Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: RAKSHA MANTRI

CANTTS ARE FREE FOR ALL

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oslo online dating recherche femme sur gardanne  A weird kind of feeling sets in when one hears that the cantonments have been made free for all. When I was posted in Jaisalmer in 1985, reaching the railway station from my unit used to take 30 minutes. At times the station bus driver was briefed not to let the station master turn the signal green till officer’s vehicle was in site. I remember I missed the train once and caught it at the next station called Thaiyat-Hamira, as my jeep had got stuck in sand. One always cursed why the cantts are so remotely located. I think we didn’t want spies sneaking into military locations.

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We used to dislike going to the distant Air force station in Jaisalmer but could not help it as all VIP movement used to take place from there. Hell used to break lose if one found one item missing which meant more than an hour’s delay to fetch it from the unit. The station was fenced with various check posts. Security SOPs were strictly followed. By the way on the lighter side, I always used to wonder why the Air Force Police chap carries a compass as part of his accoutrements’. Did he use it to guess the direction from which I came from or that he set a new bearing every time he moved from the gate?

Be that as it may. Suffice to say cantts used to be far from towns to avoid being a hindrance to any civil traffic or people. As time went by people started to slowly creep closer to the boundaries and encroach prime land. I remember Nabha, a small little place in Punjab, where, from ones backyard one could get milk through the barbed wire fence. One could choose the buffalo to be milched. If that black beauty did not look at you and say moo you could tell the person to skip to the next one. “Saron da saag” used to be exchanged in “dolu’s” full across the fence. It could have been bombs too. People wanted the road through the cantt open but they also understood the security concerns.

Nabha had Bouran gate, Alhoran gate, Patiala gate, Dulladi gate & Mehsi gate, which used to be manned and used to be the first check point for people trying to enter Nabha fort. Those gates did signify that the fort was protected from all directions. Military stations & cantonments too are protected areas. Exposing those places to the public gives an opportunity to anti national elements to have a free run. Leaving our doors open does attract thieves I suppose.

Inside Nabha cantt we had a “Ghora khana” and “Hathi khana” (Horse & Elephant stables). It was like having your Armoured Regiment and the Mechanised Infantry Battalion. These locations were closely guarded as the animals needed protection against sabotage and subversion. Someone could steal the animals or poison the animals and their fodder or could pollute the ponds in which they bathed. Fit animals could be replaced with lame ones. All these were security concerns of the King who had many enemies. In modern times if someone can get in and sabotage our tanks and BMPs costing crores, we might be unfit for war. Well, time will tell its repercussions.

I was talking to a friend of mine and she totally turned me off by saying that you army men think too much of yourselves by calling us “civilians”. She further went to say that I must remember that the forces are under the civilian rule so don’t think you guys are superior kinds. If this is how our fellow countrymen think about people who live and die for the tri-colour, then there is something wrong with someone’s mentality. I dare not say the “civilian mentality” lest my friend feels offended again.

Doesn’t a security guard of your society ask you at the entrances that whom you want to meet? Doesn’t he register your mobile number, name and address before letting you in. Then what is the issue if they check you at an Army check post. By the way, the Armed forces adapt fast to changing situations. Our families are also now mentally prepared in case of emergencies like Pathankot. We know how to look after ourselves and we are flexible enough to cope with any challenging situations. That’s how we are bred. Opening of roads do irritate us but don’t bog us down.

In case an Armed forces man is on duty in Kashmir and gets a message that his house has been burgled, his car has been damaged, his little child and parents have been hurt and manhandled badly while he was in an operation putting his life at stake for the sake of the people who don’t know and understand what an encounter with a terrorist is. Can those people assure him the safety of his family when he is risking his life for citizens of India?

I also know of people who are best friends till the time they can lay hands on a couple of bottles of liquor from the canteen. If such people feel hassled to show their identity and get equally inconvenienced like every other soldier, before entering any restricted area, then God help us! If opening the cantt road is for ego or vote bank, then it’s a shame. Why have security and protection for ministers then? I was sent out to rot in the desert for one year because our parliament was attacked. Had one odd MP been shot dead, then would the forces been given a free hand & told to eliminate Pakistan? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CONDOLENCES ARE NOT ENOUGH

It was sad to hear that four more brave hearts fell to Pakistani shelling. “Condolences” have become such a common word now and are not enough. The whole country stands with the armed forces, we know. Solidarity is not enough. Today, condolence has become more akin to pity. Solidarity appears to be just a verbal support and assurance. Though every show of support is welcome but to mitigate the loss of a martyrs family is impossible. A person in that fraction of second when a bomb explodes next to him lives no more. That very second he is on a different journey leaving behind shaken comrades, ladies beating chests and wailing children.

