OF VAL­OUR AND QUEST

The Army of­fers not only a chance to brave chal­lenges but also to be the change

India Today - - ARMED FORCES - The author is with the In­dian Army.

The In­dian Army is the largest vol­un­tary army and, next to China, the sec­ond largest army in the world. It is also a large con­glom­er­a­tion of val­ues, ex­pe­ri­ence, reg­i­men­ta­tion, cus­toms, tra­di­tions, ethos and cul­ture. When com­bined, it takes the shape of a multi- spec­trum kalei­do­scope, cov­er­ing many cen­turies. In­spite of its large size and di­verse re­gional cul­tures, it is a shin­ing ex­am­ple of unity in di­ver­sity as also the strength of our na­tion.

As the na­tion cel­e­brated its 65th In­de­pen­dence Day on Au­gust 15, its men in olive green looked back at their achieve­ments, with a deep sense of pride and sat­is­fac­tion. These can be at­trib­uted to a glo­ri­ous mil­i­tary his­tory and “core val­ues” of high sig­nif­i­cance. Dur­ing the span of its rich his­tory, thou­sands of soldiers have fought hundreds of bat­tles, world­wide, many of epic di­men­sions. Re­course to arms was only taken when peace was threat­ened. In fact, the word 'peace' forms the very core of In­dian phi­los­o­phy, a bench­mark. Com­ing to tra­di­tions, In­dian soldiers hail from all re­gions, where tra­di­tion and chivalry play a vi­tal role in so­ci­ety.

These are based on, both, his­tor­i­cal cum re­li­gious events and leg­ends, where heroic fig­ures be­came role mod­els. Iconic war­riors like Ar­juna, Ashoka, Tipu Sul­tan, Ch­hat­tra­p­ati Shivaji, Ma­ha­rana Pratap, Tan­tia Tope, Rani of Jhansi, Ran­jit Singh, Gu­lab Singh and Zo­rawar Singh, to name a few, have proved to be a great source of in­spi­ra­tion.

This forms the bedrock of our reg­i­men­tal tra­di­tions, and many reg­i­men­tal cus­toms, bat­tle cries, crests, badges and so on are based on such tra­di­tions even to­day. That apart, it is also a fact that the In­dian Army has fought the max­i­mum va­ri­ety of op­po­nents, world­wide, be they the Turks of the mighty Ot­toman Em­pire, Ger­mans, Ital­ians, Ja­panese, for­eign merce­nar­ies op­er­at­ing along­side Bel­gian based Gen­darmerie in Congo, armed trib­als of the North West Fron­tier Prov­ince, the Chi­nese, Por­tuguese, Pak­ista­nis, So­ma­lis, Hutu rebels in Rwanda, var­i­ous fac­tions in Sri Lanka, for­eign trained and armed ter­ror­ists in the States of Jammu and Kash­mir and the North East.

As a corol­lary, brav­ery and val­our are other re­lated fac­tors, which dis­tin­guish In­dian soldiers world­wide. To cite a sin­gle ex­am­ple, dur­ing the two World Wars, next to the Royal Bri­tish Army, In­dian of- fi­cers and soldiers earned the largest tally of Vic­to­ria Crosses, the high­est award meted out for val­our and brav­ery in bat­tle- to­talling 42.

All this could in­still a sense of pride and awe even amongst the staunch­est scep­tics. Post in­de­pen­dence, too, the In­dian Army has risen to nu­mer­ous oper­a­tional chal­lenges. These in­clude four ma­jor wars fought along In­dia's bor­ders and many other lo­calised con­flicts: counter in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions in the North East­ern States, the Kargil war of

1999 and the on­go­ing 'proxy war' in J&K.

It has also op­er­ated in dif­fer­ent ter­rain, al­ti­tudes and weather con­di­tions, such as the sub zero moun­tain­ous and glaciated re­gion of Si­achen, icy plateaus of North Sikkim, deserts of Ra­jasthan, salt marshes of Gu­jarat, river­ine and dense jun­gle ter­rain of the North East, is­land ter­ri­to­ries of An­daman & Ni­co­bar and the Lak­shad­weeps.

Such an ex­po­sure is rare for any army, that too, which is lo­cated in the unique In­dian penin­sula. True to tra­di­tions, In­dian Army's var­i­ous reg­i­ments and ‘Scholar War­riors’ have risen to the clar­ion call on each oper­a­tional occa- sion, with alacrity and firm­ness.

The adroit han­dling of such chal­lenges, give an in­sight into the raw guts, steel sinews and moral fi­bre of In­dian Army per­son­nel, ir­re­spec­tive of their re­gional eth­nic­ity or reg­i­men­tal af­fil­i­a­tion. It is a proven fact that when op­er­at­ing col­lec­tively, as part of for­ma­tions, they im­bibe a com­mon cre­dence, based on national val­ues and fer­vor.

In­dia has also been a cham­pion of global peace, un­der the aegis of UN Peace­keep­ing. The In­dian Army has par- tic­i­pated, in an ex­em­plary man­ner in UN Peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions, in more than a dozen coun­tries, spread across four con­ti­nents. Presently, with nearly 7,200 troops de­ployed in var­i­ous mis­sion ar­eas abroad, In­dia is ranked amongst the largest and most re­li­able troop con­tribut­ing na­tion, to­wards this laud­able UN cause. That apart, it has also con­ducted joint mil­i­tary train­ing, in varied sce­nar­ios, on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing with armies of the USA, Rus­sia and China, amongst many oth­ers.

The In­dian Army is not just about sol­dier­ing. It has made in­roads into a plethora of di­verse fields as well, such as cre­at­ing a se­cure environment for its na­tion­als; eco­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and na­tion build­ing; bor­der guard­ing; in­ter­nal se­cu­rity; pro­vid­ing qual­ity aid and suc­cor to vic­tims of floods, tsunamis, earth­quakes, avalanches, land­slides and other nat­u­ral or man made dis­as­ters and en­durance based feats. Its varied ex­pe­ri­ences have helped it to at­tain all round ex­cel­lence and gain tremen­dous con­fi­dence in it­self, its lead­ers and the sys­tem per se.

In the field of sports and ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties, too, it has made great in­roads. If its moun­taineers have con­quered some of the high­est moun­tains time and again, of­ten from dif­fi­cult di­rec­tions, its per­son­nel have tra­versed the world in yachts, skied to the South Pole, con­ducted lengthy desert sa­faris, es­tab­lished new records in para sail­ing, hang glid­ing, free fall, mo­tor­cy­cle ex­pe­di­tions and white water raft­ing.

In in­ter­na­tional sports, too, it has cre­ated his­tory by win­ning medals in the Olympic Games, Com­mon­wealth Games and Asiad. All these achieve­ments have been the re­sult of sound plan­ning based on a clear vi­sion, sus­tained train­ing, sheer guts, de­ter­mi­na­tion, ca­ma­raderie and esprit de corps.

Pan­dit Jawa­har­lal Nehru once said, "Suc­cess of­ten comes to those who dare and act. It sel­dom goes to the timid". Based on this adage, the In­dian Army ded­i­cates it­self with re­newed zest and vigour to at­tain greater heights, and to face new chal­lenges, in di­verse fields, in the years to come. Army is not just a no­ble pro­fes­sion; it is a way of life.

LT. GEN. SAN­JEEV MAD­HOK

AP PHOTO

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