Remembering Our Soldiers

‘A career in the armed forces is no longer high on the options list of the present generation is a reality hard to ignore’ reports Vijay Mohan in Spectrum.

The popular convention has been – Army is meant to guard the nation from exigencies; it is their duty so they might as well do it, at any cost! For whatever they do for the nation, even to the extent of giving away their own lives, remains thankless and often even criticized.
It is an extension of this very attitude that the polity continues with their hollow rhetoric, waste thousands of crores through dud schemes and by killing time in the parliament, hold on to power till their last breath, and avail all the amenities at the State’s expense- it does not matter to them that the poor jawan of the Indian army or the paramilitary forces is made to go through an ordeal of an 18-hour long stressful duty.

Just as we see the ‘reel’ heroes in movies believing them to be ‘real’ heroes; praising the work of the actors and not the actual people who inspired the making of a hero, the army persons who do everything possible on their part for our lives just face neglect and scorn. They engage in such an environmental condition where the air is rarified, their lungs and blood vessels cry for oxygen. At 15000-ft, where the human body is not easily attuned to the altitude, our soldiers remain awake in such cold weather to protect our independence. The real heroes fight against the enemy, face the enemy and their bullets, alone in the snow and ultimately face a lonely death. A tiny piece of metal is all what it takes to die. And yet the soldiers go up the hills, like the charge of the light brigade, never asking questions, never expecting an answer. They know they have a duty, they have a pledge and they have a promise to keep.

Among the several hundred officers of Brigadier rank and above, there are only ten Muslims. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, incredibly, only about 25 Muslims have apparently made it to this rank since Independence. The reports of Pay Commission never have any substantial effect on their plight. Insufficient funds and facilities are forcing us not to be inclined to national services by keeping ourselves away from military. This made Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, The Sunday Indian, to remark that our treatment towards the armed forces is in no way any different from Hitler’s inhuman consideration of Jews being lesser humans.

Between 2001 and 2004, more than 2000 officers applied to leave the Army. These included two lieutenant generals, 10 major generals and 84 brigadiers. The reason in most likelihood being that army no longer attracts the citizens due to its ‘non-glamorous’ approach, so to say. The remuneration is low and to add to this is the tough working condition under which the soldiers have to carry out their duty. Fresh incentives, such as quicker redressal of grievances and higher pay may ensure that the job holds high prospects of satisfaction.

A country that refuses to respect its armed forces will eventually end up getting forces that will not respect the nations’ aspirations. If this is going to happen in future, then do we really have a right to celebrate Independence Day when people responsible for ‘preserving’ our independence are not given their due rights? As Indians, we must wake up and come forward to do justice with the services done for us by our fellow army-men.

Bhumika Sharma

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