Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Month: January 2017

MY HEART IS BLEEDING FOR INDIA

As the saying goes, as we grow old we become wiser, but as my country grows old why does it appear to me that it is tending towards immaturity. We all Indians were born here, brought up here, maybe for a little period went abroad to study or work, some came back some never went. We all continue to see this country develop. This development has been both on the positive side and negative side which I want to discuss with you all. Above all I feel that IF we are such thorough bred and pedigreed “HINDUSTANI” then why we are so negative about everything. Are we such a breed that we have to find faults with anything and everything? Why do we destroy & steal our facilities and assets? If we call ourselves a democracy, then why are we divided into parties to be united as a nation? Why have we to polarise people to separate and segregate themselves to re-congregate to align themselves to someone or some person or some ideology and thereafter only can we do good for this country. This has to now change if we really want to see our country reach new heights I feel.

The states are different, because the basic stock of humans was different. We were randomly divided into smaller manageable geographical areas for better governance. The religious divisions should have finished when a new country was created and all those who wanted to stay back should have accepted what the constitution said and laid out. Besides the religious divide we further got into the social structure of tribes, casts, poverty line etc-etc, now thing started to get complex. To add to all this chaos we added and encouraged hard line religious groups and ideologies as trust and faith in the other had been lacking. Now we have added the maximum confusion by adding political parties to the quagmire, who have not only polarised the people but deepened the fissures of hate and intolerance towards each other. This is where our country stands today, united on the surface but divided, fissured, separated, split, cracked, ripped, unconnected, divorced, splintered , fractured, broken, like a huge jumbled up jigsaw puzzle.

We as a people of this nation have become self centred, myopic, tunnel visioned, selfish, self-centred, blinkered, prejudiced, biased, partial, unfair, narrow minded, unjust and unfaithful to this very country which has granted us all the freedoms, because of which I have the freedom to write and express my views. Who is responsible to fritter away the basic human resource which we admit with so much of pride that we are 125 billion and growing? Individuals are fighting, groups of individuals are fighting, states are fighting with each other, and so is the country with its neighbours. Above all politicians are spreading venom. Who is at peace then, who is enjoying at whose cost is another question? Is it the rich at the cost of the poor? Is it the haves over have not’s, is it the educated over the uneducated, is it the employed against the unemployed? What is it? The division continues, with no solution is site. Should it continue, is also a point to ponder, who will bring in the unity amongst all these warring factions, is also food for thought, above all are we really interested in our welfare, happiness and prosperity, I don’t know, but one thing is sure that we are not  moving in the right direction.

Economists may claim that India is on its growth part as India is going to lead the consumption and production of goods one day. Fine! But how will we stop this mad rush and be a country to reckon with is the question. Who is running the Indian economy today, is it being run from “Jaitley ki ketley” or is it being run based on the world market. Is what Modi and Jaitely feel will shape the future of India or is it we Indians who should decide what we want, or are we such idiots that we cannot set the agenda for the government that what is the need of the hour for everyone in the country. The farmer is crying, the soldier is sitting on fast unto death, the industrialist is cutting jobs, militancy is increasing day by day, neighbours are not behaving, infrastructure is not being built with a 50 year vision, facilities are not being created for India 2050, our sports is in doldrums despite the amount of milk and desi-ghee we produce and consume, what is basically wrong then. I don’t know.

Is it the lack of accountability? Is it mis-governance? Is it our flawed education system? Is it our sick mentality? Is this how we Indians think? Is it our selfish attitude? Is it our false patriotism? Is it our superficial “desh bhakti”? These are some questions which intrigue me. Every government boasts about the facilities it creates, but we can’t manage simple things like garbage disposal. Is it because the staff is not paid and infrastructure is not available or is it that we citizens throw rubbish all over. Shame! Rail accidents happen because of poor safety norms and poor security standards, Shame! Bridges and flyovers fall because of corruption in government offices, Shame! The soldier cannot reply back to its enemy because of lack of equipment and modernisation, Shame! The farmer is not given the right prices and incentives to produce what we eat, Shame! The industrialist is squeezed by politicians for party funds and further throttled in a manner where he per force succumbs to pressures of the governmental agencies to keep their palms greased and survive. Shame! As individuals our freedom of movement, our liberty is at highest risk because we do not have effective policing and exemplary punishments, Shame! Our cases in courts are piling up and strength in the jails ever increasing, Shame! List is endless, and shaming is endless.

Well, I have thought about it and it appears that we created politicians to govern this country, they created the bureaucracy to sustain the laws enacted by them, but none seem to be in real touch with reality. Out of the three pillars of democracy, the pillar which considers itself to be supreme and happens to be our parliament and the parliamentarians seem to be people with a total time pass mentality. In 70 years we haven’t been able to build roads in India, we haven’t been able to make schools or set the uniform education system in India. We haven’t been able to allow our ladies to roam free on the streets of India, we haven’t been able to provide the armed forces what they need, then why do we have a parliament and why should we elect these people at all. I find politicians stooping down to show down every one for their own narrow gains. Well, I am just thinking what use are they if all the taxes I pay will go in their pockets and every party has only promises in their manifesto and nothing concrete. Should they be booted and brought to do justice to their jobs? Or should we citizens of India sit back, relax and enjoy the jinxed flight, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MY LOVING PUNJAB

 

I was getting excited to see the campaign in Punjab heating up. Will it be “the Jahru” “the hand”, “the lotus”, “the weighing scale”, or some mix and match as per convenience for these elections? The jharu went into the wrong hands in Delhi and then there was a disaster, the weighing scale weighed too many lotuses but survived through its term. Let us see how things work out now. Badal’s are not the hot favourites for sure. The Captain’s stars have lost their shine, but the new broom in Punjab it appears will sweep better. Well, I for one am not really bothered who comes or goes frankly, what I am interested is in good governance for the people of Punjab. The way baba and Modi ji are portraying the picture of Punjab it appears that every Punjabi is a druggie, every Punjabi is a thief, every Punjabi is poor, every Punjabi is uneducated, there are no roads existing in Punjab, there is no industry in Punjab, the agricultural land is producing nothing, the rivers have dried up, every farmer is going to commit suicide soon, finances are in deep red, so on and so forth. That is what it appears when one heard these leaders who spoke in rallies and road shows in Punjab.

Rahul baba should not be taken seriously, as however hard he may try by saying JO BOLE SO NIHAL; he cannot garner the josh in the Punjabi’s. Yes, Navjot Siddhu who has rediscovered himself back to his origins I believe and found “the hand” may have some potential. I feel it is too late now, people can see through him. Captain can fire, but his barrel is reaching the end of fair wear and tear, so it may not last as long, and if we expect some shake up to happen could be from the sweeping instrument party. People want a change as usual, so there is no other alternative than to chose a broom, which may sweep or may not sweep that time will tell. The lotus is deep into “Keechad”, but with the “balance” tilting towards the broom they appear to be holding on steadfast to the weighing scale. Moment they are off the balance, they could be written off.

Be that as it may, I wasn’t impressed at all with the speech of PM Modi. Reasons I shall tell you as I go on, but first of all my issue is that when I have been elected as a Prime Minister of a country, I should cease to be of any party per se. I am PM of the country and that’s it. Ethically and morally I feel it is absolutely wrong for the Prime Minister to get involved in any state level politics as now you represent the country only. Yes, if Mr Amit Shah the BJP President had addressed the rally, I can understand. But PM Sahib you need to bring this change. You may belong to the BJP, but you are way above and beyond that as on today. Your every word matters, you are aware of the national policies, you can divert funds towards Punjab and you can influence lot of things even at this last moment, which in my view is unfair to all others.

