It is common to find teens worrying about not getting messages from their friends, making plans for partying out or glued to the screens for their games, but it is not too common (at least I haven’t witnessed) to find youth of that age being passionate about joining Indian Armed Forces and preparing for their UPSC exams or SSB interview. Yet, thankfully there are quite a lot of them doing so.
Much has been written about how tough these exams are and how the selection process is so rigid and not a cakewalk to clear it, so I won’t add on it. Twice every year, at different times, there are pictures and videos of the Passing out Parades of the various Academies related to the Army, Navy and Air Force where the cadets can be seen being commissioned as officers. Always a matter of pride and a heart-warming sight.
While the commissioning of a hundreds of new officers is celebrated each year, there are few, who would have given their all to be commissioned as officers in the Indian Armed Forces, but fate had other plans.
Cadets Boarded Out Due To Medical Reasons
The lesser known class of people are some of those unfortunate Cadets who were injured during their training days and were boarded out.
Boarded out means they are discharged from services on medical grounds or in other words, not fit medically for a service in the Indian Armed Forces. One may ask, what is the big deal? The big deal is that at a young age, these youngsters are left without any job nor any other benefits from the fraternity. They however are offered an ex gratia.
Interestingly enough, our country has a policy of 3 % reservation for disabled persons in IAS and other civil services. So when these cadets from military academies are boarded out, why are they left jobless? If any disabled person can find a job in Civil Services after clearing the relevant exams, why can’t a Cadet who has cleared the UPSC exam, been through the SSB interview not be absorbed in the fraternity for some job as well.
They may have become physically unfit but they may still be mentally agile and be able to add value to the fraternity through their services.
Is This Justified?
At the age of 10, a child joins Sainik School and as a teen goes on to join the NDA because of his passion to serve the Nation. Unfortunately before hecompletes his terms at NDA, he is boarded out. Now, he stays confined to the wheelchair. His injury was afflicted during his training, something which wouldn’t have happened, if he hadn’t chosen to be a part of Armed Forces.
Youngsters with dreams of serving the Nation in the Armed Forces shattered, struggling to find a job, parents who should have been the ones to pip stars on their son’s shoulders, now caring for their child who may have become dependent on them for his basic needs. Is it fair that a youngster who chose to tread the path of this tough career is left to fend for himself? Is it his fault that he was left injured in a way that deems him unfit for a military career now? Does the Nation or the fraternity have no responsibility to such youngsters? Is it too much to ask to extend disability pension to a good 500 odd cadets, who may not be physically fit but were found capable enough to be a part of this elite fraternity or to include them in the gambit of the ECHS? If nothing, it would relieve such a great deal of financial burden for them. One can only imagine the financial, emotional and physical strain on a person who may have been rendered disabled and needs a full time attendant even for his day to day chores.
While all cadets who have been boarded out may not be living a life of penury or may have eventually done well in life, yet there are some for whom such reforms / provisions may matter a lot. There have been rare instances where a Cadet who had been boarded out from the Academy has been absorbed by State Bank of India and another one where the Cadet overcame his depression, pursued education from IIM Ahmedabad and is now a Corporate Honcho. When the Corporate world has place for these brilliant minds, can’t there be a place for them in their own fraternity? Is this the message that we would want to convey to our aspirants who may be dreaming of being a part of our Armed Forces? The very reason why they have been placed in a disabled position, a job there itself, may at least be some solace and a wee bit closer to their dreams than being left out in a lurch.
Such policies and decisions can only be made by powers that be. Although a handful of eminent personalities like Maj DP Singh (India’s first blade runner and a Kargil War Veteran), Maj Navdeep Singh, Mr. Ankur Chaturvedi and a few others are already voicing their opinions for the cause of Justice for Disabled Cadets. As citizens, we can only pray for the safety of the boys, men and women in Uniform.
Here’s hoping that the Cadets stay fit and fine and achieve their dreams of donning the uniform rather than being made to be mere spectators. Also, that the concerned authorities, be it in the fraternity or the Ministry take cognizance of the issue and come up with an effective solutions and approvals for the betterment of these Disabled Cadets, which has been pending for quite some time.