The Question WHY? An attempt to answer the ‘why’ behind the stubborn desire to don the Olive Green

“Zirah Bakhtar bann’ne chala Hun, lohe si khaal odhe aur jazbe ki Shamsheer thaamey, lahoo ka Deepak jalaey main zirah Bakhtar bann’ne chala Hun. Bas watan ki un be-nazr deewaron par khud Ko lapetne chala Hun. Aye fir koi Ghazni ya Ghori, vaar pehla sehne mai chala hun. Main zirah Bakhtar bann’ne chala Hun.” 

(Translation: Determined to play the armor, donning the beastly willed steel infused skin and wielding the sword of courage, with victory in my prayer sanctified by the blood lit lamp I am all packed up and ready to play the armor for my country. Over the invisible walls of my country, I am on to drape them all with my service. Come what may, another Ghazni or Ghori, I am set to receive the enemy as his first welcoming host, and make sure I am the last. I am set on to play the armor all in service of my nation.)

Why do you want to join the army? The IO asked after a brief stint at digging me through my PIQ responses. With the above lines in mind which I penned way back, I started off uttering the answer which supposedly should have had the weight to win the IO give the final go to culminate the journey that started with the ‘Pratham Pag’ written on the steps to the entrance of the waiting hall at the SCE, Prayagraj (former Allahabad) to the ‘Antim Pag’ at the IMA. I guess my answer didn’t make the peg to fit in the right hole for I wasn’t selected by the assessors. I knew it, that I didn’t answer the question as I should have, as my heart wasn’t satisfied with what my mouth uttered! 

What makes of a reasonable choice or decision is the question why. For, inherently, it answers the underlying questions that target the motivational aspects of an individual towards his job. Why do you want to do something? It is a very simple question to answer, but we make it a lot more difficult a venture by subjecting it to severe adulteration with our counterproductive thoughts and fears. And, there comes the solution – keeping it simple and stupid. Often, we stumble on great revelations through obvious approaches in life. We are so accustomed to solving complexities that often times we fabricate complexities out of simple things; that is where the problem lies.

To bring some perspective to answering the why, I would like to mention Maslow’s  Hierarchy of Needs and filter out the essentials as per my observations. It speaks of two pillars of motivation, the deficiency needs, and growth needs, which when simplified takes the shape of a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are – physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization.


It requires no deliberation in understanding the theory for it is self-explanatory. What we aspirants need to work out is to know the organization and; the ethos, the values, and the work ethics that it enshrines in its core. Done that, we are now required to draw parallels from the Hierarchy pyramid or any other method of gauging the source of motivation available at hand. 

Filtering out those essentials which shall fulfill every inch from the basic deficiency needs to the core, growth needs of the spectrum are beneficial. Hence, one may find oneself, with every passing day, near to the point enabling one as to answer the Why behind one’s desire to don the uniform. So, to speak of from the basics, a person may venture out finding what a job as an officer in the Indian Armed Forces has on the platter for him. One may realize, that every need from the lowermost level of the pyramid is satisfied by the life in the forces. Special mention to be kept in mind is the job security and familial safety that the life in the forces offers. You get in the forces, train in the world-class environment and be furnished with top of the mark training. You, enlist for SSC or PC and the time you serve, you serve with honor and dignity. And, if so it happens that you are called upon by the good Lord, your people shall be taken care of by the extended family (the forces) which they garnered because of you. 

Having covered that, you come to the Psychological Level of the Pyramid. The first thing which comes to my mind is the brotherhood. It has nothing to do about how you feel about the others. You will meet new people on your postings and if deputed to forward units such as RR or SF units, entire teams get changed and one has to make connections on whose shoulders the success of the mission and the sustainability of the team depends. So, there is no question of liking or disliking others, there is no scope of likes and dislikes among men. You are required to lead the team and bring results with men under you back as safe as humanly possible. Here, the crux is the mutual, unsaid, agreement which is signed by all. An agreement in a group that you’ll put the welfare of the group, that you’ll put the safety of everyone in the group above your own. In a way that makes you care about the lives of the men under your command more than your own. That’s brotherhood. And personally, this one thing boosts my desire to be a part of the forces. And, psychologically, I am no professional, yet let me make an attempt at making a point in understanding why most soldiers have high levels of self-esteem. Ever noticed their ever warm, ever welcoming composure? Well. that is because they believe what they do is holding a high moral ground and that every day in service of the mother nation is a service to their brethren by their backs. And as the saying goes, every act which benefits others without an aim to get something in return boosts your self-esteem. Such a wide observed belief can only come when the organization stands on high moral grounds.

Now, when you’re all boots on the ground, you build friendships, you build relations and you build trust all amounting to the fulfillment of the deficits in the ‘belonging’ level. The realization that you are an asset to the organization as much as its values are to you renders you a feeling that you belong there, in the forces, amongst the men. Every day is a new day with its own set of challenges. No two days shall be similar and behind every failure, the life in the army and the fact that you are a part of it renders you a compulsion to find a glimmer of hope and reach out to find its source. That fighting spirit never lets you settle for anything but accomplishment and maybe that’s why the dynamism that the life in the forces offers occupies a big space in the answer column of the question of Why.

