Indian army in winter
Indian army in winter

It is inarguably right and perfectly pertinent to state that the armed forces are the chief defense of a nation. There is not even a modicum of doubt that they act as our superlative bulwark. When the civilians enjoy the luxury of cozy rooms lying snuggled in their quilts, these valiant soldiers, while holding the ramparts, remain constantly engaged in a perpetual pitch battle which never proffers them any truce.

Albeit, it changes its colors and contours because when the blazing guns of the enemy are forced into silence with a retaliatory response, the adversities of harsh circumstances and vagaries of the nature begin to rear their nasty heads and thus the ordeal of our Jawans never ends. Guarding our bone-chilling glaciers of Siachen, Ladakh or the skin-scorching deserts of Kutch, these soldiers have not only to fight the enemy but the hostility of the climate too. The recent avalanche tragedy in Siachen in which four Army personnel lost their lives sheds light on the precarious conditions and arduous situations in which the defense personnel have to work day in and day out. 

Much to our disappointment, despite the colossal contributions and the supreme sacrifices by our soldiers, the nation has many a time taken them for granted. It will not be, in any fashion, hyperbolic to articulate that our Jawans particularly on the lower rungs of the ladder in a stridently hierarchy-ridden structure of the armed-forces have borne the worst brunt of the systemic collapse. The menace of exploitation has made its inroads into the different sectors of the armed forces. 

We the ‘children of somnolence’ suddenly woke up (though to sleep again) to the unpalatable reality, when a few years ago a video had made endless rounds in the lanes of social media, wherein a soldier was shown painfully expressing his angst. He registered his complaint that he was being horridly victimised by his seniors for writing to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his valid complaint to the prime minister, he objected that the orderlies should be compelled to polish their senior's shoes. Another staggering video that roamed the various circuits of social media was concerning the pathetic quality of the food which is served to our soldiers deployed on the mind-bogglingly high altitudes with inhospitable conditions.

In the camps of these men in uniform, an alarming number of cases have also surfaced pertaining to the gory acts of violence in which a psychologically unstable and disoriented soldier ends up assaulting his fellow soldiers, leading to a maddening bloodbath with the loss of many lives. Although the defense ministry had taken the meticulous stock of the situation and keeping in view its gravity, the psychological health of the Jawans is now time-to-time monitored and taken care of with the direly necessary psychiatric intervention, yet stress and anxiety syndromes are on the rise especially in those defense personnel who are deputed miles away from the civilised lands guarding the nation in the hottest deserts or the icy hearts of darkness like Siachen Glacier.

Undoubtedly, the high-sprited recruits are nurtured and structured in a fashion so hardy and Herculean that they are fully capable of grappling horns with all stupendously strident and stringent situations. But at the same time the fact cannot be refuted that deep down their onerously cultivated gruff exterior resides a normal human being, who like all of us, is also prone to psychological and physiological issues and ailments, that in fact invade these soldiers with intensified ferocity when they are deployed amidst the wild marshy terrains which are not even remotely connected with any stretch of human habitation.

When defense is the real wealth of a nation, why is that the overall holistic health of its soldiers is not fully ensured? Indeed, our forces are strong enough to combat the enemy empty stomach, but certainly an empty stomach has its own limitations. It can fight but with a compromised strength that will only bring us a pyrrhic victory in the long run.

In no manner can one cast a suspecting eye on the might and mane of Indian forces. They have become the best of the forces of the world by dint of their invincible prowess with which they have made the enemy bite dust and eat them humble pie in several direct or surgical strikes. A much famed surgical strike on the terrorist hubs in POK certainly  records a loud and bombastic testimony, which is not mere sound and fury but a clarion call in its true sense, that sends direct feelers to the hostile neighbor that if it does not cease its wanton activities, it will have to bear the brunt of tooth and nail style of attack of Indian Forces. Albeit, there are innumerable gilded embellishments on the uniform of Indian forces but still some gaping holes are quite glaringly deep which must be mended for the robust health of the armed forces. 

Every life matters. Similarly the life of a soldier must matter, too. It is not at all an expendable commodity. They are soulful beings, the light of which can not be left to get extinguished somewhere in the marshy lands or the inhospitable mountainous labyrinths with the ravages of inclement weather. 

The soldiers of our nation are the paragon of supreme bravery. Dereliction to duty is not in their blood, but it becomes the moral accountability of the nation as a whole to adopt a considerate attitude towards them. Come what may any kind of exploitation of these spunky soldiers within the well demarcated defense class must not be allowed. It is certainly tantamount to the crime of human rights violation.

The fact cannot be relegated to a corner that when a Jawan stands up with a cumbersome machine gun in his hands and a burdensome haversack on his shoulders in the deadly freezing temperatures, he needs to be provided with every possible care, whereas unfortunately our sordid and corrupt system has even failed to provide him with proper wholesome food and the logistics to combat the climate. The initial inaudible rumbles of the online revolt spearheaded on social media like Whatsapp and Facebook must not go unheard and while supplying the soldiers with nutritious diet and other necessary goods, their supreme and sublime contribution must be sung to bolster their morale as well. It is time to exhibit earnest sincerity towards the sentinels of the nation.

The writer is HOD, English Language and Linguistics, Dev Samaj PG College For Women, Ferozepur.

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