24 July, 2011
July 26 is the day when we observe the Kargil Vijay Divas and pay homage to the 527 martyrs who laid down their lives for the motherland in the 1999 Kargil war.
I propose this year we start a campaign to honour also their parents, who gave their life's best flowers to serve the nation.
A small gesture. A sticker proudly proclaiming - Proud Parents of a soldier - be distributed to all parents of soldiers in our respective cities by civil organisations like Rotary, Lions, Bharat Vikas Parishad, etc, creating an atmosphere that it's great to have a son or a daughter serving as India's soldier.
On every vehicle, whether it's a scooter or a car, let the finely worded and designed stickers become a matter of self-pride and city's glory. Let the respective state governments declare small, but significant facilities, like no parking place will charge anything from vehicles displaying such a sticker. They give such facilities to journalists, politicians, MLAs and MPs and of course to all their local civic body officers. Why not extend this little gesture to the men and women who sent their children to the forces?
There is an official protocol on how a district authority would receive a member of Parliament and other representatives of the legislature. They have to stand from their seats and receive them with honour and also to see them off at the doors at the end of the meeting. Let this gesture be extended to the parents of the soldiers too.
In the Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations and high tea parties thrown by the governors of the states and the President in New Delhi, let a new category - Parents of the Soldiers - be added. We have added freedom fighters, decorated soldiers, and Padma awardees and recipients of other civil and military honours . There can be some categorisation on the basis of decorations and levels of service. But the category itself could do a lot to honour the simple, proud and so far ignored citizens whose contribution to the national security and glory was never recognised appropriately.
The railways has some categories of special passengers - sports persons, journalists, freedom fighters, golden pass holders and politicians. Why can't we have a category for the parents of the soldiers who would be given some preference in getting their berths confirmed and a constitutionally binding respectful behaviour by the railway staff and a 25% discount on the fare?
On special days, like Republic Day, Independence Day, and victory day celebrations, like Kargil Vijay Divas and Bharat Vijay Divas, let there be a separately marked row for the parents of our soldiers.
At the time of laying their lives for the nation in any action, soldiers always remember their parents and families. The last images. We do respect the wife and the kids of the soldier. But what about the parents for whom the soldier would have the highest respect?
Just see the images of the jubilant freshly graduated soldiers at the end of the Indian Military Academy's passing-out parade. The way their parents, with tears in their eyes and pride on their faces, hug their children and bless them invoking all the gods and goddesses. No politician will ever be able to do that while seeing his child joining politics or filing his/her nomination for the first time to contest an election.
But, ironically, while a politician's children always and almost everywhere get a preferential treatment and their parents too are regarded as neo-gods and goddesses by the local administration and state powers, the parents of soldiers are hardly even recognised as ones who part with their life's best support to support the people of the nation.
Shouldn't the state power be also recognising them equally respectfully?
I have humbly announced Uttrakhand's first grand war memorial on the completion of my first year in the Parliament this July 5 making all the soldiers community, the biggest in the country, too happy. I request everyone to give me ideas and support to select the best design for the project, for which I have already announced Rs 2 crore from my MPLAD funds. More will come. I feel embarrassed when none of our states can boast to have even a modestly built and well-maintained war memorial, to say the least about the states who give maximum number of soldiers to the forces, like Himachal and Uttarakhand. And even when such moves are initiated, it's sad to see that they are marred in local politics of petty oneupmanship.
But this July 26, let's all make a move. Let the stickers, some of them can be designed with a soldier's proud face on the left and a two line proclamation in the middle - Proud Parents of a Soldier - be propagated as widely as is possible through local initiatives. Make it a national campaign to honour those who honour our nation with their best contributions.