Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Tag: RM

MY HOME IS OPEN FOR YOU

 

MY HOME IS OPEN FOR YOU

 

“HANS KE BOLA KARO BULAYA KARO

AAP KA GHAR HAI AYA JAYA KARO”

                                                                                            -Gazal sung by Jagjit Singh

Will opening cantt roads improve civil-military relations? If the answer is yes, then balle-balle but I have an issue with people who do not belong to the Armed Forces fraternity; I dare say “civilians”.  It appears to me they take it as an insult if not an abuse. How should we address them as? Let us think.

I find “non-military people” carry many myths, that because I am a “fauji” I must be drinking daily. The second myth is that in cold areas we keep drinking alcohol to stay warm. Third myth is that liquor in the fauj is free, if not free then “bahut sasti” as they put it. Non-fauji’s are more aware of your quota of rum and would always request for a “case” or two on a regular basis. Some even have the audacity to offer extra cash for a bottle because “Purity ki sureity” hoti hai fauji liquor main & Chadti bhi jaldi hai. Also, CSD is the cheapest bazaar on this side of Suez.

I stay in a colony of my company. It has been maintained like a cantonment. People from the nearby villages make it a point to come inside, just to feel good & show their authority. The gardens, flora, fauna, lawns, fountains and a kind of discipline in the layout lures them inside. To keep them out is not possible as facilities like banks, ATM, School and relatives reside inside. If you stop them, they feel offended. If you let them go without a check then the company management gets angry. Catch 22.

We maintain parking in designated areas, however the village folk fail to understand that parking in the middle of the road can cause accidents, they just won’t listen. Speed means as fast as the accelerator can take you. Speed limits don’t matter. We put speed breakers, they started bypassing them. Helmets are an absolute no, they get a headache.  Seat belt, what are seat belts they say. Plucking leaves from hedges is a big time pass for them.

Let’s now go inside a military cantonment. You will find very well laid out lanes, parking slots, parks, geru-chuna on trees and pavements. Without helmet you just cannot move, even the pillion rider has to wear one. No one litters as a habit. Outside, people litter as a habit. Spitting is rare in cantts, outside, gutka along with saliva is spat in every corner. On a roundabout, non military people get a licence to take short cuts. Suffice to say the basic civic sense is lacking. Why?

Keeping the cantonment neat, clean and green is a matter of pride for us. Units are given designated areas of responsibility to keep cantts spic and span. As a corporate we did a “Swach Bharat” campaign and picked up every tiny bit of filth around a famous temple close by. Within one week it is back to square one, dirty as dirty could be. “Koora” as they call it is piled a mile high again.

Well, let us welcome the non military crowd to our folds but with a caveat that friends when you come kindly maintain discipline, don’t break traffic rules, understand that someone else also has the right of way, don’t over speed, don’t litter and assist us to assist you to feel free and safe. All faujis know that they won’t stay more than two years in any station but maintain them to the best of their ability.

Please stand with our families who are separated from their husbands fighting on the borders for you. That lady is a father, brother and sister to her children. She doesn’t let the absence of the father be felt. She also knows that bad news can come anytime. She is the doctor, nurse, washerwoman, teacher, tutor, coach, driver, maid and banker for the house hold. She is used to living in a protected environment so please do not let her feel threatened is a request.

The Services are now kind of used to dictates’ of kinds, cease fire with militants, Yes sir, go for flood relief, Right sir, react in natural calamity Wilco sir, open cantt roads, yes ma’m, remove AFSPA, roger sir, civil administration has failed, control riots, no problem sir, fight militants, my bread and butter sir, fight enemy within and without, aye-aye sir. Ask for modern equipment, no budget, ask for ammunition, manage in what you have, Rations need to be restored, we shall think about it, implement OROP, we have given you enough, sort out pay commission anomalies, court will decide, give us at least our Izzat, what the hell does this word mean.

Be that as it may, we the cantt people do not want to unnecessarily inconvenience you guys at all. “Aap ka ghar hai aya jaya karo”. From our experience we know that once we let you in, you will take it as a birthright. Friends we in the forces live by certain ethos and Dastoor. We swear to protect our constitution and the integrity of India. Do the “non-military people” also do so? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CANTTS ARE FREE FOR ALL

 

 

 

CANTTS ARE FREE FOR ALL

 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.

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

PM ON FAST

[ninja_form id=1]Gone are the days when Gandhi ji used to go on a fast and the world used to get shaken up. I think the British gave up because his fast was a more deadly weapon then any gun. PM Sahib decided to do the same. He is on a fast as a mark of protest because our representatives stalled all work in our “Gole Market”. It appeared more like a “Gole Macchi Market”. The basic decorum and the discipline of the august houses suddenly evaporated into thin air. PM Sahib must be in a terribly angry mood to take this action. Indeed it is very unfortunate for India but who cares.

I remember we used to ask the Adjutant, how is the bosses’ mood? Last minute check used to be with the COs runner, if he nodded his head straight, then you had a chance to put across your argument. If he nodded sideways meant hell is going to break loose. One entered the COs office at one’s own risk. Many times if you were called, you meekly asked the adjutant Sir, what is the agenda? His simple answer used to be “Danda”. There was no use for any guess about your condition when you came out. A good adjutant used to keep a chilled glass of nimbu pani in summers or a hot cup of tea in winters ready, knowing the aftermath of the firing you got.

