DA War

It all started because I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Tummy-achingly badly. They say women love a guy in a uniform. Since I’m one sandwich short of a picnic, I wanted to be the guy in the uniform. Chuck the guy out. Gimme the uniform. And not for dry cleaning.

I want you to know that I’m superbly qualified. War is an endurance test. As a kid, I endured my elder brother. I could match him punch for punch, pummel for pummel. Never once did I bite the dust. There’s no evidence to the contrary, least-ways.

War is all about know-how. My head was bursting with know-how. Because I had seen many war movies, with plenty of guns going bang-bang-bang in unison, the woo-woo-woo of bombs dropping, bomb shelters, Blitzkrieg, Kristallnacht and Indiana Jones. And Star Wars. I wasn’t ruling out inter-galactic warfare.

I decided to give a wide-berth to the know-whys. A good soldier doesn’t care why a war is fought. As long as there’s plenty of action, one gets back without missing pieces, preferably outside a coffin & gets the Presidential Medal for Valor. “Why” is distracting and tangential, when you’re in the quest for Valor.

I equipped myself with single-minded, one might say, obsessive zeal. When my parents weren’t buzzing around, I traveled on the steps of a railway compartment, like Frank Sinatra (Von Ryan’s Express). I occupied the seat next to the drivers on cars and buses, since Riding Shotgun sounded downright dangerous, like the stuff Lucky Luke or Cisco Kid did.

The element of surprise can win or lose wars. I ambushed the neighborhood roosters and goats with water balloons. A particularly vindictive beast chased me across a hillock once. With scant disregard for my noble intentions. I fell headlong on brambles & scraped my knee. I accepted my battle scars with grave dignity.

They told me that WWII was over, but I wasn’t taking any risks. I memorized choice German phrases like Schnell Franz, Das Boot, Das Boot! (39 Steps). I pored over old newspaper reports on The Bay of Pigs and got Cardona and Castro mixed up.

I did suffer pangs of conscience, from time to time. My inner voice cackled forth like a Hyena. A Soldier? Did you say Soulja? Girl, you crack me up! You stand 5′ 4” in your socks. You are not Dolph Lundgren’s doppelgänger, I’ll say that! Your last visit to a gym was 30 days ago, when you tripped over your shoe-lace & 3 fingers of your left hand touched the gym floor – accidentally. I hate my conscience, the fly in my ointment.

We all know physique is of no consequence when you have the instinct for war.  Consequences, Mate? Sure, let’s talk about that. Your astigmatism is so bad, that chances are, if you aim for Pakistan, you might – just might – hit Kazakhstan. With very unpleasant consequences for the Kazakhs.

I wonder if my TV remote would work on my conscience. How do you expect to kill your enemies? Once they see you, they may die laughing. A sound strategy! But – What is this, the War Zone or the Comedy Central channel? I hastily pressed the “Mute” button.

Watch carefully, for this is not a tale that ends happily, with me flying sorties on enemy terrain. Instead of driving in a scorching desert in an All-Terrain Vehicle, with an AK-47 slung carelessly on my torso, I’m tethered to a computer. I became the square peg that fits nowhere yet flits everywhere. They call me a – Software Engineer. Le Sigh.

Let’s cut to the chase and swallow the bitter almonds. In India, women are not permitted to engage in active combat. When I graduated from Engineering School, women could be in Quality Assurance, Military Engineering, Education, Nursing, Survey of India. Whoopee. Hope you didn’t fall off your seats in excitement. A Desk job, safe and secure. They could have snapped a ball & chain on my ankles and flung me head-first into the Mariana Trench. I could have faced impending doom with steely determination, amidst growing despair (Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, watching the aircrafts take-off).

But this post is not about Women in the Armed Forces. This is not how I wanted this post to turn out. It has floundered like a blind, drunken blue whale on a very foggy day. The narrative took a nose-dive as soon as we got the title out of the way. I haven’t conveyed the essence. And we all know that the essence is of the essence.

