The Religious Teachers (RTs) of the Indian Army are trained together in the Institute of National Integration, which is located inside the College of Military Engineering, Pune. The name, Institute of National Integration, itself conveys it all.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite” said Nelson Mandela.
Two defining images in the last few days on social media that struck a chord within are related to the Indian Army, which is the fourth largest army in the world and the finest because of its apolitical and secular nature, which has made it a formidable fighting force to be reckoned with the world over.
The first image is of Lt Gen D.P. Pandey, the General Officer Commanding of 15 Corps offering prayers in the Masjid of the Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry Regimental Centre (JAK LI RC) in Srinagar on the occasion of the holy month of Ramzan, which is a very pious festival for Muslims.
What was striking about this image is that Lt Gen D.P. Pandey, a Hindu is flanked by a Sikh officer and another Hindu officer and is leading the prayers being offered, which also has the troops of the JAK LI RC comprising Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs that make up the troop composition of JAK LI.
The other image that struck chord was of a Border Roads Organisation unit of the Indian Army in Champawat, Uttrakhand in which the Commanding Officer (CO) of the unit, a Hindu along with the Second-in-Command (2IC), a Muslim, is performing a Havan, an important ritual of the Hindu religion at the Unit Mandir.
Contrast these two images with the happenings in the country presently wherein religious hatred and bigotry have reached such levels which is a cause of concern to say the least.
The Indian Army, which is 14 lakh (1.4 million) strong, has always risen to any calamity, natural or man-made, with extreme distinction, be it the rescue and relief post the tsunami that rocked the Indian shores on 26 December 2004 or the Gujarat earthquake of 26 January 2001 or aid to civil authorities in the wake of any communal riots, apart from defending the borders of the country whenever the need so arises, which is its primary task.
A Brahmastra is a weapon in our ancient scriptures which is said to be the ultimate weapon and is used when all other weapons have failed. The Indian Armed Forces are the Brahmastra of the nation and are pressed into service when all other options like diplomacy, civil administration or the police forces have failed.
One of the main reasons for the Indian Army being the Brahmastra of the nation and it rising to the occasion when all other civil agencies fail, is because the soldiers of the Indian Army work and train as one cohesive unit where no political or religious ideologies play any role.
In the Indian Army units where the troops composition consists of more than one religion, there is Sarva Dharam Sthal, which has all the religious institutions of an army regiment together in one place and under one roof. It is a common practice to see a Sikh Granthi performing the Tuesday arti when the Hindu priest is on leave or the Muslim maulvi performing the Sunday mass when the Christian pastor is away.
And in the army units where the troop composition is from one religion only, the respective stand-alone religious institution exists.
The Religious Teachers (RTs) of the Indian Army are trained together in the Institute of National Integration, which is located inside the College of Military Engineering, Pune. The name “Institute of National Integration” itself conveys it all.
India presently is the sixth largest economy of the world with its GDP pegged at US$2.66 trillion and is poised to be the world’s third biggest economy by 2030.
India is among the top 25 arms exporting countries in the world, which was unthinkable till a few years back as India imported almost all of its defence requirements. The “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started bearing fruit and the arms export target of Rs 35,000 crore is expected to be achieved by 2024-25.
As the Russia-Ukraine War enters its third month, India has emerged as a global leader in these difficult geopolitical times which was evident by the fact that world leaders of the powerful and important countries visited India during the period mid-March to mid-April 2022, a feat not seen in any other country worldwide. The visits by the US Deputy NSA, the Chinese and the Russian Foreign Ministers and the UK Prime Minister bear testimony to this important fact.
With such positive and paramount indicators, when religious frenzy and hatred dominate all debates and discussions it pains to see the happenings all around.
It is upon us, the common citizen to see the game through and strive harder to take India to further glory, the upward trajectory of which has already commenced.
Like those who work in a job know that for success and growth in the organization, one has to meet the targets assigned and work efficiently to earn a good appraisal. Similarly, politicians, cutting across party lines, know what issue has to be politicised and polarised so that it will consolidate their vote bank and fetch them votes whenever elections are held.
The day the common citizen understands this, it will signal the end of hatred and herald a better and a brighter future for India.
India has to be made great again as it was in the ancient times when it was referred to as “Sone Ki Chidiya” or a “Bird of Gold”. And this depends on only you and me, and not on anyone else.
We all Indians should learn a lesson from the Indian Army where all religions co-exist peacefully as troops from all religions comprise the Indian Army. The religion of the Indian Army is respect for all religions.
In a large country like ours with a population of 138 crores (1.38 billion) it is but natural that differences will crop up over religious issues. Let us have full faith in the Indian judiciary which is impeccable and stellar, and not indulge in violence which mars the reputation of our nation.
There should be no religious overtones in any crime. Anyone who breaks the Indian laws should be dealt in accordance with the law of the land, irrespective of the religion the person belongs too.
Mattie Stepanek rightly remarked “It doesn’t matter how you pray. Just pray. All religions are beautiful and they all have one common belief. There’s something bigger and greater than us that can give us and take from us life. It is better than the here and now”.
The writer who retired from the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army is an alumnus of NDA, Khadakwasla and IIT Kanpur. He is a M.Tech in Structures has also done MBA and LLB and is a prolific writer and a public speaker. He Tweets and Koos at @JassiSodhi24. The views expressed are personal.