Why were you flown in an IAF helicopter, if you were attending this rally as a BJP karyakarta? You had no business to engage the IAF services for your personal or party use. Yes, had you flown in for some flood relief or any other disaster, by all means you are authorised and entitled to use the service aircrafts or any service facilities. But if you are PM and attending your party rally, please stop it as it doesn’t give “shobha” to a person of your stature to misuse the air force. The sortie would have been better utilised for training or for that matter for avalanche rescue in J&K. I consider that as more important than you addressing a rally to beg for votes for your party and its alliance. Had you people worked hard enough, the need to stoop to your negative comments about anyone would have never arisen. I kind of felt hurt, when you highlighted the so called misdeeds of others, and only highlighted what you had done across the country. I am sure Punjab would be included in that so what is so special. It was a total negatively charged rally, with just one aim, to influence the voter of Punjab to be misguided, misled, and remain confused, so as to be brainwashed to stamp on the lotus or balance. Not done sir. Play the game fair and square. It only lowers your status and stature in my eyes at least.

I was also watching the Kejriwal effect in the lanes of Punjab. Well, I found people acknowledging this person too. They knew about him more than his candidates. Well, I wish him luck. In case he can build in a strong front, may be things may drastically improve. Hope all the things I have said in my opening paragraph could be addressed within days of a new government. Can things change overnight? It is not possible unless a miracle happens, and in politics it is more of a surprise which happens than a miracle. People just want a peaceful, happy, healthy life. Please give them that.

A word about “CHITTA”, has any party announced the ways and means to get hold of the source of it? Has any party told how will they eradicate its availability and distribution chain? Has anyone thought about the rehabilitation of each individual who is affected by this drug? Modiji and baba ji, just by saying that you will eradicate this menace moment you step in is roaming in wonderland. The magic wand of the fairy only is in fairy tales, here its actual people, actual humans involved. The infrastructure for drug-rehab, the medicines, and the follow up, the staff and the direct action to eradicate the transit facility of this dastardly thing has not been discussed anywhere I suppose. Let’s have a road map against all abuses please. Include the abuse of power from a public platform which PM Sahib did.

Well, I have a special soft corner for this state and it shall always remain. From my birth certificate, upbringing, schooling, first postal address, the pin code was 144601. My first vehicle was registered in this state; I got married and brought my wife to Punjab. My dad’s grave is in that place. I did one tenure in Punjab while in the army. What more can I claim! Today, when I see the state being portrayed in such poor light, it hurts me. As a kid, I remember the local MLA Mr MILKHI RAM, roaming on a bicycle and doing things for Kapurthala, good old days they were. However, I want Punjab to flourish again. Let there be a green, white and blue revolution again. I want it to be the most prosperous states irrespective of whichever party rules. I want Punjab and its people to win. Will Mr Modi or xyz do a miracle? Or will these party rallies be to only win elections and then see how the wheel of prosperity can be reinvented in Punjab? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PRESERVING OUR TRADITIONS AND CULTURE

As I see this “Jallikattu” controversy raging and refusing to die down, I feel the local sentiments should always be preserved. The steam engine gave way to other locomotives but we still preserve a few for posterity sake. I don’t know the Tamil for cow, goat or buffalo but one thing is sure that now due to media exposure, I know all the breeds of these tamilian bulls, their qualities, the origins of this tradition, the modifications which came by and by and the present state of this form of animal cruelty for some, entertainment for some, tradition for some, prize money for some, risk for some, adventure for some, above all its a big pass time for many. Can it be declared a national holiday? I have no issues. I am no one to decide all this.

I was just thinking as to why are the traditions of cart racing, bull fighting, cock fighting etc dwindling away. Is it that we as a society are evolving? Is it that we do not like the atrocities on animals and birds? Or is it that we really want to finish these traditions? Well, slowly the bullock carts went into oblivion, so did the traditional oxen I suppose. I remember as a child the carts used to move on wooden wheels. Carts used to be lined up at the “Mandi” gates with loads of “Jhona”(Rice) and “Kanak”(Wheat). Slowly the wooden wheels were replaced with truck wheels and tyres, and then with tractors and trolleys. There used to be long lines of tractors and trolleys carrying sugarcane outside the sugar mills of Phagwara. Pulling out an odd sugarcane through the bus window was a common site and a matter of pride. All that now has been replaced by mechanised forms of transport. The bulls and oxen I find are now left on the streets to beg for food, and a matter of awe for the foreigners to paint India in a different colour.

I can never forget my maiden and only journey on a bullock cart from a village called Lakhan Kalan in Kapurthala to our residence in Sainik School. It was a seven odd kilometre journey but took us around 4-5 hours. Reason, we missed the last bus from there. I remember day turned into night, and it was winters. The person whom we had gone to visit, his wife and one son drove us home. I am talking of the year 1969-70. He had lighted a lantern under the cart which kept dangling and half the time it used to be extinguished due to a jerky stops by the bullocks, his two dogs in tow which stayed close to the cart. I remember we went jumping up and down the cart, running along, getting tired, jump and sit facing backwards on the cart again with feet dangling. Picking up and chewing on a sugarcane piece, anticipating the “Khaddas”, pleading to uncle to get the bullocks on the run. His typical conversation with the oxen intrigued us. His cane used to reprimand them sometimes and then guided them to turn or to move fast. One can never forget that scene. The animals understood every signal, every scold, and every word but kept moving with all of us loaded.

Dad and mom were worried due to the stray dogs snarling at us. Roads were nonexistent in fact it was a clay track with huge potholes, if depressions is an exaggerated word. The wheels were getting stuck as the water which spilled over from the fields had made that fine clay impassable. But hats off to the “Pilot”, and the effort of the bullocks, he steered his cart to our home. It was winter time; we had hay on the cart, thick rajais, a sugarcane bundle, Chana, popcorns, mungfali bought from the “Mai” at the end of the village, who was especially requested to roast them for us.

We reached home around 8 pm, dirty as dirty could be. I remember dad went on his ladies cycle to the market bought some dal and rotis for all of us. They could depart back to lakhan kalan after having dinner. Next Sunday when uncle met us in church, he told us that they had to spend the night midway under the open skies, as the bullocks had got tired and had to be watered and fed. Well, good old days, brought back memories. By the way, we plucked muli, shalgam and gajjar’s enroute at will. The “Amrood’s” were not spared either. No one objected, we all had fun, we all were dead tired and we all sang songs all the way in half hindi, half Punjabi. The return gift auntie gave us was a big bundle of raw “Sarson da Saag”. It was a journey of a life time and shall remain etched in my memory for ever.