Don’t paw the ground ferociously, I ain’t whining about Indian Armed Forces. Not yet. At least, not in this post. I see the tide turning slowly and steadily. In the near future, India plans to induct women in the Border Security Force – with limited active combat. That’s a start.

Towards the end comes meaning, or what’s left of it. I sometimes reflect over the intellectual & moral void in developing nations, the older nations. And I’m reminded of a ruined chapel. Its past grandeur, its spirit. It evokes pathos, not pride. Can these fragments of dusty magnificence be put together? By whom? This leads to quiet desperation & an almost bestial fortitude. For what cannot be changed must be borne.

What ails our nations? Its time we listened to What the Thunder Said: DA. A single syllable. What could it possibly mean? DA. Could it be Datta (Give) – Sacrificing ourselves for a larger cause? DA. Is it Dayadhvam (Compassion) – Sympathizing and standing up for those weaker than ourselves? DA. Perhaps it is Damyata (Discipline) – Exercising Self-Control and will-power?

DA. Its what you make of it.

The above passage is from T.S.Eliot’s The Wasteland. He referred to many earlier works to write his master-piece, most notably the Brihadaranya Upanishad. Datta, Dayadhvam, Damyata: Prajapati‘s teachings to his children – the Devas, the Humans and the Asuras.

I don’t deify war. Nor do I look at the taking of life, any life, in a cavalier manner. Yet, I sometimes wonder if Conscription will teach people to be Citizens. I confess I don’t know the answer, but I think it will infuse discipline. Maybe even inculcate DA.

Perhaps then, people will think twice before jumping the red. Perhaps they’ll not cheat on taxes. Perhaps they’ll have mercy on the less fortunate. Perhaps. Without hope, where does life leave us?

As a person that takes discipline to heart, my fascination for the Armed Forces is but natural. We don’t need to be Secret Agents or War Heroes to be disciplined. It can be practiced right here, right at home. The Holy Grail is gathering dust, atop the ruined chapel. No one will hand it to us, perhaps we’ve lost it forever. There’s no point in waiting for the Messiah. There’s no earthly use in rhapsodizing over the past.

But I know this. The answer to the human condition is in you & me. We can limp forward, away from this decrepit state, towards peace. If we imbibe DA. That is a precondition. For there can be no Human Rights without Human Responsibilities.


Comments

  1. Quote

    /* our astigmatism is so bad, that chances are, if you aim for Pakistan, you might – just might – hit Kazakhstan. With very unpleasant consequences for the Kazakhs.
    **/

    Reminds me of the 23rd pulikesi.. 🙂

    Btw, my cousin is a soldier in Rashtriya Rifles, and he says, that his commander is a lady (who would parade with them equally) .. women are not allowed in active combat, but allowed in other roles.. whether you like or dis-like LTTE, you need to appreciate them, for fielding women in direct combat…

  2. Quote

    Senthil – Thanks for your comment.

    23rd Pulikesi – All I need are the long mustachios then? 😉

    Yes, I’ve also read that women pilots are used in the air-force to fly supplies, ammunition etc. But not yet into active combat.

    Some developed nations have deployed women in active combat, of course there are initial hiccups. I’m sure things will change in India steadily.

  3. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said July 23, 2009, 9:54 pm:

    nice post Priya. You have brought out the flawed policy of India’s military in not allowing women into combat roles, with your trademark humor. I didn’t know TS Eliot quoted so much from the Upanishads. DA is brilliant. Way to go. You are right there are no rights without responsibilities.

  4. Quote

    Not sure if you came across this article Women to fly fighter jets by 2014

    Things are changing.. As with everything in our country, slowly.. but hey, atleast they are..

    but i don’t see women being inducted into frontlines in the army anytime soon though. frmo what i’ve heard from army folks, they’re apprehensive about a lot of things. for ex, separate bathroom facilities for the lady soldiers in some posts that are so remote and any facility is just for the sake of it, things tend to get voted down.

    plus the main factor is that we’re still not quite ‘man’ enough to be able to take it if we find a lady soldier taken as pow?

