Why tattoos are not allowed in some Indian government jobs?

Many youngsters find a tattoo pretty cool nowadays. While we can discuss the pros and cons of getting a tattoo from various perspectives (e.g. risk of contracting HIV etc.), but the focus of this article will solely be on whether a tattoo destroys your chances of getting a government job.

Probably, you have a tattoo and you want to find out whether tattoos are allowed in Indian government jobs. Or maybe you are thinking to get a tattoo but you want to know if there are any Indian government jobs wherein these are banned.

If you are looking for a short answer, then we would say Yes! Some government jobs do prohibit tattoos. But what are these jobs?

Table of Contents
  • Government jobs in which tattoo is prohibited
  • Why tattoos are banned in Indian government security jobs?

Government jobs in which tattoo is prohibited

You having a tattoo will have no issue whatsoever, if you are applying for a job like cleck or Probationary Officer (P.O.) in Banks, SSC, Engineering Services, Railways, PWD department etc.

But it is prohibited in many other Indian government jobs. Such jobs have been listed below:

  • Many jobs such as police (e.g. IPS), or paramilitary (e.g. CRPF).

  • Indian Defence Services - Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard etc. If you want to join armed forces in any capacity, then our advice will be to avoid tattoos at any cost.

Indian army recently issued fresh guidelines regarding recruitment of people with body artwork:

  • Tattoo can only be on the inner face of your forearm (between elbow and wrist) and on the reverse side of palm. But you will require a certificate from doctor. Also, Selection Committee has full authority to accept or reject your tattoo.

    Tattoo is not permitted on any other body part. That is, it should not be on your neck, face etc.

  • Permanent tattoo of more than one square inch in size is banned.

  • There are some exceptions for tribes, which have tattoos on face because of religious customs.

  • Some types of tattoos are not allowed under any circumstances - indecent, racist, sexist tattoos.

However, there is no stated policy on tattoos when it comes to other central government jobs, general state government jobs or PSUs.

Apart from these security-related government jobs, even some private companies and corporate houses may avoid hiring people with tattoos. But you probably won’t find any written rule banning tattoos.

Now, let’s understand the reason behind the ban on tattoos, when it comes to these security-related government services.

Why tattoos are banned in Indian government security jobs?

There are three major reasons why tattoos are banned:

reasons for tattoo ban in government jobs

  • Health-issue: Tattoo can cause hazardous skin diseases, serious blood-borne diseases, and increases the risk of HIV, Hepatitis A & B, tetanus, allergies, etc. All these medical tests are very costly and the Army cannot afford to test all the candidates with body tattoo.
Something to ponder!

I was in Indian Airforce (as flight lieutenant) and when I was recruited, my medical was done for 4 days. All kinds of tests were done - ECG, Ultrasound, eye-check, ear-check etc. Believe me armed forces are already spending a lot on medical tests for new recruits.

  • Discipline: Tattoos represent free-will, and individuality. But security forces are all about being a part of the team, following the rules and discipline.

  • Security issue: In crisis situations (e.g. war etc.), these body marks may be used by the enemy to identify and target you. That’s also the reason why soldiers don’t salute their senior officers at war time. Imagine an enemy sniper, who has been told that he has to take out an officer that has a particular tattoo on his face or neck. This is something that armed forces try to avoid. This is the reason why all soldiers wear the same uniform. Looking different from the herd places you at a risky position.

An Experiment!

You know zebras look the same - all white and black stripes. But this camouflage is not against the forest background, rather it’s against the herd. All zebras must look similar to each other. It makes lions harder to spot and attack a particular zebra.

Once scientists conducted an experiment, wherein they marked a zebra with red/green spot on the back. They found that invariably lions targeted the zebra which had been marked, because it was easier to mark/spot. Hope you now understand why tattoos on face or neck are a strict no in security forces.

Winding Up

Apart from the strict prohibition to tattoo in certain jobs, you should also consider the impact a tattoo may have on the interview panel, even where it’s allowed. Obviously, it only applies to jobs wherein there is an interview phase.

Many of the guys on the interview panel are old-fashioned, especially if it is for a government job or PSU job. First impressions matter, and a tattoo will be the first thing that they will notice, if it’s visible. If the tattoo is at a place that is not visible to anybody unless you take off the clothes, then it’s fine.

A tattoo may send wrong signals to them, sending them vibes of an irresponsible, non-serious and a rebel person. Believe me, most of the organizations, whether private or public, do not prefer people with rebellious attitude. Organizations always look for team-players, people who can work well in a team.

However, if you are looking for a job in creative fields such as media, fashion designing, photography etc., then getting a tattoo may even work in your favour. A tattoo may showcase your creativity. When I was in a software company, my manager had a big tattoo on his neck. I never saw anyone objecting to that.

Anyways, our advice would be to stay clear of the tattoo trend, if you aim to get a government job, especially a security-related government job. And if you are adamant on getting one, make sure it is at a place that can be easily concealed under clothes.

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