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23 June 2008

Why Do I Still Serve India?

______________________
An anonymous soldier
______________________
Though this is not a poetry blog, the newsworthiness of the following ballad merits its inclusion here. It has been composed by a fourth generation, 24-year old career officer in the Indian Armed Forces, spurred by the report of the Sixth Pay Commission and an insensitive article written by a 'respectable' denizen of the country in a national daily on the armed forces and the pertinence of the Sixth Pay Commission therein. This free-flowing verse has not been edited; it's to ensure that the originality of the angst is maintained. After all, when you are in pain, the language of expression is the last thing in your mind

How you play with us, did you ever see?
At Seven, I had decided what I wanted to be;
I would serve you to the end,
All these boundaries I would defend.

Now you make me look like a fool,
When at Seventeen and just out of school;
Went to the place where they made "men out of boys"
Lived a tough life …sacrificed a few joys…

In those days, I would see my 'civilian' friends,
Living a life with the fashion trends;
Enjoying their so called "College Days"
While I sweated and bled in the sun and haze…
But I never thought twice about what where or why
All I knew was when the time came, I'd be ready to do or die.

At 21 and with my commission in hand,
Under the glory of the parade and the band,
I took the oath to protect you over land, air or sea,
And make the supreme sacrifice when the need came to be.

I stood there with a sense of recognition,
But on that day I never had the premonition,
that when the time came to give me my due,
You'd just say," What is so great that you do?"

Long back you promised a well to do life;
And when I'm away, take care of my wife.
You came and saw the hardships I live through,
And I saw you make a note or two,
And I hoped you would realise the worth of me;
but now I know you'll never be able to see,
Because you only see the glorified life of mine,
Did you see the place where death looms all the time?
Did you meet the man standing guard in the snow?
The name of his newborn he does not know...
Did you meet the man whose father breathed his last?
While the sailor patrolled our seas so vast?

You still know I'll not be the one to raise my voice
I will stand tall and protect you in Punjab Himachal and Thois.

But that's just me you have in the sun and rain,
For now at Twenty Four, you make me think again;
About the decision I made, Seven years back;
Should I have chosen another life, some other track?

Will I tell my son to follow my lead?
Will I tell my son, you'll get all that you need?
This is the country you will serve
This country will give you all that you deserve?

I heard you tell the world "India is shining"
I told my men, that's a reason for us to be smiling
This is the India you and I will defend!
But tell me how long will you be able to pretend?
You go on promise all that you may,
But it's the souls of your own men you betray.

Did you read how some of our eminent citizens
Write about me and ridicule my very existence?
I ask you to please come and see what I do,
Come and have a look at what I go through
Live my life just for a day
Maybe you'll have something else to say?

I will still risk my life without a sigh
To keep your flag flying high
but today I ask myself a question or two…
Oh India…. Why do I still serve you?

8 comments:

Nithin.S said...

The following conversation from the movie "RAMBO-2" expresses the emotions of the soldiers and patriots.

"Colonel-"The war and all this may be wrong, but, dammit don't hate your country for it."

Rambo(Stallon)-"Hey..., I'd die for it."

Colonel-"Then what do you want?"

Rambo-"I want..., what they want. And every other guy that came over here & gave everything he had & spilled his guts, wants. For our country to love us, as much as we love it. That is what I want."

can anybody give me link to the article in reaction of which this piece was written?

Anonymous said...

“IN THE LINE OF FIRE”....A TRUE STORY …..MAKES GOOD READING & MOST APT HERE

Vivek Pradhan was not a happy man. Even the plush comfort of the air- conditioned compartment of the Shatabdi express could not cool his frayed nerves. He was the Project Manager and still not
entitled to air travel.It was not the prestige he sought, he had tried to reason with the admin person, it was the savings in time. As PM, he had so many things to do. He opened his case and took out the laptop, determined to put the time to some good use.

"Are you from the software industry sir," the man beside him was staring appreciatively at the laptop. Vivek glanced briefly and mumbled in affirmation, handling the laptop now with exaggerated care and importance as if it were an expensive car. "You people have brought so much advancement to the country Sir. Today everything is getting computerized". "Thanks," smiled Vivek, turning around to give the man a look. He always found it difficult to resist appreciation. The man was young and stocky like a sportsman. He looked simple and strangely out of place in that little lap of luxury like a small town boy in a prep school. He probably was a railway sportsman making the most of his free traveling pass.

"You people always amaze me," the man continued, "You sit in an office and write something on a computer and it does so many big things outside”. Vivek smiled deprecatingly. Naivety demanded reasoning, not anger. "It is not as simple as that my friend. It is not just a question of writing a few lines. There is a lot of process that goes behind it”. For a moment he was tempted to explain the entire Software Development Lifecycle but restrained himself to a single statement. "It is complex, very complex”. "It has to be. No wonder you people are so highly paid", came the reply.

