Two quotations from two different leaders with diverse backgrounds are worth quoting. There is firstly, the famous quote by Mao tse Tung that echoes around the world"Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun". The second is the more recent one and attributed to President Obama of the United States. he says" I, as President will never allow the US armed forces and our soldiers to weaken or be dissatisfied, as our power and ability to dominate the world depends on our armed might".
The above two statements show the importance which the nations attach to their army. Air force and navy. In contrast in India we have a sorry spectacle right from the time of Nehru of having the soldier and the armed forces as the last priority. The thinking to say the least is warped. One can recollect the ludicrous statement by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, first president of India . He stated that India does not need an army and it should be disbanded and the border can be guarded by police.
The Congress party which came to power was allergic to military might and Nehru who always feared a military coup d'etat decided the army deserved no importance. Thus, latest weaponry was denied to the army and its strength greatly reduced. In addition perks and privileges of the armed force were gradually eroded away. This state of affairs continued even after Nehru died and one of the greatest blunders was reduction in pensionary benefits for the soldiers on the plea of economy.
This down grading of the army had its repercussion, India was thrashed in a war with China in 1962 and in addition, lost 30000 square miles of territory in Kashmir ( Aksai Chin) to China. On top of this 1/3rd of Kashmir was also lost to Pakistan. Grudgingly the army was increased in strength, but over all the priority of the soldier remained low. How short sighted were the rulers as they failed to learn from history. Neglect of the army by the Hindus resulted in a catastrophic defeat at the hands of the Muslims and ended with the Hindus becoming near slaves or serfs in their own land for close to 9 centuries. Can anything be more galling than this?
The Indian political leadership has learnt nothing. India is the one country in the world that has no war memorial. In addition the great history of the Indian army in battles from Boxer rebellion( 1900) and Saragrahi( 1897) to its contribution to Allied victory in two World wars is studiously ignored and hardly anybody in India among the masses is aware of it. A militant like Subhash Bose and the Indian National Army contribution to Indian freedom is studiously ignored. Can anything be more sadder than this?
The latest agitation by ex-servicemen for pensionary benefits as agreed by parliament is a case in point. Can any reader think of any other country in the world where soldiers have to agitate for a right? India is one such country and it is shamed in the world as it does not look after men who have donned the uniform. As a nationalist , I am perturbed and this is a pointer that dire things are likely to happen in India. A calamity may be around the corner as once the army loses morale the very unity of India will be threatened. Can the political leadership intent on increasing wages of members of parliament by 100% not see the writing on the wall?