Tag Archives: India

Border Security Force – the true heroes of India

On a cold December day in 1965, India’s Border Security Force formally came into being. This was prompted by the India-Pakistan war which brought to light the weaknesses in the country’s border security. Until then the local police force used to also manage border security, but they did not possess the skills to handle this critical function. Since its humble beginnings in 1965, the BSF has grown from strength to strength and is today the largest border guarding force in the world. A fact that not many of us know. A fact that we must be truly proud of!

BSF personnel undergo one of the toughest training in the world and on completion of their training they are among the finest fighting soldiers in the world. This helps them not just to man the borders, but also to be able to survive for long periods in the hostile weather conditions around the border.

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India shares her borders with Pakistan in the North and West, Bangladesh in the East and China in the North East. In the North, closer to the Himalayas, the BSF soldiers have to manage in sub-zero temperatures almost throughout the year. In fact, the village of Dras, in Jammu and Kashmir is said to be the second coldest inhabited place in the world. Despite this, there is a very strong BSF presence in this region after the Kargil war which took place in 1999. We must also remember that our soldiers do not have permanent accommodation at the border posts. They live in tents or shacks or temporary shelters where no heating system is available. Under these cold, harsh and hostile conditions the soldiers have to keep their morale up and stay vigilant.

Along the borders in the North East our BSF soldiers have to deal with not just cold weather in winter, but also extreme rainfall and rugged terrain. While we do enjoy getting wet in the rain, isn’t it nice to head back home and get into warm, dry clothes? Imagine our soldiers out there standing in the rain all day, for months together, so that we can stay safe and warm in our homes.
BSF soldiers face another kind of extreme weather along Rajasthan border where temperatures soar to 47 to 50 degrees in summer. The blistering heat coupled with sand storms make it unfit for habitation. Yet our soldiers are out there in the heat and dust ensuring that no one intrudes into our borders. And, we already know, they do not have any comforts – like an AC – in their temporary homes. So the next time you complain about the weather or the AC in your home not working, think about the soldiers working in severe climatic conditions for us.

Now, imagine that you are away on a holiday. You M_Id_432010_BSFvisit many places and each night you may stay in a different place. While we enjoy the travel and sights immensely, we are happy to get back home, to sleep in our bed and to be surrounded by familiar and comfortable things.

However, the BSF soldiers do not even have this simple luxury. They have to live a nomadic life. For security reasons their place of duty is changed every day. Which means that they do not have the comfort to going back home to a familiar place at the end of a hard day’s work.

Moreover, due to shortage of soldiers, each jawan is given a large area to patrol. This means, even while on night duty, they must keep up their vigil. Imagine if they were like the night watchmen we employ in our buildings – who fall into blissful slumber a few minutes into their duty! How dangerous that would be for our country!

Due to the nature of their jobs, our BSF soldiers have to follow a very strict discipline and vigil. Even minor mistakes can result in serious punishments for them. This is because a small slip-up on their part can result in serious threat for the country. It is indeed a high pressure job with no room for errors.

So, what really is the role of BSF? Their job is to prevent trans-border crimes. They must prevent smuggling, infiltration and other illegal border activities. They must also be observe and report and unusual activities from across the border. During war time, BSF jawans act as guides to the Army as they are familiar with the local people and terrain. In addition, they help manage refugees, guard prisoners, perform raids…etc. When any kind of natural calamity strikes the country, BSF soldiers help in the rescue operations as well. For instance, during the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, BSF soldiers were the first to reach the affected area and start rescue work.

Is it all work and no play in the life of a BSF solider? Unfortunately, that is true! Each BSF soldier is allowed only 75 days of leave in a year. This is the only time they get for themselves and their families. The rest of the time they are working tirelessly. For us.

Let us take a moment today and every day to think about the jawans who are out there. These men and women of the Border Security Forces are our true heroes. Because unlike the Army, BSF fights an unending war and they never have what we can call a peace time.

I’m grateful to have got this opportunity to speak about these brave, unsung soldiers of our country. To be honest I knew virtually nothing about BSF, until I started preparing for this talk. So thank you once again for this opportunity. I leave you with thoughts about our soldiers. I hope you will join me in wishing them peace, health and happiness. Jai hind.

Dear Mr. Modi,

I voted. So I have earned the right to write this note to you. This evening is your big moment. You will be sworn in as the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy. What an honour that is! There’s a million people out there waiting with bated breath to see you take on that magic wand and wave it. The masses believe that the moment you wave that wand poverty will go away. Economic inequalities will evaporate.

The toothless old village bumpkin will smile. The village granny with thick, shell framed glasses will grin because she now has electricity. The home maker in a remote village in Andhra will cook happily because she now has water. The farmer in Punjab with sigh with delight as his motor chugs and water spouts into his yellow mustard fields. On a remote highway in Leh, the truck driver will smile because, hey, suddenly the driving conditions are so much better. The roads are good and well lit.

