The recommendation by an army Court of Inquiry that disciplinary action be taken against 168 personnel involved in clashes between officers and jawans in Ladakh last year is indeed a wake-up call to the defence forces (March 26). The army is expected to maintain the highest order of integrity and discipline. The Ladakh clashes have necessitated a review of the selection and training pattern. The jawans are aggrieved because they are posted away from home, have a low pay structure, and feel they are harassed by superior officers.

That some of them, sahayaks, are used by their officers to do their domestic chores is indeed unfortunate. This system of slavery should be abolished.

Mahesh M. Bhakthan,


The harsh and uppish attitude of officers towards their subordinates is unfortunate. But the British Raj legacy is prevalent in all uniformed forces. Their aloofness from the civil circles and the general public is perhaps the reason for this. The use and abuse of valets is a serious matter. It is time we dispensed with the institution of sahayaks.

M. Somasekhar Prasad,


When I joined the army in 1965, the sahayak was called a batman. Later, he came to be known as ‘orderly’ and decades later, came to be called the sahayak. During battles or counter-insurgency conditions, when the families of officers do not stay with them, the sahayaks play a major role. As the officer devotes all his energy and time to the welfare of the troops he commands, the sahayak takes care of his personal welfare. In peace stations, helpers are employed directly at the homes of officers. Army sahayaks have been in use because of security reasons — the need to keep the area sanitised. Many houses may prefer to employ locals for their household chores but are unable to do so as the army area is restricted.

The uncertain security environment may continue for years. There is a need to streamline the employment of ‘helpers’ in various environments in which the army operates.

Lt. Col. P.G. Eapen (retd.),


Keywords: Indian army

More In: Letters | Opinion