With the evolution of the “Jugaar” (make shift bullock cart) which can be used as a cart, to a school bus, to a trolley, to run a generator, to run a motor for crushing sugarcane, to run a tube well, to travel for a marriage, to bring “pathaas” (fodder) and you name it. The tradition of keeping oxen died down in Punjab at least. The traditional bullocks and their carts disappeared somewhere. Was it the unaffordable cost of new oxen, was it their slow speed, was it the less weight they carried, was it inconvenience or was it the high cost maintaining a pair of bullocks?  Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Let me talk of our dear “MAJH” (Buffalo) too, the black darling which gives milk. She too faced her ups and downs. I remember going to Punjab Agriculture University as a kid to see the high yielding variety of cows and that is the time I saw the Holstein and Jersey cows. We used to wonder looking at the udders how much milk would they contain. When told around 40 litres, our jaws fell flat. The local majh gave from 12-15 litres and here it was more than double. Then we used to wonder how much stamina would the man have who would milch them. We were told friend’s milk is extracted by vacuum and suction pipes. It was a vow moment for us. We as kids were amazed at the progress of science and technology. Punjab was really the highest milk producer. Well, we never bothered we just drank milk, pure, sure and healthy milk. No adulteration, no chemicals, no fertilizers, just choose your Bhains or “majh” and get the milk. One glass of milk in the morning and one in the evening was tradition. White makhhan was abundant, Malai was never restricted, dahi was a must for lunch, in between Bhole ki lassi. Milk was given to us in every form. I am not sure whether glucose was ever given to a Punjabi patient. Given a choice they would force milk into a patient’s vein if not desi ghee.

Folks, our animals are in danger alright, but why haven’t we made them so popular that other countries ask for them for research and development. Why isn’t our cattle bred the way the other cattle rearing countries do. Traditions need to stay and they need to be preserved but can we save our animals and birds from hurt, suffering, torture, injury and death while preserving our traditional customs and glorious past, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NORMS FOR RETIRED CHIEFS TO JOIN POLITICS

I have been mulling over it since yesterday after receiving a call from a retired Air Marshal, about my article on the subject which went viral. I could understand the deep hurt and anguish he felt like many of my fellow veterans, by the conduct of a General, who has joined the political battleground recently. Actually, my excitement knew no bounds when such a senior officer gave a call. My chest kept swelling with pride, but my mind kept working on why it made the Air Marshal react. Definitely, he did not approve of the Generals conduct; he felt that there is more than something amiss. He was convinced that the image of the Armed Forces was being tarnished by such behaviour of such a senior officer. He was sad and deeply concerned about the dilution of the ethics, the traditions and values associated with the armed forces. Sir, my salute to you for talking to a Mr Nobody, I had never spoken to a Chief ever before and I cannot explain my inner happiness speaking to a fatherly figure.

Firstly, any Chief who retires, should he join politics is the question? I say he should never. If still he joins politics what role is he best suited for? Well, to argue that if we as a fraternity do not join politics then how shall “we” be represented in the parliament? How do we get what is needed for the defence establishment of the country including veterans? Fine, so should we leave our military upbringing behind and try and ape the politicians. Some of them are not worth their salt. Simply by wearing a kurta-pyjama we are nowhere near politics per se. Instead, we surely embarrass “our community” more by speaking out of turn, out of place, out of context, basically foot in the mouth disease. I have seen one Chief who joined politics and has never been dealing with the Defence Ministry. There is a Colonel who was an Olympian, but has never been to the starting blocks of the Sports Ministry. The other retired officers I won’t mention. I am sure they all would be doing a lot for the country if not defence to say the least.

Let me just say, all key appointments assisting the Trump administration will be veterans. Why can’t ours be too? Why can’t our chiefs who volunteer after retirement also be made ministers directly? In US the President can choose his team from the experts in the field, in India we have to get elected first, field does not matter, expertise makes no difference, and education doesn’t matter. It is only the votes which matter. So except for a Gen, who could win elections, do we as veterans stand a chance? No way! This OROP and pay commission issue he would have dealt with in various appointments when he was in uniform, and now that he is in the right place where he can make things matter, I don’t find him involved directly at all. He may be justified in continuing his “desh-sewa” alright, but we the veterans feel let down. Can the General save the veterans and their kin from fast unto death, or is he waiting for it to happen and then react. I request him to please contribute rather just being subservient to his political masters.

Be that as it may, can we take a poll of how many Ex Chiefs would like to join politics? Will they like to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha and thereafter hold various ministries like many MPs who even after losing the elections are ministers. Finance Minister who looked after defence and Textile minister who had HRD with her are live examples. Well sir, do we need to take lessons from there. Why can’t our Generals, Air Marshals and Admirals run any ministry? It is food for thought folks.

What does the corporate think of as a retired fauji? Most of us are considered security walas, a head chowkidaar, a chap who will ensure that the corporate toilets are clean, the MDs booking to Pattaya is done business class, his fleet of vehicles is looked after the best, all stationary bills and office equipment is rationalised, food is made of the best quality and served to everyone in situ, all accommodation hired is the cheapest, etc-etc. basically we are head butlers of kinds. Our duties also included looking after and pleasing all senior government guys, collectors, mayors, and police stations in our jurisdictions with cuts and gifts fixed for them. The corporate only uses our ranks and our deportment to breakthrough to senior officials.  Well, we are doing it and most of it is against our wishes, can’t help it as have a family to look after, as most of us retired as colonels and below. We have to live a whole life and have liabilities to finish.

Why couldn’t Gen say that he wants to stand for the President of India’s post? Governor is a political post alright, supported by a political party alright, but the Supreme commander of the armed forces, besides being the titular head of the country where the PM and his cabinet are advisors to the President is a different ball game altogether. Why has he fallen from grace to come to the grass roots of Punjab politics? There are many people who become preachers, social workers or run NGOs and really serve humanity. Are you seriously talking about the welfare of the people of Patiala? Sir do not “pill”, don’t pull a fast one, don’t maro satta’s, don’t confuse us veterans in NDA parlance.

Coming to the morals and values of a Chief, the decorum which comes with your appointment, the awe and aura which is affiliated with a General and a Governor, the sense of responsibility which is expected out of such capable people like you is missing. The conduct which is expected of you, the ethos which you should bring with the rank you wore, the purity, clarity and the clear cut aims of your mind should well show. A leader of one of the biggest armies suddenly stoops so low, is uncalled for, unheard of, unacceptable, unwarranted, objectionable to most of us. The language you use in vernacular, the courtesies that you have forgotten, the politeness and gentlemanly behaviour which is expected out of person of such high esteem is nowhere to be found. Sir, may I request you on behalf of most of us veterans, and especially the very senior lot who wore ranks equivalent to you or near yours, to let them live in dignity. Let them not answer on your behalf, as this cruel world is now questioning their integrity and their conduct. The civil now sees those veterans in the same light as you; they are not only tormented but distressed by your conduct and refuse to be equated like that.