In the line of duty there are already enough hazards. Inclement weather, hostile terrorists, enemy fire, illness, accidents, besides politicians getting FIRs lodged against own armed forces. This adds on to the misery and lowers the morale of a soldier. Every man in uniform lives with these risks. In that bat of an eyelid he is gone. Risk increases many fold if they get engaged with the enemy. With every step closer to the enemy it is a fifty percent chance of survival. To make his sacrifice count, what all does this man do is unimaginable by many of us.

Last 70 years we have borne the brunt of the enemy. What we get in return is condolences, pity, sympathy, empathy and all those bombastic words. The huge bhashans, the endless debates, veterans boiling their blood and the next day it’s the same routine. Tri-colours are in constant demand and so are the wooden boxes to carry the mortal remains. Firing squads, wreaths and guard of honour has become a SOP of every Military station. All these things are done internally by the armed forces and on the quiet. Who else will care?

Are we doing enough to stop this constant flow of bodies home? Why can’t a living being come back to live happily ever after?  Talks don’t work out; retaliation doesn’t work, then what next. People say war is not a solution; then what are the means to sort out Pakistan. Is it diplomacy? Is it international pressure? Your guess is as good as mine. Passing resolutions in parliament and making a hue and cry on TV doesn’t work. It has to be action on all fronts. Question is when, how and by whom?

What they portray in movies is very different from reality. In movies the emotions are faked, the josh is faked, blood is fake, ammunition is fake, the smoke is fake, the explosions are controlled, blood sweat and grime on the actors face is the artistry of the makeup artists. Even the panting is faked, the firing is faked. The hospital, doctors, and nurses all are faked. Tears are faked. The storms and winds are faked. The pain of a wounded soldier is faked too. The reel life is nowhere close to the real life.

In actual war nothing can be faked. We keep hearing of fake promises on the political front every now and then as also of political battles. Terms like maidan-e-jung, chunaavi akhara,  ran bhoomi  are common parleys during elections, well sirs, verbal volleys and an MMG burst are totally different. You may shoot from your mouth and influence a few people but when it comes to the real bullets it takes a life and limb with it. It maims, it injures the heart and soul of not only one individual but his whole family and his armed forces fraternity very deeply.

Words like hum un par naaz karte hain, naaz marne ke baad quon karte ho bhai. They are very bahadur, we are where is the doubt. Hum Pakistan ko sabak sikha denge, which text book lesson are we talking of. Hum nakon chane chabwa denge, hope you know your biology right. Aar paar ki larai hogi. Kis ke aar aur kis ke paar, I ask? How many politicians have lost their lives taking a bullet on their chest? What has been done to stop this bloodshed by those who run this country? Enough of cannon fodder we have been. No more death is acceptable.

I will accept that we don’t need an unnecessary war. I will accept what the political decision is but I will not accept politics over the dead bodies of the martyrs’. I am ready to face enemy bullets happily for my nation provided my nation’s representatives promise me to finish this issue from its roots. If diplomacy is the solution, so be it. If the Armed forces can find the best solution for you, give your orders but kindly stop showering condolences as they appear artificial. Are the corridors of power listening? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FAUJI DRIVERS

I just happened to see our RM take a Sukoi ride. I am sure after a hectic 24 hours on our Air Craft carrier Vikramaditya, to fly in an aircraft would have left her flabbergasted. My salutes to you Mam, it needs a lion’s jiggra (heart). What you went through in a sortie or a day at sea, these men in white and blue do it on a daily basis. You must have spent some time with the folks in Olive Green too and I am sure you would have cherished every moment. You can be rest assured that the country is in safe hands. You can bet your life on them. They won’t let India down is now stamped, signed, dated and sealed with your visit.