    Do we remember Lt. Kalia and his group? If not lets refresh some memory right here

    Can you imagine the torture that a lady soldier might be subject to? Although its no more or less barbaric than torturing a male soldier, can you imagine the furore that would arise in the country? Lets rewind back to the Kandahar episode and recollect just how pathetic things ewre. The parents/relatives of the hostages harped ‘kashmir de dho kuch bhi de dho, hamare husband/wife/son/relatives vapas chahiye’. This is the level of ‘patriotism’ at home.

    Given such circumstances, I’m sure the army would be faced with a ‘stop fighting. we don’t want our soldiers to be put to such torture kinda asinine pressure. the army must be realistic and fight with what it has until civil society changes itself and says we’re ready. i don’t see that happening anytime soon. you’ll still have the activist ppl claiming male-female equality, which they are, but ignore that many in the country don’t see it that way.

    the other side of the arguement of course is that, unless you force things through, they’ll never change. sure.. which is why letting the iaf let female pilots fly fighters would a good start.

    i think i’ve rambled on too much 🙂

  5. Quote

    Priya,
    Ah! The first part definitely reminded me of my trite childhood ambitions of becoming the first chap who was allowed to serve in the Police, Army, Navy and Air force all together due to my sheer excellence. Of course an unhealthy dosage of Vijaykanth movies early on helped me in that ambition formation……

    But one sure feels that a spot of military service would do good to both the individual and the society he lives in. Well some people even say the lax attitude of our countrymen stems from an inherent lack of discipline and order. They argue that when you look at the Americans and the British after WW 2, you see the difference between those and our people and that it actually is because of the service they have put in that the difference springs up. It may not be true but seems likely if you ask me. A bit of military service aint going to do anyone any harm anyway – man or woman.

  6. Quote

    Priya, Great post. I wondering why we are talking about woman freedom at this new millennium. Woman everywhere at all careers but there are some exception like the one you pointed out here. There are some professions that well suited for a particular sex only. For example, cat walk and models are well suited for woman but not man. NFL sports is high intensity sports, not suitable for woman. Like wise we have so many things for particular sex, woman no where included as warrior in any epics and woman may not suitable for army combat action but i’m not making any judgment here. I usually watch Fox’s Cop programme where woman always struggle to arrest a 300 lbs, 7 feet guys and they want some back up mainly man cops. I don’t know it is physical limitation or nature. Man are not suitable some jobs same as woman are not suitable for some jobs.

  7. Quote

    Very interesting post Priya. Though I didnt understand what you were trying to say initially, you drove the point well with lot of sarcasm and humour. Liked it.

    Superb 🙂

  8. Quote

    Priya,

    Congratulations on a very humorous post!

  9. Quote

    Whoaaaaaa a post from Priya…
    glad to see your post…
    You always rock with your words!!!!!
    \\It can be practiced right here, right at home.\\\absolutely true…
    I always dreamt of being a pilot…phew……could not achieve….

