The real stars of the land: The Indian soldier
The unprecedented rainfall over the hill state of Uttharakhand has left everyone in a state of introspection. Sometimes such natural calamities makes people think about the sequence of events especially if its in a pilgrimage spot. And nothing get's more divine in Hinduism than the holy shrine of the twin cities of Uttarakhand, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Despite the scale of the disaster, its mitigation was largely done due to the swiftness of the Indian Army.
In a largely peaceful country like India, the purpose of the army seems to be a dilemma to many. The sight of war is the only purpose of the armed forces, at least in the mind space of the majority of the people. Little do we know about the impact of the armed forces in other missions besides serving the war. Peace missions and disaster management teams are one of the more key and important elements within the army. Their importance is even more pertinent in a country where about 58 per cent of India's geographical area is earthquake prone, 68 per cent of the area is drought prone, 12 per cent is flood prone and eight per cent is prone to cyclones. These army units are professionally trained and assist in real time operations; in the process these people save many lives and provide protection to thousands. This has specifically improved post the National Disaster Management Act passed in 2005 which made the Armed forces an integral part of most of the disaster management units in the country. In the Koshli floods in Bihar a couple of years ago, over a million people were rescued by the army. A perfect example of the army's assistance has been the rescue effort in the Uttarakhand rain and the subsequent flooding along the banks of two major rivers. Over 8,500 army men have been employed and around 20 IAF helicopters are being used in the drive to rescue people. The army has deployed around 5,600 personnel along with 3,000 troops of the Border Roads Organization along with their heavy equipment including bulldozers and JCB. In a terrain which is extremely complex to navigate, the army had to rescue people within hours and to this moment, all the rescued people owe their gratitude to the men in green. This effort is even more apparent when the state is engulfed by environmental violations
It is of no surprise to people who track the Ganges and its plains about the massive industrialization of the area. Over the years, the construction of various dams along the holy river, has led to massive environmental negligence and has resulted in the damage being exacerbated even further. Even the Union Minister for Environment has come out and lashed out at the opponents of the eco-zone policy that intended to protect the environment and promote sustainable development. Irrespective of the merits of the policy, at least a robust discussion on it could have been done; that at least could have saved many more lives. Numerous activists have led their weight behind the cause and one of the foremost ones are people like Professor Agarwal, an IITian turned Sanyasin who has been on fast to save the mighty river. The media especially this channel had covered extensively on the environmental faux paus along the Himalayan range and the holy rivers of Ganga and Yamuna. Despite such efforts, the developmental lobby has been reckless enough to develop without protecting the sanctity of the rivers.
In this context, it is even more surprising at the swiftness and the agility of the armed forces in dealing with the menace. As much as the people who were stuck were helpless, even the Army would have been in a delicate position to navigate such challenging terrains. In recent times, several controversies at the top of the military establishment have defamed the army in more ways than one. Besides the power mongering players at the top of the establishment, lies a soldier who gives his heart out irrespective of the circumstance or the situation. The greatness is that the soldier subjects himself to the very risk that the soldier is trying to protect the victims from; yet he goes about his job with no qualms whatsoever.
There are certain times when you are in awe of people who sacrifice their lives for the people and the nation and there are times, you owe them everything for what they have done. Over the last 4 days, if not for the grit and selfless sacrifice of the army men, we would have lost thousands more people who were stuck amidst the cloud burst.
As you read this, spare a thought for the selfless soldier who is relentlessly rescuing people without a shred of reward in terms of money or fame. Indeed, the army men are the real true stars of the land.
More about Sriram Balasubramanian
Sriram Balasubramanian is a Journalist, voracious reader, avid Blogger, social enthusiast and a believer in excellence not mediocrity. With an inherent passion towards journalism and writing, he believes in playing the "Straight Drive" all the time. Besides this, he has a MS in Engineering Management and has played Chess for Singapore.
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