Be that as it may, moment I saw the SU-30 rolling out with the RM, the first thing which came to my mind is that the Air Force would have put her in the cockpit with the best pilot. In all probability it would have been the Commanding officer. My mind wandered as I was just thinking had she sat in an army vehicle then everyone would have gone looking for the best driver. Reason for detailing the best driver is that he avoids all dhachkas (bumps) while the memsaab is sitting in the gaari (vehicle). In other words the lady has to have the smoothest ride. Saab ke saath, parvah nahin.(If makes no difference when sir sits) Ask the pilot mam, what he must be thinking while you were on board. He would have ensured not a “G” extra. They are indeed the best of best.

This reminded me of my good old days when we were in a place called Lalgarh Jattan. It was so God forsaken that the nearest STD booth was in Ganganagar about 20 kms away. We had just been allotted a house and were busy setting it up. Wife complained of severe back ache one day, probably she might have got a catch, shifting the black steel trunks around. Simple fauji drill I did, took her to the MI (Medical Inspection) room, got medicines and off we went. However, the pain did not subside. The third day she just could not get up from the bed. I panicked and decided to take her to MH (Military Hospital) Ganganagar. Whole night she cried in pain and I could just do nothing about it except rubbing Iodex.

As luck would have it, due to mobilisation practice I was not able to accompany her. My company driver Rajjan Lal was detailed and Major Kandari volunteered to accompany her. I spoke to Rajjan and told him that make sure the drive is smooth. My wife was furious because I wasn’t going along. She said “your office is more important than me” etc. Rajjan gave me the most assured look, half pitying me and said memsaab aap fiqr mat karo (madam you don’t worry). I bade her good bye at about 9 am and at 11.30 Rajjan was back. I asked him what happened as I could see him totally white faced and with dried up lips. I knew something was not right and just hoped my wife was OK.

With a stammering voice Rajjan sheepishly said memsaab theek ho gaya (Madam is alright) and he has dropped her home. I exclaimed, what! How can this miracle happen? Sheepishly he said sir, I was driving very slowly till Khayali Wala (a village), suddenly the road became good and I sped. It slipped out of my mind that madam is sitting behind and I missed a speed breaker. The jonga jumped over it, she said Bhaiya main theek ho gayi, ghar chalo. (Brother I have become OK take me home)

I picked up my bike and rushed home and found she was happily in the kitchen. I asked what happened. She said the sprain (CHOOK) in my back was straightened out by the driver as they jumped over a speed breaker. She landed with a thud and heard a crackling sound and suddenly all pain subsided. I thanked my stars and thanked “Dr” Rajjan. Rajjan thereafter never missed a speed breaker till retirement.

Well, Madam, I don’t know how many of your aches and pains the Army, Navy and Air Force would have removed. However, you definitely need to look into what pains them the most and that is their IZZAT. For every Indian’s tomorrow they are giving their today. Do take a closer look at issues of all those serving and of all those who gave their yesterday too. You will then always be given the smoothest ride. Do you get my point madam? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MATTER OF AN INCH

These days I avoid commenting on the state of political affairs. However, when people get loggerheads with national security, I can’t resist keying a few words. Today, I would like to deal with a politician who rubbed the Indian Navy on the wrong side for not granting permission for a floating jetty to be constructed in the Malabar hills of Mumbai. Well Sir, the least I can say is little knowledge is dangerous. If another 26/11 happens, the same politicians will not only run to the Navy but also provide a mile of land to establish a security hub where they refuse to give an inch today.

Be that as it may, you call Colaba area posh. Rightly so, it is the inhabitants and the culture of the citizens staying in that area that make it posh and Navy is definitely one of them. Real estate prices are not the only indicator for the poshness of a place. It is the environment, the facilities and national assets that make it so. Don’t you see smart men and women in white who add to the definition of posh?

If I have to suggest, why do we have all Mantralay’s including yours in Delhi? Let the Maharashtra Mantralaya shift to Deonar dumping ground and our Parliament to the Gazipur land fill. Two things would happen, one, the habit of opening their mouths too much by the politicians will stop due to the stench. Second, that area will become posh.

The Navy should be patrolling the Pakistan border as you say. Rightly so, you should be patrolling the Indian roads then. Why do you politicians chicken out while giving orders to sort Pak out? Navy would be more than happy to shift their Headquarters to Karachi or Gwadar as the case may be. You want to be in the arms of your darling every evening, what has the navy chap done to deserve a life buoy around his neck at the end of each day.

Once Pakistan is taken care of, thereafter, you won’t have any requirement of the Western fleet. Army too will be able to concentrate on the direction which is getting hotter by the day and so will the Air Force. Kindly minister sahib, visit those forward areas. I request you give us a few feet, where roads and other infrastructure can be built for sustaining the troops. The forces will be more than happy to find their colleagues being evacuated in time and saved. We want living legends and not dead jetties.

