Even as we were getting over the 8th year remembrance of the ghastly Mumbai attacks of 26/11, terror has struck again. In the wee hours of today, 29th November, 2016, terrorists who were heavily armed and disguised as police officials stormed into the Officers Mess complex of an Army unit at Nagrota in Jammu, firing and lobbing grenades. According to the official statement issued by the Defence PRO, three Jawans and one Officer were martyred in the initial counter action. The terrorists further entered two buildings where families of Officers were also present, leading to a hostage-like situation. However, a successful rescue attempt was launched and two children, two ladies and 12 soldiers were saved. Unfortunately, during this operation, two more Jawans and one more Officer were martyred, taking the total toll to 7.
The Defence PRO Manish Mehta reported that the Army has recovered bodies of three terrorists and the area has been cordoned off; combing operations will commence again tomorrow, he said.
The Armed Forces will deal with this event in their own way to avenge the loss of these brave soldiers. But what about us? Even as we read this news, we will put out tweets or blog posts or Facebook status messages, paying homage to those who gave up their lives for us.
Now, I’d like to ask you a question. If tomorrow you had to be in a situation where it’s a choice between your country’s good and your life or the lives of your dear ones, which would you choose? You’ll probably say – It’s not easy to answer such questions.
God forbid that anyone ever has to face such situations. But these are precisely the conditions for our brethren in the armed forces. You wouldn’t dare ask them such a question for fear of being looked down upon with scorn for having even asked it. What is it that distinguishes their unflinching response from the halting replies of the rest of us?
Patriotism is not a special nutrient that is available only in the diet of those who enter the armed forces. It is abundantly available for the taking, but it comes only to those who make a conscious habit of putting the nation first. And you will be willing to do this only when you develop a strong sense of love for this land in which you are born.
How do people in love behave? They try to know more about the ones they love; they try to help their love in any way they can, even if they have to go out of the way to do so and they are willing to sacrifice their own comfort for the benefit of their loved one.
So, if you wish to go beyond the perfunctory armchair patriotism, here’s what you need to really do –
- Read and learn about the country’s history from ancient times and her gods and goddesses, heroes, leaders, warriors, patriots, scientists and artists. Feel proud to have such a rich legacy.
- Learn more about the culture, philosophy and traditions of your land other than the one in which you have grown up and appreciate the values they convey.
- Create opportunities to speak, read and write in your mother tongue because that will keep you anchored to your land and her thoughts.
- Use your time and resources on a regular basis to help those in need to learn a skill or gain some education or find employment.
- Volunteer with a genuine social service organization and spend a few hours every week or month to work on a cause that has no personal benefit to you but helps your less-fortunate countrymen.
- Follow the rules of the land – pay your taxes correctly, don’t take or give bribes, don’t create a public nuisance by littering or spitting, drive carefully – and educate others on the need to do so, too.
By such actions, it is possible to gradually begin to see oneself as not just an individual who has his or her own family to take care of, but also as a responsible citizen of the country.
Our Constitution has given us the Fundamental Rights that are enforceable by law. It also talks of Fundamental Duties, but only calls them as moral obligations, not enforceable by law. The day we start looking at performing these duties with sincerity, we would have justified the sacrifices of all those who were martyred in protecting us whether today, in Uri, on 26/11 or any of the other innumerable occasions when they abided by their duty instead of harping on their rights.
Not all of us can die for the country – the least we can do is live in such a way and work for our country’s good so that we’re worth the sacrifices of our brave hearts.