For those who abandon all sense of responsibility, and facts, when talking about the Indian Army

by A Y Joshi

My father gave the best part of his life to the country, to the Indian Army. I grew up in cantonments, mixing and mingling with other army brats. The tank to me was a big deal, literally. My brother had nearly broken his jaw while attempting to walk on the barrel of one. The magnificence of that machine, the power, the precision, the sound is unforgettable. I was never bothered by its fierceness and lethal intent because I firmly believed, as I still do, that it is on my side. Try having a tank on your side, and you will see the enemy vanish. You will see them shaking in their boots. Long story short, you will see them give up.

The Indian Army holds the same significance in my heart. It is firmly on my side. It has the same magnificence, power, precision, fierceness, and lethal intent. Try having it on your side for a change. You might see the difference.

There are, however, many who neither understand the Army, nor its intent. There are those, who question its loyalty and its effectiveness. In recent times, the Army has been under heavy friendly fire, so to say, from within the country.

The first of its many detractors come from are our political rank. Some call the army goonda, some question the surgical strikes of 2016, and some fire from its shoulders asking why we don’t see people from a particular state ever attaining martyrdom. There is one thing common amongst all these politicians. They have been ruling on the politics of ‘secularism’. They would definitely be hard pressed to explain the concept of secularism other than putting it as ‘anything to beat the perceived communal forces’.

Let me tell you first hand that the concept is well understood, and followed to the core by the Indian Army. The Indian Army is apolitical as well as areligious. I have grown up going to temples, mosques, and churches. I have never given thought to a person’s caste, creed, or anything similar. Do you know why? It is because I grew up with the most secular institution of this nation, the Indian Army. All this talk of a person’s birth and his god only came to my ears, when I left the sanity of the cantonment. So my dear ‘secular’ leaders, please spend some time with the Indian Army to learn the concept. It might help you better plan the 2019 strategy. Let me leave you with a quote from Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

I wonder those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defensive of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla, although a great many resemble the latter.

The second kind of critics of the Indian Army belong to, or have sympathies for, the separatist groups. They have political ideologies not matching the great republic of ours. They keep talking about the excesses carried out by the soldiers. Let me first tell them that the Indian Army, like any other, is pained at dealing with the internal situation in a country. They understand that they are dealing with the citizens. Given the situation, however, they are forced to operate in those places. Those places that are of strategic importance to the nation.

I do not discount the fact that there may be a few bad apples in this great institution too, but that does not amount to blaming the whole institution. I guess many of them would understand this. That is because they are ones who keep talking that a few terrorists do not represent an entire community. It is the Army that in addition to maintaining the security, helps in developing those troubled areas. This is the same Army that saves you them from floods.

Biased as they are and will remain, think what Major Gogoi did. He saved his team and many others by his quick thinking. He had the option of opening fire and would have been justified in doing so. Now think what they did.

They killed their own brother who was working in the Indian Army. The criticism from this side cannot be reasoned with. The Army will have to live on and continue eliminating threats to the national security. For those anti-national detractors of the army, please remember, that the army does not teach to lay down one’s life. It teaches to take the enemy’s. I am reminded of a line that is quoted about the Indian Army:

Only the best of friends and the worst of enemy visit us

The third kind of detractors come from the general public. Ones that know only the parties, liquor, and the canteen facilities that the army personnel get. This country does not have conscription, and the Indian Army is a cent percent voluntary force. Whenever the subject of the army comes up, some people ( including those highly educated) make loose comments about the Army. If they look beyond their perception of liquor and canteen, they will find army personnel operating in sub human conditions. They will find spouses leading lives without their husbands; they will find children growing up without their fathers. My dad could not be on time for his father’s funeral. He could not see me grow up. That’s because he was posted in Kashmir and Punjab. I wish that each one of us can give a few years of our lives to the Indian Defence Services before we open our ignorant mouths about the army.

There is a lot that we do not know about our army, about our army men. There is a lot that we do not know about their supreme sacrifices. We have short memories and smaller gratitude.

We have been in multiple wars since Independence. Our economy, our political class, our liberals, our leftists, our extremists, our separatists, these are not the things that protect us. The only reason we still exist is that the Indian Army, stand with us. It has the same magnificence, power, precision, fierceness, and lethal intent as that of a tank. Try having it on your side for a change!

Let me leave you with a final quote from Lt. Arun Khetarpal, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra. This twenty-one-year-old laid down his life in the 1971 battle. To the ones who do not think a tank can inspire nationalism, here are his final words.

“No Sir, I will not abandon my tank. My gun is still working, and I will get these bastards.”