A month back, I was humbled and proud when I saw a young boy barely seven or eight years saluting his martyred father at the last post when his mortal remains were being consigned to flames. He stood before the body and was saluting with his right hand and responding to the cry of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ by pumping up his left hand.
He was so engrossed and immersed in that poignant moment; an admixture of pride, sacrifice and patriotism; unmindful of the flames of the pyre blowing towards him. He had to be escorted away. He was not teary like the rest of his family. He was pensive and proud of the accolades which were being poured on his father and the attention he was garnering albeit on his final journey.
This is the warrior ethos that is ingrained in the blood of the nation. It made my chest swell with pride as to how such martial traditions live in the heart and soul of our nation. It is this culture that endures our country to be what it is, in spite of being surrounded by hostile nuclear neighbours, plagued by persistent insurgencies, tormented by terrorism and incessant chicaneries of antinational insiders who want to destroy the country from within.
He was also unmindful of what his future would be without the support of a father when all children around him would be playing with theirs.
The toss and tumble, fling and swing, roll, romp and jostling which fathers sport with their children; oblivious to the yells of the alarmed grandmother reprimanding, “don’t kill the child”: Such instances were always exhilarating; never again such antics will ever be pulled off again! Sitting on his shoulders and plucking the overhanging raw mangoes; now remain only in the inner labyrinth of his memories.
A father to him is a hero and he will only remember of his placid, peaceful and serene face that was so full of life lay inert and calm being lapped up by the flames in the suffused amber glow.
"Most youngsters who attend these funerals are fired with the resolve to fight for their country and return as victors to their villages. If fate does not support, then the glory of death is as honourable as it smells of the sweet scent of victory."
As a national of this country, it really makes me proud of the heroism, sacrifice, elan and pride evoked in families of martyrs. Most youngsters who attend these funerals are fired with the resolve to fight for their country and return as victors to their villages. If fate does not support, then the glory of death is as honourable as it smells of the sweet scent of victory.
Remember; the Recruitment Rally in Darbhanga and Chapra (Bihar) at the height of Kargil Conflict in Jul 1999, when body bags were being brought from the Himalayas; thousands attended the rally and the situation went out of control and the resultant firing killed twenty aspirants. Our youths courted death just to get an opportunity to fight for their country.
Don’t you find that our country is unique; look at the potential strength and resolve in our youth: Look at the flare for the profession of arms. The epics of Ramayana and Mahabharat have ingrained fighting tenets in our people where the profession of arms is considered a tradition and an ultimate goal in a person’s life. These epics predate all religions and the bedrock of Indian culture and traditions have become a part of the nation’s heritage.
Remember the verse in Chapter II/ 37 of Gita; “if you are martyred in battle; you go to heaven and if you win; you enjoy the fruits of the earth: Hence; son of Kunti; Arise and resolve to fight”.
It is the raison d'etre of his life on earth where the core human values of Valour, Self-sacrifice and Honour subsume a soldier to defend his motherland; and in his pursuit of this goal, if he is martyred then such a death is only blessed to the bravest of the brave. Tales are told, paeans are rendered, songs are sung and folklores are adored in honour of such heroes.
"The core human values of Valour, Self-sacrifice and Honour subsume a soldier to defend his motherland; and in his pursuit of this goal, if he is martyred then such a death is only blessed to the bravest of the brave."
It is for this reason the bureaucrats are extremely jealous of the Armed Forces; in comparison, they are just 'file-pushing' babus, who wield power by creating a maze of official red tape to slight them. The uncaring politicians who are only looking at the next elections have no time to go into details and willingly let the babus arrogate their power.
It is this breed that commands the least respect among the public and most end up as file pushing and money pulling robots to whom nationhood is last of their concern; if at all!
Now: Dear RM and CDS; how in the world can you marginalise your armed forces by bringing one rule after another to extinguish the martial streak in our civilisation? Do you all really know; what you are doing? Keep on talking of the ballooning the Pension Bill as if the rest of the Government servants and PMF have surrendered their pensions?
The politicians draw several pensions for the several positions that they have held; however, what troubles you is the Defence Pensions; no one talks of the 40 per cent of the Defence Pension catering for 5.85 lakhs of civilians. They have got their NFU and have increased their pay and allowances and the resultant higher pensions.