Let us be clear that minister ship lasts as long as the government lasts. How long will this one last, next election will tell? Once the Navy is sent off to patrol, they definitely won’t be able to vote, as they would be guarding the high seas for this nation. This should not give you a wrong notion that their vote won’t count. If need be, the armed forces will make it count one day. We are protectors of this nation and not people who lower their morale by ridiculous statements. We serve every government irrespective of who is the minister of which ever ministry.

The joke going around is that, if you can’t give an inch of ground, we definitely can give the government a nine inch boot in next elections. The men in uniform owe their allegiance to the tricolour & the constitution; politicians we know owe their allegiance to whom, for what and why.

One more thing I want to ask Minister Saab. You keep every inch with you but please ensure that servicemen and ex servicemen do not have to beg for their rights. Their families are looked after while they are at the borders. Their children get admissions in schools, their properties are not taken away by thugs, their aging parents are treated with dignity and their documents are made without greasing any palm. Too much of rum has been spilled in the corridors of civil authorities without relief to this man guarding the frontiers. The beauty is that even when you don’t give him his due, he still doesn’t let the country down.

I wish you become the Defence Minister one day, maybe just temporarily and understand why they denied that facility. The person whose baby it is knows, isn’t it? I know you can’t think beyond business, profits and commerce but National Security should never be compromised at any cost, ever.

Well, Indian Armed Forces have a different business to deal with. So kindly take back your words and give us that inch which you have decided not to give. We have been taught and believe in that Chetwode Motto which says “The Safety, Honour and Welfare of your country comes first always and every time”. Construction of a jetty for commercial purposes comes last always and every time. Does it make any sense to you Mr Minister? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

PRIME MINISTER OF GUJARAT HAS WON

I have a basic doubt, what is the difference between elections and democracy? I fully understand that the elections are a means to elect candidates to run the democratic process. However, I have now got confused, why we are mixing up the two. The electoral process has its own importance and democracy is a way of governance adopted by the people of India. Then why have state elections become more important today that the PM and his cabinet congregate in Gujarat lock, stock and barrel for days on end leaving their primary jobs.

Parliament, our temple of democracy, was abandoned in a way. If I put it across crudely, to hell with parliament! We shall get hold of its agenda in the coming sessions. What goes of India if sessions have to be cut short, postponed or even cancelled? Parliamentary proceedings will be stalled by someone as usual, so what is the use of wasting time sitting on those green or red cushions and walk on the same colour carpets depending on the house you are a member of. India is resilient, Indians can wait, India per say is not a priority during any state elections. Is this the whole idea of democracy or is this a kind of making a mockery of it?

The pradhan sewak, becomes the pradan bhashanwala. The same old rhetoric, the same old jumlas, the same old brain washing technique is applied to influence the public. Results show the effect. I still don’t know who are the actual contestants is Gujarat. The only one I saw was the PM. He is fluent with the local language, terrain, intricacies, feelings, sensitivities of the public no doubt. Does that mean he should neglect his basic responsibility and only pay heed to states undergoing polls so that by hook or crook his party wins? I am in total disagreement on this.

My argument can be shot down saying all official papers and documents were signed during election time. However, the impression I get as a common man is that every minister is on temporary duty to Gujarat, on the government’s expense. The dak from Delhi must be transiting through air, land or sea along with connected personnel. Tickets of Rajdhani’s and last minute air tickets must be costing the exchequer some amount. All the DRM (Divisional Railway Manager) quota seats of the railways must be blocked for travel conveniences’ of such staff. Imagine when the heads of important ministries like Defence, Finance, Law, Textile and many others have pitched their tents in Gujarat?

Be that as it may, it hardly matters to mantri ji as things in India can wait till cows come home. India won’t run away anywhere. Even when Pakistan slaps us daily, elections are priority one and democracy will decide how to act against Pakistan in due course of time. Today, BJP netas would be in their party offices in party mood, enjoying one more holiday. Crackers will be burst. Supreme Court will not object to the pollution they shall create today, that’s another irony.

