It has to be a part of a comprehensive reform process.
One can only agree with the spirit and the underlying argument behind my fellow blogger at INI, Rohit’s counter-counter-blogpost to my counter-blogpost about his questioning the award of Ashok Chakra to Hemant Karkare.
…gallantry award recipients should be chosen for just that–true bravery.
How does one define “true bravery” in an objective manner? That is the question not many have been able to answer satifactorily till date. Even the Ketchup Colonels and Siachen video films have not been able to goad the Indian defence services into producing an objective criterion for their gallantry awards.
Anything else would mean asking hard questions right from why the cops were so ill-prepared. Much more convenient to declare them as brave and worthy of awards!
From the televised war at Kargil to jungles of Kupwara, too many sacrifices only point to one fact — the system has completely failed. Gallantry awards are a minuscule part of that failed system. They can’t be fixed in isolation.
If our gallantry awards are not to go down that path, then it is important that we raise our voice.
Exactly. Reform the archaic system that uses these processes from a colonial era. Now. Then only can we stop treating gallantry awards as rewards from the state or a sop to a fallen soldier or policemen from their uniformed brethren — exemplifying a perfect patron-client relationship. Else the staff at the Taj and Oberoi would have perhaps featured higher on the list of gallantry award winners this Republic day.
As this particular case has shown, pointing out one Karkare and creating controversy around him does little towards reforming the system that gives these awards. The controversy further corrupts the process and denigrates the award by increasing the number of awardees from nine to eleven. It is not the first time that the gallantry awards have been compromised. And it will not be the last time that this is going to happen. Unless there is a root-and-branch reform of the system that breeds, supports and justifies such compromises. It is the hardest thing to do but that is what this nation and its governmental setup needs.