  10. Quote
    Padma Ashtekar said July 24, 2009, 6:53 pm:

    priya! a good post ..
    especially i enjoyed the line // I accepted the battle scars with grave dignity..//
    this line made me remember our history pages which mentioned the “vizhuppun” of our kings…:-)
    here truly it was a “vizhu..punn” ;-))
    I think everyone dreams of an army job in their younger days..
    but i feel that in India atleast 2 years compulsory army service should be imposed as a rule on everyone to inculcate discipline…(a person like me may require 5 years ;-))
    Regarding *’Da’,,it was a good quote from Bridaranyak Upanishad..
    actually “Dana or Datta ” meaning to give or charity is encouraged for mankind everywhere and in all religions,even in Taittriya Upanishad,the teacher exhorts his pupils to practise charity and other virtues..Regarding charity ,he says,”give with faith,or even without it;give with magnanimity,i.e., liberally,give with modesty,with awe and sympathy.
    charity is encouraged bcos when you give something to others,that act gradually reduces the internal attachment towards that object and finally may lead you in the path of satisfaction and peace ..may be there is an internal war going on between our attachment towards objects like greed,avarice and our sattwik emotions like giving and helping others during the act of charity.so atlast when u give something to others u have won that particular internal war and have overcome the material attachment towards that object.but the natural tendencies of humans ,greed and attachment pop out always even after a noble act and a continuous internal war goes on and on and thus charity should be a regular act to make us win this war..
    a good post priya…made me to think a lot…thank u..

  11. Quote

    /** But this post is not about Women in the Armed Forces. This is not how I wanted this post to turn out. **/

    But the comments seems to be going in that way.. 🙂

  12. Quote

    Sukumar – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    T.S.Eliot ended “The Wasteland” with “Shanti, Shanti, Shanti”. Even if people try – just try – to incorporate Sacrifice, Compassion & Discipline in their lives, I think the world would be a better place.

  13. Quote
    Priya Raju said July 24, 2009, 11:26 pm:

    Sriram – Thanks for your comment.

    Yes, I saw a news item that our airforce may have fighter pilots “as early as 2014”. And yes things are changing slowly & steadily – as I mentioned in the post.

    Separate bathrooms etc – All these growing pains have already been faced by the developed nations when they inducted women in combat. That’s not unique to India. I see them as excuses, not reasons.

    Woman POW, Women Soldiers being tortured – Its up to the woman to decide whether she wants to put herself up to all that, don’t you think? No one else has a say on what I’m willing to do for my country & my people. One can give the same excuses for not inducting women police officers. And yet we have them, don’t we?

    The country has to grow up. Initially, there may be a furore, but you give very little credit to the people in India. They’ll change & get used to it.

    Policy changes in the armed forces are simply a sign of changing times. Like amending laws in the constitution. Its not an election & the majority opinion doesn’t count. That’s how its generally been.

    And as I said in my post: This is not about India not letting women in the armed forces in the combat zones. Its about the need for discipline.

  14. Quote
    pk.karthik said July 24, 2009, 11:57 pm:

    Priya ,

    Thank God to see so many comments before mine….Man your langauge I dont have words to say…truely ur gifted i guess with some practice u can become a la JKJ….:)(But I needed to read it twice to understand ur language 🙁

    Joke apart…a wel written article …great use of DA.
    But I do have difference of opinion on certain points….I agree that women are not given the same field as men..But I feel growth of a woman is stopped in most of the cases by another woman….I mean its still sad to see so many women who are contended in just getting married and having a family(forgoing their careers in the process).I dont blame them because they have been groomed that way…especially in a country like India..where still career woman is frowned upon ..So if a girl wants to join the army then first person who will oppose her is her mom…and ofcourse she will be well supported by society to screw up a girl’s career.

    But I guess this discrimination is prevalent even in the West (when it comes to the armed forces)

  15. Quote

    Goofy – Thanks for your comment.

    [serve in the Police, Army, Navy and Air force all together due to my sheer excellence] You had me in splits 😆

    I think developed nations progressed gradually & modernized, over the past several centuries. Whereas our old way of living was ruptured by colonization & we haven’t adapted well to the modern ways of living & functioning. Not yet. We’ll improve, agonizingly slowly.

    I also think conscription will help men & women, at least the lower strata of the society. While I don’t mean to say that most of the ills of our country are attributable to them – I read a report that young men from the lower strata that live in metros commit most of the violent crimes. Such “at risk” population will benefit greatly from discipline, a sense of belonging, esteem & the good quality education that comes from being in the armed forces.

