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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Goswami's tale

Since I'm incapacitated, my friends call me up all day and all night. Shahnaz and I talk nights, discussing our fathers, our dogs, the army and she tells me incredible tales of the fauji. 

She told me an story today which made me forget my spider bite completely. Shahnaz's father was a Vir Chakra recipient and a fine soldier. My grandfather, who was also an army officer, spoke of Brig Mansingh with  much fondness. Her story goes like this.....

In 1962, Chushul was a place which saw incredible fighting. The Chinese overran Indian posts and the Indian soldier fought back with an focused intensity and power, with complete disregard for the enemy's superior numbers and stealthy, sneaky attack!

There is  saying in street fights that he who throws the first punch, wins the fight.

It is completely the opposite with the Indian soldier.....he never attacks first, he always defends. But when he defends, history bears witness that he then is unconquerable. Victory then is his and he creates legendary sagas of his ferocity and his courage. 

So Shahnaz told me of 2nd Lieutenant Goswami who fought the Chinese with 4 other men at his post, guarding the vitally important airfield with his life. And withheld...and withheld....and withheld......till he was grievously injured and fell unconscious. Goswami was 24 years old. He lay buried under snow for 36 hours, regained consciousness and crawled away to safety! He lost his legs due to frostbite and stayed in hospital for a long, long time. He was later awarded the Mahavir Vir Chakra for unconscious bravery in the face of the enemy! 

Now for the part few know. 

A retired American sergeant heard about a lionhearted young Indian soldier and his lost limbs and he sent his life savings to the youngster.

2nd Lt Goswami got a pair of artificial limbs with that donation and could walk again. He came to meet Brig Mansingh and jumped smartly off the rickshaw and saluted sharply! Shahnaz says her father had tears in his eyes and he was thrilled to see the young officer in as good a shape as could be expected!

Do you know how this gallant man died?

He was set upon by goons, at the time Mulayam Singh held the post of  defence minister. And was murdered!

A lion set upon by hyenas.......a war hero killed by common criminals....and no one was brought to book!

Goswami was  born in Uttar Pradesh, 6th Nov,1938.

Mulayam was born in Uttar Pradesh, 22nd Nov, 1939.

One proved his mettle under fire and repaid his country's debt by holding his position till he was knocked out and literally overrun by the enemy! And sacrificed his limbs at age 24.

The other could not (did not) be bothered enough to get ordinary justice for an extraordinary man!
Shahnaz remembers her mother who flung herself on a sofa in a storm of angry tears and said "This is how we repay our soldiers" when she heard about Goswami's death. She swore she would write to all her contacts and get justice for the forgotten hero.....

Shahnaz and I fell quiet for a while...sometimes silence speaks eloquently. And I told her that we should pursue this.....write about passionate young men who dedicate their lives to the country and then do not turn away, no matter what the price. We should tell their stories. We should be the sentinels who stand guard over the fallen brave....we shall neither forget, nor let others forget!

We should be the watchdogs of the Indian soldier....and once in a year, the two of us should meet and have a roaring havan, just the two of us....where we pour our sentiments and sacred offerings in the memory of the fallen, forgotten Indian soldier! And gaze into the embers and honour those who blazed a trail and left us awestruck in their wake! And ask them for their blessings and a transference of the same courage, the same passion, the same steadfastness.


Note:- For the history buffs, read about the Battle for Chushul airfield at:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A New Dharma!

Thoughts on the rally taken out on 21 Aug in Mumbai...

Did you see the rally at Azad maidan yesterday? I literally just saw it and didn't understand since Mr Raj speaks Marathi...and I don't! 

Apparently he spoke of "Maharastra Dharma"....and nonsense of similar caliber. Maharastra dharma means speaking only in Marathi and asking schools why English is on the agenda and not compulsory marathi. I would think it self evident, seeing that there is no Marathi font in computers, or good quality medical, engineering, even law books in Marathi! And try going abroad, armed with Marathi instead of English! A fractured English serves one far better than a polished Marathi here......but then Raj doesn't want YOU becoming a global traveller. Your eyes might open with exposure and you may be able to see through his "Maharastrian dharma".

