On yet another auspicious Republic Day, I have something to say, an emotional request, if you will. Before I delve into my message, I want you to watch the video in the tweet below.
I’m sure the short clip moved you deeply. Maybe even brought tears to your eyes. Many of you would’ve watched it again, and possibly again. However, irrespective of how much we watch things like these we can never actually feel the pain of the family of a young man who’s attains martyrdom. And especially not the pain of a mother.
But does that mean we can do nothing for our soldiers and their families? Not at all. The greatest gift we can give our soldiers is that of being citizens worthy of their sacrifices. Each action of ours should be such that it in the interest of our nation. And that’s not too much to ask for, is it?
So how can we be ideal citizens? We don’t need to join the armed forces; not everyone has the heart and mettle to take bullets to the chest. What we can and must do is be more aware of the deeds of our soldiers. They’ve fought five major wars and showed unparalleled courage in major operations such as Operation Meghdoot (Siachen) and Operation Pawan (the one in Sri Lanka). Simultaneously they’ve fought terrorism and Naxalism, dealt with Pakistan’s misadventures on a regular basis on the border, rescued civilians from natural calamities, kept peace in areas simmering with tensions, and served on peacekeeping missions. Overwhelming, right?
We must make a conscious effort to know about the forces, the military traditions, the glorious history, the armaments it employs, and most importantly about those who’ve won gallantry awards. (There are 21 Param Vir Chakra recipients. How many know this simply yet essential fact?) It is our duty to educate ourselves about our forces and pass on the same to the younger generation because we must build a generation that’s sensitive to our soldiers and their families.
As India develops and its population modernises delving itself deeper into technology and a better, richer way of life, the connect with rural areas will diminish. In the quest to urbanise we might lose sensitivity to how our soldiers are brought up in villages, what their families go through when their sons and daughters are at the borders and when the phone rings making their hearts jump praying the call isn’t to inform of a bad news…the emotions must be understood and respected in our daily lives and not just when a soldier loses his life.
The other thing we must do is speak openly and firmly against those who act against the country and the soldiers. Our patriotic stand must be vocal for there are many who want to break our land and are vociferously working towards their goal; it is important to let them see that we won’t let our nation be severed or burnt.
This message written in all earnestness would be a waste if I simply preach what ought to be and not how we can achieve it. Some simple suggestions:
- Keep a few hours aside on weekends to read about the wars India has fought post-independence.
- Even if you do not wish to go into detail you can simply know the names of our gallantry award winners.
- On the birth anniversaries of these legends, can we circulate messages remembering them? We do so for politicians and major events and friends and family, so why not for those who’ve served us selflessly?
- Spend a few minutes on festivals remembering our brave-hearts, maybe lighting a diya in their memory.
- We give gifts to relatives and friends on festivals; can we, on each festival, contribute some amount to funds created for the forces? There are at least 15 major festivals each year. If one person contributes just 50 rupees on each (a total contribution of 750 in a year) and if only 20,000 people follow this – which is puny considering India’s population – then we’ll be able to accumulate 10 lakh rupees on each of these auspicious days for the families of our serving soldiers and martyrs. Can’t we do this much? (You can contribute to the Bharat Ke Veer corpus fund on its website.)
- If someone supports a person who’s explicitly or tacitly supported anti-India forces then face them and tell them they’re wrong and that they should be ashamed of scarring the sacrifices of our uniformed men.
You can think of many more things to do once you put your mind to it. My simple motive behind this message was to arouse and sustain a sense of cognisance towards our soldiers and their families. To remind everyone that even as we live our lives the way we want to, there are lakhs of men and women working 24/7 to safeguard us.
We can follow the idea of the ‘three R’s’ that I’ve thought of:
Reignite their deeds