C A jawan in Siachen is an undergraduate; often barely past his Class X or Class XII. He gets just Rs.400 a month additionally as High Altitude Allowance over his civilian counterpart
C EVERYONE loves to crib. About poor public transport, lack of family time, delayed promotions, low income, a lousy film, a poor display by the national cricket team, government policies, paying taxes or about traffic cops. In fact, we have cribs for all seasons and reasons. Resultantly, we become cynical, distressed and fail to see the miracle that is our life.
It’s time to change how we view ourselves; appreciate and count the blessings in our life
Here’s something to help correct our thinking: Siachen is the world’s second longest glacier, travelling 70km in the Karakoram Range in the Himalayas. It literally means the ‘place of wild roses’. Located at a height of 22,000 ft, temperatures here are minus 60 degrees centigrade. The weather is so hostile here that it takes three hours to thaw one’s feet in boiling water placed over a kerosene stove. Water freezes even as it enters your throat.
As you read this, 3,000 Indian soldiers, most of them young jawans, patrol the Saltoro Ridge on the glacier. Below them, on the other side of the ridge, an equal number of Pakistani soldiers are on duty. Siachen is the world’s highest battlefield. Since 1984, India and Pakistan have been locked in a confrontation on this uninhabitable terrain for reasons completely illogical from a civilian perspective
History testifies that during Partition, Sia- chen came with India, but a questionable case of cartographic aggression several years later, saw Pakistan staking claim over this piece of land. It is a war that nobody wants. To give you an estimate of what it takes to fight this war, know that it costs the Indian government Rs 500 for every chappati it reaches to our troops in Siachen. Besides, in these 25 years, more lives have been lost due to the weather than due to gunfire.
So, why is Siachen relevant to our discussion today? For the following reasons:
1.A jawan in Siachen is an undergraduate; often barely past his Class X or Class XII
2.It is quite possible therefore he may not even know where Siachen is located on the map till he is actually posted there
(Chances are that even you didn’t know till now where exactly is Siachen located; despite your education and your higher IQ!)
3.He responded to a call of duty and to fulfill his pledge as an army man in accepting to go to Siachen.
4.It is believed that most soldiers on a Siachen posting write to their families saying they will be lucky if they came backwith enemy number 1 being the weather.
5.A jawan posted in Siachen gets just Rs 400 a month additionally as High Altitude Allowance over his civilian counterpart; which means, say, this jawan was posted in Chennai and he got Rs 1000 a month, he will get just Rs 1400 a month if posted in Siachen!!!
6.At the end of every vigil/shift, the soldier comes back to a makeshift tent to thaw his feet, and prepare for the next shift…it is a continuous ordeal to stay alert and alive! Imagine, being paid a mere, forgettable Rs 400 additionally a month for doing a seemingly thankless job in such hostile weather conditions?
Why do you think, this young soldier, stakes his life to do this kind of work?
The answers are simple. He does this because it is his duty and it involves national honour. He also does this so that you and I can sleep well tonight, and perhaps crib about so many more inane things.
Dear Reader, life is a gift. Do not waste it cribbing about things that you haven’t got or that are beyond your control
Count your blessings. You are educated. Use your intellect to benefit others than squandering it in criticism and cynicism. And each time you get the urge to crib, think twice.
Think of that unknown jawan in Siachen and remember that someone, somewhere was, is and will continue to be more challenged than you and me
- Indian Express dt. 16thJune 2009