Maharastra dharma also means Maharastra for Maharastrians! Living, studying and dying in the state of one's birth! Like the proverbial 'kua ka medhak'! Learn nothing, travel nowhere, explore none, evolve none and think one has the best because one doesn't know any better! An perfectly ignorant human being!

Raj's own offspring study in Bombay Scottish (and he scared the bejesus out of that school once, when he tried to change the name  "Bombay Scottish' to the "Mumbai Scottish"! ) Intelligent, eh??

His son took up German as an alternate language! Apparently, Maharastra Dharma is not applicable for his son(s)....

Raj excels like every successful politician in dividing groups into selfish knots of people, unable to see the larger picture. First he divided the Hindus....the Maharstrians from the rest of the other states! He chased away migrant labour from Bihar, UP for a while....they are back! And doesn't explain why Mumbai comes to a halt each year when the Bihari and the bhaiya go home for a break in April-May!

Let's take the Hindu-Muslim divide.

I'm a Hindu....would I want to finish all Muslims from my community? Can I make this assumption that all Muslims are hell-bent on taking Hindu lives and we can never get along and thus, all Muslims are better off dead? What about all those Muslims who are in the Armed Forces then, who are fighting Pakistan and Pakistani terror grimly? Or those in the Police....who are kind of chasing the criminals away? (Kind of.....the Indian Police Force does not have my total confidence. I would respect them far more if they did just one thing.....thrash the rapist black and blue first and put him in hospital...I would like them even more if 'escaping rapists' were shot dead! Instead of slapping women in pubs and 'moral policing' consenting adults!) What about the Muslim who donates blood....who ferries accident victims to hospitals? What about the Muslim who wipes a tear when the Tricolour is hoisted high on some special occasion...and who sings along with the national Anthem? Who saves non-muslims during communal riots? 

Who is just weary of this Hindu-Muslim jingoism! And works hard for a living?

In so many million Muslims, will we not find what we find in as many million Hindus?

Well, you must follow "Maharastra Dharma", then!

Raj also praised the "thola" or the beat constable...the lowest of the low in the policing force....the khaki clad man with the danda! And he cursed their superiors! Like I said, politicians excel in spreading discontent and stoke hatred! 

Promptly a 'thola 'gave him a rose.....and a public statement that Raj raised his morale at a time when no one else did!  He might be disciplined later...a policeman, a soldier are tied to their uniform! They cannot be individuals while on duty!  The Police Chief is meanwhile, wiping a sweaty face.....there is discontent in his ranks AND he may have to go! Danda chalo to museebat, na chalo to musebat! Rally roko to aafat, chalne do to kayamat! What will make these Janus faced politicians happy? HE would like to hold a rally and speak his mind!! But he's only the Police Chief! Inki kya aukat ki yeh sach bol de? He'll get transferred to the boondocks somewhere....or his birth certificate scrutinized...he may turn out to be a year older than he actually is...and BANG! There goes his career!

Raj also projects himself as a "Hindu" I beg to state most vociferously that woe betide us if another communal, parochial, mean spirited, malicious dung beetle like him enters the political arena on a larger scale!!! Woe betide!

The rally meant traffic horror for hard working people who would like to consign India to the Devil when they sat in vehicles in five hour jams in sweltering weather, trying to get back home to their families and dinner!

My son couldn't return home and his friend's mother kept him back. She called up and said "Tera beta kal milega! Its craziness to be travelling anywhere today! I'll keep your son home with least he'll eat and sleep on time." God bless her! 

What did this rally finally prove?

It proved AGAIN that we have a long long way to go before we evolve into a 'developed' nation...and we have probably lifetimes to go before transforming into a super power.