I hope you know that people are calling you JAMANAT JABT SINGH, even before you have started your political career. The way you want to knock out the Captain, it appears we need to declare an RSC (Referee Stop Contest), firstly because you don’t know the rules of the game, secondly you only know how to hit foul, most of your boxes are below the belt and lastly lest we forget, let us give some izzat to our senior who all his life has done politics and you only “Jarnailey” and “Governorshahi”. So do you get it General, it is a call from the community which you form part of. Will you pay heed, or will you be used and thrown by the Badals, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE DIVIDED STATES OF INDIA

I saw it in the news that the “United States” have sworn in their new President, you like it or trump it. What will he mean to India? Hey Arnab! Where are you? The nation wants to know, no baba not where you are but your views on him becoming the President. It is an opportune time for Barkha, Rajdeep and gang to steal Arnab’s thunder. Well, thank God he is not on TV these days. I have had to change the speakers of my TV twice, as the refuse to reverberate at the pitch, tone and tenor he has brought to news debates. Well, let him be, as they said in the fauj, “vo jahan bhi hoga apni word of command ki practice kar raha hoga”. My civilian friends may not know that our Drill Ustads used to practice word of command in front of trees, considering trees to be their students. Funny! Well a tree cannot reply back, and so can’t a Cadet. We better be cadets’ in front of Arnab or else he might punish us with “teen saal tak flat foot carry on”. (It is a punishment given during drill practice)

Be that as it may, we chose Modi and they chose Trump, now let us deal with it. By the way I just heard he is going to start a swadeshi movement in US. Now please don’t ask me how a Gandhian principle can be applied to America. Let me tell you the gist, Americans are going to use only American stuff. Americans are going to employ only American people. Americans are going to eat American produce; America is going to promote their own industry. Well, what is wrong? Should India take a lesson from them? Ultimately, it should to be make, bake, fry, dry, manufacture, research, in India. Are we ready? Are we willing? Are we open minded? Are we the common people even thinking about it, or is our state of mind such that we are looking for the cheapest, with free bees, with add ons, with guarantee and warranty and the government pays for it.

Well besides saving and boosting the economy, in between we have save the tiger, save the rhino, save jallikattu, save the elephant, save the monkey, save the environment, save water, save electricity, over all save ever thing except the most precious thing which is called human life. No one cares for beti bachao leave alone beti parhao. “Yahan beta nahi parhta” (here the son doesn’t study). We see people so dedicated that they won’t let a stray animal go hungry. They treat it, feed it, nurse it, adopt it and keep it as a pet, but when it comes to the human race, they shun it, avoid it, hate it, let it go hungry, someone else will do it. Who is this someone else, is it the government? Which government, the State government says it is the Central government and the centre says it is the State government. The baby is left on the road with no one to feed and care. Baby here is me and you the common people. Is Modi ji responsible for everything? Yes, is the CM responsible? Yes, is the DC responsible? Yes, is the panchayat responsible? Yes, but actually in India it is NO. It is the individual who is responsible for anything and everything, most of the elected people are only there to pass legislation, the balance are there to ensure that the “copies of legislations” reach everywhere, the remaining are there to criticise those legislations but most of them are party to siphoning off the finances to support the legislations. I get the crumbs, if not the left over’s. I get the “uttaran” (the used clothes); the new ones are meant for the people in power. That is what bothers me.

Let me just put my view about politicians of today. They have become passing the buck people, they are just passing the blame, most of them mislead, misrepresent, misguide the people of India is a common mans perception. They just sit on news debates as if they are holier than the cow. Seriously folks, they are getting away with murder as whatever they say in the parliament cannot be taken against them and whatever is said on the TV debates is just to irritate and prove, the common man is an idiot. Well, I consider myself to be a little educated common man, so I don’t pay heed to their bak-bak, promises, enticement, lies (untruths as they call it) But I can’t tolerate their mis-governance, hopeless administration, zero follow up, no command and control. Well, if they can’t control their tongue, I feel they can control nothing whatsoever.

I want to contribute to this country positively but I fear as I am a domicile of nowhere. I was born and brought up somewhere, worked pan India, settled somewhere, now working somewhere, bought a house somewhere. What is my identity? Is my identity my Adhar card, pan card, ration card, driving license, voting card, passport, landline telephone bill, bank pass book of salary account or bank address as shown in my pension account my identity. All of them are different. When it comes to voting, I do not know the person who is standing for election. Is he a goonda? Is he a mawali? Is he a real janta ka sewak? Is he going to visit me only before the next elections once he gets elected? I have yet to see any politician worth his salt of my area visiting and working for the people who voted for him. Why has he been chosen by the people raises my eyebrows? Was it liquor? Was it biryani? or was it both? Today, every politician has his set of goons accompanying him, bouncers if you may call them, one is scared like hell. The image thus he portrays is scary one better avoid him. They come with a convoy of chelas; you wonder your factory employs lesser people than that in his cavalcade.

Well, Congratulations Mr Trump, all the best sir and God speed. Do what is good for America; we in India will only do good to all the other nations except ourselves. We in India will tolerate all nonsense from Pakistan, we in India will wash all our dirty linen only on TV news shows, we in India will only blame the opposition, We in India shall only remain the DIVIDED STATES OF INDIA till we transform our mindset that our INDIA is OUR INDIA, our BHARAT is OUR BHARAT and our HINDUSTAN is MERI JAAN. JAI HIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GEN JJ SINGH AND A GENTLEMAN

 

I was reminded of two movies which have been my long time favourites; one was “An Officer and a Gentleman”, and the other “Pretty Woman”. The hero in both is Richard Gere. A poor orphan in the first one and a stinking rich businessman in the other, and in both he proved to be a Gentleman to the core. In the first he did not quit though his sergeant Major, the Drill instructor grilled him till he almost gave up. In the other he decided to bring out the best of a lady in Julia Roberts at whatever cost. From being a woman of ill repute to a woman who is the most sophisticated on earth, he taught her to behave like a queen. A big contrast in the story lines but a glaring similarity too. In the end the goal was to make the man and the lady the toughest, mentally, physically and to be at their behavioural best, to be the best in their conduct, and to be proud of whatever they were and are, isn’t it? Well, now let me bring in a different tadka of General JJ Singh (Retd) in it. I am sure half of your mouths flavour would have got spoilt. Well I am going to discuss a few things of what I see of him on TV now and what I as a veteran feel about it.

I know I should not discuss such a senior, respectable and honourable officer, who served as my Chief of Army Staff, and later went on to become the honourable Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. I am sure all his details can be seen on Wikipedia. I was awestruck at the decorations he has, besides the ones which come with age and profile of service. He has the PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, Wound Medal and an Officer of the Legion of Honour of France, in all 21 medals and decorations. I salute you sir. I am sure you would have reached the coveted post of COAS with sheer hard work and toil. Then you also became Governor of a state due to your knowledge of the intricacies and complexities of things there, I assume. Today, you have decided to enter into the political arena and that too against your rival, an Ex-NDA at that. May be you were a course or two junior to the Capt against whom you have decided to contest elections in Patiala. Well, how, when why, what of the decision of you joining politics is purely your internal bandobast, but for me as veteran and mango man, what when why that has gone wrong in the way you conduct yourselves after joining politics has become an issue.

The first thing we were taught in NDA was to respect your seniors, right. The second thing was obey orders, right. Today you are not even a second termer in politics, and you are telling a sixth termer who has lived and fought politics all his life, in NDA parlance been even relegated many a times when he lost elections and you are trying to take his place. You are not even a “Green Horn” where as he in his final term, in fact he is about to pass out and you decide to contest and beat him. Well I wish you luck. I am sure you are getting into the novices boxing ring where you all hardly know one other. You are raw and are put into the boxing ring against your will. Even if by a far chance should I consider the Captain a novice in the game, he has been a champion boxer in his school, TANNNNN, the gong has been struck sir, box on.

