“He who joyfully marches to music, rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein
According to a TOI report some 4000 soldiers have died since 1999 for various reasons when there has been no “official war”. There is something strange about soldiers being recruited in the Army. Quite a lot of them are from villages, rural towns and mostly from poor families. There are villages in Rajasthan and Himachal that have at least one veteran or soldier in the army. There are villages in Rajasthan where at least one member of every family is in the Army or is a veteran. You know… young men and women around the age of 21-22 willing to die for their country if required. Many, if not all, fortunate ones in the same age-group are addicted to the latest mobiles, malls and movie stars. The slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” does seem to have a deep meaning and prudence. It’s either the farmer or the soldier who is dying lately. Very frequently!
Last night some TV channels were discussing Captain Saurabh Kalia the soldier who first noticed the Kargil infiltration in 1999. He and five others were captured, tortured and their dead bodies returned to India by Pakistan. There was Arnab Goswami on TimesNow talking about him. And yes, there was Barkha Dutt, the Kargil heroine, on NDTV. Both channels had to discuss Capt. Kalia with some Pakistani guests also. Barkha was looking to an open and honest discussion and the Pakistani, Gen. Qureshi, decided he had enough and it was pointless. I’m even amazed that it takes him to tell her that it’s pointless talking to a representative of your enemy of that war about a situation. Well, Barkha and Arnab show you how intelligent our media is and how concerned our govt is. Barkha even ended her program with the words that it takes something sensational to talk about our war heroes. So what was this sudden reason to talk about Saurabh Kalia? Well, after 13 years of waiting his father, Dr. NK Kalia, has petitioned the Supreme Court to direct the GOI to seek an apology from Pakistan for “war crimes” in returning the body of his son tortured.
“Kargil martyr Saurabh Kalia's torture: Violations by Pakistan unacceptable, says government” says the NDTV report. If you read the headline you’d think our govt has suddenly woken up and it had nothing to do with the SC petition by Kalia’s father. Yeah, the UPA govt that doesn’t observe Kargil Diwas. The same UPA whose prince charming, Rahul Gandhi, claimed on November 4 that the Congress had generously supported the BJP during the Kargil war. We are just past another anniversary of 26/11. I remember during the 26/11 attacks TimesNow and Arnab had screamed “We will never forget”. And yet within a couple of months TOI was running a crap campaign called “Aman Ki Asha”. So much for never forgetting dead people and soldiers! And Barkha Dutt? Oh yes; the one who reported breathlessly from Mumbai during 26/11. In less than 48 hours, even before the blood on the streets and the targeted buildings had dried and were washed she was doing an episode of “We the people” right from Mumbai on November 30, 2008. This episode was angrily titled “Enough is enough”.
In a tweet on 26/11 this year Barkha called it an “act of war”. I suppose same as Kargil. She also states privilege offers no protection and terrorism is an awful leveller. If you decide to watch the video of that program you will find that except for one Shameem Khan, who lost 4 members of his family, all the rest could be categorized as the “privileged”. Of course, the panellists on the program were poor people who had experienced terror themselves – Ness Wadia, Simi Garewal, Bachi Karkaria, Ratna Pathak, Kunal Kohli, Luke Kenny etc. and one former police officer M.N. Singh. Barkha’s outrage over the act of war and her histrionics were on full display that night. After a heated exchange between Simi and a guy from the audience she even told everyone: “Will you all do what I ask? Can we have dignified silence please?”. Such was the outrage. Here are some quotes from her (in blue) at the beginning of the program:
Home Minister (Maharashtra) and many more heads are expected to roll. Oh yes. RR Patil, then HM did roll. He even said somewhere that such attacks happen in many cities. Well, what do you know; he’s back and is still the HM of Maharashtra.
We are going to tell our politicians that we don’t necessarily trust them. And the politician she had on the program? Oh, that was Abhishek Singhvi. Yes, the same guy who was suspended for his physical escapades and is now back on all channels again as Congress spokesman. She also had Milind Deora, who is currently a minister.
Justice for this, justice for that! These are frequent campaigns run by our media. And in the run up to 26/11 what are some of the great deeds our politicians were busy with? 2G, Cash for votes, CWG scam, Hasan Ali and his black money which has ended nowhere, Adarsh scam, Aircel-Maxis. Within hours of 26/11 ending Vilasrao Deshmukh his son Riteish and Ramgopal Verma were on a terror tour inside the Taj hotel. At an all-party meeting the PM announced there would be four more hubs of NSG. That would mean more Saurabh Kalias and Unnikrishnans will be happy to serve. What happens once the war is over and all the patriotic screaming is over in the media? They get back to their games of hosting our enemies. Especially, the architect of Kargil – Parvez Musharraf.