Till hate rules us.....and we allow hatred to dictate to us our way of life, we shall remain exactly where we the bottom rungs of the global ladder, with other countries fast outstripping us in the race to prosperity and a better quality of life!

We will continue to watch with an agonised, jealous fascination when other countries conquer outer space and expand frontiers of science and technology and human endeavour.....those who can shall desert in droves in search of what we never could find in India, despite our frenzied striving....we shall continue to be mute, tormented helpless souls of these goddamned rallies and political 'jalse'......doomed to be participate in acts driven purely by selfish be reduced to so very little when we could be so much more!

Will we ever find a Winston Churchill among us....a man who inspired his Nation to fight and win when the tide of war was entirely against a battered England?

Will there ever be an Abraham Lincoln here? Who united or tried to unite the seemingly impossible...the black slave with his white master?

Did a lifetime of Mother Teresa's acts of pure faith and utter selflessness not rip some of the darkness?

Or are we doomed be led by hate filled provocateurs who rip the remaining Indian fabric that holds us oh-so-very-loosely together.

Do not blame the politician always for the Indian rot...he is but a reflection of the qualities of existing society! We are not entirely blameless! The politician has seen through us to the snake that lies curled within each of us...he has recognised the unconquered devil in us...and he provokes that forth! The slumbering divine within each of us, is ignored! 

The Hindu-Muslim issue shall remain unresolved till we have a common set of rules for all....every man jack of us! Till we have "minorities', 'favoured sections', 'quota' we shall continue to reside in a private hell.

Yes, I know that the dalits were hammered mercilessly for decades, as were the blacks in the rest of the world there a 'black quota' anywhere???? I know the Hindus were ravaged by Muslim invaders centuries were over a million Jews fed into 'ovens' in Germany! Do we have jew-versus-other-religion communal riots anywhere else in the world? I know Ayodhaya is the birth place of Raja Ram...does no Muslim have the generosity to say "Yaar, bana dal wahan mandir...with my blessing! I shall take my mosque a little further I have my Mecca and Medina!"  Should I desire a temple in the compound of the Kabba? That's sheer bloody mindedness and has nothing to do with religion! The whites invaded and colonised parts of the they now have to make amends for their long dead ancestors? Like hell! 

The past is over! We cannot build a glorious future on the blueprint dictated by the past! The present and future must only dictate our actions....all we can do is LEARN from the past!

A scholar said "A fair society is one where anyone can enter from any point and be content!" 

Can I enter Indian society as a woman and be as content as a man?
Can I enter it as a Hindu and be as content as a Muslim? And vice-versa!
Can I enter as a soldier and be as content as a businessman?
Can I enter it as a ordinary citizen and be as content as a politician?
Can I enter it as a member of the working class and be as content as the entrepreneur?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thoughts on India's 65th year of Independence

Our mind throws up thoughts all the time.....

And the mind is extremely powerful.....think of persecution, and persecuted you shall be.

Think of success and the ways to approach that goal, successful in that venture you shall be.

Think you are less....less you shall become.

Yesterday, I heard our PM speak.....he read out in a monotone. He did not believe in what he was reading out...he made me  feel a sort of disgusted panic.....India is doomed, I thought! Our leadership is in such hands, that we cannot hope to achieve what we splash about so merrily ..."India shining"..."Mera Bharat mahan".....I left the room.

Each year, the same stolid way of unfurling our National flag, the same droning could show the previous year's recorded programme instead of covering the live one, and we shall be none the wiser!

At night, Ajit yelled for me! The gallantry award show was on....very late show, but it was on!

Prime slots are given to saas-bahu shows and naturally, real life heroes get the least popular time! 

I heard them self congratulatory smiles, not the hint of a boastful attitude! 
Haircuts so merciless that there was just a suggestion of hair on the heads! 

Clean cut faces......honest eyes.....honest talk. 