Last night I was watching a show on NDTV, where you and Sachin Pilot were discussing your “fight” in Patiala. You know what, you are not even fit for novices boxing is my view. The way Sachin conducted himself with grace and finesse and mind you with so much of respect for you, not as a rival but because you had been a General, you should be grateful. He laughed at your inexperience and thankfully left you with your pants on. Sir, one more thing which the Academy taught us was to be Gentlemen, and I found you to be more of an uncouth person, who suddenly has forgotten all the virtues, values and manners which one has picked up all your lives. Do you remember how the seniors used to treat us? Did you ever utter a word in NDA? Or were you a sissy, that after every fall in you ran to your Div-O to put that senior up. That is what it appeared to me that after leading an Army and a state, today you have turned into a sissy of sorts by resorting to hitting below the belt. You are not talking face to face with the Captain; you are giving an opinion or a statement about him in his absence and comparing yourself with Donald Trump. A gentleman was taught to sort things out face to face, and not use the media as a tool to defame the other person. Let me in the same breadth not give an impression that Capt is my favourite, or I am a congress man. But let me also tell you that you may have joined whichever party; they know they can never win here and shall have this one seat less for sure. The deposit that you give for this election, the election commission has already started to say cheers and party in anticipation that it shall be forfeited.

The basic principal of fauj, when you went to establish a new post was to recce, familiarise, see the routes of ingress and egress, see your bottle necks, look for cover, camouflage and concealment, cover your approaches based on your priorities, in fact get hold of “Khabar Dushman ki” first. You have got the appreciation totally wrong; instead of digging in you have gone for an attack which is an offensive operation. So how many marks should the invigilator give you? If you have got the basic funda of which ops of war to apply, God only help you. You were not made Chief in one selection board; you went through your paces. Here you want to take Pakistan, along with China in one go, without preparation and ground work. Do ponder over it and get the basics right General.

I do not mean to offend you, and I do not mean to hurt you, but I only want you to play the game fair and square like you yourself say. The results would be the culmination of your verbal and other battles. You would know that day as to how much more you got to put in to achieve your goal and again as it used to be drilled into us that JOSH KE SAATH HOSH; I think you don’t have either. I still wish you luck; I would love to see you fare like a gentleman; I would like you to give a fight to the Captain till the last second of the round. I would request you to learn to control your verbal horses, which you leave lose especially when you try to speak your mother tongue when vernacular media is around you. Are you listening officer, will you fight like a gentleman, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MEDIA AND SAHAYAKS

 

I have very fond memories of my buddies, helpers, sahayaks, sewadars, batmans or whatever they were called over a period of time. The reasons were far too many to like them. In fact love them. Let me just say my family loves them too. My daughter cries even today when she speaks to them because her memories are so fond, she was so attached to them and so were they in reciprocation. They were family, in fact respected and treated far more than your own brothers and sisters. They were not only for assistance, but they were for guidance as well. They were the link between the unit and the officer. They were people whose importance can be understood only by people who know the system and not the Media which is insisting on no more boot polish and no more doggy walks.

From tomorrow the uniform will be Khadi kurta pyjama, chappals of the hawai kinds, and for ceremonials they could be sandals. The dresses will be pressed either at home by keeping them under your pillow, or worn the way they are. Washing will have to be done on the day which is off and 99.9% fauj works 24×7 like one of the news channels, so washing can be put off till either the kurta pyjama is either torn or dirty beyond recognition. The 26th January parade will be highlighted with mufflers instead of beret caps, made from baba black sheep’s wool. The pittho will be a jhola and the tamancha (weapon) issued will be put inside the pyjama and tied with a nara (pyjama fastener). Rashtrapatiji will have to go to the stables to groom his own horse, clean the horse’s potty, tie his Saafa and be in time for the flag hoisting ceremony. I am sure half the marching contingents will start washing their clothes as the string of fountains till India gate will be functional. In between a few of them can come and salute the President.

Gen Rawat you have a major task at hand. Is it Joota Polish or National security?  Media is busy trying to tell us to polish our own shoes. Well dear media we can damn well do it, and we can show you your faces in the glistening shine of our boot toes. I have drifted it seems. I am hurt actually how the media projects things.

You media people do not even polish your shoes as you sit in air conditioned cabins which are dust proof. When you are in field, no one covers you below the waist, so who cares what you are wearing. Just by standing in the rain to cover the rain, and standing in ankle deep water to cover the floods you don’t know what it is to conduct an operation in such eventualities. You will never understand what it is to risk one’s own life, dive into a river and bring out a person alive. You people are paper tigers, so just sit in your studious and shut your gobs up. This Officer who would have walked in rain, slush and sleet; In mud, sand and snow, would be again ready for an operation next day with a well polished shoe and a clean uniform in case he has been able to dry the other one. You people have been given far too much of liberty to keep airing what you like. Please leave the Army alone, and do not temper with the way things are. British or non British, it is your Indian Army you are talking about. When we were in uniform, many of the anchors were not even conceived, so friends cool it and leave us alone.

Speak about us with respect; speak about us as your saviours of your backside. These mikes that you keep thrusting everywhere for increasing your TRPs don’t know and understand the ethos of what mettle we are made of. So friends of the media wear our shoes and then speak to us. Sitting in studios and shooting from the lip is not equivalent to facing the enemy and firing from the hip. We will still hit our targets, but you are killing the camaraderie which we the people in uniform feel proud of. We love our men, we lead them from the front, we take care of them, unlike you people from the media who are called presstitutes by many, who are sold out for personal or channel gains.

The buddy is your radio operator, your scout, your cook, your nursing assistant, your barber, your tailor, your boot repairer, your washer man, your friend, your confidant, your accountant, your stretcher bearer; in a nut shell he is God, if not more and the officer is the same to him. If that be the relation, how do you treat your God? In one’s busy schedule in insurgency areas, he will remind you, saab did you write a letter to memsaab, as the Ration QRT is taking the Dak today. He even keeps track that you are in touch with your wife, as one doesn’t have a mobile at every place. What do you call this relation? They even teach the ladies how to manage the house, as the newlyweds are naive. They bring up your children as their own, as they too miss their children due to circumstances beyond their control when they cannot get them to every station. They scold our children; teach them fauji “dastoor”, in fact they are more than your parents staying along. They are the ones who will complain to your wife, that saab had one too many in the barakhana. He is the one who knows what to do in case of a hangover. You media guys can never understand yaar, so just leave it.

It has been 10 years since I hung my uniform; those people still ring up to find out about us. There was this Adivasi from now Jharkhand in my company and was detailed with me. I was a young Major and was made Alpha Company Commander. This man looked after us like hell. He was married but did not have a child since quite some time. So in one of his interviews before going on leave, I asked him why doesn’t he get his family. With great reluctance he agreed. In the first welfare my wife met this shy lady, and told Jhirga to get her home. Jhirga was excited as he was longing to come to our place, all the vegetables he had planted, all the flowers that he put were now giving fruit. My wife asked her about children, she in her broken jharkhandi-adivasi language tried to explain. My wife called Jhirga to be the translator, who told my wife that she has had three miscarriages; reason was the work load at home. The fields, the animals to look after etc. We felt bad but told them we shall do whatever we can, and then one fine day I went off on posting and came back to the paltan only after retirement. While I and my wife were having a cup of tea with the CO in his office I asked him if Jhirga is still there and he called for him. After the normal pleasantries I asked him, aur jhirga family kaisa hai, he blushed and said saab ek larki hua hai. We both were delighted, kya naam rakha, he said “Anshu”. I and my wife looked at each other, as my wife’s name is anshu. He said, sir in honour and respect of memsaab, who like a sister, mother and guide looked after my wife so well; our eyes filled with tears and I just gave a big jhappi to Jhirga and stood there frozen for some time.

