Discipline is the cornerstone of the Indian Army, setting it apart from the rest. The early stages of training are rigorous, with a focus on teaching discipline in the most demanding ways. The Indian Army believes that buddy-buddy relationships and management techniques should never substitute for this essential foundation. It is through years of experience and practice that mellowness and directive control are achieved. In this article, we will explore the discipline rules followed by Indian Army officers, shedding light on their code of conduct, behavior with seniors, managing finances, and interactions with civilians.
Auto Code: Upholding Etiquette in Vehicles
In the Indian Army, there are specific guidelines regarding behavior and seating arrangements in various types of vehicles. These rules ensure respect and hierarchy are maintained at all times.
When entering a car, the senior officer sits on the left side of the rear seat. They are the first to enter and the first to leave the vehicle. If you are asked to join a senior officer who is already seated, enter through the right door and avoid sailing over their feet. When a couple enters a car, it is customary for the lady to enter through the right rear door. This provides her with a cue on what to do, rather than getting in from the left and then crab side-wards.
In light utility vehicles, such as jeeps or Gypsys, it is expected that ladies and children sit in the body of the vehicle, with the officer occupying the co-driver’s seat.
Liaison Officer Protocol
The role of a liaison officer, even if junior, is significant. When there is no one senior or a lady accompanying a VIP or dignitary, the liaison officer has the rightful place in the rear seat, not in the front. Opting to sit in the front seat based on diffidence, humility, or reverence is incorrect. It reflects ignorance, lack of confidence, and absence of poise. While it is common for most senior officers and ladies to invite the liaison officer to join them at the rear, one should not rely on such invitations. Instead, boldly and politely request to join them.
Open Door Policy
In official work situations, it is important to note that the car door for an arriving or departing dignitary or senior officer should never be opened or shut by another officer. Arrangements should be made to have a non-commissioned officer or other ranks ready for this task.
When being driven in service transport, it is important to follow the cues of the driver regarding the removal of headgear. Taking off your headgear is a “NO” in this context. Observe the driver’s behavior and act accordingly.
The scramble to rush into cars after a senior officer is seated for departure is unseemly and avoidable. It is best for all concerned, except the host, to get into their own vehicles and join the cavalcade after the lead vehicle.
Table: Auto Code Guidelines
|Senior officer on the left of the rear seat
|Couple enters through the right rear door
|Ladies and children in the body of the vehicle
|Officer in the co-driver’s seat
|Rear seat, unless accompanied by a senior or lady
|Open Door Policy
|Non-commissioned officer or other ranks open and shut car doors
|Follow the driver’s cues
|Do not rush into cars immediately after a senior is seated
Personal Code: Etiquette in Personal Interactions
To maintain professionalism and uphold the dignity of the Indian Army, officers adhere to certain personal code guidelines. These guidelines cover various aspects, including walking in step, leading the way, punctuality, addressing subordinates and seniors, and personal grooming.
Walking in Step
Officers in uniform should always walk in step, with the junior officer on the left. It is important to adjust your stride to match that of your senior officer, demonstrating respect and synchronization.
Leading the Way
When conducting the visit of a senior officer or visitor, it is the officer’s responsibility to lead the way. The senior or visitor may not know which direction to go or what to see, so it is crucial for the officer to take the lead and guide them.
Punctuality is highly valued in the Indian Army. It is essential to be always punctual for appointments and, when possible, even arrive a little beforehand. This habit ensures composure and ease, which are fundamental to gentlemanly deportment. Being punctual allows you to remain cool and composed, while a lack of punctuality can lead to a constant state of hurry and restlessness.
Addressing Subordinates and Seniors
When referring to subordinates or seniors, it is important to address them by their ranks and last names. Using nicknames or overly familiar terms can be disrespectful and may not be well-received. Referring to a senior officer as “good old Joe” may cause confusion or show a lack of respect. It is best to use the appropriate rank and last name when addressing individuals in a professional setting.
Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) hold a significant position in the Indian Army. It is important to respect their ranks and not call them solely by their last names. If you have a close relationship with a JCO, you may use their first name. However, if you are not familiar with them on a personal level, it is best to use their rank and last name. Recognize and honor their pride in being a JCO.
Chewing and Lounging in Uniform
Chewing supari, gum, pan, or tobacco is strictly prohibited while in the office, in uniform, in public places, or in the presence of a senior officer. Maintaining a professional appearance and avoiding distractions are critical aspects of discipline.
“Chewing supari, gum, pan, or tobacco is strictly prohibited while in the office, in uniform, in public places, or in the presence of a senior officer.”
Walking, standing, or sitting in uniform should be done with proper posture and dignity. Avoid lounging around and maintain a professional demeanor at all times. Wearing the cap when outdoors is mandatory, as it is part of the uniform and signifies respect for the Indian Army. It is essential to keep the left arm stiff by the side when saluting.
Carriage and Personal Appearance
As an elite force, the Indian Army expects its officers to carry themselves with pride and maintain a professional appearance. Avoid wearing earrings and keeping long hair, as these are not in line with the image and standards of the Indian Army. It is important to present oneself in a manner that reflects discipline and respect for the uniform. Avoid wearing fancy add-ons or accessories that diminish the dignity and professionalism of your appearance.
Sunglasses and Pens/Pencils
While sunglasses are acceptable during travel, it is essential to remove them when talking to a senior officer or a lady. Making eye contact is crucial during conversations, and wearing sunglasses can hinder that connection. Additionally, avoid dangling your sunglasses from your shirt front or pocket, as it is not in accordance with military etiquette.
