Stand by me

On a particularly sad day when the Indian Army lost seven brave soldiers to a cowardly terrorist attack on the army camp at Nagrota, I opened my Facebook account late evening to check the newsfeed. Some stunning contradictions stared me in the face.

The left side of my Facebook page bore a small requiem from a civilian friend about the dastardly attack and how all this is so utterly deplorable. It had garnered about 66 ‘likes’ in about 12 hours, a modest total by my standards. The right half of my FB newsfeed that contains ‘trending’ items and sponsored links showed me that the most trending thing at that time was ‘Yuvraj Singh & Hazel Keech’s wedding’ – 18000 people were talking about it. 23000 people were talking about a Delhi High Court decree that a son has no legal right to property owned by his parents. 57000 people were also talking about actor Aamir Khan’s dramatic body transformation for the Bollywood movie ‘Dangal’.

As a stark contrast to all this, the terrorist attack on Nagrota was trending with 17000 people talking about it – lowest among the four items trending at 2000h on 30 Nov 16.

Today is 4th December – Navy day. I viewed my rather barren Facebook page which bore the occasional post garnering a few likes, often in single digits. A recent post by me on why our soldiers require modern helicopters was going down without a fight to someone’s latest profile pic. I shrugged my shoulders and moved on, resolving to do better next time. But what of our soldiers who are being paraded on Facebook without the honour & respect due to them through our actions in real life?

I scrolled back to the sad update about the Nagrota attack & wondered whether contributing an emoticon or hitting ‘Like’ would make any difference to the martyred soldiers or their distraught families at a time of grave tragedy. I ground my teeth and let it pass. Maybe I am as guilty as the netizen who put out the soldiers’ photograph. Perhaps by not hitting that ‘like’ or ‘comment’ box, in some small way, I contributed to the fact that a terrorist attack on one of our frontline outposts was trending much lower on social media than a cricketer’s wedding.

It is an important day for our Navy, a good time to make some promises to our soldiers if we really care.

If you respect the soldier, make that trip to your neighbouring city or village to attend his last rites when he is martyred.

If you respect the soldier, shake his hand or offer him a warm smile next time you cross him at a busy juncture in life.

If you respect the soldier, make your voice count when self-proclaimed intellectuals and armchair theorists propagate the ‘he signed up for it’ theory.

If you respect the soldier, ask yourself what you have done for their families after they made the ultimate sacrifice. Do you know of even ONE such family to whose welfare you have committed even a SINGLE day?

If you respect the soldier, take his children for a day out to the nearest mall or amusement park while their fathers are guarding our frontiers.

If you respect the soldier, stand up for him when his position in society is weakened by successive governments.

If you respect the soldier, ask your connections in high places to offer them a chance at resettlement when he steps out of uniform with scars of service, both physical & mental. And by the way, some of them can do way better than just manage HR & security.

If you respect the soldier, step in when he is being harassed by someone on the street. Sometimes, even corrupt traffic cops & unruly autorickshaw drivers don’t think twice before violating a soldier’s dignity.

If you respect the soldier, reserve some seats in your airline, restaurant or multiplex and mark them “For real heroes only

If you respect the soldier, ask why this country of 1.25 billion does not have a single, national war memorial after fighting alongside the British in two world wars and our own three wars post independence.

After you are done with all this, please celebrate your achievement by posting on social media. We do not need empty obituaries from digital India. We need you to stand by us in real life before you celebrate us on Facebook.

Happy Navy Day!

pic-courtesy-diptesh-ghoshPicture Courtesy: Prof. Diptesh Ghosh, IIM Ahmedabad (When the Navy Band played in IIMA for the first time, 21 Feb 2014)

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©KP Sanjeev Kumar, 2016. All rights reserved.

13 thoughts on “Stand by me

  1. As said and true…..God and Soldiers are remembered only in time of need…hoping such need does not arise for the uninformed too often…happy Navy Day

    1. That is a sad day when the Armed Forces have to justify their existence and a nation has to be reminded to be grateful. Its truly disillusioning. But, I guess, that is why US is the great country that it is, when u compare how they treat their veterans and how we treat ours.

  2. Very soldierly Sanjeev if I may say that to a naval officer… stoic, dignified, practical without all the unnecessary sound and fury one hears nowadays when discussing the armed forces.

    With your permission will share on Facebook. Happy Navy Day.

  3. Kp. Hats off and kudos for a wonderful thought provoking article. You have articulated the thoughts and feelings of the entire community
    Social media is an ubiquitous presence in all our lives today. It , and I maybe making a bit of a tall claim here, mirrors what most of us are interested in.
    The trending topics you brought out shows only one thing. An Indian life is cheap. Seven killed….has just become a mere statistic….to be read and forgotten. This disregard for the value of a life is a very Indian phenomenon. This is probably the end result of a huge population. Not so in the US. Every life is important and their national policy states that explicitly.
    This is the kind of mindset change we must endeavour to achieve
    One more issue. We want the general public to be aware of our contribution to society. We want them to do this and that and respect us….recognise us.
    I want to suggest another angle. Look inwards. See what the Armed Forces can do for its veterans. A pension and a few privileges does not cut it.
    We need to explore how we can recognise and reward our own.
    My two bits worth of thought.
    Happy Navy Day
    Cheers and God bless us all

  4. KP as usual nice and thought provoking article. The irony is, in the world we live in, security is taken for granted , fallen soldiers are reduced to ticker tapes …….

  5. Kips…
    Actually we becoming country of aimless armchair warriors…shallow in thoughts …I wonder if there is anything called THE NATIONAL PRIDE…left…..in our country men….BCCI power hungry office holders bother more our citizens….paid media is future shaping mode by shouting match between ill informed even ill-mannered politicians…
    Nonetheless uphill task for us to uphold the military pride …. without war ..we shall contribute our bit….

  6. Very apt and thought provoking . Has hit the Bull’s eye. The society need to see this in a different perspective and the time surely will come. A soldier will get his dues. Kudos. HAPPY NAVY DAY!

  7. This gripping post with a touchy title opened my eyes a little wider as to the contribution made by fellow Indian’s to the brave-hearted at the borders. This one will stay with me for a long time! As always, you haven’t ceased to amaze. Awesome work, sir. 😀

  8. How beautifully expressed Kps…there are so many queries which go in our minds when such incidents occur..U left no stone unturned n touched every aspect of it..how fake is our societal set up…we read such horrific incidents but refuse to contribute an inch to bring a change or empathise with the bereaved families.

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