When they spoke quietly, their passion shone forth!

There was this handsome face (people vote Brad Pitt as the most handsome man alive, I found no man more masculine than this Army officer....) with one damaged eye, speaking matter of factly! A young man, who in the course of duty, gave an eye for his nation. 

Doesn't impress you, does it? So many of us lose limbs while boarding trains, in accidents! I wonder what a missing eye feels like, when one knows one lost it in a glorious cause! 

Everyday when he looks in the mirror, he knows he rose to the challenge and he's an exceptional man! His missing eye is his permanent medal and proof.....I see it thus. 
He lost his eye while fighting terror in Mumbai. 

The chopper pilot, who was actually grinning widely when he spoke of being ambushed and how the hail of bullets sounded when it struck his helicopter. Grinning!!!!

Col Shekhawat, with a Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, Sena Medal and another honour pinned to his chest....speaking of "naam, namak, nishaan", the reason which inspires him to fight on and on!

An old yet vigorous father of a martyred 22 year old Army officer was also there...Retd Col Thapar, father of Capt Vijayant Thapar. I write to this gentleman each year, on Vijay Diwas. And he lived up to my mental image. The weak cannot sire such a brave lad would come from unshakeable, equally worthy stock! No tears or a glum face on that father! He did his son proud, he did us proud! 

Or the youngster who hunted down two terrorists in Kashmir and was shot in the stomach...and he thought he should help himself as he was he got up and walked! Gut-shot! Alone! And he walked in the bitterly cold dark....towards help! 

I heard all these men speak, and a peace rose within me!

India still has hope!

We are not doomed!

So long as we have even a small percent of men who so determinedly do what should be done, as part of their duty...we have hope.

They set their own records and are inspired from within...they are not affected by the 'winds of today' and the outside!

Their work has such honest passion that it cannot be undermined! 

We SHALL prevail!

As I was rabidly posting on FB two days back, my violent thoughts about the rally and what our treatment of such people should be, another Army guy came online..."Ma'am, dare I say, for you to cool down a bit?' and we then chatted. He told me "We are too big...such incidents do not matter" He was right. I know now what he meant and how HE could maintain such equanimity! The Armed Forces IS numbers, in heart, in their determination! There are still some die-hards there, still the romantics. Still some who think in terms of honour! Still those who keep a bit of Indian 'mitti' on them....I did this when I went abroad for the first time! I kept a pinch of my garden soil in my suitcase! Its a completely over-the-top, ridiculous gesture...and I did it! Kargil war was going on then and my leaving for a 10 day holiday meant to me, like I was abandoning my country in its hour of need. 

It pleases me to know that there are people who think more emotionally than me...and are able to do something about it!

It pleases me to hear the big Army man softly say "We were asked to do something and we did it!" when he described briefly how he and his men regained a key position on top of a hill, in biting cold, with no food or water for 16 days! Lying down in the open, under miserable cover, pinned down by an enemy who was uphill and able to keep an eye on them all the time! 

Such bravery and determination summed up so straightforwardly!

THIS is what they should air on prime time...THIS is whom we must listen to, on Independence Day...This is how we should celebrate.

Independence Day is the day of the soldier, the defender...not the politician!

The soldier brought it about...and he should take centre-stage!

It is such pathetic irony that the bravest of the brave salute those who have never heard the sound of an enemy bullet, never spent one night in India's defence on any border, never gone without food or drink on an icy slope, wrestling with a slippery, twisted enemy.........

Its a shame!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Do you fast? Are you impressed by people who fast? I fast, off and on, and I find it nothing special....since I allow myself tea. If I can have a hot cup of sweet ginger tea whenever the desire takes me, I can overcome great huddles of life, in a state of pretty equilibrium. 

