This Diwali, there was a special effort from the government to put the soldiers in the forefront of national consciousness. The Prime Minister himself celebrated Diwali amidst troops deployed on the remote frontiers, just as he had for the past two years. In addition, this year there was a drive to connect the soldiers, with people they fight to defend, via the ‘Sandesh to Soldiers’ campaign. People were encouraged to send their message to soldiers via social media and through the prime minister’s website and app, to express their feelings and regard for those who were far away from their homes during the festival, keeping us safe in ours to celebrate. People were also exhorted to light one lamp specially in the memory of the martyrs who had laid down their lives fighting for the nation.
Motivated by the Prime Minister’s call the residents, of 1200 MIG Flats in Rajouri Garden, New Delhi, led by Sanjay Bhatia, a social activist and a team of young boys and girls of the area, decided to take this a step further and honour the ex-servicemen living in their colony as well. On the evening of Deepawali, 30 October, the residents held a gathering in the central park and feted the ex-servicemen residing in the colony. There were several of them, varying in rank from Captain to Colonels, including a Vir Chakra winner. Most of them had taken part in 1962 and 1971 wars, and they narrated their memorable and exciting experiences. Bouquets were present to each officer by the Leader of the House, South Delhi Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Subhash Arya before each resident present lighted a diya for the fighting soldier.
A former Army officer, now a Learning and Development consultant, Author of ‘Delhi Durbar 1911 – The Complete Story’, ‘Riding the Raisina Tiger’, ‘Brave Men of War – Tales of Valour 1965’ and ‘In the Line of Fire’. Currently also a research fellow at Ministry of Defence, engaged in writing official history of India’s participation in First World War. Blogs at swordarm.in