KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS- INDIA’s LIP SERVICE TO HER MARTYR’s
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation” George Washington.
That is the USA for their
soldiers. On the other hand is India. Where soldiers have to ask for their
dues-The most impoverished passage of time, in a nation’s history.
Hypocrisy- We Indians
thrive on it. Begrudging the rations they are entitled to and the canteen
services within their cantonments.
We see only that and their partying. But don’t want to
see they earn this at the cost of being separated from their families for many
a month to return at times with life
threatening ailments of frost bites, pulmonary disorders and edema to say the
The callousness and insensitivity of the civilians
working in the Defence Services Accounts section, I get to taste when I overhear
my Father- in- Law based at our village in Palakkad trying to explain on the
phone to a clerk repeatedly at Red Fort office for getting his pension revision-after
the endless number of e-mails of course. This from an Indian Air-force veteran,
who joined service in 1953, being, one of those selected for training and to
fly back from Russia with our prized 1st lot of AN12’s.I wonder, why
they can’t employ Ex- Servicemen who will at least empathize with such
Remember the freeways of the USA We all choose to
highlight as the metaphor of development was laid by WWII veterans. Half a
century later, it still is as good as new-proof of their caliber.
Come 26th July we hall view our love for our
martyrs in all forms. Whether it is the cone shape loudspeakers on road
intersections and/or markets 24 x7 blaring out patriotic songs from films
Hindustan ki Kasam, Haqeeqat, Border LOC and now Uri.
Now our national
media can’t let go of such an opportunity to improve their TRP. NDTV, Republic TV, Times NOW, Mirror NOW,
India Today all quiet till now, shall be
having those great armchair chat shows. The vocal chords of Radio FM Jockeys of
Radio Mirchi, Red FM and Fever et al shall be strained as they attempt to milk
that one day’s cash cow. You think the print media will be left behind! No Sir,
India Inc shall ensure that day from jacket advertisements, full page and all
possible types of advertisements
Feature in their
great service on behalf of the nation to thank our martyrs.
The New Indian Express yesterday 25th July
on Page 7 http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/m5/2257513/The-New-Indian-Express-Thrissur/26072019#page/7/1
And today 26th July also. http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/m5/2255953/The-New-Indian-Express-Thrissur/25072019#page/7/1
In addition, a
supplement titled 26th KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS – the headline possibly
coined by their Sports Editor reading ‘ REVISITING THE FOURTH VICTORY AGAINST PAKISTAN’ I found with my New Indian Express this
supplement with all pages with Kargil
details in the top half and advertisements if not all over, at least, taking
almost half the space at the bottom.
The last page
Tribute To Our Brave-hearts stinks of commerce as the name, battalion and rank
of those 599 martyred necessitates a
magnifying glass to read but the advertisement
font crystal clear I would
suppose even to the blind !
It would be far more effective if Corporate India
instead of these advertisements in mainline newsprint and advertisements on
prime time pools these expenses to sponsor one or two martyr’s family.
Compare the size of the feature, number of photographs,
front page or inside pages positioning for gallantry awards in comparison to
the Arjuna awards and Khel Ratna awards or for that matter, the National awards
for film stars!
1999 saw the show of Indians offering support unconditional for their soldiers-
praying for their lives; who were scaling the vertical Himalayan snow clad peaks at night despite
being fired at to drive away the intruders. Kargil, Drass, Tololing and Batalik the three
subsectors replaced momentarily Shimla, Rohtang Pass and Manali in the common
man’s mind. Paramvir Chakra Awardee posthumous Captain Vikram Batra’s (13 J
& K Rifles) emotion stirring clarion call “Yeh dil Maangey More” on
recapturing a summit to plant the tricolor, resonated in the heartbeat of every
Indian then for moment only.
Within a year or
less, the Indian hypocrisy got exposed. When we needed them to protect our
frontiers, the people were there individually and collectively to show their
support. A pretence as every Fauji family is aware. ‘A friend in need is no
friend of mine.’
