The reservation system in India has been a hot potato in the country since independence. The political class has always found itself in a difficult position to take a clear stand on the matter. They are more interested in their vote bank politics so they try to duck the bigger questions that need to be answered. There are broadly three types of people you would find in this reservation issue. The first, who get reservations in education and job opportunities and therefore support it giving their own reasons. The second, who outrightly reject the idea of reservations and demand for a level playing field in all sectors. The third kind of people go for a middle path and believe that the reservations should be based on economic grounds and not on the caste of a person.
The Indian Armed Forces are perhaps the only institution in our country that does not accept reservation. It is given the most important task to safeguard the nation. You might have wondered why the army does not bring in reservation unlike most other institutions of our country when there are millions of people who are serving in the Armed Forces. Let’s try and understand the army’s position as to why it has never accepted the idea of reservation in its ranks.
1. It is a secular and an apolitical institution.
The Indian Army is one of the most professional armies in the world which is completely apolitical and has been successful in keeping a distance from the politics. It is also secular and does not give any importance to a person’s religion, caste, or creed. It treats everyone equally irrespective of the background of the person.
Although there were attempts to bring in reservation after the independence, the army under the leadership of then commander-in-chief K.M. Cariappa rejected the proposal stating that the competency of the institution would get affected. It has since then maintained its high standards and has never succumbed to the political pressure. The army knows very well that it is just a way of politicising the structure of the army which is not in the interest of the nation.
2. Merit-based selection system.
The selection process is purely based on merit for both the soldiers and the officers. In fact, the officers go through a more rigorous process where they have to first clear a written test, then face the Service Selection Board and go through a 5-day interview process, clear the medical test and get into the merit list. After this long process, they go through a very hard training of one year before getting commissioned in the army.
3. It is against the ethos of the Indian Army.
The Indian Army not only believes in ‘Unity in Diversity’ but also practices it. There are people who come from different parts of the country, speaking different languages, and practicing different religions. Yet they live together in harmony with each other. It is only possible because of their love for the motherland. When they join the forces, they see themselves as Indians first. They become a family and are ready to do anything for their fellow mates. Such is the kind of bond they share with each other.
On the other hand, the reservation system divides people on the basis of religion and caste. When people are divided into groups and sections, they can never work as a single unit. Hence, the very foundation on which the army stands will get weakened. Therefore, the army has always been against the idea of reservations in its ranks.
The people of India have immense faith in the Indian Army. Its professionalism is what makes it a class apart. We must have respect for what it believes in and try not to interfere in the basic structure of the army so that they can continue doing what they are best at, which is to protect and safeguard the nation.
We should always remember and uphold the popular adage ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’.