Outside the sphere, in the civilian world, you are respected for your service, your parents, your friends and everyone associated with you earns a part of your respect. It seems as if every affirmation that you would have communicated with your inner-self as in, “I shall prosper and everything I lay my hands upon shall prosper”, takes a tangible shape by the day.  Every aspect screams out to boost your self-esteem and strives to give you a sense of accomplishment. Thus, it indeed forms the answer why one would want to join the forces.

Atop the pyramid lies the Growth needs, and that becomes the most important aspect as finding the ‘why’. Every man on earth as he comes of age to realize his philosophy of life, his needs, wants and desires he chooses to grow the way he wants and by growth, it means achieving his full potential as well whetting his creative side. The job in the armed forces do not fall in the category of ‘jobs’ it inherently leans on towards the categorization of lifestyle. Being in the forces, you are absorbed into a lifestyle that provides you with a dynamic living space where challenges and variety is a matter of daily occurrence. The forces invest in you tremendously at great depths to make a diamond out of you. It is understood that once you’re in, your training never ceases. You are trained on a regular basis post commissioning and is the prime requirement. Professional competence is a basic attribute of a leader and in view of gaining it, one undergoes training to gain in skills over a wide spectrum of subjects. So, if you’re someone who has always felt that there’s something amiss in your life in terms of learning then all your whys find their answers here for the scope for learning is so vast, it will probably take a lifetime for an individual to cover them all and gain on a position to lay the claim that they’ve done it all. 

You get to travel throughout the wide expanse of the country, meet new people, get in touch with the cultural richness of our dear mother land. You get the benefit of excellent professional training, world class infrastructure, and various courses that tend to clear the path of a retiring/retired soldier to enter the civilian life with yet a diverse spectrum to pick the next innings in life from. And with the fear of sudden, unanticipated lay off gone owing to the job security one gets, one tends to be fearless in terms of choosing personal growth as well. Personal growth cannot be attained without fulfilling the familial duties, and as such, one gets enough time to look into one’s family life as in contrast to a regular corporate nine-to-five job. 

Quoting from the Indian Army’s official recruiting website, I’d like to add to in the answer to the WHY:

Quality of Life

As an Indian Army officer at 21, you’d be looking at a lifestyle that one cannot imagine in any other profession, so early in life. What comprises “Quality of Life”? On one hand is a job with a thick pay packet but with the drudgery of 9AM to 9PM schedule, no avenues and time for extracurricular activities, no scope for adventure and excitement, no social status, lack of family life, threat of being terminated with a month’s salary, working in suffocating environment with no self respect and honour. On the other hand is a job which offers you challenge, adventure, excitement, honour, prestige, self respect, whole some family life, safety and security for the family and to top it all the love, respect and esteem of our great India. In the somewhat chaotic social and economic conditions that prevail in our country, Army life is an island of sanity and social order that is the envy of our countrymen. Quality of life is an important attribute of Army life, and has no parallel in any other service. Some of the intangibles, which go to make the quality of life in the Army, are:-

  • Service of the motherland.
  • A profession to be proud of
  • Opportunity to travel and know the country and its people/culture/flora and fauna
  • Opportunity to serve and represent the nation abroad
  • A pure and noble profession
  • Honour and social status
  • No stagnation, a new challenge every day.
  • Opportunity for growth
  • Sports and adventure activity
  • Messes, clubs and institutions facilities
  • Education facilities – Both school and professional colleges for children
  • AWWA hostel for girls in metros
  • Army ensures your physical and mental health.
  • Quality of life ensured not only for officers but also families.

Variety and Adventures

Variety and adventure are the spice and romance of life. No profession has the kind of recreational and adventure facilities to offer as the Army does; from membership of the best clubs in country to horse riding, swimming, golfing, mountaineering, trekking and sailing. Posting to exotic stations gives one an opportunity to see India and its different cultures, in all its vivid glory. You may also get a chance to go abroad on course or on posting. So, if one is looking for a profession, which goes beyond being a mere job, accept the challenge and join the Indian Army.

 Didn’t find your answer yet? I see the bright side of yours, for you are a seeker with a Warrior Mindset and the reasons to join the Army are far deeper to comprehend. Go along the flow, charge up the warrior in you, mates. Charge forward, charge for sure and 
Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true. 

Useful links:

A little motivation from my favorite, Aerosmith

One thought on “The Question WHY? An attempt to answer the ‘why’ behind the stubborn desire to don the Olive Green

  1. I am stunned and at the same time proud of the way a thinker and writer in you has come forward. Brilliantly written and I am sure your writing is enough food for thought for all the Defence aspirants.
    Three cheers.


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