It seems to be an endless flow. Yet another video of a soldier raising an alert over difficulties faced by the armymen on the border surfaced on the evening of Sunday (January 15), which was also the Army Day, despite Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat warning the troops that action will be taken against those who are using the social media for expressing grievances.
A series of videos released by personnel in uniform -- be it in the BSF, CRPF or the army -- have brought to the fore the various challenges they have been facing. While some spoke about the poor food quality, some raised finger at the alleged discrimination and ill-treatment they receive from the seniors. The videos created a ripple across the board with celebrities and common people expressing support for the soldiers. Even the top political leadership and the army chief had to speak up on the issues.
Now, a soldier sings out his difficulties
The latest video is that of a soldier singing in Punjabi to speak about the difficulties he has been facing. He speaks about the tough conditions he and his colleagues live in, the poor food they get and also the fact that their leaves are scarce.
"It has been 10 months now, I am not getting days off; all the tears have fallen from her eyes. One who is married to us, she feels neither married nor unmarried," the song posted on Facebook said, highlighting the plight of the soldier's family back home.
His song also highlighted how the politicians cared little about the youths in the millitary. "They go to sleep after wishing good night, we celebrate Diwali on borders..." he sings.
Gen. Rawat has not been amused by the posts though. He said while a few soldiers were trying to draw the media's attention to their problems, the act was hurting the army's morale. "You can be held guilty of a crime... and get punished," he said while addressing the Army Day parade in Delhi Cantonment.
Ministry report on problems faced by troops
"There are thousands of units in place. It is difficult to monitor the issue at every level. Hence a mechanism needs to be put in place. The Ministry is working on it," defence sources were quoted as saying by the Hindu.
A 119-page report complied by the Army Design Bureau (ADB) has listed 50 problems being faced by troops and need to addressed quickly, the Hindustan Times reported.
The report highlighted challenges faced by the soldiers such as vulnerability of their body armour, outdated night-fighting gear, problems with winter-clothing, among others.
Last Friday (Jan 13), Rawat spoke of the report while promising better equipment for soldiers to fortify them at the borders. He said the ministry would be collaborating with the country's top academia and the industry to address the "systemic problems."
"Presently, troops deployed in high-altitude areas are being issued tinned food and some meals ready to eat (MRE) but these are not adhering to Indian tastes and have issues related to shelf life," the report said.
Appropriate food will "tremendously enhance the motivation levels" of soldiers. the report said. The army is looking to solve the issues within this year.
The ADB report also said that the current body armour leaves the troops vulnerable on the sides and the neck. It is also not up to the international standards. Agreeing on this, Rawat said fewer soldiers would lose their lives during operations if the armour was of superior quality.
The report also addressed issues like clothing and inaccurate sniping at high altitudes as well as technological failure at locating troops during operations.
"To achieve effective results out of the precision fire of a sniper rifle, it is important that forced incidental errors due to environmental factors be reduced to the minimum," the ADB report said.