Nani, who was old...all nanis are old, hence the name....kept 'nirjal fasts' (without even water) for Shivratri and Janmasthmi. And she did all the housework, plus making fast-food (pure food allowed for fast-ers...puris fried in ghee, strange other delicious stuff made from exotic flours, sweet dishes made from condensed milk and sugar) for the rest of the household and neighbours. 

Now that was kind of impressive.

Ramzan is me....a month's hard fasting, even for children! Not swallowing one's own spit! 

In this country,  even the poor who anyway don't have enough to eat normally, fast!

How do political leaders think it an impressive or effective form of protest?

Fasting!! Let's are a child and you whack your sibling hard! Your father begins fasting! Are you suitably chastened? Or will it make more of a lasting impression if your dad walked in and belted you on the backside?

A fasting father would not have made much of an impact on me. My dad ROARED when I misbehaved! He ROARED when someone misbehaved with me! I lived very safely with a roaring dad.

My mother roared too....she used her slipper very adroitly also...her running child almost always got nailed by her! Mum could cuff us for using a certain 'tone' of voice. It was not the words which she objected to (its difficult to object to words when we were addressing her as "Your highness, O Queen-Mother)...she objected to a disrespectful 'tone'!

I would have preferred a fasting mother!

(Since my mum will be reading this....all is fair in war and writings, mummy!)

So when people lie down on a platform, surrounded by supporters and begin fasting as a sign of dissent....I promptly lose interest! What is this damned fasting?? If one wants to make the blood flow, use rhetoric....use speech! Speak the magical words! Using different "tones"! Stand up and mobilize people....ACT!! Eat well and GAIN strength!

Giving up on food and drink merely makes someone a 'weak' leader! Figuratively AND literally!

Anna Hazare can fast till the cows come home....and he shall not be heard!

Our politicians are wilful children.....they do not understand anything other than a beating! They respect nothing other than a beating. They use raw power and understand only raw power!

Imagine a headmaster fasting in an unruly school!

Imagine an MD fasting to bring about change in his company!

Imagine us fasting when Pakistan bombs us! 

Imagine the terrorist fasting! (I wish he would!!)

Imagine a policeman fasting to protest against criminals!

Time we Indians gave up silly amateur theatricals and DID something whenever we wanted change.

Fasting is for old ladies....fasting is self discipline....fasting removes no real threat! Fasting brings about no social revolutions! 

Only blood brings that! And there is no substitute! 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lady Justitia's whereabouts!

I think lady Justitia is not only blindfolded, she really resides in the dark, unknown and ignored and completely looked down least, in India. Maybe she's an NRI! 

Lady Justitia is the statue which we have seen countless times in a Bollywood movie and is the Goddess of Justice....she with the balanced scales in one hand, with a prominent blindfold. An unfortunate statue of justice would have a rocket launcher in one hand and a severed head in the other!! Balancing on top of a political leader and the Indian Constitution! 

A very strong message that the law is above all! 

In a civilized society, if the law is not upheld with grim steadfastness, the society unravels.
Indian society has unraveled!


Well, we still have mob violence here...communal violence is as common a dish as butter chicken! 

And one can destroy public property and prove to be as anti-social as a rabid pyscho who guns down unwary passersby in American public spaces......and get away scotfree. 

Do you realise we live among people who find stoning trains, cars, buses and setting them on fire as a very communicative way of expression???

I have never stoned anything in my life! I cannot break a glass window to prove the depth of my anger. What stone-age mentality (no pun intended) is this which makes us make rubbish of honest taxpayers' money???

Yesterday what was destroyed by bloody hooligans was my father's hard earned money! And Ajit's! How dare someone treat their labour as dirt??? And get away unpunished? Ajit works through his sick leave....from morning to night, sometimes, 7 days a week! And he pays 33% of this blood, sweat and honesty as tax....for criminals to make a bonfire of??? 

Why??? Why is there no redressal? Why can't I catch that maullana who instigated the mob and charge him as a seditionist?? As a traitor? As a lowlife?