    Of course the cost to the country is very high, so I don’t think conscription is practical. Even though there are many benefits.

  16. Quote

    Subba – Thanks for your comment.

    There’s a considerably wide gap between the rights of women in developed nations & developing nations.

    There are many male models that are on the ramp, the cat-walk! There are more female models than male, simply because women like to think more about their clothes. Which again, is a stereotype.

    Leaving the epics aside, which were for the most part written when women were suppressed – How many men are suitable for high intensity games like NFL? How many men can handle a 300 lbs, 7 feet criminal? Only a miniscule % of men can handle either of these tasks.

    Such tasks are about physical strength & endurance. While gender plays a solid part in determining this, it makes no sense in not hiring women who have the endurance, will-power & the strength to do that.

    We need not hire women for the heck of hiring them, but let’s hire them if they have the right credentials. That’s my point.

  17. Quote

    Ananth – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

  18. Quote

    Abdul – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

  19. Quote

    Annapoorani – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    Hey, interesting to know that you wanted to be a pilot. Commercial or in the air-force? If its the former, one can join a flying club.

  20. Quote
    Kumaran said July 25, 2009, 5:48 pm:

    Priya,

    Good one.

    I think a compulsory 1 year in armed services similar to Singapore will be a good one to have.

  21. Quote

    Padma – Thanks for your comment.

    Vizhu Punn- Sema Kadi 😉

    I loved your quote from the Taitriya Upanishad. Its very insightful. Compassion, as an internal war. Between our will to give & our need to possess. And how winning it is an endurance test – since our need to possess is very strong. Thanks for sharing that idea in this blog.

  22. Quote

    Senthil – Good point 😉 But some commenters have mentioned their views on Compassion, Sacrifice & Discipline too.

  23. Quote

    Priya,

    As you said, Discipline would come after responsibilities. The colonial britishers, centralised everything just to make government beurocracy accountable only to them, and the main duty to collect taxes and send to britain. So they designed the government machinary in their own way, such that, the native people have no say in that.

    But after independance, we should have distributed the power appropriately. Most of the basic entities like education, healthcare, sanitation, urban/rural design, etc should have left to the local people itself.

    When there is people’s participation, there comes the regulation and some amount of discipline. When there is a participation, there comes a ownership.. when there is a ownership, there comes a responsibility..

    But current government is completely disassociated with the people.. in towns, even the power to maintain our streets is not with the local people.. its vested with corporation, which is also centralised, and NOT accountable to people.. So, the normal people, considers cleaning streets, ditches as to be done by someone remote, whom he/she doesnt know.. even when cleaning, the situation is that some lorry comes, some person cleans and then goes.. We dont care whether these wastes are properly disposed or just dumped in some rural areas, affecting the villagers.. (We can see from pallikaranai dump)

    Too much of individualism is what i cite as important reason for such condition.. Homo sapiens is NOT designed to be individualistic.. rather, he can live only as community.. that community concept is lost in urbanisation, except for few pockets like apartments, housing boards where they have associations to take care..

    We cannot see everything from individualistic perceptions.. there is a social plane, where we have to think at the social angle..

    There are much to discuss about this discipline aspect.. i will wait for other’s comments..

  24. Quote
    Ganesh said July 26, 2009, 1:06 am:

    Priya,

    Nice post and as usual in your own inimitable humorous style. I did not know where you were going with it. But liked the way you tied in compassion, sacrifice and discipline as the way to improve our self and nation as well.

    Always good to see your post.

    Ganesh

  25. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said July 26, 2009, 2:31 pm:

    Excellent comment Padma. the “internal war” is a profound insight. well done.

  26. Quote
    Padma Ashtekar said July 26, 2009, 3:55 pm:

    Sukumar-Thanks for ur kind words.

  27. Quote

    Karthik – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    Yes, I agree that women are equally – perhaps more – to be blamed for the setbacks they face in life. If a woman stops working after getting married, that’s her choice. But, does she know its her choice?

