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Weekends are times for relaxation when we can indulge in endless tweeting, chatting, messaging, gaming without any guilt. But sometimes a group chat leads to a serious discussion & the weekend is spent thinking & over thinking about what people said, what you could have said, what you should have said, but didn’t.  I was part of such a discussion this weekend where someone started discussing the Indian Army. Many questions were raised, some heated arguments followed, and as it usually happens soon everyone decided to agree to disagree which is just a diplomatic way of saying “I think you are wrong!”

The statements/ questions in bold which were raised there I write down below. The answers are a mix of what was said by me & others on the group.

army

Are Indians too emotional when it comes to their Army?

Yes, maybe. But Indians are emotional about everything. We cry when our favourite actor dies, we thump our chests when we win the World Cup, defeating Pakistan in any sport or form is as good as winning a war. So yeah we are an emotional lot. And why not? We are humans. And humans feel! Why should we be ashamed if we get emotional when we see a young soldier carried back home wrapped in the tricolour? Why did he die? Did he die because he lacked courage? No. Did he die doing his duty? Unlikely, since his duty was to fight. Instead he was used as cannon fodder. 

But isn’t it their duty to die? Don’t they get paid for it? Didn’t they choose it?

No! It is not their duty to die. It is their duty to fight. It is their duty to protect their country. But it hurts that little bit extra when you see a young man die, gunned down by terrorists, his hands & feet bound up by obedience to his Government & discipline. As each new Government carries on with its fake niceties of “Aman ki aasha” & “peace talks” countless soldiers die in this undeclared war which Pakistan has been waging against India since its very inception. The soldiers do get paid for it but what can recompense a life? What amount on a cheque can make up for an injustice done to you by your own Government who buys cheap fighter planes, defective & discarded weapons? Also, the ones earning a fat pay cheque aren’t the ones braving the bullets at the LOC. The ones involved in scams may not even have seen what the LOC looks like. But for the poor soldier who is there, fighting to his last breath, why is it so wrong to cry for him? 

These brave men did choose to serve in the Indian Army. But shouldn’t that be just one more reason to be grateful to them? Imagine if we didn’t have an army made up of volunteers. All able bodied citizens would then have been forced to take up military duties then. Are we ready for that? We just recently discovered that we are not even OK with standing in queues to withdraw or deposit money. If we are so irritated in working for our own benefit, we can just imagine how angry our young men would be if they are forced into the army where death stares them in the face, where they might not be able to talk to their families & friends for weeks together, where discipline is the way of life & not something you pretend to have when in public or with your in – laws. 

The Army does its duty.

Another argument put forth was that the army is just doing its work, its duty. (I am grateful that the person at least agreed that the army does its duty unlike a few others who weren’t even willing to give them that much.) So what is the big deal in that?

I think in today’s world where shirking duties is the norm, where a person who can dump his work on some poor unsuspecting soul is considered smart, in such a world if a person does his duty, then yes he gets my appreciation. Before we dismiss the army saying ‘they are just doing their duty’ it would do us well to remind ourselves that nowadays doing ones duty is getting rarer. All of us at some point or the other have not done our duty. Leave alone our personal duties, how many of us can say that they have voted in every election since they reached the legal age? Voting, a national duty, is more of a national holiday. And we dare to pontificate to our Army, the institution which has been doing its duty tirelessly?

Even sewage workers put their lives in danger. 

I remember reading this for the first time in some newspaper. The headlines was such that a casual reader would feel the writer is talking about dignity of labour. Only on further reading do we get to the real thing. He said that even sewage workers in India put their lives in danger every day, then what is so special about what the army does? Isn’t the sewage worker saving your life when he keeps your city clean? So again what makes the army so special?

I believe in dignity of labour & think no one, irrespective of their profession or lack thereof, should be treated badly. Though I disagree with this comparison. Firstly a sewage worker can be respected even without disrespecting the army. 

Second, if push comes to shove & the city starts getting dirty with no sewage workers to be found, if people start dying due to health problems caused by the ever increasing filth then eventually all of us will need to start cleaning up our cities. We would willingly put our lives in danger because we would know that once we clean up, the health conditions of people would gradually improve. Also, the rich could hire people to clean up for them! 

How many of us can make it through the tough qualification process of the Army? How many of us can go and fight an advancing army? How many of us can buy an army & ensure it fights for us? Buying an army might still be possible, but how do we ensure that they wont be bought over by the enemy at a higher price, thus leading to our doom? That is why the army is different from the sewage worker & automatically gets more respect. They have the physical ability, the training & the loyalty to save us & our country, a combination of the three qualities which are found ONLY with them. 

 

I am an old school person & hence understand that rights & duties go hand in hand. I for one am eternally grateful to my Army because of whose efforts I can have a sound sleep. I am grateful even to their families who send off their young children to serve not knowing when/ if they would return. It isn’t easy to part with your child, to give him up for a cause & yet countless parents do it year after year. Gratitude may come across as foolishness to the modern thinkers but if someone does something for me & mine, in return expects nothing, then I think he automatically earns my undying gratitude & respect. I would rather be a fool than an ingrate!

 

 

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