Ok so everyone is happy at grassroots level. Now let’s zoom into the city.

There are young women, wearing just whatever they like, fearlessly roaming the streets at 9 pm. There are no chain snatching incidents or even robberies. Everyone has jobs you see. Jobs that pay good enough. Also people have begun to respect law and order. Cops are no longer corrupt. They do not work in tandem with thieves any more. They cannot be bribed. Every crime is punished according to its gravity. For that matter no government official can be bribed any more. People fear law and order. Ah. How wonderful.

There are no city slums. There are just neat rows of lower middle class housing. They are not badly maintained, garbage strewn places, rather they are neat, dignified places to live. There is no garbage piled up on the roads. Your magic wand has made people act responsibly! They know their civic duties. People no longer treat the road as the dust bin. They neatly throw any kind of garbage into designated bins. (yes organic and non organic matter has separate bins). There is no pollution on the roads, no one honks, no one jumps the red light. Suddenly people have learnt the meaning of the word DISCIPLINE. Jeez what do you have in that magic wand! Oh wait, there’s more. No one spits, pisses or defecates in public places.

Tourists visiting our country are not harassed any more. They are treated with dignity and respect. There is no shady roadside character passing loud and lewd remarks on them anymore. They fear the law you see. And anyways there really are no more jobless people. Employment is rampant.

Which of course means that the population has been magically controlled. No one has more than two children. Government has enforced the one-child rule. There are many benefits and tax exemptions if you have just one child. There are heavy cash fines imposed on those who have their second child. And it just gets heavier as you have more children. To save the citizens all this trouble, in hospitals, they just operate and ensure that you cannot have more children.

It’s the golden era for India. Neat, clean, cultured India, that is once again proud of its heritage. We do not deface our monuments any more. No one scribbles “Rahul loves Paro” kind of things on the walls of Ellora caves any more. People understand that this is part of their culture. These historical monuments define who they were and who they are. Which idiot will then go and scribble on it?

Out past is protected. Our future is bright. What a fantastic magic wand you have Mr. Modi.

But wait. What is that you say? You have no such magic wand? How is that possible? We believe you do. That’s why we voted for you.

Damn!

Brazil…brazil…duh…

‘Brazil! Brazil!’ - happened in Chennai recently. The show promised to be a sizzler.

It is apparently an award winning show and assured you of 90 minutes of raw energy, music, dance, athleticism and football. The hall was packed when we went in with great expectations. The audience ranged from over-enthusiastic 6-year olds to grumpy 60-year olds. Just our luck, we got seats behind a row of cranky, arthritic 60+ ladies. Each time my kiddo jumped up in childish exuberance, the ladies in front turned to glare. If we clapped they rolled their eyes. If our foot tapping knees knocked against their seat they almost opened their third eye… you get the picture, right.

All around us young girls shrieked and little kids yodeled. Why did we have to get stuck behind this bunch?

Anyways, that’s almost topic for another post. Right now, in this space, we talk about Brazil! Brazil!

The show began with a brief introduction to the group. They are a bunch of people who have overcome a troubled childhood and gone on to make something out of their lives. They gave us a history of why football is the religion of Brazil. There was robust singing, fabulous athletic dancing by hot bodied – shirtless men, along came long legged damsels shaking their assets, then came a lanky lad who handled the football like poetry. There was energetic samba and also a very vigorous, musical demonstration of their martial art form – Capoeira.

And then.

There was robust singing, fabulous athletic dancing by hot bodied – shirtless men, along came long legged damsels shaking their assets, then came a lanky lad who handled the football like poetry. There was energetic samba and also a very vigorous, musical demonstration of their martial art form – Capoeira.

And then.

There was robust singing, fabulous athletic dancing by hot bodied – shirtless men, along came long legged damsels shaking their assets, then came a lanky lad who handled the football like poetry. There was energetic samba and also a very vigorous, musical demonstration of their martial art form – Capoeira.

Yeah. That was all there is to it. While it was lively and even enjoyable to an extent, it really did not have any substance.

It made me think of the cultural richness India has.

There’s culture gushing out from every nook and corner. Be it music, dance, pottery, painting, weaving, costumes, fabric, jewellery making, folk art, folk dance, folk music, yoga… We’d never have this problem of filling up a mere 90 minutes with variety. Didn’t we just overwhelm the world with a spectacular 3-hour show at the opening ceremony of CWG?

What a pity that we run behind other cultures when there is so much wealth – right at our doorstep. And to conclude, while I don’t particularly like Shashi Tharoor, what he says here makes immense sense.  India will be a super power in the future. Not a nuclear power, mind you. But rather a soft, gentle, cultural superpower. I’m inclined to agree.

I hope that one day  every Indian realizes this.

Jai ho!