The Indian Army – My First Love!
Indian Army is the second largest army in terms of military personnel (after China) in the world. It is a completely voluntary service, the military draft having never been imposed in India. The army has rich combat experience in diverse terrains, due to India’s diverse geography, and also has a distinguished history.
In spite of its large geographical size and diverse regional cultures, Indian army is the best example of `unity in diversity’. India being a nation of variety of cultures and religions, has soldiers who have variety of rich traditions with completely different life styles. This makes the Indian army a splendid subject for a photographer; Indian army is rich with traditions and customs. The different types of uniforms have different decorative pieces of dress and have many colours, a photographers’ delight in real. The unwritten traditions and customs of the Indian army are the pivot of it and keep it united.
Eversince, I was about 5 years old, got fascinated by the Indian army, while I was growing under the watchful eyes of my father, who has been my teacher and trainer as well. While going to school or evening/ morning walks, he always narrated me the stories of valour and bravery of the Indian soldiers. He is the one who inculcated in me patriotism and `spirit to explore life’. He always emphasised to make us good human beings first and serve the nation and life on earth.
In 1981, I cleared my entrance test for the Combined Defense Services, but could not convince the Service Selection Board (SSB) that I am also a suitable candidate for the Indian army. On being declined, I was in tears, shattered as I always dreamed myself in the Indian army officer’s uniform, but did not give up my pursuit for the much cherished uniform. I was so fascinated by the Indian army and its uniform, I decided not to join any other job, except joining the Indian Army. Finally, in October 1983, I reported at the Officers Training School, Madras (now Officers Training Academy, Chennai). After a grueling training in the hostile climatic conditions of Tamil Nadu, on the 25th August, I was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant (2nd Lt) into the Indian army’s Regiment of Artillery, the 93 Field Regiment. I am proud of being a Gunner.
But for some personal reasons and the lure of the `call from the wild’, adventure, photography, travel, etc. I decided to hang my boots very early and I bid the Indian Army adieu, in a tearful separation from my beloved uniform. I always loved my uniform the most, more than my religion!
During this short span of 6 years of my active service with the Indian army, I served withthe 93 Field Regiment for 5 years and during the same period I was part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), Sri Lanka for 18 months. A battle accident in Sri Lanka, sent me back to India with my left leg in plaster and then not being in the right `medical category’, I was posted out to the 111 Rocket Regiment. After serving for about one year with the Triple One, I hung my boots at Nasirabad, 25 kms from Ajmer (Rajasthan).
I left the Indian Army with a very heavy heart and it was a tearful parting, I left behind my heart with the Indian Army, which I could never get back – I am still a soldier, its the way I love living my life. I never wanted to leave my First Love, but then I had to take a decision myself to decline my permanent commission (PC). In spite of the fact that I had a very bad time with my two commanding officers in the first regiment, as I always called `a spade as a spade’ and they did not like this approach (probably, as a soldier I should only follow orders), I still love the Indian Army the most. The Indian Army is a great institution, much adored and revered by the true soldiers, all the time. As we all say `only good or bad officers make the Indian Army good or bad’.
I always make it a point that I am with my great regiments for their `raising days’ or even if I am passing by, which could be within a day’s journey and will stop by for sure. It’s nostalgia which keeps good soldiers all together.
I have always dreamt of projecting the great Indian Army in photographs and make my countrymen proud of this great institution, which is so unique and India is so proud of.
Here, I will try to showcase the Indian Army through images, hope you enjoy and be proud of it.
“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”