December 21, 2009

A fascinating interaction with an Indian Army Officer!!!

I am not shy of interacting with strangers anywhere. This habit has often helped me to make new friends and have scintillating conversations with them.

I have added one more person in my friend list today. He is a Major in the Indian Army and was sitting next to me during a book reading event which we attended. He appeared to be a simple man completely engrossed in his book. We reached the venue pretty early. It made sense to start a conversation and we greeted each other. Then I came to know that he is an Indian Army officer, a Major.

I have a lot of respect for the Indian Army for many reasons. However, let me mention two of the multiple reasons. Firstly, I wanted to join the Indian Army but could not because of personal reasons [I love the phrase 'personal reasons'. It makes justifications so easy ;-) ]. Secondly, I have met many great HR professional who are ex Army officers.

My conversation with him ranged from how he got into the prestigious National Defence Academy, his training, the Kargil War, his Shaurya Chakra and even HR [how can I miss that :-)].

He told me how supportive his parents and siblings were while joining the armed forces. In a way I feel we civilians must thank every parents of the Indian Armed forces officers and jawans for being so supportive and encouraging to them.

He even shared a lot about the tough training which he went through in National Defense Academy. The secret behind getting used to the training is all about conditioning one's mind. When he joined NDA, he struggled to do a few push ups but after the training of about 6 months, he could easily do 150 push ups and even run more than 15 kms per day. I particularly liked a statement where he mentioned that the body listens to the mind and it is even more important to train the mind than the body.

The most fascinating part of the conversation was about his fight with the enemies during the Kargil War. He had even shot at a few enemies. I could not help in resisting myself from asking him how he felt when he shot at the enemy. I thought that it was an insensitive question from me and I wondered how he would react. He was calm and candid. He said that at the moment when he shot the enemy, he was only thinking about his duty. There were no causalities in his team. He was focused about his job and killing the enemy was his duty. However, later he came to know about the enemy's family [through the photograph I guess] and felt sad about the incident.

His bravery won him the Shaurya Chakra. I feel the Shaurya Chakra belongs to his family too who have been encouraging and supportive of him in joining the army.

He even shared a few HR lessons with me. He told me the huge relevance of motivation in the army. He shared many examples about leadership in crisis and team work.

It's interesting how the corporate world complains about economic turbulence and turmoil. On the other hand, the Indian Army gives birth to national heroes during turbulent times through bravery and outstanding professionalism that matches none in the world.

I feel the HR community has a lot to learn from the Indian Armed Forces.

Let me share a few quotes by Field Marshal Madappa Cariappa . I am sure the HR community will find these simple yet immensely powerful quotes very interesting:

  • "An officer is nothing without the soldiers."
  • "Army is there to serve the Government of the day, and we should make sure that it does not get mixed up with party politics. A soldier is above politics and should not believe in caste or creed,"
  • "an Indian and to the last breath would remain an Indian. To me there is only two Stans - Hindustan (India) and Foujistan (the Army)."

Another inspiring quote I would like to share is by Field Marshal Philip Chetwode which my new found friend shared with me:

‘The, honour and welfare of your country comes first, always and every time, the honour welfare and comfort of the men you command comes next .Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last, always and every time'

Whenever the Indian Army is at work, they live the above mentioned quotes and thats what makes them so special to all of us. They make a huge impact to our nation through their sacrifice, integrity, work ethics, discipline, bravery and much more.

If the HR community has to make a huge impact in the business then we should also have the same qualities with same intensity. Many might say that the dynamics in the Army are very different from the ones in business. Thats true but we can still learn a lot from them.

Can't we foster similar pride among our associates for their company???
Can't we enjoy better team spirit and camaraderie???
Can't we infuse better discipline and work ethics in our company???

A yes to the above three questions can make a huge difference to the business and in being a true HR professional.

And like always, a Salute to Indian Armed forces from the bottom of my heart.

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