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Shall we change?
The first symptom of a not-so-great nation is its ungratefulness
For once, it was incredible to see the Indian media playing a stupendous role in reliving the memories of the Kargil War; a pyrrhic war that India should not have had in the very first place. And once again, it was vindicated as to why the Indian Army is one of the finest institutions of the country. So while the debates of the worst kind over the commemoration of the Kargil War continued – from which party’s victory it was to which party’s loss – for a change, it was great to see that for two consecutive days, i.e. July 25-26, 2009, many significant channels in the television media didn’t bother too much about other issues and allocated a reasonable amount of their energy and prime time for the martyr soldiers and their families.
Sadly for the family members of the martyrs, the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces (read: The President of India) failed to keep her date with India’s national heroes of Kargil War. Although we do believe the same was due to unavoidable circumstances, one also has to realise that the occasion means something that is significantly historic; and absence in the same is surely expected to raise hackles of critics and supporters alike. So while Pratibha Patil remained conspicuous by her absence in Drass where the commemoration was being held, the media took it to the people at large all across the nation.
Amongst all the ceremonies, what has been conveniently forgotten in between – or should we say, relegated to the bottom cabinets – is the loss of numerous lives in the summer of ’99. Those lives were not just valuable, it is a fact that many of those who died were also young officers and jawans freshly out of military academies who willingly gave up their lives for a nation and for the reason that without that victory, the strategic paradigm of India and perhaps even the map of India could have changed forever.
Certainly, the Pakistani intrusion was not an impulsive one and it was clearly aimed at cutting off NH-1 and thus Siachen. A prolonged war instead of a quick victory would have spread the war beyond Kargil to other fronts in Rajasthan and Punjab. The situation then could have gone completely out of control and with the threat of a nuclear war looming large, India would have been forced by international community to negotiate with a recalcitrant and cunning Pakistan. The quick and decisive victory was thus critical and came at a price.
But the Indian Army didn’t forget to honour the sacrifice of those young and brave men who were not fighting for any political formation, not for the government but for the country. It was inspiring to see the candlelit hills of Drass. But the real question is, why should we have a grandeur of a celebration only once in ten years? Why cannot we have a similar service every year for every victory of India? And why should it not be commemorated in every significant institution of India?
In countries like Israel, every student is taught about the dark days of the Holocaust and they are made to realise the sacrifice of Jews from the time of the Holocaust till date. It is important for India to tell its progeny about the likes of Vikram Batra, Vijayant Thapar and Sandeep Unnikrishnan and make them be able to distinguish between the real and selfless heroes from the surreal and fake ones, more so because India’s progeny is growing up watching ridiculous and meaningless reality shows where answering questions on one’s private life has become the definition of courage unlimited.
Indian media has been akin to the brother-in-arms with the armed forces to take the valour of young men to the nation. The act of the army and media vindicated why the spirit of India and its future is bright against all odds. Yet, one should not forget that each passing day, when the jawans of CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and even men from the Indian Army give up their lives fighting terrorists of all shades, their sacrifice and valour is no less than those who died in Kargil.
But one still wonders, why is it so difficult for a trillion dollar economy to spend a few millions to provide our brave young men with bullet proof jackets? Vikram Batra and many of his brothers would have perhaps been alive then to narrate their stories. The storyline we have attempted to promote is the fact that patriotism is a leading reason for the members of our defence forces to feel unbelievably committed towards the nation and its people. At the same time, a forgetful nation – or one that does not pay enough back in emotion – faces the danger of having one’s own superheroes question themselves on whether they are really needed or not. And that, with true friends like Pakistan, is the last thing we need.
By:- Pathikrit Payne
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