One in 10 children from Bangalore should wish to join the armed forces

Monday, 26 July 2010 - 10:54am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA
That is the aim of the motivation hall being constructed at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park, say ex-servicemen from Bangalore.

Right from the first stages of its inception, the National Military Memorial has run into controversy. How would you clear the air and demystify the reasons the memorial should come up at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park?

Air Commodore Chandrashekhar
The war memorial has become an issue which, to me, is pointless. It was the government of Karnataka that showed its inclination to have a war memorial in the state — the first of its kind in the country. We have nothing to do with any politics and politicians; we only want citizens to be aware that it is not only the soldier or a martyr, but his family and parents too who lose their sleep, so that citizens at large can have their peaceful sleep. The war memorial was planned eight years ago to be established in all southern states.  Thankfully, in Karnataka, the government chose a place for us and was also proactive in the process. The concept took shape between February 2008 till mid-2009.

Brig Chandrashekhar
Memorials are built in memory of the martyrs by the civilians and not in the Cantonment. The plan is to create an inspirational circuit starting from Vidhana Soudha and then moving to the high court, planetarium, Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park and the war memorial, and then on to the Visvesvaraya Musuem. 

Vice Admiral Jacob
I am surprised that defence people had to advocate building of the war memorial when it should actually be an initiative from the civilians. Our job is to defend the nation and we have done it every time the need came up. The idea of a war memorial is appropriate. The government has chosen the location, so why debate over it? Look at the other countries which treat their soldiers with enormous respect with war memorials built for them.

Lt Col Sreedhar
There were 80,000 Indian soldiers who took part in the First World War. For them, the British made a memorial in Delhi. But for the two lakh soldiers who fought in the Second World War, there is no memorial. War memorials are meant to motivate both soldiers and civilians.

Major general MC Nanjappa
This memorial would be like a multi-religious temple, where people from different communities can visit and pay respect to the martyrs who have sacrificed their life to protect civilians. We were honoured when the Karnataka government took a decision to have a martyrs memorial, normally in the world nobody opposes this, only very few people who live adjacent to the memorial have opposed, who do not have any sentimental attachment towards it. If people have suggestions then they can proceed to BDA who will help taking the best advice.

Col Vivek Bopaiah
We were not a part of the project but the government wanted our involvement to make it a real Marshall kind of memorial. Most objections have been to the location, not to the memorial itself.
The location is the government’s choice, not ours.

Army and greening goes hand in hand. So where is the need to construct a war memorial? Why not, instead take up greening of the place?

Vice Admiral Jacob
The army has been known for its greening initiatives. It will be a park, a greener one at that.  You will have more trees than the place ever had. It will also have aspects which will motivate children about the armed forces.

Lt Col Sreedhar
It will have a proper garden, a joggers’ track, a fountain and lots of trees. In fact, we have already planted 30 trees and chopped three eucalyptus trees which do not provide any shelter or greenery.

Wing Commander KJ Bhatt
Who says it will not remain a park? The army acknowledges the need for greening more than anybody else.

Col Bopaiah

This was defence land, 80-90 trees were planted before handing it over to the government. So blaming the army for tree-cutting is a figment of imagination. We have planted 30 trees in the open space available. You cannot plant more in the limited space. There will be only plaques of stone on it inscribed with the martyrs’ epitaph along the veeragallu pathway. It will look more green and organised after war memorial is built.

How is the National Military Memorial going to motivate youngsters to join the force?

Vice Admiral Jacob
Joining the Army means signing up for a particular quality of life, and youngsters today are smart enough to realise that. Once the youngsters see the weapons and machines used on the field, it will pique their curiosity and that is the very first step. There will, of course, be competition from the corporate sector. But as long as we have standard distribution, the army is happy.

Col SS Rajan

We have specially designed a motivation hall in the war memorial for the army, navy and air force. That will tell the story of army life. It is a very challenging and adventurous service in the offering. Children and youngsters can learn how to operate a machine gun, they can get a touch and feel of simulators. There will also be films on Siachen and how Tiger Hill was captured. Similarly in the navy section, there would be models of submarines and air craft carriers. In the air force section, there will be a cockpit simulator. When a youngster finally gets out of the motivation hall, he/she will ask: Where can I get a form to apply? At least, that is the hope.

Major General MC Nanjappa
Anybody who enters the army does not necessarily sign a death warrant. He dies defending his country. Even people at 40 join the army. The memorial will provide information of the opportunities available and other details like what is the right age to join, the health requirements, etc. This should be enough to motivate youngsters.

Col Vivek Bopaiah
Till 1971 there was no shortage of people in the armed forces. There are too many other, more attractive, avenues vying for the youngsters’ attention. The army is not top of mind in their choice of career. Through this motivation hall, the aim is to get at least one per cent of Bangalore’s children to sign up for the army. That’s all we require to maintain the standard distribution.

Wing Commander KJ Bhatt
Armed forces need tough guys;  it creates an aspirant ego. When a new person joins the force, he needs to be under a subedaar for 10 days. Even then, there is great bonding between all ranks and all people. That itself should be motivating and encouraging.

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