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The Art of Misusing the Indian Army

Posted on March 8, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in News

Article orignally published in News Laundry at http://www.newslaundry.com/2016/03/07/the-art-of-misusing-the-indian-army/ Apparently, our soldiers have become cheap labour that can be hired out to set up private parties.

There’s been a lot of talk about the army recently, particularly about how our soldiers must be respected because they’re guarding our borders and keeping us safe. I am in full agreement with this sentiment. Our ministers especially have stood up for the rights and honour of our soldiers. As they should.

Someone else who seems to have our ministers’ support is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose Art of Living Foundation is all set to throw a gala celebration event to mark its 35th anniversary. An event that will be attended by 3.5 million people over three days, we are told, including the honourable prime minister of India.

Keep in mind that this is a private event. Not a state or national celebration.

The event, called The World Culture Festival, has already been panned for the large-scale ecological destruction being undertaken in the process of preparing the venue. It is going to be held over 405 hectares of the riverbank, much of which has already been cleared of vegetation and been levelled. The event is going against the National Green Tribunal order of January 2015 putting a stop to all construction activity on the Yamuna’s banks and saying that any such activity would be deemed criminal. But in the world of Sri Sri, these are small matters and obviously no one says no to him.

Also, 650 portable toilets will be set up. No one knows how this waste will be disposed. There will be diesel generators, cars and sound pollution. Manoj Mishra of the Live Yamuna campaign has been quoted as saying that more than 1,000 acres of land have been cleared for the ‘party’ – there really is no other word for it.

Till now, my only and major bone of contention with this event was the imminent environmental damage that will take place and whose effects are likely to last for years. But it seems that the foundation’s Art Of Misusing is not just limited to the environment.

It has now been reported that instead of protecting our borders and people, 120 soldiers have been made to spend over a week building two temporary bridges that will float on the Yamuna river.

I can only conclude that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Ministry Of Defence (which must be in the know of what its soldiers are up to) saw these ads about joining the army.

Released by the Indian Army, starring actual army men, they’re ads that make army life sound wonderful, and the profession sound noble. As of course it is. The problem is that it seems that the government and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar took the ads at face value – especially the first one, which says, “it is India’s best construction company and biggest logistic operator”. Even if the Indian Army has soldiers trained to make bridges, they are not supposed to be daily labourers or labourers of any sort on hire. And they are definitely not supposed to be called in to do odd jobs for private events. Next thing we know, soldiers will be asked to be valets at the World Culture Festival. Because you know, the ad said they know how to drive cars.

Why is the army involved in labour activities such as building a bridge for this event? What justifies them being called in to do so?

The event, which will allow “spiritual and religious leaders, politicians, peacemakers and artists to spread the message of global peace and harmony in diversity”, seems to also spread the message of how to misuse the Indian army. According to an NDTV report, “army sources who asked not to be named confirmed to NDTV that 120 personnel were assigned to build the bridges, and that after expressing reservations about the task, senior officers made it clear that the organizers must accept liability for any accident that injures attendees”.

In fact, these soldiers (and by extension, the army) are being made complicit in the ecological nightmare that is this private event. The committee which has been set up to investigate the potential ecological damage that may be caused as a result, has said that the building of the two pontoons is in direct violation of their order. In fact, the “committee has noted that there is no way to find out whether the debris generated during the construction of the bridges has been dumped into the river”.

Is this what our soldiers are expected to do? One would think that the dismal conditions in which they have to protect our borders are bad enough. Now they have to lug construction material around to build bridges for a spiritual guru’s private celebrations? Forget any politician speaking up about the misuse of the army, the event is going to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. One would think he would step in and put a stop to this utter misuse of our soldiers.

In India, for all our beating-our-chest adulation for our soldiers, we don’t think twice about asking them to carry out jobs that are not their responsibility. Whether it be pulling a child out of a borewell or being called in to maintain peace and order during riots, it’s all kosher.

Imagine you manage to qualify to enter a military academy, then you spend years training, finally you join the army. Then you’re told that your first call of duty is to build a bridge – not for an army sortie or in a disaster-struck part of the country, but for a yoga and meditation event. To be attended by the very Prime Minister who should be ensuring your job is respected. What could be more demoralising? We should just be pleased that they weren’t called in to make the stage for Baba Ramdev and Shilpa Shetty’s yoga celebration, or for Gautam Adani’s son’s wedding. Keeping with the spirit of the Art Of Living, don’t hold your breath though. It seems anything is possible.

