“Theirs not to reason why,Theirs but to do and die.”
These words from the poem “The Charge Of The Light Brigade” are often quoted to show the dedication of the armed force. The CRPF personnel massacred in Pulwama were also following orders. The nation was still coming to grips with it when there was another encounter and four more Bravehearts lost their lives. This one hit harder home as one of the Bravehearts Major Dhoundiyal, was from my hometown of Dehradun. The news channels and Indian twitter was awash with the scenes of brave send off by the wife of Major Dhoundiyal. Shock, horror, anger, sadness, these myriad emotions chased one another in my mind when I first read about the carnage in Pulwama. My eyes couldn’t help but water up at visuals, first the tricolour-draped coffins, scenes of the carnage and then the young lady’s courage.
My father sent me a picture of the newspaper, there were two stories side by side. The first was about Major Dhoundiyal, his martyrdom and his brave wife. The second story was about the rent owed by the former chief ministers to the state of Uttarakhand for overstaying the in official accommodations. My father asked us for our views/reactions to the two stories. At first, the two stories had me dumbfound, a little later I was filled with a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. The two news reports showed the dichotomy of Indian society. The first news report showed the courage of a simple yet extraordinary family, of how even their lives don’t matter if for the greater good of the country. The second news report showed the dishonest politicians, the ones who have made a career out of siphoning money and are not even the teeniest bit apologetic about it.
I fail to see a future for a country where the politicians, like parasites, keep sucking the money and resources meant for the nation. A country where soldiers and policemen are treated as cannon fodder to pander to the delusions of grandeur by the politicians. A country which uses the Republic Day parade to massage the ego of a nation who, in truth, doesn’t really seem to be much interested in the welfare of people who protect our country. While we all watch, hearts swelling with pride, the columns marching by; While we listen to the politicians mouthing empty platitudes; The same governments sign their death warrants when they sign defence deals for sub-standard products and pocket millions of dollars; When they make wrong policy decisions and send these brave men to the point of the no return.
The point to ponder is if only the politicians are to be blamed and not the citizens of India? It would be a fallacy to put the entire blame only on the corrupt politician and absolve ourselves of the moral duty as citizens of this country. We have been given the power of the vote, unfortunately, most of us vote according to our caste, region or religion. We let the politicians get away with pocketing the change as we do not hold them responsible for their work and policies. We, in fact, accept the corruption of the politicians( irrespective of party lines) and therein lies the biggest problem of our democracy “Accountability”. We do not hold our politicians accountable and thus they behave with impunity. If you hear any politician’s speech, the blunder is always made by the other party, they themselves will never, ever own up to their failures and their ineptitudes. Apart from harming the nation, this has affected our armed services the most. For us the scams of defence deals like Bofors, MIG parts and Rafale are only newspaper news, it is our armed forces who have to bear the full brunt of these. The citizens of our country rather than asking our netas questions fall in the trap of endless shouting matches which masquerade as TV debates. Our patriotism is somehow limited to shouting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” or in forwarding Whatsapp messages and sharing videos on Facebook. We get agitated and influenced by the people spewing venom instead of words and start baying for blood, without any thought of consequences.
Maybe its time we made our politicians accountable. The next time your neta comes asking for the vote, ask them. Ask them what they did with their MPLADS fund, ask them about what they did about development in your area, ask them to show you the proof, ask them about their foreign junkets and farmhouses, ask them about the cases pending against them, ask them about the cases against them which vanished the moment they came in power. Make them accountable rather than accepting it and saying “Yeh India hai, Yahan sab chalta hai”.
The time is ripe in India for the mandatory draft for all the citizens of India. I am quite sure that the Armed forces will not be happy with all the riff-raff coming in but I do think that this is the only way that our armchair patriots and defence experts will learn what truly loving the country means. It will teach them the courage to actually work for their country and not just wave the tricolour on 15th August and 26th January. The so-called activists of all the parties, the ones who stand up for our culture, our religion, our cow, our downtrodden, our secularism, should be the first ones to be drafted under this scheme. Maybe then they will realise what facing the enemy truly means(and no it doesn’t mean beating up someone just because they disagreed with you).
In this age of instant news and social media, the martyrdom of these soldiers will be buried under other news very soon( it is already happening, barely a week after the first attack). There is an old song sung by Lata Mangeshkar, “Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon” which implores people to remember the sacrifices made by our soldiers It is a song we all should listen to, over and over again, lest we forget that martyrdom of even a single soldier doesn’t only affect his family, his village, his town, but it affects the nation as a whole.
I am not a trained analyst who can objectively look at issues and find a solution. I am a simple person who is affected by the senseless loss of lives. Ideally, I would like to live in a world which has no conflict, but I am a realist enough to know that it is not possible. I can, however, hope and pray that such horror doesn’t happen again.