Media will you ever understand the relation what this means to us, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SHERRY JOINING THE CONGRESS

I was not surprised when I saw Raga garlanding Sherry (Navjot Sidhu) and welcoming him to the folds of the “hand”. Well, good luck to him and good luck to Punjab. May he see all his dreams materialising for his state. But I have yet to understand politics and more so these politicians. Sherry has become one and a hard core one at that. He has changed his party which has stamped my belief that politics in India is a matter of convenience. After having served the BJP for so many years, suddenly he switched gears. I would rather say a sideways gear, as it is neither forward nor reverse. It is like hopping on to any train which is moving. Destination is unknown, time of reaching its destination is unknown, the people along side you are unknown, but because you love to travel, you hop on. Or you have nothing else to do so you hang on to the footrest. The foothold has already been established by your wife, so now latch on and hope for the best.

I have known him as a sportsman, and a great one at that. He has got out on zeros at many crucial times. Will this inning with a new team bring out the best in him? I can hope against hope, or will it be a failed experiment that time shall tell. Sherry, can you explain to me that how can you suddenly change from playing from India, which is at the top today to playing for Zimbabwe which is at the bottom as per the ICC test rankings. Here I am comparing the two countries which are the topmost team in cricket supposedly the topmost party in Indian politics. How can one just switch sides as per one’s own likes and dislikes? Either you should not have joined them, or you should have been loyal enough not to leave them. I don’t understand this business of changing tracks midway or as and when you want. Well, the decision is yours, the convictions are yours, the compulsions are yours, your mindset, I am not aware of, but what I see is what I don’t kind of enjoy. Had you brought in another front in Punjab, I would have understood it. Had you and your wife started a changed style of politics I could have fathomed it, but riding on a horse which is neither dead nor alive, but just a horse, is a little unpalatable to me as a fan and a well wisher of yours.

Many of you would ask me who are you? Yes, I am a mango man. I am not from pahle AAP. I am not a SAD man. I am indeed not from the HAND that rocks the cradle from Delhi. I am not a saffronly dressed person carrying a lotus either. I am just a common citizen, who wants the best for this country, and Punjab in particular. Well, I was born, brought up and educated in that state. I can speak as good Punjabi as any of my friends from Lousiana can speak. Though it has been ages that I set foot on that soil again, but whenever I see a person in a turban, I feel like approaching him in his mother tongue which was mine many moons back. This should suffice the curiosity for my affiliations to this vibrant & joshila state, the state which has the most hardworking and loving people.

Now comes the CAPT, who is into his twilight years as far as politics is concerned, which he says so that it is going to be his last elections, whether he wins or he loses. Sir, I think you are putting in too much effort at this age and service for the nation. I know you cannot rest till either you capture your objective, or be martyred while capturing it. I don’t mean it in the literal sense, but as a figure of speech, that till you lose elections. Well sir, how your relation is going to be with Sherry, is a very big question mark. I know as a party loyalist and a loyalist of the Gandhi family, you will accept all what they decide. Sir, I hope it is you who call the shots for Punjab and not the High Command as you know best. I am certain the way you know each and every gali of the pinds of Punjab, raga is no match. I would rather urge you to keep him out of Punjab. He can make you lose a winning battle by his mere presence is my view. I know the congress loyalists will shoot me down, but that is my view. Sir, that yesterday’s kid, who gets mixed up with the history of this country, cannot be made a leader to dictate terms to you. Yes, like the chiefs controversy that who was the senior most should have become the Chief, so I feel there should be no doubt that you stand tall as far as the CM candidate goes. Hope they don’t make a cock tail out of “SHERRY” which neither gives a kick nor a punch. I would rather be served a nimbu-pani or a mock tail instead.

Well Sherry, my advice to you, if you want to really make a difference to the state and the party you have joined, join hands with the Capt, chalk out a new plan to capture the objective, make a frame work of better governance in Punjab, then go all guns blazing, take it or leave it . There can’t be two captains of a team for sure. It is sad that Dhoni has resigned but still continues to play, but will the CAPT resign, and still continue to guide the congress team in Punjab, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

MY LANGAR STORIES

 

I am reminded of a time way back as a young Major; I was detailed to establish a caravan camp for a very high level war game 150 kms from my permanent location. I was detailed as the camp commandant. Our brigade was detailed to establish the operations room, one battalion was told to establish the officers mess, another battalion to establish the same for the officers staying in the caravan camp, one battalion was detailed to establish the langar for all people affiliated to the formation and the support staff of the caravan camp. I do not know if my civilian friends would even understand the magnanimity of this camp, the importance of this camp and the unity which was required to get these diversified people all together to run this camp smoothly.

Had it been just my battalion to do all this stuff, it would have been the easiest thing to do, but getting bits and pieces together, from units which as it is are loggerheads due to professional animosities, so getting a bone china plate from another officers mess was something like planning an attack on china via Timbuktu. Though virtually all the troops, drivers, waiters, nai, dhobi, mochi, etc were under me, but in reality they were under command their own commanders. The issue was complicated further when there were no officers to assist me. JCOs had their own constraints and every order passed by me was rerouted through their respective regiments or battalions, thus delaying and resisting the real purpose for what we had come together. This was initially, but soon things fell into place. Luckily the langar had come from a regiment who used to be part of my combat team, and we struck an instant rapport. I am convinced that when you are going to go in for battle together and covering each other’s back side you trust each other more than your wife if not life.

I had a real challenge at hand. I was going to handle more than 250 jawan’s of more than 40 major and minor, units coming from 20 different places, with complete and incomplete documents for rations and attachment, with hardly any communication with their parent units, with diverse types of vehicles and every one a “laad saab” or part of the pampered lot of the formation they belonged to. The buddies had nakras more than the GOC, the drivers had his own idiosyncrasies, so on and so forth. Noel was in big trouble and the job had to be done, Satrah Mech ki izzat was at stake.

Noel never gives up, Noel never cribs or cries, Noel never complains, Noel takes decisions and fast, and Noel never bothered if he did right and in the correct spirit. I used to be up and about at 4 am; from the layout of the caravans to the depth of the holes of the potty pipes was my baby. The area was a jungle of sorts. I got a tractor on hire from buchoo village; yes I gave him fauji diesel and rum and got the camp site in order in just one day. Had I stuck to the conventional methods of men working with grass cutting swords, genti and belchas, the cows would have come home. My langar detachment was top notch; they established themselves before my tent was pitched up. Luckily I had my jonga to run around but I had to cope with mileage, movement and other restrictions besides being updates on local orders of the local cantonment also. I had a Military Police detachment with me. I soon realised instead of laisioning with the local civil and military police etc they had been placed to police on me. I caught hold of the NCO in charge and gave him a list of do’s and don’ts and told them not to mess with me rather get on their jobs. Message was short crisp and clear, which was they understood.

Now was a challenge to handle the inflow of support staff: The INT staff, the drivers, the buddies, the people from the workshops, the electrical people and the signal people etc. Everyone was a technical chap except me. I used to prepare food for 75 chaps, 25 extra used to land up. I started preparing for 100, 20 used to be sent back to their permanent locations. Due to the fluctuations, either khana used to be short or surplus. Moment it used to be short everyone down the line was in front of my tent. Three days before the actual event while people were still pouring in from all directions, a staff officer from my brigade came inspecting. Let us go and inspect the langar was his first command. I have been getting reports that the food is pathetic, the quantity is less etc etc. As we were entering the langar about 30 people were waiting for their food. There was fanatic activity, atta was being goondhoed, people were fixing the kerosene stove for it to fire, fresh dal was whistling away in the 35 litre cooker, sabzi was being cut, aloos being peeled and hectic activity of mother sister kind was to be heard. It was lunch time, how can you refuse anyone khana. It was a jawan’s birth right. Moment the officer asked koi problem, and out came pouring the frustration of everyone. Sir food quality is bad, and ran his spoon through the watery dal he had in his plate, sir the rotis are either too thick, too small or too burnt etc etc. The list was endless.

