Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SOLDIER and POLITICIAN

SOLDIER and POLITICIAN
Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

NB: The term “soldier” covers all uniformed personnel, army, navy, air force and paramilitary.

Yesterday was a sad day for the defence forces and, indeed, for all patriotic citizens of India.

There were two distressing news reports.

So many uniformed brave soldiers laid down their lives in the service of the nation – a number of valiant army soldiers gave their supreme sacrifice fighting terrorists in the valley while gallant men of the Air Force, ITBP and NDRF died in rescue operations when a chopper crashed in Uttarakhand.

The mood should have been sombre.

But when I switched on the TV for the evening news I was shocked to see the jarring spectacle of politicians quarrelling with each other in an acrimonious manner and indulging in a despicable blame game.   

What is worse, politicians were trying to usurp the credit for the stupendous rescue work done by the soldiers.

While, on the one hand, the soldiers were slogging in out in adverse conditions and risking their lives trying to rescue victims of the Uttarakhand Tragedy, the politicians were indulging in rancorous verbal spats and brazenly squabbling with each other in Television Studios trying to grab credit for their respective parties and leaders and attempting to denigrate their political opponents.

It was most demoralizing to see our publicity-hungry politicians behaving in this shameful manner and generating so much bitterness in the atmosphere instead of boosting the morale of the soldiers who were engaged in a difficult and dangerous rescue mission.

In this context I would like to quote Indira Gandhi:

My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people:

1. Those who do the work

and

2. Those who take the credit

He told me to try to be in the first group

There was much less competition there


Indira Gandhi was not a soldier.

But it is the soldier who is scrupulously following this precept.

The soldier works indefatigably in anonymity.

The soldier slogs unstintingly risking his life for the nation and rescuing his fellow citizens from tragedies and assuring them safety and security.

Indira Gandhi was a politician.

But politicians do not follow her dictum.

Politicians seem to be solely concerned about taking credit.

The soldier works and the politician takes the credit.

This happens in war, it happens during calamities, it happens in peacetime.

During disasters, in adversities, and in times of need, the politician must be in the forefront, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the soldier.

If you see today’s politicians you won’t believe it, but long ago there were exceptional politicians who actually did this and led by personal example.

One example is the inimitable Biju Patnaik (05 Mar 1916 – 17 Apr 1997).

His heroic exploits as a pilot in the Royal Indian Air Force in the early 1940’s during World War II were legendary.

Later, after independence, when he had become a politician, he took to the skies again and undertook daredevil flights to airlift army troops into Kashmir during the 1947 War Operations.

He was always ready to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the soldier.

Biju Patnaik demonstrated that he was a true “soldier” and politician.

Is there any politician today who can emulate such stalwarts?

Times have changed.

Politics is no longer a profession of sacrifice.

Politicians do not want to put their lives in danger.

Politicians are no longer prepared to suffer physical discomfort.

That is why they politicians like to monitor things from a distance while the soldier slogs it out in the field.

And when everything is done, when all the dirty, dangerous and difficult tasks are completed by the soldiers, the politicians rush to take the credit and the anonymous soldiers are sent back to the barracks.

It is because politicians are not following Indira Gandhi’s advice (to focus on doing the work and forget about taking the credit) that we have reached a situation where the army, which should be the last resort, has now become the first and only resort.

I think all politicians, especially Congressmen, will do well to remember this famous quote by Indira Gandhi:

“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there”


Will politicians change for the better?

Let us hope so.

Till that happens:

Soldiers will slog incessantly in peace and war.

Soldiers will do the work and risk their lives.


Politicians will fight with each other to take the credit.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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