Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Where Aakar Patel goes flagrantly wrong: the Indian armed forces are not a mercenary entity - By AVM Manmohan Bahadur (Retd)

Is the Indian army a living thing? If Winston Churchill is to be believed any army is so: “If it is bullied, it sulks; if it is unhappy , it pines; if it is harried, it gets feverish.“ But, after Aakar Patel's diatribe (`Nothing can be said about our faujis, they're above criticism,' November 6) it can be added that “if it is debased, it wonders where to seek succour.“ There is a multitude of Indians (yes, armed forces men and women are also Indians) who have been left thunderstruck at the rancour of a fellow Indian and are wondering what drove him to fire his salvo at the Indian army .I am not a student of history like Aakar Patel, who has quoted Alexander the Great's biographers and some other incidents in India's subjugated past to say that the Indian army was a mercenary force that “on August 14, 1947 renamed itself a nationalist army .“ But history also records the exploits of Major Somnath Sharma, who fought the enemy raiders in Badgam and saved the Kashmir Valley from falling to the Pakistanis in 1947. And of Major Shaitan Singh and his band of 109 Kumaonis who fought to the army's credo of “last man, last round“ and died on the frozen hills of Chushul in the 1962 war.
Also, there was a certain Captain MN Mulla, who in the 1971 war went down with his ship in the best traditions of the Indian navy , and Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon single handedly took on Pakistani Sabres and prevented them from attacking Srinagar airfield.And certainly, no one can forget Captain Vikram Batra and his famous quip in 1999, “Yeh dil maange more,“ even as he began his climb to reclaim Point 5140 on the Kargil hills, never to return.
Were these Indians part of a mercenary entity , as Patel would like us to believe? While his aim appeared to be to get even with some political dispensations, it was patently impolite to use the Indian armed forces in his endeavour. Why? Because, the armed forces are apolitical and wince at being used for political ends; they cannot open up but that does not mean they have no feelings.
Feelings aside, what leaves one aghast is the undiluted venom. Patel asks why men and women who clean sewers do not get respect and compensation even when they die, while army men do? Good question, for everyone must get his due. But ever wondered why the cabinet secretary, who sits in an air conditioned office in South Block and hardly ever cleans his own toilet, forget a sewer, gets paid in lakhs? Or why the commander-in-chief stays in a 340 room mansion when people do not have a roof over their head?
Or why so many of us, including Patel, eat three square meals a day when many go hungry in India? Why , you may indeed ask? Because it is the jawan who doesn't flinch going to battle knowing he may not come back. And if the nation has not gone to war these past decades it is because of the deterrent posture of the armed forces ­ unless, to justify why faujis get paid, we must go to war regularly! Yes, India sleeps because its armed forces stand guard. They deserve our salute, even as we acknowledge our sewer cleaners, our teachers, school bus drivers, shopkeepers, homemakers and so many others who together make our India.
Politicians et al who do “competitive bidding“ on dead soldiers as Patel puts it, must be despised. None of us, faujis in uniform and veterans, like to be used as footballs by public figures. Please fight your political battles elsewhere and leave the armed forces alone in their duty to safeguard the integrity of the nation.
To deter (and fight) the adversary the forces need tanks, ships and aircraft, unlike what Patel would have us believe.They don't come cheap but it is a price the country must be willing to pay to equip the war fighter do his duty . In return, all that men and women in uniform want is the unstinted support of their countrymen; and constructive criticism, not malice.
The writer is a retired Air Vice Marshal. Views are personal

(Source- TOI)


  1. Sir, is it necessary to lower oneself to the level of an idiot? If a dog barks when I am walking a street, do I respond it by barking back or do I just carry on without even looking back at the dog. A thought to ponder over. HFO BL Kalra

  2. Aakar Patel fails to discern the sex.if it is enjoyed by a lady who became his mother at the same time done by other one for cash or kind is called harlot.whose son he is should answer first? If reads my comment, I will welcome his reaction, then only I shall comment on his article in times of India .

  3. Who is he to misguide/misquote Army profession? "Leave the Armed Forces Alone."