Only about 60 per cent of Defence Pensions are being paid to uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces? Attempting to cut rations of the officers, banning foreign items from Canteens, hiding the Reddy Commission Report, imposing income tax on disability pensions of war wounded, denying veterans OROP and giving them one-time increment in lieu, singling out the Armed forces by depriving NFU while granting the same to all other government establishments and starving the ‘Veterans’ Health Scheme’ of funds;
leaving the veterans at the mercy of empanelled hospitals whose bills are not cleared in time making them a liability in their eyes: Do any of you know; what harm you are doing to the nation?
"Keep on talking of the ballooning the Pension Bill as if the rest of the Government servants and PMF have surrendered their pensions? Politicians draw several pensions for the several positions that they held; however, what troubles you is the Defence Pensions; no one talks of the 40 % of the Defence Pension catering to 5.85 lakh civilians."
CDS; you always invoke the façade of the welfare of frontline troops to blunt the edge of the sword arm of the nation. The recent orders to increase the age of retirement and limitation of pension in PMR cases would make the Armed Forces older and also delay the promotion boards.
There is a need to link the extension of age with NFU so that some benefit occurs to those who have been made to serve longer. The pros and cons have been discussed at length and I am sure you will look at the operational efficiency of the Armed Forces rather than only concentrate on reducing the pension bills.
The other ranks from logistics serving up to 57 years of age; is a bad idea as you could not implement a good idea of transferring our soldiers into PMF after their tenure in the Armed Forces. The former already serve till 58-60 years of age. You need to keep the Army Young so that the operations like the one that was launched on 29/30 Aug at 17,000 feet height can be repeated.
Logistics have to reach these heights and to have old soldiers in logistics is an idea that can only originate from an Accounts Officer thinking only of pension bills? You can make a provision to grant an extension to a few of the highly skilled jobs rather than a blanket increase to all logistics personnel.
Why don’t you just concentrate on providing winter clothing to the troops who have occupied the icy heights and ensure adequate logistics for them? The winter has already set in and the temperatures at those heights have plummeted to below minus 20 degree Celsius.
I am concerned our inadequate logistics would force us to vacate the occupied heights of the Kailash Range, South of Pangong Tso? China is pushing hard for us to vacate the heights.
"Logistics have to reach these heights and to have old soldiers in logistics is an idea that can only originate from an Accounts Officer thinking only of pension bills? You can make a provision to grant an extension to a few of the highly skilled jobs rather than a blanket increase to all logistics personnel."
All of us are sleeping in the cosy comforts of our house, while winter clothing to troops is in short supply. Have you advised the RM that the will of the nation will get jeopardised if we don’t provide the best weapons, adequate ammunition, clothing and equipment for our troops to fight successful battles across the multiple terrains across our frontiers?
What is of immediate concern is the 8th round of ‘Lt Gens’ Talks that have concluded yesterday. I am getting an uneasy feeling that we are in the process of succumbing again and the will of the nation is failing? It appears to me that you are talking of PMR and pensions when there is ‘Hannibal at the Gate’. Heard of it? When Rome was burning; was Nero fiddling?
The Armed Forces have an elan and pride in the society due to which there is no shortage of recruits to join the Armed Forces. It is your duty to the nation to ensure that the pride sustains and there is always a passionate romanticism in soldiering in the ethos of our people.
By undermining the Armed Forces and depriving them of one benefit after another; all what you are doing is killing the pride in the soldier. You know very well the pension given to the ITBP is much higher than the soldiers of the Indian Army.
The Babus have thought freedom is free and the only price that is paid is with the lives of officers and men of the Armed Forces, which is least of their concern. Just heard 24 years young, Capt Ashutosh, Havildar Praveen and Sepoy Maheswar of the 18th Battalion of The Madras Regiment were Killed in Action fighting terrorists on the LOC.
Who is paying the price? Neither the politicians nor the bureaucrats! For heaven’s sake; do not destroy the ethos and culture of the Armed Forces, anymore. Please also read my article “Soldier’s Pride is Nation’s Security”.
You need to restore pride and honour in the profession so that our country survives and the civilisational passion for the ‘Profession of Arms’ continues to flow in the veins of our people. It is also time to show China; what India really is? Jai Hind!
(Lt Gen Kamath is a highly distinguished general who has held some of the most coveted appointments in the Indian Army. He is a notable commentator on Defence & National Security issues)
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