CHENNAI: Expressing alarm at the apparent politicisation of army, army chief Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said that military should be kept away from politics. His statement holds significance as 91.5 per cent of Indian army officers engaged in counter-insurgency operations cited 'disgust for corrupt polity' as a major reason for their slumping morale, said a study.
The study Psychological Aspects of Counter-Insurgency Operations published in the Medical Journal Armed Forces India also said that 61.4 per cent of non-commissioned officers and sepoys/jawans — collectively termed as other ranks (ORs) — have cited the same reason for their low morale.
This 'disgust for corrupt polity' stems from the fact that the "..army has to shoulder the main burden of not only containing the militancy but also of carrying out development work since the civil administration is either defunct or unwilling/reluctant to play its part of (sic) carrying out developmental work," major general Samay Ram explains in his book Stress, Suicides and Fratricides in the Army.
Another major factor which has a negative impact on soldiers' morale is financial dissatisfaction, said the study published in 2004. Despite the varied pay structure among the officers, JCOs and ORs, 86 per cent of the personnel cited the above reason as a cause behind their worries.
For 91.6 per cent ORs and 82.4 per cent of JCOS, travelling by train, which includes having to give bribes to railway staff, is what affects their morale the most.
Another factor which affects the morale of most officers — but does not seem to affect JCOs and ORs — is the 'hostile attitude of human rights groups' towards army operations.
Other negative morale determinants include adverse publicity in the media, lack of cooperation/hostility from the local population, feeling of insecurity regarding families back home and lack of societal support.