollment in the National Defense Academy (NDA) is done only via a formal boring tender-style advertisement in the newspaper. In order to attract the best talent, we need to make life in the armed forces more appealing. It’s all about marketing. A video with inspiring music (but not over the top cheesy) which conveys the sort of meaningful life that most young people seek. A meaningful active life with integrity. I’m sure a good media company can make a great deal out of it.

They can show it on TV, in theaters and have well crafted, glossy and tasteful posters strategically placed in high profile areas where we normally see high value brands. Like 5-star hotels, and prime Billboard space. The total cost of all this is negligible (compared to the defense budget) and will repay itself many times over in better quality people entering the army, navy, and air force.

Basically we need to improve the visibility of our armed forces in every sphere of life. Veterans and Disabled personnel all need to be taken note of, and given the respect and adulation that their counterparts receive in the US.

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7 thoughts on “Respecting our Army – 2 lessons from the US”

  1. Westerners find it hard to believe that police and security forces are not considered honorable in India. Leave alone the government, our media and movies show very little gratitude to them. What is not well known is that even in the west they are not paid highly compared to other professions – an electrician or plumber makes more. I think our attitude stems from our caste system.

    A somewhat unrelated topic – must read article by Madhu Kishwar, a rare Indian lady:


  2. caste system? lol ..
    Why try to ape US citizens? Holding your military and other personnel in high regard is idiotic. I hate how Americans display their flags outside their homes and stick 'support our troops' stickers on their cars. They blindly support the troops without any knowledge of what's going on.

    I'm proud that India is not a country like that. And here you are, wanting exactly the same thing.


    • In reply to sparc

      Hey, thanks for stopping by!

      My main concern is that we don't even know about those who die for us. Recently, even the Supreme Court criticized the government for treating its soldier like beggars.

      I'm just saying a little respect would be good. I do admit that the Americans go a bit overboard and that it gets rather cheesy, but we don't need to go that far. A golden mean is after all, usually the best solution.


  3. From my personal experience (in the NCC), the armed forces enjoy a fair amount of respect (if not gratitude) whereas the police get a hard deal… the policemen (especially constables) often talk in a disrespectful and rough manner (I am sure they are many policemen who talk very respectfully) which is why an average citizen wants to avoid anything to do with the police. I think the police academies should also train constables in how to talk with people and handle situations in a polite manner.


  4. you get the Army your nations deserve. Treat them like crap and you have no one you can trust to defend you and no one who is tied to respect your society when push comes to shove. If you are weak your enemy will think he can take you. We tried a draftee service and then crapped all over them during the Vietnam War for doing what we asked them to do. We learned that lesson with the All Volunteer Force. If you hate war, build and respect your military forces. He who desires peace should study war. Nothing else inspires respect out of friends or enemies. He who turns his swords into plowshares will plow for those who didn’t. And Ronald Reagan “History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” and “Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong” but “Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root”. So your military must be strong and protect the society but it should not rule your society. A delicate balance indeed.


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