Imagine if PM saab is in a foul mood and tells his secretary to call a few ministers to his office. Finance Minister, asking for a chilled nimbu pani “in winters”, holding a shredded noting sheet of a few lakh crores which the PM just tore off for no reason.  DM coming out all guns blazing at the Chief’s, stating PM passed though Delhi Cantt and found the Chuna-Geru was not up to the mark. Transport Minister trying to send a message to avoid meeting to the PM stating he is struck in a traffic jam. Foreign Minister already on a flight to Bhutan, when asked why? She says, because of that dhokla issue or was it dhoklam, she forgot.  General Saab already fit-chuted and ready to para jump over Iraq, just in case some more Indians had to be brought back.

Bosses mood was an indicator for things to come our way. It was like the daily horoscope. I remember one of them used to get in good moods moment you talked about a party. Who is throwing it and for what reason was beside the point. Another one used to be a bridge enthusiast; so one could wait till the cows came home and have lunch at dinner time, office started after that. One used to be that training type, if your dangri smells of sweat and your patka is full of sand, it was ok with him. So you knew what to do moment you saw him, just do a front roll in the sand and your day was through. One was a stickler for punctuality, one second late for any parade meant you were on leave that day.

In the civil I find mood swings more and very difficult to predict. He will talk soft but mean harsh. He will record every incident and keep quoting it, till you die. They provoke you and make you react, burden you ‘without resources’, backtrack from their words, mean something & say something. They assume that you will interpret what they say in a manner what they don’t mean. At least in the fauj a boss used to fire you, abuse you, kick you, and shout at you but at the end of the day things were forgotten over a drink. If he was really annoyed, he sent on an LRP (Long Range Patrol).

Be that as it may, where will the PM go to express is displeasure? For him, our diversity is now becoming our divisiveness. We are no more united. Everyone wants a bigger chunk of the pie. If not then hamper parliament proceedings. That’s what the reason is for the PM to react. How do you control such people, the PM per force has to go on a fast to show his unhappiness; a sad state for India.

I consider it a matter of shame if the PM has to go on a fast like this. Knowing the Indian mentality it will make no difference to any of those elected representatives who did not let the houses function. Had these guys thought about the country first, things would have been different? I wish the PM follows our adjutant and introduces stalls of Nimbu Pani and Chai outside both the houses, for all MPs found misbehaving. When will this Gole Machhi Market return to the stature and maintain the dignity required of our Parliament? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

SANTA TO GIFT OROP TO VETERANS THIS CHRISTMAS

Yesterday was the blackest day in my life when because of the Green Tribunal many of us who adorned the Olive Greens, Whites and Blues for the best part of our lives were evicted, manhandled and transported in the shabbiest manner from Jantar-Mantar. They did not spare even the ladies who lost their husbands in service of the nation. Well, in garb of the Supreme Court orders, where only “your honour” work, the police did the most dishonourable thing. They had no choice but to obey orders, so be it.

Law is equal for everyone, isn’t it?  So, in the same breadth had OROP been given the way it was envisaged and passed in the parliament, as it is given to other Government services, there was no reason for the veterans’ to sit for more than 860 days and demand parity, as if we are beggars.

Be that as it may, there are two ways of doing things; one is the gentlemanly way which has been exhibited by the veterans’ community till date. The other way can now be something how the Jat agitation or the Gujjar agitation was done. We have always given our services in “Aid to Civil Authorities” whenever the need was felt by the nation and when the civil administration had completely failed. Do we need to prove that you guys have been failures time and again as far as running administration is concerned during time of crises? I am sure the community which already has OROP needs to justify why they deserve it and why ex-servicemen have been deprived of the same for so long.

This nation is constantly facing external and internal enemies. We understand what the government must be going through to sort out issues internationally and regionally. That is why we are agitating peacefully. We have borne the brunt of external aggressions and internal disorders by laying down our lives in service of the nation with no questions asked. Here you treat us so dismally. Though we do not adorn the uniform anymore, we are capable to fight for our rights in a different manner. Will it be acceptable? The government is pushing us to the wall and time now is ripening for retaliation. Hope the time never comes! If the Government can speak to terrorist organisations, what wrong have the veterans done?

We have till now been fighting for the Izzat & dignity which is due to us. Now why should we hesitate to fight for our well deserved money also? We should get our dues or be capable to extract the same any which way. If the government gives it upfront, we have no issues, if it doesn’t then be warned that we have the acumen to do things differently. Say, if we disrupt Delhi for the same number of days as this agitation, there will be utter chaos in one day only. If need be let there be bloodshed on Vijay Chowk. Let the President who passes by it every Republic Day and there after enjoys beating the retreat ceremony at the same place should feel jolted to sit on the blood of veterans who always bore true allegiance to the Tri-colour. Let him also realise that it is time for him to intervene, as we the veterans have no choice left but to look up to the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces for his personal indulgence now.

Spending time on holidays with jawans is appreciable Mr PM. Madam RM, I had requested you to at least go and meet these veterans once. Had you done it, this stage would have never come. I wish it happens that instead Generals you put civilians as the commanders. Can the Chief downwards till Brigade Commanders be civilians? Chose your best Mr PM, let us see then how the integrity of the country is maintained. I know my argument is preposterous but I am convinced that we will be given OROP within two days. Let us see equal sacrifices from all those who are bent upon to block our right.

In the true spirit of the uniformed community, I think the Prime Minster should be contacted to give veterans an audience and explain to us the reasons for delay in implementation and why the deviation from what was promised in parliament. Let the RM be in attendance which I think can be arranged.

Christmas is coming, so one national holiday should be spent with the veterans. Hope PM becomes Santa Clause for us. The Presidents’ bodyguards could be requested to loan a buggy and some horses instead of the sleigh and the reindeers. Let him come dashing through the Delhi fog, on a one horse open sleigh and wish us Merry Christmas and grant us the correct and well deserved OROP. Will he? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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