Happy Independence Day !!!!
Today on India’s 71st Independence Day I pledge my services to the forces that protect my freedom.
So often, we say things and celebrate our freedom taking it for granted just like our right to breathe when we were born.
Independence in its truest sense is such a virtue that we rarely realise its actual value until it is taken away from us.
Today as we celebrate a holiday spending an enjoyable time with our families, there are those who are protecting us from all harm in harsh inhospitable conditions far away from their families. There are those who even today might be sacrificing their lives so that we can stay safe, those who silently stay up guarding us at all hours of the day and night.
Today I write this because my generation and the generations after me quite easily forget these sacrifices. We have forgotten the blood and sweat gone to achieve and maintain this freedom to this day.
We rarely ever think of these men and women who guard us 24/7 taking them for granted.
It’s funny then that we have the memory of a goldfish which is reactive and lasts not more than 15 seconds, we continue to live our lives in this little glass bowl imperious of forces trying to harm us. We so conveniently forget that these same armed forces have saved us from enemies both within and outside the country.
Just like millions of other fellow Indians I too belong to the era of Independent Modern India. We have not seen the independence struggle, nor the sacrifices made to achieve it. We have only read about Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Bose, Maulana Azad, Vallabhbhai and multiple other strong leaders.
How difficult those times must have been to see outsiders grab what was legally yours and make you beg for it. How difficult it must’ve been to see your fathers, brothers and kids killed in cold blood. How difficult it must’ve been to see your brightest and sharpest minds behind bars only for asking for their freedom.
Maybe we have not felt it, maybe we have not seen the struggle in front of our own eyes, that’s why it’s so easy for us to forget how difficult it has. Even to attain this freedom.Right?
Wrong!!! Think again we are absolutely wrong.
Those who had sacrificed their lives for our freedom shall be pained to see us fight today, not over protecting our country but rather fight over trivial things that have nothing to do with our freedom such as caste, religion, minority privileges etc.
If we need to learn something, look at the armed forces and thank them every single day. For the free air that we breathe, for the peace that we have and for the family life that we enjoy.
They sacrifice them today without any complaint only so that we can enjoy our today and hope for a better tomorrow.
I am from a civilian background and knew little about army life until I married an army general’s daughter.
The rules of being in the army.
There is a “sarvadharm stahl ” that allows you the freedom to practice your religion but not belittle your colleagues’ religion. When your senior commands that you sacrifice your life you seldom if ever challenge that or question his intention. You are not chosen for sacrifice on the basis of religion or caste or minority.
We have forgotten that it was a Sikh who marched his forces into the Golden temple to protect India’s Sovereignty, there are scores of Muslims even today who fight the terrorists and the army from across the border. An equal number of Hindus who die protecting the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir.
You think these gentlemen are not religious because they killed people of their own religion or because they barged into places of worship of their own faith. Think again every religion in the world teaches you to be first faithful to your country.
When we hear or read of the sacrifice of our jawans do we ever read Capt, Major, Subedar …….. ( belonging to x, y or z religion ) offered the ultimate sacrifice for India !!!!! Absolutely not.
The infantry has many subdivisions or regiments e.g. The Maratha, the Rajputana, the Gorkha, the Kumaon etc etc. The jawans or officers as part of these regiments are never chosen because they are only Marathas or Rajputs or Gorkhas or Kumaoni’s. They belong to all regions and geographical backgrounds. The army never differentiates who you are. These divisions are mere names that are given just as we name our different children but love all of them the same.
Service to all mankind:
They are our final and only hope even in times of natural calamities. Even your insurance policy quite often gives up in events related to “Hand of God ”
Be it an avalanche or a storm or flooding we turn to “The Army” They work in conditions so stressful that some of us cannot even imagine.
Today for most of us Doklam remains just a word to have a pseudo intellectual conversation to show our political awareness over a cup of coffee, have we ever thought of what the families of those posted on the eastern border of India protecting us must be thinking. Will they ever see their loved ones alive again.
They get snow bites, snake bites, heat strokes but smile through them all.
Quite unlike most of us who live a charmed life the army kids change multiple schools or have to learn to stay away from their fathers for a better part of their growing years. They do not have the luxury of seeing or listening to their father every day or an option of staying at the same school for the entire length of their school life.
The army wives or mothers are left to deal with basic questions all kids ask ” why is papa not around on my birthday or school functions like my friends dads?”
“Why is dad never going to come back?”
There are those on the border who have to wait for days to even get to speak to their loved ones. Those who’s vacation planned meticulously months in advance is suddenly canceled without any reason other than their services are needed for protecting us.
The one thing I have realised is that these men in the army sacrifice their family time, lives and personal preferences only because they love their country more than themselves and because they live for the pride of having done that.
Dignity over Financial Independence
Do you realise that the jawans get paid less than what some of us pay our drivers or domestic staff. When a decorated officer from the army retires I bet financially he has earned a pittance of what most corporate CEO’s make today. But what he strives for is his dignity and respect.
A few core virtues I learnt from army life:
Humility: Do away with Arrogance
A Hero can be turned into a
zero in a matter of just a few
Religion: No one particular religion can
claim sole rights in saving
you. So why fight over it.
Time: Time once lost will never come
back so live each moment as if
it were your last so that when
It actually comes you shall have
Hard Work: Work hard till your idols
become your rivals
There are no short cuts to
Teach: No one can ever rob your
skills from you
You will need someone to
save you when you are in
Resilience: Every time you fall get up
dust yourself and carry on
because your defeat is only
Complete when you give up
Excellence: Nothing other than the best
shall stand the test of time
Hence it distresses me when people and media frivolously without any knowhow or knowledge or proof cast aspersions on men from the army. For some including media it may be a sensational headline or breaking news today, and for some of us mere gossip here today and forgotten tomorrow.
Unfortunately what we have taken away from some of these decorated officers is their dignity which they proudly wear on their chest as badges of honour just like their war wounds. Irrespective of the fact that the courts may eventually find them innocent years later. We have ensured that today we have killed the same people who spent their entire lives trying to save ours.
Those who have died whilst in battle get the honour of having their names are written on a plate somewhere and an honourable funeral but what about those we kill mentally?
So please think again next time you loosely accuse an army man of wrongdoing.
Who will protect you selflessly?
This Independence Day, if you truly want to celebrate your independence, pledge to respect and love your army.
President IFSO APC
Chairman: Institute of Minimal Access Surgical Sciences and Research Centre Saifee Hospital
Chief: Minimal Access Oncology
Director: Digestive Health Institute Mumbai