One doesn’t have to agree with everything you read in a newspaper. And when you disagree, you normally ignore it and move on. It’s rarely that something you read leaves such a bad taste in your mouth that moving on becomes a little difficult. The unpleasant aftertaste keeps returning and you feel compelled to do something about it. If it was something you ate, you would try to vomit it out to get rid of the discomfort. And when it’s something that you read which is causing the nausea, you need to ‘throw up’ the toxic ideas. My way of doing that is through this post.
- Since ours is a volunteer army and soldiers are aware that dying is par for the course while signing up, there is essentially no need to make much of martyrs by having a national war memorial for them.
- Even if soldiers need to be remembered for sacrificing their lives, memorials within their own regiments suffice to do so.
- The Army and government makes much of events like Kargil Vijay Diwas to be seen as heroes themselves.
- If the army still feels that a national war memorial is required, why not add in the names of post WWI martyrs on India Gate itself and be done with it.
Possibly cognizant of the slightly blasphemous nature of his arguments, Mr Bhatia doesn’t have the courage to claim ownership of the above thoughts. He, instead, ascribes them to unnamed, unquoted “critics” by whom “questions are now being raised”. Despite extensive online search, I could not find a single piece by any critic who has expressed such views. The lone voice against a national war memorial that appeared in the search was that of Shiela Dixit. So one wonders who are the critics Mr Bhatia is speaking about, and where do they express their views. Or whether they do exist at all.
Mr Bhatia probably views the army like the contractors that he employs to undertake the construction of his architectural designs. They pay money and hire labourers to get the job done. If a construction worker dies in an accident, he pays compensation and moves on. Hence his simplistic if not moronic assertion that soldiers who die in battle don’t need any commemoration – after all, they are being paid their salaries and their next of kin receive compensation. By that logic, the entire system of gallantry awards should also be scrapped.
Well Mr Bhatia, have you given a thought to the possibility that war memorials are not meant for the dead, but for the living? They are meant to celebrate victories enjoyed by the living at the cost of the lives of the dead? They are meant to immortalize the acts of valour by the dead. So that the living can continue to be inspired and motivated to emulate such acts, knowing that if they do make the supreme sacrifice, their nation will not merely pay off their kin and forget about them.
No doubt the armed forces have their own private shrines to their martyrs, in regimental centres, cantonments and elsewhere. But does that absolve the nation from having a national war memorial where national leaders and the public at large can also pay homage to the martyrs? Mr Bhatia, is any war the private business of the armed forces, or something that they engage in on behalf of the country? On YOUR behalf, so that you can sleep securely, wake up at liberty and write such trash?
One wonders what motivation Mr Bhatia has of writing such a piece. Could it be because as an architect he is peeved that the government is considering involving international architects and builders for the construction of the war memorial, thereby ignoring the likes of him? Whatever the case may be, one expected a little more sense and sensitivity from a newspaper like the Times of India than to publish this kind of trash.
Well Mr Bhatia, good luck to you in trying to propagate your views on soldiers and the value of their sacrifice. On behalf of every Indian soldier, I can only say to you, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”