I consider it the failure of the states politicians to allow the central govt getting involved in their elections. Definitely they can go and cast their vote if they belong to a state but it should be on proper leave of absence and on their own money. No one has the right to fritter away the tax payer’s hard earned money. So what he is the PM of India? If he is doing it for the nation, I have no objections to it. If he is doing it for his party then he might as well use party funds only. I consider it a narrow minded vision of interfering in state politics from where he rose to such an esteemed office. For me the nation comes first always and every time; state will automatically be looked after if national interest is supreme.

In the army, if I belong to a battalion then that affiliation will stay for life. After I command my unit (like you became the CM of your state) I get promoted to higher ranks and responsibilities, I cannot get involved in the units day to day functioning. I can go and motivate the unit alright but I have no right to meddle into their day to day functioning. PM saab you now are a “General” of India, please remain at that pedestal. Let the people of the state decide whom they want to be governed by and not by whom you as PM recommend. Mota bhai, tamne samjan padi? (Have you understood elder brother?)

Can we have a new legislation through a “democratic process” of non involvement of PM and his cabinet in state elections? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

ANOTHER HAND OF CARDS

Gen Musharaf confessed that he is the best friend of the LeT and JuD. Whats new? At least after so many years of lying, even in the book he wrote called “In the line of fire” at last he admitted the truth which we all were aware all this while. These two organisations are also friends of the Paki army and the ISI. So it goes beyond saying that they are state actors. Now his hand is revealed.

They use them to bleed India with a thousand cuts and we call it terrorism. These guys save regular army on manpower against India because they are readily available, are low risk, have no liability on anyone. They are people who are life termers, drug addicts, criminals or about to be hanged. Even if I consider them highly brainwashed and motivated jehadi people, they actually are poor and join them to have a square meal and some monetary remuneration. These guys are like jokers in the pack which replace cards as and when required.

Why are we after Hafiz Saeed? Had we been after him in real earnest, by now he should have been eliminated from the face of this earth? We are only listening to pure noise on TV debates about him. He roams free as a law abiding citizen of Pak and is let in and let out of custody depending on the threat to his life and not depending how dangerous a threat he is to humanity. Therefore, how hard we wail on TV will fall on deaf ears. Let’s not lose our peace for an assumed king of jehadi “clubs”.

If all paki channels start shouting that someone in India called sharma (just a name) is a terrorist. Will India agree? There are thousands of people by that name. If they claim he has links with army colonels who provide training. Won’t India laugh and say what nonsense. Similarly, when we name Paki Colonels by name they brush it aside as there are hundreds by that name of Maulana. It means that we all are actual fools who are barking up the wrong tree. The need is to bite rather than bark. The pack is too big and well shuffled. To pinpoint the jack of diamonds is difficult.

Sharma reminds me of a name NIMA. While serving an organisation we had many of them. We had to differentiate each Nima by a peculiarity of his, for example BPET Nima. This guy used to fail in BPET. Then there was this guy called INT nima as he used to be in the Int section throughout. Then we had sabji nima, who was the fresh NCO since ages. There used to be one called rear Nima, as he was an expert to handle the paltan rear echelons while rest were deployed forward. Then we had MES Nima, no prizes for guessing it. We had one called MT Nima, yes an expert driver & MT NCO (Mechanical Transport) and of course how can I forget our dear generator Nima. This guy was the most important person for officers. Dot at 9.45 pm the generator lights used to be blinked once. It used to be the first warning to officers to stop the drinking & bridge session and rush to their rooms from the mess. At 9.55 lights used to blink twice. CO used to tell the Adjt tell nima to extend the time by half an hour as the hand of bridge had not finished. The same drill used to repeat at 10.25 pm, the adjutant had to perforce request generator nima for one more extension. Such extensions were routine and repeated. Then the lights never used to blink, there used to be a sudden black out. Adjutant used call up to ask, kya hua Nima (What happened). The answer used to be generator lal ho gaya aur mar gaya saab. (The generator became all red and is now dead).  God bless all the Tashi’s, Nima’s, Dawa’s, Lakpa’s Phurbu’s, Migmar’s, Passang’s and Penpa’s I served with. Tashi Deleg to them. They all were the kings of my heart many moons back.

I want to ask all the news channels, let us black out Pakistan from our air space for one month. I can assure you there will be peace automatically. Give all veteran Generals a break. Those guys have shouted enough word of commands all their lives, now sitting on news channels they are losing their vocal chords. It leaves them with a sore throat and high BP. Some of them forget having their meals and medicines in time. Some of them get carried away so much that they might fall out from their chairs in josh. Sirs, I hope none of you are missing on your chota pegs in this chaos.