What is worse is that other than for NDTV, nobody else seems to be bothered about this incident. No media has written about it since the news broke. Not one politician or minister tweeted about it or made a statement. These are the very same politicians and ministers who are leaving aside no opportunity to tell us how much we Indians should be indebted to the Indian Army. Could the silence be because if anyone has friends in high places, it is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar? Now that is the true Art of Living.

The author can be reached on Twitter @rajyasree
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‘भाषा को धर्म सेजूड़ना भाषा अन्याय है’

Posted on February 21, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in हिंदी लेख

शिराज हसन बीबीसी उर्दू संवाददाता, इस्लामाबाद पाकिस्तान की राजधानी इस्लामाबाद में मादर भाषाओं के दिन के हिसाब से दो दिवसीय मेले के पहले दिन क्षेत्रीय भाषाओं के संबंध में विचार विमर्श और समारोहों का आयोजन किया गया। शनिवार को लोक विरासत और राष्ट्रीय विरासत संग्रहालय में आयोजित इस मेले में एक ऐसी किताब परिचयात्मक समारोह […]

जनरल (सेवानिवृत्त) जुल्फिकार अली भुट्टो

Posted on February 21, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in हिंदी लेख

विस्तार ख़ान बीबीसी उर्दू संवाददाता, कराची इस्लामाबाद जो निचले अदालत पिछले ढाई साल से लाल मस्जिद के व्यवस्थापक गाजी अब्दुल के मकदमहٔ हत्या की सुनवाई कर रही है इस मामले में आवश्यक एकमात्र आरोपी जनरल (रिटायर्ड) परवेज़ मुशर्रफ को आज तक अपने सम्मुख नहीं देख स्की.षालानकह यह अदालत इस अवधि में तीन बार जनरल साहब […]

World has slipped into ‘new Cold War’: Russian Premiere

Posted on February 13, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in General

Munich, Feb 13 (AFP) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev today said that strains between Russia and the West have plunged the world into a “new Cold War”. With tensions high over the lingering Ukraine conflict and Russia’s backing of the Syrian regime, Medvedev said: “All that’s left is an unfriendly policy of NATO against Russia”. […]

Indira Gandhi knew of threat to life before Blue Star: Pranab Mukherjee

Posted on January 29, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in News

Indira Gandhi knew her life was at risk when she decided to go for militarily storm the Golden Temple, President Pranab Mukherjee reveals in the second part of his memoirs released on Thursday. “The Turbulent Years, 1980-1996” (Rupa) says that “criminals, smugglers and anti-social elements” had joined the Khalistan movement and recalls that the Golden […]

Jai Jawan! Discovery Channel to honour Indian Army on Republic Day with special show

Posted on January 12, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in Indian Army, Pakistan

New Delhi: An hour-long special programme to celebrate the Army Day on 15 January and to honour the heroism of the Indian soldiers posted at the Siachen glacier will be premiered on television on 26 January. Indian Army in action. AFPIndian Army in action. AFP The show titled “Revealed: Siachen” will be aired on Discovery […]

Army Officer Daughter Explains What People Don’t Understand About Life In The Army

Posted on January 12, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in Indian Army

Nobody is a fan of loose talk and I am no exception. What boils up every drop of blood in me are misinformed conversations that give birth to misinformed opinions. I recently overheard two so-called ‘educated, suited-booted gentlemen’ discuss the Pathankot terrorist attacks that killed seven of our brave soldiers. In a matter-of-fact manner, they […]

Indian Army’s artillery order worth Rs 4,900 crore may support L&T stock

Posted on January 12, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in Indian Army

Larsen & Toubro, India’s largest infrastructure company, may bag an order worth $750 million (Rs 4,900 crore) to manufacture artillery guns for the Indian Army may cheer investors who hold the company’s stocks. L&T shares have shed nearly onefourth of their value — roughly Rs 25,000 crore — in the past three months due to […]

China reshuffles military headquarters in major revamp of PLA

Posted on January 11, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in China

Beijing, Jan 11 (PTI) In a major military reform, Chinese President Xi Jinping today reorganised four army headquarters by replacing them with 15 new agencies under the Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by him, tightening his control over the world’s largest force. The new structure includes new commissions — discipline inspection, politics and law and […]

Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level talks unlikely this week

Posted on January 11, 2016 (Comments Closed)
in News

New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) The Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary- level talks appear to be unlikely this week with India taking the stand that Pakistan has to act on the leads given to it about the terror attack on the Pathankot air base. Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Policy Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister, has said that the […]