"I (name) hereby solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India, as by law established and that I will, as in duty bound honestly and faithfully, serve in the regular Army of the Union of India and go wherever ordered, by land, sea or air, and that I will observe and obey all the commands of the President of the Union of India and the commands of any officer set above me, even to the peril of my life."
-The Oath of the Indian Army
The salute got noticed, but not the resolve behind it. The forward march gets noticed but not the action it holds. The protection and warmth we feel, the security of living in our country is noticed, but not the sacrifices that it cost.
They stand at the Siachen Glacier, they come to our rescue whenever and wherever needed. They do everything for us, and yet time and again we forget they too are normal people, just like you and me. People who have shed their luxuries for their country and lead a tough life that is beyond our imaginations. They are our soldiers.
Who is a soldier? Mathematically, a soldier is the difference between our miseries and our secure comfortable present + bright assured futures. A soldier is our last strand of hope before disaster befalls us.
At least one Indian soldier loses his life every 3 days on our frontiers battling for the peace and security that we are experiencing right now. Isolated from their loved ones, these fearless men show immense courage and determination to bound the country together and prevent its infiltration.
The barren and cold pass of Batalik houses our soldiers. You can't breathe there and the lungs scream for oxygen. The air is rarefied and at 15000 ft above sea level, it is impossible to be normal because the human body is accustomed to only certain limits. And yet, there are our soldiers, battling the cold and the enemy, climbing up the rough and untamed terrain with 20kgs worth of gear on his back. Unlike the politicians, bureaucrats or any other common people, the soldiers of the Indian Army simply cannot get away with the excuse "we tried our best". They just win or they lose.
Despite all the appearances, do we actually empathize with our soldiers? Do we know how it's like to live every single minute of our life like its our last?
The fear eats you alive, raw, consuming and unrelenting... The fear that you might never see your 6 year old daughter smiling up affectionately at you and carry her on your shoulders. Fear that you cannot fulfill the vows you gave to your wife, fear that you may not live up to the hopes of your countrymen. The fear is not of the death, but of the possibility that you may not be able to be there for your family.
This is the fear that our soldiers live with every day.
There's the courage of facing the enemy hidden somewhere up there, unknown and aware of their every single move. The desperate need lie low on the ground with the weapons straining on their arms, being forever alert and eyes moving everywhere for the enemies who creep down on them like panthers. And yet, they bravely surge forward with the determination of protecting their beloved nation, not asking questions, not expecting answers.
We cannot even argue the reason for which they do all this. With individual dignity and pride not lost, they march forward with the spirit and confidence that can never be matched. Who can march right up to the clutches of death with a smile on their faces and a chant on their lips?
For every breath that we take, a soldier gets injured out there. Hundreds of soldiers die because of ambushes and we don't even know about it. It's a real matter of shame that we sometimes hardly know if such an incident occurs, let alone the names of the martyrs. Is it that the Indian urban elite just don't care about anything that happens away from the major cities? They deserve neither the ingratitude nor the neglect. In fact, they deserve just the opposite. A moment of hesitation from them can mean destruction of the whole country, our lives. That's the extent of importance of them in our lives, though we don't realize it. Just like breathing...
..We plan our new holiday plan as India bleeds. The Army manning our borders, braving heavy odds and fighting till the last bullet, the last tank and the last man. It's not a life that anyone envies.
Reports have shown that more soldiers die of suicide than from being attacked. What is the reason that makes these brave men who face the enemy so courageously show such cowardice?
Sleepless nights, meager salaries, the prolonged stress, lack of morale and the strain often drive these men to depression.
In addition, the helplessness of not being able to help his family during their crises, the denial of leave even in the case of domestic problems is probably enough to drive any man to the brink and force him to take this extreme step. Like every other person, they have their own family problems, property disputes, but unlike every other person, they can do nothing about it.The nature of his duty prevent him to fight the long cases pending in court. The government has no time to tackle the issue when there are crores to be made by everyone. But for God's sake take care of our soldiers who give us an opportunity to live our lives...
The western countries that stand tall today are not defended by heir soldiers. They do not even fight wars in their own soil. The US military presence is in more than 100 countries for one or the other reason. They don't hesitate in launching preemptive strikes either. On the other hand, our army is busy in containing internal insurgencies and now flushing terrorists out of 5 star hotels. I still get goosebumps whenever I recall the courageous acts pulled off by these warriors in one of the most atrocious terrorist attack in our nation, that on 26/11, in Mumbai. An attack so brazen that left the country reeling in shock for days afterward.
But amid the chaos, there emerged stories of incredible heroism shown by our Army, and our internals security forces in the face of terror, proving that despite the spoils of anti-elements who seek to destroy the peace and security in existence, the nobility and spirit of humanity and valor will always defeat it and shine through the smallest crack available to light the world.
More than ten years ago, the Indian armed forces fought a tough battle against a crafted enemy, against the forces of nature, not only to defend the nation but to give it the most resounding victory in one of the most challenging war India has ever fought. In return, they ask for little else than a place in people's memory. Given the fickle nature of the pubic, it's not easy to gain the well deserved appreciation for the Indian Armed Forces. The battle for recognition continues, as well the battle for remembrance, against a nation that seems to think that giving floral tributes and gratitude on paper is enough, as well as is comfortable in tucking away a lasting memory as just that, a memory.
It is not easy to imagine the life of a soldier, up there, whether Siachen (where temperatures can dip to as low as -50 degree centigrade) or Batalik, with the wind searing your windpipe, chilling your brains and making your eyes weep with pain and lungs crying out in exhaustion. Brave . That's what these men are. One soldier dies for us every other day, and more will die.
Kargil Jawan Divas is celebrated on July 26th. If you worship your cricket idol or bollywood star, think for a moment; there are thousands of people at our borders who deserve it much more than them. We must salute them for their sacrifice and let their deaths not go to waste, unacknowledged and unnoticed...
"The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."
-Douglas MacArthur quotes
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