The staff officer looked at me, and I said sir didn’t I ask for another langar det day before, you refused. He said yes, sir did I ask you for additional support staff, he said yes, did you give them to me he said no. But you have to manage he said, that’s what I am doing to the best of my ability sir, these 30 men of a unit have landed up just before you came, food is on the boil, atta is on the roll, what do you expect me and my staff to do. He nodded his head and thanked his stars that he was not in my place. Well, I assured the men, kindly wait and bear with me for this meal, I shall produce the best. Well, after the initial outburst and outcry, those people also understood, in fact one unit had brought a mini langar and offered their staff. That’s where camaraderie is all about. Next day onwards the tarka in my dal was the best. The DQ stayed on for the next day, and I requested him, sir, I would like you to taste the langar meal and thereafter you may proceed to the officers mess and he obliged. The tasting tray with every item on the menu made that day was brought in and the remarks written in the langar book was “well done keep it up”. If such khana can be made in such conditions, in peace station khana should be 1000 times better, this he told me verbally. He congratulated me for the layout and camp discipline, and went off. My battle was already won, to hell with the red and blue arrows in the ops room. I gave a shabash to everyone, and thanked all the reps for their cooperation. Men understand very fast and come to know the good intentions of their commanders.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, if your wife decides not to cook, or for that matter doesn’t know how to cook, you have an option to order a meal, go to a hotel of even have doodh bread, but not a jawan who toils day in and day out. By the way if a Road Opening Party has to be in place by 5 am, the langar has to give bed tea at 2 AM, give the jawan packed breakfast and packed lunch, and also some emergency rations like matthi and shakkar paras. The meal might be Khichri or Namkeen poori, but that ROP will be responsible for crores of rupees worth supplies that passes through, and thousands of lives that transit on your trust, as you ensure that the road is clear. Does food take a priority, yes it does, and the khichri and the namkeen poori used to be the best on this side of the Suez Canal and I can vouch for it. On return from the hectic day’s job, the cooks used to take extra care to make something that everyone enjoys and relishes and officers ensured that. A hot water bath, a tot of Rum on issue day, additional chutney, a letter from home, was all it used to take to lift the morale.

Well, at any one given time, there may be an issue about food. If this lasts more than a day then there is something wrong somewhere. Why did I always love food cooked in the langar, and enjoyed sharing a meal with my men, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

DAAL TADKA MAAR KE

 

I was born in B Company, 5 Platoon on commissioning into my battalion. We were in Jaisalmer of all the God forsaken places where a goods train of water used to come from Jodhpur many-many moons back or else one had to do dry cleaning. Anyways, by the time Bhindi used to reach us, it would be bhindi dry, Palak used to become palak fry, cucumbers were already crushed to a salad, lauki used to be lauki juice, dal used to be all stones, and any curry made used to be full of the golden sands of Jaisalmer. The day the train used to get late the whole supply chain used to go for a six. Luckily they found the mystical river called Saraswati, which had its underground connection till Sangam at Allahabad flowing deep below Sanu about 20 kms from Jaisalmer that we started getting the purest form of drinking water. Well, all this I am telling you to make you understand that times were harsh, communications were bad, train services were few, bus services were negligible, roads and rail tracks were invariably covered with sand, thus commuting was a big issue. Hence getting any sort of supply, dry or fresh was dependent on the “Majboori Express” the only train running between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. Let me narrate a few stories of those times and then we shall talk about the video gone viral about the BSF jawan. By the way there used to be just one battalion of BSF stationed there in 1985.

My CO was very particular about the food, we the Second Lieutenants’ were the official tasters for the langar. Invariably one was the duty officer, or was detailed to check guards for a snafu done. May be sometimes when one forgot that the tooth pick stand of white metal in the mess which looked like a wild boar ridden with bullets was presented by Col Thorat or Thimmaya, I still can’t remember, though our senior subalterns tried their best by giving us additional guard checks. We used to love checking khana, as the officers mess khana was made by a Cook “Nair”, and it was more inclined towards the Gods own country taste. I preferred the desi langar khana, and mostly it used to be Dal Soup. A glass filled with dal, and about an inch of tadka with caramelised onions floating on them. It used to smell marvellous and used to be tasty like hell. My fauji friends will be able to relate to it I am sure. For a youngster like me, food of any kind and at any time was most welcome. This much was sure, we all took great interest in everything our men needed and food was always one of the highest priorities as far as welfare was concerned.

There was this old Punjab Regiment sardar chap called Parsan Singh, a Naik at that time and a driver by trade. His personal stove, a pure brass piece, was always impeccably clean and glittered like gold. I one day asked him why does he keep a stove in the first place and then the way he used to rub and shine it with sand, it would become invisible in a few months time. This man was a “pahalwan” basically, and his diet was way beyond your and my imagination. He used to make a special tadka, that too in pure desi ghee from his pind on this stove over and above the tadka which the langar used to put in the dal. Well, his barrack was next to the langar and we always found time to socialise with him while his stove was brewing this tadka. With a jerky Ram Ram he used to offer a little bit out of his degchi of dal. Let me assure you folks, I haven’t had anything like that ever in my life. The dal used to taste like manna. His mukki mar ke payaz along with it used to be ultimate.

This man had another issue and that was drinking tea. Mind you, you may be on a recce in a One tonne, three ton or a BMP, the moment the vehicle stopped anywhere in the wilderness, out used to pop a hand from behind the drivers cabin, in that typical kaanch ka glass and he used to say in chaste punjabi, “Saab Ghutk Cha pee lo” (Sir kindly have a sip of tea). The terrain did not matter, the bumps were passé, the jolts didn’t bother his concentration, Parsan, his stove in a bucket, and holding on to a degchi with soottar (cotton waste), the pot was kept on the boil, and saab always got the hottest of tea in the coldest of winter. Parsan Singh I can never forget you.

I also had one deputation with the PINJAs (means brother in Tibetan). One day while on a long range patrol of about 21 days, I was fed up of eating that damn tinned tuna for breakfast lunch and dinner. One fine day, as it had snowed heavily the previous night our departure got delayed. I entered the langar arctic tent and there I found something cooking. I told them why don’t you give this stuff to me to eat? They said Indian Army walas don’t eat this. I said I can eat anything which moves but not tuna. They reluctantly offered me that concoction. It was the tastiest Khichri I had ever eaten, made of Sattu, bichoo-booti and yak meat. This was at a pass called Ya Ye La, 15000 feet above sea level, about 45 kms ahead of Chushul towards Chumatang. Friends it was the most delicious, freshest, tastiest, appetising, yummy, lip smacking meal I have ever had in my life. From that day onwards I too became a pure pinja as I ate yak like them.

