Spare the Army, GD Bakshi. Spare the nation

Abhishek Sikhwal
Abhishek SikhwalAug 14, 2016 | 17:22

Spare the Army, GD Bakshi. Spare the nation

I see you General Gagandeep Bakshi. I see you on news channels as you shriek and shake your fists at fellow panellists who dare to question the Indian Army.

You always wear the scowl of someone who has tasted sour milk. You really like to yell, don't you General Bakshi? After all, why make sense when it is easier to shout over everyone like a demented headmaster?


I see your vague rage and how it makes your face break out into spasms. At times, you look like the MDH man (if he had too much MDMA).

I have seen you on the Newshour as you cry yourself hoarse over the Indian flag. I see you being mollycoddled by Arnab Goswami because you make for the ideal pawn in his elaborate game of patriotic chess.

Watching you debate is the equivalent of watching a bull run amok in a china shop.

It's rather hilarious to see you frothing at the mouth as you speak to people who are not on the same page as you.

In a country like America, someone like you would probably be given psychiatric help for PTSD but since we are in India, you are allowed to represent the Indian Army on multiple platforms and share your jingoism with all who care to tune in.

Recently, you were invited to give a speech at IIT Madras.

It's the kind of hallowed space where one would be glad to share their opinions with bright minds that will be illuminating the country's future.


But because you are General Gagandeep Bakshi, you thought it would be a good time to instruct these students that "in our generation, we split Pakistan into two. Your generation should split it into four. Only then we can live in peace!"

Nice going.

For your next trick you should go to a kindergarten school and instruct the children to break Pakistan into eight parts in 2029 if they want to live in peace.

If any of these useless civilian children protest that Pakistani people are humans too, then please feel free to scream into their little faces and remind them that: "YOU FIVE-YEAR-OLD PEACENIKS HAVEN'T SEEN THE FACES OF DEAD SOLDIERS LYING IN THE MUD OF KARGIL!" and "ONLY SOLDIERS DESERVE TO LIVE IN INDIA BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE ANY OPTION BUT TO DIE FOR THE COUNTRY!"

In this speech, you also said Indian independence wasn't earned through civil disobedience but through the bravery of the Indian Army.

Never mind that one of the functions of the Indian Army under the British was to maintain internal security in the country in support of the police.


This blind adherence to their master resulted in Indian soldiers killing their fellow countrymen in several unfortunate events such as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

The Indian Army at the time only helped prolong British rule, but maybe you get your historical accuracy from Ashutosh Gowariker.

According to you, India got independence only in 2014 after Narendra Modi came to power.

This statement lays bare the extent of your affiliation to Hindutva.

Sometime ago, I came across a speech of yours at an event that seemed to be organised by Baba Ramdev and his ilk.

I saw you wax lyrical about the Mahabharata and Dronacharya and India's military victories to an absolutely Hindu crowd who couldn't applaud enough.

Your disdain of non-Hindus is palpable even on news channels where you berate any fellow panellist who happens to be a Muslim.

In your belligerent imagination, every Muslim is a terrorist who wants to destroy the sovereignty of India and every Hindu who questions the government is a "fashionista liberal" or "Leftist separatist" or "arm-chair intellectual".

In yet another speech (you really do get around), you openly admit to violating the Geneva Convention by "blasting the daylights" out of an enemy insurgent who had raised the white flag in surrender.

Again, your audience laughed heartily at this gross confession.

Something this grave can get one court-martialled in western countries but no one takes this as seriously in India, as if it were the ramblings of a senile uncle who claims to have totally killed that Bengal tiger once in the Sunderbans with his bare hands.

The whole thing is uncomfortable to watch if one has a moral compass.

It's like hearing one's friend talk about eve-teasing a helpless girl or admitting to beating an animal.

A true solider, even while following orders and serving his country, needs to remember the international code of war and rules of engagement.

General Bakshi you must understand that while the Indian soldier must be applauded for his sacrifice, he cannot take the law into his hands.

The Army is not beyond reproach even if despotic laws like AFSPA make us think otherwise.

The human rights violations by soldiers in Kashmir and the North-East need to be curtailed not celebrated.

Also, the soldier who blindly follows orders (like the Indians under the British or the Nazis under Hitler) without considering the implications of his actions is not a soldier, but a henchman.

One of the central stratagems of the military-industrial complex is the instilling of a sense of unflinching patriotism.

During the Nuremberg Trials, Hermann Goering (a leading member of the Nazi Party) explained how this can be achieved when he said: "It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

The way you denounce Indian pacifists is eerily similar to what Goering warned against.

You need to stop evoking the Indian soldier's sacrifice to win every debate.

The Army is an exciting career choice that pays great dividends to the soldier so we need to stop romanticising his "sacrifice" as if he were a helpless lamb sent to slaughter.

Of course, there can never be adequate compensation for serving one's country but your exploitation of this sacrifice insults the intelligence of the soldier.

It is unhealthy to go into service with a saviour complex because when this complex is not suitably rewarded (and it can never be), one sees oneself as a victim of the system.

When a student of IIT-M, Abhinav Surya, sent a letter to the director in protest of what he saw as a hate speech, you were quick to denounce him as a Leftist liberal who simply wants his letter to go viral.

You accuse people of encouraging separatism when people like you separate and pigeonhole people into categories as per your convenience.

It is unfortunate that a learned, experienced man such as yourself is reduced to dismissing all criticism as having a vested interest.

Using this logic, one can never call out someone on their misdeeds because it can be seen as a publicity stunt or an attempt to go viral.

It really is pathetic that this is the state of our country where one is doomed if one speaks and doomed if one stays silent.

I respect the Indian Army because I have several friends who come from a military background and I can see first-hand the sacrifice it takes to serve the country.

However, none of these families supports the jingoism that people like you propagate.

Unless he is a jarhead, a soldier fights for the country, not for the government.

He fights for all Indians - whether Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Dalit.

He fights to uphold the Constitution and the democratic principles contained within.

This Independence Day, Indians would do well to remember that people like you don't speak for every Indian soldier.

You only speak for yourself and as such need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Last updated: August 15, 2016 | 15:40
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