Why would today's youth join the armed forces?

Last week an ex-serviceman committed suicide over the delay in implementation of OROP. It is saddening to know that a man who gave his life to the service of the nation had to kill himself because there was a delay in getting him what he deserves. I had been meaning to write this post for a very long time but this is what finally brought me to writing it.

I come from an urban middle-class family. No one in my family or the extended family or their friends has ever joined the armed forces. You could say that our previous generations used to only take after their fathers when it came to choosing an occupation and that is why it’s like that. But even now no one of my generation in my extended family and their friends and neighbors is part of the Indian Armed Forces. In the current times it is not uncommon for kids to venture into new fields. Men and women are now performing the roles which earlier used to be designated to opposite genders and many of us are doing jobs that did not even exist 1-2 generations back. Yet, the number of people who come from a non-defence background and join the armed forces is still way too small. Why is that? Risk. That seems to be the apparent reason but lets look at it this way. A quick google search shows that the odds of an individual dying in a vehicular accident are way higher than death on active military duty. This difference gets even bigger if there are long periods of (relative) peace. Yet everyday millions of Indians ride their two-wheelers to work. Mostly without a helmet. Could it be that they have to stay away from their families for long period of time? Most of the young Indians are already doing that for their jobs. Clearly, it could not be that the job is not prestigious. If there one thing that a military person will definitely get, that would be respect. Yet why is the youth not going in that direction?

I somehow feel that it is mostly because a job in the armed forces does not seem to be having long term benefits. We Indians are conditioned to take every life action looking at the long game. A young executive is basically driving his life with retirement as the end goal. His every action is just a step toward that end goal. Be it building savings or getting a house. A middle-class youngster can not forsee himself achieving these goals if he joins the forces. He does not know what he will gain as benefits after he has given all his youth to service. This is all because general public knows very little about the workings and the possibilities of armed forces. I myself do not know what is the progression/promotion process of service men and what kind of salary is possible for them. This kind of opacity which obscures the good things about armed forces is made worse by the issues like OROP, scandals, and other news which are unfortunately usually the only kind of information the general public gets. How is it possible for a common man to think about getting into forces when all he gets to know about them is the negatives. If people are not aware of the perks and the possibilities that are present how will they ever make a move in that direction? This is clearly nothing but a marketing challenge. All the good things are already there.They just need to be presented to the world out there. I am certain the youth wants to be a part of the forces. They just need a confirmation that that’s a good idea.

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