This was not turning out as Vivek had thought. A hint of belligerence came into his so far affable, persuasive tone. "Everyone just sees the money. No one sees the amount of hard work we have to put in. Indians have such a narrow concept of hard work. Just because we sit in an air-conditioned office does not mean our brows do not sweat. You exercise the muscle; we exercise the mind and
believe me that is no less taxing."

He had the man where he wanted him and it was time to drive home the point. "Let me give you an example. Take this train. The entire railway reservation system is computerized. You can book a
train ticket between any two stations from any of the hundreds of computerized booking centres
across the country. Thousands of transactions accessing a single database, at a time concurrency; data integrity, locking, data security. Do you understand the complexity in designing and coding such a system”? The man was stuck with amazement, like a child at a planetarium. This was
something big and beyond his imagination. "You design and code such things”? "I used to", Vivek paused for effect, "But now I am the Project Manager”, "Oh!" sighed the man, as if the storm had passed over, "so your life is easy now."

It was like being told the fire was better than the frying pan. The man had to be given a feel of the heat. "Oh come on, does life ever get easy as you go up the ladder. Responsibility only brings more work. Design and coding! That is the easier part. Now I do not do it, but I am responsible for it and believe me, that is far more stressful. My job is to get the work done in time and with the highest quality. To tell you about the pressures, there is the customer at one end always changing his requirements, the user wanting something else and your boss always expecting you to have finished it yesterday”. Vivek paused in his diatribe, his belligerence fading with self-realisation. What he had said, was not merely the outburst of a wronged man, it was the truth. And one need not get angry while defending the truth. "My friend," he concluded triumphantly, "you don't know what it is to be in the line of fire."


The man sat back in his chair, his eyes closed as if in realization. When he spoke after sometime, it was with a calm certainty that surprised Vivek. "I know sir, I know what it is to be in the line of
fire," He was staring blankly as if no passenger, no train existed, just a vast expanse of time.

"There were 30 of us when we were ordered to capture Point 4875 in the cover of the night. The enemy was firing from the top. There was no knowing where the next bullet was going to come from and for whom. In the morning when we finally hoisted the Tri-colour at the top, only 4 of us
were alive."

"You are a……...." ??

"I am Subedar Sushant from the 13 J&K Rifles on duty at Peak 4875 in Kargil. They tell me I have completed my term and can opt for a land assignment. But tell me sir, can one give up duty just
because it makes life easier. On the dawn of that capture, one of my colleagues lay injured in the snow, open to enemy fire while we were hiding behind a bunker. It was my job to go and fetch that soldier to safety but my captain refused me permission and went ahead himself. He said that the first pledge he had taken as a Gentleman Cadet was to put the safety and welfare of the nation foremost followed by the safety and welfare of the men he commanded. His own personal safety came last, always and every time. He was killed as he shielded that soldier into the bunker. Every
morning now, as I stand guard I can see him taking all those bullets, which were actually meant
for me. I know Sir, I know what it is to be in the line of fire."

Vivek looked at him in disbelief not sure of his reply. Abruptly he switched off the laptop. It seemed trivial, even insulting to edit a word document in the presence of a man for whom valour and duty was a daily part of life; a valour and sense of duty which he had so far attributed only to epical heroes.

The train slowed down as it pulled into the station and Subedar Sushant picked up his bags to alight.

"It was nice meeting you Sir”. Vivek fumbled with the handshake. This hand had climbed mountains, pressed the trigger and hoisted the Tri-colour. Suddenly as if by impulse he stood at attention and his right hand went up in an impromptu salute. It was the least he felt he could do for the country.

PS: The incident he narrates during the capture of Peak 4875 is a true-life incident during the Kargil war. Capt. Batra sacrificed his life while trying to save one of the men he commanded, as victory was within sight. For this and his various other acts of bravery he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra the nation's highest military award.

Live humbly, there are great people around us, let us learn from them!

Jaideep G.C. said...

Another relevant Poem.....

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER (A Soldier Died Today) .. by A. Lawrence Vaincourt …
He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.
._,_.___

Sandeep said...

Finally the poem got its way to the blog and that too a right one!

This poem illustrates the fundamental conflict due to the dual nature of promises to a soldier.

This profession demands them to even lay down their life for their nation but when it comes to pay them appropriately, nation starts making excuses. "Payment" not only means money but also the due respect in society.

Shame on Indian society.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Moved by the stories of the miserable conditions in which Indian soldiers were fighting in Kargil in 1999, I had composed the following ballad:

http://samaadehlawi.blogspot.com/2008/04/blog-post_7732.html

Time permitting, I shall translate this Bengali poem into English and Hindi.

rahul said...

to read the article which spurred this poem, just google "cost to government" and you will see an article in the TOI. that spurred it .

nagardee said...

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/File_Cost_to_govt_4_times_the_salary_on_paper/articleshow/2910683.cms

this is the link rahul is talking about

Surajit Dasgupta said...

I just received a comment with a contrarian view by a certain "AnuG". If only the person removes the urban swear words from his text, I have no objection in publishing his view.

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