Updated: Jan 18
There is a strong relationship between society, democratic government and the Army.
who hold a unique position in this relationship, forego some of their basic rights through this career choice and are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the nation. Growing up as an ‘Army Kid’ is an otherworldly experience. My fondest childhood memories have been watching my grandfather, father and uncle in uniform, serving the nation on combat missions and in the most hostile regions. Even as a child, it was terrifying for me, as it was invigorating. Being surrounded by men and women in green was a constant reminder of the love and pride towards the nation. I remember roaring 'Jai Hind' in my squeaky voice every time I saw the tri-colour flying high, playing 'soldiers in combat' or discussing the latest Stallone movies and guns with my classmates during the bumpy rides to Kendriya Vidyalaya school.
As I grew older, I focused on my education to complete my Graduate and Master's degree and also got a chance to pursue other interests like professional modelling. Over the next 10 years, I modelled for brands like Airtel, LG, Maruti, Hyundai and DLF, to name a few, and featured in newspapers, magazines and even billboards on the Delhi-Gurgaon highway. During each campaign, I learned more about what goes behind giving life to an idea and how you want your audience to perceive it.
I took my first step into the much different corporate world, to work with brands like American Express, NIIT and Bank of America, which allowed me to expand my knowledge base and enhance my management skills. I completed several management-certification programs and supervised projects spread across different geographical areas. Working on these projects taught me to acknowledge the differences between cultures and learn how to meditate and channel these differences to achieve a common goal. I also got the opportunity to work on newer technologies, media and with younger minds. This taught me to embrace challenges and to push myself to get out of my comfort zone. In a parallel world, thanks to my father and sister, who were both serving, I continued to be surrounded by men and women in uniform. Despite my wins in the corporate world, I knew something was a miss.
Finally, in 2011 at age 35, I joined the Territorial Army (TA). Although, few around me tried to convince me that I was taking a rather harsh step and giving up so much I had achieved. Fulfilling my childhood dream of donning the uniform was indisputably the life goal I wanted to achieve. Although I grew up in a fouji household, the charm of the uniform and the esprit de corps and the camaraderie of the Armed forces is unmatched. It has been 11 years since, and each day waking up as an Army Officer, the feeling of pride is still inexplicable Serving as a terrier gave me the unique opportunity to understand the Indian Army from a new dimension, one that most citizens and several serving in the Regular Army may also be unaware of.
The Indian Army comprises the Regular Army, the Army Reserve and the Territorial Army (TA). The Territorial Army is categorized further into two parts, Departmental and Non-Departmental Territorial Army . Departmental Territorial Army includes Railways, ONGC and Indian Oil. Non-departmental Territorial Army includes Infantry, Home & Hearth and Ecological Task force. Armed forces rest on the unbreakable bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility, which is a befitting description of Territorial Army personnel, who are not just citizens in a democratic system but also essay the role of protectors, and one commitment cannot outweigh the other.
Citizens who join the Territorial Army, an all-volunteer force, carry the mantle of being both citizens and soldiers driven by passion, fury and fidelity. They have opted to give their time to learn, train and prepare for the day when their country might call upon them in time of war or national emergency. Territorial Army soldiers perform all duties as in to the regular Army and additionally have specific roles unique to them, including intelligence collection, ecological task force, local area familiarization and expertise in J&K and North-East. They possess professional and technical skills, training and expertise that are applicable during their military service. Moreover, being civilians themselves, they tend to have better relations with the civilian population than pure career soldiers.
Unlike regular Army personnel, who serve continuously until retirement Territorial Army officers have the option to serve on a full-time or part-time basis (to attend the Annual Training Camp), and complete the military training required for each rank. Their embodiment depends on the organization's requirements, or their availability from the personal civil profession, except during a national emergency or natural disaster. They are otherwise employed or self-employed in the civil and during peacetime have careers outside the military. The soldier must always be prepared to return to his home; the farmer must always be prepared to become a soldier.
I have been fortunate to understand the Territorial Army from three perspectives - as the son & brother of officers serving in the Regular Army, as a civilian citizen and as a Terrier myself. This allowed me to understand the position between flexibility and discipline the two worlds tread on. Over time the facts that distinguish one from being a civilian citizen vs being a soldier became clear to me. I got the opportunity to put my learning from my interests in modelling, media and the corporate sector into my workings in the Army and vice versa. I come with my knowledge of civil citizens, the challenges they face, what is important, what drives them and how they view the Army. My experience at both ends helped me strike the delicate balance between the 'Army and Civilian Perspective,' especially while working on Info Warfare & Perception Management projects in Counter Insurgency in Kupwara while dealing with impressionable youth from the valley, which is at a highly-sensitive and critical position.
The concept of Citizen Soldiers has several merits which make this personnel unique. Those who join Territorial Army for military service form the backbone of a peaceful nation. Territorial Army personnel are motivated, a trained resource who has volunteered to serve the Army knowing the terms of service. Territorial Army personnel are capable people who undertake a military career and place voluntary training, often even above their personal and professional commitments. As a result, they tend to be driven by a strong desire and determination to succeed.