India is losing millions of stories every day, “Fauji Days” is here to stem that loss
Veteran army generals launch oral history capturing venture at MLF
Chandigarh : In the first such venture of its sort in India aimed at enabling faujis to tell their stories to compatriots, the Military Literature Festival today witnessed the launch of “Fauji Days,” an oral history-chronicling and military publishing initiative that will enable warriors who have hung their uniform to describe their lives in a vocation where skill, thrill, passion and grit could meet exhilarating happiness or horrifying death.
Launched by two of India’s highly decorated veteran army generals, Gen. Harwant Singh and Gen. Kamal Davar, “Fauji Days” will feature veterans from armed forces who defended the frontiers on land, sea and air.
They will be able to record their reminiscences, tell their anecdotes and bring to light stories that otherwise either go untold or remain confined to mere close families and friends.
“Every fauji lives through times often unimaginable by a civilian, goes through experiences that are often the stuff of movies, and works in places and circumstances that are frequently hostile.
Many see fellow comrades falling to bullets or plunging to icy depths on snow-peaked mountains. India would be poorer by a million stories if these are not recorded and preserved for future generations,” said Pankaj Punit Singh, the prime force behind this initiative.
Generals Harwant Singh and Kamal Davar, who unveiled the creative logo of Fauji Days, reflecting land, air and naval forces’ soulful integration, said that we need such initiatives to motivate our future generations and to preserve our traditions.
Underlining that “Fauji Days” will chronicle not just the exploits and professional achievements of faujis but also the lived experience of those who spend time in uniform as well as the softer side of these job-toughened men and women, several veteran officers and jawans present at the launch said the oral history part was an exciting proposition.
“While many a senior officers pen their memoirs and army stories are often narrated by those with felicity with the written word, the faujis lower down the rank ladder simply take their stories home, and sadly often to their graves.
Now, they will be able to tell their tale the way they want to, in the language they choose to,” said Mehakdeep Kaur, the team leader of 99beagles who have put all this together.
Pankaj Punit Singh said all through the gestation period of this initiative, he was shocked to find the kind of stories that the country is losing simply because a large number of faujis do not pen these.
“Ours is a country that talks of our armed forces with such pride, and faujis are understandably part of the partisan political narrative, but the stories they carry in their hearts are a nation’s collective wealth, one without which the country will be unimaginably poorer,” said Col Jatinder Singh.
Many a veteran army general and senior officers who have spent lifetimes understanding faujis and how their mind works said the fact that now these stories will be on camera also reflects that we need to go out and capture the learnings at the grassroots level by whatever means possible.
“Just because jawans do not write books does not mean they do not have great stories to tell. In fact, many of the stories I have narrated came to me from gritty faujis,” said Lt Gen NS Brar, author of Drummers Call, a fascinating book about remarkable people an officer met all through his long and distinguished career.
General Harwant Singh, who unveiled the “Fauji Days” logo, particularly appreciated how it integrated different services. General Davar mentioned how important it was not to lose focus on our core values.
Young NCC cadet Sohraab Singh, who anchored a candid on-camera chat with Kargil-veteran and blade-runner Major DP Singh, and Khooshi Anand, who engaged Major Navdeep Singh, one of India’s top experts on military laws and veteran welfare policy formulation, in a talk came in for much appreciation.
Gen Dhaliwal, a former Engineering-in-Chief of the Indian Army and Brigadier RB Singh, who fascinatingly narrated in his book how the 1971 victory was actually a marvel accomplished by the military engineers, felt that many aspects of the military never get highlighted.
“Life in uniform is a complete world by itself, with now just its own idiom and grammar by also its own physical features and separate eco-system, but in changed security environs where everything, from food to oil to software and hospital or banking data servers, has been weaponised, the two worlds of civilians and faujis need to understand each other better. “Fauji Days” will help start that conversation in right earnest,” said Col Dawra.
Mehakdeep Kaur assured that “Fauji Days” will remain rank-agnostic and uniform-agnostic. “We need to listen to the stories of our jawans, our JCOs and soldiers, just as we need to capture officers’ tales.
Also, stories from all arms of the military are important. If an ITBP woman warrior wants to narrate her experiences, or a BSF jawan brings a tale from the frontier, “Fauji Days” will welcome these all. They are as much faujis in every sense of the term as that man standing atop Kargil,” she said.
Team 99beagles said it had marshalled resource people to help capture stories in any language. The archive would be made accessible to the public through a website in the making, www.faujidays.com, which would have a lot more reference material on the culture and traditions of the military, in addition to blogs by eminent faujis and civilians.
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