Jawans working in IR canteen – Shameful?

On the 8th October 2011, Mid-Day published a piece on ex-Jawans from the Army working in the Indian railway canteens after they were too old for the rigors Army life. Brief descriptions of their service and their cheerful acceptance of their new work – which can include cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, serving commuters, etc – followed.

The article was an insight into what happens to soldiers when they retire. I found it interesting, if a little vague in terms of the point it was making.

I was rather surprised when outraged people spread it around the net along with sarcastic comments about the government. In essence, the outrage seemed to be about the jawans not being respected.

Now I have several problems with this and I think it is important to say them clearly. Before that, I want to point out two key things from the article itself.

  1. The article clearly says that the jawans have no complaints with their work.
  2. The article makes it clear that the jawans were asked to fill forms with information on what skills they had and allocated jobs accordingly.

And now for my issues with the attitude of the outrage:

  1. Are we saying that washing dishes or making or serving food is less respectable than another job? Why should anyone wash dishes then? Whatever happened to dignity of labour? This is something the Army guys do understand (at least from what I know of them), which is likely why they had no problem with honest work.
  2. Why does no one notice that it is the result of an effective rehabilitation programme for soldiers that provides them with alternative work that they can do after they can no longer do those courageous things they once did. How many 50 year olds can find any job – ANY JOB – these days? Do you have any idea of how many jawans the Army has?
  3. Their descriptions of bravery are nice. I admire and respect them for what they did. It is equally clear that if they were still capable of it, they wouldn’t be here – nor is this kind of work required in other work. It is a change from being in your prime to old age. It is absurd to blame the government for this.
  4. What exactly is the expectation here? What kind of respect should be provided to these jawans? We have the second largest Army in the world. Is it sustainable for all jawans we have?

I don’t understand why people are outraged by jawans working in IR canteen. Need to see what snobbery lives in minds. Any honest work is not bad. It is the readers attitude of thinking some people as inferior or some work as inferior that makes the reader go into shock on reading someone they respect is doing “dirty” work.

Grow up. Get rid of the bigotry. The work is fine, the jawans are fine.