    Also, when someone belongs to the middle class/above, not contributing to the world is unpardonable. She can volunteer. She can write. She can help elderly neighbors. Become an activist. Join Blue Cross. Something that expands her world.

    When a woman stagnates, the women around her are also to be blamed. Such is the societal conditioning in conservative countries like India. As long as working is equated only with making money & not with living up to one’s potential, this will continue.

  28. Quote

    Kumaran – Thanks for your comment.

    Yes, a compulsory term of 1 or 2 years – at least for the lower strata – will certainly help I think.

  29. Quote

    Ganesh – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    I thought you would have strong views against conscription 🙂 Not that I think there are unequivocal reasons to implement it, I see some merits amidst many practical difficulties.

  30. Quote
    Ganesh said July 27, 2009, 5:53 pm:

    Actually, thinking about it – yes I do not support conscription, especially the draft variety unless extra ordinary situation demands it – perhaps like WWII. Maybe conscription of social service variety is something we should try.

    How about extending undergrad to 4 or 5 years with a mandatory one year “service” throw in over that period of time. Leave it up to individuals to decide what is right for them with appropriate guidance. Should we call this “voluntary conscription”??

    Maybe tying this with a financial award that goes towards college education, particularly for poor, would entice them to consider college education.

  31. Quote

    Ganesh – Yes, I support this for the poorer strata too. It will help them get free, good quality education & give them a leg-up in their career. And it can be used for peace keeping services or social services – as long as the qualities: discipline, sacrifice etc – are taught in true military style.

  32. Quote

    First, regarding the central idea behind the post, if women can go in as suicide bombers very effectively, what would prevent them from being good solidiers, perhaps in special forces or as external intelligence. A woman agent, with a Burqa can pass as any one of million women in either Pakistan or Bangladesh or Afghanistan where most of the external threat to India seem to emerge.

    Secondly, draft – I support mandatory 1 year training for multiple reasons – discipline, self respect, nationalism ( I am an internationalist, but doesn’t mean that I accept any country to yield to use threat or force on other countries). Then finally, the physical training one gets in armed forces is very valuable as it promotes better health, adaptability etc.

    Thirdly, Priya, your ambition was better. I wanted to become Goods Train Engine Driver and/or a treasure hunter (Enid Blyton and Tom Sawyer) and/or a snake hunter.

  33. Quote

    Priya,

    As you said, Discipline would come after responsibilities. The colonial britishers, centralised everything just to make government beurocracy accountable only to them, and the main duty to collect taxes and send to britain. So they designed the government machinary in their own way, such that, the native people have no say in that.

    But after independance, we should have distributed the power appropriately. Most of the basic entities like education, healthcare, sanitation, urban/rural design, etc should have left to the local people itself.

    When there is people’s participation, there comes the regulation and some amount of discipline. When there is a participation, there comes a ownership.. when there is a ownership, there comes a responsibility..

    But current government is completely disassociated with the people.. in towns, even the power to maintain our streets is not with the local people.. its vested with corporation, which is also centralised, and NOT accountable to people.. So, the normal people, considers cleaning streets, ditches as to be done by someone remote, whom he/she doesnt know.. even when cleaning, the situation is that some lorry comes, some person cleans and then goes.. We dont care whether these wastes are properly disposed or just dumped in some rural areas, affecting the villagers.. (We can see from pallikaranai dump)

    Too much of individualism is what i cite as important reason for such condition.. Homo sapiens is NOT designed to be individualistic.. rather, he can live only as community.. that community concept is lost in urbanisation, except for few pockets like apartments, housing boards where they have associations to take care..

    We cannot see everything from individualistic perceptions.. there is a social plane, where we have to think at the social angle..

    There are much to discuss about this discipline aspect.. i will wait for other’s comments..