Pens and pencils should be kept discreetly clipped to an inside pocket rather than exposed. This maintains a neat and organized appearance while also preventing loss or damage to writing instruments.
Wearing of Caps and Dress Code
Wearing your cap or beret with pride is essential, as it is a symbol of your rank and affiliation with the Indian Army. It is not a fashion accessory but a part of the uniform that should be worn correctly.
In certain circumstances, it may be acceptable to take off your jacket or tunic in the privacy of your own office. However, if your senior officer enters the room or when you leave your office, it is important to dress appropriately and button up. Dress codes may vary in very hot climates, but it is crucial to follow the orders of the day and adhere to the specified dress regulations. Personal preferences should not dictate the need to wear less formal attire without proper authorization.
“It is crucial to follow the orders of the day and adhere to the specified dress regulations. Personal preferences should not dictate the need to wear less formal attire without proper authorization.”
Conduct with Seniors: Respect and Etiquette
When interacting with senior officers, specific guidelines must be followed to maintain professionalism and show respect. These guidelines cover various aspects, including posture, addressing seniors, differing with seniors, and behavior in a senior’s office.
Hands in Pocket
It is considered disrespectful to keep hands in pockets, especially when talking to a senior officer or a lady. It is also preferable to keep hands dry and clean, with clean and manicured nails when proffering them for a handshake. These small details contribute to maintaining a professional appearance and upholding the standards of the Indian Army.
Differing with Seniors
While it is important to speak up and express differing opinions, it must be done with elegance and courtesy. Aggressively disagreeing or launching into a broadside attack may gain temporary popularity among juniors but will not be well-received by senior officers. It is crucial to carefully consider the potential consequences before adopting such an approach.
In a Senior’s Office
When visiting a senior officer’s office, it is important to observe proper etiquette. If someone else enters the office, regardless of their seniority or connection to you, do not jump up unless the occupant of the office stands up first. Simply acknowledge the person with a smile and respectful nod. Jumping up immediately may offend the person whose office you are visiting, especially if the person entering is junior to them.
Meeting a Senior Officer
When approaching a senior officer who is in the middle of a crowd, it is important to greet them without pausing to greet others in the crowd whom you may know. Pausing to greet others can make the senior officer appear as if they are waiting in a lineup or queue solely to meet a junior officer. This behavior may not be well-received and can have negative consequences for your relationship with senior officers.
At parties in the Mess and other functions, it is customary to escort ladies, regardless of age, when they are being taken somewhere. This is a standard operating procedure and should be followed to ensure the comfort and safety of the ladies present.
Handing out Plates and Serving Drinks
While it is natural to want to be a good host, it is important to respect the designated roles and responsibilities. During official lunches or dinners in the Mess, officers should not take it upon themselves to hand out plates when the meal is announced. This task is not listed in the charter of duties for officers and should be left to the waiters. Similarly, the serving and pouring of drinks should be supervised by the mess NCO, with officers keeping a discreet eye on the process.
Managing Finances: Responsibility and Planning
In addition to maintaining discipline in conduct, the Indian Army emphasizes the importance of managing personal finances. Officers are expected to plan and spend their cash with forethought, recognizing that they are paid regardless of whether they are working or not. The Indian Army encourages officers to avoid reckless spending and pay all dues on time, including the mess bill, even if the food may not always be satisfactory. Planning for the future and personal savings is also emphasized, as officers should not compare their expenses to those who have private incomes. It is important to live within one’s means and be financially responsible.
“Officers are expected to plan and spend their cash with forethought, recognizing that they are paid regardless of whether they are working or not.”
Conduct with Civilians: Respect and Addressing Protocols
When interacting with civilians, especially politicians and civil servants, the Indian Army has specific guidelines to ensure professionalism and respect. These guidelines cover addressing protocols, differentiation between civilians and service personnel, and the importance of courtesy.
Addressing politicians and civil servants, regardless of their seniority and position, requires specific protocols. The practice of not using “Sir” when addressing them is universally followed. Instead, it is appropriate to use terms such as “Mantri Mahodaya/Mantriji/Minister” or “Mr. Bedi/Mr. Secretary” to address them respectfully. This practice ensures consistency and avoids any misunderstandings or potential disrespect.
Table: Addressing Civilians
|Appropriate Addressing Protocol
|Mr. Bedi/Mr. Secretary/Mr. Rao/Mr. Commissioner
|Mr. Bose/Superintendent/Inspector General
Differentiation between Civilians and Service Personnel
The Indian Army places great importance on maintaining the distinction between civilians and service personnel. This differentiation is crucial for maintaining discipline and ensuring that officers conduct themselves appropriately in all interactions. Officers should always be aware of their own behavior and the expectations placed upon them when engaging with civilians.
Courtesy and Consideration
Consideration and courtesy are fundamental aspects of conduct in the Indian Army. The golden rule of treating others as one would like to be treated is essential in all interactions. The essayist Francis Bacon once said, “Manners Maketh the Man,” and this sentiment still holds true today. By demonstrating consideration and courtesy, officers not only uphold the values of the Indian Army but also foster positive relationships with civilians and other members of society.
Discipline rules are at the core of the Indian Army’s code of conduct, reflecting its commitment to excellence and professionalism. From the auto code to personal conduct and interactions with civilians, officers adhere to strict guidelines to maintain discipline and uphold the honor of the Indian Army. By following these rules, officers demonstrate respect, leadership, and the values that make the Indian Army one of the most respected institutions in the world.
Remember, discipline is not just a set of rules but a way of life for Indian Army officers. It is through discipline that they embody the qualities of leadership, integrity, and dedication that define the Indian Army’s ethos.