If, as a Nation we cannot care for and respect our soldiers, then we really are. And there are enough instances in post independence Indian history to prove this.
Take for instance the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. As part of the Simla agreement signed between the two neighbours, Pakistan pressed upon India to release it's more than 90,000 POWs held captive within India. We acceded to that demand in a hurry, never stopping for a moment to check on the fate of our own Officers and other ranks possibly alive and being held prisoners in Pakistan. Today 38 years later 54 Officers and men of the Indian Army and Air Force are allegedly being held captive by Pakistan. As a Country we lack the political will to get Pakistan to do anything about it. And as a people, we are completely insensitive and uncaring towards the families - parents, wives and children of those brave men who sacrificed their lives and their freedom, so that we could live as independent people.
Or take for instance hundreds of brave men who lost their lives fighting for India -for us. They were the sole earning members for their families. Years later their kin continue to fight from pillar to post with the bureaucracy and the red tape, in the most undignified manner, almost begging for that promised yet ever elusive gesture from the State, that would barely help them survive..
And today, hundreds of ex servicemen, pushed to the brink of complete frustration and despair at the worst kind of treatment met ted out to them, in the form of disparity in the pension scheme in the 6th pay commission vis a vis their counterparts in the civil bureaucracy, decided to walk up to the President of India, and return all their service medals that they earned during their Service life, as a sign of protest.
But the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces - the President is not listening. She did not even bother to meet the delegation who returned thousands of their service medals to Rashtrapati Bhawan yesterday. The President couldn't care less. And we, the people are not bothered.
A soldier devotes a good part of his life to the service of this Country. During that period he is subjected to trials and tribulations of various kinds. Separated from his loved ones for prolonged periods of time, living and harsh and inhuman conditions while guarding the frontiers of India.
Only to be forgotten the day he hangs his uniform.
And when retired Generals and other senior officers have to be driven to resort to processions, 'dharnas' and strikes to make their point, the entire Country should hang their heads in shame.
India - a Nation with the second largest army in the World, does not even have a "War Memorial" to pay respects to its soldiers. Because we have debated for and against it for the past two decades and have still not taken a decision to go ahead and build one. We couldn't' heap greater insult to this profession and to those who joined it.
Its high time we the people started some introspection and looked within us. That the armed forces should be the highest paying and the most respected Government profession, attracting the best talent in the Country, is probably a far sighted dream.
But can't we even be sensitive and empathising to the problems of and express solidarity with the cause of these very brave soldiers who gave up so much of their lives so that we could enjoy our freedom?
Why are they fighting this battle alone?