Hero, as described by Oxford dictionary, means a main character of a literary work who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through impressive feats of ingenuity, bravery or strength, often sacrificing his or her own personal concerns for some greater good.
Over centuries, we have seen several men not just match up to this definition but also change it with their heroic deeds. People have looked up to Mahatama Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, Mother Teresa and Bhagat Singh, among others, who've defined heroism for generations, without ever aspiring for it. And the world shall remain indebted to their contributions to the makings of the world we live in today.
However, times changed, people changed and so did our heroes.
Each generation is plagued with its own predicaments. Today's generation is imploding with frivolity.
Today, India stands at the verge of a massive transition. On the one hand, while a whole new India is rising with progressive paradigms of leadership; on the other, our nation's youth is obsessed with everything frivolous. The concerns of this generation are trivial, our motives superficial, and as a result, our heroes inane.
During a time when global concerns like terrorism, poverty and unemployment are looming larger than ever, the least we can do is identify better idols and heroes to get inspired from.
And the fact that Salman Khan's acquittal in the black buck poaching case is being celebrated like a festival, while there's a stark silence over the 17th Kargil Divas on social media is a testimony to our generation's delusional preferences in life.
I, for one, refuse to take movie stars as my national heroes. Not because they're not worthy of it but because they belong to an alternate reality which is, well, far from reality. But the irony of the situation is that most of us are so infatuated by their on-screen persona and their alternate reality that these stars not just end up inspiring millions but are even raised to the pedestal of demi-gods in our country.
Whereas, people who deserve all the praise, adulation and respect are not even spared a thought, let alone a sincere prayer.
I do not get into the politics of calling my nation's army as the greatest. I do not want to get into the whole Kashmir paradox at the moment.
On this Kargil Vijay Divas, all I want is our generation to acknowledge the sacrifices, a defence personnel, in his own capacity, makes for our nation.
In fact, it's a shame to be asking for respect for the most deserving people in the country. It's a shame that these people live and die for the honor of the country and its people, who, in turn, decide to make anti-national elements like Afzal Guru their hero. It's a shame that despite serving the nation for years together, they're nowhere in our list of heroes we celebrate or want our children to become.
It's interesting how we, as civilians, often fail in our duties as fathers, mothers, brothers, husbands and in our responsibilities towards our families. What's even more interesting is that we also get away with that.
It's because the Indian army doesn't slip up for a single moment and has got our back 24X7. For it doesn't discriminate. It serves us with its life for the only relation that it has with us - that of brotherhood.
Indian army doesn't question your religion, caste, faith or ethnicity. It protects every Indian. Do you know why? Because they love us more than they detest the enemy.
It's unfortunate how the youth of the nation has so many complaints with their life and system today. Flaring emotions and volatile words float all over social media in no time, as soon as anything happens in the country. We claim to have seen difficulties in life. We claim to have survived the rough patches. We claim to be the success stories for overcoming our trivial issues.
Try and trade your life for just a day with a jawaan posted at the Siachen glacier, the highest battleground in the world, in -50 degrees temperature, to know what difficulties are made of.
We spend our days in our air conditioned high rise buildings, sipping the finest Italian latte, complaining about the delayed appraisals. While the army men sit for months and months together in the inhuman conditions of Leh & Siachen and yet, make peace with their meager pay and underappreciated status in the society.
They survive in treacherous atmospheres not meant for human body to acclimatize. They brave extremely low oxygen levels, speech blurrings, constant threat to life by frost bite and snow storms which can last up to 3 weeks. And you still won't remember meeting one army man in your entire life who complained about his job!
You know what differentiates them from us? The highest pride and the greatest work satisfaction.
Something is very wrong in this country if the youth of the nation can not see its heroes in the likes of Captain Vikram Batra (13 J&K Rifles), Major General Ian Cardozo (5 Gorkha Rifles), Brigadier Mohammad Usman (Dogra Regiment) and Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav and keep their crazy obsession going for actors and cricketers.
It's an irony of the highest order that an uncapped cricket player in the Indian Premier League gets 3 crore for warming the benches and partying but when an army man dies, it takes 3 years for the enquiry committee to determine if he died in the line of duty or not.
I write this, not because I belong to an army family myself; and definitely not because a very close friend of mine lost her father in the Kargil war of 1999, but because we, the army families, are too strong for any of this.