Did we ever care to find out what the families of these
martyrs are going through in life? We pledged them our support. The majority
being the lone breadwinners of their family, mainly from the peasant stock with
their homes in the small towns and hamlets we pass by when gliding in our cars
on our weekend getaways and holidays. They put their hand up to take
responsibility. They join the fauj as they find no other employment elsewhere.
One corporate captain seated in his air conditioned
office, summed up the hypocrisy in one sentence. “They volunteered, were not
conscripted”- on my telling him “they give up their youth for the country and
look at their plight now. Nobody gives a damn” Neatly, absolving himself.
The present regime in their first term 2014-2019
promised full implementation of the OROP-One Rank One Pension with immediate
effect. As expected, the babudom stymied
the effort, but for a Prime Minister who could courageously proclaim “We will,
if need be, kick the doors of their residences to barge in and hammer them” his
action in awarding a pittance as OROP remained just mere words! To add insult
to injury the police were actioned on a disciplined protest of war veterans.
We are all
envious of martyr’s families being entitled to a petrol filling station and/or
a LPG agency. Of course, it comes at a cost for the widow who is still struggling
to come to grips with her loss, is made
to run from the proverbial pillar to post; finally to breakdown on the very same chowk or
street named in honour of her hero.
Finally when she
gets it a feat that-where decathlon champions would fail at. A Sisyphusian
effort! Her relief is momentary on getting the order as the petrol station or
LPG Agency would be located many a mile away. That, my friends is the power of
babus. For all my praise for our 1st
Prime Minister; One act initiated by Pandit Nehru of down grading the military
personnel ranks in comparison to his favourites the babus and further continued
by successive Prime Ministers That act by India’s 1st PM a criminal
with military blood on his hands for causing the 1962 war with his gung ho
‘Forward policy’ with China, but refusing the Indian Air Force to go in. Bloodshed
could have been averted. As we had an Air-force while China was no match in the
air. Besides, the bloodshed, we would have won the war, too.
But the Generals of the tri-services are no less
culpable. As a former Army officer on my admiring Army officers for their
intelligence, compassion, empathy, communications-all that we associate with
‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ remarked in the typical Fauji self-deprecating manner
“Nonsense. For our medical test, we are sent into a room asked to sit on a
three legged stool. One person will flash a torch light on one ear to ask the
other “Lait dikhya”. Once the other person confirms the empty space between
both ears comes the quip “Perfect Indian Army officer material!” He adds on. “For Senior ranks, the Medical Officer moves
his palm down the officer’s back. “Only
when the MO confirms “No back bone”, the officer is promoted!
This in jest yet reflects on how senior officers have
let their men, the rank and file down; the very same who lay down their lives
or maimed for life.
It’s a shame there are two former senior Army officers in
the Union government as Ministers, yet nothing substantial has happened for
their men. Now you understand the seriousness in the jest of a medical test!
I am sure you would have noticed why a select group of
senior Officers on retirement, find themselves as the occupants of Governor’s
bungalow and High Commissions. The rank and file veterans you will find doing
security duties in the gated communities or with the MNC’s- below their
dignity, but then they need some means to feed their families. We pale in
comparison to the United States, where war veterans are a prize catch for
corporate. They lead by example.
They can manage pressure calmly, that clichéd corporate
term that is uttered in conjunction with stress. Keith Miller, that role-model
all-rounder who played in Sir Donald Bradman’s legendary team was once asked
about pressure on playing cricket. His answer “You call this pressure! Pressure
is when you are 20,000 feet high alone in your Spitfire to find a German Messerschmitt
on your tail” Miller had flown Spitfires for the Allies in World War II. That is the kind of pressure they have
braved. An ideal profile for our corporate India.
Have I seen or heard of a corporate in India
advertising for a vacancy with ‘War veterans/ Tri services personnel will be
preferred.” I have not. Have you? That’s
our culture. We admire them, rever them venerate them but their place on being
medically unfit is in doing a Watchman’s duty.
