War is futile, they say. But when dialogue fails, when the leaders of a nation fail, then war becomes inevitable- it becomes a solution and a problem simultaneously. Many people die in war, it’s a fact. But not much of what they’ve gone through has been recorded. History is a very obliging tool. We all like to know about events that have happened in the past, we are proud to make history but not at preserving history. VoW Litfest, Day 3, organised an event which discussed a book written by Air Marshal Bharat Kumar who similarly attempted to preserve history about the Indian aircraft Manship. The book is titled- 100 Iconic Indian Air Warriors- which was represented by fellow colleagues of Air Marshal Bharat Kumar- Air Marshal V K Jimmy Bhatia and Air Marshal Arjun Subramaniam.
The event saw a rush of audience, excited to settle down and hear about valiant stories of unknown warriors who were simply in service of their nation and made their fellow citizens proud. The event commenced with a recital of a poem by Maj Gen Ian Cardozo titled— The Unknown Soldier. Then he read out a very heartfelt letter which was written by his friend—The late Captain Mahabir Singh Mangat—of the 2 Rajputs: an old and distinguished battalion of the Indian Army. Unfortunately, told Maj Gen Cardozo, Mahabir Singh died. He was killed at Namkachu and the two friends could never meet again.
Air Marshal V K Jimmy Bhatia was first invited to the mic by the curator Shiv Kunal Verma to give this session a preliminary boost. V K Bhatia has been an awardee of Vir Chakra twice. He talked about the life of an IAF pilot and corrected the generalised conceptions revolving around it.
‘You know it’s a common conception among people that life of a pilot, especially military pilot is very glamourous and full of swagger. It is not so. We work hard to fulfil the responsibilities placed upon us. Many poems have been written about the so-called glam and jazz surrounding a pilot. Hard work, commitment and passion are the prerequisites to be a pilot. This is a crux of what it takes to be a part of IAF.’
Jimmy Bhatia also talked about the Sino-Indian war of 1962 which could have easily won if IAF was employed in the business of things. The mic was then passed to Air Marshal Arjun Subramaniam. Fervently he spoke: ‘It’s a mistake to consider that if Air Force is employed in war that it would lead to escalation of war. And I strongly believe that if IAF was permitted to fight, we wouldn’t have lost to China’.
Revising the series of events in this session was like reliving the tumultuous time under Nehru when India was plagued by China’s constant attempt at invasion.
‘Also this book is an ex Air Marshal’s endeavour to record the evolution and the metamorphoses of Indian Air Force throughout these years after its conception in the year 1932.’
The book names the valiant and the most courageous Airforce persons India produced like Harish Chandra Sircar, Arjan Singh, etc and throws light on their extremely brave and bold decisions they were made to take when their nation was in a state of crisis.
The citizens of our country are unaware of the way soldiers live and die in carrying out their duty in protecting the integrity and safety of the country. Whether war is important or not, this event surely lobbed much needed light to fulfill the inquisitiveness of people wanting to really know about the internal machinery of IAF, war politics or amidst crisis anything is possible. There was a loud round of a applause when the session ended. People clicked their pictures with the living legends present in the rooms and even got chance to interact with them briefly.