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This Army Officer Has The Perfect Response To All Who Say ‘Think Of The Soldiers’

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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:

Lt. Col Darshan Dhillon
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.

Indian army soldiers guard the area after the gun battle site where the militants were holed on May 27, 2016 in Khonchpur, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir, India. Six rebels and an Indian army soldier were killed in two separate gun battles in the north Kashmir today.(Photo by Yawar Nazir/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Photo by Yawar Nazir/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Photo by Yawar Nazir/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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).


Image source: Yawar Nazir/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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