In my youth there was this popular song “One night in
Hong Kong makes a tough man crumble”. I smile wryly paraphrasing it with ‘One
stint in RR leaves a tough man broken….’ RR- Rashtriya Rifles, the units in J
& k formed to combat terrorism. That is
I have heard of and seen soldiers after a RR stint at
home sleeping at night if they do manage to sleep to wake up on the hint of a
sound hands reaching out for their weapons. They need endless sessions of
counseling to become normal again. That reaction- PSTD-Post Stress Traumatic Disorder.
Being observed in soldiers since the Crimean War to be declared as an act of
cowardice. Only during the Vietnam War, was it recognized as a psychological
An incident at an Indigo airline desk Indira Gandhi Airport
saw me witnessing an incident that made me ashamed to be an Indian. A jawan
after an RR stint was heading home on a much deserved leave south-wards to be with
his family, possibly in the village. His eyes and the lines on his face told
his story more than his words. The typical callous desk clerk remarked “Sorry
Sir you cannot carry this on the flight “- the consignment. A kilogram of
walnuts for his children. The sight of this man teary eyed palms clasped
pleading with the clerk, enraged me to leave my flight if need be to walk
across and take on the desk clerk in the language they understood best. I had
the satisfaction in ensuring that soldier was allowed without excess baggage costs
with my cold rage getting the Manager’s intervention solving the issue.
cricketers and the VIP class are never subjugated thus. As we have chapters in
school text books on the Sachin Tendulkars, Saina Nehwals, Amitabh Bachchans
and Sudha Chandrans but not one on these real heroes.
We could start with the PVC’s oops! Not Poly Vinyl
Chloride but Param Vir Chakra awardees- the nation’s highest wartime gallantry
I do not blame that girl at the desk as she did not
learn this at school, nor did her environment make her to stand up for these
The question arises how did I then? Well, two paternal uncles
saw action in the World War II one at Basra, Iraq the other in Burma.
father-in-law distantly related was a Colonel with General Montgomery in Africa
to chase out the ‘Desert Fox’ General Rommel.
I used to notice
from childhood these war heroes in my family were seldom venerated but in my
North Indian friend’s households they were the heroes.
To add I lost a
student Major Navneet Vatts in the Valley, who made the supreme sacrifice going
into a house to oust terrorists leading from the front as an Indian Army
Officer is expected to. He left behind a widow, daughter and a mentally
challenged brother in Chandigarh. It took the brave and determined efforts of
his Gurgaon based course mate Dr. Anshu Maheshwari Arora- Now Principal-The
Amity International- Gurgaon to go to Chandigarh, somehow get through to his
unit’s CO. using all her persuasion to ensure the fauj taking responsibility
for Nimeesh’s welfare. Any amount of praise is less for Anshu Maheswari ably
supported by her husband Mandip, both civilians, clueless on the Army’s
hierarchy etc. Yet against all odds, they did succeed in their efforts.
If they could do it why can’t we the people whose,
Mantris, elected representatives, Babus and Fauj’s senior officers have failed
us take a leaf from Anshu and Mandip’s initiative. That is a solution.
Farcical is this celebration as it took light years for
a simple War memorial to come up for the Unknown Soldier who fought 1948, 1962,
’65. ’71, the countless battles with insurgents and terrorists and 1999. Waiting
for the OROP to be implemented in full measure may take a long time, a wee bit
more than ‘Waiting for Godot!’
Till then, we
can expect to hear the lyrics of the lovely melody “Fauji rabda hai dooja naam”
film Fauji only on 26th July but never in spirit. As we are too
impoverished in our hearts. To summon them when Nehru’s boys the civil administration
fail as they normally do in times of natural and man-made calamities. The
Indian military forces remain the only apolitical and secular institution of this
country who without a thought, put their lives at risk even to save lives in
Jammu & Kashmir. As also, when a toddler has to be rescued from a
bore-well, rescue passengers stranded midway in the air when an aerial ropeway
stalls. I could go on and on…..