By Nikhil Kumar:
The relationship between the two nation-states of India and Pakistan have deteriorated to a point where an inevitable and unprecedented conflict is on the cards. War-mongering has become ubiquitous on ‘social media’.
News presenters have left no stone unturned to twist facts to present a concoction of hate towards Pakistan. With former military personnel emotionally pleading to politicians for a war and flaunting demands for nuclear detonations in Pakistani territory, we seem to have outlived the romantic silence of peace.
The job of a soldier is like no other. The very enlistment into service foresees the ultimate reality of life: death; for the safety of strangers far way. But what I find the appalling is the apparent nonchalance and callousness with which the very same strangers, the protected, decide the fate of soldiers.
The vast majority who comment on social media trying to boost the narrative of an impending military conflict, take for granted the service of our army men. We don’t as much flinch when we charge those characters through the barrel of our keyboard sitting comfortably on our sofa.
It is, as if we, the taxpayers, who’d rather not enlist in military service hire other people, their salaries paid through the taxes we pay, to fight for us and risk their lives. And to be honest, most of these soldiers don’t come from affluent families that can afford the luxury to type in 140 characters to show their patriotism.
“A huge preponderant majority of us with no risk whatsoever of exposure to military service have, in effect, hired some of the least advantaged of our fellow countrymen to do some of the most dangerous business while the majority goes on with their own affairs unbloodied and undistracted.” –David M. Kennedy said in an American context that doesn’t seem far from being suitable in India.
Most privileged young people in India do not opt for military service. For most of us who actually have real options, the prospect of martyrdom isn’t enough of an incentive to serve the country. However, we use our assumed right over the lives of soldiers, to perpetuate a narrative that sends them into harm’s way. For this, we opt to enlist in a self-righteous commentary ‘service’, instead.
If unfettered love for India or unquestionable hatred for Pakistan is the sole criterion for patriotism, then why don’t these war-mongers serve in the Army? You’d say, the military has specific physical demands. Sure, but doesn’t the same patriotism that vomits hatred and urges war catalyse their senses to prepare themselves physically for the same martyrdom that they so carelessly talk about. Let alone actual enlistment into service; our Army recruitment centres should be brimming with a sea of ‘warriors’. Maybe that, the applying for service alone, would further decorate their plate of ‘medals’ and increase their patriotism which they so vehemently project on a daily basis.
This conflict would never have escalated if the children of policy makers, parliamentarians, political commentators and news presenters had to share the burden of fighting the wars they so desperately wish to perpetuate. I don’t expect more than a minuscule percentage of them to have a son or daughter serving in the military or have plans to enlist.
The fact that the most active-duty soldiers come from poor economic backgrounds makes it relatively easy for the government to commit the troops into conflict in the name of protecting a population that scarcely breaks a sweat in deliberation while tweeting.
The glorification of death in combat by the hyper-nationalist media with live telecasts of funerals has made the daily flow of coffins wrapped in national flags a common discourse.
What is left unnoticed is that not one funeral takes place in a posh housing society or a bungalow of an affluent family? Once these well-decorated government bungalows of politicians and posh apartments of media elites feel the crushing cries of death and scarcity of a loved one, the warmongering will begin to cease.
As long as Indians are sent into conflict, shouldn’t everyone be, at least theoretically, equally exposed to military recruitment and not just those in dire economic circumstances?