A lot of us are celebrating the important Kargil Vijay Diwas today. I have a lot of feelings about the way we are taught to glorify war but I will keep those aside for now.
Before/as we "celebrate" our victory in Kargil, let's think about this moment, in which we are in on our nation's borders. We have a prime minister who has consistently lied to us about the conflict with the Chinese army. We are told there was no invasion even as significant territory continues to be occupied even now. We have a media that refuses to hold them accountable and pounces upon any peers who do so with charges of sedition. We have a parliament where this seems to go undiscussed by both the coalition and the opposition. We have an army leadership that seems to want to tell us nothing about the state of infantry in this country- as if we are not capable citizens but children who must be deluded into believing the world is okay, and our country is safe.
I have been to several Amar Jawan memorials. I have shed a tear or two while reading Captain Vikram Batra's last letter, in which he apologizes for yelling at his mamaji and pines for his love. I also remember how, not once, did the conversations about India's supposed victory in Kargil bring up our own failings that led up to it, or how we fucked up in the years preceding and during the Chinese invasions in the 1960s. This pride had solidified to arrogance long before 2014. The romance, though, has not faded.
Conversations about war in this country are rooted in this romanticization of soldiers, a romance that only remembers them when they are martyred. We forget that war must be the last resort and that, for all our love for the Amar Jawans, we must hold our elected servants accountable as well. It is their job to keep us out of war, to negotiate settlements that ensure we are physically safe and economically secure.
Unfortunately, today, we have left no space in the discourse for this accountability. Throughout my upbringing, I carried in me a sense of pride in our country and its army. I continue to remain patriotic, and it is from that love and hope for this country, that I seek a better future. I do believe that even those who disagree with me on the day to day will see the same hope for the future. This an open letter, but one directed especially towards 'fauji brats'- we have been raised in lifestyle unlike any other, and while it has its merits, a lot of us held uninformed beliefs in our past. But I hope that some of us have grown up to believe in the true meaning of the ideals of liberty and solidarity we grew up around.. and I hope that we can share those with the society at large, and not just in our comfortable, colonial homes and parties. :)