Well let me tell you about another deputation of mine where as a company commander I was authorised a cook. We had been pushed out from down town Srinagar into the anti infiltration role, and I was close to a lake called Ganga bal. Well, my troops were Nagas, Gorkhas, Assamies basically the hilly tribes. I being a pure Non vegetarian had a ball with them. On returning from a ROP, we used to get pigeons, all courtesy their catapults. Well, if luck favoured us while going through a village, one odd hen or a rooster was bound to be eliminated if not a militant. The best part was when these bakkarwals and gujjars came up. The leopards and tigers used to injure their animals. They had no choice but to abandon the lame animals. Invariably they used to hand them over to us, and I and my company used to have liver fry quite often. Moment there used to be a commotion in the gujjar camp, my cook used to be the first person to start sharpening his knives. I told him one day, it is a militant attack, he said no worries sir, we shall bar-be-que him too. Hari Prasad god bless you, you made the best of khana for me, even my wife will certify that.

Let me narrate you another anecdote. I was sitting outside my log hut, basically a cattle shed and watching a “barasingha” and its little one crossing the river. I was basking and causally asked hari do we have bread? He said yes, so I said make bread pakoras for me. Abhi lo he said, and within minutes I had a hot cuppa tea and a few bread pakoras for breakfast. The taste seemed odd but I hadn’t tasted bread in ages so enjoyed it and went off on my routine. By the evening it was hell for me. My combat pants were going up and down like the breach block on rapid fire. My loose motions had reached that proportion. I was in pain; the nursing assistant gave me all sorts of medicines. Next morning it was time for the drip to be put. I asked hari was the bread old, to which he meekly replied nahi sir, it came when we were moving to this post. I asked how long back we established this post, and the typical gorkha answer “hujoor ek mahino ko lagi”. I said bloody hell, and told him to show the bread to me. Friends it was green with fungus, but it was officer’s rations and how could he discard them. Sincerity, thy name was Hari. Well, I became Ok moment I smelt liver being fried in the langar.

Well, I rather not comment on the BSF video. Yes, there is something definitely amiss there. Is it the morale? Is it the man management? Is it the welfare? I leave it to them to answer, but I can assure you, we never went hungry, even when we had to live off the land. God bless our Army, they take good care of the men. Will BSF start introspecting and learning from this very important issue raised by this havildar? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WARDIWALA TO DHOTIWALA

 

I was hesitating all this while whether to comment on Gen JJ Singh joining politics. I am sure after such a long and illustrious service to the nation where he headed our professional army as a Chief and now as a Governor. Why has he decided to join SAD? It makes me feel sad. I will try and apply my mind to the reasons why a wardi wala takes a plunge to become a dhoti wala. Pardon me my saying so dear politicians, but in my eyes you guys do not meet my eye by any standards. You guys do not fit in my scheme of things. So Gen JJ your decision to change is very unpalatable to me. Well, to paint all dhotiwalas in the same brush may not be correct, but some become pyjama walas, some become suit boot walas, some become khadi walas, some become topi walas, but most of them become mauke par chauka walas, in my humble opinion. Where will you stand, we shall wait and see sir?

I know it is difficult to run a country with such a varied terrain and population. The irony is that this country continues to run on its own steam, irrespective of the pink colour of notes, irrespective of the colour of the lotus, irrespective of mixing up all the left over spices (parties), which actually left a bad taste in our mouths during the NDA tenure. Nehru came Nehru went, Indira came Indira went, Rajiv came Rajiv went, Vajpai came Vajpai went so will Modi in due course of time, don’t forget the others in between. Badal’s came Badal’s went and Badal’s came again. Will they continue to stay forever; your guess is as good as mine? The only thing Modi has brought in is a little change, a little freshness and little cleanliness from both garbage as well as corruption even if it is superficially. I like it, as I constantly look for something fresh in life. Sooner or later it is going to be stale. Kashmir is a stale issue, parliament logjam is a stale issue and in fact except for NOTEBANDI, nothing seems to be fresh. The 2000 and 500 notes are fresh, so I love it. Generals joining politics is a stale issue, as none of them have done anything worthwhile for their community, serving or the veterans as far as I am aware, so now this General who rose up to be a Governor is convinced to get into the grass roots. Welcome to the “HAMAAM” sir.

May I ask you, is it that you were fed up of the Raj Bhawans, the golf, the book writing etc that you now want a change. If that be so, I somehow feel that you should not have become a General in the first place. Why do you want to fall from grace? Or is it that you have seen so many politicians in your life that you have got so impressed by their work and deeds that you want to emulate them? May be you are so fed up from them that you want to do your bit to change them. Or is it that you find nothing else better to do than to join politics, to stay relevant for at least those five years that you are elected. I don’t know sir, why do you have to stoop that low. I am sure your reasons must be genuine, but for our sake and by “our” I mean the veterans’ sake please do something or don’t join politics. I wish you retire and enjoy your pension, do community service, rather waste your time and hard earned money in this tomfoolery called politics is my humble suggestion.

Sir, if you genuinely feel that you want to do something for the nation, then why you haven’t floated your own party. I also want to know from you that are you so mesmerized by the Badals that you have accepted a SAD ticket. I also want to understand from you that out of all the places why you have chosen Patiala as your constituency for election, Are you from Patiala?  Can you make a dent in the Captain’s armour? The person, who has been from the ruling clan of Patiala, will outnumber you even if he loses and I can assure you that you may lose your security deposit in the bargain. The only thing I find in common is that you are a Sikh, fine, but don’t think they are all sardars. The people of Patiala are thinking people and well educated at that. But, who am I to stop you from burning your fingers? I don’t know the exact political sway and political alliances of that region as it exists today, but rest assured you are in for a shock if not a surprise.

I have a problem when a person who once adorned a four star uniform and star plate on his car is branded with politicians. I have a problem with a man whose vehicle used to adorn the Ashoka insignia where ever he went will now have nothing of that sort. Tell me General, is it the craving for a white ambassador car which has made you to decide to fight elections. Wasn’t the black one you sat in most of your life good enough? What was the motivation behind to join active politics? We would like to know. From a General to the civil streets, from a governor to worst than a section commander, who at least used to have nine men obeying his word of command? Here you may have nine hundred “chamchas” but all looking in as many directions. Well, you are used to an organised set up, where you had your ADCs noting every word that came out of your mouth. The staff and perks which organised every move of yours, here now you have decided to get back to walking the streets and asking for votes. I don’t know it just doesn’t go down my gullet.

Well general, I wish you the best from the bottom of my heart if you really can change the way politics is done in India and especially so in Punjab. I wish you luck if you are going to do something for the veterans and the widows of the uniformed community. I wish each and every case which is pending in courts is chased by you personally, even if it means to get on loggerheads with the CM, Defence Minister or the PM. I say so as I was posted in Patiala District many moons back, and I saw the plight of the Veterans community. I saw the way widows kept increasing due to the conflict with Pakistan. I met hundreds of them, who carried pictures of their beloveds close to their chests with pride, but were deprived of honour which was their due. I felt ashamed when the civil administration neglected them as they had retired or become widows for no fault of theirs. My heart goes out to them, as more than 12000 used to gather in the canteens to pick up their groceries and things of daily needs every month besides the “Quota” which every person in the civil administration demanded for petty works of theirs. Be the change sir, for our sake.

Well sir, if you promise me to just get back the dignity of every veteran and veer nari back on track in Punjab, I am with you, but if you are going to become just a typical politician with no difference, then I rather stay mum. Will you pay heed to what I say, I wonder!!!!!!

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