I’m getting sick of the glorification of the Indian army on social media and in the newspapers. Every time there’s even the slightest deviation from the nationalistic narration, “soldier’s lives” are brought into the discussion. Comments like:
“Soldiers are dying! And you’re sitting in an armchair making comments”.
“Soldiers are dying. And you care about Pakistani actors!”
So let me say this. Yes, soldiers are dying. So? Let’s run through a few things here shall we?
My Contribution – How about Taxes?
I’m often asked “What are you doing for your country?” Well, I pay my fucking taxes for a start. You think soldiers fight for free? And if you think paying taxes is no big deal, consider this:
Only 1% – ONE percent – of India actually pays taxes. Last week, I got a “Bronze” certificate from the Government, thanking me for contributing to the nation. Bronze in this case means taxes between 1 lakh to 10 lakh.
Out of that 1% of taxpayers, only five percent will get a certificate. So that means I pay more taxes than 99.95% of the country.
This easily makes me more valuable than almost anyone else in the nation. I am literally paying for your security. Because the soldiers are being paid with my money.
Pure statistics dictate that most likely, those who are shouting “Soldiers are dying!” pay 0 income taxes. Fine, soldiers are dying. So what the fuck are you doing about it? You think soldiers give a damn about your nationalistic chest beating? My taxes buy them weapons to fight with. My taxes buy them food. My taxes buy them shelter and equipment.
What do you do, oh Internet warrior who (probably) doesn’t pay taxes?
Soldiers Don’t Fight for our Freedom
A soldier is a machine. Trained to follow orders. If tomorrow a soldier receives instructions to slaughter civilians, then he/she will carry them out. The world is full of nations that have a strong military, and are not free. A soldier does not bring us freedom. Remember that.
We get freedom from a number of links in a chain. The judges, the politicians (yes, the politicians!), civil society who fights human rights abuses and most of all, the Constitution. A soldier is just ONE link in a chain that allows us to have freedom. In a dangerous environment, the army defends us from hostile forces.
That by itself does not bring us freedom. Freedom requires a huge number of variables. To say that soldiers alone guarantee our freedoms is an outright lie.
Most Soldiers don’t Join the Army for Patriotic Reasons
Sorry to break this to you, but most people don’t join the military out of patriotism. But I make no judgments. It’s perfectly fine to choose the armed forces for the quality of life they provide. Not just the salary, but the overall package. The cleanliness. The discipline. The subsidized housing and food. And many other perks. My wife is the daughter of army officer, and she often talks about how nice the environment was compared to the disordered neighborhoods most of us have to live in.
Does it help to be patriotic? I’m sure it does. Does it mean you have to be a soldier to prove your patriotic credentials? No.
Other Professions have a High Risk of Dying as Well
Let’s spare a thought for the people who clean our drains, and who die in alarming numbers every day throughout the country. If you think “soldiers are dying” to keep us safe, I have never ever heard of sanitation workers who die to keep us clean.
This means we’re not actually concerned about the loss of life. Not in the least. When it comes to high risks of dying, soldiers have plenty of company including farmers, construction workers, search and rescue operators, and police officers. If only we took farmer’s deaths as seriously as we took the deaths of soldiers. Yet, we only pay lip service to farmers. I have never heard of anyone saying “Farmers are dying. And you’re wasting time with this trivial issue!”.
The fact of the matter is that there are lots of risky professions. Most of them don’t have the same perks of the armed forces. And we Indians have a pretty cavalier attitude towards death in any case. We can’t suddenly start harping about the value of life, just to make a point.
It’s time we stopped over-glorifying the armed forces. They are trained to follow orders and do their job. It’s an important job, yes. It’s a risky job, yes. Yes, we need to thank them. Just like we need to thank farmers and sewage cleaners. Saying “Soldiers are dying” is just a lazy attempt to shut down logical reasoning with an emotion based appeal.
Sorry, but that won’t work on me.