by Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd)

THE call of the Prime Minister to have a thank you ‘din session’ on March 22 is long overdue for the millions who have been slogging, and still have a tough task ahead. While this is certainly for the medics, nurses, public transport operators, home delivery personnel, sanitation workers et al, one can well add a few more who have been doing seva quietly — coronavirus or not. So, when I clap this Sunday, I would also be expressing gratitude for a few more, whom many Indians do not know much about.

Medical services and staff are always caregivers, but spare a thought for personnel of the Army Medical Corps who are in the frontline with the Army — in the very trenches where the adversary trains his fire. On the Siachen Glacier, they serve for months, though the other soldiers are compulsorily brought out after three months. Ever heard of any media coverage for them while the others are in the limelight? Similarly, popping flash bulbs focus on Air Force pilots in their flying overalls, but behind every Siachen helicopter rescue covered in the media, or giving backup to every fighter sortie, are the hardworking technical personnel. They are up on duty in the dark, getting the aircraft ready for the first sortie to take off at the crack of dawn — in the blistering heat of Jaisalmer, or the numbing cold at Siachen Base Camp, day in and day out! Hats off to you guys — what would we pilots have done without you? Our lives have always been in your hands, and you have delivered every time!

And slogging out — absolutely unheralded — are the logisticians. They work from their offices, warehouses, forward logistics bases and in the langars of the infantry platoons on the frontline, aircrew rooms and messes in forward air bases and ships on the high seas. What would the war fighter have done, but for the hot mug of tea and the simple puri-aloo dished out with such love! And let’s not forget, they provision the armament too — so, here’s to all the logisticians for the great job they are doing!

And then, a logistician of a different class — the wife back home, without whom nothing can happen. We menfolk are up and away, without a care for the myriad issues and problems of running the house — the schooling of kids, their falling sick, looking after aged parents and in-laws, and so many more, but still sending you off and receiving you with a smile on your return home. That’s a dedication and love for which one wonders whether any Sunday ‘din session’ would do justice.

So, friends, let the clapping of hands and banging of utensils this Sunday convey our gratitude to the coronavirus warriors; let it also be heard at the Sia La post on Siachen, at the Campbell naval base deep down in the Andamans, and at the IAF’s advanced airstrip at Mechuka in our far East.