Answer by Anonymous:
At the very outset, my apologies for putting up a comment as 'anonymous'. I am an officer in the infantry. Your question is indeed a logical one and deserves debate. You are absolutely right in saying that we joined service completely with our own free will and that nobody owes us anything. In fact, it is us soldiers who are fortunate that the government (i.e. the public) found us fit for this prestigious service.
However, I get a feeling that you may have misinterpreted the core issue in the subject.
Firstly, you must understand that whenever a person in uniform brings up 'civilians', he is most likely talking about the civilians that we have to deal with in our line of work. These are mostly civil servants. We are least bothered about the engineers and the doctors and how much money they are making. Incidentally, I am a mechanical engineer by qualification myself. I was placed in a renowned automobile manufacturing company with a package of 7.2 lpa (not a lot for many of us at Quora, but definitely too much for a goof like me! :P), which I dropped in order to join IMA, Dehradun.
People think its not very hard to become an Army officer. They are right. You just need basic common sense(not very common), IQ and knowledge to get in. But after that, things become darn right difficult. The studies here suck the blood out of even the most gifted among us. I always scored around 90% in school with considerable ease. Today I'm slogging my ass and burning midnight oil to secure 60-70% in military subjects, which are deadly mixture of history, geography, science and technology, current affairs and law. Yes, law. This is over and above your duties as a sub-unit commander and the physical conditioning you need to give yourself to remain fighting fit, especially in the infantry.
For the moment, let us now forget about the officers and focus on the jawans. Did you know that we are one of the few remaining countries in the world that categorizes the infantry soldier under the 'unskilled work force' category for the purpose of paying salaries? This is despite the number of courses he has to do in order to do well in service, which consist of specialised training in trigonometry and surveying, ballistics, explosives, hydraulics, materials and basic kinematics. In addition, current scenario has necessitated study of asymmetric warfare with a focus on small teams and special operations. Hence, this essentially is analogous to giving a civil engineer the pay of a local 'mistry'. It isn't about the 'pay', its about the 'pay-scale'. It has as an aspect of dignity associated with it. So, even after you spend months away from your family, getting sun burnt and eating tinned food continuously, people still think that since you can't talk in English, you basically suck, and that you can be a soldier if you can just run around with a gun(unskilled worker). It hurts.
The officers lead comparatively comfortable lives, even though they need to be adept in all the aforementioned subjects(Obviously, you need to be better than your juniors!). But this too, is largely because of the jawans. 'Hamare sahab ko koi takleef nahi honi chahiye' is their evergreen endeavour . Ours is a great Army because we have the indomitable jawans and I must tell you, it is both a privilege and a challenge to be able to command these men.
So basically no one is asking for anything but recognition. As for the sacrifice, I wouldn't know. I haven't made any. I just get kicks when I order a 'befitting reply' to an enemy cease-fire violation, knowing full well that I represent an entire nation at that point of time, even if its atop a desolate mountain nobody gives a shit about.