Why can't we just catch the mob and make them pay for damages?? Or then make them stay in jail and work in chain mail gangs!

Why can't the political leaders pay for their followers' actions??? Immediately...or they will have to step down!!

Mob violence will stop in a day, I assure you!

Doe nobody think like me??

Are we all so soft? Do criminals need such a soft approach? 

The guard who saw the Mumbai lawyer and wanted to molest her purely because he felt "attracted' to her...and slit her throat with a knife he purchased for this deed (premeditated to the last degree) like she meant nothing than a sacrificial, mute animal....does he deserve not the death penalty RIGHT NOW???

The girl who was abducted in Delhi yesterday and gangraped by her friend's boyfriend and his 7 they not deserve a firing squad???? Today?

Lady Justitia needs to get rid of her blindfold and her 'tarrazoo' and her placid demeanor  and pick up automatic weapons and a snarling attitude! 

I don't want to live in a society where the guard entrusted with my safety, slits my throat as a result of attraction! And doesn't pay with his life!!

I don't want any part of a rotting social setup where my gender is raped callously, anywhere and everywhere, as part of 'manly entertainment'....and everybody just shrugs and says "boys will be boys, so cover up, you females, and stay indoors and be less tempting!" 
(Gurgaon police actually issued this decree "Women will not work after 8pm" when there was a spate of well publicized rapes they had to solve!!)  

I don't want any part of that society where my elected leader himself is an ill-educated, narrow minded freak who preaches caste-ism and religious mania and loots public money with an complete shameless disregard! And is completely above the law he and his counterparts establish.

I also actually dislike intensely a society which doesn't understand a simple civic making A SINGLE, ORDERLY QUEUE!!!!

Perhaps we need to change Lady Justitia, substitute her with Nemesis. Nemesis takes revenge and 'gives what is due'! She is also known as Adrasteia or "one from whom there is no escape!"

I'll settle for her as a role model and a worthy deity!


Saturday, August 11, 2012



...thoughts in the aftermath of the brutal murder of the Mumbai lawyer because the neighbour refused to open the door at night

Who has been more familiar with rajas and maharajas and the Chatrapatis than us Indians?? Our childhood stories all began with "Ek tha raja aur ek thi rani!" All of us have someone in our line whom we politely (or impolitely) boast about......they are our 'noble' connections!!

I'm also related to the Maharaja of Balrampur (its a really vague connect and one I cannot explain without taking my mother's or sister's help! As a child, it thrilled me. )

I have a friend! He writes a title before his name and is so very peacock-ish about it! 

Almost all of us have illustrious ancestors with impeccable  lineage......and family legend is built alongside their names.

But I admit...the Maharaja of Balrampur and his extravagant parades and his silver clad elephants and his gold backed brushes do not hold the same allure as my grandfather's cousin does for me. For this brother and his only son were great 'lathaiths' (their choice of weapon was the lathi, a stout stick, and they wielded lathis as if born to it! They were musicians and the lathi, their instrument!) They were set upon one dusky evening in a remote orchard by enemies. All 30 of them....with lathis! The father-son duo stood back to back and danced a dance of great beauty and danger for they were trying to beat back death itself! The odds were great...but the duo, brave and stalwart.....the fight lasted longer than it should have. But it ended as it was inevitable.....both stretched out prone, left for dead by their battered enemy! The father stirred a while later and he crawled over to his son....and found that he too was gravely injured but alive. The father climbed up on his feet shakily with the help of his broken lathi and told his son "If you are my blood, my true son....ARISE!!!" The son staggered up! And off they went, weaving and bobbing......trailing blood with tattered flesh.....back home! They survived!!

I lay claim to these relatives of mine. 

This saga always thrilled me!

A father and son, battling together!

A father and son, refusing to give up!

A father so strong that sighting his half dead son, he lamented not but spoke words of fire!
And a son, who got up!!! 

