When soldiers go to war in other countries, the civilians staying back generally don’t have any contact with them. The state-controlled media does nothing to involve their viewers and readers in the actual events taking place and hide the dirty side of the war. The mighty soldiers return to their homeland as heroes who sacrifice everything for the love of their country, but no one hears about the innocent men, women and children who perished in the shelling. Donald Trump’s first US military raid in 2017 had killed 30 civilians, including 10 women and children.
We demand death penalty for murder but when soldiers kill civilians including pregnant women and children we give them medals and call them heroes. The majority of all war casualties are civilians, not soldiers. The blind sympathisers of soldiers justify all their acts in the name of defence of a country but they fail to answer me when I ask what were US soldiers defending when they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan?
Neither of the countries were attacking nor were they in any position to attack the US. So what are they “defending”? The soldiers of every country have always fought in the interest of the state and not to defend its country. They have been used as pawns to be used in unjustified wars of aggression. The soldiers don’t actually fight for our freedom, they are instructed to follow orders. If tomorrow they receive instructions to slaughter civilians, then they won’t think twice before executing a genocide.
The killings of Kashmiri Muslims by Indian army, Indian Tamils by Sri Lankan army, Palestinian Muslims by Israeli army, Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar army, Bengali Hindus by Bangladeshi army, Christians by Mexican army and of the Blacks by US army makes me wonder if military has become a medium for many alt-right governments to assault the minorities. According to government figures, there were only 150 militants in the Kashmir in 2015 but there were 700,000 soldiers to fight them.
The military shouldn’t be worshipped like a cult, they fight for our country, but praising them for everyone they fight against promotes a racist and xenophobic mindset. The fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini used nationalism to promote the growth and need of militarism in Italy. Our world has countries which have a strong military, and they still do not enjoy freedom.
The nationalist Nazi soldiers are the best example of mindless machines killing innocent civilians for the greater good of their country.
We are protected by a number of links in a chain which include judges, honest politicians, human rights activists and above all, the Constitution and soldier is just one link in a chain that protects us.
The army defends us from hostile forces but to say that soldiers alone guarantee our protection is a hyperbole. One does not need to be a soldier to prove his or her patriotic credentials. It’s perfectly fine to choose the armed forces for the quality of life they provide. Many Indians soldiers have been killed in Indo-Pak and Sino-Indian wars but that shouldn’t make us worship everyone who puts on a uniform.
We are mature enough to know that a Politician’s white Kurta does not always reflect honesty and that a monk’s saffron robe may not cloak a pure soul but without any hesitation, we believe that the olive-green uniform automatically raises its wearer to saintly status.
When it comes to high risks of losing lives, soldiers have plenty of company including construction workers, manual scavengers, farmers, and police officers.
I have never heard anyone saying,“Farmers are dying. And you’re wasting time on this trivial issue!”.
The factory workers and manual scavengers don’t have the same perks as of the armed forces. Let’s spare a thought for the people who clean our surroundings, and who die in startling numbers every day throughout the country. In spite of the ban on manual scavenging, over 300 cases of deaths due to it has been reported from across the country in 2017 alone, according to a reply given by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to the Lok Sabha in December last year. Imagine the uproar if 300 soldiers had died in a year. These people don’t go to the borders to kill the enemies yet they fight filth in the society as their enemy and protect each and every citizen of India. Millions of public toilets and drains across India have not been cleaning themselves. Putting an end to manual scavenging is not even mentioned in the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
One of the reasons Indians have come to perceive soldiers as our sole protectors is that we have accepted the idea that our country is under permanent threat from neighbouring countries who want to kill us and destroy our country.
Yet we have also felt this way at the height of the Indo-Pak and Sino-Indian wars, and we did not worship soldiers than the way we do in the current scenario.
In today’s India, a nationalist is someone who chooses a military career, puts on a uniform, and prepares for war against China and Pakistan.
Past generations of India saw soldiers as ordinary human beings who were like the rest of us but now they’ve become unaccountable deities. I understand that its very important and risky job but we need to thank them just like we need to thank our farmers and sewage cleaners. Simply ranting “Soldiers are dying” is just an idle attempt to disrupt logical reasoning with an emotional appeal. India is in dire need of efficient teachers and doctors, skilled labourers. Risking your life for what you believe is the right thing, by going around the desert or the jungle with a gun to help our country anymore isn’t the only option to serve your country. We take pride in making claims regarding picking up arms on the borders for the sake of nationalism but we feel ashamed to even pick up a broom to clean our country. Being a soldier is at the conceptual level a “great” thing to be, but it’s really not the best thing one could be doing for his country.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.