As on date, the Indian Defence Forces face a shortage of about 8,600 officers. The Forces are known for never compromising on the quality of their personnel, even if they are short on the quantity. They need more and more able volunteers who can be trained to serve the nation with integrity. In addition to print and electronic media, the Defence Forces have been taking compelling steps in order to motivate the Indian youth to join them. One of these ways includes bestowing honorary ranks on some accomplished famous personalities. The provision of grant of honorary rank by these Forces to eminent personalities acknowledges their contribution towards the nation. Also, the aim is to grab the attention of the youth and stir their enthusiasm by rewarding the extraordinary, showcasing the respect and style of life that follows post commissioning.
Here is a list of ten celebrities who hold a rank in the Defence Forces:
1. Kapil Dev
The man, who helped bring the Cricket World Cup to us in 1983, is a most loved and respected personality across the nation. Therefore it was not surprising when in 2008, the Territorial Army of India decided to bestow upon him the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He thus became their brand ambassador. He is the first cricketer to ever receive this honorary rank.
2. Sachin Tendulkar
In recognition of Sachin’s glorious achievements as a cricketer and sports icon par excellence, the Indian Air Force conferred the rank of Group Captain on him in 2015. The Master Blaster became the first sportsperson to be made an Honorary Group Captain in the Indian Air Force. Recently, he attended the celebration of the 84th Air Force day at Hindon Air base in Ghaziabad on 8th October 2016.
3. Mahendra Singh Dhoni
India’s very own Captain Cool is known be one and all. His achievements on the field have made him very popular amongst the youth. The Indian Territorial Army awarded him the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2011. This induction was provided under the Paramilitary regiment of the Territorial Army. Apparently, he also completed a two- week training program for the same, and his accomplishments in the Forces include five Para jumps post the said program.
4. Abhinav Bindra
A sports champion, Abhinav Bindra became a legend when he won a gold medal in shooting in Commonwealth games 2014 held in Glasgow. After capturing the Gold Medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he was honoured with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army in 2011, along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. While Dhoni joined the Para regiment, Bindra joined the Sikh Regiment of the Territorial Army.
5. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
Another eminent sports and political personality, Rathore has been a source of pride and inspiration for our country. He has won numerous gold and silver medals in shooting in the Commonwealth Games and in World Shooting Championships. Apart from the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, he was also awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) for Military excellence. Rathore is a graduate of the National Defence Academy. He served as an officer in the Indian Army till 2013, post which, he took early retirement as a Colonel. He won his first Lok Sabha election in 2014 and is currently the Minister of State for Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the Narendra Modi government.
6. Milkha Singh
Also known as the Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh is a popular sports personality who has achieved worldwide recognition. Singh successfully gained entry into the Indian Army on his fourth attempt, in 1951 as a sepoy. While stationed at the Electrical Mechanical Engineering Centre in Secunderabad, he was introduced to athletics. Later on, he went on to collect numerous gold and silver medals in the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. He narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in the Olympics. Post his success in the Asian Games in 1958, he was promoted to the rank of JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer).
7. Vijay Kumar
Subedar Major Vijay Kumar AVSM, SM (born 19 August 1985) is a sport shooter. Currently, he is a serving Subedar Major (Warrant Officer Class I) in the Dogra Regiment (16th Battalion) Indian Army. He won the silver medal in 25mtr rapid fire pistol event in the summer Olympics 2012. He has also won five gold medals at various Commonwealth Games. He is currently being coached by the Russian Pavel Smirnov. Here’s more power to this bundle of talent!
8. Sachin Pilot
Sachin Pilot is a politician and a member of the Indian National Congress. Pilot became the youngest Member of Parliament in the country at the young age of 26. On 6 September 2012, Pilot became the first Union minister of India to be commissioned as an officer (rank of Lieutenant) in the Territorial Army, fulfilling his desire to follow his father’s footsteps to be in the armed forces. Recommended from the Bangalore SSB, he joined the Sikh Regiment in 2012.
9. Mohanlal Vishwanath Nair
A versatile actor from Kerala, Nair has almost 300 Malayalam films to his credit. A fine actor, he has given some memorable performances in films of various genres for over thirty years. In 2009, he became the first and the only actor to receive the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army of India. He also holds a Padma Shri for his contribution to the Indian cinema.
10. Deepak Rao
Major Deepak Rao is a multi- faceted personality. He is an Indian military trainer, scientist, author, and physician and is considered to be a pioneer in the field of close quarter battle training. He was made the brand ambassador of the Territorial Army (India) and the Indian Army along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Abhinav Bindra. He was commissioned into the Para TA Regiment with the honorary rank of Major by the President of India, for 17 years of contribution to the Indian Army. A brilliant man, his contribution to the Indian society is in many aspects, remarkable.