And boy! Was I lucky? I had an Army Major for company. We talked for a long time. I got first-hand insights on how life is close to the border. This Major was inducted as part of the technical unit. After completing his twelfth, he joined the Army and underwent four years of training. Along with the ground level training, he also obtained a B.Tech degree. He commands a unit that guards four kilometers of the border. Along with that, he also, handles all the equipments of his division – beginning from the communication devices, to the trucks, the supplies including ration. He is also responsible for 150 Jawans on the border. He put it simply. It was his responsibility to ensure no incursions occur in his territory. He had been witness to insurgents reconnaissing the area in the dead of the night. It was surreal to hear him explain how the insurgents also plan a lot. They are risking their lives. So they take great care before they begin operations. He then spoke about the profile of the insurgents. Most of them are uneducated, from lower strata of society. For them this was a chance of a better life. A better life for their family. The Army uses special heat sensing equipments to keep tabs at night. He is again responsible for these equipments as well.
The way he spoke about his “boys” (the 150 Jawans) was an epiphany for me. The deep sense of bonding and loyalty inculcated within these men is enviable. He knows he is responsible for these 150 boys. These boys look upto him in hostile terrain. They would obey his command without a second thought. That is a huge set of responsibilities on a twenty six year old! And to think we take pressure in the software world!
Sadly though, the Army is not able to attract enough talent. In his own regiment, while there is requirement for 24 commanding officers, they only have 13. Just about half. No wonder, each commander is loaded with more responsibilities! We then discussed about why the army finds it difficult to attract talent. He mentioned how his friends have gone to do engineering and MBA, and now are working in private companies. All that the army provides is loyalty, pride, prestige and an opportunity to sacrifice. Who wants that when one can have money, fame and an easy life. I maintained my smile, but my heart was frantically looking for a hole to hide.