Politicians and our media seem to have a strange love affair with those who plot the destruction of our nation. Even when Musharraf has ceased to hold any official position our media seems to believe he is the one with the wisdom on leadership and future of India. So you have the Kargil heroine running everywhere to interview him. You have the India Today Conclave hosting him, you have HT Summit hosting him. And he’s a frequent guest on both NDTV and CNN-IBN. These channels are often hyper-patriotic and even have special songs composed for some special occasions. A report from The Hindu in May 2012 describes certain incidents that the guys in the army seem to routinely experience. This was after a ‘Sahayak’, someone who’s like a valet, was beaten up. It talks about simmering class-tensions and feudal mindset in the army too. Musharraf comes to our land tells us he doesn’t regret Kargil, he tells us Muslims in India need a better deal and cracks jokes that make our media celebs laugh. During the India Today Conclave in 2009 Maulana Madani, an MP, gave a stinging response to Musharraf’s concerns about Indian Muslims and asked him politely not to worry. (See video) The host, Arun Poorie of India Today, was left dumb and speechless.
If not that Musharraf guy there’s always that other one. Yes, the other national pastime of our media folks, especially Barkha Dutt, is none other than Imran Khan. Our media seems to campaign for him as PM as much as they do for, say, Rahul Gandhi. He was here again this month and had reassuring words for India: If the Kashmir issue is not resolved there may be more 26/11s. And since we talk about “levellers” what levels everything better than Cricket, eh? Playing cricket with Pakistan with top politicians watching levels everything. In the 2011 world cup match at Chandigarh the Pakistan and Indian PM with their entourage were there cheering the players. After the match NDTV even put up banner with the jubilant Indian team and their lucky mascot Rahul Gandhi. And now the GOI has decided to honour Saurabh Kalia, Sandeep Unnikrishnan and many other fallen soldiers of Kargil and 26/11 by hosting another Indo-Pak series in December 2012. Idiots who scream patriotism every other day will, of course, turn out to watch the matches and the media will make another neat pile. It’s now called ‘Cricket Diplomacy’. Saurabh Kalia is dead while his father has been fighting a lot more battles. He’s taken the latest one to the Supreme Court.
If Saurabh Kalia had returned alive with his limbs broken or blinded he would have lived a miserable life running from pillar to post fighting for pensions and dues from the GOI. Fighting in Kargil was probably easier for our soldiers. If there’s anything left our politicians will make sure they will screw it up with an Adarsh scam over land supposedly allotted for Kargil heroes. Oh yes, how can we forget? There’s LK Advani, Dy. PM during Kargil, who went to Pakistan-Yatra to certify Jinnah was secular. Our Laloos and Bollywood celebs frequently go on a pilgrimage to that holy country. Lately, even the very secular Nitish Kumar was on a ‘Tirth yatra’ in Pakistan. A wag once commented Tamils in Sri Lanka don’t matter because they aren’t vote-banks but Pakistan matters because of Muslim vote-banks in India. I wouldn’t disagree. Pakistan is a vote-bank for our ‘secular’ forces.
What about our Cricketers? Aren’t they somewhat similar to soldiers? They wear India colours; often display patriotism covering themselves with the Indian flag. There’s a little guy who turns up at every match painted in the tri-colour just to support Tendulkar. Some of these cricketing celebs live under high security. The same security provided by the likes of those who die in Kargil or on the streets of Mumbai, like Tukaram Omble. People protesting is one thing, it is time these Cricketers stood up, showed some spine and said NO to playing Pakistan in a bilateral series. This is no world cup or international tournament where we don’t have a say. This is our own choice.
“The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dishonourably, foolishly, viciously.”― Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot.
Our policy towards Pakistan is not and never has been driven by a National Compass. It has always been driven by personal opinions, situations and stupidity. The cricketers now have a chance to stand up and do the right thing by the Kalias, Unnikrishnans, Ombles and many of our fallen men and women. They have the chance to show they not only have brains but also a spine independent of the BCCI and the GOI. They can imagine the plight and suffering of the families of those who died and imagine twenty two yards of dead bodies and not necessarily a cricket pitch.