Indian Army Needs Chaplains


May 12, INDIA (REDIFF) — Are you a Hindu pandit, Sikh granthi, Buddhist monk, Christian priest or Muslim maulvi looking for a great career? Or, are you an unemployed graduate in the 27 to 34 age group with a religious bent of mind? The Indian Army needs you as a religious teacher. Curious? Read on.

Why does the army need religious teachers? The Indian Army is one of the largest in the world, with 980,000 active troops and 800,000 reservists. There are routine religious activities for an army unit just as civilians like you and me enjoy. For decades, an atmosphere of religious harmony has existed in the armed forces. In some cantonments like Mathura, mosques constructed for the troops of the British Indian Army still continue to be maintained. Some of the older army regiments in India are so religious that they have their own Deities. For instance, the icon of Lord Vishnu, popularly known as Badri Vishal, installed at Badrinath in Garhwal, Uttar Prade sh, is the presiding Deity of the Garhwal Rifles. All the battalions of the Garhwal Rifles worship the mighty Badri Vishal.

What do religious teachers in the Indian Army do? They impart the lessons of the scriptures to soldiers and conduct various rituals like funerals, tending to the sick, visiting soldiers undergoing sentences, giving special religious instructions to the children and general religious instructions to officers, soldiers and their families.

How many posts are currently vacant? The army currently needs 24 Hindu pandits, four Sikh granthis, three Christian priests, four Buddhist monks and one Muslim maulvi.

What are the qualifications required? Graduation in any discipline from a recognized university. The age of the applicant must not be below 27 years or over 34 years as on December 11, 2006. You must be religiously qualified, too. For example, if you are applying for the post of a pandit, you should be a madhyama in Sanskrit or bhushan in Hindi or the equivalent in any regional language. For the post of a granthi, you should be a vidwan in Punjabi. Any person who has been ordained as a Buddhist monk can apply for a monk's post. To become a Christian priest in the army, you need to be ordained by a bishop. And you can become a maulvi if you have done your studies in Arabic or Urdu.

What is the selection procedure? You will have to sit for a written examination on two papers. The first paper is on general awareness, and the second is a knowledge test to the particular post you have chosen to apply for. Of course, no one can hope to get into the army without physical tests. Your height should be at least 155 cm, weight at least 50 kg and chest at least 77 cm. And you should be able to run a mile in eight minutes.

What happens after selection? The selected candidates will be required to undergo 16 weeks pre-commission general military training and specialised training in various religious rites and rituals. They will be then commissioned as religious teachers in various army centres. What will be the salary and perks? The starting pay scale for religious teachers in the army is in the US$128 to $185 range. In addition, religious teachers are entitled to all the allowances and perks that the Indian Army provides its men. Would religious teachers be required to wear uniform? The religious teachers are qualified priests in uniform with badges of rank. But they are permitted to put on civilian wear like any other civilian priest in normal circumstances. Can religious teachers carry arms? No, they cannot carry arms, personal or otherwise, unless they are posted in appointments with special orders that allow them to carry arms.


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