Tattoos have become more acceptable in today’s society. People all across accept the change but however, in the Indian Defence Forces, there is a strict tattoo policy. Personnel with tattoos anywhere on the body except for the specified portion of arms cannot be recruited in the Indian defence forces. Only certain kind of tattoos, including in case of tribals, which are as per customs and traditions are permitted.
There is no evidence whatsoever that commanders have found these to have an adverse impact on operational effectiveness and as a result, there has been a reluctance to discharge those who breached the policy.
Recently, the judiciary also ruled in the policy’s favour when the Delhi high court upheld the decision of the Indian Air Force cancelled a man’s appointment for the post of airman as he had carved a permanent tattoo on the external side of his forearm.
However, the right to decide on the acceptability or unacceptability of the individual lies with the selection committee, the court ruled.
It is strongly believed in the armed forces that a candidate with tattoos has chances to have skin disease like skin cancer. They have termed permanent tattoos as “health hazard” as they can act as carriers for certain diseases.
As per the official instructions, these skin hazards lead to infections, HIV risks, blood-borne diseases (Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, etc.), allergy and other related issues at a later stage.
An officer explained that deadly virus can be spread with the use of unhygienic needles used by untrained tattoo artists. HIV tests are too expensive and that the defence could not afford to splurge there.
Relaxation of Tattoo Policy:
The Indian defence forces do not accept any risks whatsoever to its equipment and personnel.
The tattoo on the backside of palm and inner part of the arm from elbow to the wrist can be allowed subject to doctor certification. The tattoo can be a religious symbol or a name and nothing else is hardly tolerated.
Tattoos on the other parts such as legs or neck are not permitted and candidates with such tattoos are not eligible for the defence forces.
Candidates belonging to tribal communities/from tribal areas, as declared by the Government of India Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders Act/Lists (amended and modified from time to time), are permitted to have permanent body tattoos on any part of the body, as per existing customs and traditions of the said tribe to which a candidate belongs. Such candidates will only be permitted to continue with the selection process in an SSB on the condition that the said certificates are submitted by the candidate from a tribal area as mention in the call letter.
Permanent body tattoos on inner face of the fore arms (inside of elbow to the wrist), Back (dorsal) part of the hand/reverse side of palm and tribals with tattoos which are as per custom and traditions of their tribes only are permitted. However, right to decide on acceptability/unacceptability of the individual rests with the Selection Centre. Candidates with permanent body tattoos are to submit a photograph of the tattoo with details of size and type of the Tattoo.