Recently one of my articles got published in Sandesh, a mainstream Gujarati daily. I have posted English version of the same to reach a wider audience.
What does a soldier fight for? I am sure most of us would say for his country. Correct. But then what is a country? A country is not only a landmass but it is made up of living beings like you and me. Simply put, a soldier fights for me and you. He does not want to kill, but he has to so that we stay safe. He feels cold and heat too, but he learns to live with it to keep us comfortable. And some of them also make supreme sacrifice while protecting us. And how much do we care for them? Ask yourself this question and see what answers you get. Many of you might say that we give respect to them. But the question is, is it enough? Can you buy a decent house with respect? Can you pay for your children’s education with respect? Can you lead a comfortable life after disability/retirement with this respect? Answer to all these questions is a big NO. I agree that soldiers are not so shallow to fight for money. In fact if they wanted to make money then they would have joined some giant corporate and made money there. But they chose their profession because it is noble and responsible for our safety. So isn’t it our duty to ensure that when they need help, we help them with tan-man-dhan? We Gujaratis take pride in being businessman. Nothing wrong in it, in fact we are damn good at business and entire world acknowledges that. We are so good at business that we forgot that we also need guardians who’ll keep these businesses safe. Those guardians are our sentinels in the armed forces. It is high time that we understood the importance of armed forces and do our best by contributing to strengthen them.
The point of venting out is an announcement that left me with mixed feelings of joy and pain. On 25th of January, 2010, names of gallantry award winners were announced. Even though I personally know many of the winners, one name stood out. That name was Major Jagmal Singh Vaghela of 11 Jat Regiment. This young officer belongs to our Ahmedabad. He is awarded Shaurya Chakra for gallant action against hard-core terrorists. Not only did he eliminate those terrorists but also kept his unit members safe without any harm falling upon them. As such the number of Gujaratis in armed forces is low and number of gallantry award winners is really rare. But sadly state of Gujarat has no cash allowance for such brave men. Cash allowance given by Government of Gujarat is given below:
Now compare this to cash allowance given by Governments of Punjab. State of Punjab also known as "Shield of India" contributes a good chunk in the Indian Armed Forces. In fact it can be safely said that there is a soldier from every street in Punjab. But still government of Punjab rewards "Punjabi Munda" as mentioned in the link below. Many other states offer similar compensation to gallantry award winners.
We keep on saying that Gujarat is a prosperous state and shows the path of progress to others. Isn’t it shameful for our government and all of us Gujaratis that other states like Haryana and Himachala Pradesh offer better allowances to their brave sons? I personally feel ashamed more than anyone. These brave men make so many sacrifices for protecting us, sometimes paying with their lives for our security. So morally it is our responsibility to take care of their families whether they are present or not. If our CM Shri Narendra Modi can rush to offer Rs. 1 crore to Late Hemant Karkare’s family then why can’t we reward our brave boys too? Let us not wait and blame everything on government, but let us wake our spirits and do something for our sentinels. Help need not always be in form of money, it can be in form of sharing knowledge, skills or any other such deed that makes life better for them.
So, how will you help?