If we are sane enough, let us get together and modify our strategy. Besides the full force which has been unleashed against militants let us not give these separatists any chance either. Pakistan has its tail on fire, let it burn. With its PM gone, how long do we wait for an Army take over is matter of time. Let us not reveal our Trump cards.

Now, that the cards have been revealed by the Ex General of Pak. Let us play our hand well. Like Kenny Rogers sang in the song called the Gambler, we must know when to hold them, know when to fold them and know when to run. Let us deal one more hand this final time and play our cards well before Nima tells you, generator mar gaya. Does anyone know how to play this kind of card game? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

WAY AHEAD FOR OROP PROTEST

I have these mixed feelings when I see Gen Satbir crying hoarse on TV. Sir, I too being on your side of Suez can feel the pain. I am thankful to each and every veteran and veer nari who has given even one minute for the agitation for our OROP. My hats off to you all for sustaining these 860 plus days which has seen many seasons change. The only thing which didn’t change was the dauntless attitude of all you people who sat in unison for our brethren. Sir, I salute each one of you for your spirit and courage shown for this cause.

I can only with folded hands plead to you sir, please do not highlight this in the media. They just want a story for breaking news and pass time on debates pitting soldiers against soldiers. Media and the politicians will have the last laugh watching and debating our plight.

The Armed Forces are a different breed in many ways. It has been amply proved the way veterans conducted themselves exemplarily by not going violent and abiding by the rules. Then why did we not vacate that place in the first go itself. Sir, I feel, we let ourselves become objects of ridicule by waiting there too long to be shooed away.  We are supposed to be Gentlemen first and Officers later. Somewhere we got mixed up.

There are no free lunches after we retire, isn’t it sir. So if the Ramlila grounds were asking for whatever amount per day, it was their right. Why were we showing our Ex-serviceman card to them? Are we looking for concessions or are we expecting a waiver of fees being an extra special category of people? That’s not going to happen. I can understand that what was passed in parliament and what we have got may be at variance but isn’t that we need to be thankful for. Whatever is left we can always put across in a manner befitting our community.

In good old days, when did we have everything that one needed Sir? Manpower was always short; equipment was off road or deficient; Ration, lesser said the better; state of accommodation was pathetic. We kept cursing the higher head quarters for lack of funds. Everything fell into the category of “manage”. Every year we were told to cut down budgets; consumption of fuel was curtailed; ‘A’ vehicle mileage kept reducing; administrative requirements kept increasing. A time came when Havildars were doing standing duties. Didn’t we live then? An officer below major’s rank was not even authorised a cooler. Officer Messes used to be flooded with officers; today they are rarities to be found. We in those days never lost our balance and sense of humour. We did crib like hell but made jungle main mangal.

Well, slowly and steadily our equipment was made up. So I am sure the same would be for the OROP. Why do we have to be so adamant and stuck? I concede that had you not started this agitation, we wouldn’t have got what we got. This doesn’t mean that unless we get what we think is correct, we keep protesting and fast unto death. I saw officers and widows being put to discomfort. I felt sad.

We are not politicians and not aware of the political game plans. They have the patience to wait and we don’t. They can make us cry and won’t budge. Tomorrow, if the parliament decides that pensions will be halved, would we protest then? Day after tomorrow the parliament passes a bill that there would be no income tax on pensions, will we still protest. One fine day the government decides that everyone will serve only five years, no pension and no other benefits, what will we do then?

Be that as it may, Sir, time is ripe for mid course correction. You don’t have to reveal your cards now. Let us do a tactical withdrawal, sit together and prepare a new plan to assault the perceived “enemy”. Shoot to kill is not working then let change tactics but let us not make ourselves the centre of scorn to be mocked and used for target practice by media and politicians. If we want to fight politics with politics like a tank versus tank battle, then let’s leave Jantar-Mantar and organise ourselves politically. If AAP could do it, we are definitely capable of being sabka BAAP.

