Of the millions of words being said and written in the mass media following the Maoist-organized
Now I have no intention of belittling or insulting the soldiers who die fighting for the government (notice I didn’t say ‘for their country’, though), but a few reflections are in order:
1. A lot of people work in very harsh conditions ‘for their country’ (postmen and firemen and ordinary policemen and teachers in private schools – who are usually paid much less than their government counterparts – and coolies at construction sites, to name just a few), and cannot expect even a tiny fraction of that kind of reward whether they die at work or live beyond normal retirement age;
2. Given that these policemen come from humble or even poor backgrounds, the compensation is truly princely – now I know why there’s
3. Since these people know they can look forward to that kind of reward for their families in case they are killed on duty, don’t expressions like ‘they made the supreme sacrifice for their country’ sound a little hollow, not to say pretentious?
4. Make a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation. The government doles out several tens of crores in such compensation to the families of dead soldiers/policemen every year. Mightn’t it have been a better idea to spend that money on the kind of genuine and much needed development of those most backward regions of this country where mass discontent is the breeding ground of militant rebellion?
5. A few years ago the father of a pupil of mine, a civil engineer working for the army’s
6. I have been a teacher all my life. For the last eight years I have been entirely self-employed. The government happily takes income tax from me every year, but promises my family no reward, no compensation of any kind should I die early. A beautician charges ten times what I do for a tenth of the kind of work I do, whether you count mental skills or physical exertion (of late my doctor has been