Guarding our borders is not the only thing our armymen do. They are India’s lifeline in times of major crises and catastrophes. We salute the spirit of our jawans on this Army Day (January 15)
The announcement of demonetisation on the eve of 8th November left all of us almost bankrupt, with little cash in hand. Everybody had the same concern - depositing or exchanging the old currency with the new one. All banks and ATMs had serpentine queues outside. The act of demonetiaation gave enough pressure to the ruling party too. But the Indian Army carried out its work of serving people in the time of this chaos keeping itself away from all sorts of political gimmicks. It is the traditional way of Indian Army to protect the people’s interest in the time of crisis without making much noise and distancing itself from any kind of political drama.
The Government had limitations on printing the new currency notes. In fact it was impossible for them to print new currency overnight and that too in the same volume as the defunct high value currency notes. But this was not the only challenge before the Government. The real task was delivering the new currency to different parts of the country in shortest possible time and the government could not but rely on the Army. Who else could have done the Herculean task in a better managed way, if not the Indian Army?
The Indian Air Force was also the frontrunner for proving their mettle, as prompt and positive response is their hallmark. They not only used helicopters but also engaged transport aircrafts AN-32 and C-17 in shifting the currency day in day out. The transport aircrafts were fit for dispatching the cash in big cities while the helicopters suited small and remote villages. Former Air Chief Marshal Arup Saha, before his retirement, informed that the Air Force conducted 35 sorties by the end of December. IAF has transferred 610 tonne currency notes in this process.
A number of jawans were deployed outside the mint. After all, it was about the security of the new currency as well as of the units where the printing process was carried out. But the Army did not confine itself to mere security of the place but it also helped in printing the currency in one of the units. The minting process was carried out in more than one shift. The Indian security forces proved themselves once again by helping people and serving the nation.
Call the Army!
It is not difficult to understand that the Army is the most reliable agency for the government to fall back upon. This level of trust on the Army has not grown accidently. Be it a natural catastrophe or a law and order situation, the Indian armed forces are always ready to extend the help to the civil administration in the time of crisis. Not long back, Army was called upon to help the administration in Haryana. Jat reservation protest brought the parts of state to standstill. The situation came back to the normalcy only after the Army intervened.
Similarly, there are hundreds of incidents to prove the fact that when the civil administration gives up on any disaster, it is the Army that comes for the rescue. Who can forget the heroic performance of the Indian Armed Forces during the rescue operation in flood affected state of Uttarakhand? The National Disaster Management Authority, which was constituted specifically to handle such calamities only seemed to be helpless during that time. The Army jawans completed the rescue operation by putting their lives on stake. High rank Army officers personally monitored the situation. Partnering with other agencies, the Army evacuated more than one lakh people to safe places.
Home and Away
The Indian armed forces not only work during national crisis but are also equally helpful in the international disaster management. They carried out the rescue operation “Operation Maitri” during Nepal earthquake in 2015. Indian Army and Indian Air Force both participated in it. The Army sent 18 teams of doctors, 5 engineer task forces and five helicopters. Indian soldiers accomplished innumerable works right from taking injured people to the hospitals, cleaning debris from the streets, saving people stuck under the demolished buildings and making relief camps. The Army helicopters made 546 sorties in order to rescue people stuck under the demolished building and transport them to the hospitals. Similarly the Air Force took 1636 sorties. It was the biggest rescue and relief operation of the Indian Air force performed on a foreign land. The Army again safeguarded human values and strengthened the amicable relations of India and Nepal. It was equally appreciated by both people and the Government of Nepal.
The changing geo-political scenarios have changed the perceptions of defense mechanism as well. The Army doesn’t deny it either, especially due to the growth of cross border terrorism. These are basically proxy wars. The weapons alone are not sufficient to win such battles but social initiatives also need to be taken. The aim is to induct various social welfare programmes in terrorism and insurgency affected areas so that the faith of the masses in the Indian Constitution remains intact. It helps Army to face the local conditions as people share a good rapport with them.
Keeping this in view in 90s, the Army undertook a large number of civic action programmes aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the people in J&K and North Eastern states, as part of a strategy for conflict resolution. These programmes aim to achieve the quality education, women and youth empowerment, infrastructure development, health and veterinary care. In addition, basic needs like water supply schemes, electrification and animal husbandry in far flung areas is given priority while planning projects based on a participative model involving the local people of Gujjar and Bakarwal communities.
The efforts of the Indian Armed Forces have started yielding great results. The most benefited are women and youth of Jammu & Kashmir. More than one lakh children have been provided education in the Army run schools and 14,000 more are currently studying there. Not only this, more than 1,000 students studying outside the state are also receiving scholarships sponsored by Indian Army. It has also assisted in the health matters of 3.68 lakh people and 4.57 lakh veterinary cases. Over 200 educational and national integration tours have been conducted by the army for youths and elderly people of Jammu and Kashmir. Such tours are important in order to integrate the country and eliminate the feelings of alienation.
The Indian Army runs many skill development centres for women and provides them with professional education. The Army is equally competitive in running such welfare programmes and maintaining normalcy in the Valley with its humane and compassionate touch.
© 2016 Sulabh Swachh Bharat. All Right Reserved