Even before PTS had started, Shamsher with his imaginative and resourceful handling made organised performances or demonstrations in skydiving in some areas of
Freefall had moved on from the ungainly and rather rigid spread-eagle position to “stable frog position” and onto body-acrobatics in the air.
Having graduated and donned the Para Jump Instructors (PJI) brevets, they were trusted with the lives of all those brave paratroopers with maroon berets mostly
Not since the days of Veda Vyasa, Mahabharata, the Phantom, Vikram and Betal fables and folklore have been so haunting and mysterious! “Fact, it is believed, very often is stranger than fiction! And I prefer the latter”. Someone so wittily had avowed.
That said, the Kaurava King, the father of a hundred sons, Dhritharastra, bade his charioteer, blessed with futuristic vision (Divya Drishti) Sanjaya to speak of what he saw in another age and time. He sat like most days each morning by the river Sarayu and watched the clean waters rush past…
This is the Kali Yuga. It is difficult, my master, when you set about talking of your ancestors, gurus, elders, friends and family pleaded, the honest Sanjaya. More so when some are not alive and most untraceable. Yet, he continued in the royal second plural. We did not have a culture of recording or documenting about our pioneering school for paratroopers. This gave I suppose a lot of grist to the colonial mill of hitherto, British historians who were so fond of ridiculing and used to say – “the Brownies. These Shudras have no history. It only began with our writing about them.” For more read on at
A recent article written by a respectable author got me thinking.In response, this is what I have to say… Read more
I would only like to emphasise that the Indian Armed Forces is an implementation arm of the political masters.It is also my understanding that their strategic and tactical actions are also tuned to such political perceptions or policies.This is the legacy of that much applauded apolitical character of the role of the Armed Forces in a so called post colonial democracy and that too in an underdeveloped country. Army does not dictate a larger political philosophy.Instead it is the other way round.Many honest and nationalist generals have voiced their own concerns against a militarist approach and have suggested a political solution as the only solution.That it ends up in a mess is an unwritten tragedy yet but erroneously put in the front door of the Armed Forces which needs, also to to be brought out before the misinformed public.Killing is not the vocation of these men in uniform much as this might be good slogan for motivation.All, need to know they too, need to be understood as patriots with a confused job description. What with nationalism and martyrdom itself misunderstood ever so often !
JNU has been in the forefront of articulating themes of protest against most anti-people policies in its own and well considered perceptions. It is also true that some of the most talked about and oft quoted visiting professors, teachers and students have been associated with this institution namely Sarvepalli Gopal, Romila Thapar,Sitaram Yechury,Prakash Karat the Pattnaik husband and wife duo,among many others.Quite recently at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) there have been meetings (true to tradition) held by a section of the the students protesting the high handedness of the present government and its intolerance of dissent.This led to a chain of events culminating to the arrest of the elected President of the JNU Student Union, Kanhaiya Kumar . It has since come to hold centre-stage in the national imagination. Contentious issues of what is Nationalism, Fascism and Freedom of Speech seem to be agitating young minds and increasingly threatening the future prospects of the democratic process in the University and the country at large. Into this confusing and heated cauldron the Air Force Association, a registered NGO,which runs a web blog on Facebook (created for the purposes of taking care of the interests of the veterans) has taken up cudgels to define and interpret as to what such tongue or mind teasers may mean,their limits and the unsavoury consequences thereof should the veterans be found wanting.( even though they do not wear the uniform in a manner of speaking).
Air Marshal Vir Narain is a free man. And a brave man, too.I dare say ! His perspective is respected by me and I would imagine many others too. I quite agree to what he says ever so briefly but firmly. There is no question of AFA to be apologetic or defensive since he sat at the very top some time ago. The AFA seems to have a point of view to which he has another. The democratic spirit of letting a hundred flowers and thoughts to bloom is reflected in the dissent. In this kind of ‘vivad’ lies the process to cognition of a different truth… That is why a certain Indian Nobel winner celebrated the Argumentative Indian. For the moment it would be fair to say I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. I also notice now that the Air Marshal has only reposted something that he agrees to and urges others to reflect upon.The AFA has jumped into a domain, which by its own admission, is politics. (That it actually pleases me is not part of argument, here).Then,it makes me wonder why the hyper- stridency by AFA and to push a very “sarkari’ definition of nationalism and what amounts to acceptable student affairs( which uncomfortably resembles and seems aligned to the government of the day) ? Was there an urgent order from the three Army Chiefs at the behest of the Ministry of Home and Defence, I shall never know(but inclined to surmise). Is it the ideology of AFA? To pretend or to be ignorant of the politics that it represents thereby concurrently would be patently naive.There is nothing wrong to appear friendly or subservient to a kind of thinking.But to seek comfort behind a fictitious world of being apolitical and to be the flag bearer of military version of nationalism is at best wishful thinking and at worst to be champion of the government and its politics ! That the AFA is finding it difficult to see the sagacious urgings of the Air Marshal in its proper light and instead wishes to take a high moral ground on the shoulders of some FB enthusiasts, albeit military, unfortunately highlights the problems involved in a surrogate association two-timing the serving IAF to promote the interests of the latter and also hoist the flag for the totally free and unencumbered ‘veterans” as its chosen and its legitimate voice and platform. Air Force Association (AFA)would purportedly like to also tell us all ( the veterans) of what is the limit. To quote : Any friend of the AFA on this page indulging in anti India activities or appearing to be supportive of anti India elements will be first Unfriended and then blocked from this page.Please be careful in whom you support.
