Let me begin with a question. Why would someone join the armed forces of his country?
The ultra-nationalists want to make you believe that people join the army because of pure patriotism. Those who want to live and die for the country join the army out of love for the nation. Is it true?
I cannot say it is wrong for all the people who are serving in the army. There are many people who join the forces out of nationalistic sentiments. Such incidents are more during the war time or during any types of aggressions when the existence of the nation is threatened. During peacetime, such applicants are comparatively less.
Most important reason people majority of people join the army is because they cannot find a better job. Many of the people who join the army are from rural background. They find this as an easy career choice where they can get a decent salary and perks of a government job with least education and competition. The lowest rank of sepoy gets a salary of around 25000 (Pay scale ₹5200-20200) including all allowances. Free liquor and duty-free purchases are added perks.
There are people who join army due to familial traditions. They take pride in the family tradition of being an officer in uniform. The admiration for superiors also may be a factor in play and everyone wants their son to be in a higher rank than themselves. Son of a soldier wants his son to be a lieutenant, lieutenant wants his son to be a captain and so on.
There are some others who like adventures. Life in the army is adventurous and this thrill attracts some of the people. Some people want to enjoy killings also, just like some among us enjoy first person shooting games in computers.
So, ultimately what I want to say is that not everyone joins the army because of the high level of patriotism and urge to serve the nation. Different persons have different reasons for joining the army.
So is the character of armed forces personnel also. Our society has all sorts of people, good ones, bad ones, cheats, honest ones, crooked ones, egoistic megalomaniacs, emotional ones, empathetic ones, ambitious ones etc and etc. The army selected from our people reflects our society. It will also have all sorts of people.
What I wish to present here is that army is not an aggregate of all nationalism which is to be found in the country. Army and their sacrifice shouldn’t be an excuse for infringing individual rights by the state. The Army is just another institution of the government and too much emphasis on any institution is not a positive development in a democracy. In a mature democracy, any institution can be criticised and questioned, including the army. That is why some practices in the army and some abuses by the army is being questioned and there is a demand for withdrawal of draconian acts like AFSPA. Such demands should never be treated anti-national but should be considered as truly national as our country can advance only through questioning the existing practices, improvising the procedures and these criticisms are the first steps for a reform.