Yesterday, on Army Day, Indians showed their respect and pride for our soldiers. It comes to us quite naturally, especially for those who have had family associated with the armed forces. My state, Uttarakhand, is among those which send the largest number of soldiers to the armed forces. But isn’t it strange that on a day of remembering the sacrifices and contributions of our armed forces, newspapers are not just blank about the Indian soldiers’ role in our life but also debating what the army chief shouldn’t have said?
Somebody asked why an army chief is worried about what is being taught in schools in Kashmir and another claimed he is inviting nuclear war. That these elements were not a part of his statements to the press is another matter. What the chief did say is clearly what he should have on Army Day. It is his day and it is his duty to assure the nation about the preparedness of his forces and show concerns about the factors that negatively impact the security and well-being of citizens.
Jammu and Kashmir must be worried that schools in the Valley are not teaching what an Indian school must. I was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the human resources development ministry and our delegation visited schools and colleges in all the three parts of the state — Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. We found a number of issues that were beyond understanding. No textbook in Kashmir had the customary national anthem at the beginning or at the end and national maps were also missing. When I raised the matter with the principal secretary, education, in a meeting at Srinagar, his cryptic reply was: Sir, this is a good suggestion, we shall look into it.
What General Bipin Rawat said is this: “In schools in Jammu and Kashmir, what teachers are teaching should not be taught. In schools in J&K, two maps can be seen, one of India, another of J&K. Why do we need a separate map for J&K? What does it teach children? Most misguided youth come from schools where they are being radicalised.”
Isn’t it good that someone drew attention to providing value-based education to our children? No one had spoken so far — not the leaders, mediapersons, educationists, social reformers and peaceniks. They did not peak about what is being taught to children in the Valley and the impact the “India-absent” syllabus is having on their personality and their feelings for the Indian nation. If General Rawat chose to lay emphasis on it, is that wrong? It’s poor education that creates a stone-thrower and good education that makes a young Indian join the armed forces and serve the motherland. Do we want Kashmir schools to continue to teach things that shouldn’t be taught to Indians?
General Rawat is a true soldier who understands his responsibility. In his annual press conference, he was a symbol of the Indian armed forces’ confidence, grit, and invincible spirit. He stood as an iron man who will not tolerate any mischief by the enemy and has a supreme concern for the security of the nation and the well-being of his soldiers. He was justifiably worried about the trash that is being taught in Kashmir’s madrasas and schools.
The Indian map and the map of Kashmir are printed separately and nothing that will instil a feeling of patriotism among the students is taught. Are they really Indian schools? His power-packed words of confidence on China and Pakistan must gladden the heart of every Indian. He was right that Indians must not depend on any country — whether it is the US or any other friendly nation — to do what we must to defend our interests.
Unfortunately, the political atmosphere in India has become so murky and disoriented that even an army chief’s presser is dragged into a political controversy. The political opposition mocks at him going to the unbelievable extent of supporting an enemy country’s attack on our own army chief. Either we are changing the definition of a tweeter’s “like” to a “bookmark”, or our political interests are now becoming border-less.
I must recall something of what General Rawat said at his annual press conference: India should not expect the US to do its work; it should aim to inflict pain on the Pakistan Army for supporting terror; the threat of chemical and nuclear weapons are becoming a reality; and we are capable of handling China’s assertiveness along the border. All these statements are worth applause and must make us proud to have a great army chief.