I wish half of these days were utilised to reinforce, restructure, reorient, reconcile, recoup, reconstruct, re-crystallise our thoughts, resynchronise our effort, re-synergise our focus, rejuvenate, reconfirm our faith in our effort, revitalise, recapitulate, re-examine our lacuna, revitalise our energies,  reinforce our demands, resettle our nerves, resurrect our image, reformulate our plans, re constitute our ORBAT, rededicate ourselves to revolutionise our efforts and then renegotiate with the Government from a position of strength so that they cannot refuse but to condescend to our demands. Does it make sense to any one? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

RAKHSA MANTRI ANNOUNCES WAR

As they say old habits die hard so following my habit I switched on TV news in the lunch break yesterday. I saw my Defence Minister addressing a press conference. I thought to myself that war must be imminent. The volume was on mute so I could not gather the gist and my specks too were not on my nose so could not read the ticker either. My curiosity kept increasing. As usual my daughter hid the remote somewhere. Finally, I could locate it and hear the sweet and melodious voice of the RM. To my utter shock she was discussing Mr Robert Vadra. I shoved a finger in my ear and gave it a shake in disbelief that have I heard it correct that the RM had found the most happening jija ji to talk about. Had she been discussing Gen Javed Bajwa, Pak ISI Chief or Masood Azhar it would have been worth listening to. It took me one minute to get the gist and I flicked to discovery channel.

Madam, I had just written a piece a few days back welcoming you to the folds of the uniformed people. I felt really belittled that the government of the day chose you as the spokesperson to put down someone who may have swindled and made loads of money through his deals as alleged but he doesn’t deserve a mention from “my” RM at least. Madam, as they say in the Army, ladies and politics are never discussed by officers. You leave me no choice except to discuss you and the politics. I felt what you were doing was the politics of a loser.

Is it because all the rest are busy with Gujarat elections and there was no one left to high light Mr Vadra of all the people? Was it a cover story to camouflage the flak which Mr Shah’s son was supposed to take? Madam we got to fight a war with our enemies for which you have been chosen as the final authority and word. Here because of political compulsions you had to speak about a person whose in-laws have so much of money that might be equivalent to your defence budget. I am just conjecturing as I am convinced that at least I can see through the smoke screen you raise. Basically the idea was to demean the Congress.  I also know that everything is fair in love and war. Where is love here? Is it love for your party? What about love for the country? Where is war? Is it the political war you are talking about? In any case the RM is not meant to fight with any individual. I feel “ye sab aap ko shobha nahi deta” (all this doesn’t suit your appointment and the dignity attached to it)

Hope madam like you have put the Armed Forces to clean all mountainous areas, you now don’t put us to clean all the political muck. You can be rest assured we can do that too but we in the armed forces are way above all this ma’am. We discuss ideas and not people. Had you talked about the measures you were taking to bring back Cdr Kulbhushan Yadav before Diwali or eliminating all terrorist launch pads in POK, I would have appreciated it. Had you told the media about the latest tanks and guns or for that matter the latest warship you launched I would have never spoken a word but when I heard you speaking about a person who is related to the head of your political opponents, my head bows in shame.

I do not know if you have a choice to refuse such press briefings. Madam you are senior to me in age and service. You also know politics well. I have no clue of even how to spell that word starting with a P. But this I definitely know that on one hand you are the most powerful woman of this country who can mobilise resources to fight nations, terrorists and terrorism. You can dominate the skies, put naval blockades against enemy nations and you chose to speak about a person who has got nothing to do with the country’s defence. Not done Ma’am.

Madam it doesn’t look nice for the Defence Minister of India leaving her prime responsibility addresses a few journalists on the few lakh rupees paid by someone, for someone, in some country, to do some travel a few years back. You are in government and you haven’t been able to fix that fellow in any of the conspiracies he is involved in, when all investigating agencies are duty bound to obey the ruling political masters. You also know that things are under courts considerations. Then what makes you come out all guns blazing at this man just because a news channel broke the story. I consider it to be absolutely useless politics. Except to spread negativity you are doing nothing else. Doesn’t suit the decorum your chair deserves.

