India’s 66th Army Day was observed on January 15, 2014. As described by Jagran Josh, “the day is celebrated in recognition of the appointment of General K M Cariappa as the first Commander-in-Chief of independent India. He succeeded British Army General Roy Butcher on this day in 1948.”
CNN-IBN reported that, along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, where temperatures go down to minus 20, “the government’s austerity measures have meant a 57 per cent cut in kerosene supply for troops even as the kerosene not just keeps the kitchen fire burning, but also runs the heaters that keep the men from freezing.”
This report, also by CNN-IBN states that, “The soldiers had revealed how the cut has made living difficult in high altitude areas.” It also states that, “The Indian Army has denied reports of austerity measures affecting the soldiers at the Line of Control. The Army has said that enough kerosene ration has been issued to the soldiers.”
While the matter certainly merits further investigation, it brings to the fore the fact that while we, as a nation, pay verbal and floral tributes to our armed forces, we do not show genuine concern for their needs.
To be fair, this does not apply only to the armed forces.
We remember Mahatma Gandhi once a year on October 2. Some of us may remember him on January 30. On all other days of the year, many of us do exactly the opposite of what he preached and practised.
We honour our teachers on September 5 every year. On other days of the year, most of us do not really care about them. It is a shame that teachers (other than, perhaps, those teaching in coaching classes or in fancy schools) are not among the best-paid professionals in India.
The same is true of athletes, sportspersons (other than cricketers) and many other categories of people.
It is not only the central and state governments who have to change this state of affairs. Each one of us can contribute to this change by ensuring that we genuinely care for the people who enhance the quality of our lives. We must do much more than merely paying lip service.