Sunday, October 26, 2014

POLITICALLY INCORRECT - From Siachen’s heights, NaMo made a cracker of a point on Diwali - SHOBHAA DE

As of now, the man can do no wrong. He is here, he is there, he is everywhere! After 10 years of putting up with a prime minister who was in permanent mute mode, and hardly moved out of the confines of his daftar, perhaps it is a good thing that we now have a guy who is garrulous and voluble, hyperactive and on the go. Critics are saying Narendra Modi is blindly aping American presidents who always made it a point to spend time with their troops over Thanksgiving and X'mas breaks. If that is the case, and our NaMo is indeed doing a `me too', so be it. There he was pumping hands with our soldiers stationed at Siachen, sharing homilies, bonhomie and mithai with lonely men stuck in an icy , hostile post, miles away from their loved ones. It was a gracious gesture, even if the idea was to create extra goodwill, milk the photo ops and generate more votes. That’s what smart politicians do! It is an inseparable part of their job description. As strategies go, this one was superbly timed, as was his visit (and a hefty Rs 750-crore relief package) to Srinagar. Leaders are picked for these very qualities. And even at the risk of sounding cynical, it must be said, a Modi-on-the-move is better than a Modi-sitting-tight.

A while ago, I happened to be sitting next to a fauji wife on a plane. Here was a young, modern woman, bright as a button, well-informed, articulate, outspoken and feisty. She spoke about her life as an Army wife with incredible fervour and pride. The mehendi on her hands told me she had observed Karva Chauth. So had her dashing husband, she informed me! It was that kind of a marriage, she said with a twinkle in her eye. They did everything together — they always had. From the time they’d married 20-odd years ago, after a whirlwind romance. I asked about long separations, anxieties and uncertainties. How did she cope when he was away? As it turns out, he had served in Siachen. And in J&K during the worst skirmishes. Being a Military Intelligence man, she never knew where he had been sent or for how long. By then, they had a young child, and any form of direct communication was out of the question when her husband was on a special mission. She had trained herself to wait… to pray… to never give up hope. Like thousands of young fauji wives who believe the Army is their extended family, no matter what happens.

Late one night, her husband came back from a secret assignment and knocked lightly on the bedroom window so as not to wake up the sleeping infant. He was wounded on his right arm and face.

He had taken a bad hit and could barely move or speak. For the next few weeks, he stayed home to recuperate — even though he was injured, she was just glad for their time together as she nursed him back to health. She talked about another incident when militants in the Valley attacked the home of another Army officer, who returned the fire but was grievously injured. As the militants closed in, two young daughters pleaded with their mother to kill them first, before the militants could get them.

Listening to her deeply stirring stories of valour and faith, I thought about our safe, protected city lives. This gutsy, proud woman’s narrative is just one of many. Today, she said emphatically, she has confidence in the new Prime Minister’s ability to motivate a tired and demoralized Army. For far too long, she insisted, our soldiers were made to heedlessly sacrifice their lives, because of political interference and an appalling level of corruption that had left the country vulnerable and weakened. She was glad Modi was taking a tough, aggressive stand.

She felt reassured and confident that a zero-tolerance position was being established against those using force against India. And then she told me something pretty chilling. “They were told to DUCK bullets and not fire back! Can you imagine any trained, self-respecting soldier ducking enemy bullets?” she said, her eyes were burning with outrage.

Was that the reason her own husband had finally quit the Army…in disgust? She denied it. But it left me wondering….

We treat our armed forces with scant respect. We have consistently ignored the demand for introducing the overdue OROP scheme (One Rank, One Pension). Fauji veterans have waited in vain for its implementation by the newly minted BJP-led government at the Centre, after previous administrations consistently ignored their appeals. It was a black Diwali for them this year. Hapless, frustrated veterans went so far as to return gallantry awards and medals to register their protest.Despite these setbacks, our men in uniform are stoically carrying on. Narendra Modi thanked our brave jawans on behalf of 125 crore Indian citizens, telling them we could sleep well at night only because it was they who were keeping us safe. It is true. It needed to be said.

Strange and sad nobody thought of saying it earlier.

(Source- Oct 26 2014 : The Times of India (Hyderabad)


  1. We have no other option but to wait and see towards the politicians and bureaucrats as to when they will get time from their happy and luxurious time to think about ex-defence people for fulfiling their long pending demand of OROP. Thank you and JAI HIND.

  2. All parties have more or less been liberal in giving a pat on the back or a medal here and a medal there but when it comes to making their life a little easy if not greatly comfortable no party has so far been liberal and have been rather unfair , Mr. Modi / BJP too have still to prove and go beyond a word or two in one speech after another. OROP was announced before HOLI , DIWALI is gone; Waiting for what and till when O Raksha mantri ji O Pradhan mantri ji -----

  3. Anyway OROP now stands buried. The FM&RM combined has advised us to 'tone down...expectation..' and also plans to constitute a Tribunal for OROP, to echo His(their) Masters Voice. Let us wait for another 5 years to get fresh promises from the NDA & UPA.

  4. The military brass distanced itself when pension of jawans was brought to 50 percent from 75 in the 111 pay commission and the same is happening now as regards OROP. At least they can now emulate the PM and floor our jawans with the gift of gab! Results and deeds are preferred than speeches