Today is Armed Forces Flag Day or the Flag Day of India. This day is dedicated to India for the collection of funds from the people of India for the welfare of the Indian Armed Forces Personnel. Flag Day is observed in India annually on December 7 since 1949. It has become a tradition to commemorate this day as an honour to the soldiers, airmen and sailors of India. Flag Day becomes more significant as it considers that it is the responsibility of the civilian population of India to take care of the families and the dependents of the armed forces personnel who fight for our country and protect it.
When we talk about the armed forces one thing that comes to my mind is J.P. Dutta’s 1997 Bollywood war drama film ‘Border’. I remember watching the movie for the first time on T.V. and I was completely fascinated. Border is an adaptation from the real life events that happened at the Battle of Longewala during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. Battle of Longewala which was fought from 4th December 1971 to 7th December 1971, is one of the most iconic battles in the history of the Armed Forces when just 120 soldiers posted at Longewala, Rajasthan took on 2000 soldiers of the Pakistan Army and successfully defended their post with support from the Indian Air Force. I know that the numbers do make it sound impossible, but it did happen.
The music for Border is composed by Anu Malik and the lyrics are penned by the great Javed Akhtar. This movie has some of the most iconic songs like ‘Mere Dushman Mere Bhai’ and ‘Sandese Aate Hai’. The beauty of these songs is that they are not only popular in India but also in Pakistan. Actors like Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Sunil Shetty and Akshaye Khanna have given one of their best acting performances ever. The moment when Maj. Kuldeep Singh (Sunny Deol) says to Naib Subedar Mathura Das (Sudesh Berry) “Zindagi ka Dusra Naam Problem Hai” literally gives one goosebumps. And that moment when with the first light of morning IAF Wing Commander Andy Bajwa (Jackie Shroff) with his squadron launches a full scale attack on the Pakistani forces and that dialogue “Tum hi tum ho toh kya tum ho, hum hi hum hai toh kya hum hai” shows the spirit of team work and oneness in our Armed Forces. Border has easily managed to capture the emotions of not only the brave soldiers but also their families.
Border intended to give an anti-war message depicting the trauma caused to the families of the martyred soldiers. The lyrics of the song “Mere Dushman Mere Bhai” sung by Hariharan describes the disastrous effects of war, with lines "Hum Apne Apne Kheton Mein Gehoon Ki Jagah Chaanval Ki Jagah, Ye Bandookein Kyoon Botein Hain.... Jab Dono Hi Ki Galiyon Mein, Kuch Bhooke Bachche Rotein Hain....!!" ("Why do we grow guns in our farms instead of wheat and rice, when children in our countries cry due to hunger”)
The Flag Day is mainly observed to serve three basic purposes:
1. Rehabilitation of battle casualties
2. Welfare of serving personnel and their families
3. Re-settlement and welfare of ex-servicemen and their families.
On the occasion of Armed Forces Flag Day we all salute the brave soldiers, airmen and sailors of India and contribute our bit towards the Flag Day Fund.
I would like to end this article with a poem that I wrote titled “The Immortal Soldier”
The Immortal Soldier
I sacrificed my today for your tomorrow,
I lived a life less ordinary,
Don’t lose your sleep worrying about your safety,
For I am here to guard our frontiers.
And if some day I return home wrapped in the Tricolour,
Don’t shed a tear as I have glorified death.
I died fighting for my country and there is nothing nobler than that.
Let my death be an inspiration for everyone,
Let them tell my stories.
I will protect my land even in spirit,
This is my duty and nothing will stop me from doing it,
Not even death.