Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The hyper national love for Army

#JustSaying The Indian Army ( and by correlation Navy and Air Force) as an institution is perhaps the unifying force of a nation , which has always been a loose federation since times immemorial . It was founded by the British and has stood the test of time , courage, honour and many upheveals . From a force raised to safe guard the interests of colonial rulers it has transformed itself as the defenders of the sovereign Republic. Justifiably, it makes us proud and we should always uphold the sacrifices made by the soldier on a very high pedestal.

But does the association of the common citizen with the military in our country extend beyond a jingoistic fervour and misplaced focus on our perceived arch enemy , Pakistan . Do the national subconscious hold the army as a part of life . Do we remember them in peacetime and try to integrate them into our daily lives . The answer I believe will be a resounding NO . The fact is, we treat our army no better than our cricket team .

Most of the Indians will not be able to bowl with a proper round arm action or hold the bat properly . A majority doesn't have any idea what a googly is or what constitutes a hit wicket . But most of us are prone to make comments on team composition , batting order and how to bowl wicket taking deliveries . Just like the avid cricket watcher , the average citizen also discusses military strategy, right time to attack and the use of army , in the same manner and with the same expressions of anger and agony.

And then there is always the group of people who don't believe in limits of decency and start using the army as a tool of their hypernational fantasies. With the proliferation of social media on the internet and mobile , these people have their field day in showing their faux nationalism by spreading rumours and using tragedies to garner "likes" and "shares" . Only a few of them really cares for or are deeply affected . To most of these pseudo nationalists and superficial patriots, glorifying the army or over-the-top reactions on soldiers killed in action are just a way to atone for their nonchalant attitude towards the army in their personal spheres of life. More like the cheating trader paying obeisance to his God. It lifts up your spirit and absolves your inner self of any wrong doing.

I would like to ask some simple questions to these people who shed crocodile tears over the army and hope they explore these questions with an open heart and an unbiased mind .

1. Why did you not join the Army ?
2. OK, if the pressures to get a job made you skip joining the Army then why didn't you join the Territorial Army later ? What stopped you ?
3.Why did you not send your son/daughter to NCC ?
4.How many of you were or are fit enough to join the Army ?
5.How many of you support compulsory military training for all Indian nationals for a period three years ?
6.How many of you will agree to make it a mandatory requirement for getting jobs, admission to IITs , IIMs and Medical colleges ?
7. How many of you will petition the government to make army training mandatory.

The very common reaction would be that one doesn't have to join the army to love it or speak for it . Yes, yes the same way one need not hold a bat to play cricket and win games . The same way , one need not bother about littering personally to keep India clean . The same way one need not toil in the field to understand why farmer's commit suicide . We have made everything in our lives as a spectator sport . The sight of others' blood thrills us . And when our own blood is spilled it riles us. We are comfortable with others doing the job for us . And because they do our job , they deserve sympathy . Mind it, mere sympathy not empathy.

There are many people who often exhort us to follow the Israeli model of aggressive defence strategy and attack enemy countries . How many of them would bother to emulate that in their personal lives and send kids to the NCC, for starters . But my saying all these won't change anything . When the leadership of the country is immoral and cheats us with false promise then it is always the breeding ground of such foolish sentiments which holds the view that whether in war or in cricket , we have to win against Pakistan . The rest doesn't matter.

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