Monthly Archives: December 2016

Love My Beard

solSupreme Court of India has now dismissed a petition by a Muslim guy and upheld the rules of Air Force that prohibit the sporting of beard of its personnel. Although it has saddened the Muslims in India but what is really unfortunate is that how Supreme Court looked at the matter superficially and passed judgement on this.

Soldiers and officers have been sporting mustaches, goatees, beards or sideburns all over the world in past and today also it is a common sight in many countries. As long as it is well maintained and does not proffer a eccentric image there is no reason why personnel should not be allowed to sport a beard.

Canada allows Muslims, Sikhs or orthodox Jews to maintain beard due to religious requirements. In United States US military expanded its policies on religious accommodation in 2014 and allowed all officer and enlisted personnel to request permission to wear beards and articles of clothing for religious reasons.
Many countries in the world permit armed forces to have beards and do not pose any restrictions e.g., Italy, Iran, Sri Lanka, Austria, Spain, etc. Whereas other countries allow beard / facial hair but soldiers need to make a request for it.

Many countries like Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, etc. who deployed their personnel in Afghanistan allowed their personnel to wear any type of beard. As most Afghans wear full beard having beard in Afghanistan helps in strong bonding and advancing contacts with the Afghan population. British Army has been seen sporting a full range of stubble, mustaches and beards in Afghanistan in an effort to blend with the Afghan men. Similarly army from other countries were also allowed to wear beard to break down the cultural barriers.

Now honorable Supreme Court judges need to ponder, if soldiers from other cultures can sport beard to get close to the people of another culture, why can’t soldiers in India wear beard not only to protect their own culture but more importantly to fulfill their religious obligation.