Armed Forces – A question of representation

Let me admit that my first impulse to write this post was the incident at Fort Hood, Texas. We all know that this incident involved an American Muslim psychiatrist in the US Army – and the disgruntlement he reportedly felt about America’s wars with Muslim countries etc. Naturally questions are being raised about the wisdom of forced mirroring of society in the armed forces. I have used the word forced  more in the sense of implications of political correctness and it’s demands on society’s obliging liberal leaders.

In Hindusthan our armed forces have off and on faced questions that settle on concern about a lack of “fair representation” of all sections of society. Meaning, does the Hindusthan Army, Navy, Air Force and other special forces have a representative sprinkling of civil societal diversities? The answer is no.

From my reading the following can be cited as reasons for the “non-representative” quality of our armed forces with particular reference to Muslims :

1. Historical reasons

– The concept of martial races introduced by the British. The British seemed to favor those groups in Hindusthan that were least susceptible to sedition, especially after 1857.

– The fight for and formation of Pakistan. This phase denuded the British-Hindusthan armed forces of close to 30% of it’s Muslim soldiery, especially in the Officer Corp.

2. Post – Partition reasons

– Wars and unrest with neighboring Islamic countries

– Even though there have been instances of individual Muslim gallantry in the Hindusthan army’s field operations, the willingness to trust Muslim soldiers or even Muslim civilians at the borders, do not seem to be at the same levels as with non-Muslims

3. Economic and Social reasons

– Typically, a lack of adequate education amongst Muslims

So there is a real “trust deficit” when it comes to Muslims. Some people compare this with the position of Sikhs and the fact that there was Khalistani terrorism against Hindus and dissenting fellow Sikhs; and ask how come the Sikhs are more than represented in the forces.

These people miss the entire point of historical processes and how societies bind themselves with each other. In fact the case of Sikh over-representation in the Hindusthan armed forces is the strongest case in favor of my proposed argument. Additionally the fact that no Hindu objects or has objected (except in the short phase right after Smt Gandhi’s assassination) to such a demographic “imbalance” in the forces proves beyond doubt that not-withstanding flux, some societies are meant to live with and protect each other. The Sikhs btw have also been in the fore-front of wars against various Muslim invaders and conquerors. Their conferred role as the “sword-arm” of Hindudom may seem a bit exaggerated but this is more indicative of the trust this community retains in this country and with Hindus. A similar role can never be played by the Muslims, no matter how gallant individuals amongst them are.

My basic argument is that societies and it’s protectors have intrinsic and emotional linkages with each other. It is not possible, otherwise, for the protector to protect his society. This reasoning may seem to be at variance with the liberal idea of a “professional” armed force, where soldiers are expected to do their duty, period, without any emotional investment toward the society they protect; but there are reasons why liberals assume “professionalism” implies a lack of “emotional attachment”. These reasons, academically dry in nature and thoroughly devoid of the processes of natural social bonding are akin to liberal reductionism. An illustration might suffice to make my point clearer:

In any article about Hindusthan’s army, it’s professionalism comes in for most admiration. It is contrasted sharply and favorably too, against the record of armed forces in our neighborhood – Bangladesh and Pakistan in particular. However there is one other comparison that stands out – behavior during religious conflict. It is said and perhaps this opinion is consensual; that Hindusthan’s armed forces act in a highly professional and impartial manner whilst dealing with rioters and therefore command greater credibility amongst Muslims, the assumed under-dog in any such conflict.

Some possibly mischievous implications may be borne in mind –

1. That Hindus do not see our armed forces as impartial during religious conflict.

2. That the armed forces who act more impartially when contrasted with police and paramilitary forces (the two are normally deployed first in cases of riots) do so because they (armed forces) are not communalized or religiously *influenced* to the extent the police and paramilitary forces are.

Now let us assume the argument that the armed forces are indeed impartial and that the police and paramilitary forces are partial towards Hindus – why then have we never witnessed Hindu resentment against armed forces when they intervene in riots? (Bear in mind “impartiality” implies proportionate Hindu dead bodies to Muslims killed). This is in sharp contrast to Muslim resentment against any police or paramilitary intervention.

The only sensible and rational deduction that can be made is that Hindus trust their forces – be they the army or the police and paramilitary personnel, to do the right thing. The Muslims seem only to trust those who cannot have known them closely. Army soldiers live in secluded barracks quite unlike the police etc. who go home daily to families and normal social lives.

The intrinsic and natural link between the Hindus and Hindusthan’s armed forces is clear.

Please consider the fact that in most historical societies, soldiery has been a tradition. This means that there have been families of soldiers. Members of such families choose to join the forces out of a sense of tradition and therefore are prepared likewise from an early age. In the case of Hindu society, such a tradition was carried on by various Kshatriya or like groups. I’m not here referring only to purely traditional warrior castes, even though that is how they developed but to people who knew they had it in them to take up the role of protectors.  The Kodavas for instance have not been nominally seen as Kshatriyas and there is no reason why they should not rightfully claim that title, but they are Hindu and are largely and traditionally dedicated to soldiery. This was how the warrior classes developed largely until the advent of the British and their acts of omission and commission wrt Empire inspired “Martial Races”. Still even the British limited themselves to those classes that were traditional warriors.

Now the reason why some groups and classes of Hindu society developed themselves as protectors was simple. The larger society trusted them to take up that role. A case of natural selection if you please. Why should such selection be natural and not be made a matter of academics and mere physical prowess – as is being suggested these days to “correct” the representational imbalance wrt Muslims? The reason is that “trust” cannot be academically manufactured. Nor can trust be generated by a show of strength. If the latter were the case, the Muslims would have been accepted quite easily given the fact of their military dominance the last 600 odd years in our history. This very fact, ironically, is working against them now.

– Namaste


Palahalli S – So a proportional representation in our armed forces – in order to better mirror the “diversity” in society should never be attempted. This of course flies in the face of any liberal agenda that would take my proposed inaction as somehow repressive of the Muslim minority.

So be it.

There are two sources I reviewed to write this article.

1. Muslims In The Forces

2. Ongoing discussion of the Fort Hood massacre at VFR.

I will strongly recommend Hindu readers follow the VFR discussions because they constantly refer to arguments in the US media, that Hindusthan’s liberals and communists use to bolster their case for proportionate representation. In many many cases, we are on the same plane.

Ku. Kavitha writes –


Isn’t it ironic that even the Pakistani army are distrusting the devout, beard sporting Muslims to be their soldiers these days…LOL so also the Bangladesh Army after the failed coup attempt against Begum Khaleed Zia’s fledgeling government.

It is just a matter of time, before you see a backlash against the Muslims in the US army if the trend continues.

Palahalli S replies –

Your information may well be accurate Kavitha but what can this change in attitude to Islamic beards really change? The Fort Hood killer Nidal for instance never sported a beard.

It is excellent that Hindusthan keeps Muslim representation in the forces at round 2%. It must never get higher. Lower it can, but not higher.

In fact I’m finding that Hindus are mighty more realistic about Muslims than when compared with White Westerners.


One Response

  1. Palahalli,

    Isn’t it ironic that even the Paki army are distrusting the devout, beard sporting muslims to be their soldiers these days…LOL so also the Bangidesh Army after the failed coup attempt against Begum Khaleed Zia’s fledgeling government.

    It is just a matter of time, before you see a backlash against the mosies in the US army if the trend continues.

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