I lay claim to these two....a grandfather's cousin isn't that distant a relative!! Some of this blood runs in me, too! It pleases me to think so!

I cannot claim the maharaja with true passion.....he's too distant! His wealth and power does not awaken mighty longings in me. Its more of a philosophical shrug....but the grandfather's cousin is the one I would clamour to hear about...his story never failed to make me smile. 

I can only imagine how Bishnu Shresta's great grandchildren will recall him! That man single-handedly beat back a gang of 40 armed dacoits....solely to save a woman's honour! With a kukri! And killed 7! And remained alive to tell the tale!

If I had any Nepali blood, I would claim Bishnu as a relative....shamelessly!

I'm tied to all the any form.

No...not because I think I'm brave......only because that is the quality I admire most. Outrageous courage! Courage under fire! I truly think that courage of the highest order, when displayed, is contagious! One becomes brave in the presence of extreme bravery! Its infectious!

Just as one coward who refuses to speak up, when great injustice is meted out before him...makes dumb others around him!

Cowardice is catching too......when a gang beats up one man, or strips one woman...and the passersby quicken their pace to get away....there is a yellow haze of lily livered-ness in the air! 

When a Mr Shah didn't open his door to a midnight bell, he doomed a Mumbai girl to certain death! Her death was pre-ordained as death always is. If she was meant to be rescued, she would have been my next door neighbour! I mean it....this is no idle boast! I shall never walk away. 

Times will change.

The world constantly changes around us.

We must also evolve.....keep pace.

What must not change within us are certain values. What matters to us. What we would like to see around us....we must safeguard some principles of living!

We must lay claim to some nobility!

We must declare to ourselves "THIS is who we are!" And decide when we will make our stand!

And when we make a stand, it matters not if we are alone.

It takes only a few minutes to feel a life long pride!!!

There was a time when I used to pray for courage. And I always added that if I felt incapacitated by fear, and if I could not live up to what I wanted to live up to, then I should be spared this test! I wanted to go through life, not knowing if I were a coward! I would say "Make me a hero, Lord! And if you can't, at least, don't prove to me my cowardice!"

I read about the mortally stabbed, bleeding girl...crawling about, ringing a doorbell for succor, dying alone on her couch!  It is such a sorry image....and such a powerful one, for me! And it could have been turned around on its head, if a neighbour had just opened his door at midnight!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Major Shaitan Singh, Param Vir Chakra

With a name like his, one senses a story.

Major Shaitan Singh!!! 

Have you heard about him??

Sangram, last night you mentioned the word "superman" while referring to someone. I'll tell you about some supermen your mother holds in esteem, also. 

A man who fought with his 123 men in glacial heights, down till "the last man, last round" (which means, Sangram, fighting till one can, till the last bullet/ammo)..... a Rajput from Jodhpur, in the Kumaoni Regiment, fighting to death in Chushul (a valley in ladakh) short, a typical Indian soldier!!!

Maj Shaitan Singh got the Param Vir Chakra, which is an award given to a soldier when he reinvents courage and the boundaries of bravery get redefined.

Don't underestimate the PVC....Indian soldiers are the stuff who fuel to be a legend among legends is to do the indescribable, the un-doable.

Param Vir Charkra heroes are mostly downed in battle when they are given this honour..... they go down in a blaze of heroic glory and it is a complete tragedy that very few witness how these men transform into supermen during battle! When one fights like no tomorrow, well, there generally is no tomorrow for them!

One of the extreme ironies of life is this that sometimes, a man does his finest, most glorious work in secrecy and in quiet! He has no audience! He turns into a superman to no applause!

Very unlike the Olympics where the best compete with the best and gain respect, money, honour and recognition! And are alive at the end of it all!

I write this mail primarily to my boy...and his friends. Hoping that they catch fire too...... and realise that the finest, most noble creation of God IS man! And he is one who puts aside all fear, and does what his duty dictates! When fearlessness, passion, duty and stubbornness come together, the seeds of immortality are also sown. 

