Celebrating defeat

I got a chance to visit the Bhima-Koregaon “victory pillar” in Koregaon, in Maharashtra, commemorating the British East India Company victory over the Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy on 1 January 1818 and ensuing rule of the British East India Company in nearly all of Western, Central and Southern India.
Every day, on my visit, I go the victory memorial in Koregaon. A long pillar in bright stone is the main attraction, river Bhima that flows close to it. I’d like to swim on it but the water was very dirty like any other Indian river so almost forbidden. Near the village are the same old poor villagers and their mud houses which are painted with the names and pictures of their caste leaders.
On the walls of the memorial which is painted the names of great Bhima-Koregaon victories. Who was defeated at Bhima-Koregaon? The Indians. Who was the 1st Regiment of Bombay Infantry, Mahars, British East India Company, Captain Francis Staunton and other British officers fighting for? The Indians.
The “victory pillar” gate proudly announces the year the victory 1 January 1818 more than a century and a quarter before Independence. Who did the 1st Regiment of Bombay Infantry, East India Company mercenaries, Mahars and Captain Francis Staunton and other British officers shoot, bayonet and mine and blow up on that date? Other Indians.
The brutalities were worse than Jallianwala Bagh. Colonel Dyer only gave the order in 1919 at Jallianwala Bagh. The killing was done and triggers pulled by the Gurkhas of Gurkha Rifles, and by the soldiers of Baloch Regiment.
This is an ugly truth. I am not revealing any secret. I say that till August 14, 1947, the soldiers loyal to the Crown of England renamed itself a nationalist Indian army and a nationalist Pakistan Army, the next morning. We Indians, especially the Hindus have no history before that of a nationalist army, unlike, Muslims and Christians.
There are mentions about the fighting and warfare tradition of the Hindus or the Indians those goes back at least 2,500 years. The first Greek historian Herodotus mentioned that Indians at the battle of Plataea in 479 BC were hired by the Persian king Xerxes. The Indians fought heroically, though the battle was won by the Greek alliance and the Persian king Xerxes lost.
Eulogizing this tradition, Urdu poet Ghalib, who died in 1869, said proudly: “Sau pusht se, hai pesha-e-aba sipahgari,” meaning our family profession has been soldierly for a hundred generations. The world has great respect for the Indian soldier’s capabilities. Indians taught the European gorilla, bayonet and trench fighting.
The flattering biographers of Alexander the Great, Arrian, Quintus Curtius Rufus and Plutarch, mentioned that the greatest general has to use treachery to defeat Indian soldiers. This action stained the greatness of the conqueror. He had a treaty with a group of Indian soldiers and then they disarmed and deceitfully had them massacred. He used this deceit because he was scared of their fighting skill.
I have seen in India this respect mounted to reverence. Now, I have seen, it is almost a new cult of Army worship in the country. Fauj (army) and faujis (soldiers) are above criticism. The nation cannot listen to anything against the army.
People are upset with the subsequent Union governments because they have changed the rules which lower an Army officer’s ranking with a bureaucrat of similar rank. Soldiers must be higher than bureaucrats. It is a well-known fact that when all fail, army steps in whereas bureaucrats have no achievements.
Same harassment was there with one rank, one pension. They had to wait for this for decades whereas the schemes benefitting the vote banks are approved and implemented in a day. Almost more than 40% of all central and state funds are grabbed by these vote banks. I have seen this national sentiment that serving and retired soldiers must get better salaries, pensions and benefits than the bureaucrats. Their contribution is much higher and necessary. Now, they are all the time on the battlefield.
A retired soldier has to commit suicide over OROP although the Aam Aadmi Party announced Rs 1 crore to the family of the soldier. Even family members of controversial deaths like that of Akhlaq, Tabrej, Pahalu Khan, Rohit Vemulla etc are showered with monetary help and jobs but at the death of a soldier, I have never seen such aggressive and competitive bidding over the bodies of a soldier. Why? Because the politicians are making a nation in which vote banks and controversies are more important than the death of a soldier.
However, the nation thinks differently. It wants all of us must pay constant and unconditional obeisance to our army. We sleep comfortably because our soldiers are awake. This is an accepted unquestioningly.
It is because of this reality we need a strong army. The government has very rightly spent Rs 59,000 crore for 36 warplanes for the defence forces. Some disruptive elements criticized this deal. We cannot because this purchase is an act of nationalism. In the 1971 Bangladesh war, we used fighters in combat and bombed the enemy very heroically.
We need more warplanes. We are always at risk of war. We are always not only surrounded by the external enemies but inter enemies have also become big threats. Naysayers ask, who are we going to war against? It is an irrelevant question. The Army must be strong and care first so that we can sleep and our boundaries are not further shrunk and encroached and I won’t have to celebrate the defeats.

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Posted in Tyranny.

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