New Delhi,UPDATED: 20 Nov. 2022 2:48 PM IST
Journalists Rahul Kanwal, Gaurav Sawant, Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh at Sahitya Aajtak.
By India Today Web Desk: You’ve seen several journalists reporting live from war zones. Some have also written their experiences of defeating these wars into books that provide vivid information about the challenges they faced. India Today Senior Executive Editor Shiv Aroor, Managing Editor Gaurav Sawant and Defense and Military Affairs journalist and author Rahul Singh not only shared their experiences on the battlefield while reporting on some precarious situations, but also spoke about the soldiers and officers, their stories of bravura and also the families that form an important support system in their lives. The journalists spoke at Sahitya AajTak in a session titled India’s Most Fearless.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
WHAT MAKES A SOLDIER DISSATISFIED?
Has it ever occurred to you how these army officers and soldiers can face the most terrifying situations with the utmost courage? What makes them so fearless? This is what Gaurav Sawant had to say: “It is the attitude they are born with, or the attitude with which they come into such a situation that makes them fearless. When a person finds himself in that situation, he can become either a hero or a coward.
Speaking about the attitude of our military heroes, Shiv Aroor pointed out a common attitude in almost everyone. “It’s actually amazing how common the attitude of all military heroes is. You’d expect that given the kind of superhuman things they’ve accomplished, they’d have a chip on their shoulder or air around them. I found these absolutely incredible common points in all the heroes I spoke to. I will give two examples, one is the Galwan Incident (a soldier named Dharamveer who survived) and the other is the Major who led the Uri Surgical Strikes. This soldier and the officer said exactly the same thing when I asked them ‘what made you so brave in those circumstances?’ Their identical response was, ‘Anyone would have done the same thing in that situation, we just happened to be in it. Fate dictated that we would be in that place and we had to decide. But anyone else in the fauj would have acted the same way.’ They completely ignored their uniqueness. They basically said that we in the fauj are built to be brave and only some of us get into those situations where we have to do something big and there is no decision for us because failure is not an option,” he said.
“There are two aspects that stand out. One is the sense of purpose and the other is “I’ll make my workout count.” This is what sets these heroes apart,” Rahul Singh said of the soldiers’ bravery.
THE COURAGE OF THE FAMILY
Family plays a very important role in a soldier’s life. Some women have even enlisted in the military after their husbands died. Speaking about these brave women, Shiv Aroor said, “There are five cases in our three books where officers and soldiers had lost their lives and their wives had given up quite a stable life to enlist in the army. We talked to these army ladies and asked what the need was for them to enlist in the army. Once the media attention on the death of a soldier or officer evaporates, the unit remains in contact with the families and they are there to provide any kind of assistance. I think that instills a sense of purpose in them. They feel that the only way to keep their husbands’ legacy alive or complete an incomplete mission in the case of a young officer or soldier is to join the army. It may seem irrational, but they have an absolutely razor-sharp sense of purpose.”
“Even at this time, the army is conducting hundreds of operations in the mountains of Kashmir or the jungles of the northeast. Most of these soldiers who go out on all these missions have a quick WhatsApp conversation with their families. Imagine the terror when you see that the last message seen was almost three or four days ago! You can’t even get through their number. This can be very overwhelming. These families are very inspiring and when you speak to them they show great fortitude,” added Rahul Singh.
YEH DIL MANGE MORE
Speaking of Captain Vikram Batra and his bravura, Gaurav Sawant said, “5140 was the peak won by Captain Vikram Batra and this was one of the first victories in Kargil and a very difficult one. The whole country knew the captain’s slogan: Thou hast more. Because they had been exposed to the harsh weather during that operation since giving up their woolen clothes to climb the mountains, Captain Batra had a fever. He was supposed to go to RNR (rest and recovery) but he heard on the radio that the two teams that had gone for .4875 (later known as Batra Top) couldn’t make it to the top. The Pakistani army had deployed its weapons so effectively that any advance was pushed back and casualties were incurred. So this is the time he volunteered. General YK Joshi kept telling him ‘you should rest’, but he said that ‘I am the only one who can do it’. Despite the fever, he went upstairs and he actually did. “