On the eve of Kargil Vijay Diwas, the ruling BJP has gone into jingoist overdrive. Exemplified by the two-day ‘Tiraga Yatra’ organized by the party’s Youth Morcha- a fleet of flag-bearing bikes journey from Srinagar’s Lal Chowk to the Kargil War Memorial- the overall mood is rife with hubris. Further, Youth Morcha President Tejasvi Surya has instructed attendees to carry soil from the martyrs’ home- cue typically nauseating symbolism- to be donated at the memorial to mark their ‘immortality’.

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While the heroic feats of the Indian Army in Kargil are undeniable, a sense of balance is absent in discourse. A month after applicants to the armed forces were up in arms about the Agnipath Scheme, the BJP and its various factions are back to showing off their jawan-loving credentials. In bypassing long tenures, pensions and associated benefits, effectively reducing the rank and file of the armed forces to contractual positions. Amidst all this, recruitments in the Army have come to a standstill, leaving many facing uncertain futures. The government assures jawans jobs employment once contracts are up. More disturbingly, the arrangement leaves behind the possibility of private militias at the beck and call of the powerful; perhaps bodyguards for the bourgeoisie are what we are staring at in the future (not that it isn’t the present).

Another concern, swept aside by the charm offensive, is the high suicide numbers among soldiers. With 819 suicides- 642 in the Army, 29 in the Navy and 148 in the Air Force- the BJP’s claims of caring the utmost for soldiers ring hollow. While sentiments on Kargil range from pride to (mock) sorrow, a more empathetic disposition would put this front and centre of their concerns. That empty gestures serve no material purpose is moot. But it does present a smokescreen for the malaise that runs through the country. If the Agnipath protests were any indication, a career in the armed forces is as much about securing a livelihood as the notion of pride accompanying it (if not more).

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But these remain marginal concerns, footnotes in the nation’s oeuvre. Tomorrow is cause for celebration, chest-thumping, a tricoloured sea, etc. Eulogies will fly about the 500 deceased at Kargil, their ‘grit, valour and sacrifices’ as Colonel Shiv Choudhary (Retd) writes in the TOI. To a small minority, however, it’s only another depravity that strikes the nation.