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A lack of Decency

I read this article in the Mumbai Mirror today. And I was disgusted to say the least. The article spoke of how the death of soldiers in Siachen was caused by defective clothing.

And this is one of the saddest things I've read in a while. Siachen Glacier is one of the toughest places any armed forces person could ever be posted. - 50 degrees Celsius temperature throughout the year and the wind chill factor causing the temperatures to drop further to around -75 Degrees.

The Army has a tough time finding people to go there and offer higher salaries. A friend I know made a documentary at Siachen and even the two days he was there were unbearable. He spoke of how devoted they are to India and a thermos of coffee(with no intentional regard to offend or hurt) being placed on a folded Indian flag led to much muttering and anger among the soldiers with a soldier finally picking up the flag and walking off all time shooting death glares at my friend and his team.

And these are the people our Army and Government sends defective clothes to. The highest battlefield in the world. Where it is a proven fact that only 3% of soldiers die from enemy fire. The remaining 97% die of the cold and other related issues like high altitude sickness or avalanches.

Although no official figures have been released, according to TIME Magazine, there have been 3000-5000 fatalities in the last twenty one years. And I wonder how many were due to sheer negligence and greed.

For that's what is greed. Plain and simple.

The soldiers there aren't taken up there immediately but in phases done to acclimatise them. But I fail to see the point, if your going to provide them with sub-standard equipment. Have jackets with only a single lining, defective boots and socks, lower percentage of wool in socks, jackets etc.

I have a friend in the Army right now who's posted at Siachen and he describes it as something he will never ever forget. And not necessarily in a good way. Life up there involves drinking every night in an attempt to stay warm. Every single night, the troops up there are drunk. Every single night.

And while I am against excessive alcoholism, I don't really see any other choice for any of these boys. What can they do? How much are they supposed to take?

And from a government and people who really don't give a damn as long as they sleep warmly in their beds at night.

The Army I've often heard is the most corrupt organisation in India and while I believe it on some levels. I've never really been completely sure.

But I am now. An organisation that doesn't care about its soldiers in perhaps what is the worst posting in the world, really has to be corrupt and only out for themselves. For I find it hard to believe, that someone with even half a heart would let something like this happens to the soldiers up there.

And for this reason, I'm all for Siachen turning into a Peace Park, for the emotional as well as the environmental reasons. Siachen's volume has been reduced by 35% over the last twenty years. Much of this attributed to the military troops stationed up there.

And I pray that both the Indian government as well as the Pakistani one wakes up and realises the futility of this war and spare so many young lives. And while I am aware that this statement may make me come across as a 'Pakistani sympathizer' , I don't really care. Only governments win wars, the people always lose. And boys are boys, whether they're Indian or Pakistani. And it doesn't really make a difference to me. And it shouldn't to anybody with a brain either.

Pray that this happens.

For if it's left up to the Army itself, it sure as hell ain't gonna happen.


Xorkes said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xorkes said…
thats a serious issue!! i miss times of india(mumbai).. u gotta read a mangalore edition and u´ll realise why.. its just 16 pages. hardly any news :(
all dat our supposedly DEMOCRATIC government does is - BRAG.. comes up with a five year plan, 10 year plan. goes on n on.. none of the goals are achieved. but time-tables r made! silly.
n u dont come across as the so-stated sympathizer. facts r facts man!! n how did u forget the right to speech??? hmmm.. hmmm..
me hittin d bed now! ciao
Moo said…
I completely understand how you feel. But unfortunately, people who NEED to understand the entire situation are completely ignoring the issue because of selfish reasons. And sometimes, what happens is, the grant may have been given for clothes and accessories of good quality, but someone in middle may tamper with the whole grant and pocket the money. I really don't see where all this will leave the country in a few years. WHERE is this heading?

Good post. Keep writing.

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