Be that as it may ma’am, I feel a little uncomfortable when you with such an esteemed post have to speak about a person who doesn’t matter to anyone. If you can get back the thousands of crores that Mr Malaya took away, you can surely recover the same one day from this person too. Madam, defence is a different ball game which you now got to be serious about. However, kindly remember the armed forces stay away from politics. Please don’t mix the two. I am no one to advise you but you are responsible for “Desh ki Raksha” not “Vadra se raksha”. Will you ever understand? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

 

RAKSHA MANTRI IN THE DESERT

It gives me a good feeling when my Raksha Mantri (RM) finds time to visit forward troops. I recently saw her in the desert sector atop a BMP modified like a chariot. The crew would have been, the Army Chief as the Commander, the Army Commander as the gunner and the Brigade Commander, no you guessed it wrong, poor fellow must be hanging on for dear life as the driver would surely be the senior most Havildar. Can’t take a chance with Brigadier saab’s driving and giving jhatka’s of a life time to the minister. (With no offences meant please)

 

Be that as it may, I am reminded of the good old days when I started my career from the deserts. Jaisalmer Sector was the place I joined. The then Army Commander was on an operational tour and I was made the official photographer with one pip on my shoulder. My location was in the navigation party led by open jongas of the Motorised Battalion. For me map of the desert meant nothing as I had just come from IMA Dehradun, where I could never make out the difference between a spur and its contours. We all just did “Bhed chal” to reach Bhadraj top behind Mussorie. There maps were green and shades of it. Here I had a khakhi blank sheet of paper with one odd marking of a toba, taal sar, khu, talai, tibba and an odd Dhani (hamlet) after two map sheets. This jonga was modified for carrying many tubes. One could mistake them for missiles. Actually they were stuffed with map sheets and tons of them. That was my abode for the next fortnight and I was off on my maiden desert safari thereafter.

 

These motorised guys taught me how to join maps in a sequence as every 10-15 odd kilometres the sheet used to change. My CO used to be in the gunner’s cupola and the Army Commander on a Tatra’s seat welded behind. A jeep’s seat was also welded in the rear for all and sundry. This was the Army Commander’s chariot (BMP). Our two waiter’s Gabbar Singh and Jagjit Singh were stuffed into the stick compartment in the rear of the BMP.

 

Hats off to the waiters, as moment there used to be a halt they used to stick their necks out from the gunner’s cupola in between CO’s legs with some beverage. Our CO had catered for thanda pani, garam pani, neebu pani, narial pani, meethi lassi, zeera lassi, garam chai, garam coffee, cold coffee, frooty, unit soda in three flavours and you name it. There was one officer detailed to keep fetching ice from wherever he could. Our ice supply never ran out. Administration was perfect.

 

Yours truly had no clue of Mechanised tactics. So I hung on to dear life on to that leading jonga with a “hot shot” camera and clicked away merrily. One of my photos of the BMP tracks on a virgin desert stretch was later used to design the Recce & Sp logo showing the track marks. Well, we did move bound to bound, the Pakistani rangers were following us, there were no border fences that time and we used to take the shortest cut between the border pillars. It used to be a pleasure to relieve oneself on the other side of the border. Somehow it gave a kind of sadistic pleasure and a feeling of satisfaction deep within that we watered Pakistan.

 

I learnt to read a map, I learnt to bear the heat, I learnt to face sand storms, I learnt to navigate a little, I learnt navigation by stars while moving cross country at night, I understood what a mirage is. I learnt to identify blind wells and how to avoid them. I learnt how to use a magnetic compass while on the move, I learnt to survive on limited water, I learnt to handle start a jonga, I learnt how to negotiate a vehicle in absolute lose sand, I learnt to recover a stuck vehicle, I learnt to enjoy cold meals, I learnt to enjoy the sandy crunch in the meals, I learnt the importance of a “patka” and sand goggles and this learning stood me in good stead later in life as more than half my service I did in the deserts and above all I learnt to use my seventh sense and instincts.

 

It took us lot of reconnaissance and practice to achieve the mastery of the desert. Yes I also learnt a lot of Rajasthani. I learnt what a KHOJI was. He is a person who tracks down animals in a village. Their expertise was such that they could tell by the footprints of the camel that was it laden or empty. They could identify number of camels in a group by hoof marks & foot prints. They could tell how long the animal was sitting in a particular place by the droppings and urine. They could make out that the animal is tired or fresh by the belly marks on the sand; they could even say whether a particular animal is injured or had a natural limp by the imprint on sand. They could indicate the direction of the move of the animal, was it running or walking. Basically they were the most sought after people. Later in life we used to take their help for navigation to reach our objectives.

 

Well I transformed from a desert novice to a desert fox many moons later. But it was nice to see our RM on the “Mechanised ship of the desert”. Madam I hope now you will try and understand how life is in the deserts especially while operating such equipment. I hope now you will change your opinion and understand that life in the sandy wilderness is tough too. Will you? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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