Wednesday, December 16, 2009

16th December: A day India has forgotten

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Ask any youth the significance of December 16 and you are most likely not to get any answer. It is not surprising considering many in the MTV generation have confusion regarding the Independence and the Republic Days. 16th December is celebrated as Vijay Diwas commemorating India's great victory over Pakistan in 1971 War. The day holds significance as it was the day Bangladesh came into existence 38 years ago, emerging out of a genocide.

Vijay Diwas has been reduced to an ordinary day with some official ceremonies in the India Gate, Fort Williams in Kolkata and some defense establishments across the country. The post liberalisation era Indians might not realise that 4000 Indian soldiers laid down their lives for the liberation of Bangladesh from the oppressing Pakistani Army. It may also interest a few that the 90000 Pakistani soldiers surrendering to India was the highest since the Second World War.

This victory should be remembered with pride as India defied all odds to win the war. It was a war thrown upon India and not one India chose. The scores of East Pakistani refugee fleeing the genocide and taking shelter in India had left Indira Gandhi with no option but to use the military. Indira mobilised the support of the entire Western European nations in India's resolve to bring to an end the genocide that was going on in then East Pakistan.

Our present best friend America was threatening us and President Richard Nixon had even mobilised aircraft carrier USS Enterprises in the Bay of Bengal. Thanks to Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev, India could ignore the US threat. In 13 days Indian Army, Navy and Air Force with the help of Mukti Bahini achieved which many Western military commanders said would take months. On December 16 Pakistani commander Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi surrendered before Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Arora with 90000 troops ending the war and which led to the formation of People's Republic of Bangladesh.

A lot of politics has been played over the Vijay Diwas which is regarded as Indira Gandhi's finest hour as Prime Minister. BJP which was in power post the Kargil conflict took away the shine from this day and giving more significance to the Kargil Vijay Diwas on July 26th when to celebrate India's victory in the Kargil war when India successfully took command of the high outposts which had been lost to Pakistani intruders.

It is a sad thing to see Indians forget their days of military significance. In the west people still commemorate significant days to honour heroes who have laid down their lives for the sake of their motherland. From movies to rock music and from food to dressing, we have copied so much from the West, why is it that we could not adopt a few good qualities like respecting our heroes?


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