Okay, so what did Maj Shaitan Singh actually do???

Well, he looked like this.....

He was the son of another Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Hem Singh Bhati. A latin quote goes " Qualis pater, talis filius", (as is the father, so is the son) so I would like to believe that his father was also a lion who, in turn, sired another lion! We respect established business houses...we take the name of the Ambanis, the Birlas, the Tatas, ...with respect and murmur approvingly! The soldier-son of a soldier is also equally follows his father into big business....another follows his father and becomes a defender of his nation! 

So, Shaitan Singh was a Sagittarian, born on Dec 1, 1924. He joined the Kumaoni Regiment which is 200 years old and has an illustrious past. This regiment served the Nizams of Hyderabad in the the days of yore! In 1962, India and China clashed....actually, the Chinese attacked and we defended ourselves. India never attacks another has forever just defended itself! 

The 13 Kumaon was posted at Rezang La, Ladakh , a crucial place as it had a landing strip, open in all weather. At a height of 5000 meters. (Which is a damnably high altitude where mere breathing becomes a feat)! 3 Platoon positions defended this area...and there were 123 soldiers in all. The Chinese attacked on 18th Nov morning....number 7 and number 8 platoons were the ones who bore the brunt of the attack...there were no survivors in No 7 platoon...all the soldiers died fighting...some of them jumped in the trenches to fight hand to hand combat with the oncoming Chinese. Number 8 platoon fought to the last round (they were down to their last ammunition, last bullet!)

Maj Shaitan Singh moved from one platoon to another under intense firing and shelling...he did so to direct his men and to encourage them (an officer has a certain number of men directly under his command. An hero officer will inspire his men to fight like demons....the Indian soldiers were outnumbered 1 to 5!! But when they saw their leader fight fearlessly and lead the charge, they followed! Which is why it is said that "be very careful of a lion leading an army of sheep'...whereas an army of lions led by a sheep is harmless!!). Shaitan Singh was wounded but he kept fighting. Finally he was being carried away by 2 of his men and he realised that the enemy was concentrating their fire on him and his bearers. He asked them to leave him and to get to safety! He breathed his last, alone, in the open, behind a boulder...from his wounds and in the biting cold! He was 37 years old! 

Around a 1000 Chinese were killed and wounded.

On 21  Nov, the Chinese declared ceasefire....they stopped fighting!

108 Indian soldiers died out of a total of 123 and a further 9 were severely injured! Some other records say, that there were only 3 survivors.....the bodies of the dead Indian soldiers were found after the severe winter ended....frozen bodies with weapons frozen in their hands WITHOUT ANY AMMUNITION!!!

Tell me, truly, did you not feel any pride now?? Not one prickle?? Nothing???

This battle has been compared with the battle of Thermopylae by some historians! The battle of Thermopylae has been made into a movie "300"!!!!!

Maj Shaitan Singh's wife is alive...I couldn't find out anything about his children! She gets 5000 Rs as pension...which may be updated now.

This is just one story of a Param Vir Chakra vijeta...I have 20 more tales! 

Now you also know how 'fake' belonging to a state is... a state MUST bow to the nation. An Indian is always superior to a Keralite, Mumbaikar, Gujrati, Bihari. A state is part of the any one who fights for the state against the nation is absolutely a traitor! 

It gets as simple as that!

And the Indian soldier proves this statement as do our Armed Forces, beyond any doubt!

And now you know what the politician really is...when he urges the Maharastrians to beat up the Bihari and the bhaiyas from UP! Or when he talks of reservation....reserve a place in the Armed Forces too! Let each state, each caste, each class, each religion, both sexes...and the third have their representatives in our Defense Forces! That will lend true meaning to the reservation issue too!

We MUST make it mandatory to serve our nation for a year, at least! One person from every family!! And only then we may become the nation we dream of!

Long Live The Soldier!!