Since India became independent its uneven development and fractured growth, huge differences between the rich and poor or the majority and minority communities, the disenfranchisement of the tribal and the Dalits, among other things, have raised ugly questions afresh on the basic concept of freedom, egalitarianism, justice and sovereignty. State power has been frequently misused to repress the various voices of dissent, agitations and resistance struggles, who have strongly challenged the meaningless of it all. People’s Movements like Tebhaga, Telangana, the Naxalism, Free Kashmir and the demand of Naga liberation have left many thousands dead, even more, embittered. It is today in the crosshairs of what is true martyrdom. In Free India are they to be called, known, reviled or celebrated as terrorists or Freedom Fighters, secessionists or liberators? Is violence against organised state power unconstitutional and only non-violent resistance legit? Is defending and fighting for your legitimate rights fundamental? Will dying in such actions honour them to be called martyrs?
Source: Musings on Martyrdom: Ibaadat sey Shahdat!
Behind the risk of life and limb stood the woman by his man. Running from sick quarters to banks and schools, buying groceries riding cycles or by walk, receiving and seeing off loved relatives all by themselves, while her loved man was away is a quality taken for granted and an unwritten part of the wife’s job description. Cooking late meals without notice with nothing in store for an unannounced number of gatecrashers, the free-flowing rum and groggy men being the proverbial last straw. Do not get it wrong here! These were still early days for the women to enjoy much less taste the tabooed liquor. It took a while before the docile and submissive Nari came into her own. In her Sunday best, she soldiered on with a smile. Tears there must have been and many at that but these were to be borne and shared by each husband in the dark corners of the bedroom.
Source: Akashganga: They also Serve, who Just Stand and Wait – XV
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 !
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?