It is an irony that a few veterans – surprisingly many who held senior ranks in the Indian Armed Forces – having radicalised thoughts and many times seen spewing venom on the media. The malice appears to have spread to officers who held junior ranks and also among soldiers.
There are two types of radicalised Veterans all over the world. The first category is a minuscule – the ones who have been through intense combat and have seen their comrades in arms die or maimed. They mostly suffer from Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD) and there is no care or support for these cases, even from the Military Hospitals. Why, many in the Indian Armed Forces do not even accept that PTSD exists among serving soldiers who have been through intense combat. One can very well imagine the plight of the Veterans, especially those below officer rank. Some of these persons tend to recoil and spend their life mostly in solitude and hardly ever communicate, even with their dear and near. Some also have taken the spiritual path to fight PTSD. They tend to carry their emotions within them.
They generally appear well in public and say nothing to offend anyone. They are always a gentleman on the surface and treats everyone with respect. In private, they may occasionally make off-handed comments when discussing politics, or society. One feels disenchanted to hear someone of such intelligence and valour, someone who everyone respected and cared for immensely, have such a distorted view, and to speak in generalisations about an entire religion or community.
This group cannot be categorised as radical, but may well be called prejudiced. This could well be attributed to their years of dedicated service in the worst parts of the country, and having to deal with corrupt politicians and bureaucrats on a regular basis. This is bound to take a toll on anyone’s faith in humanity.
Now comes the second group – the most dangerous ones and are in majority – the so called ‘Poodle Fakers‘ of the Armed Forces. They may have been in the battlefronts, but have hardly seen intense combat. They were the arm-chair Generals who pushed their soldiers into combat situations, presuming themselves to be ‘Guderians,’ but with hardly any practical knowledge of tactics or the real ground situations.
Post retirement, they try to cover up all their shortcomings through their ‘verbal diarrhea‘ in the media or with their articles or books in print. They find everything wrong with the current setup in the Defence Forces and are ever ready with their answers for all the troubles the Defence Forces are going through. They never realise that they were the ones who laid the foundation for such troubles.
In the present Indian political environment, they have found a place to air their Gyan – the so called nationalists or patriots – who believe that to be patriot one got to believe in the party that has created an image of being the only patriotic one. They also believe that all the history of the nation are all wrong and only the ones espoused by the current bunch is the most appropriate version.
They appear to have forgotten all the ethos the Defence Forces taught them while in service. They claim that the Indian Muslims and Christians can never be nationalists and are only there to convert the poor Hindus. They never remember the sacrifices and valour of the non-Hindu soldiers who served under their own command.
They tend to paint everyone as non-nationalist in one stroke. Most of them obviously are faking it to remain relevant in the current religio-political turmoil the nation is going through. They will never miss an opportunity to cash in by giving their sermons on various television channels, which are ready to pay them for their most grotesque comment. It appears that every evening they wear their suits, armed with some venom spewing statement and await a call from a news channel.
These Veterans employ theatrics – they are ever ready to shed a few crocodile tears – and many viewers believe what they say. The viewers do not know the antecedents of the person, but they only know him as a Veteran.
Have you ever seen a General who was a professional soldier ever deliver such Gyan? Is it time that the Government come out with some regulations to quieten or soften up such diatribes?
Our son Nikhil went to the recruiting office in Toronto to collect the application form for Canadian Army. The office was manned by a very senior Sergeant Major who had seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq. He asked our son the reasons for joining Canadian Army. One of the reasons listed out by Nikhil was that his father had served the Indian Army.
The Sergeant Major asked “Did he see combat?”
“Yes he did two or three times to the best of my knowledge,” said Nikhil.
“Does he talk about it?” queried the Sergeant Major.
“Never,” replied Nikhil.
To this the Sergeant Major said “Then he has been into combat.“