During my younger days, like most other civilians my every army acquaintance would mean me nothing but one petty object. An easy source of getting cheap rum from the army canteen.
I still remember, sheepishly enough, when I made a rum-request, on a very first meet, to my wife’s school colleague’s husband, without realising his extremely high army rank. He then was about to be elevated to the post of Judge Advocate General.
Such a silly attitude, which now I regret the most, perhaps has also been the outcome of the fact that none in our family ever had served in the army.
Though, a small sympathetic attitude towards the forces did develop in me, like many other sensitive civilians, after the few wars that India was forced to fight with our neighbours, my shoddy perception of armed forces changed drastically only after my daughter got married to an army officer.
Incidentally my son in law, decorated with a gallantry Sena Medal, is the proud son of a highly decorated, with a posthumous Mahavir Chakra, father. It was this close association with the family of brave and courageous people that now I have a strong and favourable bias for the army.
After watching army’s functioning from close quarters, now I always wonder why we civilians could not carry a similar nationalistic pride like them in our hearts. How our world class armed forces, culled out of the same civil society having a mix of all religions and castes, acts and behaves like a great nationalistic force is simply baffling.
I remember every time I would leave or enter my son in law’s unit that he was then commanding, I would get goose pimples. For, every time the loud patriotic shrieks of JAI HIND that sentries at the gate would earnestly make, would send an elevating chill through my spine. And look, rather shamefully, here in the civil we fools often grumble even while standing for a few seconds during a play of national anthem before the start of a movie.
I wish we all civilians could emulate the army and develop a spirit of national jingoism among ourselves, that seemingly has lost in small time squabbles, which perhaps is the sole contribution of our petty polity. Why can’t we all adopt, like the forces, one single national greeting…Jai Hind!
Had this nationalistic spirit been there I don't think the issues like that of using a human shield by the forces during a worse than war time situation in J&K would ever have come to the fore.#(Published on 05th June 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 23)