Unfortunately you forget, you are because of us the bloggers and not otherwise. To feel otherwise is to miss the wood from the trees and trippily imagine the player to be bigger than the game.Blogging is not a military standard Operating Procedure. The Blogosphere is a free world made to express one’s ideas without fear or favour.AFA has chosen to tread this very dangerous territory of its own accord.I’m afraid you hold the rights limited to the blog,and for that you decide the parameters . To quote again the aggressive and rather ill advised missive of AFA so that the readers get to see the correct picture.(Friends, A very special and endowed individual only can have the honor of wearing any Rank connected with the Indian Armed Forces. These stripes on our arms or our shoulders come to us with tremendous responsibility. The responsibility stays with us till our last breath because we, as leaders of our men, convinced our juniors to fight for the cause that is India.
We can, at no stage, be seen to be supportive of anything or have a thought against this nation and claim that the opinion is our personal and thus doesn’t influence anyone.
Our loyalty to the Nation lasts even as a private citizen and no one in or out of the uniform can claim exemption and support anti India elements in the garb of freedom of speech.
The AFA will continue objecting to any such expression and will expose all such individuals who misguide the gullible in the name of freedom of speech.
We’re all subject to that lakshman Rekha where the idea of India is supreme.)
But did you not set out to test the waters of independence and a certain free wheel of ideas just to see how contemporary you are or growing to be ? You always knew the path was tricky. To decide upon what is freedom of expression,military propriety,honest criticism, the Constitutional provisions, the role of Supreme Commander, the government of the day, its bureaucrats etc you have exposed the faultlines in your feebleness of heart. I wonder whether it ever occurred to you that you may stand to be accused of authoritative trolling in a medium that ostensibly is contrary to that kind of sensibility.Yes we are expected to be civil and not obscene.Your proposition or may I say, the whispered threat would have then successfully created a large band of yes men, servile and mentally challenged with compulsory “likes” on Facebook ! the nay sayers would have switched happily and found other online social media platforms anyways ! Did we not have enough of it already while in Uniform ? Most seem to speak out only when out of it.It is a sad but, true.But, by trying to say “either with us or nothing,” I’m afraid you would have lost the larger battle of the Information Warfare that you should seek to take control of and be in command.(but with greater tolerance, caution and vision,perhaps).
I, seriously wonder, when most veterans of the Vietnam War turned against the employers, USA,the politicians and government on their way back home questioning why and who sent them there to fight no war that was theirs does history define them as traitors today ? It would be a great test of internal cleansing to hear from AFA how does it record that kind of its very own past and does it see in that , some unfortunate resemblances.
They aren’t very pretty,anyways. I am sorry to say .
But, that would be another story.For another day !
Whether we like it or not the die has been cast.The Armed Forces forever shall no more be the same again, at least even in public perceptions.In a manner of speaking, not politically correct, anymore. Importantly, we have to realise that politics is not a dirty word. To be committed to an ideology or party is a reality.In the shadows the brass profited out of its choices while tom-toming the fiction of being apolitical.The Chiefs in the past in their own wisdom stood silent when some one else was being had. I am not sure if that was smart and good for themselves or the forces that they helmed. I am also not clear if this was what a parliamentary democracy envisaged.The Armed Forces is a necessary burden.People enjoy wars when they are victors.But the cost bears heavily on the Exchequer and soon the questions of the return on investments shall always be there when the breast beating and the mourning of the dead is over.
The military is not any more, those of Rome or Egypt of yore.Drumming up the lore of an ancien regime or of the feudal days is passe.We need to adapt,review and re-orient. The military in modern times and in so called popular democracies will have to go through contradictory pulls and pressures but will have to find its own survival strategies.Colonial mindsets or rehearsed doctrines of the West needs to be put away .We have to find new ones and in our own way: indigenous and home grown.The military is a job with its own description and specifications.It is also about power, money, family and survival.Heroism, sacrifice, losses, risks come along with it.My understanding is that pawing on to the softer emotions of the people and governments at large is at best a soothing balm of an embrace or a hug.But to realise we are in it for the usual reasons which are not so romantic and to be not apologetic about would be the honest definition of the soldier of today. We would then, not be, disappointed easily or appear naive.That is crystal.Having first come out of the closet of apolitical military it would then be moot to decide what kind of military is best suited for third world countries which are beset with poverty, inequality, casteism,abnormal disparities.For a start are all wars just or necessary? Are we a people’s army? Are our histories and traditions just carry overs of the colonial past and contrary to the demands and aspirations of our people?Do we need to rewrite our histories, military in particular? Recall the role and tasks met by the Indian armies under British India?Recall the Great Wars, INA, the Royal naval Mutiny of India at Bombay, the Sepoy Mutiny and so many more?
It would be important, therefore to study the political orientations and practices of the Armed Forces in UK or the USA. It would be an act of vision if we studied the socialist regimes and their militaries, too.In any case, at a first glance, it isn’t what we think it to be, as it obtains in India.I am not illustrating this with examples considering all who are reading are well informed of what I do not elaborate. Politics and war are not just about generals or about politicians and bureaucrats.It is about us all.Vietnam,Iraq and Afghanistan remind us each time that politics is after all the centrepiece of all strategies.But back home and in some wager the Uniform pepper positions of power and authority.That is the quid pro quo.Defence purchases are among the highest in terms of our National Budget.It would be interesting to find out who goes laughing to the bank at the end of the day. We end up with foreign jaunts, some weapons and equipment, warships and aeroplanes and some ranks and promotions.Memorials,too.This is only to remind us of our indulgences and indiscretions.And we yet, do not understand a basic.Know your politics ! Little is not bad at all.But a lot of it is the need of the years to come.Militarism can be done away with but politics of the military befriended instead.Like it or not?