They are the torch bearers of the nation. They count themselves lucky if they can get back in one piece after every mission. Meet the defence personnel of the nation. These men stand for the country at its borders, risking their lives, while our bosses discuss if we can replace the proverbial national animal with their bovine variant. We are ruled by the cowernment!
The men in camouflage uniforms deserve more respect than the customary Independence Day wreaths. We whistled our hearts out in movie halls watching Border, Tango Charlie and LOC Kargil, spill those tears in the climax and vacated the theatres with heavy hearts. Don’t expect the kindness to continue on the way back from theatres if we spot an army man standing in the bus for want of a seat. No! We think it is the Khans saving the country. Not the poor man sweating out in his ‘military hair cut’.
Our netas keep the fire across borders-alive and omnipresent, far more furious than the raging embers of ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’. So long as we have nasty neighbours, netas get the votes. Patriotism and killing go hand in hand. Every day we read the news about someone being killed in combat and flip the page without a passing glance. Lives don’t matter. The unknown son of the soil passes away into oblivion, as we scour for news on cricket and its gods.
The circus the chaps are accustomed to as they travel across the country for 3,000 miles in their military gear, laden with trunk boxes itself is a nightmare, if he can’t avail his lucky advance booking. The return of a military man, home on vacation, is a festival by itself. The lad must have enlisted when he was still learning the ropes of relationships in his native village, and his return on vacation is the most celebrated event for the whole family. Love is measured in ‘quarters’ as the guy dresses in all finery and roams the streets till he is called back again on duty. Someone said blood is thicker than water, no, my folks, alcohol is thicker than blood. The relationship of an army man is measured not by degrees of comparison, but by the quality of free booze.
Has anyone wondered how Mohan Ram who has seen the arid south Indian summers, can hold his gun without accidentally pulling the trigger in sub-zero Himalayan winters? How does Ghanshyam Meena from the Thar sail the lonely waters of the Indian Ocean? The men with grit and determination survive the race to save the country. They live to tell us the tales of their bravery, as the netas snack on their subsidised lunches and discuss One Rank One Pension for the uniformed. No, Ji! They are not asking for alms, they are deserving of our civility for their service.
Before we judge the men for their yeomen service, let us not forget that half the nations with military might profess compulsory enlistment to Defence. I shudder to think how the Porsche driving daddy’s darlings would complete their compulsory service without ramming onto the dividers or running over the sleeping pedestrians.
Of late, recruitment to the Defence has been nose-diving and may we suggest compulsory enlistment of the gun-wielding Khans and Dutts? The dead black bucks stand testimony to the shooting skills of the ever-jawan Khans. We spend billions in procuring weapons to ensure our safety, yet, we give two hoots about the safety of our soldiers. We, the common people, let the border conflicts escalate and hold the lives of these men and women for ransom. It is high time we get up from that comfy window seat and offer it to the tired man in camouflage, for without him, we would have been dead and buried long back. Jai Jawan!