Sahayak System In The Army
Question : why doesn’t the Indian Army do away with the discriminatory shameful SAHAYAK SYSTEM
Answer by Colonel Awadhesh Kumar
This is a very biased question framed with a pre set mind and with NO knowledge about the functioning of the Army or very limited information glimpsed at some peace station. In fact the word SAHAYAK cannot have adjectives like shameful and discriminative.
The SAHAYAK for an officer is an Operational requirement. When the Recce Group / Order Group moves for orders prior to any operations, it is the SAHAYAK group which ensures that all the Officers at personnel physical level are also equally ready to lead their unit / Sub Unit right after the Orders are recieved and passed down to the fighting group.
An Officer is expected to work for 25 HOURS out of 24 hours in operational areas and this is ensured because of the SAHAYAK. At company / battalion level in field areas,The buddy as he is called in SF, is a Personal Assistant, Personal Secretary, Personal Security Officer, logistic controller, butler, comptroller and what not. He is also the radio operator and runner for the officer. During active operations, it is the buddy who ensures that the officer gets food and is able to take a timely nap.
In Sri Lanka, my buddy always tried to walk in front of me ( he thought he was bullet proof ), he had to be admonished and explained why he had to walk right behind me and hand over the radio handset when silently indicated or verbally asked for.
American Army has no such system but read the WW2 books and you will come to know, that once the Captain was “accepted” by his company then, a “SAHAYAK “ was ensured by the Senior NCOs.
Yes, in peace stations, there are a few instances of misuse of sahayaks but this can be rectified. Do you shut down the entire rail system because there are a few accidents ? We have not eliminated the bureaucracy in spite of rampant corruption nor banned the politicians from public offices even when they have criminal records. The impeccable Turn Out, pride in uniform, punctuality for each parade etc will be severely impacted without the buddy and will start chipping away our very system.
Today some Retired Generals too are asking to do away with Sahayaks to cut down defence expenditure and save money to run the Ministry of Defence. They forget that while moving them up the ladder, the sahayaks too played a very important role. Otherwise it would have been very difficult for them to be at the right place, at right time, in right dress with all the required personal items. This only shows that after becoming a General Officer they may be remembering the WHY of the Regimental System but have just forgotten the HOW of the Regimental System.
In peace stations, well some suggest that officers/ JCOs can employ attendants for certain personal helps and pay them. However with 50 odd outsiders ( civilians ) per Unit milling around in the Cantt/living accommodation areas / Units will not only be an administrative burden but also security nightmare leading to sure disastours.
Today only ( 20 Nov ) both my first Sahayak ( 1978 ) and the last one ( 2010) rang up to enquire about my health, regimental gossip etc. The first one is a retired Hony Lt in Haryana. The other one is a retired Havildar in Ahmedabad doing his own business.
Reaction from some of the readers:-
- My sahayaks …. Two retd as subedar Maj/hony captains, two as subedar, one as Nb subedar. The still serving guys will also rise very high….. I may or may not be alive to see them as Sms or hony officers. I retired on 01Aug 20. Three sahayaks volunteered to come with me from the 3 different units.
- That’s the spirit sir, which unit are you from ?
- I absolutely concur with this view point.
- Why is Sahayak system practiced peace station? Is it the operational requirement of officers’ wives?
- These types of questions on Quora are specifically asked to defame the ARMY and its officers. And the sad part is, these questions are asked by PBOR who themselves have served in the Army.
- I agree with the well said above narration. This system is prevailing all other departments too. but, it is being criticized only in Army. I dont know why it is? Police, Para Mil Forces, Rly, all are practicing the same.
- 90% of sahayaks get honorary commission and your sahayak retiring as honorary captain is no surprise
- This comment displays bias or ignorance. A sahayak is a sepoy and no Annual report is rendered on him. So his buddy officer cannot help him out here. He becomes a JCO some 20 to 25 years later and a Honorary another 12 to 15 years later.
- Personal bonds often overweigh the operational efficiency.
- If Armies of other countries can manage without Sahayak or Orderly system. I don’t understand why Indian Army can’t do without it. Soldiers have duty towards their nation.
- To understand, you gotta join the Army. The buddy too his doing his duty and the bond is very deep and strong. Also it is not police or civil services, where things may be changed and nothing much will happen. Tinkering with Armed Forces systems may lead to disastours as faced by the American Army.