Sunday, January 4, 2009
Con the Military - Our leaders are peace lovers!!!
Right from early 1000s AD we saw the rise of invasion and with a scrutiny of the battles those took place with the recorded history and legends, we find that the military blunders of generosity during war to undeserving enemies, cost us most dear. Prithviraj Chauhan made a blunder of not killing Muhammad Shahab-Ud-Din Ghori after the First Battle of Tarain. That cost us most dear with that greedy fellow coming again with an army of 120000 men and smashing the then-in-feud Rajput forces. The culture of pardoning the loser, not attacking those leave the battle field, etc were not to be shown to such invaders who come to amass the wealth we had.
Our culture was spoiled by the aggressors. Our temples were ransacked and ruined, because we kept most of our valued wealth there. Right from the pre-Somnath days, history tells us, that the people had united to save their soil, but not the leaders. The massacre at Somnath by Mahmud of Ghazni, before he looted it speaks in volume about this. Take any aggression in history, the leaders, after an initial failure had given up. The spirit to fight to the end was lacking in our leaders, may be due to the sophistication they enjoyed in lifestyle.
The civilization was at it's peak, so it was obvious that a decline had to start per the law of life cycle. But, the spirit to save the people, the honor, and the culture was lacking. They had fought for their kingdoms and if lost they quit. None ever thought of a collective armed forces to face the enemy. But we had impeccable talents. The cavalry of Rajputs, the Navy of Cholas and the tactical genius of our Kings and their Generals, were wasted with infighting. The concept of a grand military force to fight any invasion was not even thought of. The powerful religious leaders, who enjoyed warm hospitality even with hostile kings, had not come up with this idea.
The British paid good money and attention to the Indians in the armed forces, because they needed people to fight for them in the world wars, since they had better been able to jaw jaw than war war due to their age. Even then, we were instructed to be subservient to the British officers. A Briton with a month's training would command an Indian veteran in the army. Such was their administration.
Even after independence in 1947, our peace loving leaders paid scant attention to the needs of the armed forces. We have a legend that the defense minister had refused to sanction money for proper dress materials to brave the icy climate of Siachen and had to be taken to Siachen to realize that such a cold climate needs something more than a sweater and shawl. The armed forces were looked upon with contempt as undemocratic, anti-socialistic, and war mongering elements. But the fact that most of the socialistic economies thrived on the power of armed forces and intelligence agencies, were not realized by our peace loving and friendship mongering leaders.
We blundered by submitting the already won Kashmir to the UN arbitration in 1948. The soldiers who fought for us to push back the aggressors, were left to eat crows. When we were back stabbed in 1962 by China, our people realized that propagating peace with anyone and everyone would not be enough to live in peace. The lesson given to us by the Chinese aggression was to be strong enough to defend ourselves, before propagating global peace. But was that lesson learnt? NO is the answer.
During the 1965 war with Pakistan our forces captured land uptil Karachi, but we had settled for a status quo, in a deal brokered by an international terrorist, even though we had an option of settling the Kashmir issue favorably then. There are differences between intelligence version and the official story on the reason for the death of our then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent. We're peace lovers, so we did not even inquire into that.
We supported Mukti Bahini and liberated Bangladesh, but yet our forces suffer humiliating tortures from Bangla army and our leaders protest that in strongest possible words and go on with the routine life. Above all, our politicians play vote bank politics with the Bangla refugees, given fact that we fought a war to send them back to their piece of land.
After Kargil, we welcomed Pervez Musharraf as a state guest, but any other nation in the world would have tried him as a war criminal had he done the same to them. With all these wars fought and won, we still gave back all the captured territory (to be used as training ground for anti-India terrorists?) and speak about peace. This is the respect we show to the men who dared death in fighting for us, to set right the political mistakes we've committed. This tells in the dwindling number of our men out of college and school preferring a career with our armed forces.
As General Douglas MacArthur said, “The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” With politicians who care for a perfect photo shot while laying wreath on the corpse, we cannot expect respect for the corps. No one would choose to die for being disrespected, ridiculed and belittled. A politician commands more respect amongst the civil servants and Government officers than a soldier. The Honor, Duty and Country were given as motivating factors to military men, but when the honor is off, the duty to save the country would be a trouble to do. A nation which had dishonored the saviors had never lived with honor and in peace.
Why am I swearing and lamenting so much? Because again our politicians, with a history of sidelining armed forces for petty, short term and self centric benefits, have again played bloody politics with them. The Government has downgraded the military with the sixth pay commission and refused to correct it still. The bureaucrats who are famous for their sloth have been given an upper hand over the Army.
Till recently, for any meeting of national security importance, army/navy/air force officers would call the police and other civil administration officers in the concerned locality and address them. Now having the military downgraded, there would be a clash of ranks. The Civil service officers, renowned for their indolence backed by the rule book, would procrastinate decision of national importance, citing their rank and the way they are addressed by the military.
The pay and pension for the armed forces are also compromised, with the denial of One Rank One Pension, a longtime demand of the armed forces. The OROP is an issue of emotional importance to them and we've initiated yet another round of insults to the armed forces with the denial of this. Our politicians have thought that the army could also be taken for a ride as they do with their vote bank, promise ever but fullfil never. If the armed forces lose their morale, hopefully they have not, we would be finished as a nation. That fateful moment is not far off, as gentlemen keep off the armed forces and officers keep on getting insults.
I have the audacity to say that "had my nation been ruled by a person, born and brought up in my nation, at least my brothers in the armed forces would not have suffered this insult". My rulers are obedient servants of their masters. Masters of my rulers are alien to my cultural ethos. I pray to God that He initiate a change in the mindsets of my people to save my nation.