    Senthil, individualism is not supposed to be equivalent of selfishness. One can be individualistic while contributing to community. Local communities are best way to handle many issues. On the lighter vein, you seem to be agreeing with Mahatma Gandhi these days..he strongly promoted this idea.

  34. Quote

    Vamsi – Thanks for your comment.

    Exactly, all a person needs to be a good soldier or officer is determination. But, people prefer status quo, so meaningless excuses are doled out to keep women from active combat.

    I agree, Armed Forces training is excellent for building character. It pushes a person beyond his/her self-imposed limits.

    Goods train driver, OK. Treasure Hunter? Maybe. Snake Hunter? 😆

  35. Quote
    Kumaran said July 28, 2009, 6:44 am:

    Priya,

    I have a different opinion on the service. It should be for all strata, but your thoght help me refine more

    1. Lower strata – for basic education,communication etc..
    2. Middle class – To understand there is more to life than just getting a job,buying a house,having kids..etc..
    3. Upper class – Get off your ass and see the real world. I amsure you will less of Nanda killing people with BMWs.

    I think it should be mandatory because this is tough for people and given a choice people including I will wriggle out. I have a choice of going to GYM to get fit after paying 10s of thousand I am so irregular someone needs to kick my butt when I miss sessions that happens in the army.

  36. Quote
    Balajee said July 28, 2009, 2:43 pm:

    Priya, very very well written, and points well made. I enjoyed reading this piece. Thanks.

  37. Quote
    Priya Raju said July 28, 2009, 7:40 pm:

    Balajee – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

  38. Quote
    Priya Raju said July 28, 2009, 7:48 pm:

    Kumaran – Fair enough, we can – with enough money – extend conscription to all the classes. But in reality, we don’t have money – even to permit the lower strata to enlist.

    Though I think differently about the benefits that the other strata would get from the Armed Forces. The Upper Classes – will learn values & the importance of selflessness – and they’ll get bragging rights. The lower strata will realize that they can make something out of themselves.

    The middle class though, is always a problem. As you say, it may widen their horizons & get them out of their rut. Other than teach them plain old discipline.

  39. Quote

    /** First, regarding the central idea behind the post, if women can go in as suicide bombers very effectively, what would prevent them from being good solidiers, perhaps in special forces or as external intelligence.
    **/

    Vamsi.. a women suicide bomber, do not get caught to enemy.. she is mentally prepared for getting blasted.. Considering the level of torture met out to kargil POWs, i think, its difficult for us to imagine, what will happen to a women if she gets caught to pakistani soldiers..

    i think, the army has some point in NOT letting women in active combat.. Ofcourse, in modern times, fighting is more about handling our weapons than one -on- one hand fight, which women can do well.. but the sensitivities are beyond that…

    Our society is very complex, with different setup for different communities.. Historically, the martial communities all, have very minimum restriction on women.. If i am right, Rani “Velunachiar” raised a separate battalion of women soldiers.. and in the story of Rani Ahilyabhai, the women played active role in firing canons at the invading britishers..

    However, in delicate communities like brahmins, and vaishyas, the setup was different, according to their kula professions..

  40. Quote

    /** Senthil, individualism is not supposed to be equivalent of selfishness. **/

    Vamsi.. i agree.. great leaders tend to be individualistic.. But, there should be a balance b/w individualism and commune living, which is missing at the urban areas..

  41. Quote
    Priya Raju said July 29, 2009, 9:55 am:

    Senthil – Please see my response to Sriram. If a woman POW is willing to sacrifice herself for her country, for her people or for a cause, its totally her decision. Instead of deciding on her behalf that she can’t risk getting sexually abused by the enemy. Perhaps to save a billion people, she’s willing to endure that. I think we should salute her selflessness & courage.

