Many are discussing whether the scheme to confer honorary ranks in India’s India’s Defence Services including the Territorial Army to celebrities is at all worth the effort. I, for one, am against the practice as I don’t see most of them take much interest in what should be a calling for them to serve the nation. Yes, there are exceptions. I believe former India cricket captain, Kapil Dev is one and the Congress MP, Sachin Pilot is another. It was disappointing to read that recently M.S. Dhoni, a major superstar in India being the captain of India’s cricket teams, didn’t attend the Annual Day Parade of the Territorial Army, in which he holds the honorary rank of Lt. Col. The reasons for his absence, I admit, are not known. Was it because he was away playing cricket for the Chennai Super Kings in South Africa? The report goes on to say that Olympian shooter, Abhinav Bhindra, one more of the celebrity Hon. Lt Cols. too skipped the Annual Day parade.
This leads us to the moot point. In my view, if they are too busy and have no time for these events they should not accept these roles. But having accepted them and been feted in the media for it, they owe it to the nation to do their bit. We don’t know how much Hon. Group Captain Sachin Tendulkar has done to promote the Indian Air Force, either.
The argument that they are serving the nation by playing cricket is silly at best. No one questions this at all. One questions the practice of dishing out honorary ranks to celebrities who do not pay back to the Services adequately. Supporters of the scheme proclaim that such moves enthuse the youth of the country to join the forces. I think that’s most unlikely. Dhoni and Tendulkar will enthuse the youth of India to play cricket. That’s for sure. but expecting them to boost the recruitment drive of the Defence Services by posing for a few pictures in their uniforms is asking for too much. In their defence, it may be argued that they have not gone shopping wearing the uniform unlike the Malayalam super star, Mohanlal who was in the news late last year for doing so!
Very little in my view has been gained by conferring honorary ranks to these celebrities. I have no objection at all if they accept them and do full justice to all that this acceptance involves. Otherwise, lay off I would say.