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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Discriminatory Indian Army Recruitment?

In a recruiting announcement, the Indian Army has set forth the minimum requirements expected of the Army-hopefuls, and has enumerated what the applicants should bring to the recruitment fair.

In particular, Sikhs are being asked to bring twelve passport size photographs of themselves with a turban, and twelve photographs of themselves without a turban.

The announcement contains no explanation as to the need for the latter set of photographs. Surely the twelve with the individual's turban should suffice as a form of identification, particularly as Sikhs regularly wear their turbans as part of normal Army duties (even on the battlefield). The legendary Sikh Regiments, for example, contain Sikhs in full military regalia and turbans [see picture].

In other scenarios, Sikhs have complained of situations in which their turbans must be removed for identification purposes, such as for driver's license photos. These situations have been challenged as not only offensive, but discriminatory.

In any case, one wonders what the purpose of these other "non-turban" photographs is, and more importantly, whether this evasive need outweighs the respect that should be customarily shown to the Sikh men.

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