I wrote my last blogpost late Sunday night. When I woke up the next morning there was a niggling feeling of having missed something. When I had appreciated the action of Udi Segal, the Israeli boy who had refused to join the Army on principle, had I inadvertently belittled the youngsters that do join the Armed Forces? In India, boys are not conscripted. They join of their own accord. There are many reasons why they choose to commit their lives to defending their country. I won’t dwell on those but cut straight to what I want to say right now.
On August 15th, Independence Day, I was watching the news on TV. A channel was covering the celebrations at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan. Several young soldiers – one was asked his age, he was only 23 – were asked what message they would like to give their countrymen on this Independence Day. Each one of them said, “Tell them we are here to protect India’s borders. Tell them they can all sleep peacefully as we are looking out for them.” I don’t think I imagined it, but their faces showed a firm belief that they were doing something that mattered, something meaningful, by serving in the Army. Their voices rang with patriotism. Though the cynic in me wondered for a split second if these lines were rehearsed, the naïve idealist that is also me refused to accept that.
In any case, it is true that we civilians sleep peacefully only because our soldiers are out there defending our borders. I guess I just feel a need to acknowledge this, and since this blog often serves as a repository of random thoughts I don’t know whom to share with, here it is.