Editor’s note: Since the night of November 8, when PM Modi sprang the surprise of demonetisation on the nation, many have spoken about how the move has caused them utter inconvenience. Over the last few days, on social media and in person, those who have complained about standing in queues at banks and ATMs for hours have often been reminded about the sacrifice of our soldiers at the border. What inconvenience is this, compared to that sacrifice, they have been asked.
Lt. Col. (Retd.) Darshan Dhillon too was subjected to the same question at an ATM queue recently. His reply stunned the questioner (“I told him that I did that on border for 20 years and standing here to withdraw my pension…”) and his post about this on Facebook has since been shared over 8,600 times. He writes on YKA about why it is unfair to compare everything to the sacrifice of our soldiers, and why that can’t be a constant measure of our patriotism.
By Lt. Col. (Retd.) Darshan Dhillon:
Political parties have started dragging the defence services in every matter these days. Be it perks, miseries, ATM lines or surgical strikes. They forget that a soldier is also a human being and suffers everything like other citizens when on leave. His brother, sister or father also go through the same ordeal. But a soldier is perceived as one who is just dying on the border in the name of deshbhakti (patriotism). No. He is undergoing the risks attached to his profession like many other fellow citizens who are doing their duty.
The political use of ‘surgical strike’ is one such example of unnecessarily dragging soldiers into political issues. Such operations are very minor and a common routine for the Army. These have been happening in the past also. But they have been brought to TV rooms and political rallies recently, resulting in nothing but the death of more soldiers by putting pressure on adversaries for action.
It is a shocking fact that not more than 33% jawans get married accommodation even at a Peace station (areas away from direct threat of war, as opposed to Field stations) and even then the accommodation is allotted only for a limited period. Our jawans were staying in tents barely a few kilometres from the border in Uri, resulting in more casualties from tent fires than arms fire. But we kept quiet. More than 17 jawans have been killed after the surgical strike but there is little said about them.
If we are sincere about taking care of our soldiers, we should have solved their OROP and 7th Commission Pay Scale issues on priority rather than dolling grants on their death and thereafter forgetting their widows and kids.
No schools come forward for the admission and education of their kids. The re-employment of retired soldiers is pathetic in most of the states. Attempts are being made to even reduce quota from their own institutions like medical colleges funded entirely by the Army Welfare Education Society (AWES),
It is ridiculous that the misery of people standing at bank and ATM queues should be compared to a soldier’s task which is unique. Many justify it by giving the example of a soldier leading a tough life at the border, whereas the same soldier or his mother maybe standing in the same ATM line and may end up getting pushed around. Not just this, but some soldier’s wife may be made to stand for hours for the school admission of his kid while seats are sold openly to others.
Soldiers and common people do not need deshbhakti lessons from politicians. Politicians are the ones who need deshbhakti lessons from soldiers. They should make sure that their own wards serve in the defence forces rather than appoint them as chairmen on boards of companies or make them deputy Chief Ministers.
All political parties pay some percentage of their collection to the defence or PM relief fund. Let the body bags be shared by the political class also. The political class must also learn from defence forces religious tolerance, and learn how a mandir, masjid and gurdwara can be accommodated in the same building, and that the entire unit attends all functions for all religions together.
Let deshbhakti lessons not be used to tow a political line and anyone having a different view be branded as deshdrohi (traitor).