    Perhaps if we modify our outdated notions of chastity – A raped/molested woman is a victim, she’s not less chaste; A woman who had to use the same bathroom as male soldiers in a war zone, is no less chaste – things will be easier for us. From what I understand, you agree with me on these points. But, you can’t bear the thought of putting women at risk, that too this kind of risk. I understand & respect that position. But:

    As you correctly state, in this day & age, fighting is a different ball game. Plus, if a woman wants the satisfaction of serving her country & her people, why should we deny her that? Especially when we have precedents in our own history? People must be permitted to do what they think is their duty. Your thoughts?

  42. Quote

    Priya,

    You are seeing this only from individualistic perspective.. In india, there are various roles that each one plays, as wife, as daughter, as mother etc. As an individual, i can take any decisions.. But as a son, i am bound my parent’s sensivities.

    Ultimately, the decision of the women depends on how her family (parents, husband, children) etc takes it..

    After 26/11, my cousin’s parents were sleepless for around a month, as he is posted at the border, all his phone lines cut without any information from him.. Even i was anxious about him, whenever i hear news about terrorist attack in srinagar..

    If its for a man, we need not say about women at the frontier..

    So, even if a woman wants to fight in army, it depends on how her parents take it..

    Indians are bound by emotions and sentiments.. We cannot ignore that..

  43. Quote

    We have witnessed two burn incidents in tamilnadu.. one the burning of 3 agri girl students at dharmapuri.. we all know, how much impact it had all over tamilnadu..

    There was also a similar incident at madural at dinakaran’s office, where 3 men were burnt.. and we saw ow muted the response was..

    A man dying in the fight is not considered as big thing by our society.. whereas a women getting affected, becomes sensational…

  44. Quote
    Surendar Chellappa (subscribed) said July 30, 2009, 12:31 pm:

    Priya – intellectual humour is good to read.

    At a genetic level, I have heard that the X chases down the Y and the Y runs for cover and creates innovative means to stay in the fight…

    Apparently, X is already at War.

  45. Quote

    Priya… i happened to read the following interview of jaipur maharani…

    http://www.dailypioneer.com/192438/They-still-call-me-Ma.html

    One of the things is that she was mentioning about how Jaipur has lost its architecture, because of these politicians.. A city’s architecture is very important in lot of ways like traffic, pollution, etc.. Our lack of discipline, is caused by the systemic defects.. When any resource is overstressed, the discipline is lost.. So as traffic, queues at theatre etc… when there is just 10 people at railway station, we voluntarily maintain the queue.. when there is 100 people, then we ourselves are stressed..

    I feel, we could have preserved our old king system, with high morals.. atleast they could have served our people better then the politicians.. There was a sense of ownership, a sense of belonging on their part..

  46. Quote

    Surendar – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    X & Y have always been at war, it seems. Though in the earlier centuries, most of it was Covert Ops from X 🙂

  47. Quote

    Senthil – Thanks for the link. You make a very interesting point about discipline & the stress levels it can bear. About queues, even when there are 3 people, someone tries to break the queue. But when there are 100, probably the desire to break the queue is higher.

    Architecture: Look at Chennai. It has lost most of its heritage buildings. Ugly, boxy buildings have taken their place. And there are some beautiful new buildings too.

    Likewise Indian Culture. The old system has been destroyed for the most part & we haven’t imbibed the new system yet. And India is in a state of flux now. Some good things have happened, some bad things have happened etc.

    You are reacting to change, like many people that like their tradition. Change is eternal, unstoppable. We can only hope that something good takes the place of the old, in due course of time.

  48. Quote
    Nimmy (subscribed) said August 18, 2009, 2:39 pm:

    You’re a riot, Priya! Writing riot! 🙂 Love reading your posts….Riot on! 😉

  49. Quote

    Nimmy – Thanks for your comment & kind words 🙂

  50. Quote
    Abinav (subscribed) said August 22, 2009, 2:41 am:

    🙂 Fantastic writing again…

    // drunken blue whale on a foggy day //

    woof – that was something..!

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