No more hiss and tell for Indian Army commandos. In the past, survival courses included snacking on a snake. But now, the jungles of Belgaum where such manoeuvres take place are bereft of snakes. Either the hapless reptiles have fled fearing that they will come off the worse in a hand-to-fang combat or are in hiding till the coast is clear.
Either way, this leaves the commandos with the dilemma of what to chomp on in the absence of a passing cobra or viper. The answer may be a bit of a blow to the macho image of our commandos. But it is chocolate, dry fruits and other high-calorie fortified foodstuff. Now this innovation has its pluses and minuses.
It might attract more young talent to the dwindling ranks of the army. After all, we can’t see too many in Gen Next flocking to the jungles to feast on flambéed python or braised rattlesnake if they can get by on a bar of chocolate. This will also defang the likes of Maneka Gandhi who, no doubt, is planning even as we write to scale up the campaign to embrace snakes. On the other hand, it might cramp the commando’s style to lumber across and take on an armed enemy carrying 50 kg of chocolates and fruits in his rucksack.
It is a welcome sign that we have decided to leave snakes alone. From Biblical times, the snake has got bad press. It caused Adam and Eve to be tossed out of the Garden of Eden, Cleopatra chose a snake to end her life and we are all familiar with the saying, ‘snake in the grass’ about those we don’t trust.
So the army has shown the way, let snakes slither off their way and we’ll go ours armed with ready-to-eat snakes, sorry, snacks.