Saturday, November 28, 2009

Khasi youths’ lack of interest in armed forces worries forces

SHILLONG, Nov 28: The Khasi youths’ lack of interest in the armed forces needs a serious introspection, felt several senior Army officers here. According to Director of the State Rajya Sainik Board Brigadier (retd) WJB Sturgeon, even though the number of Khasi youths joining the armed forces had risen marginally, yet in terms of community representation, it was still miniscule. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Shillong-based 101 Area, Major General KS Sethi rued that the youths from the Khasi community had not been showing keen interest in the recruitment rallies conducted in the State. “It’s the youth from the Garo community, who are rather forthcoming than the Khasis”, the GOC said, pondering over the reason for this lackadaisical attitude of the Khasi youths towards joining the armed forces. An officer in the Indian Air Force said, “I wonder why the Khasi youths are not using the headquarters of the Assam Rifles, the Indian Air Force, BSF and even Army’s 101 Area all of which are located in Shillong itself”.

General Sethi felt that it could be the low awareness level that is the main reason for the lack of interest displayed by the Khasi youths in joining the armed forces. The GOC denied that his command had not done its job in motivating the youths, but he also accedes that more of awareness campaign should be carried out to attract the educated youths into the armed forces. While the Army assured to go for a more pro-active campaign, the Eastern Air Command has already started it awareness programme by visiting the colleges in the city.

While the top brass in the armed forces is looking for the reasons that make the Khasi youths less enthusiastic about joining the armed forces, some of those who had appeared for the recruitment rally alleged that the recruitment personnel were discriminatory. “I knew I had all the standards to be a complete jawan, but the end results didn’t go my way”, stated one aspirant who appeared at the Assam Rifles recruitment rally in Laitkor in 2007. Some other youths who had given a try in the armed forces recruitment rally even alleged that the recruitment meant solely for the State of Meghalaya had entertained candidates coming from other states of the country. However, a senior officer said, “Barring perhaps stray cases, the armed forces never discriminate against anybody on caste, creed religion or regional lines”.

Interestingly, to ensure better response to a recruitment rally, the office of the publicity wing of the Defence Ministry has started a campaign. Ahead of the Air Force recruitment rally scheduled next month, Defence PRO, Wing Commander Ranjib Sahoo has assured to come out with success stories on the local personnel in the armed forces in order to motivate the youths. THE SENTINEL

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