Friday, March 16, 2007

A Tribute to Indian Soldiers

I salute the Soldiers of Indian Defence Services -

The Army, Air force, and the Navy.

I was one of those civilians who looked at the armed forces as a glamorous profession; full of adventure, handsome officers, parties and postings all over India.

But my imagination went for a toss, once, the youngest of my two brothers, Ravi joined the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune to pursue Medicine.

The anecdotes he narrated about his hostel life, first shocked me and later stirred the process of eliminating my rose tinted glasses. I began to view our soldiers in a different light, with respect and dignity for the tough lives they led with discipline and endurance.

My brother graduated from AFMC, and we, his proud family attended the passing out parade at Pune in March 1999. He was commissioned into the Armed Forces and he became Lt. H Ravi Ramamurthy.

His first posting was at Ladakh, a region in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in Northern India which is surrounded by
two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram. Ladakh lies at altitudes ranging from about 9,000 feet (2750m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram. Ladakh is the only place possibly in the world where a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time! The largest town in Ladakh is Leh. Ladakh is prominent for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.

During Ravi's tenure at Ladakh, he was posted at Siachen, the world's largest non-polar glacier, sometimes referred to as the third pole. The Siachen Glacier has no significant strategic value. Since 1984, the "snow-warriors" of India and Pakistan have been locked in supremacy for the control of Siachen glacier. Its inhospitable terrain has taken heavy toll of men and resources on both sides. The world's highest battlefield, for over a decade India and Pakistan have fought at altitudes of over 22,000 feet in minus 60ÂșC temperatures. It is 78 km long and situated at an altitude of 5,400 meters above sea level. The Siachen glacier is the great Himalayan watershed that demarcates central Asia from the Indian sub-continent, and that separates Pakistan from China in this region.

Operation Meghdoot [named after the divine cloud messenger in a Sanskrit play] was launched on 13, April 1984 when the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force went into the Glacier. Pakistan quickly responded with troop deployments. The Pakistanis can resupply most of their posts by road and pack mule. Indians, at their forward positions, some as high as 21,000 feet, must rely on helicopters. Casualties on both sides have been mostly due to extreme weather conditions.

Ravi had many interesting anecdotes to narrate about his stay at Siachen. To briefly recount a few, Tomatoes as hard as cricket balls and Bottle Gourd (Lauki) as hard as cricket bat, and their game of cricket; A bottle of PEPSI heated to make it drinkable; Huge rats scrawling all over when asleep; heating up a bucket full of ice before going to the toilet, Enemy troops firing and many more. He also had a very difficult time acclimatizing when he visited home on his annual vacation. We were actually petrified seeing his plight.

Capt. H. Ravi Ramamurthy's next posting was at Bikaner, Rajasthan. Well, imagine moving from an extreme cold environment to an extreme hot one. But he had a good stay, especially serving the local populace as part of Indian Army's contribution to local civilians. He received an appreciation letter from the Government of Rajasthan, highly praising his contribution to its people. I felt very proud of my brother when I read it.

Ravi, now is Major. H. Ravi Ramamurthy, presently posted at the Army Command Hospital, Pune, where he is on the verge of completing his Post Graduate Studies in Paediatrics. I refer to him as an Officer, Paediatrician and a Gentleman.

Thank you Ravi for facilitating my focus on the realistic aspects of a soldier's life. A soldier has to be mentally and physically strong and disciplined to sustain any harsh conditions, maintain sanity despite being away from loved ones and protect our country from enemies. It certainly is a high pressure job which requires the highest level of motivation. A standing ovation to the defence services whose contribution to our motherland during war and peaceful times is unparalleled .

Jai Jawan !

Information on Siachen & Ladakh Courtesy: Wikipedia & other sources


Ravi said...

Hey, I am touched.I am sure all my friends in Army feel the same.

Ravi said...

Hey, I am touched.I am sure all my friends in Army feel the same.

Manjula said...

You make us feel very proud man.

Mysorean said...

This is a great write-up! :)

Devendra Chauhan said...

hello sir, i am devendra chauhan,a b.a.m.s. grabuate. i was selected for AFMC in 1999 and actually joined the institution and its hostel. then i took withdrawal just after three days for reasons that are obvious to me but almost everyone fails to understand. at that time aged 20,i was in love for some 16 years (you dont believe it ) and my beloved just married to someone else,i thought i should use my life for cause of poor ,so i completed my b.a.m.s.,did history 9honours from IGNOU and prepared for civil services. i finally failed to get through civil services though my exams had been extremely satisfactory and i really could not understand the result. anyway, in the meantime, i had started taking much interest in philosophy and was inclined towards existentialism of Sartre and absurdism of Camus. i started to prepare for rural MBA and got call from XIMB (interview in next fortnight).I have been often asked if i rue my decision of 1999 especially after civil service attempt failed. I dont know why people keep talking about National Interest,uniform and such other things. the environment in armed forces institutions is invariably one of elitist nationalism which often grabs the imagination of bards but really is based on suppression and loss of intellectual freedom in name of discipline and nationalism. Camus in his Le Stranger, La Paste, and La Chute; Tolstoy in his Resurrection; and Dostoevsky almost in his every novel derides armed personnel's vanity.but i believe that army,however undesirable, will have a vital role in this world and indian army is no exception.AFMC as a premier institution serves nation and its cadets are an invaluable asset for nation.being in AFMC was supposedly my greatest career achievement though I am a least ambitious guy and the terminology of ambition has always been a joke to me. But in this world ambition is valued as nothing else.Still your article was a good example of brotherly love and i am happy for you and your brother. i am afraid you might misunderstand me so if you need any clarification please write at

raj sekaran said...

Dear Ms.Manjula,

First of all, thanks for your post 'A Tribute to Indian Soldiers', dated Friday, March 16, 2007.

im glad to have found your post, while searching for information regarding soldiers at siachen.

well, to introduce myself,im rajsekaran, a post graduate student of design from National Insitute of Design (Ahmedabad)and now working on my diploma project, which deals with the design and development of protective clothing for soldiers at High Altitudes. so, regarding that subject, i would like to contact you and your bother Lt. H Ravi Ramamurthy for some information. it would be very kind of you if you let me know your email id, so that i can write things in detail. my mail :

will be eagerly waiting to hear from you.

once again, thanks for your post about soldiers and your bother,who is a doctor and a soldier. i salute our soldiers. jai jawan!